The Canon 5D Mk II is a great travel camera. I really like the full frame low noise and good resolution 21.1 mega pixels. It is not too heavy and has more than enough options for most travel photography. Because it is a full frame camera you will need at least a few different lenses to cover a reasonable range of focal lengths. (I will talk about what lenses I carry in a later blog.) You also need good quality lenses and to use those lenses in their optimal ranges to take full advantage of the sensor resolution.
I like the 5D’s ability to get low noise images that preserve the mood of low light. I usually limit my ISO to 800, but many folks are happy to use much higher ISO and for an image that does not reply on detail higher ISOs can work well.
The 5D mk II has auto ISO which will set the ISO so that the shutter is kept at least 1/focal length which is appropriate for hand held. This is not a bad option, but you should realize this does not account for image stabilization, which will give you around 3 stops and is getting better all the time. If you are shooting wildlife and you are using a tripod or a beanbag and you use auto ISO you will often be using a higher ISO than you really need.
One of the new options now for Highlight Tone Priority, which uses a different tone curve and will give you around another stop if dynamic range when shooting jpeg. Another new option is the “Auto Lighting Optimizer” which increases the detail in the shadows. It is mainly useful for jpeg shooting. There things sound great and they have their place but I have usually found that if the lighting is a bit tricky it is often easier to use the manual mode of the camera.
The 5D mk II also has pretty decent video capabilities, however you should consider using an off camera microphone for better sound. Also have a think about what format you want to record your video in, for example NTSC , PAL and 30 or 24 fames per second in HD 1080p. Unfortunately, the 5D mk II lacks a 60 fps video mode for fast action or creating slow motion shots. It would be nice if the next version of this camera had full HD at 60 fps.
Although the camera sensor performs well in low light it can sometimes be hard to achieve focus in these conditions. You can generally improve the ability to focus by mounting the small infra red ST-E2 on the hot shoe and or using the central focus point. Of course faster lenses like F 2.8 or better will also more easily acquire focus, in low light.
In conclusion the 5D mk II is a great camera for any travel photographer. If you have a big trip planned I would recommend it. It is compact, durable and can help you take great images.