« MOCA in Peril | Main | Microtek to Close Doors »

Wednesday, 10 December 2008


I'll wait anxiously your post, currently I am shooting with a d200 and I am thinking in jumping to a FF DSLR, It seems that the D700 is the logical step, but spend more than 2000 € in 2 more MP... its hard to swallow. I'm thinking in selling my nikon kit and get the 5DII with a 35mm f2 and a 135mm f2. Light and high quality kit for landscapes and portraits.

PS: Don't forget to write some words about the canon 35mm f2 lens.

I'm really, really curious what will your thoughts will be on the Canon. I love the 5D. I quite like the 1DS II. I was disappointed with the test shots I did with the 1DS III and subsequently kept my wallet in my pocket.

Looking forward to a comparison between the 5D II and the Sony 900.

Good luck!

I'm afraid I can't compare the 5D Mark II to the A900, at least not directly. The Sony has been gone for some time now, more's the pity.

Mike J.

Beware the black dots to the right of bright point light sources.

Unless they fix that issue, I will not buy a 5DM2.

It's bad enough that it has crap AF and 1/200 X-sync. Black dots are the final straw.

I suspect you'll find that the more substantive differences between these two cameras are based on handling rather than image quality.

Here's an example: On the Nikon D700, the front dial always controls the aperture, regardless of what exposure mode you're in. On the Canon EOS 5D II, the front dial controls the aperture only when you're in AV mode. If you're in TV or M mode, the front dial controls the shutter speed.

I've been shooting with Canon SLRs for more than ten years, yet I still haven't gotten used to this design quirk. I can imagine how disorienting it would be for photographers used to Nikons, Pentaxes and other cameras designed differently from Canon. And let's not even get started on how the menus are designed and organized. Even though it's freezing cold outside, you can find plenty to write about simply by comparing the operational differences between the two cameras.

I was hoping you might compare the 5DII to the previous 5D. I know there are websites dedicated to that kinda thing, but I'd rather read some more matter-of-fact comparison. I actually just bought an "old" 5D and I won't buy the new body until I'm sure they're shipping glitch-free, so there's still time.

It's not that surprising that the 5DmII's somewhat smaller and lighter than the D700.
That pretty much comes down to the D700's pop-up flash (a major win for flash shooters as the D700's popup can command all the CLS wizardry, but also has to go somewhere, hence the extra height) and the tougher build.

Mike: If you can't compare the 5D II to the A900, at least repeat that picture on the same landscape you did with the A900 and D700; I'd like to see if the sensor of the Canon 5D II is enabled to capture even more leaves. :P

Of course, the Nikon has a built in flash and the Canon does not.

It's too bad that Canon 35mm f2 is pretty rough unless you stop it down to at least f5.6 or so.

I like the lens enough, despite it's cheesy build quality, but it would be nice if it was better at wider apertures. It's easy to handle and manages to match the expensive 35mm L lens at smaller apertures.

Having been a Canon user for about 15 years, I previously had never considered any other brand. But since I've been reading this site lately, the D700 is looking quite appealing. I'm very much looking forward to a comparison of the two, especially with regard to the high ISO features of the Canon.

Apart from both being full frame and roughly the same size/heft, they are fundamentally different:

5DM2: Resolution Powerhouse with Cheap Shutter, Poor AF, Poor Handling, Poor Feature Set, Standard Build

D700: Top of the line Handling, Build, Shutter, AF, Features and a sensor with sub par resolution even compared with some P&S cameras (G10).

I suppose for landscapes via tripod, for studio portraits and for macro work, 5MD2 wins. For everything else -- for any subject that moves, or in any situation with less than perfect light, D700 wins.

For most photographers, I think D700 wins.

Or another way to think about it:

D700: Near perfect camera that could handle a higher rez sensor.

5DM2: Amazing sensor in an indefensibly crap body.

*That reminds me...when I was teaching photo in the 1980s, I took glow-in-the-dark tape and spelled out "PATIENCE" in big letters on the wall of the film-loading room. Yet another once-commonplace reality of photography now relegated to quaintness.*

So we are now quaint, eh? Those of us who still hand develop film.

Perhaps the "Patience" should have been
followed by the word "GRASSHOPPER?"

Oh, c'mon, surely it must be worth a ride in the car down to Leon's for a few pics. That place must look pretty in the snow (and dark of night) with all the neon, although those are 2 strikes against it. Might be prettier in the sleet, another strike. Kopp's on Bluemound is a lot closer, but not as pretty. I may need to hop in the car for 5 hours myself. Mmm, burgers, custard.

