Canon EOS 5D mark II as a video camera! :D

Alright, it looks like I’m more or less in panic mode here but that’s true. ;) I made so many edits, took scenes away and this and that – and after each time I processed the movie and was ready to upload – there was something that I wasn’t satisfied with. I have five different versions of the same movie with four different “pre talks” and finally I settled for this one. It has the worst beginning but hey, it’s me. :D – still it’s a bit long. It’s also supposed to be fun for my sister and her family to watch. :)

Download the original output from Final Cut – 1280×720
– less compressed than youtube version and more smooth in playback.

So how do I like the 5D Mark II compared to what I’m used too? Well, first of all – it’s a great tool! It’s easy to work with even if I’m missing some buttons – as a movie camera it’s great! After a day or two you feel that you have it all under more or less control and you can start to relax. It’s such a nice feeling to be able to go up to ISO6400 (or even higher) and still feel OK – and in really bad light too!

But, as a still camera even in good light I don’t like the output as much. I can’t get “that” from it – and I’m not that impressed with the 21mp resolution. Strange feeling zooming in to these large files and feel like like there should be more. Never feel perfectly satisfied. Oh well. The burden we three layer lovers have to bare.

But when light is bad, and ISO goes up then it leaves my Sigmas in the dust – you can take brilliant shots in ISO3200 (didn’t try much higher, only with video) and I always felt secure without extra light or the need of a flash. So would I like to own one myself? For sure! I can easily imagine myself doing weddings filming and taking pictures at the same time. At least try. :) Especially inside church where I today feel a bit bound by Sigmas bad light performance. But why is Canons shutter so loud?? aaaaa

About Carl Rytterfalk

Welcome to my blog! I'm Carl Rytterfalk, a swedish photographer who loves everything that is interesting in the world of photography. In 2002 I fell in love with the three layered Foveon sensor and has since then been an addicted user of Sigma cameras. Though I use Canon and Nikon as well. :)
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31 Responses to Canon EOS 5D mark II as a video camera! :D

  1. Bob van Ooik says:

    SD14 is by far the most quiet dslr! you should hear the d700…

  2. phototristan says:

    It would be interesting to see some videos with one of the Sigma EOS lenses on the 5D MKII.

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  4. Boothrp says:

    Hei Carl, the 2 most significant drawbacks I see with using the 5dII as a video camera are – 1. The autofocus does not adjust quickly enough & is a distraction from the otherwise great quality. 2. The storage needs of the camera to produce anything but short clips is too great.
    In 90% of my pictures, I find that shallow depth of field is the enemy rather than the friend. On a full frame sensor in low light, the wide apertures used multiply the problem when shifting around in a video scene.
    I have an old Olympus C770UZ which gives me 1 hour of good quality 640X480 MPEG4 footage on a 1GB card ! In combination with an external stereo mic, (which allows zooming while filming) it’s good enough for concerts. Changing the card more often than that is too disruptive.
    I’m sure you put enough thought into your still photography, it must be difficult to ensure that the same quality is maintained when shooting video.
    Best wishes to you and Linn.

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  6. Benj says:

    I was thinking of buying one since my friend wanted me to go into wedding photography with him. I’d probably still use my sd14 (hopefully soon a sd15!) for outdoors/daylight stuff but use the 5dmk2 for indoor/low-light work, as well as some video work (we figure we can offer an extra video package between the two of us). I’m also tempted by the Nikon D700 which is supposed to have great high ISO performance (but no video). I never thought video would be a factor in buying a SLR…

  7. Matthias says:

    Hi Carl,

    Please try Lightroom 3 Beta for high iso stills with the 5D2. It’s much better tham LR 2.

    I switched from SD14 to 5D2 because of the 21MP. Think this way: If you scale down 21MP to Foveon resolution you will have at least the same quality and color information. And don’t forget to add some sharpening…

    Viewing 21MP at 100% is unfair :)

    Greetings from Germany.

  8. Matthias, I’ll do that! Thanks for the tip. And, well, I’ve seen some really nice images taken with the 5D m2 but I’m pretty sure you need to post process hard to get anything similar to what I get more or less from raw.

    But lets not forget that getting the image is equally or perhaps even more important and the versatility that the Canon 5D mark II gives is just way beyond what Sigma has to offer today. Buffer, AF, movie mode, high ISO, FF etc. The Canon does make sense. :)

    I’m so much hoping for some future magic from Sigma. And working with the 5D was a pleasant experience.

  9. Matthias says:

    BTW: The first song sounds like Anna Ternheim. I love the Album “Somebody Outside” but don’t know that title.

