Monday, November 03, 2008

It's Speed Freaks Monday Today: Or Hands On With The Canon 5D Mark II, Sort Of

Good Morning Everybody,
I hope everyone had a great weekend. Things were fairly calm around here - busy, but calm - that is till about 12:30p.m. on Saturday when a buddy of mine called to say say his wife is having a baby, he's heading to the hospital, and could I cover a wedding for him across town starting about 2 p.m.! Hey, 90 minutes to get the batteries charged, line up an assistant, and scoot across town. But, heck, what are friends for!! Anyway, everything came together, I covered things till about 6 p.m. until another mutual photographer friend showed up to take over and cover the reception.

I called my buddy Sunday to see how the baby was doing and to my surprise, the baby had not arrived yet! You know, babies do that sometimes. Anyway, all worked out fine and we got some great images for him.

Hands On With The Canon 5D Mark II, Sort Of
Boy, am I fired up today. Why, well I was doing some DPT blog research last week - you know how it is - one link to the next link, and then to the next. That's where I found myself while cruising Crash Taylor's site after he did that very nice profile on me - here is the link again. Let me say, with much appreciation, and gratitude to everyone for the very kind comments on the profile, too.

Anyway, I was checking Crash's other profiles he has posted and the one right before mine was Damien Lovegrove's profile [link]. Turns out I was familiar with the name because Focal Press asked me to review his wedding book a few months ago. Damien's book contains some really great images. But here is the deal. Damien was one of the few photogs that got to see the Canon 5D Mark II up close and personal in England.

So why am I so fired up? Because my journey led me to so many other sites about the camera with hi-res images and even uncompressed video I could download. I didn't have the camera in hand, but I sure had plenty of it's output and that's what I want to share with you today. Let's take the journey together. Here we go.

The High ISO Journey:
1. First head over to Damien's site, and check out his test images of the Canon 5d Mark II - here is the link.

2. Now scroll down till you see the high ISO images of the bride - he only tested the camera to ISO 6400 - too bad. I'll have more high ISO discussion later.

3. Here is the cool part - click on the actual image and the high res image will download to your desktop.

4. Now to the right mouse click nab of the image and take a look at it up close and personal. I can't show the actually image within this post, because of my respect for his copyright issues.

5. You will be "blown away by what you are seeing at this high ISO - it looks like 800 ISO from the old 5D!

6. Now if you run it through your noise reduction software like Noise Ninja or NIK Dfine 2.0 and take a peek. Be sure your left hand is firmly placed under your jaw to keep it from hitting the ground. The result is unbelievable. Check it out - you'll see what I mean. Oh, by the way, don't hesitate to check out the rest of Damien's site while you are there.

7. Wait, there's more, lots more. Now head on over to right here. They have a bunch of interesting data and details on the new 5D. After giving it a read, hit the links to Erik Gunnerud Canon 5D Mark II images on that page. You can go right to the 12,800 & 25,600 ISO images.

8. Now it's the same thing as in step 2-3. The high res image will download to your desktop where you can save it and have a peek up close. OK, I see some noise here, but folks, we are talking 25,600 ISO!!!!! To me it looks like my old 1600 ISO images from my original 5D. A quick trip to NIK Dfine 2.0 and, presto, noise is gone. AMAZING- You have to see it to believe it.

9. While we are on the subject of 5D images, check out DPReview's 40 image gallery of 5D MkII images right here. The high ISO images are at the end of this post.

10. I also printed out the images discussed as 8x10's and had my staff view all of them. They were just as impressed.

The Video Journey:
A few weeks ago I did a story suggesting that we should be able to get a decent print from the camera's high-def video [link]. I basically re-sized prints to the camera pixel dimension - 1920x1080 pixels, printed them, and checked out how they looked. At first pass, they looked great. Now I wanted to see how it worked in "real life" with real uncompressed Canon 5D Mark II video. Jump on the tour bus again. Here we go.

1. First, head over to's 5D Video Gallery page right here. You could go to DPReview's full 5D preview page, scroll down a bunch and find two 250 meg+ video files right here. I have to tell you, it's not worth downloading those files - content is weak and it will take half the morning to download. Stick with the short videos I mentioned first.

2. The movies are in Quicktime format and most of us have Quicktime on our computers. Now with your mouse hovering over the first movie - the guy on the bike - right mouse click and Save Target As... 5D movie. It will take a few minutes to download, but after it does, it's your image to view and experiment with.

3. Now here is where it gets interesting. I need to grab a frame from the video so I can test my theory and the cheapest way you can do that is by upgrading to Quicktime Pro which I did for only $30 US dollars.

4. Next I hit PLAY on the movie again and hit pause on a scene that I liked.

5. Under the File Menu, I selected Export. The screen grab here shows this is a PRO feature and you need to be upgraded for these PRO indicators to go away.

6. Quicktime gives you a choice to export as a JPEG - that's what I was looking for. The downside was that Quicktime exports it as a proprietary JPEG that only wants to open in the Quicktime viewer - Duh!

7. I change the extension to JPG and now it opens in my favorite image viewer , which happens to be Irfanview. Now save it as a JPEG and it will open in Photoshop,etc. I know this is a hassle.

7a. Scroll to your favorite scene in the movie. Now hit Edit-> Trim To Selection; then File-> Export -> Movie To Image Sequence -> and under Options select JPEG and 1 Frame per second. Press OK and Save. Quicktime will produce a working JPEG - pretty cool.

8. After tweaking in Photoshop or Lightroom I printed it out as an 8x10. Quality was pretty good, and in a pinch, with a decent video grab not showing much motion, it would do just fine.

9. By trimming your video to a short section of perhaps 10 seconds - like during the bridal dance - then repeat 7a using a higher frame rate. This could produce a great sequence of images for a very special page in the bride's album.

10. Enjoy the ride.

Anyway gang, that's my hands on - well sort of - experience with Canon's new 5D Mark II. Boy, if I only had the real McCoy to play with, but that may happen yet, this week, so I'll keep you posted. As Bob Dylan says, "... times, they are a changin'." Me, I prefer, "It only gets cheaper, faster, better!" hey, everybody, that's it for me today. I'll see you tomorrow for Technique Tuesday: High Speed Flash Sync. See ya' then, -David


  1. I have mine on pre ordered David and I can't wait. While the video looks fun, I'm most excited about the high iso shooting. It's really gonna open up new doors in photography.

    Thanks for all the links... Gav

  2. What an excellent post. Thanks David for all the hard work you put into Digital Pro Talk. You do so much for the photographic industry and you are a true inspiration to anyone who presses a shutter.

    Your friend,

  3. David, thanks for sharing so much of what you do. I read your blog almost everyday, and often feel like I need to strap on my seat belt...and hang on. I'd be happy to get 50% done, of what you accomplish in a single inspire.
    Just curious, why do you use your 40D, so much more, than your 5D? Could it be, because your "wides" would show too much distortion in the corners of your images on a FF sensor?
    Thanks for your generosity,
    Paul Freeman