Ah, but what are we talking about? The 5D. I have the original, love it. It seems if a person can get over the "issues" that the original 5D has (i.e. it's not a Nikon), the 5Dm2 just offers more, cooler features. The issue for me is whether it's *that much* ($3k) better than the original. As others, I await your opinions with interest.


Hundreds (maybe thousands) of small-FF (A900, D700, 5Dii) potential owners are reading these posts everyday so that you could make their decision for them ;-)

Good thing you're not a politician from Illinois ;-)

Surprising to hear so many negative comments regarding the 5D (I&II). I think you have to applaud Canon for offering a reasonably priced 20+ MP body. Of course I also applaud Nikon for offering such a competent camera in the D700. The 5D mkII body is what it is. Seemingly it is not as well built as the Nikon, but I don't hear many stories about broken 5Ds. Importantly to me, the 5D does weigh less. In fact, the D700 is closer in weight to the Canon 1D mkIII than the 5D mkII.

From some of the gripes I read about cameras, you'd think that what people really want to be able to do is dunk their camera underwater, throw it on the ground, pick it up and focus within 1/500th of a second on the upper-right corner of the viewfinder and then shoot 8 pictures in a second for the purpose of pixel peeping.

I got a little freaked out there for a second, I have the 5dmkII next to me with the same exact lens on it. I've been using a bigger (but wider angled 24mm L) lens mostly, but the 35mm is, well, small. Something you never see self-proclaimed lens pundits acknowledging as a factor worthy of consideration.

And I guess I don't know much about cameras, either. I came to this from the Canon XTi, a "consumer level" camera that maxed out at a noisy ISO 1600, was made of plastic, and with less FPS and presumably crappier AF.

"Cheap Shutter, Poor AF, Poor Handling, Poor Feature Set, Standard Build"

AF seems great to me. I point it at things and it focuses. The outer points aren't as good as the inner points. So what? I can live with that. Maybe there's some amazing AF ambrosia that I have yet to taste and therefore don't comprehend what I'm missing, but this works great for me.

Someone else commented that the body sucks. Again, I must be missing the boat. Compared to my XTi it's a freaking tank. And I've dropped that XTi a few times. Only my Canonet and XA are more solid than this.

Please PLEASE test the weather seals for us. I mean, what do YOU have to lose, right? It's a loaner ;-)

There is nothing wrong with the AF of the original 5D - at least, if you are in the focus and recompose type of person, like I m. Just use the centre point AF.

I have shot many weddings and events (with people, of course) in low light and never have a problem with AF. As a simple camera, it reminds me of a Leica R8, in feel and heft. Focus, recompose, shoot.

Of course, that does not mean it can't be improved.

I have switched to the D700 now, but feel obligated to defend the original 5d's "crappy" af.

"5DM2: Resolution Powerhouse with Cheap Shutter, Poor AF, Poor Handling, Poor Feature Set, Standard Build

D700: Top of the line Handling, Build, Shutter, AF, Features and a sensor with sub par resolution even compared with some P&S cameras (G10).

I suppose for landscapes via tripod, for studio portraits and for macro work, 5MD2 wins. For everything else -- for any subject that moves, or in any situation with less than perfect light, D700 wins.

For most photographers, I think D700 wins."

I don't know who you are, perhaps I should. I'm wondering on what basis you made these judgements. Could you elaborate?

I'm looking forward to reading your thoughts on the 5DMkII, written as usual from the point of view of a photographer and not an optical test engineer.

I've been shooting with the 5D for a bit over 2.5 years, and I love the thing... If the Mark II lives up to the hype, I'm hoping I'll be plonking down the cash for mine sometime in April...

"5DM2: Amazing sensor in an indefensibly crap body"

After the "D3X price rant" video this is another good laugh, thanks!

This, and the comment from our friend Gordon Lewis about the stupid usage of the dials on 20d/30d/5d... bodies says it all. Canon makes nice lenses and have great sensors, but the bodies are crap and obviously they have no intention in improving these aspects.

I always wondered why I never read about the dial issue. For me this is a killer, seriously: my brain isn't smart enough to compensate for Canon's lack of imagination regarding user friendly interface design.

And Mike: the efforts you put into using all these cameras and sharing your impressions is highly appreciated by myself, even though I am not considering a system change at the moment. And I don't call KenRockwell either ;-))

best always

My, my.
All these fine, pretti, full frame machines.
Kinda, .......well
Makes a fella kinda.............itchy.