    I hope my guess is correct :)

    And another tip from me, the amateur: I set the “Profile” in LR to “Camera Neutral”. I really don’t like the default, “Adobe Standard”.

  10. Songs in video are all by Fläskkvartetten (Flesh Quartet) and the first song is “Seventh day” with Freddie Wadling – second is “Leave a light” with Anna Ternheim and third is “always something there to remind me” with Freddie Wadling. All from the record “Voices of Eden“.

    So I guess you’re right because I don’t think you really though the first manly voice belonged to Anna, did you?! :)

    All links goes to Spotify. (which I hope you have installed!) :)

  11. Matthias says:

    It’s the second song, of course. I started to listen to the music only when I recognized a familiar voice :) Have a good night.

  12. Martin Koch says:

    I don’t care about 21 Megapixel and shoot with the “S”setting. Why? Because this makes sense to me: (Look for the caption “Resolution” near the bottom of that page. He even mentions the Foveon sensor.)
    I’m curious if you agree with this guy.

    • I saw your comment an while back and I went to Ken’s site – Ken says it’s a waste of time and space using the full 21MP resolution and promotes using a 11MP “S” JPEG mode. Why shoot JPEG when you’re dealing with a pro-camera? It’s not a G10.. But I do understand that resize a bayern 21MP image to 11MP or even 5MP would give a much sharper looking image. I was about to stop here when I wanted to know if perhaps the Canon could do 11MP in RAW – After a trip to dperview it says the canon can do something called sRAW1 10MP and sRAW2 5.2MP – didn’t use it but the sRGB1 (10MP) would probably be very useful.

      So, I went back to Ken Rockwells site so see why he didn’t mention the RAW mode which in my eyes is much better alternative. He did comment about it, or make fun about it. Strange guy I must say.

      Ken wrote: “You’d have to be a real idiot to care about smaller pixel size raw files. These give you lower resolution with larger file sizes than JPG!”

      He has no idea what a RAW image is all about? Martin, the RAW is bigger because it contains much much more information. If you really care about the result and want smaller file size I suggest you use one of those extra RAW modes. I would.

  13. Matthias says:

    I disagree completely on this point. If disk space and processing speed are no concern, always keep the full information (full RAW) during post process, and scale down the resolution at the end of the workflow (also apply sharpening only here). Only in case you shoot JPG (so no post processing) S or M modes make sense. I could discuss this in detail but I don’t want to flood Carl’s blog with bayer demosaicing issues :)

    • Hi Matthias, you’re welcome adding all you want about bayern demosaicing.. I know there is lots of folks out there interested about it. As long as it’s not bashing. :)

      And to your reply, I agree. Using the full RAW image and later do what you need to do is also the way I would do it BUT now knowing that there is a sRAW1 and 2 mode I would probably at times use them as well.

  14. Here is a video made by my friend I went to high school with… He is now a NYC filmmaker and he shot this on his Canon 7D with EF 24-70.

    Pretty nice quality for the odd lighting

  15. Matthias says:

    Ok, here we go:

    If you care about the result then shooting JPG is nonsense. Here is a long but really good article that explains it all (and is valid for Foveon sensors as well):

    Using JPG is useless if you want to post process. With JPG you throw away much of the information that the sensor was able to capture. This information is lost forever.

    About SRAW: The quality of SRAW is really good and if you want to save space you can use it, but even then I would only use the M(edium) size and not the S just to have better cropping options. Size S really kills resolution that was available (depending on lens quality, shake and focus).

    Again, if space doesn’t matter, use full RAW at least for those images that you will KEEP in your archive. As you may know, RAW converters are evolving, there are even several products from different vendors that all produce different results. A good example is Lightroom 3, which will have a complete new (bayer) algorithm inside that will improve heavily in detail and noise handling. The problem with SRAW is: it is not RAW anymore. If you shoot SRAW you hand over the demosaicing responsibility to the Camera’s firmware (=software). So this part of the development process can no longer be influenced in post processing. If you think that Canon’s (in case of the 5D2) implementation of the bayer demosaicing algorithm is the best you can find, this would not be a problem. But if there will be RAW converters available in the future that do a better job with the demosaicing, you cannot re-develop your SRAWs to take advantage of this.

    Finally, I want to add that we are talking about only small differences in final image quality if we compare SRAW (M) to RAW. So go use it if space or speed matter. Beside that there is no other argument against using full RAW.

