Canon Mount (FD/FL/EF) SLRs:

Canon EOS 5D
by Karen Nakamura

Overview and Personal Comments

In September of 2005, Canon announced their long awaited prosumer digital SLR, the Canon EOS 5D. Priced and speced in between the professional Canon EOS 1D series and the high-end consumer Canon EOS 20D, the 5D looks like it will be the camera for Nikon and Konica-Minolta to beat. It features a breathtaking full-frame CMOS sensor -- the first one to appear in a sub-$5000 camera -- and 12.8 megapixels. For many profesional photographers, this will be the only camera that they will need to buy. As such, it's main competition is Canon's own EOS 1D series. Has Canon cannibalized its own sales -- or worse, crippled the 5D so that it isn't a threat to its high-margin professional series? Read on. Using the text or images on this website without permission on an ebay auction or any other site is a violation of federal law.


The main difference between the EOS digital lines is that like the prosumer film camera the EOS 3, the digital 5D is very sturdily made but it does not have the weathersealing of the 1D series.

Only some of the connectors and none of dials are rubber gasketed on the 5D so I would rate its apparent weather-proofness as only 'very good'. I take my EOS-3 in the rain with impunity, so I would expect the same with the 5D. The EOS 1D series is fully waterproof, with a rubber seal around the main lens mount that is not present in the 5D.

In terms of size, the 5D is only slight larger and heavier than the 10D or the EOS-3. It's considerably lighter than the EOS 1D series, which can be gently considered to be a load of lead bricks. The 1D series is too heavy for this fieldworker to lug around, so I was waiting for the specs of the 5D with bated breath.

EOS 3 EOS 5D EOS 20D Digital Rebel Digital Rebel XT EOS 1D Mk II EOS 1Ds Mk II
Dimensions 161x119.2x70.8mm 152 x 113 x 75 mm mm 149.7 x 107.5 x 75.0 mm 142 x 99 x 72.4 mm 142 x 99 x 72.4 mm
156 x 158 x 80mm

w/out batteries

780g 810g 685g 560g 490g
w/grip + batteries 1395g xxx g 1005g 860g ?

With the additional battery grip, the 5D will make an excellent studio and field camera. But SLRs such as the 5D or 10D are not my favorite choice for general street photography. They are a bit too large and heavy for me. I find I have trouble carrying it unobstrusively. My Leica M7 just straps to my hand and the lenses fit easily in a pocket. Your mileage may vary.


The Killer App or Crippled Beast?

On first glance, the 5D appears to be the "killer app" of the year. It's certainly a genre-busting camera with 12.8 megapixels in a full-frame sensor at $3300. But what has Canon "crippled" in the 5D to make sure it doesn't pose a threat to its lucrative EOS 1D franchise:



The Tunnel Effect: My main complaint of the 10D, 20D, and other prosumer digitals SLRS including the 20D, Nikon D70, etc. is that the viewfinder magnification is low. On paper, for example, 10D has a 0.88x magnification finder, but this is using a 50mm lens which is a 80mm lens equivalent (1.6x focal length crop). Because of the crop factor, the actual equivalent magnification is only 0.55x. This is the cause of the "tunnel effect" when you look in the viewfinder of most DSLRs except the full-frame ones. The new 5D has a 0.71x magnification finder (full frame; 96% coverage) which is much better, but not as good as an EOS 1Ds Mark II.

Going from the gorgeous full-field viewfinder of a rangefinder such as the Leica M7 to the EOS 10D tunnel vision is difficult for me to get used to. If you want the shock of your life, look in the viewfinder of something like a Leicaflex SL or Leica R9, these SLRs have the best viewfinders of any SLR I've ever seen, bar none.

Lens Work

I have a couple of lenses in EF mount, a 24mm, 50mm, and 100mm primes and the 16-35mm and 28-70mm L lenses .

I had bought the 28-135mm USM IS zoom lenses because of the nature of the type of photography I'll be using the camera for -- more documentary than fine art. The 28-135 becomes a 45-216mm zoom when combined with the 10D's 1.6 crop factor. This is not quite wide enough on the bottom end for me.

So I ended up buying the EF 16-35mm f/2.8 and 28-70mm L lenses because I got great deals on both of them in like-new-used condition. I'll have a report on how I'm faring with them. I'm known for not being a huge fan of zoom lenses. The L lenses are supposed to be the best zooms in existence.


Battery Life: Canon says that with a fully charged BP-511A and a Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 lens, you should get 800 shots per battery (in normal weather 20°C/68°F). In freezing weather (0°C), you should get half or about 400 shots. Using the battery grip with dual batteries, you should get approximately double this number.

I have a blog entry about the cheap replacement BP-511a batteries on ebay -- check it out before you buy them!


The must-buy accessories for the 5D are:


Product Tiering

As of August, 2005 with the announcement of the 5D and 1D Mark IIN, the Canon Digital EOS product tiering now looks like this:

Level Price Crop Mpix FPS    
Professional Studio $8000 1.0x 16.7 4
1Ds Mk. II
Pro Photojournalist $4000 1.3x 8.2 8.5
1D Mk. IIN
Professional/High-Amateur $3300 1.0x 12.8 3.0    
Midrange Photographer $1500 1.6x 8.2 5
Advanced Amateur $900 1.6x 8.2 3
350D/ Digital Rebel XT


The spring 2005 releases of the 12.4 megapixel Nikon D2X does put some pressure on Canon. But with a 1.5x crop factor, the D2X isn't as much of a threat as it could be although the 8 fps burst rate makes it much more suitable to mixed photojournalism use than the 5D. In Japan, the Konica-Minolta alpha-7D digital is a serious threat, but its market acceptance has been slower in the United States.

