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 seventeen year period. If you would like to watch many more videos about my journey using the camera and the Canon L series lenses please subscribe to my YouTube channel below.

The 5D story so far

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

I remember seeing a Canon 5D for sale for the first time and thinking, how can I possibly afford that camera?

The 24-105 F4 IS lens was included in the deal and I had to part with about £2400. I hoped I would not regret my decision.

I now realise what a great investment it was. I have photographed over three hundred and fifty weddings with the Canon 5D Classic Mk1.

I was tempted away by the Fujifilm XT1 for one season but returned to the 5D Classic Mk1 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.

I think that it is very important to buy an L series lens for the 5D because the autofocus system seems to be much faster with an L lens, and the sensor loves sharp lenses.

Mastering manual mode online course

I show you how to get the best results using the 5D classic camera. Four hours one to one tuition online, showing you how to use your camera in manual mode. For more information please use the contact form at the bottom of this page.

5D classic 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 they are appreciating how great the jpg file is straight out of the 5D classic.

I always recommend that you start by using the Canon professional RAW software on the disc that came with the camera. You will be able to get the colour right with this software. (it is slow to edit a lot of images with this, Lightroom is faster)

I use 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 also save the very sharp medium quality JPG file to my wi fi sd card and prefer the file straight out of the camera at ISO settings below 1600. Test to see what you prefer.

(If you would like to get the best out of the 3200 ISO file you will need to use careful noise reduction in Lightroom or the Canon professional RAW software)

I do switch off sharpening and reduce contrast to create a very neutral file. (sharpening just sharpens the noise and I don't want to do that)

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 tried 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.

When I was trying to find a style I could stick with I experimented with Lightroom presets developed by other photographers.

Exposure empire offer a package that includes all of their premium presets for a very reasonable price. 

Get 500+ Lightroom Presets for Just $29!


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 this fix anymore, if you Google the problem you will find a lot 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 the batteries 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 and adapter

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

I used the Canon 580EX Mk2 flash for many years (for the majority of the weddings I photographed) but have switched 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. (it slows you down which is a good thing)

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. I used the 5D mk4 for about 22000 shots, but I went back to the 5d Classic, as i prefer the images straight out of camera.

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 they clean the sensor. Check all the buttons, and the most important thing is to get some sort of warranty. I usually have a few Canon 5D classic cameras for sale.

5D cameras compared

In this video I will compare the specification of the four Canon 5D cameras. I have owned the Mk1, Mk2 and Mk3 and thought I would share what I think about the specification of the cameras.

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 many 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.

Menu settings

If this video I talk about the main Canon 5D classic menu settings that I use. The menu on the 5D classic is very easy to learn.

My main menu settings.

Quality - RAW + M

Beep - Off

Shoot w/o card - Off

AEB - 0

WB SHIFT/BKT - 0,0/0

Custom WB - N/A See this video

Colour temp -  5000

Colour space - sRGB

Picture Style - Neutral

Protect - Not Used

Rotate - Not Used

Print Order - Not Used

Auto Play - Not Used

Review Time - 8 sec

AF points - Display

Histogram - Bright

Auto power off - 15 min

Auto rotate - On

LCD brightness - 50%

Date/Time - Keep accurate

File numbering - Continuous

Select folder - 100EOS5D

Language - English

Video system - PAL

Communication - PC connect

Format - After every project

Custom functions - See this video

Clear settings - N/A

Register camera settings - N/A

Sensor clean - When required

Firmware Ver - 1.1.1


In this video I will compare the specification of the four Canon 5D cameras. I have owned the Mk1, Mk2 and Mk3 and thought I would share what I think about the specification of the cameras.

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.

Magic Lantern Guides

The best user guide I have found, and the one that I use all the time (for reference when I am making the videos) is the Magic Lantern Guide for the Canon 5D. I don't think you can buy a new copy any more but you will be able to find a used copy on Amazon by using the link below.

If you find any more reviews or useful resources please let me know using the contact form below. As the Canon R system wll take the focus away from the 5D range over the next few years I am keen to keep as many people as possible interested in this classic range of cameras.

Kind regards Rich

5D Classic User manual

The  original user  manual is still available from the Canon website.
Use the link below to download the PDF manual

PDF Download  5D Classic user manual

canon 5d classic user manual