A burger and a custard sound mighty good right now.

12 MP is sub par resolution! I switched to digital with the D1x (5.6 MP) and have carefully uprezed images to 20X30 that put my old 645 images to shame. I also own a G10 and can honestly say it is my favorite point and shoot (today) but to say it compares to equally to a D700 is a stretch, beyond ISO 200 it isn't even close.

I think that we are getting too wrapped up in the marketing hype here.


"5DM2: Amazing sensor in an indefensibly crap body."

Well, what do you expect for $2500? ;-)

On a more serious note, unless you have evidence that a significant number of photographers are having problems with 5Ds falling apart in their hands, then the quote above is simply your opinion, not a fact.

I have had the 5DMKII for a couple weeks now. I had the 5DMKI for a few years.I have had the 1DsMKIII since it was released. My original 5D has 120,000 actuations and has never been in the repair shop. It still works well, so I don't think it can fairly be said that it has a cheap shutter or build quality. The shutter on the 1Ds does sound better. I have never had a problem with focusing on any of these. I also have some Nikon equipment, and I don't see a significant difference in build quality from Canon. I am used to the Canon ergonomics. Nikon and Canon both make great cameras. The 5DMKII is unquestionably a remarkable camera.


Other MJ:
Just curious, have you actually used the 5D Mark II and D700 for your own shooting for any length of time?

I'm planning to use them and then say only what I learn about them through use. I find I'm on safer ground that way....

Mike J.

I heard that someone was getting an extra frame by not mounting the flash card completely on the 5DMII. I also read that the registration is too accurate on the D700, so a 37th frame is impossible. Can you verify this Mike?

Have they done anything about the lousy off-centre AF point performance, shutter lag and mirror blackout?

Clicked on top photo to scrutinize two cameras.
Canon: Smooth skin all around.
Nikon: Covered with warts. Must send it back.

DXO now have the 5DII rated. According to them, I could live with it, or the Nikons, or the Sony.

I'm looking forward to it. I use the original 5D at work for all sorts of things (including things that move) and really like it. If I hadn't bought a 40D last year I'd probably have ordered a 5D II for myself already.

As for the peculiarities of user interfaces, I'm a confirmed agnostic on that particular sort of religion. I suspect we could trace it back to Thog and Urg arguing about what kind of animal hairs made the best brushes for cave painting. Cameras from different manufacturers have always been designed to function somewhat differently. The spice of life, and all that.

Wow. The megapixel monster is truly a scary beast.

It seems that now that there are cameras with 20+ megapixel sensors in the "affordable" range the D700's 12 megapixel sensor has suddenly become inadequate.

Let's not forget that 12 megapixels will quite comfortably handle double-truck in an A4 publication (that's approximately an A3 image size) without the need to uprez.

Looking forward to the 5DII review nonetheless.

From an aesthetic viewpoint, I definitely like the size and styling of the Canon much better over the Nikon or Sony- not that I'm anywhere near buying any of 'em.

I have both the 35/2.0 and the 35/1.4 Canon lenses.

I'm very fond of the 35/2.0 even though it's not optically as good as the 1.4 and it doesn't focus as fast, the images have a very nice character, it's small, light and incredibly good vlue for money.

Where do you get all of these toys?

That 35/1.4 is an incredible lens, especially on a crop camera. It's the only thing I miss from the Canon world.

I really, really love that lens. It's great till 2.8, and then at 2.0 it becomes a holga.

I'd say 90% of the photographs I really like I've taken with that lens.

I hitchhiked through the Canadian Maritimes with that lens, the 5d and a 580ex. Never used the flash, but the camera combination is so awesome.

The other MJ - a Nikon fan? 3 reasons I don't like Nikon: shutter release is in the wrong place (it's uncomfortable for me to use compared to others), front dial likewise, I don't get their menu system.
I like my Canons, their ergonomics, the way they work, the pictures they make. Sure, I could improve some things but I could do that with anything I buy.

They're all good. they all take decent pictures. Pick one you like, get out and use it.

The new Canon is certainly a game changer. I've made my investment into the Nikon camp - so I eagerly await Nikon's answer.

