Thursday, November 27, 2008

Playing with video on the Canon 5D Mark II

In playing with this new camera, one thing is for sure ... video is a game changer!

It's a whole new world. And it's not as simple as it sounds! Especially if you're playing with shallow DOF and needing to put the focus on a specific individual out of a group of people. I didn't discover the AF controls for the video until I read the manual. There are three modes: Quick AF, AF Live and AF Face Recognition.

Quick AF slaps the mirror back down, uses the normal AF focusing points to quickly focus and then brings the mirror back up. Obviously you can only do this at the start of a video otherwise Quick AF would interrupt the video.

AF Live lets you place a square anywhere on the image and it will use contrast detection to focus (it does this at the time you press the AF-ON button). You need to keep in mind that the camera may decide to totally de-focus and refocus the lens. Not necessarily a good thing if it's in the middle of an action sequence.

AF Face Recognition lets the camera try to pick out a face in the scene and focus on the face. The trouble you may run into here is if you have multiple faces in view, and one of them is more important than the others to keep in focus. The camera may not pick the face you want. It also may move back and forth between faces on its own.

Manual focusing is always active -- assuming you have a lens that lets you focus while AF is engaged (all of my Canon lenses let me do this). The trouble is, if I hold the camera far enough away so I can see the LCD to determine what is in focus, then I'm more likely to bounce the camera around while I'm recording.

Like I said ... video is going to be a challenge. And shallow DOF only makes it more so.

Here is a video from yesterday's birthday party where I was using AF Face Recognition to focus the camera.

Click here for a high resolution version of the video.


Mike said...

So are you using UDMA memory cards to shoot that video? I agree-- video definitely changes things up.

David Terry said...

All of my cards are Extreme IV 4Gb CF cards. I haven't tried anything slower, but these have certainly kept up with the video output.

Eric Hamilton said...

Very cool, David! Thanks for the sample footage. Is that sound from the built-in mic?

I'm jealous of the 5dII video capabilities. Clearly much better than the D90. I'm waiting for an upgrade to the D700. =)

David Terry said...

Yes, it's from the built-in mic. I've found it can be pretty noisy picking up camera noises and such, but I suppose it's handy not having to carry a mic around.

Still playing with video and finding that it can be very challenging. Not sure how it's going to fit into my work flow.