Black Dots from Hell: Is the 5D Mark II Fucked?

I think we just got our Christmas present here at Canon. After yesterday’s post, I had hoped things would go better or at least stay the way they are, but it looks like the Lord has no mercy for us here at Canon. What has been unfolding in the last 48 hours has all the characteristics for becoming our second 1D3 fiasco. Only this time, it’ll be called our 5D2 fiasco. And here I was talking big about our latest 21MP sensor, boasting about it, giving big talk to Nikon, and now it looks like the sensor is fucked.

Since yesterday I’ve been getting a steady stream of emails and phone calls from concerned customers that mention strange black dots appearing in pictures taken with a 5D Mark II. Below is an example.

Black Dots from Hell!! What the hell is going on Maeda???

Black Dots from Hell!! What the hell is going on Maeda???

This seems to consistently happen, and is very visible in pictures taken from ISO 400 and higher. This issue is currently being discussed on DPReview, with more samples posted there.

What have I done to deserve this? Can anyone explain this to me? Will the torture and the pain ever stop? It just keeps going on and on. One after another. As far as I’m concerned, we can just pack our things here at Canon USA and head for home. No really, I mean that. I don’t see how we’ll survive 2009. We’ve already had a very difficult 2008, I don’t think we can stand another year of that and certainly not with the current crisis going on.

In any case, we’re already in continuous contact with engineers in Japan trying to figure out what is going on here. Maybe it’s nothing much, maybe it’s fixable, I hope we know soon. Later tonight when I head for home, I’m going to stop by the local church first and take a little time for myself, maybe pray for guidance and help in these tough times. It just seems like there’s some kind of curse on Canon right now. I have no other explanation for it. How else can you explain all of these events happening so close to eachother? It’s just not natural. And now, we can’t even seem to be able to do the very thing everyone has come to expect from us: Deliver great image quality. The 50D failed, the G10 failed, and now, our flagship body for image quality is failing. Maybe it’s just Karma. Maybe we’re getting paid for delivering all those backfocusing lenses to people, or the bodies (even the overpriced 1Ds) and L lenses that won’t work out of the box, or for screwing people out of their warranty, or for letting them send in their equipment to service centers countless times without fixing anything and wasting their time. Sigh… I don’t know.

Anyway, if you happen to have more information, leave a comment or send me email. I’m heading into another conference call now with Tokyo.

38 thoughts on “Black Dots from Hell: Is the 5D Mark II Fucked?

  1. If this is true….Canon is in deep s….

    I just don’t understand it, how Canon “improved” the same sensor found in the 1DsIII and managed to screw it up. Why didn’t they just leave it?

    Just like they “improved” the AF from the 1 series Mk twos and managed to screw it up big time. So much so that it can’t be fully fixed.

    If this condition can’t be fully fixed, its gonna look like a really bad year for Canon. Nikon can expect 400% market growth next year.

    I’m so glad I upgraded from a 400D to a 50D. The noise levels are similar but I’m enjoying the better features. So far no uglies….. fingers crossed.

    Looks like I’ll skip the other cams and look forward to either a D800 (with video) or a 5DMkIII (that’s a 3) Sigh…. looks like no FF for me yet.

    Avoided the weird colors from the LCD in the 30D (aka 20Dn), the non-upgrade upgrade 40D (aka the real 30D), the 50D looks okay so far. Colors are natural, metering is improved compared to the 400D. No need to dial in exposure compensation. So far so good. 400D will now serve as 2nd cam.

  2. Daniel, Quit propagating word of mouth on the AF “improvement” from 1mkii to 1mkiii.

    Since you’ve never even used one, I don’t think you can comment.

    I own a 1ds3 and have not had a problem with AF on both wildlife and low-light wedding work.

    Tired of these measurebators talking like authorities based on reading what someone else said about someone else saying about what they read someone else test.

  3. Aziel: you are in entirely the wrong place (the internet),
    if you’re worried about all that “they-said-he-said–they-said” stuff:

    It’s the bread and butter of 99% of sites and blogs out there,
    particularly the popular ones.

    I don’t like it either, but it won’t change one bit because of that…

  4. Chuck, what happened to you? In the good old time you always gave helpful tips and told us how great the Canon cameras are. Why have you resorted to whining? I don’t care how miserable your life is.