The 5D2/35mm f1.4 may be well balanced but I’d much rather carry the f2 around all day. In fact I do much of the time. I’ve just begun using the 5D2 (after using the 5D for 3 years) with a 35mm (or a 24mm for close quarters) and it is mind-boggling to use a relatively small/light/rugged camera capable of making superb 24 inch prints from images created under nearly any lighting conditions. Each time a new worthy-looking P&S comes out I get tempted until I remember that the 5D-type body with a small prime is so little burden and is so much more capable.

Please excuse the rant ...

As an owner of the D700 I can say that I'm thrilled with it's performance in every way. It is a "Baby D3". The body itself is a joy to use. The files made by the chip are clean, sharp and has a totally professionally usable ISO 3200. When I got mine I did a test shot of the D700 @ ISO 6400 and the D200 that it replaced in my arsenal @ ISO 800 and the D700's file was the better looking. Would I like a bigger file from the D700? Maybe but my clients don't seem to mind a bit. It is a small yet totally professional DSLR for just about everything besides huge prints. It's exactly what a working pro who doesn't specialize in sports would want.

Oh and it works great for sports too. Especially with the grip and booster battery.

But the whole "It's only 12 MPX ... how puny!" deal is just silly. That's like saying that the only way to get a quality print is from a 4x5 camera. The files from the D700, D3, and even the original Canon 1Ds beat the tar out of 35mm scans and in some cases equal MF scans. I know plenty of commercial photogs who ditched their Hasselblads for the original 1Ds a few years ago.

Yet the 21 MPX 5DII isn't built to be a pro body. It has a junky focus system and Canon still can't figure out how to make their pop-up flash be a wireless controller like Nikon has had for years - which is wonderful and I use it regularly. So even if the 5DII has a killer chip, which is most likely does, how many serious amateurs honestly need a 21 MPX camera? Most amateurs don't make prints bigger than 5x7. Serious amateurs go bigger but this camera's resolution is like shooting an RB67 on your holiday. It's not really a Pro camera and it's priced and speced higher than sensible amateurs need. Huh?

Anyhoo, I'll bet ya a bag of doughnuts that in about a year we get a D800 that is the D3x chip in the smaller format body. Then you can have a choice: the small "645" digital cam or the small "6x9" digital cam.

(Rant mode off) Carry on!

I really like the 35/1.4 on a 1-D series body. It makes very nice images wide open -- very sharp subjects and nice soft edges. Looking forward to trying it on a full-frame camera.

To the poster who asked about autofocus Nirvana -- it's called a 1-D series body, in particular the 1-D Mark II or the Mark IIN. Compared to my 40D -- which is perfectly adequate -- the 1D2 just blows it away.

I have to say I find it kind of...interesting that such a debate has been ignited here already...and I haven't even said anything about the 5D Mark II yet, other than that it's a little smaller and lighter than the D700.

It's not a competition, after all. Call me a Pangloss, call me a Pollyanna, but I, for one, believe that it's possible for people who use Canons and Nikons to live in the same communities. They could go drink at the same bar, as long as they checked their cameras at the door. They could even attend the same church. It's not even beyond the realm of possibility that the daughter of a Canon 5D MArk II user and the son of a Nikon D700 user could even...wed, if they loved each other enough and were ready to withstand the inevitable disapproval of some elements of the broader society.

I know some people might be shocked at such a statement. So I hasten to add that, of course, the young people would need to go to counseling.

Mike J.

I use Pentax K10D because that's all can afford and it was the first that made their digital cameras backward compatible with manual lenses. Unfortunately, it was too late when Nikon came along with their D series cameras. But the point is I see no difference between the images I take and the Nikon or Canon cameras. In the era of Manual cameras, despite using a Nikon (stumbled on it, I never came to the conclusion that other makes were not just as good. Quite the contrary, many of my fellow camera club members used other makes took very good images. Some of the comments for or against the Nikon or Canon are no doubt intended to be provocative.

poor handling? what are you people talking about? It's such an awesome feeling camera. You don't like the wheel? Don't get one. Kidding there but the 5d is a super natural feeling camera to use.

The big glaring flaw which I'm perfectly willing to acknowledge is the old 5d is leaky like a 4 year olds nose. I came very close to destroying mine in a heavy mist and since then I'm totally paranoid about taking it out in anything but the sunniest days. In my above mentioned hitchhiking trip, I kept it in a ziplock bag with a cutout for the lens the whole trip.

WOW!! Lotta traffic here for a simple camera review.....wait!! This is no simple camera...
this is where we get to hear whether the 5DMk2
is the same quantum leap ahead in image quality that the original was. I gotta dollar to a soggy doughnut what says it is....
best wishes, Mike, you've got us all here, poised with quivering keyboards, hanging on your every word....

