« Random Excellence: Hin Chua | Main | Random Excellence: Lee Pickett »

Saturday, 27 September 2008


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

I didn't get the video at all either. There was a thread on DPR where most people didn't get it either and I didn't feel so bad.

What the video was good for was showing the advantages of using a large sensor camera for videos and the different effects of a TS or a fish or fast lenses.

And hope everyone reads his blog before they start with the comments he was sponsored, a tool of Canon etc.

Well - what do you think of the video quality?!

"what do you think of the video quality?!"

I don't think I'm fit to say. I'm not a video guy.

Mike J.

"What the video was good for was showing the advantages of using a large sensor camera for videos and the different effects of a TS or a fish or fast lenses."

Yep, which was its purpose.

I liked the video. From an artistic viewpoint I suppose MJ's comments are justified, but it's hardly relevant.

By the way, the first paragraph: dead funny.


Judging from your recent posts on the emergence of optional video capabilities in still cameras, I have to say, methinks you're getting old.

Mirror lockup is an example of a feature that's been available in SLRs, and in my work, I don't ever remember needing it or using it even just for the fun of it. Though I'm not a video person, this new feature is exciting and certainly something I'm dying to try out with fast lenses using them wide open. It makes me think about all the years I've been shooting only equipped with an SLR, wishing what could I have done in some places with some people if I only had video on my SLR then.

I still love stills and don't think I'll ever become a video guy, but when I think about all the unnecessary features and dozens of custom functions (rear-curtain sync anyone?) that I effectively pay for in my SLR and never use, here's something I CAN use - even if on a rare occasion.

Bring it on!

Thank God!

I should point out that Mike Reichmann is not a Canon shrill. His website had a preview of the new Sony and he has shown as much enthusiasm for the most recent Nikons as Canons.

As far as the covergence between video and still photography, there is the new Casio digicam that just came out.

Mike -

Having read your writing for many, many years, I know you and I have much in common with regard to philosophy and photography. But, it freaks me out a little to learn that both your dog and my dog are named "Lulu."

-Pretty cool!


Well, it's no wonder it looks like a commercial - it has a commercial soundtrack, Moby's "Extreme Ways". :-) It was used in _Bourne Identity_, _Bourne Supremacy_ *and* _Bourne Ultimatum_ for closing credits. And although I cannot find anything in official listings, I'm prepared to swear I heard that song in a car commercial. I almost fell from my chair laughing when I saw the commercial because they used the line "and then it all fell apart" in the commercial.

As to the video quality, it looks good. Not only because of the use of all the various lenses, but because it uses a codec which will, at the same size, give you a better quality then Nikon D90's codec. Plus it has a larger resolution.

What I find... representative of the current fascination with video on DSLR's is the text the abovementioned Mr. Reichmann wrote for his site, on what you need to know about video if you're a photographer, Understanding Video. The whole article is basically dedicated to gear-heading, while the most important part - the difference between capturing still and moving pictures - takes about a tenth. Okay, double that, if we count in the advice about sound recording, although it's also mostly gadget advice.

Very effective video - sharp and glossy color.

Interesting to see that they needed to use Kenyon Gyro stabilizers for the wides and fast primes : who says lens stabilization is better than body-sensor.

I think HD video is going to be the new must have feature - at least it might turn attention away from needless more megapixels.

There is nothing wrong with saying you didn't like the video and why. And I happen to agree with your criticisms of it.

However I also look at it this way: If someone with technical skill can make a video that looks like a top quality TV commercial (or better), than I can make a video with it that looks that good and has substance.

Am I going to pay to see a movie written by Vince? No. And something tells me he wouldn't either.

Most of the still photography I see, no matter how technically proficient, is empty. Same with most of the video. At least now it has a chance to look pretty. Nothing is worse than empty AND ugly. Right? ;)

Just give me a tool that let's me control the look, and I'll bring the substance.

Not personally being much interested in the convergence, confluence, or effluence of video and stills, the word I would probably use to describe it is effluvium.

"Mike...I have to say, methinks you're getting old."

No, I've always been this way. When I was 27, one of my teachers in art school told me I was the youngest 60-year-old he'd ever met.

Mike J.

I'm glad I wasn't the only one who thought that Vincent Laforet video was astonishingly awful. In fact I'm surprised he didn't bother with even a little bit of a story line, a slight documentary angle, anything.

