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Canon EOS 5D to ship in October for US$3299 - Continued

Canon EOS 5D with Battery Grip BG-E4 attached

Canon EOS 5D Major Features

The body The EOS 5D's body is composed of magnesium alloy top, front and rear covers with a stainless steel and polycarbonate chassis; the camera is roughly the same size as the original EOS-1 without its power booster. That makes it, says Canon, about 35% smaller than the EOS-1Ds Mark II. And, at 31.5 ounces (892g) with its BP-511a battery, it's also about 43% lighter than the 55 ounce (1560g) EOS-1Ds Mark II and its NP-E3 battery.

Shutter and mirror A newly-developed shutter and mirror mechanism enable a Canon-specified 75ms shutter lag and a somewhat-long 145ms mirror blackout time. The shutter duty cycle specification for the camera is an impressive 100,000 frames, though its less than the 200,000 frame rating for the EOS-1D Mark II, EOS-1D Mark II N and EOS-1Ds Mark II.

The 5D has a top shutter speed of 1/8,000 and a standard top flash sync speed of 1/200 (plus full TTL flash at up to 1/8000 with a compatible EX-series Speedlite set to High Speed Sync). It's not possible to cheat the flash sync well above the standard top flash sync speed with non-dedicated strobes.

Canon EOS 5D - cutaway (Graphic courtesy Canon)

Startup time The camera is ready to shoot when first turned on or roused out of an Auto Power Off slumber in 0.2 seconds.

Frame rate and burst depth The camera will fire at 3 fps (this rate isn't adjustable) up to a whopping 60 Large Fine JPEG frames. This number drops to a still-impressive 17 for RAW and 12 for RAW+JPEG. Note that actual burst depth in a Canon digital SLR is usually dependent on scene content and ISO (especially ISO), where higher ISO settings translate into a reduced number of frames per burst. Therefore, Canon's burst depth specifications should be considered only as rough guidelines.

Autofocus A new-design 9-point system is responsible for autofocus in the 5D. The centre AF point acts as a cross-type sensor with lenses whose maximum aperture are f/5.6 or faster. If an f/2.8 or faster lens is used, the centre AF point detects focus with about 2X greater precision than with slower lenses, thanks to an AF sensor design and layout pioneered in the 20D.

Unlike the 20D, however, the 5D's autofocus system includes 6 additional AF sensors. Called Assist AF points, they are arranged in two lines of 3 just above and just below the centre AF point and are invisible to the photographer (in fact, they can't be manually chosen). With C.Fn-17-1 set, the centre AF point active and AI Servo dialed in, these 6 additional points clustered within the spot metering circle work in conjunction with the centre AF point to improve subject tracking performance, much like a similar option in 1-series cameras does for certain sports with lots of erratic movement.

Also, says a Canon technical document, the Assist AF points (two of which are cross-type with f/2.8 or faster lenses) "enable a smoother transition from the center AF point to adjacent AF points" when the camera is configured to automatically select an AF point. Canon software will show which AF point - including Assist AF points - was active at the time the picture was taken when viewing original 5D photos.

Faster focus response is also promised, relative to the 20D, when the AF system is engaged and the lens is significantly defocused.

ISO range The ISO range is 100-1600 in 1/3 step increments, plus ISO 50 and 3200.

Ambient light metering The camera's 35-zone ambient metering sensor is the same component as that found in the EOS 20D and all previous midrange Canon digital SLRs, though it has been designed to properly account for the larger picture area of the 5D. The camera's four metering modes are Evaluative, Center-Weighted, 8% Partial and 3.5% Spot.

5d_430ex.jpgSpeedlite flash exposure metering With a compatible Canon Speedlite attached (such as the 430EX shown at right, and the 580EX) or used as part of a wireless multiple flash arrangement, flash output is calculated through-the-lens (TTL) using a revised algorithm introduced in the EOS-1D Mark II. Called E-TTL II, it delivers improved flash exposure consistency even when the scene is predominantly light or dark, and even when focusing and recomposing, relative to E-TTL. The 5D doesn't have a built-in flash.