While I'm no longer a big Canon fan I've not switched to Nikon because to me they look too "warty". Kind of ugly cameras in my eyes. Evidence seems to indicate all these things make great images - better than I can really use myself. I just shoot for fun.

In most states I believe the wedding you propose might be illegal, only cameras and lenses can be so joined. And even then there are significant hurdles to joining different brands...

Look forward to hearing your actual-use comparisons. It's a refreshing change from too much other gear-writing on the net. (Which is itself a sad statement, that we become connoisseurs of gear reviews, not of pictures.)

"It's not even beyond the realm of possibility that the daughter of a Canon 5D Mark II user and the son of a Nikon D700 user could even...wed"

God help the poor photographer that gets hired to shoot *that* wedding.

The "dial thing" is a complete non-issue. I've Canon for years, as well as Nikon for work sometimes and never in a million years would I have taken offense to that little design niggle. It is what it is. It's a total non-issue.

Just some random comments:

If 12MP is "sub-par" resolution, then I have to wonder about print size. My 8MP Canon 30D allows me to produce quite nice 19"x13" prints. I'm on temporary assignment and so away from my decent printer, but I'll be most interested to see what, if any, real-world difference the 15MP my new 50D produces at that size of print.

I have noticed, just looking on-screen at photos, that only my best lenses seem to take advantage of the higher-resolution sensor. My EF 35mm/f2 lens (while much appreciated for its small size, weight and price) is not one of those lenses. Again, though, it will be interesting to see how much real-world difference this makes to 19"x13" prints (the largest size I can print myself).

All pixels are not created equal. The Canon G10 has 15MP....yet very obviously its images do not exceed the D700's despite its fewer megapixels!

It is NOT safe to assume that just because the Canon 5DII has almost double the megapixels means it's going to have better image quality than the D700. In fact the image quality could end up being very similar for any given print size...right up to billboard-sized.

Case in point is the recent Canon 50D...testing has found the image quality is scarcely differentiated from the 40D despite the jump from 10 to 15 megapixels. Personally I'd rather have better pixels than more.

Just tell us how it FEELS to use in comparison to the Sony and Nikon. Forget about all the nit picking specs we can get those elsewhere. Reading this blog is akin to reading your favourite book or film reviewer. After a period of time one gets to know their strengths and weakness in relation to one's own preferences which then allows implicit trust.


You are starting to sound like PG Wodehouse - I am sure the Oldest Member would approve :-)

"It's not a competition, after all. Call me a Pangloss, call me a Pollyanna, but I, for one, believe that it's possible for people who use Canons and Nikons to live in the same communities. They could go drink at the same bar, as long as they checked their cameras at the door. They could even attend the same church. It's not even beyond the realm of possibility that the daughter of a Canon 5D MArk II user and the son of a Nikon D700 user could even...wed, if they loved each other enough and were ready to withstand the inevitable disapproval of some elements of the broader society."

I used to have a Canon EOS 1-V HS and then a 5D. Loved the lenses (1.4/35L & 1.4/50), hated the bodies. The ergonomics were horrible, unless you ran the camera in full auto mode.

The impression I came away with was that Canon's philosophy was "you press the shutter, we'll do the rest." I almost got the feeling that their designers considered any form or manual control as antiquated and quaint. The dial on the back was a nightmare if you ran the camera in manual mode. It would move and change your settings the moment it brushed up against something and selecting focus points was slow.

Nikon on the other hand retained the ability to run their electronic wonder cameras in manual mode with no compromise. This goes all the way back to the F4, F5 and F100. I sold all of my Canon gear and bought a D700 and never feel like I am fighting the ergonomics of the camera to make it do what I wanted to. The camera 'disappears' when I am shooting, be it in manual or automated mode.

We tend to focus on the technical specifications of a camera, as the deciding factor for purchase, but I believe that handling and ergonomics are just as important. If the camera is awkward and slow to use, you are going to miss shots and that is a far bigger problem than a little extra noise.

I've owned and used extensively the original 5d for 2 1/2 years. I've shot weddings at night without flash, street basketball, done studio portraits, and available light portraits outside. And lots more. It has never failed. It's been in wet weather (kept in bag during downpour). It does not have a crap body...it feels just as nice as my son's Leica M6. The AF works fine...I only use the center spot, and have no desire to do otherwise. I would not use it to shoot professional sports or a war, but for anything else, it's a totally good professional camera. I have NO buyer's remorse, and will look hard at the M2 after the kinks are fixed.

