Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Three years is a long time for any product to hang around, especially when the technology changes as rapidly as it does for digital cameras. Though it's always had a big fan base, Canon EOS 5D users have nonetheless been itching for more. The successor Canon delivers: the EOS
5D Mark II is in many ways a must-have upgrade, especially for the wedding photography crowd for whom the 5D is a workhorse. And with many of the imaging
components of the 1Ds Mark III (including a later version of the image-processing engine, Digic 4) for a price tag $5,000 lower, it's certainly an attractive alternative. It's also priced fairly aggressively compared with the competition despite its new 21-megapixel CMOS sensor and groundbreaking movie capture capability.
The camera comes in two official configurations: the body-only or a kit version with the EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens. Usually I'm not a fan of the lenses that ship as part of kits like this, but I ended up liking the 24-105mm a lot more than I expected and think it's a good match for anyone looking for a first lens to pair with the camera. As with all of the high-resolution models, however, it really makes a difference to go for the sharpest lenses in the arsenal.
Slightly heavier than its predecessor, the Mark II weighs just over 2 pounds. Canon says it beefed up the dust and weather sealing a bit around the card cover and buttons and improved rated shutter durability for up to 150,000 cycles. The body itself is a steel chassis covered with magnesium alloy. But while it's clearly solidly made, it nevertheless doesn't feel quite as tanklike as the D700. Like all of Canon's pro dSLRs, it's very comfortable to grip and shoot. The downside of the updated design is that it takes new accessories, including a new battery and new vertical grip.
Canon reorganized the controls a bit from the rest of its models. On the top sits the main dial plus four dual-purpose buttons that access adjustments for the metering (huge 3.5 percent spot, 8 percent partial, center-weighted, and evaluative) and white balance; AF (single, AI Servo and AI Focus) and drive modes; and ISO sensitivity and flash compensation. Unlike the Sony Alpha DLSR-A900, the top status LCD displays complete information; you can pull the current settings up on the rear LCD as well, but can't navigate them the way you can on that camera. I miss that, as well as the direct-control metering switch on the A900 and Nikon D700. The mode dial on the top left offers just the basics--as it should: Bulb, PASM, Auto, three custom settings slots, and the Creative Auto mode that debuted in the