Canon EOS 5D Mark II


The following images were taken with a final production Canon EOS 5D Mark II, running firmware 1.0.6 and unless otherwise stated, equipped with the EF 24-105mm IS lens. Note, we retested the 5D Mark II’s movie mode and ‘black-dot’ fix with the subsequent 1.1.0 firmware.

The EOS 5D Mark II was set to Large Fine JPEG quality, Auto White Balance, Evaluative metering and the Standard Picture Style; High ISO Noise Reduction and the Auto Lighting Optimiser were set to their default Standard settings; Highlight Tone Priority was disabled. Image Stabilisation was enabled for all these handheld shots.

The individual exposure mode, file sizes, shutter speeds, aperture, ISO and lens focal length are listed for each image.

The crops are taken from the original files, reproduced at 100% and saved in Adobe Photoshop CS2 as JPEGs with the default Very High quality preset, while the resized images were made in Photoshop CS2 and saved with the default High quality preset. The three crops are typically taken from far left, central and far right portions of each image.

Note: you may wish to open a number of galleries for direct comparison of detail and noise: Sony Alpha DSLR A900 gallery, Nikon D700 gallery and Canon EOS 50D gallery.

Landscape: 6.31MB, Program, 1/200, f10, ISO 100, 24-105mm IS at 24mm (equivalent to 24mm)

This first shot was taken with the 5D Mark II and the EF 24-105mm zoomed-out to its widest position.The Mark II’s Standard Picture Style, in line with other recent EOS models, has delivered a well-balanced, natural-looking result, while close inspection reveals a high level of detail which will handle sharpening if desired.

The EF 24-105mm is a quality general purpose lens, but it does suffer from geometric distortion at both ends of the range, and some coloured fringing towards the corners.

Landscape: 10.30MB, Program, 1/200, f10, ISO 100, 24-105mm IS at 24mm (equivalent to 24mm)

Another shot taken at 100 ISO on a bright Sunny day, with the EF 24-105mm lens zoomed-out.We framed the shot at a very low angle using Live View, and the new screen was fairly visible, but a flip-out model would have made it easier.

As before, the crops are detailed and noise-free, although there’s a little fringing in the corners. This can be eliminated on RAW files using the supplied Digital Photo Professional software, but it’d be nice to have in-camera removal for JPEGs.


Landscape: 8.00MB, Program, 1/400, f8, ISO 200, 24-105mm IS at 105mm (equivalent to 105mm)

Our next shot was taken of an approaching boat with the EF 24-105mm zoomed-into its maximum focal length. The Mark II was set to AI Servo and easily tracked the subject.The increase to 200 ISO hasn’t had any detrimental effect on the crops, which remain packed with detail with no evidence of noise.

The improved shooting speed of 3.9fps better captures action sequences than the 5D, but the 5fps of rival full-frame DSLRs would have been preferred.



Portrait: 5.15MB, Aperture Priority, 1/1600, f4, ISO 200, 24-105mm IS at 105mm (equivalent to 105mm)

For this portrait we kept the sensitivity at 200 ISO and the lens fully zoomed-in. F4 was selected in Aperture Priority.Face detection is possible on the 5D Mark II, and it easily locked onto our subject here. But the subsequent contrast focusing in Live View is too slow for portrait work, so we switched back to normal viewfinder composition.

The crops again show lots of clean details, while the open aperture has created a pleasing out-of-focus background.


Macro: 8.63MB, Aperture Priority, 1/80, f6.3, ISO 400, 24-105mm IS at 105mm (equivalent to 105mm)


For this macro shot we increased the sensitivity to 400 ISO and positioned the camera as close at it would focus with the EF 24-105mm lens fully zoomed-in.Compared to some lenses, the EF 24-105mm can’t achieve huge macro reproductions, and there’s some softening in the corners when up against its closest focusing distance.

But crops taken from the area towards the centre are sharp and detailed, and there doesn’t appear to be any detrimental effect increasing the sensitivity to 400 ISO.


Indoor: 7.30MB, Program, 1/40, f4, ISO 400, 24-105mm IS at 24mm (equivalent to 24mm)

Our first indoor shot was taken with the EOS 5D Mark II at 400 ISO.We once again tried face detection in Live View, and while the camera tracked our subject with ease, the contrast-based AF system was too slow to be practical for portraits, so we reverted to the viewfinder.

We often see a faint smattering of noise or processing artefacts from noise reduction at 400 ISO, but the 100% crops here are detailed, smooth and clean.

Indoor: 6.31MB, Aperture Priority, 1/8, f5, ISO 800, 24-105mm IS at 24mm (equivalent to 24mm)

Our second indoor shot was taken with the sensitivity increased to 800 ISO. We used Aperture Priority to achieve a slightly greater depth of field than Program would have delivered, and the EF 24-105mm’s stabilisation has kept the result steady even at 1/8.The crops reveal fractional evidence of noise, but it’s virtually invisible here. Even pixel peeping will only reveal stacks of detail and a result that’s usable at maximum reproduction. An impressive result.

Indoor: 5.68MB, Program, 1/50, f5, ISO 1600, 24-105mm IS at 24mm (equivalent to 24mm)

Our final indoor shot was taken with the sensitivity at 1600 ISO. Here the Mark II is finally showing some evidence of noise, but it’s a fairly subtle texture in the background.As also seen on our High ISO Noise results pages, the 5D Mark II’s noise reduction does a good job of eliminating chroma artefacts, making what little noise you see more acceptable.

As you can see in the crops, there’s still a decent degree of fine detail present, and this would look good at all but the biggest enlargements.

Indoor: 12.1MB, Aperture Priority, 1/100, f8, ISO 25600, 24-105mm IS at 24mm (equivalent to 24mm)

The EOS 5D Mark II features the broadest sensitivity range of any Canon DSLR to date, but is the maximum 25,600 ISO setting usable? Here’s an example, and just compare the exposure to the one above.The crops understandably suffer from lots of noise, but it’s no worse than some DSLRs at 3200 ISO. It’s also as good as the Nikon D700 at 25600 ISO and avoids its sensor blooming on the ceiling lamp. The result is still best-reserved for small prints and emails, but it could get you out of a tricky spot.

Astro-photography: 8.74MB, Manual, 4 secs, f2, ISO 6400, 50mm 1.2L (equivalent to 50mm)

The initial release of the 5D Mark II suffered from ‘black dot’ artefacts. These affected images with high contrast subjects, typically a saturated white area next to one that’s very dark – such as city lights at night, or bright stars in astro photos.

This untracked image of the Southern Hemisphere night sky was taken with the 1.1.0 firmware update which Canon claims corrects the problem. While brighter stars have saturated halo effects here, there’s no evidence of black dots.

Buy Gordon a coffee to support cameralabs!

Like my reviews? Buy me a coffee!

Follow Gordon Laing

All words, images, videos and layout, copyright 2005-2022 Gordon Laing. May not be used without permission. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Website design by Coolgrey