The Canon EOS 5D Mark II was arguably the camera that made video on DSLRs popular with enthusiast videographers and professionals. On the 5D Mark III Canon has further refined the video capabilities and we were curious what professional videographers thought about the camera's video mode. We have therefore asked Andrew Reid, the editor of EOSHD.com, for his opinion on the Canon EOS5D Mark III from a video perspective. This is what he had to say:
Canon EOS 5D Mark III Video - the videographer's opinion
by Andrew Reid of EOSHD.com
Canon has tweaked the video mode on the 5D Mark III. It is very small update. All the significant video improvements have been reserved for Canon's entry into the cinema and broadcast TV market with the Cinema EOS line. Video enthusiasts, small production studios and aspiring filmmakers may be underwhelmed with the improvements offered by the 5D Mark III at $3500.
|The South Bank in London shot on the 5D Mark III|
What I like about shooting video on the 5D Mark III
Like its predecessor, video on the 5D Mark III has excellent colour rendition and a shallow depth of field effect which is more pervasive on all kinds of shots due to the large sensor.
The full frame sensor look is superb for portraiture and close up shots of a cast. Actors and actresses can be completely isolated from the background. Rendition in video mode is rather soft on the 5D Mark III and no better than the 5D Mark II - but a softer look can be more flattering for close ups, relative to the sharper image that you'd typically get out of a camcorder. The new sensor delivers very good high ISO performance for shooting video in low light, although when noise does occur it isn't attractively fine in terms of grain like Super 35mm film.
The 5D Mark III's compact (by cinema camera standards) chassis is robust and the weather sealing makes it a useful option for shooting on location with the bare minimum of extra gear. Also if you are a video / photo journalist or doing a project which is predominantly stills based with an 'added extra' of video involved, the 5D Mark III is a great choice.
|Proud Beast - a landscape video shot in Derbyshire, UK, on the 5D Mark III|
What I Don't like about shooting video on the 5D Mark III
With a larger sensor comes more dynamic range and better performance in low light - unfortunately these attributes of the sensor are not fully utilized in video mode on the 5D Mark III. Dynamic range is far less than in a raw photo or even JPEG still. Noise does not have the attractive fine grain of film and an already very soft image gets softer still with a very blotchy noise grain at high ISOs. There's also some fizz in the image at low ISOs which is introduced by the encoder chip. Although the specification on the box says 1080p, with regards resolution the 5D Mark III is a huge let down and the $600 Panasonic GH2 offers a far more detailed 'true 1080p' image (whilst maintaining a relatively large sensor for video and interchangeable lens mount). The 1080p mode is not really full HD at all in terms of the real amount of detail in the image - more like 720p.
The new codec is a slight improvement on before - but if you need to do heavy colour work or lift exposure afterwards it does fall apart. Again it is not comparable in this regard to even an in-camera JPEG. The recording bitrate is close to 90Mbit in ALL-I mode and yet at just 24Mbit the Sony FS100's AVCHD format holds up significantly better in post production, for a list price of just $1500 more.
There's little else Canon have added for videographers - instead most of the progress Canon has made has been included on cameras costing in the region of $15,000 and aimed at Hollywood filmmakers. This leaves a large gap under that price and in the consumer interchangeable lens video market. The 5D Mark III is vulnerable since it is not a huge step from the 5D Mark II in terms of the overall image in video mode. Other cameras such as the $5000 Sony FS100, $800 Panasonic GH2 and $3000 Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera offer significantly more in the ways of features and image quality for low budget video production.
I'd also have liked to see the 600D's articulated screen make it to the 5D Mark III - because video is so often shot with a tripod where the camera is below eye-line, bending over to view the flat LCD on the back of the camera is very inconvenient for longer shoots, and shots which involve a low angle.
Since video is not shot with auto-focus on the 5D Mark III, it would also have been preferable to see better manual focus aids in live-view. There's no improvement in this regard over the 5D Mark II and the punch-in magnification still requires two button presses to exit rather than a simple brush of the shutter release.
ALL-I or IPB recording?
The 5D Mark III offers a choice of video compression mode - the space saving IPB mode and a high quality ALL-I format. These are quite obscure acronyms. In both the 'I' stands for 'Intra Frame'. ALL-I is a reference to the fact that every frame (for example 24 per second in 1080/24p mode) is stored.
In IPB mode, P and B frames are used to predict what frames look like in-between real frames. As fewer 'real' frames are stored, the resulting file sizes are much smaller.
However video recorded in IPB mode requires more computing power to edit, because of the construction of synthetic frames. To save yet more space on the card, Canon has also used a much lower bitrate for IPB mode than in ALL-I mode - this together with the motion prediction technique used, results in a more compressed looking image in IPB mode than in ALL-I mode and a lower overall quality.
The views and opinions expressed on this page are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions held by dpreview.com or any affiliated companies.
About Andrew Reid
|Andrew Reid is the editor of EOSHD.com, and you can see more of his work on the Canon EOS 5D Mark III here (link opens in a new window).|