Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Super Late Wednesday Post: Prints From Video Grab From Canon 5D Mark II - How Good Are They?

Good Afternoon Everybody,
Here is the news - How good are prints from Canon's 5D Mark II video grabs?; Laforet's video "Reverie" takes down Canon's servers!

Man, Oh man, has it been an incredibly busy day! I've been non stop till just a few minutes ago. I'm just now hitting the computer for today's post, but a provocative post it will be, I hope.

So the BIG news over these past 3 weeks has been Canon's announcement of the Canon 5D Mark II. Of particular note has been the new Hi-def 1920x1080 video capture capabilities of the camera. Vincent Laforet even put together a unbelievable video entitled, "Reverie" that got 1.5 million view in 10 days. In fact the "Reverie" video was so wildly popular, it brought down the Canon servers and they unfortunately needed to pull the presentation. Vincent said it should be back on as soon as mid-next week.

You still want to know how hot the camera is? Well, Amazon just posted that they or out-of-stock on their pre-orders. How you get out-of-stock on a pre-order - beats me, but it looks like everybody wants one of these puppy's. Here is that story over at 1001 Noisy Cameras right here.

The camera has definitely raised a few eyebrows - some of you loved the new feature, some of you were not looking forward to having to learn all the "bells and whistles" or even wanted video on board as an option. I happen to be a huge fan of the video feature. Read about my wildly insane enthusiasm for it in my post "Game Changing Camera Technologies" right here. Be sure to check out the comments that follow the post too - a lot of other people feel the same way and offered some great ideas for using the on board video option.

Potentially Great looking 8x10 prints from the video capture;
But, folks, that's only half of the story. I'm reading all these new specs on the camera and the BIGGIE that stands out for me is the 1920x1080 pixel spec. I'm a guy who started shooting digital with a Fuji S-1 and whose real pixel count was 2040 x 1353 Pixels. Is this bit of information hitting anyone the way it's hitting me? MY OLD FUJI S-1 WAS CAPTURING A FILE ONLY SLIGHTLY LARGER - 5% LARGER - THAN THE CANON 5D Mark II' VIDEO CAPTURE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
What are the possibilities for pulling images from the video capture - UNBELIEVABLE possibilities!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Now we have a camera that can capture 30fps at a decent resolution for printing. I know you think I'm crazy, so I ran a quick test. I grabbed 10 quick images, re-sized them to 1920x1080 pixel resolution and had them printed up as 8x10 prints during my morning meeting. I couldn't wait to hear what they looked like. I called Jen, my assistant about 10 a.m. to get her reactions to the printed images. She had no clue what I was up to. I asked her how they looked, she said, "They look wonderful!" I heard that as she saw no real difference from these lower res images when compared to our hi-res images we print everyday.

I did a story a while back that got little notice and very few comments. It was entitled, "How Many Pixels Does It Take To Make A Face" Here is the link. I did and in depth analysis of the minimum number of pixels it took to get a salable wedding image from the digital file. That number happens to be 2000 pixels according to my tests when printed as an 8x10 print - read the article for the whole story.

Now we have a camera that's captures video in that 2000 pixel range. I got back to the studio , checked out the images and saw for myself that indeed they looked great. Folks, do you get what this means - we are getting closer and closer to the convergence of still and digital cameras. That means even more image grabbing possibilities for us image-makers out there. I'm not even suggesting that we shoot video only and then make up our prints, but what I am saying is that now we have that option, and that option opens up a whole slew of creative opportunities for us in this new digital market.

We can now easily capture SEQUENCES of different parts of the wedding day that could easily be incorporated into the wedding album. It gives an entire new twist to the term wedding candid. Think ring exchange, think receiving line, think peripheral sequences during the wedding shoot, think cake cutting, think garter and bouquet toss in bright enough light. My imagination is in over drive just fantasizing on the possibilities. Sure, I realize that in low light situations , we will have motion blurred frames. Who cares? Its' the other opportunities when we won't have compromised images that really matters. Frankly, I think some of the motion blurred sequences, when presented creatively, could also present some interesting possibilities.

Anyway folks, it's time to put our thinking caps on again and see where all this leads - heck, it may lead to some of the most exiting times of our lives!

