It’s exciting to hear that Canon’s R&D engineers are, at this moment, already working on ways to overcome the limitations of the current technology. However, if we might reflect for a moment on what life would be like with a Canon 5D Mark III sitting in the palm of my hand right now… Aside from life’s little pleasures such as being the first to review it, perhaps even be the first to make a feature film from it, what opportunities might await the bearer of such an eagerly awaited, humble machine in today’s world?
First, I quickly reference the manual to check if Canon answered my divine request for a shutter lock-down option (and likely discover that they haven’t!) I might then eagerly find myself at the door of Alan Robert’s office at the BBC, politely asking him if aliasing, moiré or other artefact issues are any longer present. I imagine Mr Roberts will carefully take my camera and then, peering through his narrow-rimmed monocle, gently lift the delicately crafted machine to his eye. After much studying and deliberation, low dulcet ‘hmms’ and ‘aaahhs,’ I expect Mr Roberts to hand my machine back moments later with a nod, wink and a smile. He then confidently stamps “Approved” on a ferociously important BBC document and I am now skipping away merrily through the lofty corridors of that building at Portland Place.
A sceptical reader you may be, but these words are not dreams, only our future! If the rumours whispered in my ear are to be believed, Canon are likely to announce the release the 5DM3 for approximately this time next year (Autumn 2011). So how will our 5DM3 look? Let’s examine some prospective new features:
In addition, the camera proposes to have a filmmaker-friendly magnesium alloy body that features a more modular design approach with special mounting points to ‘bolt on’ Canon or other 3rd party accessories. Such features are intended to be attractive to those who favour the popular 4K RED One camera design. The Canon 5D3 body might therefore have many mounting points; accessories like recording devices, viewfinders, etc. which can be mounted to the camera, rather than being integral parts of the body.
It would make adding equipment a breeze. Imagine – Right now I like the Zacuto Z-Finder and it attaches nicely to my Canon 5D Mark II. But if I want to mount something else, like the Beachtek audio adapter on the right for example, I’m stuffed – There’s nowhere to put it. Once engineers apply further thought and refine the product into a more modular design, it will be easier to ‘bolt on’ devices.
Above all, I think there are at least two fundamentally crucial issues that, if I were Canon, I’d be hell bent on getting right for the Mark III successor.
Moiré and aliasing are undoubtedly the biggest pain in the backside for filmmakers who wish to get their work accepted by stringent networks like Sky and of course the British Broadcasting Corporation. Here in the UK, Alan Roberts is a respected engineer who works for the BBC. Part of Alan’s job is to assess today’s cameras to see if they’re up to broadcast standard. If they pass, they are placed on the BBC’s ‘approved’ list. What a bonus for Canon if their next 5D was on this approved list!
The EOS 5D Mark II was supposed to be a professional grade camera. Why then, does it possess serious aliasing issues when compressed for broadcast? At the moment, the 5D2 appears to downscale from its 5760 x 3240 image size to 1920 x 1080 using a relatively simple 3:1 downscaling filter.
Whatever its doing through that compression process is creating the aliasing problem seen on the luma zone plate pattern below. The pattern should be ‘clean’ like you see on the image to the left, but the 5D shows poor downscale compression filtering.
You can see the full white paper test results of the Canon 5D written by Alan Roberts at the BBC here (courtesy Daniel Brown). Canon would do well to pay Alan Roberts consultancy fees to have him on loan with them for a while. They need to resolve this issue badly for the mark III.
In the meantime, BBC have (somewhat reluctantly I have to say), backtracked a little on their decision to use the 5D2 for broadcast. At the time of writing this post, the 5D2 is in the dock as the BBC plays jury to determine what footage is acceptable from it. As of now, programs made with the 5D2 may be accepted by the BBC on a ‘case by case basis.’ You can read the full article on this proposal here.
I think one of the most exciting prospects to look forward to is the 60, even 300 fps. These are huge upgrade pointers for me. One bug bear I have always had with my 5D2 is the fact it can’t shoot in 60 fps mode. In fact, I nearly bought the 7D because of it. You see, the 5D2 was designed earlier than the 7D, 1D Mark IV and 550D/ T2i, so it is for this reason that chip set will never be able to support framing rates higher than 30 fps. Many 5D2 owners felt it was entirely possible for the 5D2 to achieve this higher speed frame rate via a simple firmware upgrade and that Canon was ‘keeping back’ the upgrade to 60 fps for a future model. This simply wasn’t the case.
However, Canon’s R&D engineers are working flat out on developing new and improved video-capable CMOS sensors which promise to take video capture ever further. They have only just announced in that last few days that this new sensor that have developed makes possible image capture in one one-hundredth the amount of light required by a 35 mm full-frame CMOS sensor, facilitating the shooting of 60 frame-per-second video with a mere 0.3 lux of illumination. But don’t hold your breath, the size of the sensor is 202 x 205 mm – a little big to fit into my 5D mark III (for now, anyway!). You can read more about that development here.
Likely, the 5D Mark III will have dual processors and well able to handle the processing required to shoot in high speed frame rates. Slow motion video is an aesthetically pleasing visual look that is employed a lot these days in creative film and video everywhere. No longer is high speed video capture dominated by the music video industry. Although it should be mentioned that these cameras are used a lot on set these days for music video promos. Canon, listen up!
Options existing in the current 5D mark II which are unlikely to change in its replacement model are:
Many people have commented that the price tag for the EOS 5D Mark III will be unusually high, but I strongly question that theory. Canon have, more often than not, priced their cameras at roughly the same price as the replacement model and often even less expensive.
My guess is that where the 5D began the DSLR revolution for indie filmmakers, the 5D Mark III will take it further to levels that rock the very core of modern filmmaking in television and cinema.
Please note that some of this article is for entertainment purposes only. At the time of writing, the Canon 5D Mark III is merely a rumour and has not been announced by Canon or any other party. kriskoster.com does not accept liability for any sales or purchases made by individuals in light of information gathered in this post!