5D Mark II Team

Improvements & Gear

The Hidden Potential of 5D Mark II

Contents:

  • Update
  • Introduction
  • Magic Lantern: Video Interview
  • Conclusion

UPDATE

March 2nd, 2010: Canon announced the new firmware update 2.0.3 with the standard frame rates (23.976,25,29.97fps) and some few additional “extras”.

That is a great update, long awaited and deserved for such a best seller camera.

Unfortunately Canon didn’t implement some additional features, that ARE possible. Just to mention few: AutoISO limits in M mode (for stills and video), Audio meters on real time while on LiveView (so easy), Focus programming (Focus Rack, etc.), Full HD output through HDMI, etc. (check our link to the list below).

There are LOT of possible fixes and improvements still possible to this camera, that was a real unexpected success to Canon. Let’s hope Canon take advantage of that success in a smart way, that contemplate all 5D Mark II customers, ensuring their loyalty that will reflect in more sales on full frame lenses too.

INTRODUCTION

After the release in Q4 of 2008 of the Canon EOS 5D Mark II and its unexpected and huge success in the world of cinematography, thousands of users started to request “Full Manual Control” in video mode, to  “fix” the most obvious limitation that Canon put on this camera: it was released without manual control in video.

After many months of requests, in May of 2009 Canon announced the release “By Popular Demand” of firmware 1.1.0 which gave that basic function to customers.

The requests didn’t stop there, because there were (and still are) evident limitations: the camera only records video in one and non-standard frame rate (30.00 fps).

That means every single video clip has to be converted to the standard 29.97fps (NTSC) or 25fps (for PAL users) or 23.976fps (for real filmmaking purposes) with all the big time consuming tasks, technical problems and many times bad results (footage degradation) that implies.

So, thousands of customers kept requesting for all the “standard frame rates” that were even introduced on the EOS 7D but still not in the 5D Mark II.

Then after a big campaign (“Calling Canon“) and all the previous requests from all around the world (by amateurs, professionals and even companies) Canon USA launched an on-line survey specifically aimed to video on the 5D Mark II. A couple of weeks later, in October of 2009 Canon made the official announcement (.PDF version) they will release a new firmware update.

MAGIC LANTERN – VIDEO INTERVIEW

Since Q1/Q2 of 2009 one person, “tired” of requesting to Canon for full manual control and 24/25p modes, started the process of analyzing the firmware of the 5D Mark II with the hope of fixing it. His name: Trammell Hudson. The project: “Magic Lantern“.

That process had many stages and is still in continuous development. The first step was to fix the easiest automatic function: Auto Gain Control (audio gain/level is automatically controlled when recording, not allowing manual override). It’s a remarkable fact that Manual gain control is even available on many P&S cameras like the G line, but still not provided by Canon on the 5D Mark II (a $2,700 body-only DSLR).

After that, many features and “fixes” were introduced in this project. Lot of them were never seen on a DSLR before, and probably not even dreamed by Canon (check the List of Fixes & Improvements).

Below there is a link to a recent video interview with Trammell Hudson, a pioneer who Canon still seems to underrate.

CONCLUSION

If only one person with the help of a tiny group of people, without knowing a piece of the firmware source code has achieved so amazing results, how much more could Canon do if they wanted?

What could be concluded in a scenario like this?

A: Canon is not really “listening to customers”, but only willing to give to customers what “it’s enough to sell”.

B: Canon’s high level executives and managers still didn’t understand what they have achieved with the introduction of 5D Mark II. Do they forget thousands of customers who already invested so much?

C: Canon is not treating customers correctly and professionally. Thousands (really thousands) of customers from all around the world have requested by any possible way all these fixes and improvements to Canon. But Canon declines to tell anything else than the last brief announcement about a firmware with 24/25p modes.

Maybe Canon is forgetting that people who invest in a $2,700 body-only camera and full frame lenses (and in most cases several thousands dollars in Canon gear) are not entry-level users nor hobbyists. They are mostly serious amateurs, professionals or even companies. So as a serious company, Canon should give clearer answers and better attention to what thousands of customers are asking for.

