Canon 5D MkII – The early days

I was an early adopter in 2008 of the Canon 5d MkII  because I wanted to be part of history.

Photo by J.P Richards

Not long ago, the Canon 5D MkII was the only large sensor camera available that shot cinema looking depth of field footage. But the problem shooting with 5ds was all of the workarounds as the camera was designed as a still camera, not a video camera; that said it did turn out beautiful video images.

To make the camera more ‘video friendly’ we had to purchase various pieces of paraphernalia to “pimp” it up;  let me explain. First of all the 5D2 had to be mounted in a cinema cage to attach accessories. I chose what I believe to be the best a cage made my Easom Optics. Focusing a DSLR manually is a real pain, so a follow focus was added.

To make sure I had perfect focus, and optical 2.5 magnifier had to be added to the cameras LCD screen. In those days Zacuto was the only serious contender, so I went with them. To control the shallow depth of field, I had to add a matte box with ND filters to reduce the light entering the lens.

Finally, I had to use a Tascam DR-100 audio recorder to record and monitor sound as the 5D2 audio pre-amps are so noisy. You had to admit, it did look pretty cool in it’s accessory cage.

Canon 5D Mk2


Unfortunately, I still had to put up with other 5D2 issues:

  1. Very bad rolling shutter – picture skews on fast pans.
  2. Maximum record time of 12 minutes
  3. Compression artifacts
  4. Moiré patterns
  5. Audio pre-amps that caused loads of hiss
  6. No audio monitoring.

But even with the all of those 5D workarounds, it all seemed worth it just to get those wonderful images. I have to say that I was committed to the 5D2 since day one. Canon changed the evolution of large sensor video camera development, but lets face it, they never knew at that time what they were about to release on the world. I believe the Canon’s 5D is responsible for Sony and Blackmagic taking up large sensor camera designs; thanks Canon.

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