Power A removable, rechargeable 7.4V, 1390mAH Lithium-Ion BP-511A battery pack powers the 5D (as well as the 20D, the WFT-E1/E1A transmitter and several other Canon products). The BP-511A is rated to give 800 frames per charge at 68F (20C), or 400 frames at 32F (0C). Both those figures double when the 5D is powered by two BP-511A's inside the new Battery Grip BG-E4. The optional AC Adapter Kit ACK-E2 is compatible with the 5D.

Viewfinder A newly-designed viewfinder shows approximately 96% of the image captured, has a 20mm eyepoint, .71x magnification, -3 to +1 dioptric correction and is pleasantly large, thanks to the near-full-frame capture area of the camera's sensor. Focusing screens are interchangeable, and Canon has announced two accessory screens in addition to the standard Ee-A: the Ee-D, a grid screen with a 3 x 5 pattern, and Ee-S, a screen optimized for manual focus.

Viewfinder information is the same as the EOS 20D, except for the addition of a Flash Exposure Lock (FE Lock) indicator. Also like the 20D, the AF markings are small - smaller, in fact, than the AF sensor areas they represent.

Rear control layout The control layout on the back of the camera is nearly identical to the EOS 20D. There are two main differences: a direct print button has been added, and the rear LCD, at 2.5 inches (diagonal), is considerably larger than the 20D's 1.8 inch (diagonal) LCD. Like the 20D, the 5D lacks a dedicated [Protect] button for rapid initial editing of a collection of pictures in the field, as well as a dedicated FE Lock button (at least for rear-button focusers who turn the AE Lock [*] button into the AF start button via C.Fn-4).

Canon EOS 5D - rear view (Photo courtesy Canon) 

Orientation sensor An orientation sensor indicates whether the camera is horizontal or vertical (90 left or 90 right) at the time the picture is taken; the image file is tagged with this information. Digital Photo Professional and other compatible software will automatically orient photos right way up.

Image sensor The heart of the camera is a 13.3 million pixel, 23.9mm x 35.8mm Canon-designed and manufactured CMOS image sensor with a 8.2m x 8.2m pixel pitch, bayer pattern RGB filter array, high-efficiency microlenses and an optical low pass/IR cut filter that generates 12.72 million image pixel photos at full resolution. The sensor's data is read out in 4 channels; Canon's DIGIC II is the imaging processing engine.

Capture bit depth is 12 bits per colour, which is then converted to 8 or 16 bits per colour depending on file format and processing.

We don't know yet whether the camera employs the very good single-stage on-chip noise reduction of the Mark II cameras, the superb 3-stage on-chip noise reduction of the 20D or something else altogether. Regardless, it's likely that higher-ISO files will be at least as clean as the EOS-1D Mark II N, given that both cameras have the same pixel pitch of 8.2m square.

File format options and file dimensions File format options are JPEG (2 levels of compression and three different resolution settings), RAW .CR2 format and simultaneous RAW + JPEG (the RAW and JPEG versions of a photo are recorded as separate files on the CompactFlash card).

Maximum file resolution, when the camera is set to RAW .CR2 or Large JPEG, is 4368 x 2912 pixels (about 12.72MP). Two reduced resolution JPEG settings are also included: Medium is 3168 x 2112 pixels (about 6.69MP); Small is 2496 x 1664 pixels (about 4.15MP). Full resolution image data is resampled down to achieve the reduced resolution settings.

Two different amounts of in-camera JPEG compression can be selected for each resolution setting: Fine and Normal. A full-resolution, 8-bits per colour photo from the 5D opens into Photoshop as a 36.4MB file; at 16-bits per colour, 72.8MB.

Canon EOS 5D - top view (Photo courtesy Canon)

Picture Style menu Picture Style is the new name for the menu that brings the controls for Sharpness, Contrast, Color Saturation and Color Tone into one place in both the 5D and EOS-1D Mark II N. Each of one of these parameters can be adjusted in 8 or 9 increments, with both finer control (owing to the greater number of increments) and a wider range of adjustment than similar controls in existing Canon cameras.

