Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Taste of the Canon 5D Mark II's Mindblowing Full HD Video [Canon 5D Mark II]


Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Vincent Laforet was one of the first people to get his hands on the most coveted camera on the planet, Canon's 5D Mark II. He talked to us a bit about the breakneck stills-and-video shoot he put together in just a few hours to see what this camera can really do. You can catch a glimpse of the incredible results here and why Laforet says that it's the "best camera ever" that will "redefine the industry." Yes, what you're looking at are screencaps of the video from his site.

ALL IMAGES©Vincent Laforet
It's not the camera's still photography performance that Laforet says is a game-changer, as duly impressive as it is—he says it matches what your "natural eye in can see the worst light" which is "a big deal." It's the video, which he says—only half-jokingly—makes him "never want to shoot another still photo."

You're only getting a diluted taste of it here. Laforet noted that this DSLR obliterates the video quality of Canon's dedicated HD XH-A1, especially in low-light. Laforet says that for the first time ever, using a DSLR or any other camera was "not a struggle at all," even "at night, outside, in a city" which can be the among the most challenging lighting situations of all. (Compare these stillframes screencapped from his site to Nikon's first D700 shots here.)

It's the cost that makes it a revolution, and a boon for indie filmmakers. With $25,000 worth of SLR lenses, Laforet and his small crew were able to perform comparably to what would take at least several hundred thousand dollars worth of motion picture camera lenses (and some of those you can't even buy). He even said some of the most expensive ones were unnecessary. Here's a rundown of the lens they used (with rough price estimates):

• 7.5mm lens (custom)
• 15mm fisheye ($650)
• 16-35mm f/2.8 ($1600)
• 50mm f/1.2 ($1100)
• 85mm f/1.2 ($2000)
• 135mm f/2 ($1000)
• 200mm f/1.8 ($4500)
• 400mm f/2.8 ($7000)
• 500mm f/4 ($7000)

That and a $2700 DSLR body. A testament to its ease of use is that Laforet is a photographer; he has no professional film experience and had never used the 5D Mark II before, yet was able to storyboard, cast, shoot and edit the clip in just two days, with less than 12 hours notice. In particular he noted that dumping the MPEG-4 video takes way less time than it would with an actual HD camera. The only issue that would stop a person from shooting a TV pilot solely with this camera is sound matching, he says. If that's covered, you're gold.

The video he shot, "Reverie" will be available soon, though not soon enough. [Vincent Laforet - Thanks so much, Vincent!]

Update: Here's a leaked YouTube version of the video, which does not do it the justice it deserves, but still looks good: