the Canon EOS 5D Mark II is a piece of s*it

by planetMitch24 Comments

Not my words but those of Karel Donk who's not been a fan of the Canon EOS 5D Mark II (reviews) since just about day one. Here's a bit of his latest controversial post [source: 5DMk2blog]

Redrock Micro

Snips from Karel Donk

By now you’re probably thinking I’m being too hard on this camera and I understand if that’s so. After almost 3 years my opinion on the Canon EOS 5D Mark II DSLR hasn’t changed at all. In fact, from what I’ve seen I’m just more convinced that so far this has been the biggest piece of shit camera ever released by Canon (maybe even by anyone), with the Canon EOS 1D Mark III very close behind it. From the moment this camera was announced by Canon back in September 2008 I knew it had issues. In fact, I was one of the very few who didn’t buy into the hype and saw the rather serious shortcomings of this camera. A few days after it was announced by Canon, I wrote here on my blog about one of the biggest issues that would haunt this camera during its lifetime, namely the old and crappy autofocus system. Many rushed to attack me and tell me how I was being stupid and wrong. The comments to all my posts about the 5D Mark II are still there and it’s quite amusing to go back and read them. It turned out that there were many more issues that we’d have to deal with when using this camera, among which the rather poor image quality it produces under certain circumstances (banding and noise issues).


And although in the beginning it seemed like I was almost the only one who didn't like the 5D Mark II or had issues with it, as time passed and reviews started appearing and people actually got to use the camera professionally, more and more professional photographers started to express their frustrations with the 5D Mark II autofocus system and other issues. I have documented a lot of those instances in previous posts and in the comments of those posts. Below is a listing of my posts so far on the 5D Mark II:

He goes on to quote other well known photographers including Vincent Laforet, Thom Hogan, and Lise Gagne (from istockphoto fame). Please read his entire post.

So, what's you're take? The Canon EOS 5D Mark II has been one of the top selling cameras, but yet there are gonna be people who don't like it… right?

To me, it is interesting that so many have had such success with the 5D2 – yet there are some who haven't had such luck. We all know the autofocus leaves a bit to be desired (I sure wish it was faster and more accurate – but I also get a ton of in focus shots – so I'm not sure where the complaints come in).

(cover photo credit: snap from Karel's site – it is an old Canon ad for the 5D2)

Zeiss Cinema Lenses


  1. While better AF would be nice, the tone of the quoted bits leads me to believe that this guy is the 5D Mark II version of certain anti-Apple bloggers. He posts inflammatory, over-the-top critiques that go against the establishment’s view, knowing that they will get page views. Pure link-bait.

    All I know is that the 5D Mark II helped make me the photographer I am today, and whatever its issues, I had to become a MUCH better photographer to do the camera justice.

  2. Autofocus? I thought we were talking about professional video use here?
    If yo rely on autofocus then in your in the wrong industry.

  3. This guy is a circus clown, screaming “Look at me, look at me”!
    Meanwhile, demand for the 5D Mark II has shot through the roof, apparently because the rest of us are idiots. Or maybe he’s just a lousy photographer?

  4. Well. I found Canon EOS 40D are strange users. Some of them are stuck with this camera and for them this is the best camera Canon ever made.

    It may be more psychological reason for such a determination. You see. Some people can’t afford 5D and they can hardly afford a 40D. And imagine. There was one year after 40D was out and there was 50D on the market already. Well. They can’t buy a new one overnight so they have to find a reason not to have one. And the reason is that 50D or 5D Mk II is a bad camera. And that’s it 😉

    But I checked his photos and I think he is the type of photographer I would really take care of his writing.

  5. Not sure the last time I switched on my auto focus but its silly to wright this camera off because of this one negative feature when it has so many positives.

  6. This is what I would say.

    #1 When the 5Dmk2 came out, I thought to myself, oh nice canon is making something for the news gathering crowd. Something for the web, to generate web content easier for the fast paced environment that is news media.

    #2 Even when I started seeing footage, I wrote off the camera as something intended for the “You Tube” crowd, but not really meant for critical professional use.

    To this day I think the 5D is merely Canon’s way of attempting to fill the gap and kill the interest in the RED. Now you have professional interchangeable lenses, no magnification ratio to deal with, and a H.264 Codec.

    The H.264 Codec was the future of video on the web, and has proven itself to be over the last 4 years. So you get everything but a 2k RAW image out of the 5D mk2. This fills the production need for 80% of the market.

    The reality is, most of us don’t need a RED to shoot what we need to shoot, Canon realized this. Then released this camera to make everyone else realize that.

    Ultimately yes I would agree the 5Dmk2 image quality most certainly leave much to be desired. Along with post production fixes, and many glitches and bugs to work out along the way, its completely obvious to me that Canon rushed this camera out the door to capitalize on the growing interest in the RED.

    But really it all comes down to what you have to work with. In the end if we all had our choice, we would already be shooting RAW video. But corporations string us along with this planned obsolescence to fund their R&D, thats been the game for decades. Now here comes a rebel photography with the resources to warp the camera technology on the market 10 years, seemingly overnight. RED was a threat indeed, still is, but Canon took the interest and distracted everyone with what I feel is a toy in comparison. Like the fisher price 1st video camera for professionals.

    I have shot with the HDSLRs for 2 years now, and while they fit most of my needs, I still am waiting for RED to get their act together, but it looks as if Canon now just might beat them to the punch they have been swinging since 2005.

