Best Buy
  • Price: 1958

  • Company: Canon

  • Pros: Canon’s full-frame CMOS sensor allows you to make use of the company’s extensive range of wide-angle lenses without any magnification factor.

  • Cons: The EOS 5D is the cheapest full-frame digital SLR, but at £1,958 it’s still pricey. There are few handling niggles too.

  • Our Rating: We rate this 9 out of 10 We rate this 9 out of 10

Canon’s current range of digital SLRs set the benchmark against which all others are gauged, though their success has been largely based on proprietary CMOS sensor technology. As a result, the company has been in the unique position of offering photographers a choice of cameras with a mix of APS-sized and full-frame (35mm) sensors.

While smaller sensors have benefited telephoto users, the same can’t be said of anyone who’s invested in a bagful of expensive wide-angle lenses. Owners of rival systems have either had to resign themselves to the increase in focal length, or invest in a limited choice of new purpose-made lenses at greater expense.

The new EOS 5D is now the least expensive full-frame digital SLR available. At £1,958 plus VAT, it’s still pricey compared to the mass-market EOS 350D and the mid-range EOS 20D, but only half that of Canon’s other full-frame device, the EOS 1Ds MK II. The EOS 5D sports over 50 per cent more resolution at 12.8-megapixels than the lower-end models, though it’s still some way short of the EOS 1Ds MK II’s 16.7 million pixels. Nevertheless, the sensor is housed in an arm-aching magnesium alloy pro-body that’s o-ring sealed to prevent damage from condensation.

Strangely, the base plate and some of the handgrip are made of engineering plastic. Canon offers an optional battery-pack with additional shutter-release that bolts to the bottom and may provide some additional protection. But the inclusion of polycarbonate in the camera body doesn’t seem appropriate for such an expensive camera.

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The quality of the shooting dial on the top-plate doesn’t quite match the rest of the build, either. Three of the four buttons in front of the top mounted information panel are a bit tricky to reach, especially in combination with the front and rear jog-dials that are used to alter the settings. Apart from making you take your eye from the viewfinder, where the chosen ISO is shown briefly, it forces two-handed operation and hampers the otherwise good handling. 
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A big bright image greets the eye as the viewfinder is naturally larger due to the full-frame sensor. If you haven’t used a 35mm SLR for a while, it may come as a bit of a shock, but increased vibration from the over-sized mirror is something to bear in mind. A highly detailed 2.5-inch monitor sits a little uncomfortably to the rear, but brings the EOS 5D into line with competing models. As far as reviewing images is concerned, only a few can match this monitor for quality. 
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