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Welcome to Michael's blog. Michael Andrew, (aka Michael The Maven) is a freelance producer, photography instructor, tech innovator, and when needed, disaster aid specialist. Disclaimer: Michael is a participant in Bhphoto & Amazon affiliate programs that provides an advertising commission if you purchase through links on this website.


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12.16.08         photography  

Canon 5D II First Impressions


I got my Canon 5D II yesterday and have been playing around with it pretty much ever since. I need to continue checking it out, but here are my first impressions:

- The quality of the HD video is absolutely incredible. Ive been shooting video professionally for the last 5 years, I havent seen anything like it. The video quality is SO good, this would justify the price alone, regardless of the fact that this is a high end professional camera that shoots at 21 MP. It records it to a .mov format which is editable with just about anything.

- No issues recording to Compact Flash card. I tested with a 16 GB Extreme III, which if I am not mistaken will record up to 48 minutes in HD. Im looking forward to maxing this out to see if I can get it to go the full length without interruption. This seems to beat the constant shuffling of P2 cards on something like a Panasonic HVX200, which I was right about to purchase until I heard about the 5DII's video capabilities. I would much rather have 2 (or three) 5Dii's than one Panny 200 and all the cards and devices needed to make it work smoothly.

- The video controls are automatic, while this isnt ideal...Im not complaining too much. It seems the shutter speed may be related to the focal length of the lens you are using, and because it shoots at 30 Frames per second, you cannot record at a shutter speed of anything slower than 1/30 of a second, the auto settings also seem to use ISO to control exposure. I would really really like to have full manual controls, variable shutter speeds, etc, but image quality is so jaw dropping that I am willing to work with this.

- You still have your exposure compensation dial which allows for 2 stops in either direction, so you do have some exposure control.

- You have an exposure lock mechanism (using the exposure lock button) and I learned that if you trick the camera's automatic metering system (by covering the lens partially with your hand, or introducing it to brighter lights) you can get just about any exposure you need and then lock it down before shooting. Kinda lame way to do it, but it is a way to get around the lack of complete manual control.

- The Focusing System in Live View works nearly exactly the same as the 50D live view, three settings. Quick, Live, and Face Detection. During live view, the mirror is flipped up, exposing the sensor, unfortunately when this is happening, the camera no longer can using its normal focusing system. This is why focusing on moving objects will be tricky, that said, if you are shooting at smaller apertures with wider depths of field, you will probably be ok, just make sure you are shooting outdoors. I don't see this camera as something you would want to shoot your pets or children with (as they move too much). Casual users may not realize that most professional work (think movies and studio shooting) use manual focus anyway. I believe video professionals will appreciate the 5DII's video capabilities more than a photographer would.

-Ive heard lots of rumors about how awful the auto-focusing system is on the 5DII. Aside from the moving subjects mentioned above for video(particularly coming to or going away from the camera which there are indeed concerns, not so much pure side to side), I havent noticed any issues. The still image focusing system seems great so far, and if someone isnt familiar with how to focus in live view, I can see why they might think there is a problem, but to be clear, as far as I can tell, I dont see ANY issues with auto focusing in shooting stills.

- The menu is identical to the Canon 50D's menu, with the exception of Live View Movie Shooting and ISO Expansion up to 25600. WOW!!

- Ive already purchased a mini HDMI cable out. I am anxious to see if there is a way to by pass the processor and record the RAW footage in video mode. Surely there has to be a way to do this, and if not now maybe in the future. My understanding is the whole reason it has taken so long for SLRs to record video is because the processors werent fast enough to downsize 4 times the full size frame and then compress 30 times per second. It would be interesting to know what the equivalent processor speeds are between different models of Canon and NIkon Cameras, but they have to be getting fast. If there is a way to record RAW video straight from the sensor (no compression) its going to take a big bite out of RED's (the hot new video camera) momentum, if this already hasnt. I heard RED canceled their plans for a smaller version after the announcement of the 5DII, but I dont know if its related to this or not.

- Non-video shooting Photographers will not immediately realize how AMAZING it is to have an HD camera that is completely compatible with all their lenses. This is huge. Before it required expensive adapters to make happen. Not so anymore.

- Picture styles work with video. SWEET. This means you can control contrast, sharpness, saturation, and hue in camera if needed. Comes with 3 custom settings as well.

- Ill be testing for ISO and Black Dots issue later this week.

Overall, I am very impressed and very excited with the video capabilities of the 5D Mark 2.

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