Home > personal, video > First 1080p video from Canon's new 5D MkII – Amazing!

First 1080p video from Canon's new 5D MkII – Amazing!

November 30, 2008

My father and I got our 5D MkIIs on Friday and we could hardly wait for the batteries to charge. He took his to SF to test its vaunted low-light performance and posted this 60-second 1080p clip (along with other resolutions) on his SmugMug site: Click to watch it auto-sized for your monitor or check out the full 1080p resolution (caution – *high* bandwidth! UPDATE: Apologies if you tried to watch 1080p on Windows earlier. My bug made it look terrible. Try again, please?).

Here’s his story:

“I had seen Vincent Laforet’s amazing short film, but only in 720p. I knew what an amazing photographer he is and wondered how close an everyman like me could come to footage like that. Could the clips possibly hold up to viewing in 1080p?”

“So with only an hour’s practice shooting my dog licking peanut butter and the neighbor’s kids running in their yard, I left for the city to compare myself to a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer with his helicopter, pricey stabilizer, models, set lighting, and post-production experts. I had a few hours and a tripod. What we had in common was the 5D.”

“At first, shooting video on the 5D makes you feel stupid. You’re holding the camera out in front while you look at the LCD on the back and use completely different buttons. I was always wondering if it was in focus, especially at the wide apertures I thought you probably needed at night.”

“How dark was too dark? I’d point at things that seemed impossibly dark, like the fishing boats you saw lit with mostly a string of Christmas lights on the bow of one. But I couldn’t tell how noisy the clips were on the viewfinder, so I held my breath and set the camera at ISO 3200. Why? ‘Cus it was lower than ISO 6400…”

“I had just one sekret weapon, same as Vincent: a Canon 200mm f/2.0 lens, not exactly an everyman item. It made a difference and I used it for maybe half the shots, including the opening clip of the couple kissing at Grace Cathedral, the rotating jewelry in the shop window, the hotel entrances, and the TV reporter. The city skyline was shot with an f/4 lens and it’s noisy. I also used an 85mm f/1.2 for scenes like the cable car, and toys in shop windows.”

“Dog and kid shots look amazing too, but I have to be honest: I missed many shots of fast-moving kids that I would have gotten with my video camera. Maybe I just need figure out how to juggle zooming, focus, and having the controls scattered across the back of the camera, but it felt like I needed three hands and the skillz of a Cirque du Soleil juggler.”

“So which camera for filming my grandkids? Now there’s a question… This calls for some serious 5D time to answer. Even my wife approves of that message.”

BTW, if anyone else out there is shooting 1080p video with cameras like this and would like their SmugMug Pro accounts to allow 1080p video, let us know. That feature is currently in beta, but we’d love to get a few more people using it. 🙂

  1. Ted Nghiem
    November 30, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    That video was awesome!! I saw Andy posting it on Dgrin! I can’t wait to get my hands on one so I can see how my artistic vision changes with this new gear!

    Thanks for posting!

  2. November 30, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    Vincent Laforet made a point about f/2 being the sweet spot for this camera … Baldy and I were just talking about how interesting it’ll be to try say, Canon’s 200 f/2.8L, and maybe the 85 f/1.8, both very reasonably-priced lenses – and compare them to the footage from the 200 f/2L and 85 f/1.2L. We’ll try and do that this week.

    I think the other thing this camera may spawn is the need for a fast I.S. midrange zoom – so like the 24-105 but f/2.8 not f/4. A lot of video really depends on I.S. – Baldy shot these clips on a tripod, another thing we want to do is test out the hand-holdability of this camera for videos.

    I’ve spent only a little time shooting with the 5D Mark II, and plan on doing plenty more this week. Stay tuned!

  3. November 30, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    I just “discovered” the video you took in SF with the Canon 5D MkII. I am soooooooo jealous! LOL

    It’s exactly the kind of thing I have always wanted to do, but I can’t afford a camera in that price range. However, before I ran across your video today, I ordered my own Christmas present which is a Canon HV30 HD Mini-DV Camcorder (it seems to be the highest rated camera for those of us who are Macintosh users). I do plan on shooting in the best quality the camera will allow and hope to get some good results.

    The resolution, color…..EVERYTHING on your video was perfect! Love it. I also love SmugMug!!!! 🙂

    Ron Phillips
    Hayward, CA

    • April 28, 2009 at 10:16 pm

      You will like the HV30 as it deserves the good reputation it has.

