Five Remarkable Features in the Canon 5D Mark II that You Might Not Know About


I received the Canon 5D Mark II yesterday and have had a chance to get to know this latest full-sensor DSLR in Canon's lineup. By now, most folks know about the big changes with the body. The 21-megapixel resolution and HD movie recording are the headliners. But there are some other more subtle improvements that I really like.

Finally, a Real Battery Status Indicator

I've wondered for years why Canon cameras didn't do a better job of reporting on the remaining battery charge. My far less expensive Sony compact told me more about the battery than my expensive DSLR body. But no more!

The 5D Mark II now sports a Battery Info screen that shows me remaining capacity in perecent, shutter count, and recharge performance. It also lists the actual battery model number and where it's located (grip or internal). It's terrific!

Intelligent Auto Rotate

Previously, we only had two options for Auto Rotate. Either you turned it off so you could utilize the entire LCD for verticals, but then had to rotate the images yourself on the computer. Or you could turn it on for rotating on the computer, but then had to look at verticals using the short side of the LCD.

Well, now there's a third option that lets you turn on rotation for the computer only. That way I can see verticals long ways on my camera LCD but have them correctly orientated on the computer. I'm very thankful for this improvement.

Live View Feedback on Kelvin Color Temperature Settings

We've been able to set Kelvin color temperature for some time, but it was always a shot in the dark. Now, thanks to Live View, I can activate my White Balance menu, go to Kelvin, rotate the dial, and get visual feedback on each temperature setting. When it looks right, I stop. This is faster than using Custom White Balance, and a big improvement for working quickly in the field.

Focus Magnification in Live View

When you're in Live View mode, you press the AF-ON button to focus the camera. If you set the AF mode in the menu to Live Mode, then you have the option to increase the magnification of the focus area to 5X or 10X by pressing the magnifying glass icon when focus is activated.

This will help you nail a particular element in your composition. When you're ready to return to normal view, just press the magnifying button again.

Silent Shooting

Another great feature thanks to Live View is Silent Shooting mode. You'll find the option in the Live View set up menu. By using Mode 1 and turning off the "beep" confirmation, you can capture images at a fraction of the noise level that we traditionally endure with DSLR bodies. This is perfect for certain occasions such as wedding vows.

More Features in the Future

I'll continue to pass along tips that I learn using the Canon 5D Mark II in future posts. Happy New Year!

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The only feature in this list that is truly new is the Battery charge indicator. The other features all appeared with the 1D Mark III and have already made it down into the 40D and 50D (and probably even into the XS and XSi as well, although I can't confirm that).

Except for the battery charge level indicator, these are all great improvements and I use them all. I worry about the charge indicator because it may mean that I can't buy affordable aftermarket batteries. The Canon branded batteries are ridiculously expensive and I really don't want to be limited to buying only them...

Hi Sean,

I was referring to new features to this update of the 5D. Sorry I wasn't clearer about that.

Happy New Year!

Low light tip on the 5D Mk II. When it is really dark. Like you can't see the people in the view finder dark and the AF is just not there. Have the subject hold a cell phone (lighted face) even with their face. This gives the AF something to zero in on. When you get the beep and you have AF locked (usually half squeeze) tell the person to lower the phone, recompose and finish the squeeze.

I guess I'm gonna need to read up some more but this was a really good strting point.

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