Thursday, December 17, 2009

Canon 5D Mark II Video Review

When the Canon EOS 5D Mark II hit the market, having HD video in a digital SLR created a lot of buzz. It created enough buzz for me to buy one and try to use the camera's video mode during weddings that we were shooting to create "fusion" videos for our clients. Using the video feature in weddings has been an uphill climb, and whether it ends up being a regular part of our packages is still up in the air.

The first major issue that was an obvious obstacle was the shakiness of the video when I was hand-holding the camera. I used a couple of different lenses, and all the lenses showed significant shakiness when hand-holding. When I was physically moving, there was even more shaking. It was definitely not good enough to show clients as a finished product and expect them to purchase the videos. I looked at quite a few different solutions for steadying the video, but most of them wouldn't work as well in my scenario because I was shooting candids and video at weddings. I ended up getting a SteadyTracker Video Stabilizing System to stabilize my video. This helped enough to show the video to clients. The SteadyTracker didn't have the silky smooth video like a Steadicam, but I felt that switching between photo and video would be a lot easier if I went with the SteadyTracker.

I also found that I was quickly eating up space on my 8 GB Compact Flash . Shooting video clips throughout the day for an entire wedding was impossible in HD mode. Even when taking the video down from HD, I found that 8 GB was pushing the limits, and I was taking video conservatively by the time I got to the reception for fear of running out of space. Upgrading to a 32 GB Compact Flash gave me enough memory for a wedding provided that I still didn't shoot video in HD. Plus shooting in HD would eat up my hard drive space much quicker and would take longer to process when I was putting videos together.

One of the things that came up frequently when we were showing our wedding video highlights was that the brides wanted to hear audio from the vows and at the reception. The onboard audio for the Mark II is definitely not ideal. Even if the audio was better, I'd still need a way to record the vows from a source that was closer than my camera. I ended up getting by using a Digital Voice Recorder because the quality was good enough for using in the video, and the price was a lower than a wireless mic.

Earlier on, I had a problem with manual controls of my shutter, ISO, and aperture in video mode. I was even considering using Nikon lenses to control the aperture. It's a good thing that problem was fixed whenever Canon released the firmware update because I think Canon was about to start losing lens sales to Nikon for people using the 5D.

After all the "upgrades" to get video working for weddings using the 5D Mark II, I'd say that it's to the point where I can get decent video and also manage to get the candid's that I need. The setup still isn't ideal, but I can make it work. I'll be watching for better stabilization systems that are versatle enough to switch between photo and video. I may eventually also pick up a wireless mic. It all depends on how much demand there is in the future for the fusion videos we're putting together.

The bottom line for the Canon 5D Mark II video is that it CAN produce professional quality video with the right equipment and in the right hands. BUT doing both photo and video at the same time is still too tough to make it a 5 star deal for me.

1 comment:

  1. Don't forget that in windy conditions, the SteadyTracker excels as it has a reduced tendency to twist or sway in the wind. And in comparison to prices, those on are a lot more affordable then most camera stabilizers out there today.