OK, OK I've got to go now and take a cold shower just to calm down. I'll plan to see everybody tomorrow much calmer, I promise. Signed, On Cloud Nine Dave


  1. Hi David, I always enjoy your posts. It is one on my first web visitis every day here in Perth, Western Australia. The 5D MkII sure opens up a plethora of creative avenues for us. The 8 x10 prints from the HD Video you made sounds simply astounding. Oh, could you check your link to "How Many Pixels Does It Take To Make A Face" please.


  2. David,
    You're absolutely right -- this is a game changer. I shoot a lot of children's sports, and being able to pull out just the image from the 30 fps stream, and be able to hang it on the wall as you point out, will be fantastic.

    Thanks for the post,
    Joe Glynn, Boulder, Colo.

  3. Hi David: And just a while back you were stewing about fnugy's coming into the biz. How do you think the poor video people feel? The video capture is just a baby now.
    Predict the future is a smart business strategy. I see where this is going. The customer of today wants to see their event on their livingroom TV. Video stream, still shot, still shot, video. That is the new wedding album. Isn't this exciting?

  4. I haven't seen this answered anywhere, but in HD video mode, can autofocus (hopefully continuous servo mode!) be active?

  5. Hey everybody, Thanks again for the nice comments. And Mike, yes to auto focus works on the Canon 5D MarkII. -David

  6. Although I was not that enthousiastic about video on a DSLR in the begining, I change my mind more and more. These kind of posts are realy helping this change.

    Reading your post, I was wondering how blurry the pictures will possibly be. I can't find an answer on the question how fast the "shutter speed" is. Surely it is faster than 1/30, but how fast? Do you know the answer?

  7. David and Mike C,

    According to Canon the autofocus does work in video mode but is very slow. Canon recommends either using autofocus prior to entering the video mode or using manual focus instead. From reading the Canon specs it is implied that continuous servo autofocus mode in video mode is not going to be a workable reality.

    Other items to consider.

    1) In video mode the 5DM2 is working in an automatic mode for determining the ISO,shutter and iris setting and there is no manual override. ( I sincerely hope this will change) According to Canon the shutter range is from 1/30 to 1/125 sec which will not be fast enough to prevent motion blurring on fast moving objects for still images pulled from the video.

    Automatic settings are great for amateur work but is the exact opposite for a professional who is accustomed to working with manual settings to determine predictable results with an established constant base.

    2) The Canon still zoom lenses do not hold backfocus (I am referring to the video definition of backfocus in which the lens will hold focus from wide to telephoto without having to refocus). This has never been a problem with still images as the photographer will always determine the focus at the actual focal length prior to shooting the image.
    I suspect that the 5DM2 may have some manual backfocus adjustments to overcome this current limitation.

    3) I am not aware if the actual video recording is
    full raster 1920x1080 or if it is doing an anamorphic squeeze to record the image.

    4)The color space in video mode is SRGB.

    In general I have found in the past any new piece of equipment that attempts to cross over into multiple platforms often results in a compromised product at best. As most consumers already know a product which incorporates many functions is never the best at any one item (for example a printer that is also a fax, phone and scanner).

    It is important to understand that what makes a great still camera is that fact that it was designed for one purpose in mind which is to capture stills images as well as interface with the needs, concerns and objectives of the still photographer.

    Whereas a video camera has a whole different set of objectives which given the size restrictions of the 5DM2 are obvious that this first generation still/video camera is not going to be the best of both worlds for those expecting it to compare to it single purpose video camera counterparts.

    Contrary to all the internet hype the 5DM2 is not the killer for professional HD video camera such as the RED 1, Sony F23, etc etc. I can say that from actual experience as I work with those cameras on a regular basis in addition to working with both Canon and Nikon still cameras.

    One last item to keep in mind is the 5DM2 will require not work with the EFS lenses as they will not cover the full frame sensor.


  8. ...and this means new opportunities for a second or third shooter to shoot this new category of video with stills, greater coverage for any kind of event, not just weddings. At the same time this will require new skills and new tricks to learn. The convergence has begun and we all win, in my opinion.