Sure, you can now shoot in the dark and get shallow depth of field, for only $3K, which will be nice extra tools for those already into film-making. But those are a rather long way from being what we go to the movies to see.

Sadly I think we'll see lots more stills people making VL-esque movies. Fortunately, we don't have to watch them.

Well, Mike, I am not into video neither, and I wouldn't comment on the artistic value of Mr. Laforet's video (commercial/fashion stuff isn't my cup of tea either). But as it's been said, it doesn't matter.

The point of the video was to show how you could, with ridiculously small investment, preparation, crew, equipment and *light*, shoot a film that had the image quality of a full fledge commercial production. He certainly achieved that, for the simple reason that the camera indeed produces amazingly high quality videos, especially in low light--which was the point of shooting the whole thing at night. In the "making of" video, the difference in image quality between what the new 5D produced and a dedicated pro HD camcorder they used was *stark*, to say the least. (And the 5D footage wasn't even processed, it's straight out of the device!)

The first segment of the industry that is going to benefit (and/or be shaken) by the convergence of still and video is editorial/reportage photography. This is so much Mr. Laforet's turf that he's written a very important piece called "The Cloud is Falling" last june, which explained it very eloquently [www.sportsshooter.com/news/2014]. In this internet world, with the technology now in place (processing, bandwidth, quality, etc.), why would you stick with a still if you can have a video of the event? In this segment of the industry, the convergence makes perfect sense. That's exactly what Mr. Laforet was saying: get ready, work on your video skills, because it's coming. And now we see that it's coming even faster.

Now, outside of that segment, we'll have to see what comes out of it... I've read about marriage photographers who are ecstatic about video, even if they wouldn't have thought about it at first--just like they found great applications to "LiveView", even if they would never have thought of requesting that feature. Give people creative tools and they'll come up with stuff you (and them) would never have dreamed of, and shape the refined devices of tomorrow, until one day we nail it.

It doesn't mean that if you do fine arts photography, video necessarily makes sense for you... And obviously a lot of people are going to produce crap (at least at first), because it's new to them. The 5D Mark II is only the second DSLR announced that can produce video... Of course it's not going to be perfect, and some people are going to wonder why it even exists...

Still, I think we have to embrace these new possibilities. It's by doing more video that we'll get better at it.

"Why would you stick with a still if you can have a video of the event?"
Now that's the big question that needs to be discussed.
There's plenty of really good reasons to shoot video but I can think of solid reasons not to.
A good photograph captures a moment that causes the viewer to pause, to think, to assess, to invent, to dream. Even bad photographs take us down this path.
Most video exasperates me. Why was it shot (at all), why concentrate on that angle when another angle would satisfy more, why is it jerky, why does it embrace the style-du-jour?
Youtube is the evidence of dissatisfying, needless captured movement.
Really well done video actually needs thought and planning if it's going to satisfy the viewer - more planning than photography (I'm happy for that to be disputed by people who have done it).
I shoot video professionally as well as stills. The two don't compare.
Stills live on in the memory after they've been viewed. They're like a familiar face, to be recalled time and again.
Video is the fluff of now. It takes a genius cameraperson to get a viewer to remember a scene that an average photograph will do!

By the way, in response to Stephen's featured comment: I think the original of all such jokes is to be found in one of the most famous quotes from Boswell's "Life of Johnson": "I told him I had been that morning at a meeting of the people called Quakers, where I had heard a woman preach. Johnson: 'Sir, a woman's preaching is like a dog's walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all.'" (Vol. ii. Chap. ix. [1763])

Not a quote that's popular with women, but a most adaptable _bon mot_.

Mike J.

I don't think it's quite fair to criticize Laforet's video too harshly. If someone had handed me a new camera, told me that it could shoot video, and given me the weekend to come up with something, whatever I produced would have made Laforet's effort look like the Oscar material. When a pure technical capability is the inspiration for something, it's rarely going to be a standout artistically.

But now let's assume that you have someone with an artistic vision who wants to produce a film on a budget. The interesting question is whether the existence of low-light video capability in a camera like the 5Dii is going to make that more possible. My opinion is a definite "maybe". Once I see a repeat of something like Robert Rodriguez's "El Mariachi", then I'll change my answer to "yes".

Let me get this right- you buy a 21 megapixel camera to make 2 megapixel movies. Or am I missing something?

Mike Jones

It's kind of weird; the reason for the trend with having video in cameras seems to be simply that it is possible. Video and photography are distinct, different forms of expression, and as far too many clips like this show, being good at one will not help you at all with the other. Video is not "pictures that move" - that would be the animated portraits in Harry Potter - and skills just don't transfer much.

