Canon 5D Mark II Error 70

Alright, I’ll admit it.  I pre-ordered a Canon 5D Mark II and was one of the first in my hometown of Portland to receive this new beast of a camera.  The absolutely impressive native file size and incredible rendering of colors and textures made me an instant fan.  Plus video!!!  Hooray!!

Sadly, here’s the thing. The video is marginal at best. It’s compressed like crazy.  HD?  Not even close.  It’s perfect if you don’t want to do anything other than produce moving images for the web.  Still lenses breath, so racking focus with your marvelously expensive Canon lenses is going to make the image wonky.  The most irritating thing about the video is the lack of control over iso and f-stop.  Regardless, it’s fun and the fact that you can snap a RAW file while shooting video is a great feature.  And for the price, really, what should I have expected?

I’ve been using it for several assignments, but I’ve also been carrying my other trusty 5D along, just in case.  I like having two cameras anyway, despite the extra weight and attention it usually draws from sidewalk camera enthusiasts.  Monday, the Mark II camera bit the dust.  I was shooting an assignment and the camera suddenly starts randomly giving me an “error 70” message and asking me to remove the battery.  Plus it starts to underexpose images, which sucks when you’re trying to shoot anything that involves a decisive moment.  After several calls and some useless advise from my hometown camera store which sold me the product, I decided to contact Canon directly, as I am a member of their CPS program.  After explaining the problem on the phone to the tech at Canon, he flatly replied, “Oh. It’s most likely an internal component problem.  You’ll need to send it in for repair.”  So I put that camera on hold and finished off the thankfully short assignment on the 5D.  I am suspicious that this is a first generation camera and that this “internal component” may not be an isolated incident.  The tone of the tech at Canon seemed to indicate that this wasn’t his first call regarding the problem.  But he didn’t elaborate, and I, sadly, didn’t have time to grill him.  So beware all first generation Canon 5D Mark II users:  test the camera like mad before your warranty expires.

32 thoughts on “Canon 5D Mark II Error 70

  1. Sorry about your error 70 – it isn’t very common tho I have seen a few reports of it. Just like any product, there are a few that aren’t perfect. I follow the 5D2 closely and there aren’t lots of people reporting this issue… the vast majority are incredibly happy with their cameras… that’s why it is still hard to find in stores.

    Oh, and “the video is marginal at best”? Tell that to CBS, or the hundreds of indie film makers using the 5D mk ii. This product is HOT in the commercial/indie film/music video market right now.

    See some samples: on our wiki

    • to planetmitch:
      I took samples of footage that I shot to a professional video editor and we looked at the images frame by frame. Sure, it’s good, bit it’s not HD. We also looked at Vincent Laforet’s, “Reverie,” and it is, upon close inspection, full of artifacting and other problems. The codec pitches highlights and crushes details. Canon’s compression employs a lossy format, like a jpeg. The video this camera produces wouldn’t fly for a high level of production value. So yes, the indie film/music video and other journalists wouldn’t be so rigorous. Oh, and just because hundreds of people are using it doesn’t make the 5D Mark II video component not marginal.

      • “Definitely not HD” – What are you talking about? It has a massive MP sensor capturing to a 1920×1080 image within a H.264 QuickTime .mov. It’s definitely HD. It’s not 2k or 4k, and it’s not Uncompressed HD. The compression is lossy, true, but it’s running at a healthy 40mbits/sec, which for H.264 is pretty robust. It also makes reasonable file sizes for acquisition.

        “High production value” – it’s all relative. Ultimately, if someone knows what they are doing with this camera, they can pull off some incredible production footage for a price below most prosumer camcorders.

        I think you A) have a defective camera B) don’t have the patience and drive to make the 5DMkII shine.

        The camera is not for everyone and perhaps you should invest in Red Scarlet and PL lenses for $10-$20k when it comes out. Again, this is a $2600 camera body. For that price, and what it does? It completely rocks.

      • Holyzoo: Re-read my post. I stated clearly that my expectations should be low for a camera in this price range. As a still camera it rocks, again, re-read the post. What is your point to accuse me of, “not having the patience and drive to make the 5DMarkII shine?” Why do you think I tested it with other professionals in the field? I shoot for major, national clients and it is mandatory that I can go back to my them who have read all of the internet hype to explain why there may be some artifacting and noise in the image if they view it on their giant monitors. I did get a defective camera – it’s being repaired right now. That is why I am writing about my experience with this camera. It is a fact that the video is a compressed, lossy format with no manual ability to control the f-stop or iso. Please be nice!