It appears that Canon may have developed a range of presets that go beyond just providing a more-convenient way of adjusting image appearance. Based on the preliminary information we've received - and it is both preliminary, subject to change and tempered by the fact we've not explored this feature of the camera ourselves - it looks as if Canon may be offering a variety of truly different colour looks, each accessible from the Picture Style menu.

Picture Style menu showing settings for (left to right) Sharpness, Contrast, Color Saturation and Color Tone (Screenshot courtesy Canon)
Overriding the default settings for the Standard Picture Style results in a new user-defined style being stored in the 5D (Screenshot courtesy Canon)

The Picture Style menu contains six preset combinations of Contrast, Color Saturation, Color Tone and Sharpness. The first three have a 9-increment scale made up of a middle [0] position and a +/-4 range of adjustment. The last, Sharpness, is an 8-increment scale, where [0] is on the far left and, when chosen, disables sharpening. There are 7 increments to the right of [0], each representing a higher level of sharpening.

The Picture Style menu presets are (descriptions in brackets are from Canon-supplied information):

  • Standard (Sharpness set to [3], Color Tone and Color Saturation adjusted for vivid overall colour; this preset is equivalent to the Parameter 1 option in the EOS Digital Rebel/300D, Rebel XT/350D and 20D)
  • Portrait (Sharpness set to [2], Color Tone and Color Saturation adjusted for natural skin tones)
  • Landscape (Sharpness set to [4], Color Tone and Color Saturation adjusted for vivid blues and greens)
  • Neutral (Sharpness set to [0], other settings equivalent to Standard or Color Matrix 1 in existing cameras)
  • Faithful (Sharpness set to [0], colour rendering equivalent to Digital Photo Professional's Faithful option and is meant to produce colorimetrically accurate colour under 5200K lighting)
  • Monochrome (for this preset only, the four controls are Sharpness, Contrast, Filter Effect and Toning Effect; this preset is similar to the monochrome Parameter Set in the 20D)

There are also three additional settings, User Def. 1, 2, and 3, which allow all four controls to be adjusted as desired within the 8 or 9-increment range. All Picture Style configuration can be done right in the camera, says Westfall.

In a preproduction 5D at Canon USA, the Picture Style menu operates a bit differently than that of the EOS-1D Mark II N. In that camera, the Picture Style combos above are better-described as suggestions rather than presets, since all four controls within each can be adjusted freely. In the preproduction 5D, by comparison, as soon as a preset is adjusted the resulting combination of settings gets stored in one of the user-defined settings automatically. The preset itself is left unaltered. This may be an intentional difference in the implementation of this feature in the two cameras, or the 5D's firmware may still be baking. As of this writing, it's impossible to say which.

Unlike the Color Matrix of 1-series digital SLRs, or the Parameter Sets of other Canon cameras, which are essentially variations on the same basic colour theme with a measure of adjustment over saturation, contrast and skin tone appearance, the five colour presets in the EOS 5D  may each have a very different colour rendering scheme under the hood. We're not certain of this, because the information from Canon is incomplete right now. But there are some important clues that suggest this is the case, including the fact, says Westfall, that the five colour presets all render a scene differently, even though the Color Saturation, Color Tone and Contrast settings for each are at [0]. In other words, [0] in Portrait doesn't equal [0] in Landscape, and so on.

In-camera JPEGs can be processed into either the sRGB or Adobe RGB colour space.

White Balance Auto White Balance (AWB) range is 3000K to 7000K, the same as all existing Canon digital SLR cameras; AWB is calculated exclusively based on data from the image sensor. The camera also includes 6 manual White Balance settings for standard light sources, plus Kelvin (2800 to 10,000K in 100K steps) and Custom. White Balance Correction allows for adjustment of blue/amber bias and magenta/green bias, in +/-9 steps. A menu option enables the setting of White Balance Correction and White Balance Bracketing using a grid-style interface.

