WOW. I am so excited I can’t sleep. Just purchased a Canon 5D Mk II for video production. After a lot of research and testing out several cameras, I have come to realize this camera is a true game changer in the world of video.
I have always used Nikon products and have been extremely pleased with them. I know a lot of photographers that use Canon and a lot who also use Nikon like me. In still photography both camera makers offer excellent product lines, with one maybe leapfrogging the other on various features from time to time.
I have shot video on and off for about 5 years, trying to learn all the intracacies of shooting good video. I have a well worn Sony PD-170 that is an excellent video camera, but it has a lot of limitations, two of which it is not HD video and it has a fixed lens. It also shoots to tape, which I abhor. But it did work well and was a great learning tool, especially on how to work with video editing and most importantly, how to deal with audio.
But my PD-170 broke for the second time about a year ago. I hated to spend new money to repair old, really obsolete technology. The cameras that I wanted costs in the tens of thousands of dollars, but still weren’t perfect for what I do. To get a good HD camera that used interchangable lenses, you had to spend close to $100,000 and since I didn’t have the revenue stream yet to justify that kind of cost, those cameras were out of the picture. I looked very closely at the Red ONE, which is an awesome video camera in it’s own right, but even though the camera was certainly more affordable than the $100K and up cameras, you would still need to spend close to $40K to get something fully functional. That was certainly a lot closer to being affordable for me, but it still was big, bulky and really overkill for what I needed. Since I do a LOT of motorcycle work, I really wanted a camera that I could somehow carry with me on my motorcycle yet shoot high quality video.
Since I was a Nikon guy I had not paid all that much attention to the Canon cameras when they came out with video. But then I started hearing and seeing on the Internet these incredible videos coming from the 5d. I was excited but kept waiting for Nikon to produce a comparable product. I have a HUGE investment in Nikon glass and wanted the ability to take advantage of this substantial investment. The Nikon D90 was interesting but not what I would consider professional level. The D300s was a bit more interesting but still with way too many limitations, not the least of which they did not do full 1080p HD video. When the D3s was introduced, I thougth “maybe this is it”. I absolutely love my D3 cameras and felt “finally”. But the D3s also had a lot of video limitations, most notably is they also did not do full 1080p HD video. There are other problems with video on the D3s that just made me hold off for a spell.
But as spring crept closer and the motorcycle riding season approached, I really wanted to find something to produce video with. I have a very busy April with a bunch of important assignments coming up, and while I am hired to shoot stills, I wanted to work into shooting video also. So yesterday I headed to my local pro camera dealer, Epperson Photo, to talk to my sales rep Carissa. She has helped me greatly over the years and really knows her stuff in regards to photography. Not so much on video however, but still she is great to work with and very knowledgeable.
I told Carissa I wanted to look and, touch and feel every small pro DSL they have that does video, both from Nikon and Canon. I was underwhelmed by the D300s. She didn’t have a D3s in stock. But she did let me handle and play with the Canon 7D and 5D Mk II. I shot some video, spent an hour playing with the menus and shooting stills, and just fell in love with the 5D. I left for lunch and read the Canon manual and did a bit more research. I couldn’t get my mind off the incredible capabilities of this camera, and it was $2,500 less than the D3s. Not to mention there is a huge base of aftermarket products being developed for this camera to shoot video. I was so excited I couldn’t wait for next week, I went back to Epperson and plopped down money for a new 5D Mk II and a 50mm F1.4 lens.
I brought the camera back to my office and started learning to use it. That is a big undertaking. I also started digging through the Internet trying to figure out how others have dealt with some of the limitations. I found a $10 lens adapter that allows me to affix many of my Nikon lenses to the Canon. Excellent. I figured out I am going to have to spend another $2,500 or so to make the camera fully functional as a video camera. It needs things like an external monitor, a better way to deal with audio, and some type of mounting and stabilization rig. I will also have to transcode the Canon video into something that is easier to edit, but I have that same problem with my current prosumer JVC video camera, so nothing new there. But I can fully equip the 5D to shoot pro level video and audio for the starting price of a Nikon D3s, AND I get 1080P video versus 720P video. And I get a much smaller camera that works better when on my motorcycle.
So you can see why I am SO excited about this new camera. I finally have a system that can shoot very high quality video using my existing lenses for an investment of around $6K. A comparible Sony system would be closer to $100K. As I said, the 5D Mk II is a game changer. I am looking forward to learning to use this new tool!