Maximising video quality (EOS 5D mk2)

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by john clark, May 13, 2010.

  1. Hi folks.

    This perhaps isn't the best place for this post but it is a 5D mk2 and some of you might know. Basically, I am finding the video capabilities of the camera surprisingly useful, as I have two young sons and the quality I get out of the camera is nothing short of stunning considering that it is a camera and not a dedicated video camera.

    Anyway, this brings me to my point. I'd like to find out how to maximise the video quality in terms of end-result (in purely technical terms - compositionally, etc., is my own journey to make!). I have shot a few videos in normal light and noticed some noise in the shadows, even at low ISO. I don't see this noise in some of the other sample videos on the web, so I am wondering if there is a setting I have inadvertently missed which can reduce this noise.

    It's subtle but it is definitely there, and I am quite surprised given that stills do not show any noise at all. Detail and tonality is otherwise absolutely bang-on, and viewed at 1080p is very impressive. HOwever, this little niggle about the noise remains. Ordinarily, I wouldn't be too bothered (not a pixel peeper after all), but I would like to try my hand at some short film work and therefore anything I can do to maximise the quality is worthwhile - but I don't want to have to shell out for any additional hardware, etc.

    I noticed that in Final Cut Pro, the imported video shows codec metadata information 'at low quality' or somesuch (I'm away from my Mac right now so can't check the exact words). I wondered if it is a codec compression or quality setting that is buried somewhere in the 5D's menus which allows the user to trade-off quality versus storage? Or could it be something to do with how I get the video files from the 5D into the Mac (i.e. using a card reader and copied directly onto the hard-drive). Perhaps there's a better workflow?

    Viewing the video in-camera doesn't show the noise, but then it's being viewed on a much smaller screen so this is not to say that the noise isn't there. It could be, and I just can't see it.

    Apologies if this is of only passing relevance to a photography forum, but I've been here for over ten years and trust the advice given here more than I'd necessarily trust A.N.Other forum, so if you can help, please do.



    PS. For your entertainment, my baby son on our lawn (warning, large file): On the lawn
  2. John - cant help with your query, but if you've not visited this site:
    you might find it both useful and inspirational.
  3. Almost all of my video shooting has been indoors, and the single biggest factor on getting good results has been the use of a 800W Lowel light, which has a predictable 3200K color temperature and lights up the room and subject beautifully when bounced off the ceiling. I know that if I look for technical artifacts (noise, motion-related, aliasing) I find them, but with good lighting they are pretty easy to overlook.
  4. One of the (many) issues with DSLRs with movie capabilities is the codecs - they're not great to say the least, this is why FCP is coming up with "low quality" codec.
    Also try, there is a very active forum there including one for the 5dmkii.
  5. One of the (many) issues with DSLRs with movie capabilities is the codecs - they're not great to say the least, this is why FCP is coming up with "low quality" codec.​
    5D Mark II uses H.264 Main Profile at over 30 Mbps seconds. That should make for pretty good image quality. Or have you yourself seen compression artifacts in 5D footage?
  6. I don't use one but have been on productions that have, and the BBC tests have shown major aliasing and codec issues. I've been a TV cameraman for 15 years or more working for BBC etc., so have used many cameras from Super 16 Arriflex to the latest HD cameras like Panasonic's Varicam and Sony HDW750. In these realms H.264 is a very lowly codec.
    Not saying the 5d is not a decent camera for video, but just be careful looking at it and thinking it's basically a high-end digital cinema camera for £2,000 - it does have some issues. There is a reason why broadcast cameras cost between 15x an 50x that much.
    Here's the BBC test
  7. That PDF is concerned with aliasing -- that's not codec issue. Otherwise agreed, 5D video has quite a lot of issues -- I am quite surprised, that so many people manage to use it in professional setting.
  8. It's certainly not a major player in the broadcast industry at the moment. Again, that's not to say that it's not any good, just that there are issues there.
    As I said, it's not a camera that I use so can't say I'm an expert at all. Regarding the codec though, H.264 and AVC HD are used in consumer level products by Sony and Panasonic, while for higher-level cameras there are codecs like AVC Intra for Panasonic, and HDCam, XDCam HD and HDCam SR for Sony. Again this is reflected in the price - the Panasonic HPX2000 used DVCPro HD and you could buy a single board that contained the AVC Intra codec as an option and that board alone cost about £2000!
  9. Yes, I agree that the camera has got some major limitations yet the series finale of House (Fox) was filmed entirely with 5DII. If you know what you are doing it is capable of producing some unbelievable videos. Forget about spending 15x-20x the cost of 5DII but rather invest in time learning the camera.
    John, what camera settings do you use for videos?
  10. I wonder if they used the in-camera codec for that show? Not sure what the options are but if you can connect it to an external recorder via HD SDI or in the case of the 5D HDMI you can potentially get a better output. This is being done with a lot of semi pro camcorders like the Sony EX series. They have a 35 mb/s 4:2:0 long GOP codec, but via HD SDI output you can hook up to external recorders giving things like 220 mb/s 4:2:2 I frame codecs, resulting in a much better image.
    The whole broadcast chain has to be considered too, from grading, effects and then onto transmission, all put strain on the codecs. This is why people that use HDV camcorders are often amazed at why their cams were not acceptable for HD broadcast when if they played the shots back straight into their HD TVs they looked brilliant - it's once it's gone through the chain that they fall apart. It's also the reason why Super 16 film was quickly binned for HD origination - the shots were more than adequate for HD resolution, but the grain caused massive problems with the decoders in the broadcast chain which made them look horrible.
  11. I don't think the show was filmed in HDTV, guess it was converted to 720x480 for broadcasting. And I don't see there's a way to get something but HDMI signal, looks like the chip they use can't process the whole throughput. Actually, yes, it's a consumer level HDTV video recorder, nothing more, no way for broadcasting.
  12. The BBC report is very interesting. It did look at a pre-production unit, so maybe they did a better job in the final rev. Still, I can't help but think that video was added to the camera design at the very last minute and very much a rush job. The mistake of running at 30 fps instead of the correct 29.97 for NTSC sure looked naive...almost as if the people in Canon who actually knew something about video weren't involved. Anyway, it's good that Canon has fixed these shortcomings in the current ROM updates. Makes me wonder if they improved the aliasing performance as well.
  13. Ken, from what I've heard the performance on the production units is exactly as it was in the test.
    I think that rather than it being an afterthought, it was more that Canon were really taken by surprise at just how popular it was - thinking that it'd just be used by consumer users and for the odd bit of grabbed footage, they didn't realise that people would go nuts for it right from consumer end to digital cinema users! This has led to all sorts of amazing rigs, with $100,000 Zeiss prime sets being bolted to it as well as support systems, viewfinder etc etc.!
  14. The show was filmed in HDTV as they have Fox HDTV channel. But it was converted as well for their standard definition channel.
  15. John
    Don't worry too much about "subtle" noise. You are looking for it. Most viewers of your work won't be.
    Some of my 7D video is here.
  16. Again though, if it's for broadcast this noise can potentially cause problems with the encoders, so you do need to be wary of it.

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