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Taina Galis

Canon 5D Mk II -focus pulling advice

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Hi all

 

I'm thinking of using the Canon 5D MK II for the first time but I fear that it would be a nightmare for the focus puller. Could anyone share their experiences?

 

It's for a short fiction piece where there will be a lot of tracking and zooming.

 

Thanks a lot,

 

Taina

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I'm thinking of using the Canon 5D MK II for the first time but I fear that it would be a nightmare for the focus puller. Could anyone share their experiences?

Sure, I just AC'd my first 5D shoot. The problem is that the camera doesn't output an HD signal to an external monitor, so you must either rely on the LCD using the zoom function for critical eye focus, or you use lenses that have calibrated focus marks (cine lenses). The latter is obviously hard to find, since the camera mount needs to be modified and possibly the mirror may need to be removed, not to mention the image circle coverage and flange depth issues.

 

So practically, the operator ends up grabbing eye marks for the AC, which works ok if you're using a rod system with a follow focus and have the time to do this. We were using a mix of Leica R and Canon L primes with zip tie gears, plus the Zacuto rig with a Chrosziel FF, which worked fine. But since we were trying to move fast (working with kids), the DP ended up pulling his own focus most of the time. The most annoying things for him were the mirror lock-up button, which only stays open for about a minute, and the Zacuto eyepiece, which attaches to the LCD with velcro and was always falling off.

 

If there were a way to get an HD signal out of the camera to an external monitor, then I think a wireless FF device would be ideal. However, there's no getting around the fact that the camera's LCD is the only way to judge critical focus right now without using cine lenses with hard marks. I'm going to the Digital Cinema Society NorCal meeting tomorrow where they will be discussing 5D and GH1 shooting, so I'll find out if anyone's come up with a better solution and let you know.

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This is one of the reasons I cannot comprehend why anyone would want to shoot a movie on a DSLR. Why not shoot with something that's designed for this application?

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Why not shoot with something that's designed for this application?

 

Usual issue - something that's designed for this application costs thirty-seven times more for a four per cent increase in performance. Well, to be fair, the 5D has two really critical problems which prevent it being really good, but you take my point.

 

Let us know if the DCS talks about the full-swing YUV post issues and proper low con setup. Most people seem to be ignoring these, and just complain it looks really crushed...

 

P

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Thanks everyone,

Satsuki, look forward to hearing more. Your comments are very useful.

 

Yes, its possibilites + low budget are the reasons I'm considering it.

 

Taina

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Hey ribroast,

 

Glad to hear I at least know someone who's AC'd on that thing...I've been trying to find a way out of the whole adapter game and this seemed like a pretty good way out for cheap. When you say getting some calibrated lenses would solve the problem, are you saying the backfocus is off? Or is it just that whatever canon primes you find don't have a big enough throw to be able to accurately judge focus with distances?

Edited by Ryan Thomas

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When you say getting some calibrated lenses would solve the problem, are you saying the backfocus is off? Or is it just that whatever canon primes you find don't have a big enough throw to be able to accurately judge focus with distances?

I'm only saying that you can't judge focus by estimating distance with an 85mm f/1.2 canon prime lens that has no hard marks...

 

It would be great if you could put a PL mount and some cine glass on the camera provided that the FFD was correct so you could just run tape and not have to bother the operator for eye marks all the time, but I don't know if that's possible. I know the mirror clearance would be a problem for wider lenses that need to be close to the film plane... But I recall a RedUser thread where Tom Lowe put a Panavision anamorphic lens on his 5D, so maybe it is possible.

 

Now, the Panasonic GH1 doesn't have a mirror and Ilya Friedman (formerly of Dalsa) makes a PL mount for that camera (he'll be at the DCS meeting). Phil, the YUV stuff is over my head but I'll ask Art Adams or Adam Wilt if they will post an article about it on the Pro Video Coalition site.

