Canon 5d Mark III goes 4:2:2 April 30

Once again NAB has dangled unbelievable technology breakthroughs before avid filmmakers. But we’d like to talk about the Canon 5D Mark III and it’s much awaited upgrade to output 4:2:2 uncompressed video, which is expected this April.

To appreciate what the 5D is and why it entranced Vincent LaForet, Shane Hurlbut and Gayle Tattersall, you have to go back to 1954, when Hollywood rolled out VistaVision.

When Hollywood was terrified that this new thing called television would bankrupt the film industry they tried all manner of things to get people into the theater.  One of them was VistaVision.

The VistaVision team thought what if they built a camera that would run the 35mm film through the camera horizontally.  Motion picture film normally runs through the movie camera vertically like the film on the right (see figure below ).  VistaVision runs horizontally. It’s on the left below.

vistavision vs super 35mm motion picture





(above courtesy of for more info go to

Why am I talking about Vistavision?  Because that’s the size of the 5D’s sensor.  It’s marvelously huge,  It’s a VistaVision-sized sensor.  The VistaVision frame more than doubled the size of the regular motion picture (sort of what 4k is doing to 2k now).

And like VistaVision, the 5D’s sensor turned Hollywood upside down when Gayle Tattersall shot the Season Six Finale with Canon 5D Mk IIs. Suddenly there was no film to buy….no processing fees….no telecine.  All the walls protecting Hollywood’s carefully guarded empire came down, just like when the Berlin Wall came down and freedom filled the air.

And Canon did more than that.  It’s 5D Mark II opened an eight-lane highway to 35mm film quality for filmmakers young and old around the world.

Now everybody had their shot to make a movie.  Everybody!

Now, quietly and humbly Canon is going to take the stage and quietly provide what we’ve all be clamoring for….4:2:2 uncompressed.    (Fact is, if some crazy filmmakers kidnapped Canon engineers, they could add the boards, the batteries, the fans and the circuits for this baby to pump out 4:4:4.)

But that would leave nothing for next April….nothing for us to dream about…..nothing to save up for.

Thanks, Canon.  For once again, empowering thousands of us to do better.  We filmmakers salute you!


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