By the same token we should be seeing cameras with built-in instruments, liek a small drum machine or two-octave keyboard, just because we can. Perhaps a simple word processor for aspiring writers. The more forms of expression in the same device the better, right?


You're right about video drawing you in. Must be making synaptic connections up there, activating some endorphins maybe. In an art gallery once, I watched a segment of video. The auteur had placed a video cam on the dashboard of his car and drove around some cities (all Canadian cities, I think). It was really boring. But I couldn't stop watching, possibly because I was hoping something interesting would come up, as we have been trained to expect. But, nothing interesting ever came up. Then I made the mistake of going over to the card on the wall with an explanation of the installation, and as often happens, it detracted (for me) from the enjoyment of the film. I left.

Anyway, this power that video has to draw us in, do you think that's what keeps trash television going? I mean, what other benefit is there?

All this is beside the main point. I have no useful opinion about video on DLSRs, highdef or not. I don't see the need, but obviously others do. But the more doodads they come up with, the more you idea of a dead simple DSLR appeals. Put a good sensor on it, forget all the rest, except maybe aperture-priority and a couple of other useful things like self-cleaning and maybe IS, and drop the price by half.

The other week I had to do some grip and grin shots for a company, they wanted stills for their printed publicity and video for their web. With the new 5DMkii I would have only needed to take the one camera. Suddenly that makes my back feel a lot better.

I downloaded and watched Laforet's video. What blew me away was not the content, but that the content could be produced in such high quality (at least on my Mac 24" widescreen) with a dslr. The higher def production out takes were even more amazing.

I don't think this is something I would do myself. But for me, the 5D Mk II draws a new line in the sand.

I have to agree with Mike Johnston about the Laforet video.
Since the superb Cinema Verité masterpiece for the Panasonic PK956 from 1982 (indeed the golden era for promotional videos) video camera demo reels have displayed a distinct pandering to cliché and pop culture. Witness the instruction videos accompanying the Sony CCD-TRV30 video camera from the 1990's, where the story arc descends into a meaningless melangé while the director seemingly obsesses with technique and equipment, leaving this viewer confused and disappointed with what could have been a rewarding cinematic experience.
Indeed as many promotion video afficianados will attest, Panasonic flirted briefly with a "film noir' motif which only served as a totally self serving vehicle to show off their product's low light capabilities.
One can only hope that this will be a wake up call to manufacturers. We don't care about the latest doodads; we just want excellence in our promo videos. Is that too much to ask?

Mike Jones - You could just as easily say you're buying a 1080p video camera that can also take 21 MP stills. The point is that until now HD video with this kind of lens set and sensor wasn't available nearly as cheaply. And remember that HD video may only be 2 MP, but it's 2 MP at 30 fps - which is a huge amount of data.

As for what's coming, a look to the new Casio superzooms might point the way. Designed mainly for speed, the new one will supposedly do 7 MP images at 40 fps - pretty amazing amount of throughput.

I thought the video was excellent -- it was a demonstration of the capabilities of the 5D. Complaining that you don't like the video content is like someone demonstrating how well a quality hammer drives nails into wood, and onlookers complain that they don't like the Victorian period furniture that was built.

And don't forget Stanley Kubrick. He was a freelance photographer who produced some pretty good work for Look magazine starting at age 16! The look of his films was definitely influenced by his days as a still photographer.

"examples of great directors who made an early start as still photographers, but just aren't remembered for that now. (Wasn't Arthur Penn a still photographer?)"

Um, does the name Stanley Kubrick ring a bell? Somewhere over the last year I saw an article on the stills he took early in his career.


Now that I think about it, a more pertinent question would be, "Which cinematographers started their career shooting stills?"

Ken Russell, loved by some and loathed by others, worked as a photographer in the 1950s and went on to direct some interesting feature films over the last few decades. He's also said to have influenced Kubrick (the other photographer-turned-director that readers have mentioned) with his increasingly flamboyant work for the BBC's arts documentaries before moving into feature films. A series of programmes about BBC arts documentaries - "Art of Arts TV" - is being aired now and the first episode is available to UK viewers on the BBC's iPlayer site, till 12th October. It features some of Russell's early TV work.


To see how good Stanley Kubrick was a photograper (and how wicked and twisted he could be, if you know what I mean) seeing the cover of the book "Stanley Kubrick: Drama & Shadows", which I'd swear it was commented on TOP, should be enough...