      But be aware that the low light with the HV30 is pitiful compared to the 5DMKII. The HV30 is a 1/6 inch single CCD camera (4.2 mm) and the 5D mkII has a full frame 35mm sensor, not to mention the MKII has an amazing new chip & sensor specifically tuned for higher contrast ranges and darker exposures.

      That means the 5DMKII gathers much more light than the HV30. But on the other hand as Don is finding out, being good for Stills (minus the full production team) and beign good for on the fly video is a very different matter.

  4. November 30, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    If you want to turn the 1080p feature on my smugmug account (shima.smugmug.com) I’d be more than willing to try and post some 1080p videos once my 5D Mk2 arrives. I’m hoping it should come in another week or two… Hopefully I should be in a 2nd or 3rd shipment if i’m lucky from Tallyn’s, time will tell!

    In other news, I just have to say WOW. This video footage is amazing. I really can’t wait for mine to arrive so I can push it to the limits like everyone else is doing. Truly impressive stuff!

  5. (Another) Andy
    December 1, 2008 at 1:38 am

    I was unimpressed…
    That is until I realized your flash player was upscaling the 640 video to 1920×1080. 1280 seems to work fine though, go figure.. At the full 1920 the video is superb! *thumbs up*

  6. December 1, 2008 at 2:01 am

    Excellent work! I am so jealous!

  7. December 1, 2008 at 2:27 am

    The video looks great, great choice of music as well. The Hi-Def on SmugMug is absolutely amazing. You guys rock! Where did you purchase your 5D Mark II? I've been waiting what seems like an eternity for it to go from Pre-Order to In-Stock.

  8. Jeff Lennan
    December 1, 2008 at 3:00 am


  9. Chris MacAskill
    December 1, 2008 at 4:16 am

    Oh, I see… I was trying to figure this out but our UI is misleading. The full-screen button is just taking the 640 video and making it full screen, but you can follow the links Don provided to get the higher res versions.

  10. December 1, 2008 at 4:25 am

    NICE…. that is awesome.

    Now I'm going to have to get a 1080p video camera…..

  11. Spencer Buchanan
    December 1, 2008 at 4:49 am

    SO now I have too more things on my Christmas list! Curse you and your awesome vid! The things shot looked to mundane, but good quality vid sure makes it more interesting by far!

  12. Jim Cooper
    December 1, 2008 at 5:11 am

    Great video! I cannot wait to get mine. Out of curiosity where did you purchase your camera from?

  13. December 1, 2008 at 6:13 am

    I wish I could afford a new 5D. Wow. Great stuff!

  14. December 1, 2008 at 6:34 am

    Wow you guys sure had some fun putting that together, and came up with a gorgeous video. It streams perfectly to me in Australia. Great stuff.

  15. (Another) Andy
    December 1, 2008 at 6:36 am

    I am not clicking the fullscreen button. When I click the "full 1080p resolution" link in the blog post it opens up a full sized flash player (slightly larger than my browser window). The video playing in the player is blocky. If I check the browser's cache I see that the 640×360 video was downloaded. At the top of the page "FullHD" is not a link (indicating it is indeed in 1080p mode). If I click on "Hi-Def" the player resizes (smaller) and plays the correct 1280×720 video. If I click "FullHD" from there the player gets larger again and plays the upscaled 640×360 video (same as before).

    Would you like me to file a bug report somewhere instead of carrying on in the comments?

  16. December 1, 2008 at 12:35 am

    That is impressive footage. Thanks for hosting/posting it SmugMug.

  17. Chris MacAskill
    December 1, 2008 at 7:37 am

    Andy, this is very helpful. We'll try to replicate in the a.m. We don't wanna hype the 1080p goodness and then be showing the 640 badness.

  18. December 1, 2008 at 8:46 am

    Looks sweet! a little out of my price range though😦
    Question is : how does it compare to a 1080p camcorder e.g. Canon Vixia HF10? Would be an interesting comparison
    I already know that at low light – looking at your video – that the 5D kicks the camcorders butt for noise.
    I'm also filming kids too (mine!😉 ) – need to put weights around their ankles to slow 'em down!😉

  19. Chris MacAskill
    December 1, 2008 at 10:45 am

    Thanks! We reserved ours early at Tallyn's. Andy Williams knows the owner, I think, and they made sure they shipped them to us the same day they received them from Canon.

