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Sony A900 and Canon 5D MKII

The New Market Leaders Duke it Out

Canon 5D MKII – Full Review Months Late

Though I had a very early look at the Canon 5D MKII back in September, 2008, at the time I focused on the camera's video capabilities. Since then my travel schedule and Canon's review sample availability have been such that it was mid-December before I had an opportunity to spend some time shooting with a 5DII. With the holidays and my three week-long Antarctic Expedition beginning in early January, it appears that I simply wouldn't be able to do a full review until February '09, and that's way too late to be relevant for most people.

Sony A900 – Wowed From the Start

A couple of months ago I approached the then just introduced Sony A900 with some curiosity, but was unprepared for what I discovered. It turned out to be a very exciting camera, offering great image performance and handling, and an interface that appealed to me very strongly on a personal level. Consequently I decided to put together a system for long terms testing, and as 2009 begins now have two bodies and six lenses. The A900 is the DSLR of choice for my upcoming Antarctic Expedition in January, 2009. My review of the A900 was published here in early December along with an Update a few weeks later.

So – rather than do a cursory review of the 5D MKII, which would be redundant in light of the many fine reviews already on-line, I've decided to do a comparison with the Sony Alpha A900. The two cameras are direct competitors both in terms of price and features. I've been shooting with Canon DSLRs since the D30 in 2001, and have in-depth familiarity with that system. I have been working with the A900 for about two months, and so a side-by-side seems to be a worthwhile undertaking.


Christmas Lights #2. Toronto, December, 2008
Sony A900 with Zeiss 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm. ISO 200

A brief silly video of the making of the above image
shot by Chris Sanderson
using the Canon 5D MKII and a Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens

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Two Contenders

What separates these two outstanding DSLRs from anything else on the market is that they offer 20+ Megapixel resolution, full frame sensors, standard body size, and all at a price under US $3,000. This essentially makes them the first cameras since the beginning of the digital revolution some ten years ago to combine the required attributes for an everyday professional camera – manageable size, large bright viewfinder, resolution adequate for almost any application, and a price that is in reach for most serious photographers.

Yes, the Canon 1Ds MKIII and its predecessors paved the way, and the Nikon D3 in 2007 met the challenge part way for that company (only lacking high resolution), but offering full-frame along with world-beating high ISO performance. But, these cameras are very large and very expensive. Most photographers will likely get value for the money, to be sure, but these are simply too big and too expensive for many people.

Nikon broke the mold in 2008 with the introduction of the D700. With this camera they offered some 90% of the goodness of the D3 (full frame / large viewfinder / excellent high ISO) but with a regular sized body and much more palatable pricing.

Sony and Canon then changed the game once more in late 2008 by introducing the A900 and the 5DMKII. At 25 and 21 Megapixels respectively these cameras offer the resolution and image quality that people have been waiting for along the other attributes that Nikon paved the way for with the smaller and less expensive D700 last year.

By comparison the 1Ds MKIII from Canon now seems to have a much diminished role, in both the practical needs of photographers and the dream life of amateurs without deep pockets and strong arms. The Nikon D3x is in a similar boat, but more so, with its announced US $8,000 price tag – (the Canon 1Ds MKIII is currently about $6,500).

The D700 paved the way, and now the Canon 5DII and Sony A900 take up the challenge, but with double the pixel count. The D3x seems to be not just a bridge to far when it comes to price, but also too late to the party, with the Canon 5DMKII and Sony A900 coming it at nearly a third its price.

So – with the above rant as preamble, let's look at how these two cameras compare in terms of features and specs. Common items, such as full-frame sized sensors, large bright viewfinders, and so forth, are not innumerated below.

