Crooked Path Films’ Online Guide to the Canon 5dMkII

(UPDATE: I modified this to reflect the firmware release 2.0.8.  which makes all versions of Magic Lantern unusable, therefore I am removing the Magic Lantern options until a stable release is released.)

The 5d2 is not made to be a video camera.  It’s a digital still camera with video capability.  But like the inventors of Silly Putty who were trying to invent a new type of fake rubber in WWII, Canon ‘accidentally’ made a revolutionary video capable camera with amazing resolution, dynamic range, and depth of field that doesn’t need an adapter.  Canon’s intention was to make a camera for photojournalists.  This leaves the camera lacking in many areas that make it a true professional video camera like scopes, zebras, manual audio gain control, appropriate guides, variable frame rates, a native h264 codec in a Quicktime (.mov) wrapper, and on screen levels and other information.

I combed the internet for tricks, tips, hacks, workflow suggestions, and software to work-around these deficiencies and turn this DSLR into a lean-mean cinematography tool.  Unfortunately for those like me who get this camera for its amazing video capability, each piece of very useful information is spread out all over the place….at least I haven’t found a site that’s an “all in one” guide for using the Canon 5d MkII, specifically with Adobe Premiere cs5.

So this is my contribution to the 5d2 filmmaking community…a Comprehensive Guide to the Canon 5d Mk II and Adobe Premiere.  There are many options out there for each of these tricks, and I will try to point out…along with my recommendations…the alternatives and why I believe them not to be the ideal choices.

Be prepared though, your high-quality and relatively cheap camera won’t be so cheap anymore after purchasing these necessary products.  Just to clarify…I don’t make a dime from any of this or from whichever product you buy.  I’ve tested the options and am giving you…from what I believe in my professional experiences and testing…my honest recommendations for the best way to use this awesome camera for cinematography.

For updates on 5d cinematography, join my FACEBOOK GROUP.  Your support is appreciated!


1) Upgrade the camera’s firmware to 2.0.8.  Price: FREE

Be sure to read this guide and the documentation on the Canon firmware site here:

2) Add the CrookedPathFlat style setting.   Price: FREE.

My 5d rig

If you are fine with the camera’s internal gamma settings and the ability to adjust the contrast, sharpness, saturation and are NOT planning to do any post color grading, then you won’t need this.   I always recommend getting good color grading software and learning to do it in post production.  I use Magic Bullet Looks plugin for Premiere primarily.  You can read about my reasoning behind this here.

When you do color grading in post, it’s important to leave the camera at it’s flattest gamma curve so that the sensor will read and record the most information in the shadows and the highlights.  This will make the picture coming out of the camera super flat and washed out looking.  But when you are able to capture all that information, it leaves you with the most latitude in post for color grading.  If you do not use the a flat setting, you will end up losing information in the shadows and highlights that you will never be able to get back should to want to in post.

This setting flattens the gamma curve in the camera.  You can still adjust the contrast, sharpness, saturation in the camera…it just that you have a very flat baseline to adjust from.  I recommend if you are color grading to leave those settings where they are when you upload this setting.

WARNING: As Shane Hurlbut, ASC points out, you must be careful when using flat picture styles, including this one.  The flattening (primarily in the shadows) may cause you to misjudge the exposure and result in underexposed footage.  I’ve had this happen to me a few times, most notably on darker lighting conditions.  Shane recommends setting your style over to the neutral setting, adjust exposure, then switch over to your flat setting prior to recording.   In my testing, I created my Crooked Path Flat to adjust for this anomoly, allowing you to better judge exposure WITHOUT having to switch back and forth.

