Even though we don’t usually put too much stock in marketing hype, we have to admit that Canon’s claim that the EOS 5D “defines (a) new D-SLR category” is, in this case, pretty damn close to the truth.
The Canon EOS 5D is unlike any digital SLR that has come before it because it manages to pack a full-frame (35 mm sized), high-resolution sensor (12.8 megapixels) into a relatively compact body (slightly larger than the Canon EOS 20D, although it feels noticeable ‘chunkier’ in your hand).
The Canon EOS 5D is a professional digital single-lens reflex camera that is intended to fill the gap between the Canon EOS 20D and the Canon EOS-1D. One of the most notable differences between the two is that the EOS 5D does not have any environmental seals.
Although Canon does not refer to the EOS 5D as a “professional” digital SLR model, it is clear that this camera will appeal to professionals who are looking for a digital SLR with a high level of image quality but a body that is lighter than the EOS-1D. It is also likely to appeal to people who already own an EOS 20D (although we should hope that they haven’t already purchased an excessive amount of EF-S lenses…)
When compared to the EOS 20D, my first impression of the EOS 5D was that it was “chunkier,” and I continue to believe that this is an accurate observation. It is actually not that much larger than the EOS 20D; it is about 8 mm (1/3 inch) wider and taller. However, the EOS 5D does create the impression that it is both more substantial and more robust thanks to a remolded grip (which now has a finger hook) and its additional weight (125 g/4.4 oz).
The EOS 5D, with the exception of this one detail, has an appearance that is strikingly similar to that of the EOS 20D. Even the control layout on the rear of the camera is almost exactly the same. The goal here is to encourage existing EOS 20D users to upgrade with as little hassle as possible, which is, of course, the purpose.