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Canon EOS 5D Mark II versus Sony HDR-FX1
My brother Matt and I tried some simple test scenes to compare the HD video from his new Canon 5D Mark II with my Sony HDR-FX1. We didn't put a whole lot in to these, mainly just picking a few subjects and shooting without much manual adjustment - pretty much what most users would do with the cameras 'out of the box'. No precise matching of frames or anything was done here, just setting the cameras up next to each other and shooting for a few seconds.
click to enlarge
I captured the FX1 footage in SD downconvert mode, and used Streamclip to do the same to the MOV files from the 5D (due to me just being lazy, I didn't want to spend a lot of time rendering, and Premiere 1.5 on my dual core laptop would not support realtime editing of the 5D's files). So, no huge HD files here this time. We may do some more of these when I have my CS3 quad-core machine handy. Out of the six or seven scenes we tested, I picked three to post here. Other than the downconvert to 16x9 SD resolution, no post adjustments were made to these clips. The Streamclip conversion trashed the audio from the 5D's files, so there is no audio on the 5D's half of these clips (it does record audio with either its onboard mic or a plugged-in mic).
All in all, the 5D shoots incredible HD video for a DSLR. The depth of field capabilities (afforded by using SLR lenses for video) open the door to a lot of potential that even high-end professional HD cameras would be hard pressed to attain. The color space and dynamic range of a DSLR chip blows away what any prosumer camera can capture.
Rolling shutter test
The 5D MKII's main handicap for a storm observer is its CMOS sensor - ruling out the ability to capture lightning footage. All video cameras with CMOS sensors utilize a rolling shutter to capture video frames, and the 5D is no different. Rolling shutter makes any footage containing rapid pulses of light (like from a lightbar strobe, camera flash or lightning strike) exhibit partial exposure on the video frame:
Flash test - Watch Video
Low light test
According to Matt, the low light capabilities of the 5D MKII for HD video have been disappointing. Apparently all of the stunning nighttime demo footage used to hype up the camera's video capabilities has been (deceptively) well-lit. In the typical garden-variety low-light scene, the 5D MKII is unable to capture a properly exposed video image without grain, even when using a fast lens such as was used in the following scene. The FX1 is also not a champion in low light, which is apparent here. Good low light HD still requires a minimum $30,000 investment in an XDCAM or Panasonic HVX900-type broadcast camera - though the way things are going, that may change in the next year or two.
Low light test - Watch Video
Of course, nothing needs to be said about the DOF abilities of the 5D MKII over a video camera:
Motion/DOF test - Watch Video
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