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Canon 5D Mark II

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Canon 5D Mark II Performance


Timing and Performance

Very good speeds for a 21-megapixel prosumer digital SLR.

Startup/Shutdown

Power on
to first shot

0.4 second

Time it takes to turn on and capture a shot. (Short enough that it's hard to measure.)

Shutdown

~0 second

How long it takes camera to turn off before you can remove the memory card.

Buffer clearing time
1.4 seconds after 34 large/fine JPEGs*
Worst case buffer clearing time. -- This is the delay after a set of shots before you can remove the card.
0.5 second after 20 small/normal JPEGs*
12 seconds after 14 RAW files*
13.5 seconds after 10 RAW+JPEG files*
*Note: Buffer clearing times measured with a SanDisk 4GB Ducati Extreme CF card. Slower cards will produce correspondingly slower clearing times. Slow cards may also limit length of bursts in continuous mode. ISO sensitivity and noise reduction settings can also affect cycle times and burst mode performance.

Fast startup and shut-down times, fast enough that they're difficult to measure. Enabling sensor cleaning on shut-down adds about 2.5 second delay. Buffer clearing times are quite good, but depend on the image quality, size and speed of the memory card. (Card speed affects clearing times dramatically: A normally very fast Kingston 266x card produced a worst-case buffer clearing time of 33 seconds, vs 13.5 seconds for a SanDisk Ducati Extreme card.)


Mode Switching

Play to Record,
first shot

(too fast to measure)

Time until first shot is captured.

Record to play

1.0 second

Time to display a large/fine file immediately after capture.

Display
recorded image

0.4 second

Time to display a large/fine file already on the memory card.

Mode switching times are good, though Record to play is a bit sluggish.


Shutter Response (Lag Time)

Full Autofocus
Single-point AF
Optical Viewfinder

0.206 second

Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture. (All AF timing measured with Sigma 70mm f/2.8 Macro lens. - One that cameras seem able to judge focus very quickly with, even if its mechanical AF drive is slower when it actually comes to changing the focus.)

Full Autofocus
Auto-Area AF
Optical Viewfinder

0.175 second

Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture. The Auto-area AF improves shutter lag slightly, which is quite unusual.

Prefocused
Optical Viewfinder

0.082 second

Time to capture, after half-pressing and holding shutter button.

Continuous AF
Single-point AF
Optical Viewfinder
0.265 second
This mode usually shows no speed increase with our static subject; we have no way to measure performance with moving subjects. In the 5D Mark II, continuous AF was slower in single-point AF mode, but faster with multi-area AF. (See below.)
Continuous AF
Auto-Area AF
Optical Viewfinder
0.158 second
This mode usually shows no speed increase with our static subject; we have no way to measure performance with moving subjects.
Manual Focus
Optical Viewfinder
0.118 second
For most cameras, shutter lag is less in manual focus than autofocus, but usually not as fast as when the camera is "prefocused".
Full Autofocus
Live View
"Quick Mode"
(Phase Detect)
~0.47 second
This is phase-detect autofocus, the camera drops the mirror to focus, then raises it to grab the shot. You must focus separately with AF-On button first, then press the shutter button. This was the fastest time we could manage, hitting the shutter button as soon as we released the AF-On button.
Full Autofocus
Live View
"Live Mode"
(Contrast Detect)
1.189 seconds
This is contrast-detect autofocus, the camera reads Live View data from the image sensor to determine focus. As with phase detect AF in Live View mode, you must focus separately with the AF-On button first, then press the shutter button. Surprisingly little variation between iterations.

Prefocused
Live View

0.119 second

Time to capture, after camera has been focused using the AF-On button, in Live View mode. (Phase/Contrast Detect AF doesn't matter here, that only affects the focusing time, not the lag from shutter release to exposure.)

Full autofocus shutter response was pretty good at 0.206 second using our standard single-point AF test, though not as fast as the 50D. Letting the camera choose the focus point in multi-area AF mode actually decreased lag slightly to 0.175 second on average, more closely approaching the E50's performance. "Prefocusing" the camera by half-pressing and holding down the shutter button before the final exposure results in a lag time of only 0.082 second. Manual focus was slower, at 0.118 second, and lag with continuous focus was 0.265 second in single-point mode, and 0.158 second in multi-point auto-area AF mode. For most cameras we test, single-area AF mode is almost always faster than any multi-area options, but with the Canon 5D Mark II, multi-area AF was faster instead.

Lag time in Live View mode can vary all over the map. Full AF in Live View mode is not supported directly, since pressing the shutter button does not initiate autofocus; the AF-On button must be used. Once focused, the shutter lag is 0.119 second, a little slower than when using the optical viewfinder, but not dramatically so. We did find the 5D Mark II's Live View AF a little awkward, as it required pressing the AF-On button first, rather than just pressing the shutter button, as when using the optical viewfinder.


