Support Cameralabs by shopping at my partner stores or buying me a coffee!
Buy me a coffee!

Follow my RSS feed at Camera Labs RSS Feed
  Latest camera reviews

Lumix G80 / G85
Olympus OMD EM1 II
Sony RX10 Mark III
Sony RX100 Mark V
Nikon COOLPIX B700
Sony A6500
Lumix FZ2000 / FZ2500
Nikon COOLPIX B500
Lumix LX10 / LX15
Fujifilm XT2
Nikon D3400
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
Ricoh GR II
Canon G7X Mark II
Canon SX720 HS
Canon EOS 80D
Olympus TG Tracker
Nikon D500 review
Canon EOS 1300D / T6
Lumix GX80 / GX85
Fujifilm X-Pro2
Fujifilm X70
Lumix TZ80 ZS60
Sony A6300
Canon PowerShot G5X
Lumix TZ100 ZS100
Sony A7s Mark II
Sony RX10 II
Lumix FZ330 / FZ300
Sony RX100 IV
Canon G9X
Fujifilm XT10
Nikon COOLPIX L840
Canon SX530 HS
Olympus OMD EM10 II
Canon SX410 IS
Panasonic Lumix GX8
Olympus TOUGH TG860
Sony A7r Mark II
Canon PowerShot D30
Olympus TOUGH TG4
Canon PowerShot G3X
Canon EOS 5Ds
Nikon COOLPIX S9900
Sony HX90V
Canon EOS T6s 760D
Panasonic Lumix G7
Panasonic Lumix SZ8
Canon EOS M3
Olympus EPL7
Samsung NX3000
Panasonic Lumix GM5
Nikon D5500
Panasonic Lumix GF7
Olympus OMD EM5 II
Nikon COOLPIX S9700
Canon SX710 HS
Panasonic TZ70 / ZS50
Sony Alpha A7 Mark II
Canon EOS 7D Mark II
Fujifilm X100T
Nikon COOLPIX S3600
Sony Alpha A5100
Sigma DP1 Quattro
Sony Cyber-shot W830
Nikon COOLPIX L830
Nikon D750
Canon SX400 IS
Sony Cyber-shot H400
Panasonic Lumix LX100
Canon SX60 HS
Canon ELPH 340 IXUS 265
Canon G7X
Nikon COOLPIX P530
Canon SX520 HS
Canon G1 X Mark II
Panasonic Lumix FZ1000
Panasonic TZ60 / ZS40
Sony RX100 III review
Sony A3000 review
Canon EOS 1200D T5
Sony WX350
Nikon P600
Sony Alpha A5000
Sony Cyber-shot HX400V
Panasonic Lumix GH4
Panasonic TS5 FT5
Sony Alpha A6000
Canon SX700 HS
Canon SX600 HS
Olympus TOUGH TG2
Nikon AW1
Nikon D3300
Fujifilm XT1
Olympus STYLUS 1
Sony Cyber-shot RX10
Olympus OMD EM1
Panasonic Lumix GM1
Nikon D610
Sony Alpha A7
Nikon D5300
Canon PowerShot A2500
Sony Alpha A7r
Canon ELPH 130 IXUS 140
Nikon COOLPIX P520
Nikon COOLPIX L820
Canon PowerShot S120
Panasonic Lumix GX7
Canon SX510 HS
Canon PowerShot G16
Fujifilm X20
Panasonic FZ70 / FZ72
Canon EOS 70D
Sony RX100 II
Canon ELPH 330 IXUS 255
Panasonic Lumix GF6
Fujifilm XM1
Olympus EP5
Panasonic Lumix LF1
Panasonic TZ35 / ZS25
Olympus XZ2
Sony HX300
Panasonic Lumix G6
Sony HX50V
Fujifilm X100S
Canon SX280 HS
Canon EOS SL1 / 100D
Panasonic TZ40 / ZS30
Nikon D7100
Fujifilm X-E1
Canon EOS 6D
Nikon D5200
Panasonic Lumix GH3
Canon PowerShot S110
Panasonic Lumix G5
Sony NEX-6
Panasonic Lumix FZ200
Canon PowerShot SX50 HS
Nikon COOLPIX P7700
Olympus E-PL5
Canon EOS M
Panasonic TS20 / FT20
Canon PowerShot G15
Nikon D600
Nikon COOLPIX L810
Canon PowerShot D20
Sony RX100
Panasonic Lumix LX7
Canon SX500 IS
Fujifilm HS30 EXR
Sony HX200V
Panasonic FZ60 / FZ62
Canon 520HS / 500HS
Canon 110HS / 125HS
Nikon D800
Canon EOS T4i / 650D
Canon PowerShot A3400
Panasonic ZS15 / TZ25
Olympus E-M5
Nikon D3200
Fujifilm X-Pro1
Canon PowerShot A2300
Canon SX240 / SX260
Samsung NX200
Sony Alpha SLT-A77
Canon EOS 5D Mark III
Panasonic ZS20 / TZ30
Canon PowerShot G1 X
Sony NEX-7
Panasonic GX1
Olympus E-PM1
Nikon V1
Sony NEX-5N
Canon EOS T3 / 1100D
Canon EOS 600D / T3i
Nikon D7000
Canon EOS 60D
Canon EOS 550D / T2i
Canon EOS 7D