Sony A900
Canon 5D MKII
Resolution
24.6 MP
21 MP
Frame Rate
5 FPS
3.9 FPS
Video Capability
NO
YES
Dust Shake
YES
YES
In-Body Image Stabilization
YES
NO - selected lenses only
Dual Memory Card Slots
YES
NO
ISO Range (including extended)
100 - 6400
50 - 25,600
Bit Depth
12 bit
14 bit
My Memory feature
NO
YES
Easy mirror lock-up
YES
NO
Live View
NO
YES
Current B&H Price - Dec, 2008 (See note)
$2,999
$2,699

A Note re Pricing:

In the US the Canon is a few hundred less expensive than the Sony. This is not necessarily the case in other world markets. In Canada, for example, the Sony A900 is selling for CDN $2,999 while the Canon 5D MKII is CDN $3,099. Other countries may have similar variations. Currency changes in the last quarter of 2008 really have played hell with pricing.

As you can see, based on spec alone it's a saw-off. The Canon has video and live view, the Sony has in-body stabilization and higher frame rates. The Sony also has somewhat higher resolution, while the Canon has a wider and higher ISO range.

Noise

Peering at the screen and looking at prints produced results which pretty much matches DxOMark's test results, as seen below. What we see is that the Sony and the Canon are essentially indistinguishable up to and including ISO 800.

Below is a noise comparison graph from DxO Labs that shows what to expect. My recent three-way noise comparison test pretty much corroborates when we see here. (Please note that a numeric difference of 3 or less on DxO's measurements is visibly insignificant, and below 1 likely falls within the margin of measurement error).

Dynamic Range

Dynamic range is something that really isn't measurable by eye, so I'm going to reply on DxOMark's numbers. What they show is that at ISO 100 and 200 the Sony has a slight advantage over the Canon but once we get to ISO 400 and above the Canon shows significantly more DR – a full stop at ISO 800, for example.

Colour Sensitivity

Again, the Sony equals or slightly bests the Canon below ISO 400, but the 5D MKII pulls slightly ahead at higher ISO.

IQ Summary

If you've read the above you'll conclude, as we have, that the A900 offers slightly better measurable image quality results at lower ISO's (under 400) but that the 5D MKII is the clear leader at higher ISO's. It needs to be said though that the advantage that the Sony has at 800 and slower may be measurable, but frankly isn't visible. Both cameras are simply superb from 100 to 800 ISO and any differences seen in the three areas discussed are simply a quibble.

At ISO 800 and higher the Canon is visibly superior, especially in the noise department.

The bottom line then when it comes to image quality is that for shooting in normal conditions one really wouldn't choose one camera over the other based on IQ, but that if shooting in low light or with slower lenses is your bag, then the Canon definitely gets the nod.

Eagle and Steel Mill. Hamilton, Ontario , December, 2008
Sony A900 with Sigma 50-500mm lens @ 500mm. ISO 200

Resolution Difference

The difference between the Canon's 21 Megapixels and the Sony's almost 25 Megapixels may be a factor in explaining some of the differences that we see. The Sony has a pixel density of 2.9 MP/cm2 while the Canon is 2.4 MP/cm2. Not a huge difference, but enough possibly to be at the root. Also, it may be fair to say that Canon's engineers simply have more expertise in on-chip noise reduction techniques than Sony's.

As for the practical size difference between 21 and 25 Megapixels, they're real but not overwhelming. Think of the difference in coverage between a 21mm lens and a 25mm lens. Think of the difference between an f/2.1 lens and an f/2.5 lens (or maybe an f/2 and an f/2.4). In other words its about a 1.5db or half stop difference using these other metrics. In other words, noticeable, but not an overwhelming difference.

Autofocus

Autofocus on both cameras is quite similar. The Canon has 15 focus points while the Sony has 19. The Canon's though covers a slightly wider in-viewfinder area.

I really couldn't find much to differentiate them in terms of performance either. Both cameras allow one to choose between multipoint and single point through the use of the rear joystick, though the Sony has an additional mode which is just the center point, rather than having to choose the center point individually on the Canon.

The focusing mode (AF Single, Continuous or Manual) is chosen via the top LCD screen on the Canon while it is selected via a physical switch on the lower left of the camera's front panel on the Sony. This is similar to the Nikon design, except that the switch on the Sony is much more difficult to accidentally move to the wrong position than the one on Nikons.