  7. If there is a top characteristic of a non professional photographer/cinematographer that stands out more than anything…it’s the bashing of a camera. Professionals learn to make beautiful pictures from just about anything that is capable of recording images. Professionals know the shortcomings of each camera and only use them for circumstances that capitalize on their strengths. This troll is clearly not professional….and I’m shocked you wasted your time reposting this tripe.

    1. Author

      Well Richard – there are several reasons… and I’m sure others will claim I have one purpose, to drive traffic. However, I’m constantly looking for opposing viewpoints to mine to try to keep some balance. While his post is obviously over the top for my taste, he does raise valid points – the AF on the 5D series has always been sub-par and I am often frustrated by mine. I’m hoping that Canon does something about this.

      I disagree with his point that the AF trashes the entire camera, but posting opposing viewpoints from time to time does provide balance and hopefully causes people to think.

      1. Your right…Karel Donk has something to say…let’s all listen. The profanity and dismissive unprofessionalism is a great counter to those ASC’s and famous photographers who love these cameras. Wait…who the heck is Karel Donk!?

      2. You don’t hear Jeff Gordon dismissing Fords for having a crappy gas cap. Not to say that there aren’t people who complain about the gas caps, just not professionals or people who really matter.

      3. @RickBomhauer nailed it – linkbait. Your referencing it is also linkbait. Good for pageviews. Horrible for credibility of your site.

        One thing no one seems to recognize, or at least mention, is that the 5DII has a wonderfully easy and precise capacity to individually calibrate autofocus for each lens you use. Anyone who complains about the 5DII’s autofocus but hasn’t first calibrated each lens with LensAlign or equivalent is a complete idiot.

        1. Author

          A guy can’t win… slammed for being a Canon fan boy and only posting the positive stuff… and when I post something that isn’t positive, I’m accused of linkbaiting. Oh well… life goes on. I do appreciate you taking the time to comment!

  8. Someone complains about every camera. Each camera has some disadvantage, just the way it is. DSLR video has changed everything, regardless of any one person’s opinion on the Canon DSLRs, they’ve revolutionized both the top and bottom of filmmaking, the industry, and our expectations of online content.

  9. Who’s Karel Donk, he’s the dude in Crocodile Dundee, every bodies got a Donk! Seriously, say what you will about this camera, but pruely from a video stand point, Canon basically jumped out of the bushes and side-swiped the entire video industry…..END OF STORY.

  10. For a second there, I was thinking this guy was insane because the footage I’ve seen this camera produce is amazing. But at last, he’s talking about the photography/stills side of the camera. Interesting.

  11. Just to throw my two cents in here, I understand Mr. Donk’s concerns, I realize he’s not actually ranting about the AF, but about the softness in the photos, after the auto focus has done it’s job in letting you know, it’s in focus, when you hear the beep, for I too, have had, and still having, this issue with the soft focus in my photos… I have yet to find any fix for this. Don’t get me wrong, I love my 5DMII, but this Focusing issue, is less desired. Would love for someone to let me know if there has been a fix to this through Canon, or any other avenue. I don’t want to give it up, but I also don’t think me, spending upwards of $3000. for a camera that gives me less quality images than my Nikon D80, is a viable option…. If someone can give me a straight answer to fix this, it would be much appreciated… Thanks.

  12. Haha, well, real pros and reviewers put the 5D mark II among the best cameras, forget this guy.

  13. I rarely shoot sports or rapidly moving objects, so I have little conception of what is wrong with the 5D2’s “miserly” 9+6 autofocus points.

    I was told by Canon’s local proselytizer that Canon wanted to use a later system with more points, but it had problems. So Canon stuck with what it had.

    Mr Ortiz, how do you know the focus is soft? If the camera is misfocusing, then it follows there will be a plane of sharper focus in front of or behind the intended plane of focus. Is there?

    What happens when you shoot at an aperture small enough to produce a great depth of field. Are you still getting “soft” focus? Ditto for wide-angle lenses with great depth of field.

    I would also ask Mr Ortiz whether the camera is set for “one shot” or “continuous” autofocus.

    Have you tried using the focus-bias adjust system?

  14. I admire the critics who point out the shortcoming of different imaging equipment rather than just letting themselves drift away with the hype. Karel Donk is one of them. There are others like Ken Rockwell, Fake Chuck Westfall.

    In fact these are the people that help us make better decisions. So, let’s be constructive in our views and try to recognize the reality. The manufacturers are out there to do business and in going about that; they don’t always reveal the truth. Rather, more often than not, they create artificial hype through aggressive promotion with lies to which majority customers fall victim. Canon EOS 7D is the best example.

  15. Ohhhh yes! This camera sucks as well as the Apple products do and the art of advertisement does the real magic that make people buy such stuff. All thoes who say things like “It’s true, the AF is a bit slow……or….it’s just this little problem” have a severe IQ problems or work for Canon and are payed to write things like that.
    AF is one of the most important things next to image quality! And the 5DmkII has none of them.
    It’s RAW quality is good, very god instead, but without proper AF it can be used only in studio.
    It’s JPEG quality sucks, and in combination with the pure AF, it sucks double!
    The story would be different if the Canon said “studio use only”, but 2000$ for the camera with pure JPEG and AF, unable to perform street and everyday photography, it’s a fraud!
    But, as I said, the art of advertising, just like Apple products, is making the magic.
    Conclusion- buy this camera ONLY if you need it for slow RAW mode studio shooting where the speed of AF doesnt matter!
    Otherwise it’s Ferrari with wrong type of tires : )

    Sorry 4 my bad english, I’m a stranger ; ))

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