Crooked Path Flat (all)


    • Download the “Crooked Path Flat” style file (above) to your desktop.
    • Plug your camera via USB to your PC.
    • Turn on the camera.
    • Start the Canon EOS Utility on your computer and select “Camera settings/Remote shooting”
    • In the middle of the control screen under “shooting menu,” click “Picture Style”
    • Select the “Detail Set” box
    • Select User Def. 1, 2 or 3 from the drop-down at the top of the new page  and click the button with the Open File icon
    • Select the CrookedPathFlat.pf2 file on your computer.
    • Click on OK
    • The Picture Style is now downloaded to your camera. First close the Eos Utility before you disconnect the camera.
    • Enter film mode and press the Picture Style selection button (the one under “Menu”) at the back of the camera.
    • Use the thumbwheel on top of the camera to scroll through the styles; you will see “CrookedPathFlat” as new selectable style.

TIP: Make sure you disable the following: auto lighting optimizer, peripheral illumination correction, and iso noise reduction. Some people disagree, but I feel that highlight tone priority is great turned on as it seems to act like a “shoulder” keeping the highlights from blowing out as much.

Here’s my COLOR GRADING DEMO. You’ll notice how flat the picture starts out (the Crooked Path Flat setting) and how I build the color from there:

Color Grading Demo – Richard Allen Crook from Crooked Path Films on Vimeo.

3) What Accessories you will need for Shooting.

  • CF Cards

The rule of thumb for video is approximately 12 minutes of footage for every 4 gigs of card space.  This is a very convenient and affordable way to capture your video!  The 32gb cards will run you around $100…and in my opinion a bit overkill.  It should get you through a day of shooting and then some, but keep in mind if you fill it up, it will take awhile to dump onto a laptop.  If you’re on a set with cast and crew…it’s not good to make everyone wait for you to empty the cards.   I recommend getting 2 cards, whether it a combination or 8gb, 16gb, or 32gb…that will allow you to send the full card to the laptop for offloading, swapped for a fresh empty card.  I have the 32gb card, and then I got an inexpensive 8gb to use while offloading.

You need a CF card that is generally rated at least about 133x for decent use of the camera. It is a bit over the rated speed needs for video (I read somewhere that Canon recommends only 64x…but I haven’t tested this because the price for faster cards are really low) and you shouldn’t have any problems.  I have Centon brand cards (from Fry’s), and haven’t had any issues yet.  I’ve read that Kingston brand is quite good, and that the SanDisk cards can cause problems.  (Note: I have only used the Centons and am only telling you what I’ve read)

  • Audio

This is a big area that was overlooked in the 5d design.  It was improved with the 2.0.3 firmware release by adding a manual mode which turns on the automatic gain, and also audio meters and an internal manual gain control…BUT you cannot adjust this nor watch the meters while the camera is recording.  Neither can you also plug in headphones to monitor audio.

The other problem with the 5dMkII audio is that the built in microphone is similar to the mic on your cell phone….pretty impractical.  The camera has a 3.5mm mic input…but that doesn’t help pros with microphones that have standard XLR connectors.

The Answer:

Why NOT to use a Pre-amp mixer plugged directly into the camera:  The old way I used to record audio when the Magic Lantern option was available was to used a Juiced Link pre-amp mixer to record directly to the camera.  I realize this isn’t a good solution mainly because the ability to monitor sound levels via meter and headphones while recording went away with the Magic Lantern option.  Even with Magic Lantern, you needed to tether cables to your camera and also took the controls and monitoring away from a sound engineer or boom operator.  I also used the preamp mixer so that I may use my professional XLR connections, and so that I wouldn’t have to later sync my sound to my video.  But with advances in software from Singular Software…there are easy solution to syncing sound in post production.

Use a SYNC SOUND SYSTEM. Why?  For several reasons:

  1. Sync sound is accepted in professional settings because it’s been in use for 90+ years.
  2. There are many digital sync sound recorders that record exceptional sound (MUCH better than direct record to the camera), and after testing several option, I came up with my recommended unit below.
  3. Your sound guy can become untethered from your camera and also have complete control over setting and monitoring.
  4. The ability to sync sound in post production is very easy, with help from Singular Software.