    Now it's so foggy it's hard to shoot anything. 😦

  20. December 3, 2008 at 5:27 am

    Love it! You got me so excited to get one and start shooting video!

  21. December 3, 2008 at 5:43 am

    This is killer! I also like DJ really want one and wanna start shooting video. You guys are doing some killer stuff in the cities, but I can't wait to get some footage in the mountains on some rad adventure!!!

  22. December 3, 2008 at 7:47 am

    This is a really inspiring video. It profiles the amazing low light capability, and the filmic depth of field quality. In addition, it makes clear you have a curious and creative mind- this is a really creative film, and makes me want to explore this developing field of camera/camcorder convergence. For now my budget has only allowed me to buy the Nikon D90, but I am sure there are more cameras I will need to have. The Christmas lights on the boat remind me the gift season is just around the corner but unfortunately Santa won't be able to put one of these under my tree- at least this year. But thanks for providing a showcase of the camera's capability- I can always dream of a Canon Christmas…

  23. December 3, 2008 at 8:40 am

    Awesome video and feature capability to host it on my Smugmug account!! This Nikon D300 shooter is envious!! (Nikon please add video to the D300! )(hmmm… maybe I might have to get a Canon 5D MkII!

  24. Randy Alexander
    December 4, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    Fantastic! Please keep the clips coming. Any way to make an AppleTV RSS feed so I can watch the full HD on my 47" 1080p LCD? I was able to watch Vincent Reviere that way and it was amazing.

  25. Sean Robbins
    December 4, 2008 at 12:34 pm

    Fabulous! I was still wondering how much added compression is there in the posted 1080p version compared to the original? At least I would assume SmugMug recompresses things to preserve bandwidth🙂

  26. December 6, 2008 at 4:05 am

    Don, that's some great video – cannot wait till my 5d mk ii arrives (tho i don't know when that will be). We're gathering all the video samples over on the 5d wiki and have added this one – http://planet5d.com. Thanks again for sharing and getting us all excited!

  27. Robert Chatwani
    December 7, 2008 at 8:08 am

    Ooooh that's nice! SF looks a lot prettier in 1080p!

  28. Gambo1
    December 10, 2008 at 9:30 am

    Very well done. Mine should be here Monday-can't wait. even my instructor is excited about seeing mine and he's a Nikon man.

  29. December 15, 2008 at 5:06 am

    I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.



  30. Dazza
    January 5, 2009 at 2:11 am

    Don, thats a fantastic video. Did you do any post processing other than editing the sequences? Are the movies this clean straight out the camera?

  31. January 6, 2009 at 9:45 am

    I would like to be part of the full HD 1080p beta, pretty please.

  32. Eric Iwasaki
    January 11, 2009 at 5:20 am

    I too would like to be part of the 1080p beta…got my 5D Mark II just before Christmas

  33. Mike
    January 12, 2009 at 5:54 am

    First, fantasitc short! Just curious what software you used to do your editing and mixing with?

  34. January 15, 2009 at 2:40 am

    […]Thanks for sharing your work with us! Your theme is just awesome![…]

  35. Dave
    January 15, 2009 at 9:19 pm

    How much video can it shoot?

  36. January 16, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    Thanks for sharing your work with us! Your theme is just awesome!

  37. February 9, 2009 at 4:19 pm

    Don, this is totally cool! I gotta have one (some day).

  38. Kathleen Nelson
    March 3, 2009 at 12:55 am

    I just got a 5D Mark II and am trying to get proficient at the video aspect of this camera. Could I be put on the Beta 1080p video program? I am a Pro Account member. Thanks.

  39. Brett Clements
    March 30, 2009 at 5:25 am

    Congrats on that footage. I'm going back out with that Canon F2 and doing everything all over again. PS: We'd jump at 1080p in a nano second

  40. May 1, 2009 at 3:51 pm


  41. May 1, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    By the way, I have yet to figure out how to get a SmugMug-hosted video embedded into a WordPress blog post. Any help with that would be greatly appreciated!

  42. Howard
    August 13, 2009 at 11:05 pm

    What software did you use?

  43. September 10, 2009 at 10:47 pm

    Nice video. Thank you.

  44. November 6, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    Love it! You got me so excited to get one and start shooting video!

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