  5. I have one of the early 1d3 bodies that was effected by the focus fiasco.
    Problem was fixed by Canon in 3 days, and airfreighted back to my office door. It has always worked exceptionally well in low light, and since the fix now works well in bright conditions too – Which is just as well as I live in Australia and we tend to have lots of sun 🙂
    Maybe if Canon had come up with a bullshit story that the effected bodies were actually meant to go to some market where there is bugger all sun (like maybe England or the dark side of the moon) and they were only properly calibrated for these markets (given they all worked brilliantly under low light) they could have restored some pride and maybe limited Nikons growth to only 200%.

    Fake Chuck, Want me to throw some ideas around and see what bullshit line I can come up with to use for the official 5d2 black dot statement ??

    How about something along the lines of it’s a new feature built into the 5d2 to show you where you have blown out detail in order to help you become a better photographer ??

  6. Simon,

    In case you didn’t notice, this is my (and I’m not actually me) personal blog and I can say here whatever I want. I’m not able to do this when I am officially speaking for Canon, then I have to watch what I say and put out the official line etc.

    This blog gives me a chance to be more open and vent a little.


    Thanks, those are some excellent ideas. I’m going to run them by Maeda and see what he thinks.

  7. Looks almost like an engineering test feature that highlites blown areas so they can examine problem handling. It was then not backed out

    Of course the QA department (if there is one) should have seen this instantly if they were doing a battery of tests.

  8. Does the SW department even knows QA? Seems like every single bit of canon is separate and no one knows where’s the rest of the company.

    God I love canon but every time they “upgrade” something they break it ):

  9. Well Chuckie, I’m now thinking about canceling my order… I hope they fix this, I can’t have a camera that produces black dots… most of my photography is low-light.

  10. What’s so bad about that? All you have to do is clone those dots out. It’s an easy fix that everyone can do in a matter of minutes, or many many hours depending on how many pictures you’ve taken that you want to fix. Like duh, you know?

  11. would think after the 1DMkIII debacle, Canon would have learned and ensured that future models are carefully designed, checked and evaluated. Up till yesterday, I actually had good impressions of the 5DMkII (despite the older autofocusing system and shutter lag).. but now? If there was *any* hopes of me picking one up to become a dual system supporter, not anymore.

    I’ll make a prediciton folks.. within a year or two, Canon’s executives will get axed and replaced with more intelligent ones much like what happened over at Nikon a while back. Good god, how many consecutive f#$k-ups can a company make? Even Nikon wasn’t THIS bad!!!

    @ Steve.. have you fallen off your rocker? Are you serious? LOL

    3 Grand for a bunch of black dots… nice…Cameras are supposed to make imaging easier, not harder for the user. Who in hell would want to sit infront of a computer photoshoping out black dots all over the place?

    That’s just retarded! I can only shake my head… I hope for Canonites sake that this is simply a firmware fix… In either case, how could this kind of thing get out the door mass-produced? Doesn’t Canon test the advanced prototypes with final sensor specs and final firmware beforehand? LOL

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  13. Hey Chuck,

    you should be proactive and take advantage of this disastrous situation to be promoted to a worldwide CEO position.
    Then :

    – priority #1 : you slash every manager who have been pushing for higher MP during the previous years (financial dept included).

    – priority #2 : you rehire the body designers who did the EOS-3 / 1V (were they fired after the sensor-is-everything strategy took over, or did they choose to leave for the competition?)

    – priority #3 : to present apologies to customers. It will be difficult to avoid it.

  14. It is very positive that canon is producing one mess after the other now. The prices for Canon gear is falling. I just bought a one year old EOS 1Ds Mark III with about 25’000 actuations for US $ 4500 (Switzerland). This is just great. I hope the shutter does it for a while and does not blow at 30’000 like in many 1Ds Mark II. lol

  15. For the love of mythical gods, why is this happening now!!! I’ve seen dozens of images, and movie clips and reviews with preproduction cameras, and NONE of them shows anything remotely close to this problem!

    It’s not like they didn’t have the last 4 god damn fucking months to find this fucking flaw before shipping the god damn fucking piece of Canon shit!!!

    Canon, get your fucking act together!!!

    Pre-order CANCELED! I’ll stick to my 5D bodies which don’t completely fuckup my pictures with black shit all over them!!!

  16. Rootbeer:

    If you look at the Laforet photo on the Canon webiste that shows a night shot of the couple with a lit bridge in the background, you can clearly see this problem on many of the smaller lights on the right side of the image. This was taken with a Canon supplied pre-production camera.