All camera reviews
  Best Buys: our top models
  Best Canon lens
Best Nikon lens
Best Sony lens
Best budget DSLR
Best mid-range DSLR
Best semi-pro DSLR
Best point and shoot
Best superzoom
Best camera accessories

Camera Labs Forum

Any questions, comments or a great tip to share? Join my Camera forum and let everyone know!
  DSLR Tips

Canon EOS 5D review - long term test Gordon Laing, May 2006

Canon EOS 5D viewfinder

Looking through the 5D's viewfinder reveals one of the great joys of using a full-frame body: the view is considerably larger than a body with a smaller sensor. Of course it's no bigger than you'd see through a 35mm film SLR, but if you're used to traditional DSLRs, it's a revelation, making the latter feel like peering through a letterbox. The 5D viewfinder delivers 96% coverage, similar to the 95% of the Nikon D200; if you demand the full 100% you'll need to splurge on a 1Ds Mark II or Nikon D2X.

Superimposed on the viewfinder screen are the nine focusing points arranged in a diamond pattern; these are backed-up by a further six invisible AF-assist points. The points are shown as small squares or rectangles with outlines which illuminate red when active.

Below the main view you'll see the shutter speed, aperture, exposure compensation scale and the number of shots remaining in the buffer. A green dot on the right side indicates when the lens has focused. If you press the buttons relating to ISO or flash compensation, their values are temporarily shown in the viewfinder, but like the main LCD information screen, they're hidden as standard.

In contrast, the Nikon D200's detailed viewfinder additionally shows the ISO value along with both the metering and exposure modes at all times. These are more useful than you'd think if you're the kind of photographer who frequently uses high ISOs or manual modes and forgets to reset them afterwards. There's been many an occasion when we've quickly grabbed the 5D for an opportunist shot only to realise afterwards we still had it set at 3200 ISO from the night before. Had this information been shown in the viewfinder we'd have known about it much sooner.

There's two alternative focusing screens available for the 5D: the Ee-S Super Precision Matte for easier manual focus and the Ee-D Precision Matte with grid to help with alignment. While these are useful for specialised photographers, the concept of buying a new screen and physically swapping it seems a little dated when cameras like the Nikon D200 and D70(s) have LCD-based grids which can be switched on and off in the viewfinder electronically for free.

Screen and menus

Support this site by
shopping below


The 5D was the first Canon DSLR to feature a decent-sized 2.5in colour screen with 230K pixels. This is a welcome move, repeated on the 30D and which will also almost certainly be implemented on the 350D's future successor.

Canon EOS 5D RGB histograms
Canon EOS 5D Main Menu screen

During playback you can zoom-in on images by up to ten times and scroll around using a small joystick above the command wheel on the back. Pressing the Info button cycles between pages showing the image alone, the image with basic exposure info or a thumbnail with detailed information along with a histogram. It's possible to switch between luminance and separate RGB histogram views using an option in the menu. Pressing the Info button during shooting displays a wealth of information about the present settings.

The menus are arranged as a long page with 31 options arranged into three sections; this sounds like a lot, but spinning the command wheel allows you to quickly find the one you want, while pressing the Jump button takes you directly to the beginning of each section. Your position in the overall menu is also indicated on a vertical scroll bar on the right.

Canon EOS 5D Custom functions
Canon EOS 5D Screen brightness

The three sections are colour coded red for the nine shooting options, blue for the seven playback options and yellow for the 15 configuration options. One of the latter brings up the Custom functions sub-menu, consisting of 21 items to adjust items like the focussing screen, noise reduction on long exposures, mirror lockup and shutter curtain sync for flash usage. Like other Canon DSLRs, the ISO 50 and 3200 modes are only offered if you enable 'ISO expansion' in one of the custom options. This seems unnecessary nannying for a camera in the 5D's class.