Both camera also feature a focus mode that lets the camera lock focus in single shot mode AF mode, but which will switch to follow-focus if the subject starts to move, such as a bird taking off from a branch while one is shooting a burst.

One surprising test result was uncovered while doing some low light noise tests. I found that at very low light levels (ISO 1600 / f/2.8 / 1/20 sec) the 5DMKII lost its ability to focus on a lightly textured but blank white wall, while the A900 had no difficulty at all, locking on instantly. The Canon would simply hunt. This is contrary to the specs, which show the Canon as having better low light sensitivity. Once again, when it comes to real world vs published specs, I always go with the real world results.

Both cameras similarly allow setting autofocus to either shutter actuation or a thumb button on the rear panel.

Metering

The A900 once again offers a mechanical switch to change metering modes rather than the Canon's combination of a button press and selection from the top LCD panel.

I have long found that Canon's matrix metering is very accurate and have learned to trust it. Unfortunately the same can not be said for that on the A900. I find that the A900's meter chronically underexposes by about a stop, and consequently I keep about a stop of plus exposure compensation dialed in much of the time.

Don't misinterpret this as the Sony's meter being inaccurate. Readings between the two cameras under varying light conditions in spot mode are typically within a quarter EV. What the Sony doesn't seem to do as well Canon is its matrix (evaluative) metering.


Yellow Arches Over Suburbia. Ontario, December, 2008
Canon 5D MKII with 70-300mm DO at ISO 1000

Viewfinders

One of the advantages of a full frame camera is the large bright viewfinder. The one on the Canon is very nice, but the one on the Sony is exceptional. Looking through them side by side the A900 viewfinder is larger and brighter. It also is noticeably less yellow than the view through the 5D MKII.

But, the 5D MKII viewfinder has battery status indication as well as ISO. The A900 has neither, though the ISO does show when the ISO setting button is pressed. The A900 also has an indicator in the viewfinder showing the status of image stabilization, with a vibrating hand for when stabilization isn't going to be successful, and a variable bar graph showing the amount of vibration present. Both viewfinders feature illuminated focus points.

I find the lack of ISO information in the viewfinder a real minus for the Sony and urge them to add this in the next version of this camera.

User Interface

All DSLR camera makers face a considerable challenge – how to provide the user with an interface to the myriad of settings that are required – as well as offered – the two not necessarily being the same thing.

There are conflicts in this that needs to be managed, and there is not necessarily any one right or wrong answer, either for designers or users.

Canon and Sony have taken somewhat different approaches to this. Canon has loaded the camera with options and configurability while Sony appears to have resisted that temptation and restricted its offerings to those things that are most important to photographers, forgoing some of the frippery.

Sony has also taken the approach of having more physical controls, buttons, switches and levers than Canon, who have an interface that's more reliant on screens and menus. Examples of this are the focus mode as well as metering mode switches.

Both cameras feature a large Mode setting dial on the top left panel. Both are of decent size but the one on the A900 has very firm detents, while that on the Canon can, I found, be easily knocked off position accidentally.

Each of the cameras also provide three separate Custom positions which provide instant access to a large combination of camera settings. This is a terrific feature in both cases because it allows for a high degree of personal configurability. For example, I set position #1 as my grab and shoot mode, with auto-everything, while #3 is set for manual everything, plus self timer and mirror lock-up, which is what's used for tripod based work.

Both cameras are again similar in having rear joysticks for navigating menus. I find the one on the Sony a bit beefier and easier to use, but this isn't a big deal one way or the other. What is preferable on the Sony design is that pressing the stick inwards on the quick setting screen makes a selection while on the Canon one needs to move ones finger to the Set button. This is a slightly more secure approach in avoid accidental actuation, but not as quick to execute.

The ability to access a rear screen which displays just about every major camera setting and then to use the joystick to make changes is a real plus. I don't know which company came up with the first, or care, but it's a terrific capability on both cameras.