Ah, a peace maker of sorts--it certainly fits the season. And what with all the hype over the new bodies, the over stated web rants, fanboy flames, etc, such a personage is a welcome change. (But beware: even with the holiday season approaching, and good cheer should be had by all, you still may need that flame resistant suit for the "Humbug" sorts who inevitably appear in these discussions.)

Peace be with you (and everyone else for that matter).


P.S. What kind of camera do you suppose the Ghost of Christmas Future Past would have? Sorry for the sudden question, but Kenneth Moore's role in "A Christmas Carol" just popped into my head. I somehow envision him will a red leather Leica. Just a bit over the top, but a jolly vision to be sure.

>>I have to say I find it kind of...interesting that such a debate has been ignited here already...and I haven't even said anything about the 5D Mark II yet, other than that it's a little smaller and lighter than the D700.

It's not a competition, after all. Call me a Pangloss, call me a Pollyanna, but I, for one, believe that it's possible for people who use Canons and Nikons to live in the same communities. They could go drink at the same bar, as long as they checked their cameras at the door. They could even attend the same church. It's not even beyond the realm of possibility that the daughter of a Canon 5D MArk II user and the son of a Nikon D700 user could even...wed, if they loved each other enough and were ready to withstand the inevitable disapproval of some elements of the broader society.

I know some people might be shocked at such a statement. So I hasten to add that, of course, the young people would need to go to counseling.

Mike J.

As a Pentax user I am not really in a position to comment on these cameras, although I must say that some of the comments I read are very fair while others hint at a certain "brand bias". My reason for commenting is regarding the 35mm lenses. I use a Pentax FA 35mm f2 lens most of the time. With my APS sized sensor it gives me (effectively) a "normal" lens so I will not comment on the field of view but in sharpness, this old design (shooting wide open) is far sharper than any other lens I have used, and is quite compact as well.

My only comment on the cameras in question is that it is quite refreshing to see three competitors in this market which all possess excellent features. Sometimes I think Canon has been sitting on their past successes and now that there is finally some truly creditable competition they may not be quite sure what to do about it. The new 5D MkII is a great camera but it has not addressed the real photographer issues, such as handling, instead the company chose to add new features such as video capture. This is not a bad thing but it seems to me, as an outsider, that the 50D (which is much better suited for photojournalism) may have been a better choice for video capture. I guess all of those wedding photographers who liked the original 5D may now also be wedding videographers.

I look forward to your comments Mike, this blog and Michael Reichmann's site are a refreshing break from the pixel peeping reviews found elsewhere since you both deal with the camera in the real world where the artistic merit of an image is seldom dependent on the absolute resolution or frame rate.

Keep it up.

Looking forward to your impressions Mike. The 5D II sounds like a great camera.

As I look around some of the larger photography forums, it's remarkable how obsessed people are on which camera is the absolute low light champ. I like sensor comparisons more than most people, and I'm glad people are producing comparisons everywhere I look. However, there are plenty of tests now making it clear that the 5D II and D700 are similar enough at super high ISO that they are the same for practical purposes. What difference could it possibly make to a photographer that their camera holds the signal to noise title by a few percentage points?

There are plenty of more practical considerations in choosing amongst the three sub-$3K full frame cameras. Most importantly (to me), the lens offerings are very different. Then there are all the obvious differences: Nikon lacks the resolution of the other two. The Sony is the only one that will stabilize all your lenses. The control system and feel of the cameras differ. The AF systems and burst rates are different. And so forth.

These differences must be weighed against personal needs and wants. For example, many consider the major advantage of the D700 over the 5D II to be the autofocus system, whereas what I've come to appreciate with the D700 is the "manual focus system". It's a much more satisfying experience for manual focus than my 5D (original) was, mainly because what was in focus in the 5D viewfinder was not in focus in the picture. I also appreciate the way the "digital rangefinder" arrows jump if my manual focus moves a hair. I don't look at those indicators often, because the screen gives an accurate impression of focus, but they are a nice "comfort" feature. I like having an aperture ring on my ZF lenses. I like being able to buy a cheap 24/2.8 AIS that is optically great (IMO), has a good feel for manual focus, and clear, usable distance markings for zone focusing.