Tascam DR-100 Pro Portable Recorder ($305.00) Built-it microphones AND 2 XLR inputs.  Loads of features, rechargeable battery with AA backup battery option.

Zoom H4n ($299) I have tried this very popular system out first…and though the sound quality is identical, I found the Tascam to have many more professional features and operates much more smoothly.

Pluraleyes Sync Software for Cs5 or CS4 ($149.00) It automatically synchronizes all your audio and video clips without the need for timecode, clappers or any special preparation.  I STILL RECOMMEND using a clapper.  See below for clapper options!

Dualeyes Standalone Sync Software (Beta Release FREE!) It automatically synchronizes all your audio and video clips without the need for timecode, clappers or any special preparation.  I STILL RECOMMEND using a clapper.  See below for clapper options!

Digi Slate Movie Slate/Clapper for ANDROID phones ($9.99) This is an awesome app!  Allows you to fill out the slate and clap the clapper…complete with timecode!  It will log the information into a database so you can email the information as a shot log to your editor.

Slate for Iphone/Ipad ($4.99) Haven’t had a chance to use this…but I know that many people do!  Seems like it has the same options, though it says you need WIFI access to email the shot log.

DSLR Slate for Iphone/Ipad ($4.99) DLSR Slate provides unique items aimed specifically for DSLR cameras such as ISO Speed, Aperture, Shutter Speed, White Balance, Lens, Filter, and more.

NOTE: You will still need to record sound directly to your 5dMkII via the internal microphone when using Pluraleyes or Dualeyes.  Make sure you TURN OFF automatic gain when doing so.  The recorded sound is only used as a reference for the software and will not be used as your audio track in Premiere after the sync has been accomplished.

  • Support Rigs w/ Follow Focus

The 5d’s size is useful for hard-to-reach areas because it can fit anywhere.  But for  98% of shooting, it’s hard to hold steady while managing the focus and other settings.   You will need to get a shoulder mount with rails, and a follow focus to do any serious shooting.  Here’s the versions out there along with my thoughts:

The Answer:

Gini DSL1

Cavision DSLR Shoulder Mount Package ($846.95)   I love the pistol grips.  It’s like the ProAim but includes a viewfinder adapter and Cavision makes pretty decent stuff.  Very light.

Redrock DSLR Rigs (Varies) Having the Redrock Encore M2 bundle, I can honestly say that these are the best bang for your buck.  Very sturdy and professional with a first rate follow focus.  A little on the heavy side though.

Zacuto and Varizoom options .  I haven’t tried these out, but they seem pretty solid.  Zacuto is quite pricey, though in my research it seems to have a great viewfinder adapter (The Gini seems very similar to Zacuto).   The Varizoom seems over-engineered and lacks a follow focus.  Again I haven’t tried these out but those are my initial thoughts.

  • Lenses

See #5 below about depth of field.  Video pros who aren’t used to max DOF are in for a treat!  You WILL NEED good lenses to get going.  The 5d is very sensitive to light, much more than most video cameras.  I’d say anything faster than a f2.0 is overkill.  The sensor size will also throw you off.  If you’re used to a 50mm on a lens adapter, for example, it will look like a 35mm when you put it on the Canon 5d.  85mm lenses will look like 50mm lenses.  And so on.

The Answer:

If you’re a Nikon person and don’t want to sell your glass, get a Nikon-to-Canon adapter.  Also, here’s a place to find some good lenses without breaking the bank:

A link to Canon Lenses for sale. And another link for Nikons.

  • External Monitoring

If you read #5 below about depth of field, you’ll also see that you need a good HD monitor.  Here’s a few that will work great with the 5d.

The Answer:

For Those with Non-HDMI Monitors HDFury Adapter (under $150) The only HD output the 5dMkII has is MINI HDMI.  Many folks (like me) already spent a pretty penny for a nice HD field monitor that doesn’t have HDMI inputs.  Don’t worry, if your HD monitor has HD Component (RGB) or VGA inputs, you can get the HD Fury HDMI to Component adapter for under $150.  This is what I did, as I already own the IKAN v8000HD (has only the component, S-Video, and composite inputs).

