That is a really good question.
The obvious answer is "no," but there will be tradeoffs.
You can use prime (single focal length) lenses that at minimum match L zoom lenses in quality, and in most cases exceed L zoom lens quality. The best prime lenses cost thousands of dollars. However, there are exceptions. The 85mm 1.8 lenses is fantastic. I have both the L version (f/1.2) and consumer version (f/1.8). Frankly, I see little difference in quality at matching apertures.
The 100mm L can be had for under a thousand, whereas the non-L version is much cheaper. Another great lens for less than a grand is the 135mm f/2.0.
If you don't want to go the prime route, the 17-40 L is an excellent wide angle lens. It is one of the least expensive L lens sold today (the other is the 70-200mm that I discuss below), and is very competent. It also is much less expensive than the 16-35mm lens that is faster with marginally better IQ.
As for third party producers, almost all make a 70-200mm lens. I've read mixed reviews. Do take a look at the offerings in the 24-70mm range. I have heard some good things about those.
Finally, getting back to prime lenses, if you are willing to shoot manual focus only, then Samyang/Rokinon has some fantastic prime lenses. Their 14mm, 35mm, and 85mm lenses match or exceed Canon in IQ (but not necessarily in build) all at a price of about $500 or less per lens.
If you don't want to shoot prime or third party, I'd recommend one exception to your sub-$1000 rule. The 70-200mm f/4 L IS is an incredible lens. Its IQ matches or exceeds almost all prime lenses in its range, and it is relatively compact, so you can take it with you easily when you travel. And if you can live without image stabilization, do consider the non-IS version. It can be had for $600 (it is the cheapest L currently sold). The IQ is close to the IS version at about half the price.
Finally, there is the 70-300mm IS (non L) lens that goes for about $500. It, or the Tamron version, give you a bit more reach without speeding a lot of money. The 70-300 lenses are a (small) step down in quality from other lenses discussed here, but they're not bad.
So, you don't have to break the bank to get quality shots with the 5D.
Im in the same situation pre order sep 18... still waiting, the same messages as you guys. The only problem with amazon is that when you send an email to know whats going on they always answer with the generic emails of were sorry, bla bla, you can cancel anytime... I really wanted to have this cam before dec 5th... now ill have to travel for a month with out it.
J. Perez --
There is a lot of fanboyism going on at the beginning of this thread... and it's passed off as fact to be worse.
If you're looking at these two cameras consider your needs. You already have nice canon glass so you may be better served going with the 5d II. What do you shoot? If it's sports I would definitely say lean to the D700 or look at the 7d (or 1d III as you mentioned). I personally think the 5D II has the best IQ of the bunch, but that is an opinion.
Really, the two cameras mentioned here are a different beast. It's like comparing mac laptops to windows desktops. First decide if you use your camera more for sports or portraits then decide if you want the canon or nikon.
One more time!! Almost went to Money Gram... Mine was also $1282 with shipment from Italy:
Greetings from Amazon Payments
You are buying this unit from Amazon, but credit card payment method is not available for this transaction. The payment method available for this order is Money Gram Money Transfer. This order is covered by Amazon International Payments, this transaction is safe. You have to pay for the transfer with cash at a local Money Gram agency.
Please note the name and address for payment:
First name : VASLE-CLAUDIU
Last name : MIORCANEANU
Address : Via di Saliceto, 79
City/State : Bologna
Postal Code : 40128
Country : Italy
For a fast and safe transaction, tell the Money Gram agent you are sending the money to a relative or a family friend (because Money Gram applies additional taxes when the money is sent for business).
Once the payment has been placed you can reply this email with the payment details (send a scanned paper from Money Gram), or fax us the details (1-952-479-3715). After we receive your payment details, we will notice the seller to start the delivery process. Please note we will not release the payment details to the seller, only after you will contact us to confirm us you have received, inspected, and agree to keep the item.
We sent a confirmation to the seller as well, to begin the shipping process.