Like previous Canon DSLRs, we also found the 5D's screen was a little dim by default, requiring an increase of a notch in the menu. Even then though it was often difficult to evaluate exposures under bright conditions, forcing us to check the histograms to be sure. It also seemed above averagely susceptible to residues, often proving hard to wipe clean completely.

Sensor and files

The 5D features a new 12.8 Megapixel CMOS sensor which measures 35.8x23.9mm and allows all Canon EF lenses to be used without affecting their field of view; note the 5D is not compatible with EF-S lenses.

The maximum image size measures 4368x2912 pixels, which is a decent step-up from the 3504x2336 pixels of the 20D and 30D. If you're reproducing at 300 dpi, the 5D's images should have sufficient detail for up to 15x10in, or about 2in taller and 3in wider than those made with the 20D or 30D.

Canon's top-of-the-range 1Ds Mark II boasts a 16.7 Megapixel sensor and images measuring 4992x3328 pixels. At 300 dpi, this allows pictures from Canon's flagship model to be reproduced around 2in wider and 1.5in taller than the 5D.

The 5D's closest rival though is arguably the Nikon D200, who's 10.2 Megapixel sensor delivers images with 3872x2592 pixels. At 300 dpi, this gives the 5D a modest printable advantage of around 1.5in in both directions. The high-end Nikon D2X produces 4288x2848 pixel images which to all intents and purposes match the resolving power of the 5D.

Interestingly the 5D's image size also approximately matches what you'd get with a 3000 dpi 35mm film scan. While 4000 dpi film scanners are now common, it takes good quality source material to actually exploit this full resolving power. Consequently it's fair to say the 5D essentially matches the resolution of an average frame of 35mm film. This coupled with its full-frame coverage makes it a very tempting prospect for any die-hard 35mm owners who've been holding back on buying a digital SLR.

In an attempt to combat dust getting into the body, Canon's developed a new type of plastic for the 5D's body cap. It's a welcome move, but dust can and will still get in and we experienced it on several occasions.

Quality settings

Canon EOS 5D Quality settings

Images can be recorded at three different resolutions, each with the choice of two JPEG compression levels; best quality JPEGs measure between 3 and 8MB. Full resolution images can alternatively be recorded in Canon's CR2 RAW format, accompanied by a JPEG using any of the six JPEG settings if desired. RAW files alone typically weigh-in at 11 to 14MB each. As with all its DSLRs, Canon supplies a copy of Digital Photo Professional for processing RAW files.

Colour and styles

Support this site by
shopping below


Starting with the 5D and now also on the 30D, Canon's standardised its image processing options into a series of Picture Styles. The 5D's five main and three user-defined Picture Styles offer adjustment of sharpness (from 0 to 7), contrast (+/-4), saturation (+/-4) and colour tone (+/-4). An additional monochrome Picture Style switches the options to sharpness, contrast, filter effect and toning effect. The filter effects consist of none, yellow, orange, red or green, while toning offers none, sepia, blue, purple or green.

Canon EOS 5D Picture styles

We used the default Standard Picture Style for most of our day-to-day and Gallery shots. This is set to a sharpness level of three and a zero / middle value for contrast, saturation and colour tone. Despite its neutral-sounding characteristics, the Standard Picture Style delivered good-looking, punchy JPEGs which were ready to use without any post-processing. This again aligns the 5D more closely to the consumer range than the 1Ds Mark II, which by default delivers images requiring post processing.

The 5D supports both sRGB and Adobe RGB colour spaces.

Image processing and handling

Canon's powerful DIGIC II image processor is employed by the 5D and allows it to deliver a responsive user-experience. The camera's ready to go in 0.2 seconds and during playback the command wheel zips through images showing a low res preview instantly, followed by the full resolution version about half a second later. Thumbnails of nine images also appeared in less than half a second with a decent CF card.

We tested the 5D with a SanDisk Ultra II 1GB Compact Flash card and took a burst of ten JPEG Large frames in 3.25 seconds, which took a further four seconds to write to the card. With the buffer cleared we then shot continuously and found there was a fractional pause after 26 frames and 8.75 seconds. Both correspond to Canon's quoted rate of 3fps, although fans of high-speed shooting will prefer the 5fps capabilities of the Nikon D200 along with Canon's own 20D and 30D.


If you found this review useful, please support us by shopping below!

All words, images, videos and layout, copyright 2005-2017 Gordon Laing. May not be used without permission.

/ Best Cameras / Camera reviews / Supporting Camera Labs