The other feature I really appreciate with the D700 is the Nikon implementation of auto ISO. With the quality of sensors these days, ISO is something I don't want to even bother with any more. I want to determine framing, perspective, DOF, exposure, and shutter speed; but I'll be the first to concede that a computer is better than I am at choosing the appropriate ISO in 99% of circumstances.

These are three amazing cameras. After reading about, and ideally trying them, it's key to pause and consider one's individual requirements.

@Chris Norris: Comparing the 5D/5DmII to the D700 (roughly the same price) and the 5D body & AF are porly built and slow. The D700 gets near-pro level build and AF which rivals the 1 series and D3. The 5D body is basically the 40D/50D body. You're seeing the build and AF improvements from the 5D that buying a 40D for under $1000 would have netted you. The 5D series has always been about sticking a world class sensor and processing into an amateur level body. It's just that there's competition now and Nikon's been sticking a world-class low-MP sensor into a much higher-end body and charging similar money to a 5DmII.

How can you have this camera in house and not find the same issues that I found after having it for only one hour???
After I found hot spots, (black dots and single red dots) at ISO 1600 and ISO 3200, only approx 3 out of 10 images sharp. I was, for the first time, angry at Canon. How the heck can they keep releasing Camera's without a good solid QA going out the door. Now after the 1D focus issues they have lost all face.

I then picked up the D700 and was simply blown away. This week, after enjoying Canon Gear for 25 years, I put all my gear up for sale and am outfitting with the D700 for many reasons. This is BAD for everyone because I'm finding left and right that a great many people are doing this and once Canon has lost their base, which they will, Nikon can leave prices just where they are..... Sony is going to have a rough time, not many have the pocket for a Med Format. but again, I must ask you, how can so many people be having the same problem this week and you and other "reviewers" are not??????

I have both the 5D and for the past week a 5DII. My favourite type of shooting tends to be evening street photography, here in Hastings UK we have many pub crawls thinly disguised as fancy dress events this being one example: http://potd.against-the-dark.com/index.php?year=2008&month=8&day=12
My initial impressions are that though the 5DII can shoot higher ISOs what noise there is tends to be "blotchy" unlike the fine grain of the 5D;for my type of photography I would have preferred retaining the 5D resolution and going for much cleaner images but I understand others will feel differently.
The two features that have impressed me most is firstly the AF adjustment for individual lenses; I spent a fun day adjusting my lens collection and yes, it made a big difference, much low light work is done with wide open apertures and I cant think how many shots I've taken when the focus point ends up and inch or two beyond the eyes with a slightly out of focus nose!
The second major improvement, and don't laugh here, is at last you can plug the camera into a computer and get the files off without installing any software as it appears as a "mass storage device" just like almost every other camera has done for ages..
Oh and lastly but not least, the 1080p video; absolutely awesome but I have yet to find a computer that can play it without dropping frames!

I'm amused by David who is just fine with using only the center AF point and recomposing with the 5D and 5DM2.

I'm also amused by Chris moving up from his XTi and suggesting the cheap shutter, 1/200 X-sync, and low FPS of the 5DM2 aren't an issue -- obviously because he's used to suffering the same with his XTi.

The difference between 1/200 and 1/250 x-sync with a flash is HUGE. GIANT. Somewhere between them (and close to 1/250) is the limit that makes flash photography practical. And I would readily pay $500 more for any camera to move from 1/250 to 1/500.

The difference between 3.9 and 5 fps is also huge. This is more subjective, but for me, 5 fps is pretty much always fast enough, and less than 4 leaves me frustrated when photographing kids.

And mostly amused by Seth who demands to know who I am and how I make such judgments. Um, well, I'm me, and mostly I'm pointing out facts. If were doing otherwise, you could more effectively argue against me.

I shoot with a 40D right now. The body is superior to the 5DM2 body in meaningful ways: AF, shutter speed, X-sync, mirror blackout, FPS, etc.

Why, OH WHY, does Canon not make a full frame camera with a half decent body around it? With Canon, for full frame, you have two choices: Super luxury insanely priced 1DM3 or pathetically crippled 5DM2. Where's the middle ground? My money is waiting, but I may just go with Nikon who has hit the sweet spot with the D700, even if I have to buy new lenses.

Regarding my resolution comments about the D700 vs G10:

I know the G10 is a noise machine. I used to have a G7 and I sold it because I couldn't handle the noise at ISO 80. BUT in bright light, at low ISO, the G10 /does resolve/ more detail than the D700. That's all I'm saying here.

