Canon 5D: THE camera for music videos

I was just looking at some videos shot with the 5D, and many of them are official music videos. And it makes so much sense, the 5D is the best cost-effective camera for this specific job. It seems that many professional filmmakers who shoot music videos by trade, have flocked behind the 5D. At $3,500 (with two medium quality lenses) is a bargain.

With its 30p, you can shoot the video with 25% sped up audio, and then slow-down the video in post to 24p to match the original audio (confused? read here). Then, there’s the unparalleled quality of the videos straight out of the 5D (higher bitrate than any HDV/AVCHD prosumer camera), its color and image control that can emulate film looks, shallow DoF, and now, full manual control. The fact that its audio abilities are less than ideal is irrelevant towards shooting a music video, since the audio is added later.

At this point makes absolutely no sense to buy any prosumer camera ($2,000 to $10,000) and put a 35mm adapter in them to shoot music videos. Because, either the bitrate of these cameras can’t surpass the 5D’s (e.g. EX1, XH-A1), or the resolution is actually lower and adding a 35m adapter kills quality even more — even if the bitrate is higher (e.g. HVX200).

It only makes sense to get these cameras instead if you actually need true 24p recording (which is coming to the 5D too, and it’s not necessary for 25% slow-downed music videos anyway), if you need 60p/60i for better slow-motion, or if you need better audio options.

In other words: if you are in the business of shooting music videos, get a 5D and use it as your main camera. And if you happen to need better slow-motion abilities, get a consumer Canon HF-S100 that shoots in good quality 60i (when interpolating to 540p it creates a 60p file that produces smoother slow-mo).

Of course, for music bands that don’t have that kind of money, they can try my guide for shooting their music video for less than $430.

UPDATE: Heh, what do you know? This article was published today at NYTimes!


Philip Goh wrote on June 10th, 2009 at 1:00 AM PST:

Think of how awesome it would be to shoot video with a fast prime lens!

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Eugenia wrote on June 10th, 2009 at 11:52 AM PST:

I am personally not a fan of extreme shallow DoF. So if I get the 5D, I would probably use a medium speed lens, or stop down. I like background blur, and I want it, I just hate the *extreme* bg blurry look that some people have on their videos (especially from 35m adapters). It’s so unnatural.

Robert wrote on June 10th, 2009 at 3:00 PM PST:

At this point makes absolutely no sense to buy any prosumer camera ($2,000 to $10,000).

Well, let me digress. With $10.000 you can buy a “TRUE” camcorder with PRO controls and FULL SIZE form. Like Panasonic HPX500. 2/3″ CCDs give you enough DoF for just any purpose.

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Eugenia wrote on June 10th, 2009 at 3:45 PM PST:

I am not sure having a full size is a great idea for music videos, but then again, it’s $10,000, and with smaller sensor than the 5D. Not a bad camera by any means, but not as cost-effective as a 5D for music videos.

Philip Goh wrote on June 11th, 2009 at 2:50 AM PST:

I guess I’m a big fan of bokeh as it really helps to isolate your subject. True, like any technique it can be abused, i.e. new hammer syndrome where everything starts to look like a nail.

Jara wrote on June 14th, 2009 at 10:45 AM PST:

How do you know 24p is coming? I have read some rumors but nothing really solid.

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Eugenia wrote on June 14th, 2009 at 11:07 AM PST:

Just the rumors. There are too many to dismiss. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, IMHO.

Robert wrote on June 17th, 2009 at 11:48 AM PST:

BTW, Nikon D300s is almost here. Non official specs state that it will have 720p video at 24fps. Its video capabilities must be better than D90 but I do not expect to surpase 5DMarkII.

Nikon, 24p is great, but give as 720/50p!! Moreover, skip that silly 8 minute or whatever time limitation. Split files while not dropping frames, come on! Is that so complicated?

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Eugenia wrote on June 17th, 2009 at 12:02 PM PST:

MJPEG can’t surpass 40 mbps of h.264. Not to mention the terrible rolling shutter effect that all Nikon cams have. I do expect the 5D-M2 to get 24fps though.

As for 50/60 fps, this is impossible, because the sensor can’t pass so much data to the encoder that quickly. It’s many more GBs per second than 30 fps (internally). Even at lower res, it’s the initial capturing that’s the problem.

Robert wrote on June 19th, 2009 at 10:53 AM PST:

I don’t know why. Consumer Casio cameras shot at 210 fps with slighly less than PAL resolution. So 50 fps at 720p doesn’t seem to me an impossible target with a professinal DSLR.

I agree with the MJPEG, but editing 1080p h264 is a headache.

Will see…

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Eugenia wrote on June 19th, 2009 at 12:05 PM PST:

Casio has a specific niche regarding this, products that were not designed to do that won’t be able to do that, because as I said, the pathway between sensor-chip-memory is not fast enough. Especially at 22 megapixel which is gigabytes of uncompressed data!!! There are too many gigabytes to pass around instantly.

Robert wrote on June 19th, 2009 at 3:29 PM PST:

How do DSRL handle video while recording? For example, 5DM2 has a 22 mpixel sensor but it “only” needs a 1920×1080 region. Does it capture the whole area and then it downscales to 1920p or just capture a 1920×1080 area of the center of the CMOS ?

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Eugenia wrote on June 19th, 2009 at 3:36 PM PST:

Yes, it captures most of it (crops a little) and then it downscales. In order to do more than 30 fps in that huge resolution, they would have to crop massively instead — and even then it would be tricky.

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