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Canon EOS 5D Mark II

5DII_1_
Review Date: Mar 22, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $2,699.99 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Low noise at high ISOs, Great color, Nice LCD screen, Contrasty images, Beautiful 1080p HD video, Nice step up from 1.6x crop cameras
Cons:
Maximum of 1/200th Flash sync speed or slower, AF system is old, Needs more focal points, Availability of batteries is simply terrible... I've been stuck with 1 battery since for almost 4 months.

My 3rd DSLR. I started with a 20D and then upgraded to a 40D a year later. I wanted the original 5D for quite some time but decided to wait for an updated version, and I'm glad I did. I got my 5D Mark II the day before my 30th birthday. It was the ultimate birthday present to myself!

Let's start with the negative aspects... Moving from 1.6x crop camera sensor to Full Frame is a huge deal and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Your habits may change a little, focusing and recomposing suddenly becomes more difficult do to the shallower depth of field. Because of this, I really wish Canon gave us more focal points to choose from, I only really trust the center point on this camera. Of course having a shallower depth of field is what makes this camera great, you can get creamy bokeh that just isn't possible out of a 20D or 40D, unless you have some ridiculously expensive lenses.

Another issue this camera has its its slow flash sync speed. It's the same as the original 5D, which is 1/200th of a second. You get another 1/3rd of a stop with most crop camera's in Canon's lineup, and better if you decide to get a 1D or 1Ds series camera. If your external flash supports high speed sync (Canon's do) this isn't a major problem except that it eats batteries faster, gives you less range, and the recycle time is longer. It's not going to prevent you from getting any shot that you could get with your 40D, but its a minor annoyance that Canon should have addressed.

Wildlife photographers.... Unless you plan on taking photos of larger animals, or larger birds you might want to pass on the 5D Mark II unless you have a 500mm or longer lens. I have a 300mm f/4L IS + a 1.4x TC which gives me a focal length of 420mm and an aperture of f/5.6 wide open, and I can tell you its not even close to enough. I'll do great with this at most zoos, sitting outside in view of a bird feeder, at parks where birds are used to humans, but not many other scenarios. I would assume a 500mm + 1.4x TC should be enough to get highly detailed shots at a reasonable distance, if your serious about wildlife photographer you probably have a 500, 600, or 800mm anyway. Otherwise those of us who own a lens like the 300mm f/4 or 400mm f/5.6, the best choice might be the Canon 50D. You will get almost twice the detail.

My only other real problem is the shortage of batteries. Because of new battery technology, you can only buy this battery from Canon (as of this writing) and they have been sold out since I got my 5D Mark II in December. I need at least a 2nd battery, if not a 3rd, and I can't find them anywhere and I'm not alone on this. Batteries are also a bit expensive, at $79.95 the cheapest I've seen, if you need an extra one now be prepared to shell out up to $170 for a desperation cost that scalpers are taking advantage of.

So what do I like about the 5D Mark II? For starters the noise at higher ISOs is a good stop and a half cleaner than my 40D. Also, you will typically see less color banding, which became a problem over iso 1600 on the 40D.

The color and contrast that comes from the 5D Mark II with the right lenses is nothing short of amazing. You will see some of the best looking photos using this camera with a high quality lens like the 135mm f/2L, 85mm f/1.2L mkII, 35mm f/1.4L, etc. The 5D Mark II has greater dynamic range in both the shadows and highlights than the original 5D and all of Canon's crop cameras. Especially in the highlights you can get very white "whites" with detail, when older cameras might overexpose. It's amazing to me that there are 3 Nikons, and 1 Sony camera that have slightly better dynamic range than the 5D Mark II. However, I wouldn't trade this camera for any of those.

I could go on and on about how amazing this camera is but I'll stop here.



 
Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM

ef135mmf_2l_1_
Review Date: Apr 22, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $900.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Perfect color reproduction, contrast, and wonderful bokeh even on a crop camera! Tack sharp wide open and even sharper stopped down a little. Canon's best lens ever.
Cons:
Nothing bad to say about this lens.

I'll recap what I said for the pros (and lack of cons) here:

Simply an amazing lens! Well worth the price. The results will blow you away, if not you or your camera is at fault, not this lens. Honestly the focal length will take some getting used to on a crop camera, especially indoors. Having said that I am fine with the focal length and I feel its made rethink how I compose my subject in the frame. Perfect color reproduction, contrast, and wonderful bokeh even on a crop camera! Tack sharp wide open and even sharper stopped down a little. Canon's best lens ever.

A future mkII version could have weather sealing, rounded aperture blades, f/1.8, and maybe IS. Although, I wouldn't want IS if it hurts the image quality.