Similarly, the D300 and 50D out resolve the D700. I'm not saying any of these are better cameras than the D700 -- not by a long shot. But they can resolve more detail in ideal circumstances. That's all!

Adam wrote: "The 5D body is basically the 40D/50D body. You're seeing the build and AF improvements from the 5D that buying a 40D for under $1000 would have netted you. "

I wish that were true, Adam! If it were, I'd buy one.

The reality is the 40D/50D have /better/ bodies than the 5D/5DM2:

40D/50D AF is better -- all 9 points are cross type, and spread over a much larger portion of the frame. 40D/50D have 1/250 X-sync for far superior flash photography than possible with the 1/200 of the 5D/5DM2. And 40D/50D have over 6 fps vs. 3.9 of the 5DM2 or just 3 on the 5D.

I'm struck by the amount of anger in some of these comments. Anger at this or that camera company for foisting such horribly inadequate products on a clueless public (including, presumably, countless professionals who voluntarily use that brand, apparently because they are not as discerning as the commenter is). Anger at reviewers who care about other things than (or completely fail to see) some huge glaring problem that the commenter has personally identified as a life-or-death issue. Anger at consumers who only encourage the companies' ineptness by buying the worthless "crap" being offered because those consumers aren't as discriminating as the commenter is.

For relief, I look to TOP and its more charitable contributors as a kind of chill pill, a reminder to settle down and relax, to stop foaming and spewing venom, and remember that we're just talking about little handheld gizmos that take pictures. Our host's otherwise-pleasant job of sorting out those gizmos is unenviable only because they are, for all practical purposes, pretty much alike (the best evidence of that similarity is the almost embarrassingly trivial nature of the differences being argued).

If reading and talking about cameras causes one's blood pressure to rise, one should either find a different hobby or passion, or one should probably migrate to the overheated online argument forums where the whole point seems to be getting each others' dander up.

Me? I'm staying right here.

Gasp! How can someone's experience vary from mine? Inconceivable!

I would like to propose that only those who have actually shot with the 5D Mark II be allowed to slag off (a) it's construction, (b) its ergonomics, and (c) its image quality. Just sayin'.

@Other MJ:

I understand your points on the 40D vs 5DmII, but frankly I don't see them being a serious issue.

Yes, the 40D has better AF point coverage and better outer points but the 5D's AF system is superior in low-light on the centre point. I consider that a wash (outer points are generally less useful than centre points on any camera)

1/250 vs 1/200 sync is nothing, I'm still shooting with cameras that have 1/60th sync. These high-sync speed low-end DSLR's like the XTi are a boon to flash photography and a 1/3 stop drop in sync speed is nothing to complain about, especially since the 5D can be shot at ISO 50 gaining you effectively 2/3rds of a stop in sync speed over the 40D/50D

As to fps, 4 vs 6 is not a huge jump for the majority of users. Unless you shoot sports as a primary goal,

So I'd reiterate that the 5DmII and 40D bodies are essentially similar in performance and pretty much identical in build.

The 5D mk II works peachy for me. Sure, the interface isn't great, but after you've used it for a couple weeks, you've gotten the hang of it and then it's just about finding nice shots. Sure, I'd like a button on the body for mirror lock-up, but then I'm generally not in a big rush if I'm using that feature.

I have a 1Ds which handles better, but it's also a bit of a boat anchor to carry around. So, as always, it's a trade-off on this point. Build quality seems pretty high to me. That said, this isn't a camera for war photographers (who knows, maybe it'd be hunky-dory -- I wouldn't know), but then I'm guessing most people reading this forum probably aren't either.

Focusing isn't as sophisticated as the 1Ds, but then I don't shoot sports with a 300mm lens, so this isn't really a factor for me. Just fine for lifestyle stuff.

The shutter quality? Have that many 5D owners experienced broken shutters? I doubt it. Sure, the sound of the shutter isn't as professional sounding as the bigger cameras, but I'm guessing that doesn't matter to most of us.

Feature set is more than I'll ever use. And, I do this for a living. So, what is it that's missing?

And short of large format digital the image quality and resolution are excellent, provided you're using good lenses.

I'm also pretty impressed with the battery life so far. Wish extras weren't $100 each though.

Go to a shop, try them both, get the one you prefer. I haven't shot with the D700, but I feel no need to either. The 5D with 24-105mm is a great walk-around/travel setup. It does exactly what I want it to do.

The comments to this entry are closed.