Canon EOS 5D Review

In a world where hundreds of autofocus points, phase detection, high ISO performance, and burst rate nonsense are commonplace, can having fewer autofocus points actually offer an advantage? Is it feasible that the Canon 5D Classic, a full-frame DSLR that was released more than a decade ago, can compete with the most cutting-edge cameras?

Is it possible that a camera that was initially unveiled around the same time that the XBOX 360 was going to be released can still be considered a capable shooter in this day and age? I have piled up hundreds of images and many hours using one, so I thought I’d put up a bit of a review on this ageing DSLR. I have been using a Canon 5D Classic for the past two years, so I can probably answer those questions.
Before I Start

To begin, a little bit of history. Although it wasn’t the first full-frame DSLR (that honour goes to the Contax N, which was released all the way back in 2002), the Canon 5D (or 5D Classic as it’s often called today) was still a fairly early model considering it was released in October of 2005. Although it wasn’t the first full-frame DSLR, that honour goes to the Contax N, which was released all the way back in 2002. I had just turned 10 years old at the time, and I had no idea that something like that ever existed.

The majority of digital single-lens reflex cameras (DSLRs) produced during that time period featured APS-C sensors, which did not push the boundaries of resolution or ISO performance in the same way that full-frame sensors did. Therefore, Canon’s ability to provide a full-frame DSLR at a more reasonable price was a significant competitive advantage for the company. The 5D was produced all the way up until 2008 when the MKii was introduced and made available with a sensor that was far more advanced, the ability to record video, and a review screen that actually appears acceptable when a photo is displayed on it.

The MKii also did not have the important problem of the mirror falling off while it was being used… The early 5Ds (those with serial numbers starting with 0 or 1 that were produced in 2005 or 2006) had the not minor problem of the camera wanting to be a full-frame mirrorless camera. For earlier models, Canon provided a free update to correct the issue, however for later models (serial numbers beginning with 2 or 3 produced in 2007/2008), the issue was resolved in the manufacturing process itself.

As was said before, I’ve had mine for almost two years now, and it hasn’t missed a beat in all that time. The Canon 5D Classic was designed to be durable photographic equipment that can also withstand accidental drops. I’ve used it in the rain, banged it around, dropped it, and even clipped the mirror with vintage lenses. But it still works well. Gorilla tape is typically used on mine to conceal brand logos as well as the four corners of the camera because mine is not the most attractive of the bunch. Its robust appearance of magnesium alloy truly speaks to you that it was intended to last, and built to be used and abused — the 5D Classic was not made to be lovely or to sit on the mantle piece. It was built to be used and abused.

The 5D Specifications

What are the technical details? The Canon 5D Classic utilises a 12.8-megapixel sensor, which, in comparison to the standards of today, is not very high; yet, I would say that it is more than adequate. When I’m using it, the fact that it has a magnesium alloy body, which has been described as having a solid and well-built feel, comes to mind as a kind of reassuring heaviness for me.


The ISO range goes from 100 to 1600, but by the use of the custom features, it can be increased all the way up to 3200. I’ve been told that because ISO 50 is software-based, it has a higher level of noise than ISO 100, but in all the years that I’ve used this camera, I haven’t observed any difference between the two settings. When we talk about the ISO, we can say that for a camera that was introduced in 2005, it is not at all awful. Even if it isn’t a low-light powerhouse, you may easily get around this limitation by employing fast lenses or by just lowering the noise after the fact.


After you have finished taking pictures with your Canon 5D Classic, you might wish to examine them using the preview screen located on the back of the camera… That’s the single most frustrating aspect of using this camera for me, so please don’t do it. It has a 2.5-inch LCD display with 230,000 pixels, which is pretty much worthless for seeing images but works fine for the minimum menu; hence, I would recommend turning off the picture preview.

Auto Focus

It has a nine-point autofocus system, which, once again, in today’s world, isn’t very good; but, if you use the central focus point as I do, this won’t be an issue for you. The speed of the autofocus is comparable to that of every other EOS camera; however, this does vary depending on the lens that is attached. The rear nipple nub protrusion, which functions as a sort of multi-direction control, is used to choose each of the nine focus locations on the lens. As is customary, activating autofocus is accomplished by pushing the shutter button halfway and confirming the focus either visually in the viewfinder or audibly with a “beep.”