Ikan 8” HD Monitor, V8000HDMI ($750) These work great but you must remove the battery or it will continue to drain it even though it is powered off.  It takes standard camcorder batteries for various brands, the one I am linking is for standard Sony L-series batteries.  It does not have scopes.  (But your camera will after the Magic Lantern upgrade)  It has a nice screen-flip feature too.

Lillitput 7″ LCD Monitor

Small HD DP1 Field Monitor ($799) No scopes, but has a ton of other features, such as color adjustment, frame crop, scaling (allows you to see outside the frame edge).  It uses their proprietary brand batteries ($59) that can last 2.5 hours and are pop-tart sized.

Marshal 7” HD Field Monitor ($1099) This is a great monitor and the one I recommend. It uses “false color” that change to show you visually what part is exposed or focused properly.  It also has freeze frame, 4 user config, and scratch resistant screen.  I would say if you can spring for the cost, the Marshall is the way to go.

Lilliput 7″ HD ($230) I just got this one pointed out to me.  It seems like a good and VERY AFFORDABLE option.  I’ve read some forums and people seem to be satisfied.  This one stands for further testing, but for $230, it won’t put you on the street with a cup in your hand.

HINT: If you plug your HDMI cable into the mini port on the side of the 5d, the plug WILL BREAK unless you get a strong enough cable and/or method to brace the cable from being forced in every direction.  I blew through 2 hdmi cables on a shoot even though I thought I was being careful.  Here’s a MUST for your cables…it will save them from the rigors of filmmaking:

  • Mattebox / Filters

The 5d Mk II is lacking ND filters, so you must either purchase filter to screw onto your lenses, or you can get a mattebox.  I prefer the box for 3 reasons:  allows the attachment of flags for flare control, allows to use filters, and makes the whole rig look totally awesome.

The Answer:

DV Mattebox with Rail Attachment ($325) This is a cheaper alternative from the same Indian store as the Proaim support system mentioned above.  Comes with top and side flags, 4:3 or 16:9 aspect plate, 3 different sized foam donuts, 2 4×4 filter trays (2 slots available) and mount for 19mm rods.

Cavision 4×5.65 Mattebox for DSLRs ($500)D5II-1 Comes with top flag only, 16:9 aspect, 1 rubber donut, 2 4×4 filter trays (2 slots available) and mount for 19mm rods.

Redrock microMatteBox ($635)  This is definitely the best bang for your buck.  An outstanding system for the price.

NOTE ON FILTERS: The 5d is NOT equipped with internal  ND (Neutral Density) Filters like many video cameras.  It’s important to get some, because it will allow you to open your lens more in brighter lighting conditions and take advantage of that beautiful depth of field.  I also recommend polarizing filters (minimizes glare or reflections) and gradient filters (allows you to lower ONLY one part of the frame’s exposure).

4) Recommended Settings

  • Camera Settings Checklist

Here’s a checklist you can print out and keep with you.  Run through the list everytime you are about to shoot with your 5dMkII.  Many of the settings were compiled by Shane Hurlbut, ASC.

  • I’m a Video Guy.  What About ISO Settings?

I found myself calling my photographer friends because I couldn’t really grasp ISO settings and how they work into shooting video.  Hey, I’m a video production guy…not a DSLR guy!

I’m not going to get technical, but here’s how you can look at ISO from a videography standpoint.  Look at it like a full-range gamma setting.  You can lower this setting where there is more light, and raise this setting in low light.  In terms of optics, the ISO setting does not affect your depth of field.  So if you want prominent DOF with a sharp foreground and a blurry background…you would probably open your iris more and decrease your ISO to compensate.   In darker lighting conditions, you will want to increase the ISO.  BUT– In my tests, anything above a 1600 ISO will give you noise. That is my recommended ceiling.