    Thus, it seems that Canon QA wasn’t looking too closely.

    I have a MK II coming in on Monday. I’ll check it, but likely it will get returned due to the black (dot) plague.

  17. Hey Rootbeer,

    R u the one that got your posts deleted off dpreview for all the swearing? I saw the pics of whats left of your 1 series cam after it fell into the ocean.

    fyi, I agree with you about what a bad idea for Canon to be putting in the old 9pt af into the 5dII.

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  20. Yeah, that was me, but I did not post that above message.. I guess “Rootbeer is a popular name these days.. who knows..

    Phil deleted my post even though I disguised my “negative feedback” to Canon by writing “FY Canon”.. Or “@#$%#@!!” …..which you know is just way to disturbing for the readers at dpr.. 😉 That was of course related to the decision that Canon made to drop the proven unreliable AF of the 5D into the 5D2, even after there had been a significant upgrade in the AF system of much lesser XXD class cameras, which of course, weren’t full frame bodies. Who knows,….maybe my post was deleted because I had the “audacity” to publicly object so much to a brand new Canon product. Regardless, I felt that Canon needed to hear from me, after investing many tens of thousand of dollars into their system ever since I switched 1996 from Minolta,…..which I am still glad I did, however, ever since I bought my first digital in 2001, I have not been “happy” with a single digital product like I was with my EOS 1n film body that hit the shelves back in 1994.

    Back in the film old days, I could buy a Pro body for about 2K. That camera would be on the shelf for 6 years. I wrote my capital expenditures off over a 5 year period. These days, a pro body costs 3-8 K, and is replaced in 3 years tops,(yet the price of their lenses have remained the same over the last 20 years…go figure).. and STILL after all these years, and dollars later, Canon has yet to produce a FF body that can top 6fps! If I want to shoot FF at more than 5fps, it has to be from scanned film! …..and now, Nikon has two,…..count them…. 1…2.. camera full frame Pro bodies that shoot at least 8fps???!!!


    Canon,…..why have you forsaken me?! ….and everyone else..?

    ……That being said, I picked up my 5D2 yesterday from my local dealer, and it works just fine. I tested it at the store to see if I could duplicate the “Black Dots” phenomenon, but was unable to.. So I believe for now, that I am in the clear..

    As others have noted on other websites, the AF is more accurate than on the 5D. However, I learned that the movie mode only works in full auto exposure, and that ….lets say I’m working with a subject in my studio, and my exposure is iso 100, 180th @ f11. I won’t be able to simultaneously record video and still photos at that exposure.. The 5D2’s video mode will dictate the exposure for the ambient light provided by the modeling lamps alone.. So, video is only good for shooting in decent ambient light, not studio type lighting, which I was lead to believe before buying it.. Oh well.. It’s a nice camera, but not what I’ve wanted for the last 8 years….(minimum 6fps, FF, IQ of the 5D, much faster shutter lag & mirror black out times, 1/250ths top sync speed, that doesn’t run me 8 thousand bucks per body!)


  21. Hey Fake Chuck,

    Since Canon is going to give an official statement on the black dots issuesoon, I’ll speculate what Canon is going to say….

    They’ll say, “We are looking into the problem.” And that will be the end of that. They might deny any conclusive results…. despite all the evidence from net-citizens.

    And while you’re at it, here’s another group of unhappy campers… the astrophotographers….

    If they stuff up this PR exercise… they will really really get a backlash from users.

  22. I know I said there will be an official statement soon, but don’t count on it. With the 50mm f/1.2 L lens focus problems, it’s been 2 years now, and we’re still waiting for the official statement. Have you heard Canon Inc. mention anything about the 1D3 focus problems?

  23. Aziel, dont ignore the facts in autofocus issue of 1D Mrk3. If you want to buy flawed products then its up to you. It’s your money anyways. But who is at the losing end. It’s consumers coz u didnt get the value of your money’s worth. Truth will set you free my friend. Canon announce their firmware update from v1.1.3 to v1.2.3 with autofocus issue in AI servo continuous shooting mode.

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  28. Hi, I’ve been using my MK2 just fine, I haven’t come across any problems at all with it. I wonder if it was a batch of them that came out wrong. In general I’m pretty happy about mine, but then again, I’ve only done about 500 shots

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