Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Canon 5D Mark ii - Exposed

Well if you haven't noticed I like to tinker. I always have and probably always will. So when I get bored I fix things, all sorts of things. A while back I started repairing digital cameras for fun. Recently after I bought my D300 another damaged D300 came up for sale that had taken a humpty-dumpty fall from a tripod with a 70-200 2.8 attached. I bought it for parts just in case anything happened to my new D300, but after ordering a new button I had it all fixed up. Its now my backup camera to my other D300.

So last month I was reading about a Canon fellow that had the misfortune of having his newly acquired Canon 5D mark ii fall into a lake while setting up for a shot. I bought the camera from him for salvage to see if I could get it working. I figured best case I could and then I'd play around with it to see what Canon has to offer. Worst case I'd end up parting it out eventually to recoup my money. Since I fixed the Nikon so fast that I never got a chance to document any of it,I figured I'd document the tear down of this camera body as it might be of interest to someone out there.

I even made a pointless video that I sped up showing the partial tear down. The video isn't the best as it was my first time trying to do something like this, but you can see as I strip away the rear, top and side panels of the 5D2 to expose and inspect the inside for water damage. I found very little water exposure on the first time tearing it down, but on later tear downs to find the odd behavior it was giving I found the board that was lightly corroded.

Here is the main culprit, it was the board on the bottom of the body. There was corrosion on 3 of the ribbon connector areas and 2 of the surface mount ICs. I carefully cleaned them off and sprayed the entire board down with a 0 residue PCB contact cleaner. The camera has been flawless ever since, but only time will tell, and with water damage you never know for sure, corrosion can kill very slowly and create odd issues with systems, in this case the buttons acted irrational and certain shooting modes would do different things.

I have since cleaned all the corrosion off and its working fine, although I do plan on ordered a new board from Canon at some point. I bought one lens for use with it, and one flash and I will be documenting some of the obstacles I found using off camera flash with Canon. I will also show some hacks to get things to work, like rear curtain sync and high speed sync.

One other side note, the body construction of the 5D2 I was not particularly impressed with for a camera in its price class. I would have expected a stamped steel frame in the lower end bodies, but not in one thats a notch from the flagship. This is my own personal opinion however having seen both the D300 and 5D2 on the inside. The D300 skeleton looks like its battle ready, a large cast body wrapped in plastic, the 5D2 had a simple and not rugged design. Also I really wish there was some solid weather sealing, I didn't see any o-rings at all on the 5D2.

More to come later...


  1. Finally, great post!
    If 5DmII had solid weather sealing, you wouldn't buy it for that cheap :)

  2. ha ha, I fix things too when I get bored :-)
    few months ago a friend gave me his canon 450D that he dropped in the pool while trying to set it inside a waterproof enclosure, like in your case the logic board was the problem, it had some severe corrosion, it needs to be replaced but I don't know where to find it, any idea?


  3. How do you ever remember how to put everything together again? That has always been my big obstacle after I took things apart... :-)

  4. I take things apart in zones which is why all the little boxes, it helps to keep the screws together when reassembling.

  5. Did you happen to see anything that looked like a JTAG or serial port? I see code in the firmware that appears to be writing to a serial console, but haven't been bold enough to open mine to try to find it yet.

  6. Hi hudson, you're the ML developer? I honestly wasn't looking for jtag ports at the time, I was inspecting for trace corrosion at the time. I do have the full res version of the video at normal speed, I might have some good frames of the processor board, and the jtag should be on that one. Feel free to flickr mail me and I can see.. I'm petetsai on flickr.

  7. Dude. Thanks for this. I've been meaning to repair my cracked top housing on the 5D2, but I've held off because I was afraid that I would never be able to get O-Rings to seal back up right and hold the weather sealing. I've taken apart a 30D to repair buttons and stuff, so I am quite comfortable with DSLR dissection.

    BTW, I have a teardown on my blog on a 580EXii :-)

  8. it's quite tough doing minuscule dis-assembly work on a black table, save your eyes and get something lighter. great vid though, for what it is.

  9. Hello there Pete,
    How are u sir ?? Hope well. I have a question for you. I have a Canon eos 5d mark 2 and I lost USB connection to my notebook. Sent the cam to the dealers and they want to charge me $ 1000,00 to replace the main circuit board. They say it was because of the pulling and stepping on the usb cable etc... Tell me something can something simple be done to fix this ? or do I really need to change the whole thing ? I mean a thousand bucks is killing here. I hope u can help me. Best regards from brazil.

  10. Hey Pete, I was wondering...Ever tried to put a dslr into an old slr body? let say: a D40 type of body into an FE type of body...Imagine it would be possible to make the camera functional (even without lcd)!!! It would open up some possible paths to make a FF camera that is small and light but still digital...

  11. Hello there,
    I would appreciate if you could help me out with the following - do you need to remove only the back panel on 5d Mk2 in order to replace the shutter assembly?

