Canon kick-started the large sensor revolution with its full-frame DSLR, the EOS 5D Mark II. Since then it has been used on numerous TV dramas, such as House, and other productions to achieve shallow depth of field. Now Canon has introduced the 5D Mark III, which addresses most of the Mark II’s problems.
EOS-1D X, but at about half the price, and adds a headphone jack for audio monitoring.
It can record using either interframe or intra-frame compression. The interframe IPB AVC H.264 compression is apparently about 31Mbps (according to the Canon USA website figure of 235MB/min - the 5D Mark II was about 38-40Mbps). However, it has been reported elsewhere as 50Mbps (variable bitrate). The ALL-I intra-frame codec has been reported variously as being 78Mbps, 91Mbps (from the 685MB/min on Canon's US site), and even 300Mbps+ (although maybe that was just the recommended specification for the Compact Flash card). It too is a variable bit rate, and also varies depending on frame rate (going to 81Mbps for 720/60p). However, if we take 91Mbps as correct, that is not necessarily sufficiently better than the Long GoP (group of pictures) interframe compression for broadcast work. The BBC/EBU recommendation for minimum bit rate for interframe is 50Mbps, while for intra-frame recording it is 100Mbps (see What makes an HD camera?) - interframe recording is a lot more efficient than recording all the frames individually, although intra-frame should be easier for post production as the computer doesn't have to look at half-a-second's worth of video just to decode a single frame.
sample online videos are too compressed to make an accurate judgement). There still seem to be some rolling shutter effects (jello), but this appears to be much reduced compared to the Mark II.
The camera is also considerably better in low light than the Mark II (which was itself a pretty good performer in low light), by about two stops.
Canon now faces a lot more competition than it did in November 2008. The Nikon D800, which should start shipping before April, is the obvious full-frame, full-HD rival, and it will allow a clean HDMI feed for external recording – although not the adjustable audio levels, frame rates above 30fps or higher bitrate in-camera recording of the Mark III (the D800 is limited to 24Mbps).
Canon’s own EOS C300 is a much lauded large-sensor (APS-C/Super 35mm size) video camera, which looks good in low light. And there are now a wide range of large-sensor video cameras that are relatively inexpensive (at least by the standards of a few years ago), from Arri’s Alexa to Sony’s F65, F3 and FS100, and Panasonic’s AF101. At the lowest budget end, Panasonic’s GH2 DSLR can produce lovely-looking video (once it has been loaded with the independent Driftwood hack that allows it record at up to 176Mbps).
At the C300 launch, Canon also promised to introduce a new 4K Cinema EOS full-frame DSLR camera by the end of this year, which may be a further consideration.
It “is an exceptional camera and we’ve listened carefully to feedback from its passionate community of users to improve performance in every area. This camera has been designed to meet virtually any creative challenge – it’s faster, more responsive and features the tools to adapt to everything from studio photography to creative videography, while producing results of the highest quality,” he claimed.
By David Fox