So now you know that when it comes to digital cameras, it’s not the megapixels that count but the sensor size (read ‘Decoding hype on gadgets’). Most digital SLR sensors today are either around 220 or 430 sq. mm, while point and shoots are about 40-20 sq. mm. And that camera in your mobile? Er... 4-8 sq. mm. Full-frame digital SLRs? A hefty 860 sq. mm! And that is the same as a 35mm film camera.
The Canon EOS 5D Mark II is a full-frame (36x24mm) digital SLR camera with a 21.1 megapixel CMOS sensor (the much lusted after upper-end consumer hotshot D-SLR Nikon D90 has a 23.6x15.8mm sensor). The 5D boasts full 1080p HD video and stereo audio recording, Live View on a 3.0-inch LCD (920,000 dots/VGA), DIGIC IV processor, an ISO range of 100-64,000, decent battery and sensor dust reduction. It is capable of clicking up to 3.9 frames per second and prides itself on its 9 Auto Focus points along with 6 AF assist points. Then there is Auto Lighting Optimizer (to rejig image brightness and automatically adjust dark areas), additional (smaller file) RAW formats and loads of sizzling specs that we don’t have space to get into here.
Price: Rs2,22,995. (with EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens
WHAT YOU GET
With its large sensor and high pixel count, the image output of the 5D is far superior to that of most D-SLRs—especially in less than perfect conditions. Hence, low-light shoots with the 5D are a delight, with minimal noise—even if you bump up the ISO. The camera’s Peripheral Illumination Correction compensates for light falling off around the edges when shooting JPEG images. Among presets, using the landscape mode gets you noticeably richer hues for the earth and sky without any oversaturation. The portrait mode gives faces a softer, smoother film-like skin tone with weakened sharpness. Neutral mode is ideal for tweaking during post-processing. All in all, it’s a camera that imparts to you the confidence that you’re in control of virtually all facets of imaging, and not hampered by willy-nilly factors.
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On the downside, despite the propensity to shoot excellent broadcast quality high-definition video, the 5D doesn’t allow you to control aperture and ISO in video mode. There’s no inbuilt flash—though at this level of device, that’s probably quite immaterial. Prospective Nikon aficionados will be sceptical about the layout of its controls but that is more a matter of getting accustomed to things.
Superior build, outstanding image quality (especially for large poster-sized prints), amazing low-light shooting abilities, remarkable video quality, a good LCD, fast start-ups and a solid battery life make the Canon 5D Mark II a “compact” (relatively speaking), feature-loaded professional D-SLR. Yet newbies and rank amateurs, beware. This one’s in a different league (the price says that).
So then who should buy the 5D? Here’s what we think: • Canon 1D owners looking for a backup/second camera body: Perfect. Almost all the image quality comes at a far lower cost, sacrificing only a handful of pro features.
• Canon entry and mid-range SLR owners who are ready to move up to something more serious: Maybe, but only if image quality is the sole thing that’s holding you back. Definitely, if available-light photography in near-darkness is your thing. You may need a whole new set of lenses, of course. Canon’s made-for-digital EF-S lenses can’t cover the full frame.
• Point and shooters who want SLR quality: No. For beginners, it’ll be like clambering from a bicycle on to a Suzuki Hayabusa GSX1300R. Bank your bucks and grab a Nikon or Canon excellent entry-level D-SLR instead.
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