• Price When Reviewed: 1958

  • 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.

  • Expert Rating: We rate this 9 out of 10We rate this 9 out of 10We rate this 9 out of 10We rate this 9 out of 10We rate this 9 out of 10 Best Buy We rate this 9 out of 10

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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. 
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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