Video cameras on DSLRs - Canon EOS 5D Mark II

Canon EOS 5D Mark II

1,600 (body)

Canon EOS 5D Mk.IIThe 5D Mk II is a phenomenon in the world of DSLR based video. Its video quality has been compared with pro video cameras costing ten times more, which is why it's been adopted by photojournalists, music video producers and even Hollywood - it was used on the forthcoming Iron Man 2, among others.

The 5D Mk II is the largest, heaviest camera tested here but its unique advantage over the others is its big, full-frame sensor which offers full 1920 x 1080p video. This offers the prospect of better low light shooting, and ultra shallow depth of field. The 5D Mk.II uses the Quicktime MOV format using the H.264 compression codec, which produces higher quality at smaller files sizes than the M-JPEG used by Nikon, and the camera can record for to 29 minutes 59 secs straight. In its original incarnation the user had no control over the exposure settings, but a firmware upgrade (1.10) has added the ability to select any lens aperture, shutter speeds from 1/30sec to 1/4000sec and ISO's up to 12,800.

Image quality is very impressive. Even in low light it barely missed a beat, producing an impressive lack of noise in spite of often trying conditions. The vibrancy of the colours, especially reds, is exemplary, showing excellent depth. With good-quality lenses the sharpness is exceptional, and the rolling shutter problem that afflicts DSLR video (which causes verticals to slant when the camera or subject moves) is only apparent with very fast movement. The ability to use any of the vast range of Canon-fit lenses, at apertures as wide as f/1.2, coupled with the full-frame sensor and high ISO options, give the EOS 5D Mk II unequalled creative potential.

The downside of all this is, of course, the price tag. By the time you've added a suitable full-frame lens the cost is over double that of the Panasonic, and four times that of its sibling, the 500D.

Video Group Test: Video Modes - Canon EOS 5D MkII

Reaping the benefits of a full-frame sensor allows the EOS 5D Mark II to
produce some impressively well-balanced results


Canon EOS 5D Mark II

Price 1,600
Video Resolution 1920 x 1080
Compression Format H.264
Maximum Clip Length 29 Minutes 59 Seconds
Screen Size 3"
Built-in Audio Stereo, 44 KHz
Frame Rate 30fps
Memory Card CF
Sockets USB, AV, HDMI
Video Focus Modes AF, MF
External Mic Yes
Dimensions 152 x 113.5 x 75mm
Weight 810g

Video Rating

Superb dynamic range, impressive sharpness, low light quality, shallow DoF, lens choice

Over-saturation, camera weight, price

Stars: 5 out of 5