– The most interesting fact about all of this:  Magic Lantern has proven lot of those features requests are possible via Firmware Update. No redesign of the camera is needed, only an enhanced firmware to let this camera take advantage of its huge inner capabilities, and give improved functionalities (for stills-only shooters & filmmakers).

– The “funniest” fact (if we can call it that way):  Even many Canon representatives are using Magic Lantern, because they do know the extraordinary features and functionalities it provides to the 5D Mark II.

Our last conclusion still are questions:

  • WHY Canon seem not willing to implement these fixes and features when they really CAN?
  • Is Canon not interested to make this camera more competitive, more featured with an insignificant investment cost on firmware enhancement, then getting more profit of an already in-production camera?

They could perfectly apply this concept to the 7D and 1D Mark IV as well, and then have a full line of full featured DSLRs capable of Full HD video, something that no other company on the world still have.

Please take a look at the List of Fixes & Improvements that has been elaborated with thousands of customers’ feedbacks and requests.

Some years ago Canon (like many companies) would have paid a lot to know what customers needed and requested. Now Canon can get it for free.

February 7, 2010 Posted by | Articles & Tech Info, Campaigns, EOS 5D Mk II, News & Info, Special Info, Tech Ideas | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Canon Firmware Updates

WHY to release Firmware Updates?

Adding and improving functions and features via firmware updates on current Canon cameras would be a very smart and important action from a business point of view.

Please note that many of the features mentioned here were already requested in the Petition to Canon Inc. since early 2009, signed by more than 3,000 amateurs, professionals and studios around the world.

On this post:

  • Update #1: Non-free Upgrades
  • Main factors & reasons for updating the firmware
  • List of Fixes & Improvements collected from thousands of users’ feedbacks

UPDATE #1: NON-FREE UPGRADES

There is a huge amount of users willing to pay for Firmware Upgrades with enhanced movie/video features like those ones listed below (also for some improvements on photography functions)

QUESTION TO CANON: If there is the need of giving resources to programmers and engineers to work on such improvements, then why not to give that option to those customers who really want and are willing to pay for them?

That would be another way to keep these cameras more featured and competitive for longer time, without any kind of hardware change and the obvious benefit that they are already in production.

Make a survey, do marketing research and read what customers write on dedicated HDSLR forums like www.cinema5d.com.

Most software companies do offer special upgrades for a fee. Why manufacturers of expensive devices, with a “long” life cycle like EOS 1D Mark IV and EOS 5D Mark II couldn’t offer the same? We would all benefit from it, since replacements for these models will not appear in near future.

This option should be considered very seriously.

MAIN REASONS

5D Mark II has huge potential inside not fully exploited yet, that leaves lot of “room to move on” whenever you (the manufacturer) want.

• Canon has a product that has no competition (until now): a Full Frame sensor camera with Full HD capabilities that can really be used for serious Video and Cinematography purposes (along with its great still capabilities). Canon has been in this situation for more than 1 year. This is very significant and also a unique case in a very long time.

• With firmware updates incorporating improvements customer satisfaction will increase notoriously. But what is even more important to any company: when customer satisfaction increases, sales are bigger and the loyalty to the brand also increases. Loyalty is a key factor for the long term company profit. Especially in a high competitive market area such as digital SLR cameras.

• It is much more convenient to “refresh” a camera (of this level) and then get more profit from it (already designed and already in-production model) adding features and functions than “leaving it as is”, getting lower value over time and being surpassed by competition.

• This “refresh” can be easily made via firmware update, because the camera does have the possibilities inside, with insignificant costs to the company when compared to designing a new whole camera with its own firmware (and all the processes and very big costs that imply).

• Customers have already demonstrated the huge interest on this camera and these improvements. Just remember all the requests for Manual Control, STANDARD 24/25/30p modes and frame rates, and all other features being requested to Canon. Please check here and here.

• The Filmmaking Community (Amateurs, Professionals and even Studios) has adopted the 5D Mark II far beyond anyone could have expected (Canon included). This camera has been selling like almost no other camera in the past for over 1 year at the same price since its release date. So, improving and adding features will broaden the usage scope, keeping big sales on it.

• The addition of FILMMAKING features (like Preset/Rack Focus, and all those achieved by Magic Lantern Project) is a hidden “card” that Canon CAN use if they want to make this camera more competitive, especially when competition arrives.