    Thank you in advance.

  12. I have a 5D Mk2 that I ended up needing to open after a whalewatching trip. Canon returned it to me "uneconomical to repair" which surprised me because it didn't really get splashed that much, and canon does market it as water resistant.

    Upon opening it, I found salt water damage in from several places. I confirm Pete's observation that there are no o'rings or other attempt at water sealing at any of the cover spitlines. In mine, water had crept in at the right hand strap hook (which faces upwards, doh!), IR receiver port on front, around lens mount (not into mirror box, but between front cover and lens mount). None of these points have any attempt at water sealing - You can mount a L-series lens with weather sealing and that should prevent water from entering the mirror box, but what good is it if water can enter from almost anywhere else ?

    To make matters worse, one of the PCB's that are so severely damages that replacement is needed is the Front flex PCB, which has not part number on it's own, that is if I am reading the parts catalog correctly. From the information in the parts catalog, it can only be ordered along with a complete mirror box assembly (!) It looks like a 20$ or so part, it only has 10 components and two ribbon connectors on it. But I fear the whole mirror box assembly will be at least a couple hundred. Thanks, Canon...

  13. Oh, and Kess, I haven't removed the shutter assy, and I don't have the Mark2 service manual. But from the 5D Mk2 parts catalog and from the 5D service manual, it looks like you might need to strip it down to where you have the mirror box separated. One of the cautions is that when removing the imaging sensor, you need to wear a grounding strap, be very careful not to scratch it, and upon reassembly the flange-to-focal-plane distance needs to be adjusted to within +/- 0.02mm (you might be able to get away with just reusing the same washers in the same locations, I am unsure if the shutter assy enters into the equation). I am glad I don't need to go there, good luck with it.

  14. Just a quick note - Called Canon service in Missisauga, Canada today for parts, they referred me to - they have no problem selling to end customers and the nice ladies on the phone quickly helped me by sending a more recent parts catalog in which the front FPC does have its own part number. Oh, joy - Things are looking up. I will get final prices tomorrow but it looks like the DC-DC PCB, Bottom PCB and Front FPC assemblys are going to come in significantly cheaper than the 270 CAD Canon service had initially charged me for the repair (but are now refunding after kindly being asked to do so).

  15. Hey Morten, how is it going with repairing the camera?

    I recently took my camera out in the rain and all the LCD screens stopped working as well as the auto focus. I got a quote back from a German canon repair store for 910 euros. It says I need -

    Bottom PCB and Mirrorbox
    DC/DC and div cables

    The parts will be 400 euros you think this is possible to fix? I'm wondering if I take it apart and clean whether that could fix it?



  16. Hi,

    Just wondering if you have any more photos of the board showing what other ICs are on the board?


  17. Hey guys,
    Guess this vid was of use to a few other sub captains! Sorry to hear of your issues as well, but hopefully you'll get them back running. The parts should be available from Canon, the main thing it to clean everything off as good as possible to stop any further corrosion. Once thats done I took a jewelers loups and inspected everything to find the traces that had been damaged. I was lucky and just cleaning them up did the trick, if they are really bad replacement or field repairs will be needed.

    As for more pictures, I probably do have them stored somewhere, although I'm not sure where. The original video was done in 720p but I had to downsize it for youtube. Thing is though, I have so many cameras I'm not sure if I backed up the original media after I posted the vid....

    Also to note, the camera is still actuating away just fine so far!

  18. JB-Photography - Ha, funny thing you mentioned this. I saw someone put a p&s into a an old canon AE-1 a while back. I was pretty disappointed though as they just grafted it in, no integration at all. I'd like to actually place a sensor inside of one at some point so that it would work like an SLR still. If I have ever the spare time that is...

    Francisco - I really crafty engineer great with a soldering iron should be able to replace the mini-usb connector. Finding someone willing to do it that you can trust is the trick though.

  19. 5D2 5 months out of warranty, <5000 shutter counts, ERR 80 = canon smiling at my 325 pounds repair fee. Excuse me while I find a corner to moan in.

  20. Hi Pete,
    I found this post absolutely terrific... I have a problem with my 5D mark II and I opened it thanks to your video... but i wasn't able to find the problem... apparently menu, on/off and other function works irregularly and I can't use the "movie" function... maybe you can help me? I don't know which part should I substitute?
    I am looking forward to hearing from you, my email is riccardo.valsecchi(at)

  21. Laptop Repairs in Mississauga. Have you lost data on your computer? Whether your hard drive has failed, your flash drive has stopped working, or you can’t get photos off your camera - we can help! computer repair in mississauga

  22. Thanks for review, it was excellent and very informative.
    as a first time visitor to your blog I am very impressed.
    thank you :)

  23. Hi Pete,

    Do you still have the normal un-speed video? I believe I can do this, but kind of scared.