I got my Canon 5D Mark II last week and have taken it through its paces. I don’t feel like I fully understand all the new features and options in the camera yet, but I do have some first impressions.
Video is by far the most exciting feature of the new camera for me. I often found myself carrying my point and shoot and DSLR so that I could capture a few short video clips.
The video mode of the 5D Mark II definitely feels like it was added late in the design process, or at least requires a DSLR addict to love it. It starts by hitting the liveview button on the back of the camera, and then you can hit the set button in the middle of the wheel to start shooting. I got used to this pretty quickly but could it be more cumbersome? I doubt it.
I had hoped that there would be some sort of depth of field control for video, but as far as I can see, there is not (I could be wrong, just got started). And the camera can not reliabliy adjust focus while shooting video. Before you start the shot, you can focus by hitting a button that brings down the mirror and uses the standard autofocus hardware on the camera. Or you can have the camera do constrast detect focusing off the live view image. That is very slow and unreliable.
The reality is that you focus before the shot begins and if there is any refocusing to be done during the shot, it is going to be manual.
Others have also commented on some of the limitations of the video handling on the Canon 5D Mark II. But it hardly matters because the video you get from the Mark II is stunning. The camera records in 1080p mode spewing more than 25 megabits/second of of data. Although I can’t figure out how to control the depth of field, it is typically quite shallow, which tends to be what you want.
I can tell already that I am going to love this camera. But I can’t recommend it for someone who is not interested in the more technical aspects of digital photography. There are just too many great options to dig into.