Canon 5D Mark II

On April 17, 2010, in Photography, by gregnosaty

I’ve been slowly integrating my Canon 5D mark II into the workflow for our documentaries. The latest firmware update has made significant improvements to image and audio capture as well as workflow. But there are a still few things that remain problematic.

The first and most obvious is the rolling shutter or “jellocam” effect. It’s been widely discussed on many blogs. In a nutshell it is an artifact of CMOS imaging chips and the way the process the image to the storage device like a CF card. CCD cameras continually dump data to the storage system while CMOS only dump data when they are full. So if you move the camera while the huge 21 megapixel chips is filling up, the image will distort. My Panasonic HPX300 suffers from a bit of the same problem.

The clip below is an example that I shot from a Sky Train bridge. A train passed beside me as I was filming the boat with a 300mm lens on a tripod. The vibration as the train passed is what caused the distortion.

Jellocam boat from Greg Nosaty on Vimeo.

What I learned is that when using the 5D mark II it’s best to not shoot handheld or make quick camera movements. If you are going to shoot sporting events, dance or absolutely love to swish pan this probably is not the right choice of camera.

You can get good results with a wider lens if you have a rock solid hand held. I prefer to use one of many kinds of camera support: a tripod, monopod, shoulder mount, Steadicam, dolly or an OverKeeper to get the best results.

If you absolutely need to use a shot that has a rolling shutter there are some apps and plugins to correct for this problem. One that comes highly recommended is RollingShutter made by The Foundry.

Bottom line is you need to test your gear under the intended condition before you begin production. If you see something odd then do some research, ask questions and you will find that there is almost always a work around.

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