Update:

In the first couple of days since publication there have been a few emails and some rather unpleasant online postings on some discussion forums to the effect that I am wrong regarding the 5DII not registering settings when the center of the joystick is pressed, and that I should take up piano tuning instead of camera reviewing. Well, sorry folks, but I am correct. It works exactly as I've described.

The confusion probably stems from the fact that pressing the center of the joystick does make a selection when accessing items from the main Menu button, but it does not do so when one wishes to set an item from the quick access screen. In that case the screen simply goes dark. One needs to use the Set button instead, rather than the center of the joystick, which is what I was referring to in the article.

In fact, now that this is brought to light its clear that this is the type of interface confusion that can drive photographers nuts in the field, where a control works one way in one situation and another way in another.

On one of the forums someone also took me to task for not being a competent reviewer because I didn't discuss how the Sony A900's video mode compared to the Canon's. No I'm not kidding.

Remedial reading classes, not to mention a refresher session in politeness, begin after lunch.

Top LCD and Eye Sensing

Sony obviously had a design challenge. The wanted to have as large and bright a prism as possible, and in this they succeeded admirably. But they also wanted to have direct access button on the top panel for major functions such as Exposure Compensation, Drive Mode, White Balance and ISO Setting. Canon access these via small modal buttons that require using either the front or rear control wheel.

Sony makes these button much larger and displays the resulting changes with somewhat cryptic symbols on a much smaller screen. Sony also causes the rear colour LCD to light up when you press one of these buttons and provides a large display of what specific settings are being made. With this approach one can make these settings looking down at the top panel as well as looking at the rear, depending on whether the camera is tripod mounted or hand-held. Changes also are indicated in the viewfinder as they are being made, though as with the 5D MKII this does require memorizing by feel alone which button does what.

Because of the smaller top LCD (and thus larger buttons) Sony has placed a greater reliance on the rear LCD for various camera settings. Consequently they have added an eye sensor which detects when the camera is raised to ones face, which then kills the rear LCD.

On the Canon simply pressing the shutter release lightly does the same thing, and so one might ask why Sony bothers with the eye detection. The reason is that the minute you take your eye away the rear LCD illuminates again, showing you the screen that you've been referring to. This means that when working on a tripod you have access at a glance to all of the settings information and options that you might need. Of course the illumination duration is settable.

As for the rear LCD itself on the A900 it is (naturally) a Sony screen with very high resolution and contrast. The screen on the Canon 5D MII is similarly sharp and bright, and may in fact (based on its specs) be a Sony-sourced screen.

But, when it comes to screen interface design I have to give slightly higher marks to Canon than Sony, which is unusual since this is an area where Sony usually excels. There's simply a bit more "design" appeal to the Canon's on-screen menus.

14 Bit vs 12 Bit

The Canon 5D MKII is a 14 bit camera while the Sony A900 is 12 bits. In theory higher bit depth provides an advantage in terms of image quality, but frankly I don't see it. I've looked at the difference between 12 bit and 14 bit on cameras that can be set to one or the other, such as the Nikon D300 and D3x, and as hard as I try I can not see any real difference in images, even when they are pushed to extremis in raw processing. The purpose of higher bit rates is to achieve a reduction in quantization noise in the shadows during the conversion of the sensor's analog output to a digital signal. But it would appear that noise in the lowest levels swamps quantization noise, making this somewhat academic.

So, while I'm sure that there is a difference I'll be damned is I can see it on any images I've shot so far with any camera. I am told by technical types who understand the math that a 12 stop dynamic range, which top cameras are now capable of, (see DxOMark) can handle this appropriately with just 12 bits. 14 bit bit depth provides a safety margin in the event of poor exposure, which is welcome, but I maintain that this is more in theory than in practice.

3.9 FPS vs 5 FPS

This is a very real difference in shooting speed between the two cameras. While the difference between 3.9 FPS and 5 FPS may seen small, it's more than 20%, and that extra frame in each second of a burst can sometimes (with sports and wildlife) mean the difference between catching the moment and not.

