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Technical

December 2008

Photographer Richard Walch was dead keen to try out the EOS 5D Mark II when he saw the groundbreaking 21.1 megapixel DSLR with HD video capabilities catching the attention of the crowds at the Canon stand during Photokina 2008. He managed to get hold of an EOS 5D Mark II pre-production model in Switzerland and took it to the annual freestyle.ch Zürich extreme sports event where he ended up shooting his first ever HD video project…

Assignment

Before picking up the EOS 5D Mark II Richard had never shot any video as he was best known for his still images of extreme snow and water sports. He admits: “I had no idea about video but I thought it would be a great creative challenge and the freestyle.ch event where four adrenalin sports meet in one weekend could be ultimate test ground.”

“The evening I arrived at the event was when Canon Switzerland handed me over the prototype Canon EOS 5D Mark II.” He adds: “I had no manual, one battery, 60 hours for the trial and about 30 minutes before the first snowboarder would drop down the ramp.”

© Richard Walch

Shooting HD movies

The EOS 5D Mark II’s HD movie recording function is accessed via the Live View function and offers full 16:9 HD capture at 1920x1080 pixels or a standard 4:3 TV capture at 640x480 pixels.

Richard explains: “Because I am used to the EOS system I could start right away. My initial plan was to shoot stills and video for a multimedia presentation, but then I realised that when you shoot a still the video mode has to stop recording for a second to buffer, which I understand has to happen. So, I decided to just concentrate on motion – my first movie project.”

“My goal was to keep the look of photography so every frame I took I wanted to work as a still, and that’s possible with this camera. Because of the full frame sensor and the complete range of lenses you get the look and feel of 35mm cinematography rather than video. Take a look at the night scenes especially in low light - the brightness and detail of these images are amazing.”

© Richard Walch

Lens range

One of the other key factors of the EOS 5D Mark II is that it opens up the use of the full EOS compatible lens range for HD movie recording. “I used all my range of lenses from 14mm up to 500mm. Combining this small camera and ultra wideangle lenses allows you to film very special images. For the ‘follow cam’ shoot of the skater and the snowboarder in the film ‘D-Style’ I used a 15mm Fisheye lens – which makes the set-up small enough so the riders could jump with it,” explains Richard.

He adds: “On the other hand the telephoto lenses are a great tool to really play with the depth of field and that’s very special for video. What makes ‘D-Style’ interesting are the fast cuts and different point of views that I was able to achieve by using all the different lenses.”

Richards feels: “The power of this product is that if you stick to your skills in photography and shoot video you’re going to get something different from a video film-maker. I think as a photographer I have a slightly different approach - I work more strictly from one image to the next one. It’s not better, just different. I really believe the Canon EOS 5D Mark II will have a strong impact on film-makers as well as on photographers. Both will cross experiment just because it’s there in one camera.”

© Richard Walch

Click here to watch Richard Walch’s D-Style film that shows how the HD movie recording abilities of the EOS 5D Mark II can capture superb action.

He adds: “The camera makes it very easy in the video mode. You can balance the exposure on the large back wheel – to hold an exposure during a pan all you have to do is to press the star button. That’s it - the rest is photography. The biggest difference to a normal video camera is the camera can focus between takes but not during recording. I had to really plan ahead where exactly in the image I wanted the focus. It is a challenge, but it pays off in the end.”

‘Stealth’ filming

The Freestyle.ch event’s official camera crews also covered the 'meet' that Richard’s ‘D-Style’ movie was filmed at. He reveals: “A full team of cameras was set up to cover all the action taking place at all different venues, including big cranes. The problem is the TV cameras are big and heavy - they always have to crop close to the action and at the end they lose a lot of context.”

He explains: “With the Canon EOS 5D Mark II most people did not even realise I would film – that gave me the chance to get a lot closer. When the organisers of the event saw the ‘D-Style’ video they asked to use the footage to promote their event. They just loved the feeling of the film.”

“That’s exciting. Think about the endless possibilities this camera has to offer. You can seamlessly change between stills and video – you can shoot video without being recognized as ‘filmer’ – you can use ultra wideangles and ultra long tele and, in technology terms, this is just the first Canon to offer full HD video within a DSLR. I hope there is a lot more to come,” adds Richard.

Future projects

Richard explains: “For me the camera changed the way I work over night. When I presented the video ‘D-Style’ to a client I instantly got a job for a photo and video production for the car company Infiniti taking place in Paris. The storyline was motorbike and a car chasing each other through Paris. Again, what made the difference was the possibility to position the camera. Mounted on a monopod and turned upside down I was able to shoot the car from the motorbike while the Canon EOS 5D Mark II was flying 5cm over the asphalt.”

© Richard Walch

Movie theatre quality

The ‘D-Style’ movie shot on the 5D Mark II has already been shown, and enthusiastically received, in five movie theatres during a presentation with Apple. Richard admits: “The first time I had the chance to screen ‘D-Style’ in a real cinema on a 12-metre screen I was really blown away by the resolution and sharpness of the image. Later when the session started and the people saw it – they loved it.”

So, what are his final thoughts on the EOS 5D Mark II? Richard laughs: “My only advice is – just go out and try it – it’s a great challenge and superb fun.”

Biography: Richard Walch

Richard Walch

German-born Richard Walch has been a professional photographer for 20 years – he started out shooting snowboarding and skiing but now specialises in dramatic action shots of snow and water sports. He also shoots advertising and editorial work for companies who produce sporting goods - such as Vo"lkl, Head, Oakley and Tommy Hilfiger - and was team photographer for the German Americas Cup Team in Valencia.