Mr. Laforet comes from a news background, for which I have some empathy, having started my technology career in the newspaper production industry and now today in the television industry.

Producing and delivering media content (news or entertainment) is big business. Look to News Corporation for an example of how big that business can be.

But all media businesses are under increasing pressure from new competition and the new media consumption habits of the younger generations.

An important activity in planning for enhanced business survival is to work out how to squeeze additional value from your assets. A photographer in a newspaper company is an asset, as is his camera. When the photographer goes out to shoot stills at a news event, the 5D MkII allows him to also capture some video footage too. That video footage, even just a few seconds of it, could be sold for large amounts of money to news agencies, TV stations, etc. It doesn't need to be beautiful. It doesn't always need audio. The TV station will use a reporter's voice-over as the soundtrack.

So for almost no investment, every newspaper stills photographer equipped with a 5D MKII suddenly has the capability of generating a brand new revenue stream for the newspaper company: selling video footage of news events to TV stations and agencies.

The 5D MkII makes a lot of sense to some...

China's Zhang Yimou (Raise The Red Lantern) (Hero) (House of Flying Daggers) started out as a stills photographer, then became a cinematographer, and then a director.

His name might not be immediately recognisable to some, but you all know his recent work - the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics.

How could a list of photographer-cinematographers leave out the late, great Gordon Parks?

I don't see the reason why there has to be any criticism on the editing or angles taken in Vince's "Reverie." It was really more of a video demo than anything that shows the video capabilities of the camera. Knowing how tight production and editing schedules can be, and keeping in mind that it's a demo, not a full-length short film as it's being made out to be, I'd say that Vince's video was very well done given the circumstances. I'm a wedding videographer as well as a photographer, and from my experience, the video was certainly a convincing sample of what the 5D II can do. Once I get my hands on one, it would certainly be a welcome plus that I no longer need to lug around a camcorder with my DSLR.

Further to Vince Laforet's comment and your reply to it, Stanley Kubrick started as a still photographer. I think we could say he's a pretty artistic filmmaker. Eyes Wide Shut, Full Metal Jacket, to name but a couple. Barry Lyndon (is that the right title) was perhaps the most "photographic" of his works, from what I've heard.

And as for Robert Frank, he gets an A for controversy. He made a film about the Rolling Stones and they didn't like it. However, I think the resulting agreement was that it gets to be shown once a year in NY city. I've seen it on video though. It's certainly good. But I guess I thought it might be more good, seeing as how it was banned and all.

Personally, I've been a still photographer for decades and I'm getting set to explore video. But while the 5D mk11 and D90 can do some flashy stuff, as in short depth of field, in most other respects they're inferior to a dedicated video cam.

I have my eye on the Panasonic HMC-150 that's just out in the states. It records hi-def to consumer flash cards but otherwise has all the important pro features like XLR audio inputs, gamma curve setting and so forth.

Mike, in your reply to Vincent I found the single issue that stops me from going and buying myself a D90 (I'm a nikonian) right now - concentration. I'm also afraid that being able to shoot video, will make me want to shoot video - and hence - make me lose perfect stills.

A bit late I know but Anton Corbijn made a very good film shot entirely in B&W



We were really excited about the project and what Vincent had actually accomplished. Impressed so much so that we were able to coordinate a podcast interview with Vincent and also get a Q&A session to boot.

Very interesting!!


We really enjoyed the whole process, was fun hope you enjoy!

Here there are more videos from the 5dmk2:

Good day for 'greedy' agencies, bad day for agency still shooters; new door for indies... it saves a lot on lens adapter!
Vincent's video is good enough to show the capabilities of the camera, no complain here.


