Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Shooting with the 5D

On a daily basis, we are asked, “Can you shoot on a 5D?” Well, sure! But like any camera, it’s only as good as the hands that it’s in, or the eye that it’s in front of. However it should be noted that speaking about a camera around photographers is much like discussing your favorite politician at a dinner party. (To be safe, I always go with Lincoln… Both for accomplishments and best use of facial hair and hats.)

So, without getting into a great debate, our directors Ken Arlidge, Austin Smithard and Indrani use the 5D quite a lot in their work. 

Ken Arlidge

Austin Smithard


They have “run and gun styles” that are greatly aided by the 5D, and with their photography backgrounds, it was easy to make the transition. (Plus the they already had an arsenal of Canon prime lenses which always helps.)

To really let you get a feel of the work they have done with the 5D, here’s a reel with several examples of our favorite 5D work.

And if you want to know more (and why wouldn't you?), here’s an excerpt from an article Ken Arlidge wrote for Shoot magazine.

A remarkable tool has stepped into our film making arena. This is a paradigm shift that I believe is the onset of a change as dramatic as that of the transition from ‘silent movies to sound’ and from ‘black and white to color film’.

It is the melding of Consumer, Prosumer, and Professional technology and the miniaturization of the camera.

The Canon 5D Mark II digital SLR shoots HD 1920 x 1080 video. The camera weighs 5lbs. The difference in the physical rigging and moving of a 5 lb camera versus the typical 25-50 lb film and digital cameras needs little imagination. One high shot in the Coke spot was shot at the end of a 17 foot painter’s pole from Home Depot.

This technology allows us to travel light and minimize crew and unit sizes.

One 16GB card can hold 40 minutes of HD video. These cards are approximately 1 inch square!

The Canon 5D Mark II does use H264 compression on the HD files and the aliasing from this compression is problematic only with extreme over and underexposure.

The camera records mono through it’s built-in microphone but has a stereo input. I have built a sound kit that enables me to record boom and lavalier microphones directly into the camera wirelessly, cable free and in stereo.

Canon’s highest quality fast fixed and zoom lenses are available and the results are superb. Mounts are being designed to use existing film lenses but that is in part driven by the convenience, familiarity, and cost of using existing lenses, focus platforms, and accessories.

The latitude is no different in Telecine than with most other digital camera. It is imperative that, like the Red, Viper, and Phantom cameras you understand you have a smaller range than that of film. The beauty with these cameras is the grain free imagery you get in extremely low light situations.

It is critical to control the look for it to appear “filmic” and that requires a deep understanding of film and how to apply that experience to digital SLR shooting.
As a consumer camera you will of course see plenty of footage popping up shot on the Canon 5D that looks like “video”. It is when it is manipulated and controlled to look as film that we step into a Brave New and Exciting World.

Well, I couldn't have said it better. (No really, I couldn't.) But this is why I write blogs and point and clap at people to make thing happen. (The true sign of a great producer.) Really, it's better this way.


Tick, Ken Arlidge
Keep a Child Alive, Indrani
Lightbulb, Austin Smithard
Find Your Audience, Austin Smithard
Color of Nature, Austin Smithard
Pool, Austin Smithard
Bottles, Ken Arlidge
Battle of Waterloo, Austin Smithard

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