Getting 5D classic as my first full frame DSLR

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by alberto_ayala, Jan 17, 2017.

  1. I want to invest in getting a 5D classic or MK I model to
    jump into the full frame DSLR since the price is cheaper
    than the outer 5D models. Any thoughts if this is a good

    Alberto Ayala
  2. Albert,
    The 5D is an old camera. Save up a little more and 'invest' in the very much more modern in so many ways Canon 5D Mark II. For a few hundred $ more you get a better and higher mp sensor, better auto focus, better LCD, newer better processor and software. The 5D Mark II will do professional work with excellent image quality. Good luck!
  3. I still use a 5D, (almost) nothing wrong with it but keep in mind that's its 10 yrs old. If you buy one make sure the mirror assembly has been modified/strengthened because without it the mirror may fall out.
    The present 2nd hand price makes it attractive but at the moment I'd go for a 5DII or a 2nd hand 6D.
  4. david_henderson


    There are few used cameras that are "investments" at all unless you get into the realm of classic cameras. Clearly its a capable camera that won't cost the earth, if that's what you mean.
    I used to use the 5D and still have one albeit it hasn't seen light of day for several years. It isn't a camera I remember with a huge amount of affection because there is no mechanical sensor cleaning and I seemed to spend quite a few frustrating hours trying to get the sensor clean manually. I formed a view that some examples of this camera were unreasonably prone to sensor dirt and clearly, others weren't. I also felt that there was a big tendency to noisy images that you don't get near so badly with its successors.
    Which leads onto the point that when buying a camera that might well be ten years old its sensible to buy from a source that will stand behind the camera - that is, offers a warranty or return period long enough for you to work out whether its functionally 100%.
    Knowing what I know now, and using Live View a lot, I'd try and stretch to the Mk2 if I could. Don't have any experience of the 6D to offer.
  5. The original 5D is a fine camera but showing its age in some areas. On the positive side the sensor is good in the lower ISO range and for most shots will give images pretty much indistinguishable from more modern cameras. Build quality is good and should last well. Make sure the shutter count is not on the high side. On the negative side the ISO range is restricted compared to more recent cameras and this was the primary reason for me change to the 5DII. As far as handling goes the 5D suffers from a tendency to get dirt on the sensor and does not have the self-cleaning system of later models. The sensor can of course be manually cleaned which is what I did a couple of times when I had one. The other gripe I had was that the rear screen was very difficult to read in any sort of light other than when well shaded. This was improved in the 5DII etc