We sincerely hope Canon Managers and Executives consider this list very seriously (and before competition) for further Firmware Updates.

This is a big and free list of ideas that has been elaborated from thousands of users’ feedbacks on how to improve the camera with all the benefits mentioned above. Including them would make this camera unbeatable for a VERY LONG time.

LIST of FIXES & IMPROVEMENTS

Frame Rates as in EOS 7D Done
29.97 / 25 / 23.976 fps: STANDARD 30/25/24p video modes.

720p mode at 29.97 fps
It will allow LONGER video recording time before reaching the 4GB file size limit.

▪ Improve AF contrast detection algorithm and/or add Focusing Aids
Magic Lantern has done a lot on this, and proven it is extremely useful, even essential. See additional Filmmaking features.

Digital Zoom Video mode
To record on video a smaller area of the sensor as “digital zoom”. Very useful.

1:1 Crop Sensor Video mode – Like much cheaper T2i/550D
To record a native 1920×1080 area of the sensor (or 1280×720 or even VGA), which minimizes “jello” effect and completely eliminates aliasing issues/artifacts. This is possible in a similar way how Zoom level x5 and x10 works, but recording on video what you see on screen. This function could be part of the above one.

720p mode at 59.94 and 50 fps   X Removed from final release 2.0.4 (why?)

File Spanning function
A new video file is automatically created when 4GB is reached without stop recording. Very important for lot of users, and very easy to implement.

“EDIT” option in playback mode – for Video mode, like EOS 7D
This would allow Cut and Save part of recorded video clip. It is available on 7D and much cheaper P&S cameras.

Noise Pattern (Stills and Video mode)
FIX. Noise pattern/banding visible on shadows at high (and not so high) ISOs.

More frames in Bracketing mode
For still photography. VERY easy to fix.

Auto ISO with limiters – like much cheaper T2i/550D
For still photography, improved and with selectable limits.

REMAP” hot & stuck pixels function
This will save Canon Technical Support LOT of money and time. It is an essential feature. We still don’t understand why it wasn’t already implemented.

“Clean” HDMI output
A function to Enable/Disable the “white square” on the AV OUT and HDMI output.
VERY easy to do.

Full HD through HDMI output while recording (if hardware possible)
Also fix the delay of 5 to 7 seconds of “black” image after pressing the “record” button

Live Histogram for video mode   Done

Remote Start/Stop video recording using cable release – Like EOS 7D

Audio Manual Gain for video recording   Done
FIX. Very easy, and essential for acceptable audio recording.

LIST of additional FILMMAKING features

Hugely demanded and used (until now only via Magic Lantern)

▪ Control of focus
▪ Focus Assistance
▪ Focus Rack/Presets
▪ Focus stacking
▪ Zebra stripes (video peaking)
▪ On-screen audio meters
▪ Peaking, false-color and edge detection on LCD

Most of these functions have already been proven to be possible (and VERY useful) by Magic Lantern Project.

They are helping thousands of users on filmmaking jobs
, and Canon could do even a better implementation of them via Official Firmware update. That would be another BIG BANG to keep big sales on this great camera.

Focus Assistance System / Focus Detection Area
It would tell (in Live View mode, and in real time if possible) when a specific area of the frame is in focus or not. This feature would be very helpful and very much appreciated by filmmakers.

Magic Lantern’s New Features Request:  Check them here, you will get very good and creative ideas on new features.


 

As we said before, we sincerely hope Canon Managers and Executives consider this list very seriously for further Firmware Updates.

It will indeed benefit not only Canon customers, but also the company.

It would make this camera unbeatable for a very long time.

December 17, 2009 Posted by | Articles & Tech Info, Campaigns, EOS 1D Mk IV, EOS 5D Mk II, EOS 7D, Special Info, Tech Ideas | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

5D Mark II gets 720p60 Mode

According to this Canon Workshop, the 5D Mark II will get 720p60 video mode:

Createasphere – Canon Intensive Workshop – Canon EOS HD Video:
Shoot, Post and Deliver – Playback  (source: www.cameradeparment.tv)

Pay special attention to what they say and show on the video at ~ 5:00.

