In response to a question on a local Thailand forum:

 

I've had both.. still have the Mark II.

There are two sides.  One side says a good photographer can make great pictures with any camera, and another side says the camera allows the photographer to make images to it's level and no further.

 

There are two sides.  One side says a good photographer can make great pictures with any camera, and another side says the camera allows the photographer to make images to it's level and no further.

 

In truth, this should be divided into two parts.  Composition and technical capability.  Where composition is concerned, any camera will do.  It is true that exposure can and should be lumped in with composition and in this regard any camera with a higher dynamic range will allow compositions a lower dynamic range camera cannot do.   This is absolutely true, you can point your camera in the exact same direction at the exact same thing, and with all else being equal other than exposure.. you'll get two very different pictures which include different elements of composition PROVIDED what you're pointing the camera at exceeds the capabilities of the lower dynamic range camera.  I hope I said that in a way to avoid confusion, but you might have to read it twice.

 

In truth, this should be divided into two parts.  Composition and technical capability.  Where composition is concerned, any camera will do.  It is true that exposure can and should be lumped in with composition and in this regard any camera with a higher dynamic range will allow compositions a lower dynamic range camera cannot do.   This is absolutely true, you can point your camera in the exact same direction at the exact same thing, and with all else being equal other than exposure.. you'll get two very different pictures which include different elements of composition PROVIDED what you're pointing the camera at exceeds the capabilities of the lower dynamic range camera.  I hope I said that in a way to avoid confusion, but you might have to read it twice.

 

On a technical level a newer camera has features an older one might not.  Video, bigger review LCD, faster save times to your memory card, higher flash sync speed, just to name a few.  IF these features enable you to make a composition you otherwise couldn't make.. then the technical aids the composition.

 

On a technical level a newer camera had features an older one might not.  Video, bigger review LCD, faster save times to your memory card, higher flash sync speed, just to name a few.  IF these features enable you to make a composition you otherwise couldn't make.. then the technical aids the composition.

 

So of course both sides of this age old argument are right DEPENDING on what you're pointing the camera at..  And without a good description of what style of photography you wish to pursue no one can give you a meaningful answer.  As a beginner you might not even know, perhaps you're thinking of family pictures of visits to temples or just 'all around' tourist type photography.  Even then this is too vague, it will depend on light (time of day, weather, indoors/outdoors), subject matter, and more.  So you need to be very specific.  If you can't be specific, then just assume a newer better camera with significant new features will serve you better.. and then weigh that against the cost of both.

 

So of course both sides of this age old argument are right DEPENDING on what you're pointing the camera at..  And without a good description of what style of photography you wish to pursue no one can give you a meaningful answer.  As a beginner you might not even know, perhaps you're thinking of family pictures of visits to temples or just 'all around' tourist type photography.  Even then this is too vague, it will depend on light (time of day, weather, indoors/outdoors), subject matter, and more.  So you need to be very specific.  If you can't be specific, then just assume a newer better camera with significant new features will serve you better.. and then weigh that against the cost of both.

 

Significant new features.   As a beginner how are you even supposed to know what these might be?  Everyone answering might have a different answer.  Someone with less than perfect eyesight might really appreciate the bigger LCD of the Mark II.  Someone making giant sized prints or who crops to composition  (a sloppy habit btw) might believe they need all 21mp's of the Mark II.  Someone else into critical focusing (we all should be) might more appreciate the Mark II's ability to fine adjust individual lenses to the body.  And the guy who was having trouble making rent last month might think they're all crazy spending 4-5x more for basically the same camera.

 

Significant new features.   As a beginner how are you even supposed to know what these might be?  Everyone answering might have a different answer.  Someone with less than perfect eyesight might really appreciate the bigger LCD of the Mark II.  Someone making giant sized prints or who crops to composition  (a sloppy habit btw) might believe they need all 21mp's of the Mark II.  Someone else into critical focusing (we all should be) might more appreciate the Mark II's ability to fine adjust individual lenses to the body.  And the guy who was having trouble making rent last month might think they're all crazy spending 4-5x more for basically the same camera.

 

Used gear.  I'm a big believer in used gear.  You can save a lot.  But you need to be at least somewhat knowledgeable concerning the gear in question or you'll end up with a hunk of junk you can't use.  Know the shutter life expectancy and know how many actuations the used body has, and what kind of use it's seen.  Professionals normally take good care of their gear, but they use it hard in all conditions.  An amateur might baby his/her gear and it could be like new.. or through product ignorance they might have ruined the camera without knowing.  Using the wrong fluid to clean your sensor, exposing it to very high humidity or rapid changes in humidity, cheap power supplies or a defective or generic battery.. or if they use it for hour long exposures which can really heat up a sensor.  You need to know about the gear and what questions to ask the seller.  Remember there is no warranty on used gear unless you buy from one of the better used gear stores (there are some good ones) who will give you a minimal warranty or sell you an extended warranty.

 

Used gear.  I'm a big believer in used gear.  You can save a lot.  But you need to be at least somewhat knowledgeable concerning the gear in question or you'll end up with a hunk of junk you can't use.  Know the shutter life expectancy and know how many actuations the used body has, and what kind of use it's seen.  Professionals normally take good care of their gear, but they use it hard in all conditions.  An amateur might baby his/her gear and it could be like new.. or through product ignorance they might have ruined the camera without knowing.  Using the wrong fluid to clean your sensor, exposing it to very high humidity or rapid changes in humidity, cheap power supplies or a defective or generic battery.. or if they use it for hour long exposures which can really heat up a sensor.  You need to know about the gear and what questions to ask the seller.  Remember there is no warranty on used gear unless you buy from one of the better used gear stores (there are some good ones) who will give you a minimal warranty or sell you an extended warranty.

