As the news filtered through Twitter that the 5D MKII firmware 1.1.0 update was available for download, I couldn’t help but excitedly download the new version and install in onto my Camera. The instructions were the same as the previous update so for me the process was familiar and very simple. It took about a minute or so for the Update to take hold via a CF card and before long I was shooting with manually controlled Exposure and Shutter speed! Awesome! I’m truly thankful that Canon has taken the time to bring about this update and allowed us to freely download the new functionality. The rush to bring the 5D MKII camera to the market must have pushed the engineering team to concentrate on the Camera’s “Stills” functions first and the Video capabilities of the camera were probably seen as “fluff” that no one was going to care about! Well, I think both the Photographic community and the Canon Engineers/ Marketing team would have received a shock when suddenly round the world people were creating Movies, Short Films, Television Commercials, Music Videos, Documentaries and full blown Feature Films with the 5D MKII! Just visit vimeo.com for example and search 5D MKII to see what extraordinary work people have created with the 5D already.
My quick test with the camera is both silly and functional. I couldn’t do this with the previous version successfully. You had to perform all these steps to force the Exposure/ Shutter speed lock to work which wasn’t really practical for a “real” production or shoot. I can now dolly past a foreground object that is darker or lighter then my set exposure. In my test I handheld the camera and moved from a dark undercover outdoor room past a pole and then to a bright outdoor setting without the exposure changing or the colour balance shifting. The ISO remained fixed also so no visible shifting of the image through dynamic electronic controls was noticed! Yeah! Finally we have manual control which is great!
Here is a link to a short video I uploaded to vimeo.com
The settings I used are as follows:
Once you have set the camera’s LiveView Function setting to “Stills + Movie” and set the LCD Screen settings to “Movie Display”, put the camera into M (Manual mode) & set your Shutter, ISO & Aperture to what ever you like. The 5D MKII will now record HD Video with full manual control.
Sadly for those of us that live in a PAL world or would like to shoot more film like, the update does not include the ability to shoot 24/25P! The frame rate is still stuck on 30P for some reason. I can’t understand why?! Surely 24/25P modes is less bandwidth in terms of the data rate then 30 Frames per second?? Why couldn’t this have been included into the update is beyond me. I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining about a “Free” update but it does feel like half the modern world has been ignored! In any case, I’m hoping that a quick update will follow shortly with both 24 and 25P FPS modes available.
I think the 5D MKII is a terrific camera platform. The current hardware, while not perfect, is definitely worth persisting with in terms of it’s software. I’m hoping Canon shares my point of view and continues to expand the capabilities of the existing 5D MKII camera hardware to maximise it’s potential and use it as a testing ground for all future models that combine both Video and Photography into one unit.