Something Very Interesting is coming…both to this blog and to our industry

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I had it in my hands for less than 72 hours before I had to send it back – but the time I did have with a prototype of the Canon EOS 5D MKII  will possibly change the path of my career as well as the photography industry to some degree.

(The video that will be released very shortly (to be notified when it does go live – go ahead and subscribe to this blog via RSS or e-mail…)   I’ll announce it here soon – the main hold up is the large file size of the video – and finding a host for it… if only 100 people hit the video – we’ll hit 9 Gigabytes of streamed video…   and that’s with the video that is downsized to 960 x 540 (which is 1/4 of 1080p!) in the Apple H.264 format from the full resolution 1080p RAW footage… the RAW footage that comes out of this camera is STUNNING – so much so that the entire video was cut with the RAW footage – untouched… in any way – no color, noise or exposure adjustment whatsoever… the images you are seeing on this blog – are frame grabs off of the video – those frame grabs were downsized from 1920 pixels wide to 700 pixels wide to fit the page width of this blog – and absolutely NOTHING was done to them either in Aperture/Photoshop or any other software.  Also – the image above was shot with a 45mm tilt-shift lens)

Here is the story behind the short video that I produced with what I believe to be a “game changer”of a camera for the following reasons:  

1. The 5D MKII camera produces the best stills in low light that I’ve ever seen – what you can see with you eye in the worst light (such as sodium-vapor street lights at 3 a.m. in Brooklyn) – this camera can capture it with ease.

2. It produces the best video in low light that I’ve ever seen – at 1080p.   A top commercial film editor who  who regularly edits RED camera footage – and has seen the raw footage from the 5D MKII – says the 5D MKII is “far superior to the RED camera” in terms of low light performance…

3. You can use your prime and zoom lenses from your Canon still cameras with it – and shoot wide open… so you can shoot films with fisheye lenses, 50mm 1.2 as well as the 200mm f2 or 400mm 2.8 that you may already own…

4. This camera is so easy to use – that you can work incredibly quickly, mostly handheld – without a huge production – and using natural light – ergo you don’t need a huge budget and tons of preparation anymore… forget the lighting trucks and generators that take up entire city blocks…

5. This camera will sell for approx. $2,700 – and perform better than many $100K plus video cameras out there…

6. Photojournalists in particular – will be able to take full advantage of this camera’s strengths – because they are used to walking into any room, and finding the best natural “available light” in the room – or knowing how to add a single light source to make it pop… they are used to working quickly and with small or no budgets… which is something this camera is begging you to do…

It has the potential to change our industry.

COPYRIGHT LAFORET VISUALS INC.  DO NOT COPY. *(See Note at the end of this article)

Here’s a little more of the back story behind this video:

You should know that there was ZERO pre-planning with this project – and that it was done entirely independently from Canon.

While I had anticipated a replacement to the Canon EOS 5D – I had not heard any solid information from anyone.   I went to Canon last Friday for lunch with Canon’s David Sparer – it had been more than 6 months since my last visit to the HQ (I am a Canon Explorer of Light – one of the photographers that works with them on making better cameras etc …)

Talk about good timing.

As I walked into the office – I caught a glimpse of a certain type of “box” – one that can only mean one thing… a prototype camera was in the midst…

People were also looking at me in an odd way, slowing their motions.

You see, as I was walking in, they were literally about to unpack the first few prototypes to land in the U.S. – for the very first time.

Someone quickly showed me aside into a cubicle where a blank NDA – a “Non-Disclosure Agreement” – was awaiting my signature…  i.e. whatever I was about to see – was secret.   After signing I was told:

“These are the prototypes of the Canon 5D MKII” they are the first to land in the U.S. – it can shoot high-definition 1080p video – at 30 fps, and it shoots 21 Megapixel still images.  We haven’t had a chance to play with them yet.”

Wow.

We quickly started to work with one of the cameras – to see what the video format was in… at that point – no one even knew what exact video format the camera would produce (things change during the production of a camera…) It produces Apple’s Quicktime .mov files btw – simply copy them off of your CF Cards – double click on them – and they open up in the Quicktime player w/o a single hiccup at 1080p…  Drop them into Final cut pro and start your edit… no rendering is necessary.  Oh – and realize that it took us less than 20 minutes to copy over more than 12 hours of footage off of the CF cards…

I was amazed at the video quality.  I knew right away that this camera would be a success – and that this was something big – I felt that this was something that had the potential to change this industry.

I then found out that these cameras were about to be shipped to a select group of photographers – and that they could not use the in public until the camera was announced… so these cameras would stay dormant for five more days…

“Can I try one out?”  I asked.

“No.  Sorry.”

Then came lunch.  And I made my pitch to David:  Allow me to borrow just one of these cameras over the weekend – and I’ll ship it off on Monday to the “chosen” photographer it was destined to go to. They weren’t going to be allowed to take them out into public prior to the big announcement anyway…

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He was interested with the idea – but he was experiencing more doubt than interest – as getting this little “project” off the ground would mean getting through a LOT of RED TAPE within a very short period…

As we returned to the Canon offices – my heart was beating fast – my mind was racing.  If I do get this camera I asked myself, what on earth will I be able to shoot with it?

A few nerve-wrecking minutes later – I had my answer:

“You can borrow it for the weekend.  You can then produce a video and stills completely independently from Canon U.S.A.  If you produce anything interesting we just might be interested in using some of the footage on our website – we’ll talk about that then if that happens.  We have no budget to offer you – so you are doing this completely independently from Canon.  Deal?”

DEAL.

The problem was: I had no idea what to shoot.  The weather forecast for the weekend was poor.  It was Friday afternoon and I had a job that night – as well as on the Wednesday of the following week – and I had to get the camera shipped out on Monday…

Not to mention:  I have never shot a film before – of any kind – in my life.  (Other than 2 videos that I have cut of my son in the past 4 years of his life…)

My mind was racing, I was sweating and my heart was pounding.  I was like a kid in a candy store unable to make up his mind on what treat to choose…

In the end – this video was shot with less than 12 hours of pre-production – from the time I got the camera to the time we shouted “Action.”

The budget I set for myself was around $5,000 total – which included $2,000 for a one hour helicopter flight over the city.   The short film was shot over two nights – from 5 p.m. to 4 a.m. – with two models, three assistants, a co-director, one editor, and one makeup artist.  Both video and still imagery.  Along with behind the scenes footage.  

Oh – and did I mention we only had ONE battery?  (We had to plan on constantly re-charging that one battery throughout the shoot…)

It was shot with 100% still photography equipment (lenses, grip/mounts, and a single Profoto 7b battery strobe pack (the strobe wasn’t used – just the modeling light))- with the exception of an expensive video tripod and head, and an LED light…

If you can’t see how this can all be done in such a short period of time, with zero pre-production, not a single filming or location permit, and on such a small budget – you are missing one of the main reasons this camera is a “Game Changer.”

This camera is the ultimate “equalizer” – you no longer need half-million dollar’s worth of high definition video cameras and lenses delivered by a truck with its own driver to shoot a high definition film in low light – you just need a $2,700 camera and a few lenses – and talented and dedicated friends that you can call on last minute at the drop of a hat.

Everyone has been waiting for the video camera that can also take stills… here’s a still camera that can shoot stunning video.

This is a leap of change that is sped up – it’s happening overnight.

The video or “short film” or whatever you want to call it – will be up as soon as humanly possible (in this case it’s technologically actually – not humanly.)  More details to come…. we’re also putting the finishing touches on a behind the scenes video that shows just exactly how this was done…

These are EXCITING TIMES!

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