you keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

People are flipping the hell out about the Canon EOS 5D MKII and the fact that, in addition to stills, it shoots 1080 HD digital video as well. A primary culprit in the hype about this functionality seems to be Vincent Laforet and this blog post of his.

Now, I do not disagree that the 5D MKII is most likely a very nice camera, and furthermore I think the 1080 video capture feature is pretty cool. What it most certainly is not, however, is a game-changer in the professional cinematography world.

Vincent claims, or at least repeats claims, in that blog post that the 5D MKII shoots "full resolution 1080p RAW footage". This is wildly inaccurate, as a brief glance at the official specs sheet makes plain. To quote:

Movie Type: MOV (Video: H.264...)

H.264 compression is not at all RAW. Not even close. It is, in fact, quite highly (if nicely) compressed*. So let's not dupe people into thinking that they're getting RAW HD video footage from this camera.

Vincent also quotes an unnamed "top commercial film editor who regularly edits RED camera footage" as saying that the 5D MKII's low-light performance is “far superior to the RED camera”. From the test footage that I've seen, this is impossible to say. It is clear that the 5D MKII applies a quite strong gamma curve to the image (and other color processing), rolling the shadows off into oblivion. Granted, this is a very common procedure in video post (crushing contrast), but the fact that the 5D MKII is doing so in-camera makes it impossible to tell how noisy the shadow areas actually are. Applying permanent gamma curves in-camera is also by no means a hallmark of RAW footage. If you actually look at RAW 2K, 3K or 4K footage (from, say, the RED One camera) you'll notice that it actually looks rather desaturated and has fairly flat contrast... until you apply your own color and gamma curves. This, friends, is the point of RAW video capture: to give you maximum possible pixels and minimum pre-processing of the image so you have a beautifully pixel-rich canvas on which to work your color grading magic in post-production.

As another nitpick to set against the claim that this camera will somehow be widely adopted for professional (or even pro-am) cinematography is the fact that you are limited to a 30fps framerate. No 24 or 25 fps capture? No varispeed for fast or slow motion? Good luck interesting most cinematographers.

Also, while Canon-compatible still lenses are very nice I seriously doubt you're going to find any cinematographer who's itching to stop using the huge variety of extant PL-mount cinematography lenses made by Cooke, Angenieux and others.

In summary, while the 5D MKII seems to be an excellent DSLR the 1080p video capture feature is likely to be used as nothing more than a nice added-value functionality for stills photographers and photojournalists. I find it highly improbable that it will find any significant adoption in the cinematography world. And please, let's not continue to make wild claims about RAW 1080 video capture.

*What sets "raw" apart from "not raw" image capture isn't so much lack of compression (even though that's what I seized upon in the post above), it's whether or not the image has been "demosaiced" (or, if you prefer, de-Bayered) into an RGB image. AFAIK there's no way to generate an H.264 file that isn't RGB or YUV, meaning that the image must have been de-Bayered at some point and is therefore no longer "raw".

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