Our test images from the Canon EOS 5D are superb overall. Its 12.8-megapixel sensor delivers loads of detail and smooth, rich tonality. The dynamic range in our photos equalled -- or bested -- the results from every other dSLR we've tested, with the exception of the Fujifilm S3 Pro. Noise in our ISO 1,600 and 3,200 test images is astonishingly low, yet detail is retained. It was easy for us to get natural, smooth skin tones with many complexions. All in all, this camera is a top choice for shooting portraits, still-lifes, landscapes, architecture and some kinds of commercial studio subjects, especially if you need or want to make 400x500mm or larger prints.
We found the Canon EOS 5D's default Picture Style, Standard, to be overly contrasty and saturated, and in fact we didn't love the default colour from any of the built-in Picture Styles. But they are so customisable that we're sure nearly all EOS 5D owners, with some testing, will be able to work out settings that please them. We ended up preferring, at least preliminarily, the Neutral style with a small contrast and saturation boost.
There are some flies in the Canon EOS 5D image-quality ointment. We found the automatic white balance to be somewhat hit-or-miss both indoors and out. We also noted some moderately serious red fringing around highlight transitions in several of our shots, although, overall, digital artefacts were low.
Finally, it's worth noting that mediocre lenses will take a big bite out of the Canon EOS 5D's image-quality advantages. These lenses -- and there are quite a few, including many from Canon itself -- don't deliver enough detail, especially near the edges of the frame, to fully exploit the sensor's resolution. You may also notice problems such as light falloff and chromatic aberration more easily than you did with film. In short, to get your money's worth out of the EOS 5D, you'll need top-notch optics.
Edited by Aimee Baldridge
Additional editing by Nick Hide