If Canon is interested to “compete” with RED, then Canon must include even more “Film making” Features in their current line of DSLRs with Full HD capabilities. And that’s completely possible via Firmwar Update.

Control of focus and bracketing, Focus Assistance, Focus rack, Zebra stripes (video peaking), Manual gain control (audio), On-screen audio meters, and LOT more features and improvements have already been proven to be possible by Magic Lantern.

Not to mention the big chance that Canon has to improve the AF algorithm in Live View mode (contrast detection Auto Focus), AND even the implementation of “Focus Assistance system” or “Focus Detection Area” which could tell when a specific area of the frame is in focus or not.

.

December 4, 2009 Posted by | EOS 5D Mk II, News & Info, Special Info | , , , | 4 Comments

Magic Lantern – 10 Questions

There is a VERY interesting interview to the leader of Magic Lantern Project, posted on November 1st at Cinema5D, that is really worth reading.

Please check it here: 10 Questions with Magic Lantern’s Trammell Hudson

Some quotes from it:

It would really please me if Canon incorporated all of the features from Magic Lantern into their firmware.

(…)

“Perhaps they hadn’t considered the filmmaking market for the DSLR form-factor. In any event, Magic Lantern brings the ability to add these features to the user, not just the manufacturer.”

(…)

“The 5D is a great camera and I hope that my project helps Canon sell more 5D camera bodies. We’re not in competition, despite the rhetoric on some of the forums: Canon has created an incredible camera and I’m really pleased to be able to add some measure of additional value to it. The fact that they have added manual exposure control and will be adding 24/25p frame rates indicates that they are engaged with their user base and that they are working to improve the cameras that have already been sold.”

(…)

It would be great if Canon would provide some documentation to make this easier (…)”


If you are interested on this project and/or in what CAN be improved on Canon 5D Mark II and 7D, please consider supporting us. It will certainly benefit all users.

We are acting as Community, your are not alone and your help is VERY valuable.

It can be provided in many ways. One is Calling Canon and registering your Features Request for the 5D Mark II and/or 7D. Please check the Features Request List that has been written as reference by lot of 5D Mark II users.

Another way is supporting Magic Lantern Project.

You can of course do both things 😉

We sincerely hope that Canon take a deep look on what the huge Community of Photographers and Filmmakers are requesting all around the world, and release so many improvements that can really be implemented via Firmware Update with minimal costs.

That will not only improve their own product line and make it more competitive and versatile, but also keep big sales on existing models, and that is a great deal from a business point of view.

It is MUCH cheaper to exploit the inner capabilities of an already designed and already in-production camera, than making a new whole design with its respective firmware and all the process it implies. The costs between both actions have no comparison, the difference is astronomical.

Additionally, if customers see that Canon is engaged with their users to improve the existing cameras, exploiting their huge potential, then they will certainly increase their LOYALTY to the brand. And that is a KEY factor for the long-term company profit, especially in the high competitive market of DSLRs.

As some reader and customer said:

“If Canon want to maintain customer loyalty people need to know when they purchase a Canon product they are going to be looked after. If I knew Canon would add if possible any features wanted by customers, I’d buy Canon EVERYTIME.”

November 30, 2009 Posted by | Articles & Tech Info, EOS 5D Mk II, EOS 7D, EOS T2i/550D, News & Info, Special Info, Tech Ideas | , , , , , | 1 Comment

I CALLED CANON !

Contents:

  • Update #2: Survey ended
  • Update#1: Breaking news – Canon Survey
  • Customers in real action – “Call Canon” Procedure
  • Fixes & Improvements request
  • List of additional Filmmaking features
  • Customers Experiences & Testimonials
  • Any doubts?

UPDATE #2: The survey has ended.

From Canon website:

“The response we received to this survey was truly overwhelming and we really appreciate your interest in participating.

We are very sorry but we have reached our required number of respondents and have ended this particular survey earlier than anticipated.”

UPDATE #1: Breaking news: CANON SURVEY

Along with calling Canon, and obviously due the high amount of customers calling Canon, this is a VERY GOOD chance to let them know how much you are interested in this regard and tell them your improvements request for the 5D Mark II.

