Pretty amazing! Check out the Vincent Laforet video at the end of this article. This video is causing a lot of buzz among videographers.

The new Canon EOS 5D Mark II is the first Digital SLR to include 1080 high definition video. What is exciting about this is the size of the sensor and what it makes possible in terms of lenses choices and depth of field. It can do things that are impossible with video cameras.

Videocams have a pretty small sensor which means inherently more depth of field (everything else being equal) than film cameras or full frame (35mm film size sensors) digital SLRs. This means the vast majority of videocams can’t achieve the limited depth of field and blurred backgrounds that all 35mm film shooters (and those with full frame digital cameras) take for granted. Pop on a long lens, use a wide aperture, focus on a nearby subject and the background blurs away to nothing. This simply can’t be done with most videocams.

Enter the Canon 5D Mark II with high definition video and Canon’s huge array of lenses ranging from a 15mm semi-fisheye lens (with a 180 degree diagonal angle of view) out to
Canon’s 600 mm telephoto monster and everything you could do with 35mm still film you can now do in hi def video. Amazing.

That doesn’t mean everything is wonderful of course, since you a couple of important limitations. You can auto focus of sorts with the limitations imposed by the live view mode. The camera won’t track focus with subjects moving toward or away from the camera. For all practical purposes, you might as well use manual focus and that has its limitations too. It is best to shoot each scene with the subject a pretty constant distance from the camera. that means the subject can move left to right or vice versa but toward you or away from you unless you have very good video camera “pull focus” skills.

DLSRs work best held up to eye and pressed against the face for stability. Move the camera away from the face to look at the LCD screen and it is inherently less stable, and especially so for video. You pretty much need to shoot video with the camera mounted on a tripod or hand held on a Ken-Labs Gyro Stabilizer (which work very well but they sell for $1300 to $8800, not counting accessories).

Exposure is different too. the camera begins with the lens at its widest aperture. It adjusts ISO, shutter speed, and aperture in that order to achieve the proper exposure. You can vary things by adjusting exposure compensation.

So the short story is this: The 5D Mark II is not a video camera. It is a still camera that can shoot HD video. But if you can live with the limitations it imposes, it can produce amazing videos.

This remarkable video was shot by Vincent Laforet with a pre-production Canon 5D Mark II. It is a 3 minute mini-movie that will give you an idea what the new 5D is capable of. The following lenses were used:

FD 7.5mm f/5.6 (converted to EF mount)
EF 15mm f/2.8 Fisheye
EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM
EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM
EF 50mm f/1.2L USM
EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM
EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM

EF 135mm f/2L USM
EF 200mm f/1.8L USM
EF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM
EF 500mm f/4L IS USM
TS-E 24mm f/3.5L
TS-E 45mm f/2.8

None of the files were digitally altered. The video was re-compressed to 1/4 size for the web.
The behind the scenes “how we did it” video is here.