The Canon 5D Mark II: The Relic Still Flying the Flag in a Mirrorless World

DSLR fashion has plummeted in recent years. The perks of mirrorless tech continue to exceed expectations, pushing boundaries and leaving their clunky, slower siblings in their shiny, space-age wake. But does any of that really matter in the commercial photographic world? Well, no, not really. In 2023, £250 will still have your images contending with ones from bodies 10 times the price.

I've always shot DSLR. Want to know why? Well, because 10 years ago, it's simply what one did. If you wanted to up your game from hobbyist to professional, you'd look at jumping to full frame, a bunch more megapixels, perhaps some nice burst speeds, and, of course, delving deep into the lenses that were appropriate for your repertoire — no change there at least. I've never fired the shutter on a mirrorless camera, so biased I unequivocally am. But this isn't another comparison of old versus new. Moreover, it's a reminder that in an industry where depreciation of kit is truly enormous — mainly due to blisteringly fast advances in technology — build quality, image quality, and reliability can remain arrogantly steadfast.

In this video, Scott Choucino of Tin House Studio speaks as openly and eloquently as ever on why it isn't necessary to go broke for the gear that doesn't necessarily afford you better results. Photographers making a living from their work will tell you that sites such as MPB are their Mecca, the space where we can price up second-hand gear from an age gone by, or even splurge on something a little sexier, knowing full well that it will be a fraction of the price of their newer counterparts.

I've never had a shutter seize up and refuse to work. I've had DSLR bodies flung from bags, dropped in puddles, and a couple nicked from my home! But not once has a piece of kit died through simple wear and tear, just simple human error. As true today as it was with your Dad's 1997 Volvo 850, these things will run, and run, and run, until you do something stupid with them.

Let me know what you're packing in the comments below, however archaic. 

Michael Barrow's picture

I'm a food and lifestyle photographer, currently living and working in London.

I’ve worked as a writer and educator in photography and maintain a deep and unhealthy relationship with food and cooking. As such you’ll always find me in the kitchen at parties.

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Aye! I picked up a 5D2 not too long ago because, let's face it, it's still capable of producing incredible images, and EF lenses are plentiful (and plentifully cheap)

If you use the Canon 5D Mll with Magic Lantern, you have many additional functions such as zebras or focus stacking. ML was very far ahead of its time.

Still using my 5D Mk2, got to admit that mainly using it in studio settings where i can control the light 100% and yes it still produces amazing quality photos.
Downside, shooting moving subjects indoor like horses produce pretty mediocre quality compared to the latest cameras or even my pixel 7 pro.
Pushing the ISO, shooting wide open f2,8 70-200 IS turned on continuous focus and you barely manage to get usable photos from this poor 9 focus points in the centre of the sensor shows the Mk2s age.

Tried the R5 in the same environment and let's just say I wish I had the cash for one, ultra crisp tack sharp photos, no blur catching shots of horses and riders jumping over gates and still had plenty of headroom to push the ISO if I'd wanted and focus and speed felt like shooting in god mode.

But speaking strictly image quality if you do portraits or landscape mainly, it's more pixels then the average photographer probably need in the 5D Mk2 and will last you a long time.

So it all comes down to what you shoot that should dictate the gear needs, or if you got the cash to spend the R5 will cover everything from birds/wildlife, tricky night shots, fashion and everything in between.

But for now as an enthusiastic "hobby" photographer I'm more then fine with my Mk2 relic and just wishing someone would like to donate a copy of capture one pro they don't need 😄

I use a 6D for my main camera and an 80D crop factor for birds and wildlife, which boosts the zoom × 1.6. Anything "better" by objective image standards costs 2 or 3 times as much and the results are incrementally small. Until one of these cant do what i need them to do, a move "up" makes no sense. I did have a 5DM2 with beautiful results in good lighting, but found the autofocus was confused on some darker outdoor settings such as canyons or dusk.

I mainly use my EOS R , but when I shoot events and concerts I also use my old 6D and I do prefer the 6D ‘s viewfinder for concerts. And in the final results I can’t tell the difference

I have done photography using a Canon 5d Mk2 for ages. The circuit board started messing up at a concert I was shooting in January 2021, then failed totally at a birthday party a few weeks later. I found a used replacement 5d Mk2 for cheaper than what Canon wanted to fix my other one, so I bought it and used it for several months until it failed as well. I had never dropped it or treated it bad but for some reason, one day it started acting weird, didn’t want to focus properly and the pictures were all coming out dark no matter where I had the settings adjusted - I always shoot manual. I pulled the lens off to see what was going on and the mirror fell out of it. Apparently my 24-70 lens is messed up too. I cannot get it to focus on other cameras either now.

Last November I decided to get a new camera and I looked at the R5 but I could not bring myself to pay the money they are asking for just the body, knowing I also need to get my lens fixed or replace it as the lenses for those cameras are more expensive as well. I ended up buying a new 5d Mk4, new Sigma 18-35 1.8 Art lens, and a used Canon 70-200 2.8 lens for the same price as the R5 body was going to cost. I still need to get my 24-70 looked at, but for now I have everything covered. I already had some prime lenses to fill the gaps since those were what I used before I bought the 24-70. My photography has always turned out amazing so I have not really seen a dire need to go spend a bunch of money for the latest technology. It makes it harder to justify if you have invested in expensive lenses for a difficult format.

The sigma 18-35 1.8 art isn’t full frame , is it?

Interesting post, I made the switch from film to digital in 2016 and bought the 5DMII as a backup to my 90D. Interesting enough, I find myself grabbing my 5D more and more as it still captures amazing images.

I’m still running a 5d2, 24-70L, and 70-200L; both MKI. Heck, I was still getting great images from my old 20D 6 years ago, before I stopped shooting professionally.

If you know your gear, know it’s strengths and weaknesses, and how to exploit both; you can still use it.

My Sinar 4x5 is not obsolete, so far as I’m concerned.

I purchased my 5DMKII new, shortly after the mk3's hit the market, i still use it along side of a 5Ds,,, which i snatched up new when canon cut the body only price to about $1,400 just before th the R5 was coming out. Both work great and i will never stop using them, the 5DMKII is better on batteries than the 5DS so it will always have a place in my bag. My daily camera is a M6mkII because of size, i am able to carry the body, 5 lens and a small Canon 270ex speed light everywhere i go, with my wallet and phone,