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Canon 5D Mark II digital camera image
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Canon 5D Mark II

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Canon EOS 5D Mark II Live View

In addition to the EOS 5D Mark II's optical viewfinder, the camera features a Live View mode for its rear-panel LCD monitor. Becoming more popular among digital SLRs these days, the Live View mode lets you use the LCD monitor as a large viewfinder, and offers an exposure simulation option which displays the expected outcome of your chosen exposure settings. The Canon 5D did not have a Live Live mode.

The Canon 5D Mark II Live View display offers a lot of information in terms of settings displayed (see illustration below, courtesy of Canon USA), and also offers three autofocus modes: "Quick mode," which employs the normal phase-detection scheme used when using the optical viewfinder, contrast-detect autofocus called "Live mode," which uses image-sensor data, an a face detection option called "Live face detection mode," which also uses sensor data. Contrast and face detection is slower than phase-detection, but doesn't require mirror flips to use the phase-detection AF sensor, and can be more accurate as well.

Like a larger version of the optical viewfinder display, the Live View display reports the exposure information along the bottom of the screen, with additional settings overlaid to the left and right, as well as the selected focus area(s).

Canon EOS 5D Mark II Live View options
Live View mode includes a display with no information, a display with minimal information across the bottom, and one with a grid.
Pressing the INFO button cycles through the two additional available displays, including a live RGB histogram. (Note: these shots taken from the Canon 50D.)
Another grid option (Grid 2) is also available via the Live View function setting in the Setup menu.
Setting options are shown or overlaid when adjusted, and resulting changes are simulated (here, the effect of exposure compensation is simulated).
When using phase-detect AF mode, an overlay of the available focus points normally seen in the optical viewfinder is shown when selecting an area. Pressing the AF button on the top deck allows you to switch among AF modes. Here we're about to switch from AF Quick to AF Live.
The active points are highlighted in red after a brief delay for focusing.

(Note: this shot taken from the Canon 50D.)

With contrast-detect AF, the focus area can be moved around freely on the screen.
The focus area is highlighted in green when focused, just like a Canon digicam.
The Canon 5D Mark II's face detection AF at work. Turning the Quick Control dial switches between faces if more than one is detected (note small arrows in photo at right indicating that another face is available).

(Note: these shots taken from the Canon 50D.)

Pressing the zoom button zooms in to display what's in the center box.
Pressing the zoom button again zooms into 10x magnification, great for fine focusing. You can move the zoomed area around in the box, using the legend as a guide.

Most useful in Live View mode is the ability to zoom, as shown above. You can move the zoomed area around the screen to verify focus wherever you need it most.