My friend, let’s call him Dave, sat in a movie theater with his friend, let’s call him Gary. They’re getting ready to watch a film, the title of which I cannot remember. Dave is on his Motorola smartphone, browsing eBay, looking at cameras. He stumbles across a used Canon 5D Mark II, body only. His expression changes, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that adrenaline of the stellar deal shot through his body.
In the middle of the movie theater, Dave leans over and shows the deal to Gary. Gary, naturally, freaks out. Both are college filmmakers and they know what a 5D Mark II means for their next film. It’s going to look exactly like a film. As Dave hits the, “Buy It Now” button, the lights dim, the movie starts and Dave is forced to shove his phone into his pocket.
I can tell you with certainty that Dave couldn’t keep his mind on the film. I’m positive that he was thinking almost exclusively about everything that he was going to be able to do with his 5D Mark II. And can you blame him? For the great majority of independent filmmakers, the 5D Mark II changed everything.
While the hyperbole of, “looking just like a film” seems crazy now, at the time, when we were all just filming with Handycams and other similar camcorders, the 5D Mark II felt straight up professional. The full frame sensor allowed for a new level of low light and gave us the opportunity for creative exposure, interchangeable lenses and it all came in a portable, easy to use package.
In addition to this filmmaking capability, the 21.1 MP sensor took fantastic, rich and beautiful photos. In fact, to this day, a great number of photographers still shoot with it. This is largely due to the fact that it’s consistent, durable and the autofocus was laser fast. All of this was before the implementation and eventual revolution created by Magic Lantern.
When I was in college, the idea of buying a T2i was incredible. I had a friend that had one, and I was in love with shooting with it. So can you imagine my excitement, just picking up the much more durable and professional feeling 5D Mark II? It changed everything for me. It gave a lot of us the confidence to shoot more and show our work off. It got us amateurs and freelancers that much closer to the big leagues. It got us closer to that classic film look.
In hindsight, it’s easy to see the flaws before the original excitement and awe. The .mov’s out of the camera were pretty red and yellow. The dynamic range was far from great. Rolling shutter. But really, who cared? It made us feel like pros, and for a lot of us, it made us pros.
Now that we’re 7 years removed from it’s release, it’s easy to see it for what it truly was. It was a game changer, and for a lot of people out there it remains a trustworthy and reliable friend.
(cover photo credit: snap from B&H)