- DIGIC 4 image processor, 14-bit ADC: The DIGIC 4 processor worked so well in the EOS 50D that Canon included it in the 5D Mark II. In combination with the Mark II’s other capabilities, the DIGIC 4 processor can do more in the Mark II: lens peripheral illumination correction and managing 21 megapixels of data at as much as 3.9 frames per second.
- Broader ISO sensitivity range: Canon increased the span of ISO sensitivity significantly on the 5D Mark II when compared to the EOS 5D and EOS-1Ds Mark III. These models have a “standardized range” of ISO 100 to 1600, widening to ISO 50 to 3200. Although the 5D Mark II has a smaller pixel pitch, it outperforms these ranges, with standardized at 100 to 6400 and a maximum scale of ISO 50 to ISO 25,600.
- Auto ISO in all modes other than manual: Buyers of the Mark II can add an automatic ISO option, which directs the camera to select the ISO setting from 100–3,200. When Auto, Program or Aperture Priority modes are selected, the camera will also try to control the shutter speed, so it is a ratio of 1/focal length. For example, when shooting with a 24mm lens, the shutter speed would be 1/25th or faster.
- Shorter Shutter Lag in Live View with Contrast AF: Canon has designed the Mark II, so the mirror isn’t required to drop between exposures when contrast-detect AF is used in Live View. This reduces the time from pressing the shutter release to exposure, and results in quieter operations. Another benefit is that the camera is using the main sensor to meter the light.
- Continuous shooting as much as 3.9 fps: Canon has been cautious with the Mark II’s continuous shooting rate because past burst claims were too liberal. At 3.9 frames per second, the EOS 5D Mark II provides enough speed to process those 21 megapixels of data coming through the pipe. In JPEG mode, the camera shoots a burst of as many as 78 frames onto a normal CF card or as many as 310, using a high-speed UDMA card.
- Live View and multiple AF modes: It’s not surprising that the Mark II has Live View as well as passive AF and contrast-detect AF support. What will capture many prospective buyers’ interest is that it also has face detect AF.
- Recording movies in Live View: Part 2 of this PhotographyTalk.com article presents the details of the EOS 5D Mark II video capabilities, but allowing movie recording in Live View is definitely the hottest feature.
- Automatic adjustment of LCD brightness: This feature has its upside and downside. The brightness level of the LCD monitor is automatically adjusted when the camera is being used in bright light, such as outdoors. Some photographers report, however, that sometimes it only works partially, rendering images darker on screen. They’ve found that it’s a good idea to refer to the histogram display often, as a better reading of the image.
- Live View silent shooting in two modes: Canon wisely decided to include the silent shooting capability of the 40D and 50D on the EOS 5D Mark II. An electronic shutter triggers the exposure (electronic first curtain) and a mechanical shutter completes the exposure. Mode 1 always re-cocks the shutter, while Mode 2 doesn't re-cock until the shutter button is released.
To maintain its market share, and even increase it if possible, Canon presented the EOS 5D Mark II. Not only would it please all Canon lovers, but also go head-to-head against Nikon and Sony. Photographers noticed quickly that Canon was pushing the standard forward, with a 21-megapixels sensor, 1080p video, 3.0" VGA LCD, Live View, higher capacity battery and many other features. Canon took the fight directly to Nikon and Sony by challenging the resolution of the D700 and offering more features than the DSLR-A900. A number of the features and capabilities of the Canon EOS 5D Mark II are detailed below.