    I found the 5DII a nicer camera to use and suggest either try to get that or a 6D. These days I use a 6D and find it does all I want it to. It is missing some 5D functions so if you are tempted in that direction check the 6D does all you want it to.
  6. In general, if funds are tight and you're looking at not spending too much for that reason, forget about full frame digital. It's not an investment, you're looking to buy something to use which will mean it'll deprecate and that it might break, which with an older camera is more likely to happen.
    Define first for yourself for which reasons you want to move to a full frame camera at all. What advantages do you see, and how will that improve your photography? Are those advantages must-have, or nice-to-have? And then decide whether full frame is worth the extra money. In many cases, APS-C is just as good and cheaper, in some cases worse and in some cases better.
    PapaTango and Spearhead like this.
  7. I would advise against it. Firstly no DSLR is an investment, they all eventually depreciate to near zero.
    Secondly it is an old camera with two known deficiencies, a mirror that falls out and no auto sensor cleaning.
    Much more recent crop cameras, in good light will produce very similar image quality. When the light fades so does the 5D, more recent cameras, crop included, will still produce good images at higher ISOs before sunrise and after sunset or indoors.
    If full frame is your desire then I suggest a 6D, (shortly to be replaced by a 6DII so prices of second hand units will drop shortly), or a 5DII. Of the two the 6D is the more recent and better camera.
    Full Frame costs do not stop at the camera, the EF-S lenses will not fit so access to Canon's excellent and lower priced lenses is also lost.
  8. I concur with the others that you'd be much better off paying a little more for a 5DII (which I use) or a 6D. I've seen the former for sale for as little as $500.
  9. The original 5D is a fine, usable camera still. As David says, keeping the sensor clean is one of its failings compared to newer model 5Ds. Like the others, I suggest that you try to stretch to a used 5D mk II, if that is possible.
  10. Its not going to be a good investment but if its in good working order its a good though dated camera if you get it at a good price. Its 10 years or so old but can still take great pics depending on how its used. You won't have the speed, nor resolution of more modern cameras.
  11. Camera's aren't good investments unless you can make money with them. They lose value quickly because every two or three years the next generation comes out with higher resolution and better low light performance and focusing systems. But money being spent on cameras because you just love photography has it's own rewards too. Some folks keep chasing the latest and greatest camera and sell off last years model.
    Because they lose value so quickly, the become very affordable to someone on a low budget. Just because they are a couple generations old, does not mean they are not good cameras, they just aren't the latest a greatest. Wedding photographers were using these cameras and getting lovely shots.
    If you get your lighting right, good exposure, keep the ISO down you will get good results.
    If you can find the 5D for a couple hundred bucks and it looks in good shape, low shutter count or has had it's shutter already repaired. It's a bargain and you are getting an older professional build quality camera, magnesium alloy body, full frame DSLR. Sweet.
    There are shutter counts, shutters don't last forever though on a 5D it is much higher than what would be expected off a prosumer camera like a Rebel. But shutter counts are kind of like the lottery, you may get one that lasts hundreds of thousands of clicks or one that breaks at 2000 clicks. A replacement shutter can be purchased on eBay for around $50 US. Great if you replace it yourself, there are YouTube Videos. It could run you much higher if a shop fixes it.
    This is a 10-year-old professional build quality camera. Are you feeling lucky? It might last another 10 years, it might break in a week. But any used or even new camera has the risk of the shutter going.
    So newer models will have newer parts, features, and image quality in regards to resolution, ISO, focusing and of course cost more.
    The decision is yours. Good luck.
  12. Thinking about my older digital cameras, here's my conclusion: The big steps have been megapixels and low-light performance.
    If you are happy with the megapixels and are OK with being constrained to shooting in good light, I think the older DSLRs from Nikon and Canon are OK.
  13. Alberto, you don't say which crop-sensor you're coming from. I looked at you images uploaded to and they were taken with a 20D. They may simply reflect the time since your last upload, or it could be the camera you're still using.
    Moving from a 20D to a 5D wouldn't be a bad move, as long as you don't pay too much for a 5D. I wouldn't pay over $150, even with a low shot-count.
    If you're moving from a 50D or later, then a 5D will be a step backwards in sensor technology, as many have said, up the thread. A used 5D2 or 6D would give much better performance. Also to be considered, what lenses will you need to buy, if any.
  14. If you look carefully you can get a decent used 5D MkII for under $600 and a 6D for a couple hundred more. Of the two, the 6D has a slightly faster burst speed and better low light capability. Plus the 6D is a bit smaller and lighter. If you aren't currently using a full frame, and have a camera that uses SD cards the 6D uses SD cards, while the 5D MkII uses CF. I've had both a 5D MkII and a 6D, and while CF is faster, it's nice not having to have multiple card types. Another thing to consider is that the 5D doesn't do video at all, while both of the others do.

    Either body is going to be LIGHT YEARS ahead of the original 5D.
  15. The 5D is a fine camera. I still use one occasionally, and as long as I understand its limitations, it does just fine.
    I did a quick look on KEH and the price of a Bargain 5D is $400 while the price of a Bargain 5DII is $850. That's an enormous difference when you're working on a budget and not trying to borrow money. If you're dying to use your American Excess card, then go for it, but it doesn't sound like that's the case here.
    With that said, the Mark II is infinitely better than the original, but the original is still a solid camera that will give excellent results. Under the right conditions, you would never tell the difference between the two (unless you do some enormous enlargements, which 99.99% of photographers don't do).
    The 5D really struggles in low light. The max useable 1600 ISO is a real burden these days. But if you have decent glass (2.8), and maybe bounce a little flash, you can get decent results even then.
    My main gripe with the 5D is the horrible LCD screen. The thing is so crappy it's practically useless; it always looks green. The histogram, though, works just fine, and that's all you really need.
    Good luck.
  16. Canon still service this model. But as Eric says the 5D Mark II is an excellent model. I sold mine not long ago to upgrade to the 5D4. If you are looking at the 5D1, you might as well go for the 5DMK2. Its very reliable, rugged and most likely of a similar price.
  17. i bought 1 last year, then another 2 months later, then another and then another this month. i now have 4 Canon 5D classic, for pro portrait use....that should speak by itself....the image quality due to a low pixel density surpasses later models...the optimal pixel number for a FF sensor is in the 16-18 MP range, a bit more for the latest cameras. the 5d2 cramed twice as many pixlels with the same sesor technology, so: a horror show, the 5d3 is a bit better, as the sensor tech caught up with the pixel number but it is still too much, i am not sure about the 5d4...for the optimal pixel numbers/sensor tech, i would stick with the canon flagship models 1D´s... the 1Ds at 11MP, 1Ds2 16MP, 1Ds3 21MP, 1DX 18MP, 1DX2 20MP... they realized they put too many pixels in the !ds3 at 21MP it was suffereing in quality like the 5D 2-3, and went back to 18MP and only later 20MP which might still be a tad too much,
    i would stay bellow that as non flagship models aren´t as advanced as the 1D´s.

