Review | Canon 5D Mark II v Nikon D750

Investing in camera equipment is an expensive business. Recently, we’ve been umming and ahhing at great length over whether to invest in something that packs a little more punch in the way of video capabilities. Although we’ve previously made our feelings on the current state of the DSLR market pretty clear, we reckon that as far as video is concerned, DSLRs still offer the best value for money when it comes to producing high quality video content. A few weeks ago we were lucky enough to have use of both a Canon 5D Mark II and Nikon D750, so naturally we decided to put the two head to head. With that we packed up our gear and headed for Bristol, in what would become the most one-sided head to head in the history of camera reviews.. probably.

To initially make things as fair as possible, we paired both bodies with their equivalent 50mm prime lenses. These lenses are, in our opinion, the perfect DSLR starter lenses; for around £90 – £120 you can get some absolutely brilliant glass on the front of your camera for a fraction of the price you’d usually pay out. if you own a Canon or a Nikon and haven’t yet made the switch from your kit lens, we definitely recommend taking a look at these.

We won’t go into too much technical detail here as there are plenty of other reviews which would frankly do a far better job at that than us, instead we’ll just go over a few high level basics on how the cameras actually felt to use. The 5D is a camera that we’ve had plenty of experience shooting with in the past; we’ve taken this old workhorse out on a number of jobs including last year’s London Fashion Week, so all-in-all we’re pretty familiar with it’s strengths and weaknesses. It’s certainly no secret to say that we think this is a great camera and, given Canon’s pathological obsession with releasing marginal upgrades in the 5D series with little in the way of innovation, you can pick up a Mark II on the second hand market for a great price at the moment.

Other than a few short minutes with the D750 at Photokina, we just haven’t had the same level of hands-on experience with this camera. We’ve read plenty, had various recommendations from friends and watched a slew (yup, slew) of YouTube videos. The truth is when buying a camera and investing so much money into something you really cannot substitute getting the camera in your hands and shooting. 

One thing we were concerned about from the beginning with the D750 were the reports of a flare issue in some of the camera bodies. Although Nikon have taken steps to fix the problem, we do find it a little off-putting that there’s a chance you’d have to send your brand new camera for repair before you’ve even taken it out on a shoot. One of the first things we tested when we received the camera, we noticed the problem on our model straight away – luckily immediately after we shot this test image it started pouring with rain, so that kind of solved that issue. In all seriousness though, we can imagine that this would be a genuine annoyance and it definitely has the potential to ruin shots if you’re not aware of the problem.

Nikon D750 | Flaring Issue

Nikon D750 | Flaring Issue


So, now you know our initial thoughts about both cameras, it’s probably time to shut up and start showing you some pictures. 

Glassboat Restaurant, Bristol | Nikon D750

Glassboat Restaurant, Bristol | Nikon D750


Glassboat Restaurant | Canon 5D Mark II

Glassboat Restaurant | Canon 5D Mark II


Bristol | Nikon D750

Bristol | Nikon D750 – We found the out of camera JPGs were a touch overexposed


Bristol | Canon 5D Mark II

Bristol | Canon 5D Mark II – losing a little detail in the shadow areas of the JPGs


Given that we’re both pretty much sold on the image quality and colour output of our favourite Fuji X-Series cameras, we’re rather difficult to please when it comes to straight-out-of-camera jpg quality. We found that with the few stills images we took, the D750 felt a touch over-exposed while the 5D was a little under-exposed. Overall we prefer the look of the images coming straight out of the 5D, but given that we almost always shoot raw and tweak our images in Lightroom this was kind of a moot point for us in the end. We still love the richness and tonality of the Fuji images, despite it having a cropped sensor.

In terms of video quality, the 5D has long been established as the DSLR to use if you want to get into video and so given the advancements of video capabilities in DSLRs since the camera was first launched in 2010, we were expecting this to be a fairly close fight. We were wrong. Now we should make note here that we are by no means experts at all when it comes to the intricacies of video quality (and there are many), but the quality of the video coming straight out of the D750 was just superior; movements were smooth, the image was sharp and the colours were richer than we expected. The video below was shot entirely with the D750.

When comparing the bodies themselves, we found the lightweight and more compact D750 was a real dream to use. Given neither of us are the weightlifting types, the overall size and weight of our gear is very important to us and in this respect the D750 was a clear winner (although admittedly the 5D did have the added weight of having a battery grip attached). Initially we thought the lightness of the D750 would count against it when shooting handheld video, but actually we were able to handle the camera in such a way that produced the smoothest and steadiest handheld shots we’ve ever produced. The 5D feels very much like a stills camera with the video capabilities feeling like a secondary function. This is completely understandable given that 5 years ago when this camera first came out, this was very much the case. The D750 is a great example of how much that’s now changed. It actually feels like the two functions are given an equal amount of attention in terms of the button placement and the ergonomics of the design. It all felt incredibly natural to switch between the stills and video at pace as did here.

We had so much fun with the D750 that by the end of our day’s shooting, the 5D had been packed back into its bag and long forgotten. Back on the train to London with time to talk about the virtues of both cameras, we were both pretty surprised by this. As we mentioned, we do enjoy shooting with the 5D, it’s a camera that hasn’t ever really let us down and it goes to show how taken we were with the D750 that this was the case. There was no question in our minds though that the D750 was the superior camera for our needs. In every area that really mattered to us it just blew the 5D out of the water. It may not have been a fair fight in reality; after all the difference in age of the cameras would dictate that Nikon should have made up some ground on Canon’s so far superior video capabilities. Even so, given the powerhouse reputation of the 5D and the amount we’ve used it before, we were completely surprised that the D750 not only matched our initial expectations but actually far exceeded them. Make no mistake, the Nikon D750 is one hell of a camera.

Patches & Flash

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