Design And Features

The button structure of the Canon 5D Classic is quite user-friendly and intuitive, with each button and dial having a specific purpose and nothing getting in the way or making things more complicated than they need to be. Because you can alter the aperture on the rear command dial and the shutter speed on the front dial, having the rear command dial makes it possible to use the camera with one hand. You may also alter the ISO with the same hand by pushing the button on the top in front of the LCD and then working the dial on the back of the camera.

In connection with this, the top LCD displays all of the information that you require, including the following: shutter speed, aperture, ISO, white balance, drive mode, metering, exposure, file type, battery information, and so on. This implies that the rear screen is mostly utilised for gazing at your photographs as a pixelated mess as well as navigating the menus. The video mode provides an incredible resolution that is… 0 pixels on either side! That’s correct, it doesn’t even have a live view or a video option to choose from! As I was saying, it’s a camera designed for photographers; in addition, it has a very simple design, which is another reason why I adore it so much.

The Viewfinder

You can see your shutter speed, aperture, and exposure value in the viewfinder, as well as a focus confirmation and the ISO number when you are adjusting it. The viewfinder is a giant, monstrous, Brobdingnagian. Despite the fact that it only occupies 96% of the frame, the huge size and brilliant pentaprism configuration make it quite simple to compose images. The focus displays may also be changed to meet the individual’s requirements; however, I’ve had no problems using the standard panels with both autofocus and manual focus lenses.

Speed of use

The 5D Classic has a continuous burst rate of only 3 frames per second, which is not even close to being considered fast. You won’t be able to capture fast-paced sports in the same manner that you might be able to with certain newer cameras. This is because modern cameras have better resolution. Despite this, it has a maximum shutter speed of 1/8000, which, despite the fact that it is rarely used, is still a useful feature to have.

In the hand

The grip is pleasant to use and offers a lot of space, making it suitable for persons with large hands. I am around 5 feet 11 inches tall, and the Canon 5D Classic fits wonderfully in my hand. Everything is within reach, and I do not need to bend my fingers in any way to use it. It is not much different from the myriad other Canons and Nikons that are currently available; in fact, the Canon 5D Classic established a standard that subsequent DSLRs have attempted to emulate. If you’ve used a professional-level Canon camera within the past ten years, you’ll find that the Canon 5D Classic is quite familiar to you.

Beware – Opinion Ahead

My impression is that contemporary digital cameras come with a tonne of capabilities that, in all honesty, are completely pointless to have. Just consider how many people still use film cameras and how long they were used in a manner that was completely appropriate before we had hundreds of focus points or ISOs that went above 3200-6400.

My opinion is that increasing the number of capabilities available on a camera does not result in improved photography; in fact, I believe that most of the time it only makes the process more difficult for the vast majority of people who use it. The Canon 5D Classic was a result of the transition from the film age to the digital era that was taking place simultaneously. In spite of the fact that it included a full-frame sensor that was considered state-of-the-art at the time, the way it was handled and how it operated was more reminiscent of a film camera.

I wouldn’t say that they could trample it with image quality; after all, how many photographers actually really need all that performance? While it is true that any modern DSLR will outperform the Canon 5D Classic in terms of high ISO performance and overall speed of function, I wouldn’t say that they could outperform it when it comes to image quality. Even while today’s higher megapixel sensors allow you to pull more detail and perhaps print larger, in my opinion, there is something about the 5D’s exceptional image quality that today’s higher megapixel sensors simply can’t compete with.

The Canon 5D Classic produces photographs that have a particular look and feel that is reminiscent of the film, and this is a conclusion that has been reached by a lot of individuals, including myself. The colours are so deep and full of life, and the pictures that the 5D makes have a certain organic quality to them. My experience with the Canon 5D Classic has led me to the conclusion that the photographs it produces almost never require significant post-processing and are almost always great right out of the camera.