 

Baby Legs, are you free tomorrow? Why don't you come to the meeting? It's being held at Transvideo Studios in Mountain View. Starts at 6pm, and its $5 at the door (free for DCS members). I'm supposed to be operating one of the BTS cameras so I'm getting there at 5pm.

Edited by Satsuki Murashige

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This is one of the reasons I cannot comprehend why anyone would want to shoot a movie on a DSLR. Why not shoot with something that's designed for this application?

I was waiting to see how long it would take for the DP to mutter, "POS!" It took about an hour and a half.

 

Seriously though, it's a pain but the footage can be gorgeous under the right conditions. That fact, and the ridiculously low price (if you already own the lenses) makes it all worth, it in my opinion. But yes, for something other than a personal no-budget film, I'd be hard pressed to find a reason to use it.

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It would be great if you could put a PL mount and some cine glass on the camera provided that the FFD was correct so you could just run tape and not have to bother the operator for eye marks all the time, but I don't know if that's possible.

 

The issue I see is that most PL glass covers super-35, not necessarily the whole VistaVision frame.

 

 

 

 

 

-- J.S.

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The issue I see is that most PL glass covers super-35, not necessarily the whole VistaVision frame.

Yep. You can always crop, but yes. I was thinking of the new Arri compact primes that cover 24x36mm. Don't think there's much else out there that will cover this.

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the YUV stuff

 

Simply put, usual practice is for h.264 YUV data to be in the studio range, that is between digital levels 16 and 235. The 5D appears to use the full 0-255 range, which is good from a using-all-the-available-space point of view, but which confuses some postproduction software. It's over a stop of dynamic range lost if you don't correct it.

 

That, and the default picture setup is horribly clippy.

 

I did a video review of the 5D, which is on the reel-show site. Although I would warn you you'd have to look at my face, which is never a very pleasant experience.

 

P

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I was waiting to see how long it would take for the DP to mutter, "POS!" It took about an hour and a half.

That's not at all what I was saying- If I had several thousand dollars laying around, I would love to buy one of these for myself. It's just that it seems clear that the ability to shoot video is a bonus feature on the camera, rather than the primary one, and that it's not really designed for this purpose at all, so you end up jumping through all of these silly hoops for it, all of which could easily be sidestepped by just shooting on a format designed to be used that way.

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Opener for a german reality TV Series we shot on the 5DII is here:

www.vimeo.com/5239087

They are not at all professional actors so we had very little footage to work with.

The image is from another shoot with the chrosziel FF rig and Nikon lenses with gears.

post-39275-1248645212.jpg

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I just did a nearly one-man-shoot with this camera on a Steadicam Pilot rig.

 

i was using the HDMI output (1080i) to the 7" marchall monitor and found that I could reasonably focus on that.

I also used a Bartech wireless follow focus, as the motor gear seems to "fit" somewhat on the 24-70 zoomlens.

So while moving around the singer of this MV, I could pull focus with some confidence.

it was also possible to make nice focus pulls to the background action and back.

and it can be also nice to use the out-of focus parts and than move the action into the focus area... challenging.

 

But in general, the whole setup is not a comfortable one, it needs much more tweaking and firmware updates...

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i was using the HDMI output (1080i) to the 7" marchall monitor and found that I could reasonably focus on that.

Rob, AFAIK the HDMI output is automatically downconverted to standard def. in Live View mode. Was that your experience as well or do you think it actually was outputting at 1080?

 

Phil, thanks for the info. Watched your video review - it was helpful and not nearly as awful an experience as you made it out to be. ;)

 

Nobody mentioned the YUV conversion thing at the DCS meeting and I was busy operating a camera so I didn't ask. Stu at Prolost.com mentioned something about Quicktime 7.6 fixing the clipping problem with 5D footage a while back: http://prolost.com/blog/2009/1/22/quicktim...-5d-movies.html

 

Would you happen to know whether using Adobe RGB color space gains you anything over sRGB with the 5D? Also curious to hear your thoughts about the GH1 after you've had a chance to play with it...

