Canon announced all the way back in October 2012 that they had worked out what we had previously thought impossible: uncompressed HDMI (which really just involves making the output fill the screen and removing overlays). While it's not necessarily going to be a magic bullet for better image quality, there are plenty of uses for clean HDMI, including better workflow options. Unfortunately for those who were looking at the beginning of the month for the firmware update, Canon has now pushed it all the way until the end of this month. Click through for more.
Uncompressed HDMI Output Support
When shooting video, HDMI Output makes possible the recording of high-definition uncompressed video data (YCbCr 4:2:2, 8 bit) from the EOS 5D Mark III to an external recorder via the camera's HDMI terminal. This, in turn, facilitates the editing of video data with minimal image degradation for greater on-site workflow efficiency during motion picture and video productions. Additionally, video being captured can be displayed on an external monitor, enabling real-time, on-site monitoring of high-definition video during shooting.
Improved AF Functionality
Even when the EOS 5D Mark III is equipped with an extender and lens making possible a maximum aperture of f/8, the firmware update supports AF employing the camera's central cross-type points (currently compatible with maximum apertures up to f/5.6). Accordingly, the update will allow users to take advantage of AF when shooting distant subjects, benefitting sports and nature photographers, particularly when using telephoto lenses.
While clean HDMI can make it more convenient to get ready to edit ProRes or DNxHD files, it won't necessarily provide an immediately noticeable improvement in video quality. The Mark III is already a very clean image, but the other advantage is that it makes noise much more defined. That may sound counterintuitive at first, but having cleaner and more defined noise means that you can remove it more effectively while keeping fine detail. Where I think it will be of benefit to filmmakers is when they are doing their color grading. Having a higher bitrate file along with 4:2:2 will mean you can push the image just a bit further than the normal highly compressed 4:2:0 internal codec. 4:2:2 will also make pulling keys from green screen a little bit easier.
If the camera was capable, it's interesting that Canon didn't initially include it, but certainly they made some space for people to purchase cameras like the C100 in the meantime. I think Canon is going to have to do more at this price range because the competition is getting fierce. If Blackmagic can deliver their cameras in July, those who don't need really need the stills functionality of Canon cameras might think about looking elsewhere, especially when you can get internal 10-bit ProRes, already a higher fidelity format than anything the Canon DSLRs can deliver. There are definitely other factors at play, including lens compatibility and that "full-frame" look, but the main advantage of DSLRs (besides stills and maybe higher ISOs) is their small size, and when you've got to add a recorder to the top of the camera, you're losing that advantage.
What do you guys think? For 5D Mark III owners, are you hanging on to Canon's DSLRs, or maybe moving on to a more video-centric option? What do you think is the future of video on Canon's DSLRs?
- Canon 5D Mark III Product Page -- Canon USA
- New Firmware Update For Canon EOS 5D Mark III -- Canon USA
[via Canon Rumors]