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Canon EOS 5D Mark II

Review Date: Dec 19, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $2,699.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Increased resolution for cropping and enlargement (vs. original 5D), Live View for critical focusing when on a tripod, overall image quality, high ISO performance, menu system/navigation, dedicated AF-On button, easy to adapt older (and cheap) manual focus lenses, movie mode with full 1080p quality and shallow focus.
Resolution increase perhaps not quite as dramatic as one would hope (adds up to only about a 30% increase), high ISO modes above 6400 practically useless unless needed for straight documentation purposes, some older (3rd party brand) manual focus lenses will hit the mirror (just like orig. 5D -- i.e. no improvement in this area).

I've been using the 5D as my main digital camera for about 2.5 years. I have regularly told people that it it the best camera I'd ever owned in any format, film or digital. The 5D Mk II is better in every way and costs less than I paid for the original 5D. The Live View implementation on this camera is awesome. It's almost like working with a view camera (w/o movements). I'm mainly a fine art photographer, but sometimes do editorial work. I would use this camera for almost any assignment without hesitation.

The 5D II produces files that mix in well at large sizes with work I've shot on medium and large format film (6x7 and 4x5 respectively). Files from the original 5D, cropped to 4x5/8x10 aspect ratio, could go to 16x20 with acceptable results (for me). Files from the 5D Mark II seem to be able to go to 20x24 or even 24x30 in some cases (assuming one exposes carefully, on a tripod with mirror lockup, using a remote release, low ISO, etc.). Just amazing results, astonishing really. With the lenses I own, L zooms and non-L primes (plus some old Pentax manual focus lenses I'm using with an adpater), I don't think it will get much better than this with a 35mm chip (i.e., the next generation will be like 50D vs. 40D on crop sensors).

The 5D II gets my highest recommendation for a 35mm form factor camera, almost regardless of format. Very competitive with files from medium format digital systems at comparable megapixel counts. Not much else to say. I feel like someone made a camera especially for me. Canon, I could kiss you!