Lens adapting

The Canon 5D Classic makes use of the EF mount, which allows for the attachment of a wide variety of lenses to the camera. Although the EOS lenses are of high quality, many of them are prohibitively costly or just out of reach. When compared to the Nikon F system, the EOS system is, thankfully, more user-friendly when it comes to the attachment of vintage lenses.

When paired with a full-frame digital single-lens reflex camera, vintage lenses can be given a second chance at success. Since I’ve started using the 5D Classic, I’ve switched to utilising lenses with an M42 thread mount, which, in my opinion, brings an additional layer to the photos produced by the 5D despite their already filmic look.

I’m not simply referring to the fact that they can become more flexible than a stick of butter in the middle of summer when I remark that many of the older lenses have an optical subtlety that modern lenses do not have. Some have the “3D pop” that so many people talk about and dispute over in online forums, some generate distinctive bokeh, and some even blow you away with the sheer optical performance they offer.

A word of caution, though: if you’re interested in tying out antique lenses, you should be careful about which M42 lenses you select because some of them can clip the mirror. Just a thought. When you get quite near to infinity, certain lenses have a tendency to clip the mirror. One such lens is Helios 44-2. You will need to shave the back of the lens in order to make use of it.

To tell you the truth, the 50mm f/1.8 STM is the lens that is often attached to my camera; however, when I have the opportunity, I do enjoy playing about with vintage lenses. It would be a shame if the wonderful lenses that are available were not occasionally used for experimentation and enjoyment because there are so many of them!

A Coda

Does it still make sense to purchase the Canon 5D Classic in 2018? This ageing digital camera appears to have received a lot of attention recently, with several YouTube channels delving into the ins and outs of the camera and contrasting it to the most contemporary and cutting-edge products on the market.

In my view, it is entirely up to the individual user. You need to ask yourself if you are willing to work within the creative boundaries that the 5D Classic imposes on you, in addition to considering the fact that you will be using a camera that is becoming older with each passing day. I’ve seen the Canon 5D Classic go for less than £200 from time to time, and I’m now even considering buying a second body in the knowledge that these cameras are getting older, and despite the incredible build quality, mine won’t last forever. The price has dropped significantly over the past few years, and it has now become an absolute steal.

In the end, it is my opinion that if you are looking for a low-cost way to enter the world of full-frame DSLRs, your best bet is to go with the Canon 5D Classic since it offers the best combination of image quality, lens choices, and the opportunity to get a great deal. It is a captivating camera to use thanks to the combination of its gorgeous sensor and the way it feels like a film camera. It has been of great assistance to me over the past several years, and I aim to continue utilising it till the day it passes away;