I’ve read some interesting discussions and tests on ISO settings and noise.  The obvious conclusion in those tests is that the multiples of ISO 160 are the recommended ISO’s to use.  Those are: 160, 320, 640, 1250, 2500, and 5000.  Those are the cleanest ISOs to use.  Check out the discussion and see for yourself.  The 5d must do some sort of digital GAIN to those clean ISOs to give use the in-between numbers.  Ever hear people say “gain is bad?”  Well, look at the in-between numbers and anything above 1600 the same way.

  • Shutter Speed

If you notice, the 5dMkII in auto mode tends to adjust the shutter speed to compensate for the amount of light.  On video cameras, the iris is adjusted.  I always keep the settings manual…but still I thought that was interesting.  In videography, a higher shutter speed means less motion blur, darker images, and could also make the video very stuttery looking.  The Canon 5dMkII can go to 1/4000 sec!  Alternatively, lower shutter speeds bring more light into the camera, and motion within the frame tends to blur. Well, for photography, capturing motion doesn’t come into play, so you have more latitude to adjust the shutter speed.

I recommend you make sure the camera is set to fully manual, or you save your ideal settings to one of the user settings (c1, c2, c3) on the dial.  Choose the shutter speed that is best for your situation, and try not to go above 1/1000.

  • F-Stops

We have always used Nikon lenses, which allows for iris control on the lens.  Canon lenses’ irises are controlled within the camera.  I happen to like this, because I feel the more control via the camera the more efficient it is.

5) Welcome to the World of Depth Of Field!

I’ve used our Redrock Encore lens adapter hooked up to our HVX quite a lot in the past couple years.  Using a lens adapter opens up a whole other ballgame to video production: critical focus.  Video cameras have small sensors.  1/3” to 2/3” are pretty standard.  The smaller the sensor, the more everything is in focus in the frame.  This is because the focal point of light from the lens is essentially being cropped.

With the 5dMkII, the sensor is a full sized sensor (24.0 x 36.0 mm) so you get some serious depth of field because we aren’t cropping the focal point of the lens.  For people used to a 1/3-2/3 inch sensor video camera, focus WILL BE AN ISSUE.  It gets you awesome cinematic looking footage…but unless you do it correctly, you will end up frustrated and unhappy with your footage.  The nice thing about the 5d is you can choose points in the frame to focus on, and press a button, and the camera will focus to that point.  But that only applies when the camera is not rolling. In order to focus while recording, you will need an external HD monitor. (see recommendations above)  Don’t think you can get by with a standard-def monitor here – if you try to focus with these you will find out that half your footage was out of focus.  The rule is this:  The “faster” the lens (the more open the iris and the lower f-stop), the less DOF you will achieve.  Less DOF means you can get foreground subjects in focus while the background is blurry, and vise-versa.    If you want everything to be in focus, close the lens to a higher F-stop and adjust the ISO to compensate.

You will also need a good follow focus. (See above)  This will allow you to find your focus points prior to shooting, mark them, and easily focus between the two points when recording.

6) Post Production Workflow, with Adobe Premiere

So you’ve shot your masterpiece.  Now it’s time to start editing the footage.  You will notice that the Canon 5d Mk II records video in a H.264 codec with a Quicktime (.mov) wrapper.  As a Windows user, I absolutely hate Quicktime.  It’s a stuttering interface that just isn’t practical on a PC, and it’s even worse when imported into Premiere.

