I was an editor for a good 10 years before gradually moving more and more into directing. A few years ago I started shooting and studying cinematography in earnest. I wanted to know as much as I could about cameras and lighting to better communicate with crews I was directing on set. But a funny thing happened. The more I learned about running camera, the more I liked it. A general curiosity became a passion. And at this point I probably spend as much time behind a lens as I do in front of an editing system. Quite a sea change from my life as “just” an editor a decade ago.
That transition was only possible thanks to a very special production tool: the Canon 5D mkii DSLR.
When I first saw the footage coming out of this camera, I was really excited by the obvious possibilities it signaled for independent filmmaking. At an investment of only $2800 for the camera body, it was the affordable cinematic tool I’d been looking for.
It’s not an overstatement to say that this camera changed my life. I am now shooting and directing professionally at least as often as I am working in post-production. I’ve even transformed my company, EditLab, from a post-only concern into a full-service production operation.
In addition to the 5D mkii, I am fortunate enough to own and operate several other cameras, including the Canon 5D mk iii and the Canon EOS C300. The latter has become my go-to camera for virtually everything I shoot. I love the C300. Paired with a set of fast Zeiss ZF.2 “cine-mod” prime lenses, I am very happy with the image quality, low-light capabilities, and general ergonomics of the camera.
But I still have very fond feelings for the 5D mkii—in spite of the well-documented technical shortcomings we’re all familiar with by now. The 5D was really the first camera I ever shot with regularly, and firsts are special. No matter how much moiré-ridden, anti-aliased heartache this compressed 8-bit beauty may have put me through, I’ll always have warm, bokeh-laden memories of her.
With newer, more capable cameras in my kit bag, the 5D mkii kind of fell by the wayside—not forgotten exactly, but certainly neglected. So, with a few twinges of remorse, I sold it recently. I’m not what you’d call a nostalgic person—at all—but I have to admit it was a very bittersweet experience packing up that camera and getting it prepped for the new owner.
Perhaps the coolest part of this situation for me is that I get to pass it on to another filmmaker who’ll be using it as his first camera, too. The Canon 5D mkii will always be the tool that catalyzed my transition into shooting and directing. And it’s still a great little camera.
It’s just no longer my great little camera.
I wish the new owner many happy hours of shooting and learning with it. I sincerely hope he enjoys the journey as much as I did. It was quite a ride. Big thanks to Canon for making this camera in the first place. It was a blast to shoot with.
Do any of you have similar feelings for your first camera? Was it good riddance, or fond farewells?