Long exposure noise reduction The 5D's Noise Reduction menu has three options: Off, On and Auto. When set to On, long exposure noise reduction will be applied whenenever the exposure is 1 second or longer. When set to Auto, the 5D will analyse the level of noise in exposures between 1 and 30 seconds and apply long exposure noise reduction only if it deems it would be beneficial to the picture. As of this writing we're not clear on what happens when Auto is chosen and the exposure time is greater than 30 seconds.

The 5D, like 1-series digital SLRs, doesn't force the photographer to wait an amount of time equal to the exposure time while it applies long exposure noise reduction, thanks to some clever juggling of data in the camera's DDR-SDRAM buffer memory.

CompactFlash slot The 5D includes a single side-loading CompactFlash Type I/II slot and is FAT12/16/32 compatible. Cards less than, equal to or greater than 2GB are supported.

Connection ports The 5D's connection ports are:

  • USB 2.0 (operating in USB 2.0's High Speed mode) with a mini-B connector for tethered operation and connection to the WFT-E1/E1A transmitter.
  • N3-type remote socket
  • PC sync (this socket and the hot shoe are rated for trigger circuit voltages of up to 250V)
  • NTSC/PAL video out 

Connecting an external GPS unit is not an option. The camera also lacks a built-in microphone for recording sound annotations and none is present in the optional Battery Grip BG-E4.

Canon EOS 5D - side views (Photos courtesy Canon)

Review of photos Image playback is via a 2.5 inch, 230,000 pixel TFT LCD with a specified viewing area of 170 degrees in both the horizontal and vertical dimension. Brightness is adjustable in 5 increments.

The 5D is the latest Canon digital SLR to have the ability to scroll back and forth and magnify photos while other photos are still being written to the CF or SD card. In addition, when Quick Review is enabled so that the display turns on automatically after shooting a photo, it's possible to magnify the displayed image.

The clarity of the magnified image is promised to be better that in current models, where it can be dificult to judge the point of focus in group shots because of image fuzziness when approaching maximum magnification. Chuck Westfall, Director of Media and Customer Relationship at Canon USA, indicates that a newly-developed downsampling algorithm in the camera, one that's optimized for the resolution of the 2.5 inch display, is primarily responsible for the improvement.

The dimensions of the preview JPEG inside RAW CR2 files are expected to be the same as existing Canon digital SLRs at about 1500 pixels wide.

Magnification is 1.5x to 10x in 15 steps. Unlike the EOS-1D Mark II N, it's not possible to have the image magnify around the active AF point automatically.

The 5D's Jump function makes it possible to rapidly advance through large collections of pictures on a card. Jump can be used to move forward or back 10 photos or 100 photos, by shooting date or from folder to folder. The Jump function is active in single image view, 9-up view and magnified view. Jump can also be used to quickly navigate from section to section in the on-screen menus.

Canon EOS 5D (Photo courtesy Canon)

File and folder naming Up to 9999 photos can be saved in a folder, and a new folder is automatically created, and the file number reset, when an image file number of 9999 is reached. Unlike the EOS-1D Mark II N, the first four characters of the file name are not customizable. File and folder naming adheres to the EXIF 2.2.1 and DCF 2.0 specifications.

Custom Functions 21 Custom Functions are included, with 57 settings, but there are no Personal Functions or Personal White Balance options. It's not possible to save camera settings to a text file on a CompactFlash card, which is a nifty feature of the Mark II cameras, but the 5D does have an option under the Setup section of the on-screen menus, called [Camera setting registration], that will store the current shooting and menu settings (most of them, anyway) for easy recall.

Direct printing In addition to the standard print layouts, PictBridge direct printing options include contact sheet printing, complete with file names, a 35mm film strip graphic along each of the 5 rows of 7 thumbnails and a 24mm x 36mm size for those thumbnails. The goal being to approximate the look of a traditional 35mm film contact sheet. Another layout is comprised of 20 thumbnails and up to 11 fields of EXIF data per thumbnail, and another is a combination of a single image and EXIF data. There is also a Face Brightener option, plus new 4 x 8 inch, 8 x 10 inch and 10 x 12 inch print sizes. All of these features come to life only when the camera is connected to one of the PictBridge-capable Canon PIXMA-series printers that have also been announced today (more limited direct printing is possible to any PictBridge-compliant printer).

