Shooting Dark Prophecy on the Canon 5D Confirms the Pros and Cons of DSLR Shooting
Anthony E. Zuiker (CSI) is currently releasing a series of "digi-novels" under the Level 26 banner. A digi-novel is a book that also has online video tie-ins; each chapter in the print book contains a code that unlocks a chapter in a corresponding web series. The latest installment of the transmedia franchise is entitled Dark Prophecy, and will be released in October. To film the project, Zuiker et al. went with the 5D Mark II, which is interesting given they shot the previous installment on the RED. Editor and B Camera operator Joshua Caldwell's post about their experiences using the 5D is a worthwhile read if you're planning on shooting narrative content on a DSLR.
First, the advantages to shooting on the 5D Mark II:
[Using the 5D] doesn't mean you don't have to light. Of course you do. It just means you can bring in a china ball instead of a 1k, you can use source lighting like lamps and candles and so on, instead of a ring of lights around the set, it means you can shoot on a rooftop in downtown LA, at night, and use a single Kino tube. Lighting is just as much of a tool as set design, camera framing and focus, and the best thing you can do, is use light to sculpt your image. You just don't need a generator to do it.
And then the drawbacks:
It was an incredibly awkward rig to operate. Very, very front heavy. Because we preferred to not attach the monitor via the camera shoe, we had to use arms to mount it. Only problem was that they were only so long, so the monitor ended up being a little too close to our faces, which strained our necks a bit and could get rather uncomfortable on long takes. We also suffered the same problems [Philip] Bloom did with regard to the down-rezzing when rolling. When going out to a monitor of any kind, the image is automatically downsized to 480p.
Joshua mentions a couple of handy tools, namely the $50 Jag35 HDMI Splitter and the $470 Blackmagic HDMI to SDI Mini Converter. These tools can help alleviate some of the headaches of shooting with a DSLR, but unless Canon fixes the HDMI output on the 5D (which might be possible with a firmware update), there's not much we can do about it.