 

New gear.  Drive it off the lot, lose 20% off the top.  Maybe more.  You're paying for more than new gear though, you're paying for peace of mind, a warranty, and the latest features and capabilities.  If you can afford new gear then great.  If not, it might be worth educating yourself enough to make safe used gear purchases.

 

New gear.  Drive it off the lot, lose 20% off the top.  Maybe more.  You're paying for more than new gear though, you're paying for peace of mind, a warranty, and the latest features and capabilities.  If you can afford new gear then great.  If not, it might be worth educating yourself enough to make safe used gear purchases.

 

Back to your question.  The original Canon EOS-5D or the newer Canon EOS-5D Mark II in my humble yet experienced opinion?  Keep in mind these cameras are separated by nearly 4 years of technology.  In digital camera terms that's a lot of difference.  There are significant improvements made to the feature set of the EOS-5D Mark II to include nearly twice the pixels (about how much you need to see a real difference), a larger brighter more accurate review LCD, greatly increased ISO availability with real life (perhaps a 2 stop) improvement in low light performance, a faster frame rate, AF micro-adjust, 3 custom settings which stores EVERYTHING, HDMI out, longer lasting battery, Auto ISO, sensor vibrator function to knock dust off the sensor, and new processors which really speed up how fast your data is saved letting you get back to taking pictures that much sooner.  There's a lot more, pull up any technical orientated review from DPR or Imaging Resource and you'll find a side by side comparison.  The EOS-5D Mark II was an important upgrade, it will be well covered in the blogosphere.

 

Back to your question.  The original Canon EOS-5D or the newer Canon EOS-5D Mark II in my humble yet experienced opinion?  Keep in mind these cameras are separated by nearly 4 years of technology.  In digital camera terms that's a lot of difference.  There are significant improvements made to the feature set of the EOS-5D Mark II to include nearly twice the pixels (about how much you need to see a real difference), a larger brighter more accurate review LCD, greatly increased ISO availability with real life (perhaps a 2 stop) improvement in low light performance, a faster frame rate, AF micro-adjust, 3 custom settings which stores EVERYTHING, HDMI out, longer lasting battery, Auto ISO, sensor vibrator function to knock dust off the sensor, and new processors which really speed up how fast your data is saved letting you get back to taking pictures that much sooner.  There's a lot more, pull up any technical orientated review from DPR or Imaging Resource and you'll find a side by side comparison.  The EOS-5D Mark II was an important upgrade, it will be well covered in the blogosphere.

 

Will it really make any difference to your photography?  Yes.  But without knowing very specifically what kind of photography you do I can't tell you if this difference will be significant or not.  Did the Canon EOS-5D Mark II make any difference to my photography?  YES.  A professional tends to push the limits of their gear where amateurs often do not.  I derived benefits mostly from the higher ISO low light performance, but I really appreciated the AF micro adjust.  The bigger LCD is icing on the cake.  I appreciate the extra pixels, but I'm still making great 20x24 inch prints from my Nikon D2H files which were only 4mp's..  The faster data saves have (often) allowed me to get back shooting faster, thereby getting images I otherwise would have missed.  The battery was already good, more capacity is better but I didn't benefit much from this.  I rarely take more images than a single battery can take in a day anyway, and a spare (should) be part of everyone’s standard equipment.

 

Will it really make any difference to your photography?  Yes.  But without knowing very specifically what kind of photography you do I can't tell you if this difference will be significant or not.  Did the Canon EOS-5D Mark II make any difference to my photography?  YES.  A professional tends to push the limits of their gear where amateurs often do not.  I derived benefits mostly from the higher ISO low light performance, but I really appreciated the AF micro adjust.  The bigger LCD is icing on the cake.  I appreciate the extra pixels, but I'm still making great 20x24 inch prints from my Nikon D2H files which were only 4mp's..  The faster data saves have (often) allowed me to get back shooting faster, thereby getting images I otherwise would have missed.  The battery was already good, more capacity is better but I didn't benefit much from this.  I rarely take more images than a single battery can take in a day anyway, and a spare (should) be part of everyone’s standard equipment.

 

No one can tell you which camera is the better choice for YOU.  Both are very good and both are capable of taking professional level photographs if you are.  Both support the same lenses and many of the same accessories.

 

No one can tell you which camera is the better choice for YOU.  Both are very good and both are capable of taking professional level photographs if you are.  Both support the same lenses and many of the same accessories.

 

Bottom line should you get the newer one or not?  IF you see yourself staying with photography as a hobby for 4-5 more years and IF you plan to make frequent use of your new camera, and IF it won't affect which quality lenses you're going to buy for this camera.. then get the new Canon EOS-5D Mark II.  It's a great camera.  So was the original Canon EOS-5D.


Good luck.

 

Bottom line should you get the newer one or not?  IF you see yourself staying with photography as a hobby for 4-5 more years and IF you plan to make frequent use of your new camera, and IF it won't affect which quality lenses you're going to buy for this camera.. then get the new Canon EOS-5D Mark II.  It's a great camera.  So was the original Canon EOS-5D.