Canon EOS 5D MkII Firmware Upgrade 2.0.3 - First Footage

Well, where do I start? After a slow download which was corrupted I finally upgraded the firmware and managed to get out for an hour or so and get a few shots.

Sound Recording
The first thing you notice when navigating through the menus are the addition of the Sound Recording item at the bottom of the screen.

When you select the Sound Recording item you'll be presented with 3 choices, Auto, Manual & Disable.

I'd never advise disabling the sound recording as you never know when you may need the audio tracks. The next screen allows you to adjust the recording level(s) in this case from a Sony microphone mounted in a Rode anti-vibration mount on the hot shoe.

The two dashed lines represent your left and right audio channels. You select the Rec. Level item and use the thumb wheel to adjust the levels of both channels up or down. The blue marker on the top indicator is the set audio level, whilst the white marker is the new level. You cannot adjust the audio levels individually. The audio in the above video is as recorded without any adjustment whatsoever. Had I made the same recording with the audio levels set to Auto, it would have been unusable!

Another new feature is the exposure histogram which unfortunately does intrude into an already clutter screen, but nonetheless is a very useful feature. Remember that when shooting video you ideally need to work with your shutter at 1/50th second if you're shooting to the PAL TV standard or 1/60th for NTSC. You can now use both Tv & Av modes with video on the 5D MkII. The actual shutter speed range you can use in video mode is 1/30th to 1/4000th second. As soon as you get the opportunity, go out and practice and make notes on what you've shot and compare the shots at differing shutter speeds on screen in post-production.

Pulling Focus
I've noticed recently that there are a load of (very expensive) gadgets and gizmos coming into the photography market aimed at video DSLR shooters. As yet, I haven't had a chance to try any of these gadgets, especially the pull focus or follow rigs. These rigs basically transfer the focus mechanism via belts and pulleys or cogs to a wheel at the side of the camera, allowing you to focus or defocus a shot.

You can achieve this very inexpensively by simply applying some white gaffer tape (also known in the trade as camera tape) to the lens focus ring. You then mark the tape with a grease pencil or water soluable marker pen with the start and finish points of your focus pull. The travel between close focus and infinity focus will vary between lenses. I find the Canon L Series 24 - 105 mm IS lens ideal for this as the travel between infinity and minimum focus is only 90 degrees. With practice pulling focus becomes very straight forward and adds another dimension to your video filming. Remember that you'll need your camera on a decent tripod. This is my preferred method of shooting as I like the look of steady shots!

Shameless Plug
If you want to improve your video shooting skills and techniques, we're running a series of video workshops for DSLR camera users. You can find more information at the UK Photo Walks website. And if you're a Park Camera School of Photography student,we'll give you a £10.00 discount.


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