– OFFICIAL Canon Survey – EOS Video related:
http://survey.cusa.canon.com/Pub/2wS26J/Link.html

 


 

CUSTOMERS IN REAL ACTION

A Community of Photographers, Videographers and Filmmakers interested on improvements for video and other features in the 5D Mark II are taking a simple but still effective action.

We are doing what many Canon representatives told to be the best way: we are calling Canon and asking to enter a “feature request” for the 5D Mark II. This is the best way to be sure it will reach higher departments.

You can join this very simple effort doing the same. It only takes 5 minutes to politely ask to register a feature request for your 5DMkII. LOT of people already called, you won’t be the first, sorry about that 😉

– Any doubt about it?: Please take a look at the comments pasted below, the answers given by Canon (you might be VERY surprised!!) and the links at the bottom of this post too. This IS HAPPENING and you can add your “2 cents”.

Acting as Community we will get results sooner or later. It was a key factor to get Manual Control on June, and now this will benefit everyone too.

Call Canon and ask to register your Features Request:

– USA: 1-800-828-4040
– CANADA: 1-800-OK-CANON (1-800-652-2666)
– UK: 0844 369 0100
– List of European PRO Representatives here

FIXES & IMPROVEMENTS REQUEST

This is a reference list of what THOUSANDS of customers are requesting since months ago all around the world.

What we strongly REQUEST:

Standard Frame Rates as in 7D
29.97 / 25 / 23.976 fps: STANDARD 30/25/24p video modes.

720p mode at 29.97 fps
It will allow LONGER video recording time before reaching the 4GB file size limit.

▪ Improve AF contrast detection algorithm and/or add Focusing Aids
Magic Lantern has done a lot on this, and proven it is extremely useful, even essential. See additional Filmmaking features.

Digital Zoom Video mode
To record on video a smaller area of the sensor as “digital zoom”. Very useful.

1:1 Crop Sensor Video mode
To record a native 1920×1080 area of the sensor, which extremely minimizes “jello” effect and eliminates aliasing issues/artifacts. This is possible in a similar way how Zoom level x5 and x10 works, but recording on video what you see on screen. This function could be part of the above one.

720p mode at 59.94 and 50 fps

File Spanning function
A new video file is automatically created when 4GB is reached without stop recording. Very important for lot of users.

“EDIT” option in playback mode (for Video mode)
This would allow Cut and Save part of recorded video clip. It is available on 7D and much cheaper P&S cameras.

Noise Pattern Bug/Issue (Stills and Video mode)
IMPORTANT FIX: Noise pattern/banding visible on shadows at high (and not so high) ISO.

More frames in Bracketing mode
For still photography. Very easy to fix.

Auto ISO Limiters
For still photography and movie/video mode

REMAP” hot & stuck pixels function
This will save Canon Technical Support LOT of money and time. It is an essential feature. We still don’t understand why it wasn’t implemented yet.

Live Histogram for video mode

Remote Start/Stop video recording using cable release (if hardware possible)

Full HD through HDMI output while recording (if hardware possible)

Dropped Frames Bug (Video mode)
FIX. This happens sometimes when changing Aperture AND in normal situations without changing anything

Exposure shift / flashing (Video mode)
FIX. This happens sometimes when zooming even in constant aperture zoom lenses

Audio Manual Gain for video recording
FIX. Very easy, and ESSENTIAL for acceptable audio recording.

LIST of additional FILMMAKING features

Hugely demanded and used (until now only via Magic Lantern)

▪ Control of focus
▪ Peaking, false-color and edge detection on LCD
▪ Focus Assistance
▪ Focus rack
▪ Focus stacking
▪ Zebra stripes (video peaking)
▪ Manual gain control (audio)
▪ On-screen audio meters

… and LOT more features that has already been proven to be possible (and very useful) by Magic Lantern Project.

They are helping thousands of users on filmmaking jobs
, and Canon could do even a better implementation of them via Firmware update. That would be another BIG BANG to keep big sales on this great camera.

Focus Assistance System / Focus Detection Area
It would tell (in LiveView mode, and in real time if possible) when a specific area of the frame is in focus or not. This feature would be very helpful and very much appreciated by filmmakers.

