Review: “Canon 5D Mark II Made Easy” (DVD training)

by planetmitch3 Comments

You’ve got a brand new Canon 5d Mark II and it came with a manual, but you don’t want to dive into that thing, its just too scary or difficult to get thru without falling asleep. You want to know more about the camera to operate it like a pro, but you just don’t know how to learn it. You go looking for some help and don’t know where to turn (besides the planet5D wiki of course).

Or, maybe you’re pretty darn comfortable with the Canon cameras, maybe even had the 5D before you got the 5D Mark II and you’re pretty sure you don’t need any help.

Then you find that Elite Video has a DVD called “Canon 5d Mark II Made Easy” and you wonder if it really is that easy and worth buying it. If you’re already comfortable with the Mark II, you’ll tell yourself that you don’t need any silly old training DVD.

Well, Elite Video graciously sent me a copy to review and I thought it was really good and worth watching. That might surprise you because you probably think I’m an expert because of all the information I’ve seen and put into the wiki and the blog, but I learned several new things when watching the 2 DVDs. It was a good review for me and would be a great walk thru for new owners of the Mark II.


I was surprised to see that there were two DVDs in the box when it arrived. I wasn't quite suspecting that it was going to be that much material. Pleased but surprised. The box contains two DVDs in a traditional DVD plastic box. There’s no insert or booklet to read, just a blurb on the back cover.

The first disc starts with a “walk around” the camera so you know what all of the buttons and dials are designed to do. Watching this very first segment actually taught me something that I didn’t even notice – the buttons sometimes have blue labels and sometimes white labels and sometimes both. What I never noticed and didn’t think about until I saw the DVD is that the blue buttons are for “playback mode.” Learn something new every day!

The first DVD contains chapters that cover these things:

  • Walk around the camera
  • Attaching a lens and setting the date/time
  • The Menus
  • Creative Auto
  • The top LCD settings
  • Live View and Live View autofocus
  • Playback and playback options

DVD 2 contains:

  • Continued menu coverage
  • Continuous shooting mode
  • Custom menus
  • Self Timer
  • Movie mode insights
  • Some non-5D2 specific items
    Depth of field
    AE Lock
    What type of lens
    Bulb settings

Pluses and minuses:
One really nice feature that is really well done thru the DVD is the use of split screen to show you both the menus at the same time as showing which buttons are being used to make the changes demonstrated. This is very effective and they use it at all the appropriate times.


The coverage of the menus is very good. Especially if you haven’t gotten thru each page of the manual. It is much nicer going thru the individual menus visually than trying to get thru the manual. I’m a visual guy (and I suspect that most photographers are the same) and seeing the menus makes it easier to comprehend and easier to remember when it is time to use a function than trying to read thru the manual. And it is also really good to be able to go over sections again if you need to stop and review.

Bob Nagy, the host of the video, often puts in suggestions that can be good for the first timer or sometimes they can possibly irritate the more advanced photographer. Maybe it is just me (and my family would confirm that it is probably me LOL), but several times, the suggestions that Bob gives are contrary to my photography preferences and the suggestions just kind of rubbed me the wrong way. For example, in the initial walk thru, when talking about the hot-shoe, he suggests you buy a flash “it’ll really improve your photos” – well, to me, that’s not necessarily true and for photographers who prefer natural light, a flash may be totally unnecessary. I think my complaint isn’t that Bob gives the suggestions, but that he doesn’t also give alternatives.

It also bugged me a tiny bit that the all thru the video, the white balance seems off. Bob’s face is often a bit too yellow. Tho the training is so complete, it seems just a bit strange that they wouldn’t have set the white balance a bit better.


There are several non-5D2 specific features that are included on the second disc. It appears that these are somewhat generic items that they’ve used on other discs and depending on your level of expertise, you’ll either want to watch them or skip them. I found them to be good, but because I'm familiar with aperture settings, picking lenses, and DOF, I skipped most of the materials.

The overview:

The traditional summary
So, the bottom line is that overall, even tho I have a couple of nitpicks, this is a very well done training guide for both the beginner and the person who thinks that they don’t need any additional help. It was well worth it for me to sit thru both discs (tho I skipped most of the non-5d specific materials) and I learned several things that I didn’t already know about the 5D2. Someone new to the camera will learn a whole lot about the functions that they might not have been exposed to before. It can be very helpful for all levels of Canon experience.

The contest!
Elite Video graciously agreed to let planet5D give away this copy of “Canon 5D Mark II Made Easy” and we’re going to do that in a simple way… all you have to do is to visit the planet5D forums and make at least one post. That’s pretty easy. We’ll randomly select one person from everyone who’s made at least one post on the forums at 6pm CDT May 3rd (my birthday) and we’ll send the DVD off to the winner.

So there you go, I do recommend this “Canon 5D Mark II Made Easy” DVD and you can pick one up at Amazon.


  1. We don’t need “made easy” training that never gets past what’s in the user manual.

    What’s needed is a thorugh examination of the material missing from the manual. For example… exactly what does ALO do, and under what conditions? It’s active by default (on a professional camera!), and you might get some surprises when you discover it can override your attempts to get the picture you want.

    Based on the list of contents above and my experience with “advanced” training for any number of products, I suspect there’s nothing in these disks that’s worth $50.

  2. Author

    William, thank you for your comment

    However, I know there’s a large market for this material! It is obviously not something you need because of your skill level, but there are plenty of people upgrading to the 5D mk ii and need this kind of help.

    Now, on the other hand, we also know that there’s an equally large group of people needing advanced training and we’re going to try to address that issue soon. Please see:

  3. Didn’t know where else to put this… but was there a “Made Easy” dvd for the 5d Classic? I’m just getting into photography as a hobby and picked up a used 5d classic.

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