Handling

The A900 is a beefier camera than the 5D MKII. Not that the Canon is petite, far from it, but the Sony does ratchet the bulk up a notch, being slightly wider, deeper, higher and heavier. If you have very small hands then the 5D MKII is probably the preferable camera from a handling point of view. For those with larger hands, or who shoot with gloves on a great deal, the A900 might be a better choice.

Button, switch and control placement is a personal preference. I urge anyone considering a choice between these two camera to not just consider specs and features but also ones comfort level with the camera's ergonomics. This can only be appreciated by handing them at a dealer for more than a few minutes. When I'm evaluating a new camera handing counts as heavily as does image quality.

Lenses

Canon has what is likely the largest lens line of any camera maker. Sony, one of the smallest. But does that tell the whole story?

For some photographers it might, but then how many lenses do you need and which ones? Oh yes, and of what quality?

Sony's line-up has some very fine lenses, and with the exception of tilt / shift and some super-telephotos most of the bases are covered. The real ace in the hole for Sony is that they have co-developed along with Zeiss a number of new lenses which are as good if not better than anything from any lens maker. The Sony / Zeiss 85mm f/1.4, 135mm f/1.8, and 24-70mm f/2.8 are simply superb, and the upcoming Zeiss 16-35mm f/2.8 looks likely to continue Zeiss' reputation for sterling optics.

Sony also has its G series of lenses, which are the equivalent of Canon's L series. These in my experience are excellent optics both in terms of built quality and optical performance. The Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 G is fully the equal of the Canon equivalent. And though the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L is a well regarded lens, the Sony / Zeiss 24-70mm f/2.8 is absolutely superb, and is stabilized on the A900. This lens / body combination is about as good as it gets for versatility and high image quality in lower light levels.

Canon has over the years excelled in their long lenses, but it's no secret among pros and diligent amateurs that the company's wide angles leave a lot to be desired. The new Sony / Zeiss 16-35mm f/2.8 promises a lot, and will be reviewed here in February, 2009.

In the end it comes down to a question of which lens one needs, and especially which ones one already has. For someone with a selection of existing Canon glass there's likely little that will make one change systems. Similarly for someone with an earlier Sony camera, or a Minolta system, motivations are likewise going to make one stay within the family.

Side by Side 100% Comparisons

Nope. Not gunna do it. Yes the Sony has more pixels. Yes the Canon has lower noise pixels (above ISO 800). Other than that it's an exercise in pixel peeping and if one does it too much hair starts to grow on the palms of ones hands.

Take it as gospel that when processed by a competent worker in their favourite raw processor these cameras will essentially produce if not identical then at least equally terrific images. Likely shooting technique deficiencies and inferior lenses will play a much bigger role in any visible differences on comparable sized prints than any minor differences between these cameras sensors.

But, if you really insist on doing some pixel peeping, have a look at the three-way noise comparison that I recently published, which included these two cameras as well as the Nikon D3x.

Since I don't participate on other site's discussion forums, I'll add this here as a sidebar.

In the Big Three Shootout comparison test, because the D3x doesn't allow mirror lock-up and self timer at the same time, a couple of the low ISO (therefore longer exposure) shots are slightly blurred due to mirror shake. I didn't have a cable release handy at the time, and in any event I didn't see the blurring until doing post processing a day later. There was then no way to reshoot based on time constraints.

Since this was simply a comparison of noise, not resolution, I decided that the validity of the results had not been compromised, and continued with publication. The technical experts who I consulted with in preparing the article agreed. I also mentioned the problem in a couple of places in the article so that no one would misinterpret the results as being the fault of the D3x having inferior resolution – which it most definitely doesn't.

But, as is often the case, a small number of axe-grinders with sub-optimal reading comprehension skills, that inhabit one of a camera review site's discussion boards, decided that this made the whole comparison invalid and that I was an incompetent dolt (or worse) as a consequence.

Fine. The net allows anyone to say just about anything that they wish, so press on. But really guys – Get a life.