Thanks for the short video (but thorough) look at the Mk II. I've been digging around for awhile for info on the rig and you've been an excellent source. Far as video goes, I've been a shooter (still and video) since `90 and made the transition from film to video and into the Digital Revolution. So I thought the video you shot looked quite good. One of the commentors mentioned 'crushed blacks' but I trust there are controls available to tweak the picture (that's an important thing to have for video.) Yeah, and you're right some 'indy' will make a groundbreaking film with it (hopefully me!) I think this is an excellent opportunity for shooters to explore the potential of the two mediums. I've been doing both for so long, when I'm working in one I'm thinking how good it would look in the other! Oh and you are also right, there's going to be some bad stuff being made, but that happened when analog transitioned to DV etc. Despite the new tech, the rules of use (composition, framing, sequencing etc.) will still be in full effect. Storytelling will be a much greater force I think as well. Just those shots of yours on that rainy day evoked some 'cinematic thoughts' for me. I look forward to getting my hands on a Mk II to see what the potential for shooting both medium out of the same rig can be! Oh and don't be so hard on Herr Laforet. For a guy who is primarily a still shooter taking a video camera out for a test it could have been infinitely worse! I loved the aerials but I do agree the talent was too 'modelley'. However, it did suit the slick commercial look he laid down. One thing I want to know, is can footage be captured via the hdmi connector? That would be a mega-plus being able to connect it to a laptop with live capture software onboard!

On almost all pro photography websites, countless numbers of pro photographers are shunning the video capabilities of the 5DmkII and what such a move could mean to photography as we know it. I for one am ecstatic about what this DSLR has brought to the industry. Never mind the fact that Canon has (needlessly?) crammed a video camera in one of its finest DSLR's, there is the simple fact that the company has delivered a 35mm HD 'camera' with interchangeable lenses at $2700 U.S.! I'm pretty sure that if canon crammed the 5DmkII's innards into one of it's XL camera's it would be the holy grail of digital video. What surprises me is the fact that Canon (or any other manufacturer) hasn't already done so. If anything, The 5DmkII will increase what Indy film makers expect from their gear. Up until now, amateur film/videographers have been told (via the equipment available to them for purchase) that it is costs at least $30,000 to have a decent 35mm HD camera, and you need super expensive lenses to put on said camera, and you need super expensive proprietary storage to store the footage from said camera. Clunky DSLR form factor aside, the 5DmkII proves that this is far from the case. It's not as if there simply was not a market for such a cam to exist, the market was STARVED for such a thing to come about.

Just looked at some video footage I shot with the 5d mark II. It looks like crap- unfortunately. The compression is h264. Substantial. I was hopeful this camera was going to give me another tool in addition to 35mm, 16mm and the RED. Ultimately I was kind of surprised at the low quality of the image. Remember Reverie is displayed at 1/4 size. Even at that size you can see all kinds of artifacts. Severe Moire, blocking up of various tones, black spots in the middle of extreme highights etc. Now that people are actually getting a chance to shoot with the camera I'm sure the hype will fade away. Having said that, it makes a great still camera. Hope this helps.

OK. I never reply to these but there is something not quite discussed because these comments are coming from photographers, not videogrphers. I am a fairly well skilled photographer, videographer and glidecam operator and video editor of primarily high-end weddings. I shot using the Canon 5D Mark II on New Years Eve. The footage is stunning. I will try my best to try and use the camera to shoot video in certian situations, mostly second camera work on the Glidecam because of the quality of video footage I don't think I can find in any video camera for that cost ..or even twice that cost.

It was my first time shooting. The difficulty was what hat to wear at any given moment: Photographer or videographer ?

I personally prefer to photograph but in that situation I naturally kept falling into the videographer role because the live view function has to be on when shooting video. You end up holding the unit like a video camera since you are not looking through the view finder. That changed my role to videographer instantly.

So anyways, I ended with not enough photography but a lot of amazing video. To resolve the issue I took video stills from the footage. I was very surprised. Its pretty damn good. But not quite good enough for most wedding photographers requirements. But its getting close. Very close.

I think ultimatley high quality stills will be direved from video. They will be one and the same. That 'moment' as discussed by a previous comment is WITHIN the video footage. A perfect moment more easily created, found and accomplished by the nature of video being seamless. That's what photography will become. A shooter with good composition thinking like a photographer but shooting video finding the perfect moment in the editing room. Eventually.

That is the reality of convergence as I can see it being proficient in all three roles: photographer, videographer, video editor.

There is a natural resistance to even the consideration of video within a photographers mind. The thought process of photographers is in many ways the opposite of a videographers.

There will be more ease entering into the photographers market by people skilled in videography.

The skill set of a photographer is more easily learned by videograaphers and video editors than vice versa.

Everything will come down to the degree of VARIED technical and creative skill. Being a creative individual in media is becoming more complex as the technology makes the difference between different types of media one and the same. Knowledge is power. Increase your skill set as a creator of media. The market is shrinking. Think MEDIA not photography.

Now how the heck can I get an automatic zoom on a Canon lens !


The comments to this entry are closed.



Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 06/2007