Please proceed the Money Gram payment as soon as possible to finish the transaction.
Thank you for shopping with us.
Earth's Biggest Selection
Figured I'd keep this going! I also notified/spoke to Amazon. They were quite "interested"! The above FAX number is in MN:
Owner Directory | (952) 479 Numbers
Records in Chaska / MINNETONKA (55318)
Sent a doctored "Money Gram" receipt to "Kevin" with the reference number unreadable, just to get his blood flowing and give Amazon a chance to trace IP addresses.
The return email address to "Amazon Payments" is redirected back to Kevy at "amazon.order@INSTRUCTION.com" - a clearly bogus email.
As soon as "Amazon Payments" gets the receipt, your cash is gone!
Greetings from Amazon Payments
Please send again the scanned, because the reference number is not visible.
Thank you for shopping with us.
Earth's Biggest Selection
Sent: Sat, Mar 5, 2011 1:03 am
Subject: FW: Your Order with Amazon.com
Subject: RE: Your Order with Amazon.com
Ok - here is my Money Gram receipt.
Please let me know if you need any additional information.
Thank you -
Sorry, but this information about "grey market" is very incorrect and needs to be clarified in case someone else comes along and reads it.
Imported "grey market" cameras, lenses and accessories are actually no different from "official" US/N. American. They are manufactured in the same way, in the same place, by the same people, and with the same materials, construction and quality control standards.
What is different is that you will get an "international" or other country warranty that isn't honored by Canon USA (in this example... I'm sure some other manufacturers' warranty service policies vary, but many are similar). That would make it difficult to get repair or replacement if you have any problem requiring service. The documentation with the item also might be printed in another language.
Other things to watch out for with grey market items are battery chargers, which might be equipped with plugs that won't work here, or operate on voltages incompatible with what's available here. And, items that transmit signals may not operate on the right frequencies for local use (for example, the Wireless File Transmitters WFT-E3 and E4 are offered in many parts of the world, but not in the US where the WFT-E3A and E4A are offered instead, and operate differently).
The reason that all these things are this way is because the seller themselves, or an agent of theirs, goes and buys the products in bulk in a foreign country, and imports them into the US/N. America to sell... Circumventing the usual distribution and import channels. They do this to exploit differences in currency values, import duty "quirks", etc., that allow them to offer a somewhat lower price.
So, in some cases "grey market" may be fine... If you don't anticipate ever needing to use service or the warranty, or if the store is large and backs the product with their own warranty and repair (B&H and KEH do this, for example). Also, if you are having out of warranty work done and are paying for it, that shouldn't be a problem. Simpler to use items for which you don't really need a readable manual might be fine, too. Or, items for which you can download a copy of the manual.
On the other hand, grey market items are frequently not all that much less expensive and may not be worth the possible extra hassles or warranty issues.
If anyone offers you that an item is a "cheaper, plastic version" of a camera like the 5D Mark II, you can be certain that's strictly a scam. There's no such thing made by Canon. They do offer less expensive models of crop sensor cameras, which are built with different materials and to lower standards, but those are clearly identified as distinctly different models such as the Rebel series (in the US, the model name is different in other parts of the world). Nor are there "Chinese-only menu" versions. All Canons ship with the same language set choices built right in.
The way Broadway and a few others who offer incredible sounding deals work is by stripping out all the accessories and selling those to you separately at inflated prices. I bet they won't even ship you a "naked" 5D Mark II for their advertised price. They'll insist you also have to buy a "$250" battery, "$200" charger, "$150" worth of software, "$75" in cables and a "$25" manual... All of which are normally included in the prices other retailers quote. In the end, you pay as much or more than you would have buying elsewhere.
With camera equipment, if the price is much different from what B&H, Adorama and Amazon (direct) offer, then you should be suspicious and research the seller very, very carefully before giving them your credit card number (and I agree with an earlier response... www.resellerratings.com is a good place to check).