Live View, Video and Built-in Stabilization

There are so many features that are common to both cameras, including items mentioned above, eye piece shutters, sensor shake dust removal and such, that the differences need to be discussed as well.

The Canon has Live View and a very competent video mode. The Sony has neither. Whether these features are important to the way you work will likely determine which camera you select rather than all of the other factors which make them so similar.

On the Sony side of the ledger there's built-in image stabilization accomplished by using sensor vibration. This has been shown to be every bit as good as stabilization systems built into lenses. The big advantage though is that it applies to any lens mounted, not just specific lenses. And though wide angle lenses tend not to need stabilization as much as long lenses, having these stabilized as well is a real bonus.

Battery Grips

The Canon and the Sony both have available battery grips that take two batteries and provide comfortable vertical handling. The Sony's grip is a bit unconventional in how it positions the vertical release button, placing it further down the grip than does Canon or anyone else for the matter. This may turn out to be a matter of personal preference, but once I got used to it I found it to be a much more comfortable and stable position.

I have been particularly impressed with the array of controls that are available on the Sony grip – virtually reproducing the complete rear control panel of the camera. Nice!

The grips differ as well in how they handle the dual batteries. Canon drains them equally while Sony drains first one and then the other. I find the Sony approach to be preferable since you can pop in a third battery once the camera has indicated that the first is dry, recharging the spent one while the second takes over. This also is worthwhile when you switch from using the grip to not, as you know which of the batteries still has full juice rather than finding both of them partially depleted.

A plus for the Canon grip though is that it comes with an insert tray that takes six AA batteries, allowing a powering option that Sony doesn't offer. On the other hand the Sony batteries are standard Sony M series, the same as used in a number of Sony video cameras, while the Canon batteries are proprietary and more expensive.

Of Black Dots and Christmas Tree Lights

Since the 5D MKII started shipping there have been reports of black dots adjacent to the right hand side of extreme pinpoint highlights. Canon has acknowledged the problem and has promised a fix, but as of early January no fix has been forthcoming.

Dual Card Slots

The A900 takes two memory cards while the Canon only takes one. Unfortunately the second card slot on the Sony is their silly proprietary Memorystick format. Nevertheless, I find having dual cards a real benefit on long shooting days as one doesn't have to change cards in the field as often, something that can be a hassle in some situations, such as on a Zodiac, or a raft in fast water, or a snow storm, or....

Unfortunately Sony has provided none of the automation that Canon and Nikon have on their high-end cameras which have dual slots, such as being able to auto-switch when a card is full, writing raws to one and JPGs to another, and so on. Still, I'm glad the Sony has added dual-card capability at this price point.

Mirror Lock Up

You know this was coming – right? No, Canon still doesn't understand the necessity of mirror lock-up, and buries it down in Custom Function hell, several button presses away. How many years has it been now that we've all been bitching about this? Are they being stubborn, or just stupid?

Sony handles mirror lock-up admirably, making it available as one of the shutter actuation choices on the quick access screen via either the top Drive button or the rear joystick. And, it is also automatically engaged when you use 2 second mirror lock up, just the way the Good Lord intended it to be.

Sorry Canon – two thumbs down once again on this one.

Yes – I know that Live View provides a form of mirror lock up, but for a variety of practical reasons I don't find it equivalent or as useful. In any event, it's no excuse for for Canon not providing the real thing.

UPDATE:

I've been asked what these reasons are. Fair enough.

I don't like to use Live View as a replacement for mirror lock up for two reasons. Firstly, leaving LV on for a while heats up the sensor potentially leading to higher noise. This is especially true in warm climates. Also, having the rear LCD shining isn't always desirable, especially in the low light conditions that one tends to use MLU in.

I don't care to necessarily associate MLU with a custom setting, not because it isn't a good work-around, but because I sometimes want to engage it without having to also have other unneeded settings come along with it.

Yes, MLU can be put as a My Menu item, but this again requires more button presses than a simple activation button would.

