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Canon discontinues 5D Mark II, the DSLR that changed video

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Canon 5D MkII
Canon 5D MkII

Today we bid a fond farewell to one of the most influential DSLRs ever made — the Canon 5D Mark II. CanonRumors points out that the camera has been moved to the "old products" page on Canon’s Japanese site, and the body is no longer available to purchase from the company’s US store.

Nikon might have got there first, but the D90 wasn’t in the same league when it came to shooting serious video

The Mark II’s full-frame sensor and 1080p video mode single-handedly established DSLR video as a viable option for filmmakers, giving them access to low-light sensitivity and shallow depth of field that were out of reach of even the best camcorders of the day. Nikon’s cropped sensor D90 was the first DSLR to shoot video, but couldn’t hope to compete with the Mark II’s full HD resolution or maximum ISO setting of 12,800. Nikon might have got there first, but the D90 wasn’t in the same league when it came to shooting serious video, although to its credit, the D90 was a fraction of the price. At the time, DPReview wrote of Canon’s camera, "there is nothing in this price range, or even 4 times this price range for that matter that can come close to the creative possibilities offered by the 5D Mark II." The subsequent explosion of high-quality digital video was a direct result, and the cheap, powerful camera quickly found markets everywhere from documentary filmmmaking, to music video and commercial production, to network television, to Hollywood films.

Sure, the Mark II has been pushed aside by the superior Mark III, and Canon’s video ambitions now lie further upmarket, but even now, the Mark II remains in demand thanks to its low (and falling) price and access to Canon’s deep EF lens library. As we reflect on just how far digital video has come in the past four years, let’s take another look at Reverie, a promotional video that Canon commissioned from acclaimed photographer (and critic of high frame rates) Vincent Laforet back when the Mark II first arrived.