I should begin by saying that this article discusses settings for those who are using the Canon 5D Mark III for video production, videography and filmmaking purposes. If you’ve arrived here looking for the best settings for photography, you won’t find them in this article. This is a step by step guide for getting the most stunning movie clips out of your Canon 5D mark III.
If you’re still attached to the mark II and considering whether to make the leap, I was in your territory not so long ago. Truthfully, since NAB 2012, my eyes are beginning to wander toward the Sony NEX-FS700 out at the end of June 2012. But I don’t have any plans to sell my new Canon 5D Mark III yet. I’m glad I made the jump from the Mark II though, because moiré and aliasing are vastly improved to the extent it’s hardly noticeable anymore. Rolling shutter is still an issue, unfortunately, but is reduced. Lines seem to resolve closer to 1080p resolution, but are still somewhere between 750 to 800 true lines (similar to mark II).
Before we start on settings for the Canon 5D mark III, it’s worth mentioning that what you plan to do with the clips after you’ve shot them will determine the best settings for you in the menu screens. In other words, if you don’t plan to perform any work on them in post-production (eg. family clips stored directly on your computer), then your settings should be different from those users who plan to edit and grade the clips later for, say, a music video.
When you adjust these settings, remember to first set the dial to ‘M’ for manual, or you won’t be able to access the menus to change them.
The EOS Canon 5D Mark III is remarkably improved for low light over its mark II predecessor. For pro use, although I wouldn’t recommend using the 12800 ISO setting unless completely necessary, with some additional post work using Neat Video or other superior noise-reduction plugin, it is still acceptable. And whilst I would suggest 12800 is the maximum for pro-usability, 10000 is my personal ceiling setting limit for broadcast work. Noise can be detected from 6400 ISO, but it’s barely noticeable. When noise does appear, it is arguably more ‘filmic’ than noise on the 5D mark II.
If it’s for family clips, feel free to venture right up to 25600 because the noise levels are not so bad at all.
To compare different ISO levels, here’s a good video to watch:
Now, in my earlier post on ‘Optimising your Canon 5D Mark II for filmmaking’ http://kriskoster.com/2010/08/optimising-your-5d-mark-ii-for-filmmaking/ it is suggested that you stick with several ISO settings to get the cleanest image. This is now no longer the case for the Canon 5D mark III and any of the ISO levels are acceptable with no optimal levels advantage.
Casual work: 25600
Pro work: 10000 (12.8K if you apply noise reduction)
If you’re a casual videographer and don’t plan to edit or grade your clips, I would recommend using one of the preset picture styles that befit the setting you are in. They’re pretty self-explanatory (descriptions in the manual if you’re not sure), and they work well enough under those conditions.
For professional use through editing and grading the clips, don’t use the standard faithful or neutral styles. For greatest dynamic range, it’s best to shoot as flat as possible and modify the picture in post so the highlights aren’t blown out and you retain as much definition in the image as possible. Contrary to popular belief, ‘neutral’ isn’t flat, there is still some camera adjustment and sharpening going on. Whilst you may feel it’s right to have some sharpening in camera, it appears to introduce compression artifacts in post and over-expose the highlights. Trust me on this one, absolutely no sharpening in camera. Do it in post and you will have more of the image to work with – After grading this footage, it looks more beautiful and natural filmic, less video. The Canon 5D Mark III for video is very capable at producing sharp footage if this is done in post.
If you’d like to read a more comprehensive account of this, I would highly recommend reading Stu Maschwitz’ detailed investigation of this here: http://prolost.com/flat
I endorse his recommendations as I’ve put them to the test myself and he’s offered the most practical solution for the Canon 5D Mark III.
Sharpness all the way to the left (0).
Contrast all the way to the left (-4).
Reduce saturation by two ticks (-2).
Set colour tone as you desire, but I would recommend 0 and adjust to your liking in post.
To sharpen the image in post is really quite fast and simple. Both Adobe Premiere and After Effects have an ‘Unsharp Mask’ tool. Set this to around 125 with a radius of 1.1 or 1.2.
You can either place these settings in a custom picture style, or readjust the Neutral or Faithful picture styles to match the above settings.
For years I have loved over-cranking videos cameras to the max. I’ve always had a deep fondness for slow motion capture. Now with the release of the Sony NEX-FS700, everyone else seems to be bucking the trend. All of a sudden, everyone seems to be trending on achieving ultra-slow motion. With the Canon 5D mark III, you’re never going to get ultra-slow motion. However it is possible to achieve it to a degree…
For music video promos, the label usually asks me to give them some footage that is normal speed and mix it with slow motion capture. I achieve this using the same camera. For this technique, you need to know in advance what shots will be intended for slow motion and which are to be played at normal speed.
What this does is artificially increase ISO by approximately one stop and this (apparently) generates more detail in the highlights (and the extra noise to go with it). Personally, I’d leave this off altogether. Go into the menu settings and disable Highlight Tone Priority.
Other things not to forget if you’re relatively new to shooting video: