Anyone who shoots photos or video with any kind of serious interest likely had a mild breakdown a week ago, as Canon suddenly launched the newest in its line of high-end digital SLRs–the EOS-5D Mark II. It also received a reasonable amount of press on various design blogs, and there’s one reason above all: HD video. The camera is ridiculously powerful, with a 21-megapixel sensor and reportedly stunning low-light conditions (iso 25600, for the love of god). That same sensor, with all the same ISO options, lets you shoot actual HD for up to 30 minutes, using any lens you can attach to the camera.
This means your expensive fisheye, your heavy-but-amazing telephoto, hell, any lens you have is suddenly a high-end HD lens. The implications for that are stunning, as many have noticed; the top consumer dSLR is now, basically overnight, an incredibly versatile video camera not tied to any fixed set of optics. This means video productions previously unthinkable due to lighting constraints and lens prices are now within the reach of anyone with, say, $10,000. Needless to say, the hyperbole is flying on this one, and for good reason.
Most of said madness surrounds Reverie, the short film/ad made by Pulitzer-Prize winning photographer Vincent Laforet. A large-format quicktime version hit the web on Monday and promptly exploded. Laforet is an “Explorer of Light”, which means he’s “one of the photographers that works with Canon on making better cameras,” and after a quick visit to Canon’s offices, he managed to convince the company to lend him the newest, just-arrived model for the weekend in order to see what he could do with it.
The potential was there for making a short film that would be hosted on the Canon website, but nothing was guaranteed. Laforet had never shot a film before, ever, and had less than 12 hours of preproduction. When you see the results–sans filming or location permits, on a budget of $5000 that included a 2-grand helicopter ride–it starts to dawn on you that this really is a watershed in digital imaging, exaggeration aside. There’s a youtube version below, but the full quicktime HD edition is far better.
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Laforet explains exactly why the camera is going to change the industry:
The 5D MKII camera produces the best stills in low light that I’ve ever seen – what you can see with you eye in the worst light (such as sodium-vapor street lights at 3 a.m. in Brooklyn) – this camera can capture it with ease.
It was shot with 100% still photography equipment (lenses, grip/mounts, and a single Profoto 7b battery strobe pack (the strobe wasn’t used – just the modeling light))- with the exception of an expensive video tripod and head, and an LED light…
This camera is the ultimate “equalizer” – you no longer need half-million dollar’s worth of high definition video cameras and lenses delivered by a truck with its own driver to shoot a high definition film in low light – you just need a $2,700 camera and a few lenses
This is a leap of change that is sped up – it’s happening overnight.
A few other photographers got their hands on some pre-production models, including incredible Vancouver wedding photographers Bebb Studios, who posted several samples and a video review. Bebb’s Jennifer strikes the same note:
In my personal opinion, this camera changes everything.
Not to mention that the camera shoots directly in quicktime, which is instantly usable in Final Cut Pro, according to Laforet:
It produces Apple’s Quicktime .mov files btw – simply copy them off of your CF Cards – double click on them – and they open up in the Quicktime player w/o a single hiccup at 1080p… Drop them into Final cut pro and start your edit… no rendering is necessary. Oh – and realize that it took us less than 20 minutes to copy over more than 12 hours of footage off of the CF cards…
Canon’s suggested retail price (for the body alone) is $2,699.00. It ships in November, which means this year, thousands of Christmas-morning, present-opening videos will suddenly look far too professional.