Mark Forman on the Canon EOS 5D Mark II



Mark Forman writes: 

As one of the first owners of the new Canon EOS 5D Mark II (the 21 megapixel SLR with H.264 1080P 60 capability) I can report that this camera is groundbreaking. I have shot a number of tests and did pickup shots for a Hollywood feature only three days after receiving it on December 1.

As most people know, this is Canon’s first iteration at integrating video capabilities into a Digital Single Lens Reflex camera. I like the autofocus which can be temporarily enabled before shooting by pressing the AF-on button in the one shot mode. This function quickly flips up the mirror when you hold the button down and pre-focusses an autofocus lens. (There is also a continuous contrast detect autofocus function which is very slow and not so good for motion.) You can use fully manual lenses such as those from ZEISS. 

For shooting in low light this device excels. I think it’s 1.5 to 2 stops better in low light than any other camera. You can shoot at night and get decent results with minimal light. No…you still must light the scene. You just need maybe a stop or two less than before. In one of my tests, I shot a night scene at 8th Ave and 16th Street in Chelsea. The shot can be seen (be sure to select resolution from web to Full HD in the Size Menu on top) at:

Two days into ownership I was using the 5D Mark II on a feature in Brooklyn with an actor entering an apartment building. I was shooting instead of testing! I did the shot using only practical street lights and a small Rosco LightPads LED in an entryway. A couple of hours later the Editor and I transferred the takes from the Camera’s CF card to my Mac and the transferred it again to a DVD-ROM for the project. On my 30 inch Cinema Display the ungraded shots are quite good–we will screen the shots on a big screen this week. There are some things this camera cannot do. 24P is not enabled and you can’t control the iris or ASA easily.

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