Included software The camera's software bundle is identical to that of the EOS-1D Mark II N, and includes Digital Photo Professional (DPP) 2.0 for Windows and Mac. There are only a handful of new features in Canon's flagship RAW viewing and processing software, beyond support for the two new cameras - the EOS-1D Mark II N and EOS 5D - and one old one - the EOS D30.

One important new feature worth noting, however, is the addition of the full range of Picture Style adjustments to a redesigned RAW image adjustment palette. DPP's 2.0's Picture Style controls can applied to RAW files from all Canon digital SLR cameras back to the D30 (the screenshot below shows the Picture Style presets menu and other Picture Style parameters in a beta version of DPP 2.0).

The main window in Digital Photo Professional 2.0

Other changes include:

  • Sharpening can be previewed in DPP for the first time. The RAW image adjustment palette now has a 0-10 sharpening scale, with the effect applied in near-real time in the preview window. The RGB image adjustment palette also includes a sharpening function now, with a 0-500 scale (presumably to emulate Amount in Photoshop's Unsharp Mask).

  • A new Quick Check Tool enables photos to be previewed faster by rendering them at 50% resolution.

  • The 1,2,3 Checkmark function allows ranking of photos.

  • New folders can be created in the folder navigator at left in the main window.

  • The Stamp Tool now has a mode somewhat similar to Photoshop's Healing Brush: brush in the area containing the dust or other defect and DPP attempts to blend the surrounding area into the trouble spot. There are two different modes, one for cloning away detritus that is lighter than the surrounding area, and another for dealing with unwelcome guck that is darker than the surrounding area.

  • The Transfer to Photoshop command is back, or rather it's once again available outside the Batch dialog (in addition to Batch). In DPP 2.0, it's lurking under the Tools menu.

  • The list of working colour spaces has grown to five, and now includes Apple RGB and ColorMatch RGB in addition to sRGB, Adobe RGB and Wide Gamut RGB.

  • The option to choose between Relative Colorimetric and Perceptual rendering intents has been added to the CMYK simulation profile preferences.

DPP 2.0 will be released on a Canon web site as a free update for existing DPP users. A date for its web release has not been set, says Westfall. Rounding out the camera's software bundle is ZoomBrowser EX 5.5 (Windows)/ImageBrowser 5.5 (Mac), EOS Capture 1.5, PhotoStitch 3.1 and a set of PTP, WIA and TWAIN drivers (Windows).

Battery Grip BG-E4 The new accessory Battery Grip BG-E4 accepts up to two Canon BP-511/512 (1100mAH) or BP-511A/514 (1390mAH) batteries; included is a BGM-E2 AA battery clip that allows the camera to be powered by standard Alkaline, Lithium or Oxyride cells.

Data verification, wired/wireless transmitting The optional Data Verification Kit DVK-E2 can confirm that EOS 5D image files have not been altered.The 5D is also compatible with the optional WFT-E1/E1A transmitter.

Canon EOS 5D and EF 24-105 f/4L IS USM (Photo courtesy Canon)


The Canon EOS 5D is slated to ship in early October 2005 in the U.S. at a minimum advertised price (MAP) of US$3299. In Canada, availability is also planned for October 2005, with an anticipated street price of CDN$4499.


Thanks to Chuck Westfall, Neil Stephenson, Deb Szajngarten, Dan Havlik and Geoff Coalter for their assistance in the preparation of this article.

Revision History
 Added new information and corrected errors in the descriptions of the Picture Style menu (August 22, 2005)
 Added screenshots of the EOS 5D's menus (August 23, 2005)
 Added additional detail about the Picture Style menu (August 23, 2005)
 Added new information about Digital Photo Professional 2.0 (August 24, 2005)

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