To a large extent, the Canon EOS 5D is defined by its CMOS sensor. Obviously, the 12.8-megapixel resolution promises superb image detail. But the 35mm frame size may be equally important to many. It gives the camera a larger viewfinder than those found in smaller-sensor digital SLR cameras such as the EOS 20D. And also in contrast to smaller-sensor cameras, it means that lenses will capture virtually the same angle of view on the EOS 5D as they did on 35mm EOS film cameras, a big plus in the minds of many 35mm veterans. The EOS 5D is compatible with all Canon EF lenses except the EF-S models, which are designed specifically for cameras with smaller APS-C-size sensors.
The Canon EOS 5D comes with the usual complement of exposure controls, including all four main exposure modes, auto-exposure bracketing, and exposure compensation to plus or minus 2EV. For metering, you can choose from evaluative, partial and centre-weighted averaging. And there is also a spot meter, which Canon has previously omitted from several non-EOS-1-series cameras, to the dismay of many. White-balance choices include Auto, six presets, custom and direct Kelvin temperature settings. The camera uses Canon's traditional three-step custom white-balance procedure: shoot a white subject, delve into the menus to set that image as the custom white-balance reference, then set the white-balance control to custom. We'd like to see this function streamlined.
Canon has moved to a new concept, called Picture Styles, for controlling colour and tone with the EOS 5D. These comprise six different basic colour and tone renderings, or looks. They are called Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Neutral, Faithful and Monochrome. You could think of them as six different types of film. Within each Picture Style, you can adjust any of four parameters -- sharpness, contrast, saturation and colour tone -- in up to nine increments (sharpness has only eight increments). You can also program three custom Picture Styles by starting with one of the built-in styles, customising its parameters and saving your tweaked version. In short, it adds up to a tonne of colour and tone choices.
Canon includes a pro-quality raw-file conversion program, Digital Photo Professional 2, with the camera.