Here are my recommended workflow steps and software:

  1. Transfer the footage from the CF card to a folder marked “5dRAW” or something like that.
  2. Download and install Cineform Neoscene. ($99)  You get a free trial for 5 days, but I recommend buying it.   The AVI files it converts to are bigger than the original QT files, and are a dream to work with in Premiere as the converted 10 bit AVIs are great for color grading rather than the 8 bit H264 files.   With CS5 you don’t technically need to do the transfer in order to edit the h64 files…but I strongly recommend it.
  3. Open Neoscene and bulk-convert all 5d clips to a folder marked “5dCONVERTED” or something like that.  Go have dinner…the process takes some time but it’s surprisingly faster than what I expected (unlike Adobe Media Encoder which is much slower).  Cineform confirmed with me to make sure you choose “maintain source frame rate.”  Do NOT convert to 24p if you shot in 24p.
  4. DIRECTIONS FOR CS4: Make sure you have updated your Adobe Premiere CS4 software.  (Updates available here)
    • Open Adobe Premiere CS4 and start a new project.
    • Choose a Location and Name for your project. and click ‘OK’.
    • The New Sequence window then opens. Click on the ‘General’ tab, choose ‘Desktop’ for the Editing Mode.
    • Choose 29.97  or 23.98 (matching your source footage) for the Timebase.
    • 1920 x 1080  for the Frame Size
    • Square Pixels (1.0) for the Pixel Aspect Ratio
    • No Fields (Progressive Scan) for the Fields
    • 23.976fps Timecode for the Display Format
    • Your Audio Settings should be ‘48000 Hz’
    • For the Video Previews, choose I-Frame Only MPEG
    • Click the ‘Save Preset‘ button and save as “5dMkII” so you don’t have to go through these steps again.
    • Type a name for the sequence in the Sequence Name box and click ‘OK’.
  5. DIRECTIONS FOR CS5: Simply select the DSLR preset that matches your framerate.
  6. Import all converted clips (or you can import the H264 files directly if you choose not to convert) into Adobe Premiere and edit away!
  7. NOTE: There’s one strange glitchy thing about using Neoscene.  If you decide to go into the PROJECT panel, highlight the footage, and right click and choose “INTERPRET FOOTAGE” and then try to add effects and titles, it will move the clips in the timeline randomly to the start of the clip rather than keep the in-point you set.  Bottom line, DON’T INTERPRET FOOTAGE.

FINAL CUT PRO USERS: Here’s a great resource for those editing with Apple’s Final Cut Pro:

NEW!! Recommended Export Settings, including DOWNLOADABLE CUSTOM EXPORT PRESETS:


That is the run-down of my recommendations and workflow for this awesome camera and Premiere CS4.  If I learn anymore tricks, if they release more firmware, and if a product comes out that I get and find it useful, I will update this blog posting to reflect.  Any help is making this guide more useful would be very much appreciated…as I am only “one guy” with my own preferences.  Others may find better solutions and I would love to hear about them

Happy filmmaking!



Here’s the trailer for “The Key,” a film I am the DP/Editor on…shot entirely with the 5d.


Be sure to join my Facebook Group for regular DSLR filmmaking tips, advice, and new gear:

I’ll also be announcing more seminars and meetups.  Here’s a nice plug for my last seminar by Philip Bloom:

Richard Crook's DSLR seminar






Crooked Path Films Facebook Page: Seriously the best Facebook group on the planet.  Seriously.

Philip Boom: An amazing DP/filmmaker from the UK who has joined (and sometimes led) the DSLR revolution.  He’s got very inspiring videos and tutorials:

Planet 5d: The best Canon 5D information on the planet  Nuff said.

Cinema5d: “The forum for DSLR filmmakers.”

Canon DSLRV Wiki: This is an awesome all-in-one resource for the 5d, and includes this blog post in the editing section as well.

Canon 5d Vimeo Channel: This group is dedicated to those awesome video that will be produced by the Canon 5D MKII camera.  See what others are making with the 5d:

5d Forum on DVXuser: I’ve referred to DVXuser often throughout the years.  It’s a great resource to ask questions, look for gear to buy, and read up on tech stuff:

DSLR Forum on Creative Cow: Creative cow is another great resource.  Outside the forum there is a bunch of tutorials and articles regarding many aspects of video production.

Final Cut Pro Post Production DSLR Guide

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