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Would you happen to know whether using Adobe RGB color space gains you anything over sRGB with the 5D? Also curious to hear your thoughts about the GH1 after you've had a chance to play with it...

 

Stu at Prolost also says:

 

This is a scary thing for Apple not to document in an update though, because it will radically change the appearance any 5D clips you're already working with.

 

...and he's right. Aargh!

 

As to the colour space issue, it depends what that actually means. I'm generally quite suspicious of the current fashion for LUTs and conversions and colour space changes, because at the end of the day the thing reacts to light the way it does and all you can do after the fact is introduce quantisation errors if you try to bend it. I don't know that this is particularly a problem here, but it is an intrinsic issue with all this stuff to at least some degree.

 

So no it won't gain you anything, it might just result in slightly more accurate (or at least different, depending on the circumstances) colour reproduction. What're the circustances?

 

P

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As to the colour space issue ... What're the circustances?

Well, on my shoot, the talent was wearing a bright red shirt which apparently clipped the red channel from time to time, which caused some loss of detail in the shirt. We shot in sRGB, and I was wondering if shooting in the larger color space of Adobe RGB might have let us retain that color information. Does the sensor and the DSP actually take advantage of the larger color space, allowing more colors to be recorded? Or is it just a bigger bit bucket with the same amount of bits inside? Not sure if I'm understanding the concepts of color space and camera engineering correctly...

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Yep. You can always crop, but yes. I was thinking of the new Arri compact primes that cover 24x36mm. Don't think there's much else out there that will cover this.

 

What about 65mm glass? Would that be too heavy? What is normally used to shoot Vista after all?

 

Cheers, Dave

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What about 65mm glass? Would that be too heavy? What is normally used to shoot Vista after all?

 

The most recent 65mm glass would be from the Arri 765 system, there probably isn't all that much of it available. VV used still camera glass. Originally it was Leica glass in Leica mounts. A friend of mine at Paramount scored some usable old Leica lenses dumpster diving after a basement flood on the lot.

 

 

 

 

-- J.S.

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I think the common mistake people make with this camera is treating it like an HD Pro camera. This camera can make beautiful video, but has to be treated more like the good ol days, before hand-held. Shooting on a fisher dolly we have had great results with this camera, as well as with pulling focus w/monitor. It is not a good hand-held camera for clear reasons and needs a complete camera crew to get consistent imagery. Lighting also has to be strict as you can't just run and gun. We have been shooting at the very least a 5.6 to keep the DOF in check since the chip technically is larger then 35mm film. At a 1.4, the DOF is literally less then a 1/2 inch, so light control is imperative, otherwise yes, the 1st AC or DP will want to shoot themselves.

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The most recent 65mm glass would be from the Arri 765 system, there probably isn't all that much of it available.

 

Remember that they will all be very much tele lenses on the sensor of the 5DII. But apart from IMAX, where one lens would cost you more to rent than the puchase of your 5DII body, you could still go with this. Pentax, Hasselblad will perform great, just don't expect any wide angle lens or a 1.4 stop...

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Using the Marshall 7" on board for the operator and focus puller and then looping out of that to a component HD monitor that is LARGE and placed in the line of sight of the focus puller is best you can hope for. Also, if you take the discs off the follow focus and mark them specifically for each prime lens used that would help, too. The camera's sensor is a LOT better than the form factor, firmware, etc and it's little bit of a diamond in the rough as far as all that goes. IN other words, barely usable in some regards but INCREDIBLY temprting to try anyway.

 

It's living proof that all you need is a big sensor to make this digital cinematography stuff start to be worthwhile. Why it took so long, and why there isn't a reasonable pro alternative with a FF sensor is beyond me.

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Let me amend that earlier statement - looping out of the Marshall MDMI into component output isnt possible. In fact, getting two monitors to work at the same time with this camera is a real challenge at anything above a composite signal. It has been done, but it isn't easy or fun- converting to DVI seems to be one route. AGain, it points to the limitations of this camera system, which are legion.

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