Canon EOS 5D Specs

Year Introduced2005
Total Pixels13.3
Sensor Size35.8 x 23.9mm
Pixel Dimensions4368 x 2912
Pixel Size8.20µm
Diffraction-Limited Aperturef/13.2
Sensor StabilizationN
Lens MountEF (excludes EF-S lenses)
Image ProcessorDIGIC II
TypeTTL-CT-SIR with a CMOS sensor
Points9-point AF (plus 6 Assist AF points)
Working RangeEV -0.5 – 18 (at 20°C & ISO 100)
ModesOne Shot
AI Servo
AI Focus
Point SelectionAutomatic selection, Manual selection
Exposure Control  
Metering ModesTTL full aperture metering with 35 zone SPC
(1) Evaluative metering (linked to any AF point)
(2) Partial metering (approx. 8% of viewfinder at centre)
(3) Spot metering: (approx. 3.5% viewfinder at center)
(4) Center weighted average metering
Metering RangeEV 1 – 20 (at 20°C with 50mm f1.4 lens ISO 100)
Exposure Comp+/-2 EV in 1/3 or 1/2 stop increments (can be combined with AEB).
AEB+/- 2 EV, 1/2 or 1/3-stop increments
ISO Sensitivity100-1600 (in 1/3-stop increments) ISO can be expanded to L: 50 or H: 3200
Shutter Speed30 – 1/8000 sec. (1/3 stop increments), Bulb (Total shutter speed range. Available range varies by shooting mode)
WB SettingsAuto, Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Tungsten, White Fluorescent light, Flash, Custom, Colour Temperature setting.
White balance compensation: 
1. Blue/Amber +/-9
2. Magenta/ Green +/-9.
Custom WBYes, 1 setting can be registered
CoverageApprox. 96%
MagnificationApprox. 0.71x
EyepointApprox. 20mm
InformationAF information: AF points, focus confirmation light
Exposure information: Shutter speed, aperture value, AE lock, exposure level, partial metering circle, exposure warning
Flash information: Flash ready, high-speed sync, FE lock, flash exposure compensation
Image information: White balance correction, maximum burst (2 digit display), CF card information
DOF PreviewYes, with Depth of Field preview button.
Eyepiece ShutterOn strap
Type2.5″ TFT, approx. 230k dots
Brightness AdjAdjustable to one of five levels
Display Options(1) Camera settings
Built-in GNN/A (ISO 100, meters)
Built-in CoverageN/A
Built-in Recycle TimeN/A
ModesE-TTL II Auto Flash, Metered Manual
Exposure Compensation+/-2 EV in 1/3-stop increments
Hot Shoe/PC TerminalYes / Yes
External Flash CompE-TTL II with EX series Speedlites, wireless multi-flash support.
External Flash Control
Shooting ModesAuto, Program AE, Shutter priority AE, Aperture priority AE, Manual, Custom
Picture StylesStandard, Portrait, Landscape, Neutral, Faithful, Monochrome, User Defined (x3)
Image ProcessingLong exposure noise reduction
Drive ModesSingle, Continuous, Self timer (10s)
Continuous Shooting3fps (speed maintained for up to 60 images (JPEG)/17 images (RAW))
Shutter Lag75ms
Viewfinder Blackout145ms
Live View  
Display OptionsN/A
File Information  
Still ImageTypeJPEG: Fine, Normal (Exif 2.21 [Exif Print] compliant) / Design rule for Camera File system (2.0), 
RAW: RAW (12bit, Canon original RAW 2nd edition), 
Digital Print Order Format [DPOF] Version 1.1 compliant
Image SizeJPEG: (L) 4368×2912, (M) 3168×2112, (S) 2496×1664
RAW: (RAW) 4368×2912
Movie TypeN/A
Movie SizeN/A
Movie LengthN/A
Other Information  
Wireless Features
Custom Functions21 Custom Functions with 57 settings
LCD Panel / IlluminationYes / Yes
Water & Dust Resistance
Sound MemoNo
Computer InterfaceUSB 2.0 Hi-Speed (Mini-B)
Other InterfaceVideo output (PAL/ NTSC)
Memory TypeCompactFlash Type I / II (Microdrive compatible)
Batteries & Power  
BatteryRechargeable Li-ion Battery BP-511/BP-511A or BP-512/BP-514 (BP-511A battery supplied), 1xCR2016 for date & settings
Battery LifeApprox. 800 (at 20°C)
Approx. 400 (at 0°C)
Power Supply Battery ChargersAC Adapter Kit ACK-E2, Compact power adapter CA-PS400, Battery charger CB-5L, Battery charger CG-570, Car Battery Cable Kit CR-560
Physical Specs  
Body MaterialsMagnesium Alloy/Plastic
Shutter Durability Rating100,000
Operating Environment0 – 40 °C, 85% or less humidity
Dimensions Inches6.0 x 4.4 x 3.0 (152 x 113 x 75)
CIPA Weight32.0 oz (906g)
ViewfinderEyecup Eb, E-series Dioptric Adjustment Lens with Rubber Frame Eb, Eyepiece Extender EP-EX15, Focusing Screens Ee, Angle Finder C
Wireless File TransmitterWireless File Transmitter WFT-E1
Compatible LensesAll EF lenses (excludes EF-S lenses)
Battery GripBG-E4  Buy ►
RemoteRemote control with N3 type contact, Wireless Controller LC-5
OtherOriginal Data Security Kit OSK-E4


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