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Canon 5D Classic Mk 1

The Canon 5D Classic Mk1 camera is one of the best cameras I have owned. I have used the 5D Classic to photograph over three hundred and fifty weddings over a fifteen year period. If you would like to watch a lot of videos about my journey using the camera and the canon L series lenses please subscribe to my YouTube channel below.

The story so far

I started using the Canon 5D classic Mk1 about twelve months after it was first released. I had been using the Canon EOS5 for about five years and wanted to move over to digital.

I remember seeing the camera for the first time and thinking, how can i possibly afford that?

The 24-105 F4 IS lens was included in the deal and I had to part with about £2400.

In hind sight it is the best investment that I have ever made in a Camera. I have photographed over three hundred and fifty weddings with the Canon 5D Classic Mk1.

I was tempted away by Fujifilm for one season but returned to the 5D classic after a short time because I missed the amazing viewfinder and fast autofocus system.

I have tried the Canon 5D Mk2 and Mk3 and they are both great cameras, but I still return to the 5D classic for weddings.

The skin tone reproduction and colours are unique and remind me of Kodachrome. I use the neutral setting and reduce sharpening to a minimum to create the Kodachrome look.

My favourite lenses are the Canon 24-105 IS Mk1 and the Canon 70-200 F4 IS MK1. I have also used the 17-40 F4 lens and still own the Canon 50mm 1.8 STM lens.

Now the R system and RF lenses are getting more popular and I am sure the EF lenses will go down in value and be more affordable.

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Image quality

One of the main reasons I have always used the Canon 5D classic mk1 for wedding photography is because the image from the camera is unique and I have not used another camera that produces a similar look.

It is hard to describe what I mean but many photographers are starting to use the camera again and are appreciating how great the jpg file is straight out of the 5D classic.

I have always used Adobe Lightroom after the wedding to edit my RAW files and produce a very neutral JPG files ready for the bride and groom to view.

I then started to save the JPG straight out of the camera and realised that I preferred the file straight out of the camera.

I do switch off sharpening and reduce contrast to create a very neutral file.

By standardising my camera and settings and working in manual mode at every wedding I am able to produce a very consistent look and feel to my images.

I did try the 5D mk2 for a while but prefer the image from the classic mk1. I like to reproduce the look of some of my favourite films like Ilford HP5 using the mk1. At ISO1600 I can reproduce the look of HP5.


I started my YouTube channel about ten years ago and uploaded some videos about the Canon 5D classic Mk1. They became very popular and so I have started uploading more. Please subscribe and you will be informed when more videos are uploaded.


Does the Canon 5D Classic

mirror fall off on every camera?

It all depends on the serial number. I have owned two bodies over the past fifteen years and the mirror has fallen off both of them. I sent the camera back to Canon and they updated the camera with a new reinforced mirror. I appreciate they will not do the fix anymore, if you Google the problem you will find allot of solutions.

Can you still buy the battery for the 5D Classic?

Yes you can buy an aftermarket battery from Amazon or the original batteries are available used on ebay. I think that we will be fine for the batteries for many years because they were so popular and battery companies like a strong market.

Canon 5D Classic battery

Don't you worry about this old camera failing at a wedding, do you back up?

I always have a back up camera in the car. I use the 30D and the 5D as a back up for my main camera. The 5D classic seems to just keep going. I back up my images as I go along using a SD wi fi card and SD card to compact flash converter.

SD wi fi card & sd-compact flash converter

Which flash gun should I buy for the 5D Classic?

I use the Canon 580EX Mk2 flash for many years but have switch to a simple fully manual flash gun made by Neewer. I can highly recommend the Neewer TT560 because it is very easy to use. It is a manual flash gun only, and so don't expect anything advanced. I love it.

Canon 5D Classic flash

The Canon 5D Mk3 is a better camera than the 5D Classic isn't it?

I would happily use either at a wedding or portrait shoot to be honest because the colour is great from both cameras. I prefer the autofocus system on the 5D classic, it's nice and simple. I use the centre point only and focus then recompose in single shot mode.

Are there any other known faults you have found with the 5D Classic?

Look out for a wobbly flash hot shoe. There are very few things I have ever found to be honest. Inspect the sensor with a sensor loop carefully because some people scratch the coating when then clean the sensor. The sensor fall off problem on the early serial number 0 and 1 cameras.

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I have been told that the later serial number 2xx or 3xx cameras are better, is that true?

The later bodies had the mirror fixed after Canon realised they tended to fall off. Both of my bodies had the mirror fixed by Canon. I would not buy an early body unless you have the experience to tell if the mirror has been fixed. They also improved the screen on the back of the camera on the later serial number bodies.

How can you tell if the mirror has been fixed on an early 5D classic?

I always thought that they replaced the mirror when I returned mine to Canon, but mine has the addition of two slim strips of material at the edges of the mirror. I have looked at later models that have a serial number 3xx and they do not have the strips. I think they just improved the glue that holds the mirror on the later models.

How can I tell how shutter actuations my 5d classic has?

As far as I know you can not find this out for the 5d classic, you can on the later models but not the mk1. I have asked a lot of people and the answer is always no. I always look at the flash hot shoe and listen to the shutter to assess how worn out a camera is.

Can you tell me where I can find the latest firmware update for the Canon 5D Classic?

I am searching to find it for you, it was on the Canon website but it has been removed. I will post your question in the comments section on my YouTube channel to see if anyone can find a link for us. When I find the firmware I will put a download link on this page. The final update was 1.1.1 and it seems to have been removed.

Is it worth buying the Canon vertical battery grip for the 5D classic?

The BG-E4 is one of the most important accessories in my opinion and it will allow you to use two batteries, or the AA battery adaptor, which is really useful for weddings. I have found that the vertical grip also saves your right shoulder from over rotating. The 5D is quite heavy camera and the grip does increase the weight, but I have found I can hand hold the camera at lower shutter speeds with the grip attached.

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