    Disclaimer: I’m a hobbyist photographer (and software developer btw.), so if you are a pro just don’t listen to me :)

  16. Martin Koch says:

    Thanks for the replies Carl and Matthias. Mr. Rockwell is extreme as far as I can tell a lot of people hate him. I understood him in such a way that the 21 Megapixels are not a true resolution since at least three pixels (RGB) have to form one “real” photo pixel. There’s much interpolation going on and while it sure is RAW there’s some poetry in it so to speak :-). I found it interesting that he mentioned there’s one R, one G and one B pixel per photo pixel in the downconverted smaller size. Maybe it’s not correct I’m no Bayer sensor expert. But I liked the thought :-)

    Anyway you’re both correct when I shoot JPEG I basically let Canon decide how my photo looks. Thanks to you I already switched to MRAW.
    It sure means more work but it’s worth it.

  17. Thanks Matthias, that good to know that the sRAW is a semi-quality RAW. :) But as far as white balance and exposure goes I think you’re on the safe side compared to jpeg.

    Thanks for your lengthy reply, helps both me and Martin it seams.

  18. And Chris, thanks for showing your friends video.

  19. Philippe says:

    Image quality out of the 5D MKII really depends on the raw developer you are using … in my experience all of adobe’s (ACR, Lightroom) produce really mediocre results, the images just flat and artificial and the pixel aspect is just ugly.

    However if you are using Capture One you get incredible image quality, incredible sharpness and images seem nicely modeled and very 3D. I work in Paris in the field of fashion (altough not as a photographer) but Capture One is definitely the application most Fashion / Beauty photographers prefer. It just makes images pop off the page and renders skin textures to the finest detail. You should definitely give it a go.

    Another favourite of mine is Raw Developer … it makes images softer and dreamier and gives them a nice ‘film-like’ quality . I use both applications depending on the result I want.

  20. Hi Philippe! Ah, Raw Developer you say. Why didn’t I think about trying that one out? I was very satisfied with how it handled those Nikon D300 / D700 files. How about Silkypix? Well, Capture one I will have to download and try too.

    Now, the Canon isn’t mine but for other readers this info is great. And I do lend Nikanons from time to time for jobs and I haven’t been satisfied with how Adobe is handling those raws..

  21. Philippe says:

    Had a short peek into Silkypix and the results are great. However Capure One to me delivers at least the same Image Quality and detail plus it is the raw developer for Bayern-files which to me makes images look the most 3D and ‘lifelike’ out of all I tried (Raw developer, DXO, Aperture, Lightroom, ACR). If you still have some of the Canon RAW files you should definitely give it a spin.

    The only thing Capture One handles weirdly is the noise filters (Color & Luminance) where it tends to go a bit strongly on the pixels with artifacts showing up sometimes, so these settings need to be adjusted manually, I usually turn down the luminance noise filter and all is fine.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Canon 5D is awesome for video

    7D too

    Does require some thinking to get good footage.

  23. Ulf says:

    I don’t think you should take Ken Rockwell so serious Carl. He makes things up. Have you read his about page ( and turned on your BS detector…

  24. Benji says:

    Thanks for good details.

  25. Marc says:


    I understand that this website is dedicated to Sigma and Foveon Lovers, however reading the ‘burden we three-layer lovers have to bear’ does make me smirk.

    I do own a Sigma DP1 (in part due to this website ; ) and a Canon EOS 5D MKII … true, maybe the Sigma’s raw output sometimes features saturated colors, and sometimes some nice richness in detail … but in my opinion and taking into consideration some decent postproduction there’s absolutely nothing to it that the 5D wouldn’t be capable of if used with professional grade optics and a decent raw developer.

    Trust me, I worked with Imacon, and later on Hasselblad backs and these files, coming from high-end, professional backs also look disappointingly flat and ‘boring’ when first opened in a raw developer, this is because they are recorded in a ‘neutral’ mode … you can take the colors and saturation any way you want afterwards through the settings.

    Then … on the downside the DP1 (as well as the DP2, DP14) is painstakingly slow and VERY unreliable (without getting into the sub-par resolution) the way highlights and reds are handled is just wrong … it really speaks for your talent as a photographer that you manage to crank some decent looking shots out of it.

    The funny thing is that your website makes people believe that the Sigma cameras (and let’s not forget that Sigma is a producer of semi-professional budget lenses) are the ‘highest end’ choice of true image aficionados … I think this is a gross misrepresentation .

    Maybe some people love Sigmas’s cameras in the way that people love Polaroid films or Lomo cameras, maybe the files produced by these cameras do have a certain touch to them, but in any case and speaking on a pro-level these are negligible details that fall veey, very short of compensating for the massive downsides of these lines of cameras.

    Kind regards,

  26. Time Article says:

    Nice Article,thanks for sharing.

  27. Nice shot,thanks for share.

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  29. Jacki says:

    I bow down humbly in the presence of such gtrenaess.

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