Canon U.S.A. introduces the EOS 5D Mark II DSLR camera featuring 1920×1080 HD video capture

Canon U.S.A. introduces the EOS 5D Mark II DSLR camera featuring 1920×1080 HD video capture

Josh’s bottom line:

This still camera is exciting because it has a single large CMOS imaging sensor, which means the depth-of-field is similar to a film camera rather than a typical camcorder with small chips.

And it records Quicktime 1080p HD at 30 fps, around 48 minutes to a 16 GB card, or, output through HDMI (no audio though) to a portable recording device (which one?). The format is H.264 at 38.6 Mbits/sec, which should look amazing.

And, the low light performance looks great. It will be around $3500 with one lens, more as you add lenses.

There are some questions, like if it overheats when shooting video, like some other still cameras, and the best audio solution.

You can see some footage here:

and some behind-the scenes video here:

One thing to keep in mind when watching this spectacular footage is that this dude could have shot something beautiful with a $69 Fisher-Price camera. When you are a master of lighting and cinematography, it’s not hard to make any camera look great.

Here’s a lighting course on DVD:

DV Enlightenment

However, the shallow DOF is undeniable, and the general color rendition excellent.

Here is an excerpt from the press release:

The Canon EOS 5D Mark II Escalates Full-Frame Digital SLR Photography to the Next Level with
HD Movie Recording Capabilities, DIGIC 4 Imaging Processor, and 21.1 Megapixel Resolution

LAKE SUCCESS, N.Y., September 17, 2008 – Canon U.S.A., Inc., a leader in digital imaging, today introduced the EOS 5D Mark II Digital SLR camera, the long-awaited successor to Canon’s highly popular EOS 5D, introduced in 2005. Building upon the qualities that made the EOS 5D camera so successful, Canon has coupled the creative power of a full-frame CMOS sensor in a relatively compact and affordable camera body, together with groundbreaking HD video capture that opens the door to a much wider range of imaging possibilities for photographers. Along with the ability to capture full HD video clips at 1920 x 1080 resolution, Canon’s EOS 5D Mark II Digital SLR camera features a 21.1-megapixel full frame 24 x 36mm CMOS sensor, DIGIC 4 imaging processor and significantly lower noise, with an expanded sensitivity range from ISO 50 to ISO 25,600.

Among the many advancements in Canon’s new EOS 5D Mark II camera is the Company’s proprietary DIGIC 4 Imaging Processor that powers the camera’s fast 14-bit analog-to-digital conversion for smooth color tones and exceptional gradation. The Canon EOS 5D Mark II Digital SLR offers a full-frame 24 x 36mm, 21.1 megapixel CMOS sensor. The camera includes a 15-point Autofocus (AF) sensor with nine selectable AF points plus six additional Assist AF points (three center AF points sensitive to f/2.8 lenses) with enhanced light source detection and AF microadjustment for greater autofocus performance. The EOS 5D Mark II camera also features a large, clear 3.0-inch Clear View LCD screen with 920,000 dot/VGA resolution, four times the pixel count of the EOS 5D camera’s 2.5-inch screen, for enhanced clarity and color when viewing images. The new camera is equipped with a high-performance, high-magnification optical viewfinder providing 98 percent coverage.

Canon, the first company to introduce a full-frame digital camera, has improved the EOS 5D Mark II Digital SLR camera’s newly developed full-frame CMOS image sensor. Utilizing proprietary Canon technology, the Company has reduced noise and expanded the sensitivity of the CMOS sensor up to ISO 25600, which is three full stops higher than the ISO 3200 limit of the original EOS 5D camera. Although the individual pixel dimensions of the EOS 5D Mark II camera are the same as the 21.1-megapixel CMOS sensor used in the EOS-1Ds Mark III digital SLR, the new sensor incorporates an improved output amplifier and a more advanced color filter that improves light transmission while retaining excellent color reproduction. By applying the same kind of advancements in sensor design and image processing technology as the recently introduced EOS 50D camera, but at higher resolution and with larger pixels, the EOS 5D Mark II achieves the highest level of image quality of any EOS Digital SLR released to date.

HD and SD Video Capture
Canon has taken its expertise in imaging, photography and video capture technology to a new level with the EOS 5D Mark II Digital SLR. Answering the question of where SLR technology is going next, the EOS 5D Mark II features 16:9 Full HD video capture at 1920 x 1080 pixels and 30 fps as well as 4:3 standard TV quality (SD) video capture at 640 x 480 pixels and 30 fps, both capabilities appearing for the first time in a Canon SLR camera. Video capture is part of the camera’s Live View function, using the Picture Style that has been set for Live View still image shooting. This allows skilled photographers and cinematographers to adjust image sharpness, contrast, color saturation and white balance, and have those settings apply to the movie image. When recording video, the camera’s rear LCD screen can be letter-boxed by a semi-transparent border to match the aspect ratio of the movie recording size. Moreover, the EOS 5D Mark II camera’s HD video capability enables new levels of creative expression through its unfettered access to the complete line of more than 60 Canon EF lenses, which provide an incredible variety of visual effects including everything from ultra-wide-angle and fish-eye to macro and super-telephoto, including many large-aperture L-series professional lenses that can keep the main subject in razor-sharp focus while blurring the background beyond recognition.

The EOS 5D Mark II will record video up to 4GB per clip or a maximum continuous movie capture time of 29 minutes and 59 seconds, whichever comes first. Depending on the level of detail in the scene, a 4GB memory card can record approximately 12 minutes of video at full HD resolution or approximately 24 minutes in standard definition[i]. Video clips are recorded in .MOV format using an MPEG-4 video compression and sound is recorded using linear PCM[ii] without compression. The new camera features an input terminal for external stereo microphones as well as a built-in monaural microphone for convenience. To help show off those fantastic movies as well as still photos, the EOS 5D Mark II camera includes an HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) output to display crisp, clear images on a High-Definition TV.

Auto Lighting Optimizer
Canon’s enhanced Auto Lighting Optimizer technology helps ensure each picture’s subject is clearly visible by analyzing image brightness and automatically adjusting dark areas in images so that they appear brighter. This function is ideal in high-contrast situations such as urban landscapes captured on sunny days, where the tops of buildings are brightly lit while street level details are obscured by heavy shadows. In this type of scene, the 5D Mark II camera’s Auto Lighting Optimizer technology preserves accurate exposure of the highlights while opening up the shadow areas for a more pleasing tonal rendition.


  1. Rob 14 years ago

    This will actually be better than the all time famous RED Camera.
    Like the RED Camera. This unit does not record Audio. So as long as you have a secondary audio recording system this camera will out perform any other in a HD camera.
    Does this mean Canon has something newer coming out for their high end HD camera’s?
    We will see in the next 3 months.
    Im sure even myself will be purchasing this beast for the penny’s they are listing this camera for.
    Yesterday I was told I should expect to pay no more than $2000 canadian for the body.

  2. Jeff Whitley 14 years ago

    We were really excited about the project and what Vincent had actually accomplished. Impressed so much so that we were able to coordinate a podcast interview with Vincent and also get a Q&A session to boot.

    Very interesting!!

    We really enjoyed the whole process, was fun hope you enjoy!

  3. Dr Rock 14 years ago

    Rob, it records audio, and you will pay more than $2000…

  4. Yes, you will pay a bit over 2k. The camera retails for 2600 usd, not to mention the expense of lenses if you don’t have them already. The camera also has an aux input for better mics. I use my RODE SVM on the hotshoe to do the audio sometimes and it’s great!

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