Cinematography : Starting camera canon 5d mark II a good choice ? by Raymond Kenny

Raymond Kenny

Starting camera canon 5d mark II a good choice ?

I'm looking to buy myself a camera looking for some advise

David Trotti

If you're buying a Canon 5D, get the mark iii. It's got a lot more bang for the buck. Especially in low light. We're talking 25,600 ISO as opposed to 6,400 ISO on the mark ii. When you're shooting with a small package or available light, that's awesome. The mark iii's been improved with HDR, High Dynamic Range. At 1920x1080 you have 30fps, 25 and 24. At 1280x720 you can do 50fps and 60ps. Although you should be recording synch sound on a better piece of equipment, if you do record on the camera, the mark iii records in stereo, has an earphone jack for monitoring and you can have the audio monitor on the screen. I've found the Canon lenses very satisfactory. But unless you're locked on a tripod, don't bother with a long lens. The small body size of a DSLR amplifies handheld movement in a bad way. Wider lenses will hide a lot of sins. The biggest drawback of all DSLR's is they're not designed to be movie cameras, so follow focus is a big issue. There are third party vendors who make some really good follow focus rigs, but you're still going to want a good 1st AC pulling focus. Don't use Auto Focus. Really. Don't. You're better off doing your own hand-pull on the ring than watching the autofocus snap in and out all over the place on its own. Get a monitor that plugs into the camera so you can watch while the operator shoots. The little screen on the back and the viewfinder are not good measures of whether your shot was in focus. Most issues you will have will be with focus. Be aware you will need to buy the high speed SDXC memory cards that run around 80 bucks for 64GB. The 17.99 ones don't have the high speed data transfer rate you need for full 1920x1080 video. You'll want several. Best of luck. It's a good camera.

Bryan Yeater

DSLRs do not allow you to see the image you're shooting except on the back screen, which is nearly useless. So you'll need a monitor for it. Get a mirrorless camera if you like the DSLR form factor. Two great choices are the Panasonic GH4 and the Sony A7S. Consider getting a Metabones Speedbooster if you get the GH4. In either case, you'll want to get lenses that are either compatible with the Canon EF mount, or the Nikkor mount. Start checking out Vimeo videos by searching on the keywords GH4 or A7S.

Sharon Yusop

Oh gosh. I just had a similar conversation with one of my camera guys, literally a few mins ago. He also suggested getting either the Panasonic GH4 or the Sony. Do the general lense adapters work on any DSLRS or do I need to get a specific adapter if, say, I decided to go with the Panasonic?

Bryan Yeater

Hi Sharon. You need to get an adapter specifically designed for the type of lens mount on the camera you buy which then matches the type of lenses you want to put on the camera. For example, if you want to put Canon EF lenses on a Panasonic GH4, you would get a Canon EF to Micro Four Thirds adapter. Micro Four Thirds is the type of lens mount on the Panasonic GH4. But there's more to it than that. More options, so to speak. One great thing which make the mirrorless cameras, such as the Sony A7S and the Panasonic GH4 so desirable, regarding their lens mount options is the fact that they are mirrorless. Because there is no mirror, the lens mount is closer to the sensor. Since any DSLR with a mirror requires the lens mount to be further from the sensor than in the mirrorless cameras, the mirrorless cameras beat the DSLRs because there's always room to put an adapter on which allows us to put on all kinds of lenses from different manufacturers. Such is definitely not the case in the reverse. In other words, you really have very few options to put an adapter on a DSLR such as a Canon or Nikon DSLR, because the lens mount is already too far away from the sensor. That's a big plus for the GH4 and the A7S. The second great thing about the mirrorless cameras which beats the DSLRs is that since there is no mirror which needs to flip up when shooting video, the cameras can have an EVF viewfinder. That means we can put our eye up to the viewfinder and see the image we're shooting. If you get a Canon DSLR, you can only use the back screen, which is totally useless outdoors in bright light. There's a caveat with the GH4. You can consider it a plus or minus, depending on how you look at it. It's actually kind of a plus. Read on! Since the sensor is smaller than S35 (or APS), it can't produce as shallow depth of field as an S35 sized sensor. An S35 sized sensor exactly duplicates 35mm film running vertically through a film camera. There's a solution though! Get a Speedbooster, made by Metabones. A Speedbooster concentrates all the light from a fullframe lens onto the sensor of the GH4, actually giving the lens more light gathering power (a win!), but also exactly duplicates the effect of using an S35 sensor, which gives you the same depth of field options of cameras such as the Arri Alexa, motion picture cameras, etc. A straight adapter won't do that for you. The straight adapter has no glass, and only allows you to use other lenses. The Speedbooster has glass elements, and operates as both an adapter and as a device which has the effect of changing your sensor size. There are other wonderful things about the GH4 and the A7S. They have built in zebras and focus peaking! They both send out a 4K signal. The GH4 will record 4k internally. The A7S requires an external recorder to record 4K. Another thing where these cameras kill the Canon or Nikon DSLRs is they do not do line skipping. Every pixel on the sensor contributes to the final digital image, so you don't get moire or aliasing. I have the Sony A7S. The XAVC S codec on the Sony A7S is really good. It's much better than the .H264 codec on the Canons. And the dynamic range on the Sony A7S is astounding when shooting in SLog 2. In general, you want to overexpose it a little, as it handles highlights very well. The key is to generally expose for skin tones. The other incredible thing about the A7S is its low light gathering power. People really are shooting by moonlight and the light of a lit match with it. It's really rather incredible! Neumann Films put up this clip showing the A7S low light capability when recording to 4K using the Atomos Shogun. Many of the shots of the girl were done using only moon light and a bounce, or moon light and a lit cigar! See the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lDktgWkAHDw

Sheena Rossiter

If you are looking to get into filming, and not looking at paying too much more than what a 5D costs, I'd highly advise paying a little bit more and getting a Canon C100 instead. The image is much better, and it has XLR outputs for sound. You can use the same lenses you use on a DSLR, but, Bryan is right, you do need to get a monitor.

Raymond Kenny

Thanks guys some brilliant feedback will take all the advice into consideration. Thanks again

Sharon Yusop

Hey Bryan. Thanks for the breakdown. Really helps a lot. I'm still window shopping but the info you have definitely helps. Thanks much.

Bryan Yeater

You're welcome, Sharon! If you have more questions, let me know.

Bulent Ozdemir

I'd recommend a Panasonic GH2. Still by far the best camera in it's league and then some. Put's a lot of the more "expensive" camera's to shame. Once you get into hacking, well, that's a whole different ball game.

Bryan Yeater

Bulent, yes the GH2 is an excellent choice, typically beating most Canon DSLR cameras in image quality for video. It's also very affordable. To get it into that s35 sensor size realm, it would be recommended to pair it with a Metabones Speed Booster. It all depends on your price range.

Tony Glaser

I'd highly recommend getting the GH4. I've used it a few times and it's definitely worth the money. Variable Frame Rate and 4K is very nice for someone who is just starting off to have. I started with a 5D mk II and to make a good film with it, you really have to know the ins and outs so you don't get shutter lines and bad grain. But the GH4 seemed to work good in all the conditions the 5D couldn't.

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