Oh 5D, why do I love you so?
Oh 5D, why do I love you so? You are not a video camera and you have terrible audio… But damn baby, your pictures look good.
This may be a little late in the game to be swooning over the Canon 5D Mark II; but after the hype, after the buzz, we here at Studio B, finally bought one of these things last fall. Now, after a few months of shooting both stills and video with it, we have a lot of love and praise and just a few small criticisms.
Just pulling this thing out of the box and playing with it, we immediately saw what great images it can create. We also realized at a fraction of the cost of other cameras, this camera produces similar picture quality. The images, even with a stock zoom lens, are sharp, crisp and have a beautiful depth of field. This is the strongest “case” for these cameras. The shallow focus and the resolution are striking. They give the 35mm adapters a run for their money. In it’s compact, lightweight shell, this camera, effectively produces the same images as an EX1 with a Letus adapter. Of course you are not getting the audio, the gamma options and the clean workflow, but as in every camera, despite it’s functionality, the important part is the image. It’s all about getting the best quality picture for the best value and that is what the Canon 5D offers. At the end of the day, the images are stunning.
There are some basic criticisms I have about these cameras. However, if your budget is small, but the quality needs to be high, these are reasonable issues to work around.
My main issue with the 5D is the audio set up; there is only a single mini input and the metering is always on auto. Indeed, you can plug in a mic or a mixer, but every adjustment your sound guy makes, is moot, as the camera will override it. This makes recording to a stand-alone unit almost a necessity. And with that, you get into sync issues and slating issues. However, you can nonetheless get decent sound or at least a scratch track onto your memory card, so all is not lost.
The other big issue for me is the interface of this camera. Since it is a still camera, it speaks to you in ‘still photography’ terms. It is this basic language and menu structure that I don’t like. If you are coming to this camera as a veteran of video, you will be confused about where and how to change things. Where as you normally pick up a new camera and know exactly how to operate it within a couple minutes of playing around, the 5D will have you scratching your head and reading the manual. The menus are basic and the physical button pushing is slightly annoying. Again, this is a small price to pay for such high quality images.
If you couple this camera with a small jib or some kind of shoulder rig, your production quality sky rockets. You can get such high quality dynamic shots from this camera on a Zacuto rig or a dolly move, always maintaining that much desired shallow focus.
We offer the Port-a-Jib traveler here at Studio B and I have seen clients come back with shots from the 5D on the jib that look like a million bucks. The compact size and light weight design of this camera can get you into corners and tight spots, or do narrow pushes and tracking shots that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to physically achieve. You cannot argue that the 5D gives you incredible range and versatility; the possibilities are endless.
If you haven’t gotten to play around with one of these 5D’s yet, you should come down to Studio B and check it out. We can talk all about it; the functions, the pitfalls, the bright side and the work flow. If you couple this camera with some of our other small budget choices, like the port a jib traveler you can raise your production value easily. Or throw this on a Zacuto hand held rig and get some rock solid hand held shots that will make people think you had a steady cam and double the money.
I still am a bit skeptical of HDSLR’s in general, as they are NOT video cameras, with all the ins and outs and buttons and menu options. But these things will change over time and our two worlds of video and photography will continue to merge their technology. And soon enough these cameras will be neck and neck with traditional video cameras much in the same way digital photography has all but phased out 35mm film. All I can say is, they have some perfect applications right now, and if they fix the interface and the audio, these things will be unstoppable.