    but the 5d suffers for being old, the iso limits you to the film era, pushing it at iso800, the LCD is bad, and there is no video...appart from that it is, IMHO, one the best, and certainly the best value, image quality camera, apart from medium format digital cameras, ever produced.
  18. It depends heavily on
    • your subjects of choice
    • demanded output's size
    • where you are in your career.
    Anything FF is a bad investment if you don't need it! - Keep in mind that a lot of the really good lenses aren't dirt cheap either.
    I don't own or know the old 5D. I was recently, while I still had a studio job shooting products for the Internet, pondering to get one, to use it with a dedicated manual focusing screen and maybe a 45mm tilt shift lens.
    The low Megapixel count would have been more than fine with the client. Manual focusing seems to suck with almost all crop DSLRs, so getting a FF Canon would have made sense. Dynamic range is no issue in a studio and the client had been fine with the CCD look from my M8.
    The big question is: What do you want from your FF DSLR?
    Really shallow DOF? - Are you confident to get along with the few AF spots of the old 5D? - What to do if the lens is an AF challenge wide open? Does the 5D offer AF micro adjustments? - Might it be better to get something that focuses well in LV?
    Low light? - To me it seems there is never enough insanely high ISO performance and the old 5D offers close to nothing in that field.
    OTOH: If you feel confident to produce whatever you or your clients might desire with a 5D: Go ahead! Get one, stock up with lenses, proof having the eye, buy rent or borrow more capable bodies when needed, if they 'll make sense for that shot. - IDK how budged minded you are planning; maybe a line of Yongnuo lenses is fine with a 5D but won't shine on a 5DS R / 1 DX II?
    I'm not sure if I want to agree. - My old primes hold up pretty well on a 18MP Monochrom. But I assume the pixels to be binned during denoising of low light shots have to be bought too? Shoot 4, sell one? Anti aliasing filters seem getting into the way of selling each captured pixel too. I'm not unhappy with the IQ from my 5D IV & 70-200, which I bought since the AF system seemed promising according to the reviews I read.

    Anything "investment" is supposed to earn. If it doesn't earn, it is just sunk money. OTOH: an old 5D is surely a way to shoot your lenses while you are saving up for another camera and if you are lucky it will last till a 6D III or similar comes out and causes another significant 6D price drop and you'll end with 1.5 bodies then instead of spending the same money on a higher one now. - I usually like having a 2nd body. There is absolutely nothing wrong about shooting an old camera that you consider cutting your cake.
  19. The 5D Classic is a great camera, loved it so much I purchased one last week and it's a beauty, hardly used looks
    like new. Actually it's my second one the first one I purchased the high speed shutter was bad so I was able to
    send it back. This ones much better, here's a tip you could alway's tell if the camera been used a lot by the flash
    shoe above the prism, if the black shoe is worn off it's been used a lot.
  20. one thing that wasn´t mentioned is the specific look that may not fit different visual tastes. the 5D, due to the low pixel density and canon sensor tweaks, has a very "fllm like" quality to it, that style is my favorite, smooth almost soft, organic, cinematographic, but i know photographers who like much better a higher pixel density more nervy sharp clinical digital look, these often actually prefer the aps-c look and the relatively sharper image achieved by shooting only though the center of lens, where it is often the sharpest, when using FFlenses with an aps-c...these same photographers, some of them accomplished pros, do not, therefore, find full-frame better, and see even less need for medium format unless for the ones that have many more MP than a the 80MP or 100MP backs....these would often be the same photographers pixel peeping and vaunting the merits of soulless "perfect" modern glass, and swearing by the DXo score,...well to each his own

    about the effect of pixel density, an easy way to see the difference is to try the sony a7sii, a7ii, a7R,ii or mark i or latest iii version....the exact same tech with respectively 12MP, 24MP, and 42MP....
    for me when i tried the 42MP it was way too buzy, and though i was offered a fantastic used price on it i declined, though i should have bough it to resell...i tried the a7ii and while still a bit too digital for my taste i bought it, because sometimes i need a higher MP count, higher iso and video to complement my 5D´s...the IQ on the a7s is the most agreable to me, though i like it a lot less than the canon look and if i didn´t need sometimes a high MP camera, i would have gotten it...and maybe in the future i will get a consumer grade aps-c for my higher MP needs and stick to low MP cameras for my prefered work, like the 5D or that beautiful leica, or mabe an old low pixel density medium format back like the phase one P20+.....

    anyways the point is that a 5D produces a somewhat unique look, so you need to compare the type of images produced by it vs other cameras...
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2017
    clark_roberts likes this.

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