Video from Canon 5D MKII – Need Help Improving Please

This time it’s your turn to teach me… I used video on my Canon 5D MKII – the high resolution video.  Well my subjects were cute as you can see, but it looks like I was trembling.  It was very shaky.  Also, the quality not that great.  It took me a few tries to learn how to focus better with it so one video is blurry and one a little more clear.  The sound quality is lacking and I am thinking I need an external mic for video.

So if you want to hear Ellie and Jenna sing some Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus, watch these.  Or if you want to help me take a quick peek and then leave a comment telling me how I can:

  1. get better sound quality, less background noise and wind, etc
  2. get focus more consistently crisp
  3. have the video less shaky – tripod is an obvious answer but what if I am just out and about and no tripod available?
  4. any other tips shooting light video with the Canon 5D MKII
  5. if you have shot video with your professional SLR I would love to check it out – feel free to share a link in the comments too
And now here is a video taken with my tiny point and shoot.  I am not sure I notice a HUGE quality difference.  Thoughts?
 Video from Canon 5D MKII   Need Help Improving Please

Jodi Friedman, MCP Actions

Jodi Friedman is the founder of MCP Actions. She designs popular Photoshop actions and Lightroom presets that make editing faster, easier and more fun.

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13 Comments and 4 Replies



  1. 1
    Ripton says:

    1. Are you using an external microphone? If you get one of those with a wind cover, like they use in news reports, you should be fine.
    2. Is auto focus making it inconsistent? Manual should help for static subjects, but in film and TV there is at least one dedicated focus puller controlling the focus for a camera. Maybe using a smaller aperture would help.
    3. Have a camera height length of string attached to the tripod mount and attach a small weight to the end. When you take a video, stand on the weight and pull the camera up to tense the string, and reduce mild shakes. Either that or you can invest in a shoulder mount or a steadicam. Also, is IS on?
    4. A 5D MkII doesn’t have many advantages over a point-and-shoot when it comes to video, apart from being much higher quality, having a shallower depth of field, and good lenses. Other than that, to get things looking more professional, you have to do what the professionals do.

    • MCP Actions says:

      I was not using an external mic. Any ideas what are good ones and where to get them?

      I was manually focusing – not sure you can auto focus video on this camera – maybe you can – but I thought not.

      I was using a Prime Lens and so no IS. Should I use a lens with IS? Would that help – or not with video?

      So it sounds like I may not see huge differences in this video over a P&S except bigger file size and more pixels (and shallow DOF). Hmmm – interesting.

  2. 2
    Andie says:

    Hey I just started shoot vids with my MkII after constant nagging from the local canon rep. (you know after
    7 months..maybe I should play!)

    This has some great info: http://vimeo.com/groups/8432/videos/4055622

    I’ve played for a week so far and this is what i am learned…so far.
    -you have to use an external mic.
    -tripod…or stedi cam. i’ve been somewhat successful using my knees as a trip if i am not walking.
    -there are a ton of resources out there that i am still exploring

    here is one i shot last weekend:
    http://vimeo.com/5787755

    i am posting one tonight or tomorrow too.

    i think he key is practice practice practice!

    • MCP Actions says:

      Andie,

      So what external mic do you recommend?

      And tell me more about a stedi cam? Tripods are so bulky.

      Your video looks great – WOW. It is so smooth and just wow.

      Jodi

  3. 3
    Janet McK says:

    Have you checked the size/quality settings for the video? Can they be adjusted? My Nikon d90 videos seem to be of a much better quality. (and there are quality settings) I would think they would be pretty comparable. You can also try shielding the mic from wind by hand. It’s not sure-fire, but it might help.

  4. 4
    Dan Trevino says:

    I’ve played around a little bit, but haven’t come up with anything worth posting.

    Here’s two compact mics that would work well enough with the 5D.

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/363083-REG/Rode_VIDEOMIC_VideoMic_Camera_Mounted.html

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/534023-REG/Sennheiser_MKE_400_MKE_400_Compact_Video.html

    I’ve had more success with manual focusing. For me, auto would often hunt for the focus.

    I think the shape of the 5D and whatever lens you have makes it difficult to hold steady. I tried it with the 70-200 one time. It was a little windy, but the wind was moving the lens all over the place. You might have better success hand holding a P&S because it’s smaller and there’s not a lot of weight on the front from the lens, compared to the 5D. A 50 on the front, wouldn’t be so front heavy. Maybe I can try that next. Of course you lose a lot of reach.

    I guess, if you could steady the camera, get better audio and nail the focus down, the footage would be amazing. A big difference over a P&S. It’s just getting all those things to work at the same time.

  5. 5

    I don’t have any real advice for you since I’m still trying to figure it out myself. I have noticed that my 24-70 gives off much better quality than my cheaper lenses though.

    I just loved when your girls were singing “lean to the left” and they both leaned right. Too cute.

  6. 6
    heather says:

    this might be a bit chunkey in design but it works…watch the video he took http://www.yb2normal.com/DIYsteadicam.html

  7. 7
    johnna brynn says:

    your girls are too much cuteness! :)

  8. 8
    Levi Gardner says:

    Hi MCP,

    I’ve just come home from a 5-week trip in Cambodia, on which I took along my 5d mark II which I’ve only had for two months, but here are some observations I’ve made in regard to your questions:

    1. As some others have said, use an external mic. Read some reviews on the Rode Videomic, I and several others have had good results with it. I think Vincent Laforet has a write-up on it somewhere on his blog.

    2. Focus is an issue when it’s manual only. One trick I didn’t realise at first, is in Live View you can press the button you use for zooming in to still photographs (press it twice), and get a 10x magnification on the Live View. From this you can then get your focussing 10 times more accurate. Press it one more time to return to 100% LV

    3. I also have found it very difficult to get smooth video without stablisation on the camera. If you have lots of money you could check out the Zacuto Rapid Fire, it’s a new product that is much cheaper than a full steadicam setup and designed specifically for the 5d. It retails for about $550USD. Check it out at http://store.zacuto.com/DSLR-Rapid-Fire.html

    4…

    5. I’m yet to edit my footage from Cambodia!

    - Levi

  9. 9
    planetMitch says:

    self promotion but it applies here… read the blog at http://blog.planet5d.com and check out the video tips at our wiki – http://wiki.planet5d.com

  10. 10
    Andie says:

    The local canon rep mentioned this one to me:
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/534023REG/Sennheiser_MKE_400_MKE_400_Compact_Video.html

    it looks like the 2nd recommendation so far for it!

    for support there are soo many choices: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/category/8311/Carrying_Support_Pro_Video_Tripods_Support.html

    but then there is a homebuilt one i saw yesterday: http://photojojo.com/content/diy/make-a-steadicam/

    thanks for the compliment on the video..i posted one this morning…not as smooth…its def. going to take practice!

    • MCP Actions says:

      Thank you for all the recommendations. Tough choices now as I mainly just want it to video my kids – so not sure how much I want to invest. But these videos of them – while cute – sound bad and make me dizzy. I do own a tripod – but usually never use it. I guess I could. As for sound, I do think a mic is the way to go. Anyone know if there is a big diff in the RODE stereo mic and regular video mic? Price is different – but besides that?

  11. 11
    Maisy says:

    I dont know what to do about your video, but the girls are really cute!

  12. 12
    Gale says:

    http://www.littlegreatideas.com/steadycam/

    $39.95 plus shipping and you can use it on digital still cameras, as well. All ready to assemble.

  13. 13
    MCP Actions says:

    Gale – other than the words – ready to assemble – it sounds good :) I am so not handy in that way. Maybe bribing my FIL to do it…



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