Nikon D2X Nikon D200 Olympus
*ist DS
12.4 mp
Frame Rate
(17 burst)
(9 burst)

5 fps
(15 burst)

HSC: 8fps

(22/37 burst)

1800 shots per battery!

(4 burst)
(144 burst)


Body ~$3300
Body ~$1300
Body $4500
Body $1699
B+Lens ~$800
Body ~$800

Technical Details

Camera Name
Canon, Inc.
Place of Manufacture
Date of Manufacture
2005.10~ 2004.09.1~
Focusing System

Single lens reflex
0.71x magnification w/50mm
96% viewfinder coverage

20mm eyepoint relief
Interchangeable matte screen
-3 to +1 diopter adj.

Single lens reflex
0.9x magnification w/50mm lens
95% viewfinder coverage
20mm eyepoint relief
Fixed matte screen
-3 to +1 diopter adj.
Lens Mount

Canon EF mount

Canon EF-S mount (EF-comptaible)

Vertical focal plane shutter (stainless steel)
30 sec - 1/8000 sec + B & X (1/200sec)
N3 type remote control
3 fps continuous shooting; 17 shot maximum burst

Vertical focal plane shutter (stainless steel)
30 sec - 1/8000 sec + B & X (1/250sec)
N3 type remote control
5 fps continuous shooting; 23 shot maximum burst (JPEG; 6 RAW)

Metering System

Built in 35-zone TTL meter
EV 1~20 (@ISO 100)

Matrix metering mode

8% partial /center-weighted mode
3.5% spot-mtering mode
9% partial /center-weighted mode

External hot shoe
PC cable connector on left side
1/200 sec X flash sync
E-TTL II flash communication

External hot shoe
PC cable connector on left side
1/250 sec X flash sync
Built-in GN13 (meters; ISO 100) flash
ETTL-II flash communication

Sensor Type

CMOS 12.8 mp sensor
4368 x 2912 pixels
23.9mm x 35.8mm (1.0x focal length equivalent)
3:2 aspect ratio

Sensitivity: ISO 100-1600 (ISO 50 & 3200 selectable)

CMOS 8.2 mp sensor
3504 x 2336 pixels
22.5mm x 15.0 mm (1.6x focal length equivalent)
3:2 aspect ratio

Sensitivity: ISO 100-1600 (3200 selectable)

Memory Card
CF Type I or Type II
Battery type
BP-511/BP-512 rechargeable battery
Dimensions and weight

Body: 152 x 113 x 75 mm
810g (excluding battery)

Body: 144 x 105.5 x 71.5 mm
685g (excluding battery)
770g (w/ battery)
Retail price

$ MSRP (body only)
$3,299 street (body only)

$1,499 MSRP (body only)
$1,300 street (body only)
Note: Using the text or images on this site in an ebay auction without permission is a violation of your ebay Terms of Service. I will report you to ebay if I discover such a violation taking place.



My Canon EF Lens Collection
24mm, 50mm, 100mm,
16-35mm, 28-70mm, 28-135mm



Canon EOS System Compatible Flashes (professional models)

Camera Name
550EX 580EX EF-500 54 MZ3
Canon Sigma Metz
Place of Manufacture
Date of Manufacture
  2004.10~ 2000-  
Guide Number
28m @ 24mm
55m @ 105mm

15m @ 14mm
28m @ 24mm
42m @ 50mm
58m @ 105mm

30m @ 28mm
50m @ 105mm
40m @ 50mm
54m @ 105mm
Flash Head
Swivel / bounce
Physical connector
Hot Shoe
Flash-Camera Communication




(through SCA-3102 module)
High Speed Sync
Angle of Coverage
24-105mm automatic
17 mm diffuser
24-105mm automatic
14mm diffuser
reflector panel
(automatic zoom compensation for digital bodies (20Dand 1DMkII only))
28-105mm automatic
17 mm diffuser
24-105mm equivalent
20mm w/ diffuser
Manual Power
    1/1 to 1/128 1/1 to 1/256 (25 levels)
Recycle Time
0.1 - 8 sec (alkaline) 0.1 - 6 sec (alkaline) ~6 sec (alkaline) 6 sec. w/ alkaline AAs
Number of Flashes
(Full Power)
100-700 (alkaline AAs)
~220 (alkaline) 180 alkaline
60 NiCad
Battery type

4 x AA (alkaline; NiCD; NiMH; Lithium)

Dimensions and weight
80W x 138H x 112D mm
405g. (no batteries)
76W x 134H x 114D mm
375g. (no batteries)
76W x 138H x 116D mm
320g. (no batteries)
75 x 125 x 108mm
480 g
Retail price
      $350 new (flash)
$79.95 new (SCA 3102 module)



About Canon

Canon started out its life as Seiki Kohgaku Kenkyuujo (Precision Optical Research Company). Its first goal was to produce domestic inexpensive Leica clones, and it released the Kwanon, its first camera in 1934. Interestingly, they used Nikon lenses since Nikon was already established as an optical lens manufacturer and was not making any of its own camera bodies at that time. Canon soon gained the ability to make their own lenses and never looked back. Nikon also went on to produce some reasonably popular cameras of its own as well.

The name 'Canon' comes from the Buddhist deity Kwanon and early Canon cameras were actually spelled 'Kwanon' and the lenses were named 'Kyasapa' after another deity.

Side note: Canon is my favorite Japanese company along with Honda. I actually interned for Canon Japan (ok, Canon Sales Japan, a part of the Canon keiretsu) during a summer in college and loved my coworkers to death. They keep coming out with innovations that take your breath away.


On the Net


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