Tuesday, December 23, 2008

5 minutes with the new Canon 5D Mark II

5D for Dinner. Another boring 5D video test. from Tony Cece on Vimeo.

I just got my Canon 5D Mark II in the mail yesterday and quickly unboxed it to grab some footage as my wife and I prepared dinner. I briefly scanned through the manual and figured out how to record video and quickly started filming. With my limited knowledge about the features or best settings, I was surprised at how good the footage looked when I got it on my computer. I left the White Balance on Auto which didn't do a super job. The video is untouched except to compress for the web.

With little to no effort, people will be shooting amazing video on these things. I've already seen should mounts that have matte boxes and follow focus knobs/mechanisms. There are a lot of benefits for low budget film makers: great low light capabilities, low cost, availability of fast yet fairly inexpensive lenses, low rental prices. One drawback is the ability to follow focus. While you can use an external monitor through the HDMI port, the 1080i feed goes to 480p when actually recording. I found that it still helps, but when focus is critical you may have to do multiple takes. Audio isn't great, but that can be overcome by using a portable audio recorder to capture sound.

I still haven't spent a lot of time with it, but can tell that it will suit my current video needs. If you get a chance, find someone that has one and try it out.

After spending more time with the video mode on the 5D, I take back most of my comments above. You basically have no control over the ISO, Aperture, or Shutter Speed when shooting video. There are a few tricks to try to get what you want, but it is far from precise...and you lose the settings once you stop recording and have to try to get the same settings again. While you can get some amazing video on the camera, it will not meet most needs without other adapters and lenses that have aperture control built in. This still doesn't guarantee that you will get the shutter speed you desire. Until Canon releases a firmware update or a new model, this camera may or may not give you the shot that you hope to capture.

However, it is still great for people that need to grab a quick video and happen to have this camera. Photojournalists would fall into this category. When you need precision, stick to dedicated video cameras.

Here's more good reading about the video mode on the camera.  READ

While the video mode isn't perfect, the camera takes superb still photos.  The quality at high ISO 3200 & 6400 is astoundingly good.  For the first time, I am comfortable putting the ISO on Auto and setting the Aperture and Shutter I desire.  


cultural architect said...

nice job. I'm hungry again.

Scott Stephens said...

That's pretty amazing footage for no lights, auto wb, etc! From everything I've read, it's a pretty amazing camera, and a great step in bringing technology to the masses. Without having to spend$4K + on a camera and then several thousand more on red rock or brevis adapters, you can use that money for lenses (which is consequently dual-purpose) and lights, software, etc. Or just save it! Some of the other video I've seen from it are pretty amazing as well...



[[ anthony ]] said...

Yeah "Reverie" was really good. I'm actually "re:thinking" some of my first observations. There are many frustrating things about the video mode on the camera. It is very hard to get the exposure you want and once you stop recording, you have to fight to get the same exposure for the next shot. Basically you have to trick the auto exposure by pointing at a light source and locking the exposure (especially at night because it wants to brighten the scene). Focus is also very tough on the screen. I've seen some cool rigs that allow you to add follow focus adapters that you could mark like on film cameras... Anyway, it can give you some cool video but it might not be something you can count on in.

ct said...

wow thats awesome insight. Initially it seemed as if this camera could revolutionize independent filmmaking and even prosumer camera production. But with these considerable drawbacks its pretty clear that the 5D is not quite there, but is definitely heading in the right direction.