Finally, why should we need workarounds when a simple button press or associating MLU with 2 second self timer would do the job simply and at no cost? Sorry folks, Canon is just being obstinate on this – and so am I. I'll bitch about it till they fix it.

What About the Nikon D3x and Canon 1Ds MKIII?

These cameras are different animals, both in terms of size and price. It used to be that it was big guns like these that also offered the most resolution and highest image quality, but that is no longer the case. Nikon broke that mold with the D700 and Canon did similarly with the new 5D MKII. It seems to me that behemoths like the Canon 1 Series and Nikon D3 series are moving into specialized territory (and price bracket) now that one no longer needs to accept their bulk and price as a necessity so as to get what they're capable of in terms of image quality.

The Bottom Line

Both the Canon 5D MKII and Sony A900 offer tremendous value for the money compared to everything that's come before and just about everything else currently on the market. Yes, they're as much as $1,500 to $2,000 more than various consumer cameras, but the extra money buys you a full-frame sensor camera with as much as twice the resolution. They're also many thousands of dollars less than their only other competitors in terms of IQ, sensor size, and resolution, the Canon 1Ds MKIII and Nikon D3x.

For photographers who don't need to crop a lot, or whose work doesn't end up in prints larger than 11X17", full frame and high resolution advantages may be academic. There are also lots of decent APS-C sized wide angle lenses these days, and so wide angle issues aren't felt as deeply as they were three or four years ago.

Lens choice is a factor, with Sony offering a smaller selection than Canon, but then providing several simply lovely Zeiss lenses as well as a number of their own fine designs and a couple of decades worth of older Minolta lenses that have full AF compatibility.

In the end buying decisions will be made based on a number of factors, most of them personal. Is video and Live View important? What about stabilization with all lenses? How about handling? What about those amazing Zeiss lenses, or on the other hand the huge variety of lenses that Canon has available?

If you're in the market for a camera in the category and price range I strongly urge you to visit a local dealer if you can and handle the camera for yourself. No amount of listening to the brand aficionados online or reading test reports is really going to tell you what you need to know. Make your own informed decisions.

Parting Words – For Now

This comparison review is being completed just prior to a two week long photographic expedition in Antarctica that I'm leading. Commercial director and producer of the Video Journal, Chris Sanderson, will be using the Canon 5D MKII as his primary video camera to film the expedition as well as shoot stills. Frequent contributor to this site, photographer Nick Devlin, will be on the trip as well shooting with the 5D MKII. Both gentleman have field reviews for these pages in mind, so you can expect more coverage on this camera and how it made out in Antarctica at the end of January, 2009.

I'll be shooting with the Sony A900, a Nikon D3x, and a Phase One 645AF with P65+ back. Look Ma, no hands – as I juggle cameras. Should be fun, and lots to report on here begining in late January when we get back.

January, 2009


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Concepts: Digital single-lens reflex camera, Full-frame digital SLR, Camera, Film speed, Single-lens reflex camera, Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Canon EOS DSLR cameras, Nikon D700

Entities: its matrix (evaluative) metering, Sony, MKII, Nikons, DxOMark, DxO Labs, Antarctica, standard body size, Canada, ISO, LCD screen, confusion, Christmas, sec, Michael Reichmann, Canon, Zeiss, Chris Sanderson, Nick Devlin, Video Journal, D3x, D3, D300, Ontario, A900

Tags: Sony, cameras, 5d mkii, canon 5d mkii, button, Sony A900, canon 1ds mkiii, image quality, Nikon, sensor, mode, Nikon D3x, live view, rear lcd, low light, large bright viewfinder, mirror lock-up, camera settings, 12 bits, rear joystick, canon 5d mii, earlier sony camera, reviews, video, wide angle, self timer, higher iso, Sony A900 offer, Canon DSLRs, three-way noise comparison, megapixels, wide angle lenses, Sony video cameras, Sony Alpha, high resolution, Canon equivalent, Sony screen, camera maker, Canon glass, Canon access