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This is why I repurchased the 13-year-old Canon EOS 5D Mark II

Why I re-bought my Canon 5D Mk II
(Image credit: Richard P Walton)

I guess it's a lot like your first child; you're always going to love them more than any others that come along. And that's certainly been the case with my much loved (and now very old 2009) Canon EOS 5D Mark II. 

I had been filmmaking for a few years beforehand, but mainly using bulky on-the-shoulder-style HDV cameras such as the Canon XL-H1 at the time. DV tapes were fast being pushed into the museum archives and I needed something better, faster, smaller and easier to use.

What's the best camera for video right now? (opens in new tab)

All hail the DSLR, the new kid on the block not only for shooting stills, but video too! It was a no-brainer, so I immediately put my HDV camera up for sale… and it turned out that no-one wanted to buy it (and I actually think it's still up in my loft now). I couldn't wait around, so I just stumped up the cash and. bought a 5D Mark II body and a Canon f/1.4 50mm lens to start making videos with.

A couple months went by and one afternoon walking around the Bath and West Show I stuck the camera into its photography mode. "Now what have we here?" I thought. "This is far far easier than shooting and editing videos." Fast-forward a couple of years and I had accidentally become a professional photographer. A hobby that had seriously gotten out of hand.

Fast-forward a few more years, and it was time for bite the bullet and move onto the mirrorless cameras, so I sold all my Canon gear cheap. I had a flatmate at the time who moved out with very little notice, leaving me with rent and bills to cover that I hadn't foreseen. I sold two cameras, all my lenses, paid the rent and had just enough left over for the Fujifilm X-T2 (opens in new tab) and a 16-55mm lens. If I get any work come in I should be able to cover it on this lens until I can afford more, I thought.

Left: Canon 5D MK II, Right: Fujifilm X-T2. (Image credit: Alistair Campbell)

One problem: I hated it. Hate is a probably too strong; it was just new, and being British I'm not a fan of change. I struggled on and finally, six months or so later, I was really enjoying shooting with it, and the final images I was posting online. But something just did not feel the same. I honestly couldn't tell you exactly what it is, but the photos from the Canon just felt 'bigger and better'. Most likely it's the difference between an APS-C and full frame sensor.

If it was in the animal kingdom, the Fujifilm would resemble something like a springbok – not the fastest in the world, but pretty damned close. It also jumps around saying, "Look at me, I am cool!" And that's right, you are cool and we love looking at you. The Canon EOS 5D Mark II would be more like a big brown bear that crawls out from the cave every now and then and goes, "Well I don't do much, but what I do do is awesome, and in the right mood I am extremely lovable."

The 5D isn't for everyone. It never was; it's very slow to focus, but I only shoot portraits, street or fashion, so I really don't need it to be super speedy – I need it to be reliable, its power to last and ultimately deliver incredible image quality. Sure it was big, and probably gave me a bad back, but with a small lens on shooting the right material you can't fault it. 

I recently repurchased a body for £250 and the 50mm f/1.4 for £150 – £400 total for not only the nostalgia, but great images too – and a battery that lasts all day. What's not to love.

Read more: 

The best Canon EOS 5D Mark III deals in March 2022 (opens in new tab)
(opens in new tab)The best 50mm lens in 2022: which 'standard prime' is the right one for you? (opens in new tab)
The best Canon camera in 2022: Canon's DSLR, mirrorless and compact cameras (opens in new tab)
(opens in new tab)The best Canon EOS 5D Mark IV deals in March 2022: stock updates & prices (opens in new tab)

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Alistair is the Features Editor of Digital Camera magazine, and has worked as a professional photographer and video producer.