Magic Lantern’s New Features Request: Check them here, you will get very good and creative ideas on new features.

The importance of STANDARD frame rates

Until now the 5D Mark II has not even a single frame rate compatible with any other video camera made by Canon, 7D included !! That’s why we “AT LEAST” request the standard 29.97 fps.

CUSTOMERS EXPERIENCES & TESTIMONIALS

Just few! Including all comments in this post would be completely annoying.

Write your own experience in the comment field!.

1 — “ I just called and spoke with a very friendly representative, and he said that calling in and registering this as a feature request with Canon was a great idea and it’s how manual control got in there.

So please, if you have a 5DmkII, take the five minutes and call in, it CAN make a difference. ”

2 — “ Just called – it was easy. I got a nice guy on the phone who let me know that they’ve had “quite a few” 5D Mark II owners calling up. He also said he was happy to take the call because he owns the camera, too, and would like to see a firmware update.

I asked what the chances were, and he said something to the effect that Canon hadn’t “made any announcements yet.”

That sounded especially promising. Make your call now, if you haven’t already done so.”

3 — ” I called. Very easy. Everyone else should do the same. The Canon rep asked for my name, address, email, and the serial number of my 5D. I inquired about 24p and other frame rates for the 5D. He mentioned the calls and customer complaints about the lack of manual control and the eventual firmware upgrade canon released. I would hope his mentioning of this would suggest a similar scenario for 24p.”

4 — ” I just did it too. I very politely told the lady who answered that “You may have heard this before but I heard about your new 7D and I want my 5D Mark 2 to support the same features as the cheaper camera…” and proceeded to POLITELY tell her all of the things we in this community have been looking for.

Her response was basically “Thank you for the input. I have heard this before many times. We really need this kind of input. It’s input like this from our customers that directly led to the release of the manual video settings firmware release.”

She further explained how each phone call we receive about it gets forwarded to management, a tech case is opened, etc. My conclusion is that they are listening and what we most need to do is make sure they hear us.

So everyone PLEASE follow suit and VERY POLITELY call, not email. A phone call shows much more sincerity on your part vs. an email that can be discarded in 2 seconds. I talked with customer support for 5 minutes while she jotted down our conversation to be put in the tech case.

It was VERY clear that the phone is ringing off the hook about this issue. What we want is for the tech support people to keep hearing our story. We want them to spend 30 minutes of every 60 minutes hearing how much better our lives would be if our beloved 5D had better video mode support and manual audio gain.

It’s like democracy folks. If you don’t vote, you have no case to complain. Let’s really let them know that dozens/hundreds/thousands of their owners really feel that these features are essential to their 5D.

The number is (800) 828-4040. And please don’t whine that “It won’t help”. Ultimately it could prove futile, but there is absolutely no downside to calling Canon and letting them know how much we are countng on their support. ”

5 — I called Canon again today and chose General Product Support instead of Tech Support. I stated that I was calling “to make a product feature request for my 5D Mark II”, and right away the support rep said that he was writing them down to send up to Canon. So again I gave him the things I wanted to see improved or added, and he agreed with everything, saying that they have heard them a number of times.

He was way more receptive than the gentleman yesterday. After I had finished, he said he was entering my requests into a “Customer Voice” request form that would be sent up the line and read by someone higher up.

So, it seems that a lot of people are calling in and making waves here. Someone is listening, and I am betting that a change(s) will be made in the near future.”

ANY DOUBTS?

To see what is going on, please check Cinema5D forum thread and 5Dmk2 blog.

This is happening, this is REAL.

Your call is IMPORTANT. This is the RIGHT and BEST TIME to call Canon.

The more customers calling Canon and politely requesting, the more chances we ALL have.

As many Canon representatives already told: “this is the BEST way to be sure that the requests reach higher departments.”

Feel free to pass and spread this information.

We hope Canon consider all these features VERY seriously to be implemented via Firmware update, because they are possible on THIS CAMERA and they are VERY important for professionals and serious amateurs (Nikon could do it before indeed…)

September 4, 2009 Posted by | Articles & Tech Info, Campaigns, EOS 5D Mk II, News & Info, Special Info, Tech Ideas | , , , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

   

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