Cycle Time (shot to shot)

Single Shot mode
Large/Fine JPEG

0.35 second

Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots, 1.4 seconds to clear.*

Single Shot mode
Small Normal JPEG

0.37 second

Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots, 0.5 second to clear.*

Single Shot mode
RAW

0.37 second

Time per shot, averaged over 14 shots, 12 seconds to clear.*

Single Shot mode
RAW + Large/Fine JPEG
0.35 second

Time per shot, averaged over 10 shots, 13.5 seconds to clear.*

Early shutter
penalty?

No

Some cameras don't snap another shot if you release and press the shutter too quickly in Single Shot mode, making "No" the preferred answer.

Continuous mode
Large Fine JPEG

0.26 second (3.89 frames per second);
75 frames total;
7 seconds to clear

Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots. Buffer capacity was 75 frames, using our noise target.

Continuous mode
Small Normal JPEG

0.26 second (3.89 frames per second);
20+ frames total;
1 second to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots (buffer capacity was more than 20 shots).

Continuous mode
RAW

0.26 second (3.89 frames per second);
11 frames total;
12.5 secs to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over buffer length of 11 frames, then slows to about 1.74s or 0.58 fps.

Continuous mode
RAW + Large Fine
JPEG

0.26 second (3.87 frames per second);
8 frames total;
13.5 secs to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over buffer length of 8 frames, then slows to 2.41s or 0.42/ fps.

Flash recycling

n/a
(No built-in flash)

Flash at maximum output.

*Note: Buffer clearing times measured with a SanDisk 4GB Ducati Extreme CF card. Slower cards will produce correspondingly slower clearing times. Slow cards may also limit length of bursts in continuous mode. ISO sensitivity and noise reduction settings can also affect cycle times and burst mode performance.

Shot-to-shot cycle times in single-shot mode were quite fast for such large files, at about 0.4 second for any quality. Buffer length was 34 shots for large/fine JPEGs, but dropped to 14 for RAW and 10 for RAW+JPEG.

Continuous mode speeds are a bit sluggish compared to competing models, at about 3.89 frames per second. Measured buffer depths were 75 for large/fine JPEGs, 11 frames for RAW mode and 8 frames for RAW+JPEG. (Note that in our cycle time testing we shoot a target consisting of a fine-grained digital noise pattern, designed to be very hard to compress. This gives us worst-case buffer capacity numbers: You're likely to see greater buffer capacity when shooting more normal subjects.)


Download Speed

Windows Computer, USB 2.0

8,361
KBytes/sec

Typical Values:
Less than 600=USB 1.1;
600-769=USB 2.0 Low;
Above 770=USB 2.0 High

Connected to a computer or printer with USB 2.0, download speeds are very fast. (The speed above was measured with a SanDisk 4GB Ducati Extreme CF card, slower cards will likely produce slower download speeds.)

Bottom line, the Canon 5D Mark II is quite fast in just about every aspect of its operation, though a little slower in some aspects than competing 20+ megapixel full-frame models.

Battery and Storage Capacity

Battery
Good battery life for a lithium-ion SLR design, but Live View burns a lot more power than normal shooting with the optical VF.

Operating Mode Number of Shots
Lithium-ion Rechargeable Battery,
(CIPA standard, Optical Viewfinder)
850
Lithium-ion Rechargeable Battery,
(CIPA standard, Live View LCD)
200

The Canon 5D Mark II uses a custom rechargeable lithium-ion battery for power, and ships with a charger. Although battery life is good, we recommend you pick up a spare battery and keep it freshly charged and on-hand for extended outings, and especially if you plan on using Live View mode a lot. Also, keep in mind the 5D Mark II doesn't have a built-in flash, so these numbers are not comparable with models that do, as using the flash for 50% of shots (as per the CIPA standard) would result in a lower rating.

The table above shows the number of shots the camera is capable of (on a fully-charged rechargeable battery), based on CIPA battery-life and/or manufacturer standard test conditions.

(Interested readers can find an English translation of the CIPA DC-002 standards document here. (180K PDF document))

Storage
The Canon 5D Mark II accepts CompactFlash memory cards, and does not ship with a card.

Image Capacity with
1GB Memory Card
Fine Normal RAW RAW
+
L/F JPG
5,616 x 3,744
(JPG, RAW)
Images
(Avg Size)
163
6.3 MB
318
3.2 MB
31
33 MB
26
39.4 MB
Approx.
Comp.
10:1 20:1 1.1:1 -
4,080 x 2,720
(JPG)
Images
(Avg Size)
266
3.9 MB
502
2.0 MB
-
-
Approx.
Comp.
9:1 16:1 - -
3,861 x 2,574
(sRAW1)
Images
(Avg Size)
- - 53
19.3 MB
-
Approx.
Comp.
- - 0.9:1 -
2,784 x 1,856
(JPG, sRAW2)
Images
(Avg Size)
461
2.2 MB
843
1.2 MB
75
13.7 MB
-
Approx.
Comp.
7:1 13:1 0.7:1 -

We strongly recommend buying a large capacity CompactFlash memory card at least a 4GB card, preferably a 8 or 16GB one, to give yourself extra space for extended outings, or when shooting RAW or movie files. (Check the shopping link above, cards are really cheap these days, so no reason to skimp.)