      • I agree that as a still camera it rocks. But I also think it rocks as a cinematic motion picture tool, if you have the time and patience to work out all the shortcomings. The video imagery and depth of field you can get out of the stock 5DMkII camera body is unlike anything cheaper than the Red One camera right now.

        Regarding controlling f-stop, that’s why I’m using Nikon lenses to control aperture manually on it.

        Lastly, if you’re working on high budget projects with national advertising agencies, most likely you’d be shooting motion picture on film. And we know how expensive and labor intensive that is. The 5DMkII is welcome tool of change to anyone who can work with it. Would I use it on a $100k project? No. I’d rent a high end camera for that.

        I think you re-wrote some of your blog entry. It reads differently now and less scathing. But I still disagree with you declaring that it’s “not HD, not even close”.

      • To holyzoo, whoever you may be: I unintentionally changed some words when I was going to update the post to address the onslaught of people fixated on my opinion of the video function and finally just gave up. But scathing? Hardly. If I had called the camera a cheap p.o.s., that would be scathing. I’m just revealing my experiences I have had with the camera. The quality of HD varies depending on the camera and it’s respective codec. My point is that the codec on this camera is not good enough for high-end projects. Otherwise, it’s great!!! I love it!!! Why fixate on a few sentences??? Oh, and no one seems to care about anything else in the post that deals with lens breathing and the like. Those are concrete problems.
        And even if you control the aperture, you still get stuck with whatever the camera decides the iso will be and again, re-read the post. I make a point that it’s inexpensive and I shouldn’t expect superior quality with something that costs a fraction of the price of high end equipment. And even the RED camera has it’s shortcomings. Soon we will be testing the two cameras against each other but after this experience, you better believe I will never share my results with testing equipment online again. Not worth the “exchange.” Why should I go through all this trouble at my expense to really look at what the camera can and can’t do, within a professional, working environment, only to be criticized by people who won’t even identify themselves. Enjoy your 5D Mark II and happy shooting 🙂

  2. Noisy image? No matter the camera/lens that you are using, shooting in the dark will bring some level of noise. The 5DMrkII is an incredible camera regarding noise with its 35mm sensor, you just have to use it with a decent low light lens (f/1.4) and it will drastically reduce the amount of noise you get. The noise is not created by the compression as much as the lack for light.

    The bitrate used for the 5D video is quite high btw so I dont understand against what you are comparing it too to say that it is such a loosy format but I have a feeling its something much more expensive…

    BTW, this is something that I have to explain so many time that I think I will make a post about it… HD does not equal high quality. HD means High Definition. That is why some tv shows are said to be in HD while their image quality sucks compared to shows from the BBC for example.

    • Dear Alain at,
      Lossy, not noisy, is my complaint. The Canon 5D Mark II is an incredible still camera. Artifacting and blown out-highlights, lens breathing, these are all problems with the video feature on this camera. That said, re-read the post. It’s a fantastic camera and having video capability in the field with one camera is great. It’s just that HD or not: it’s lossy, compressed video with no manual control over the f-stop or iso. And I got a lemon! The post is about the error 70 message plus some other info I found out by testing the camera with video professionals before the camera bit the dust. Geesh! You should post, then you can get all these snarky posts put on your web site as well.

  3. Susan makes some good points regarding the video capabilities, but I think a fundamental problem with her argument is the definition of HD. From what I could extract, Susan wouldn’t call anything HD that uses lossy compression (“Canon’s compression employs a lossy format, like a jpeg”). A quick Google search shows Sony XDCAM is lossy and maxes out at 35Mbps, Red One is lossy at 36Mbps. These are both professional-grade HD cameras. The 5D Mark II 1080p mode is 40Mbps. You could argue the codec Canon uses isn’t great, and I can’t make a cogent argument for or against that. But to say “Not even close” sounds hyperbolic at best.

    For playback, Blu-ray is 36Mbps and also uses H.264 lossy compression.

    I suppose a good test, which I haven’t seen yet, is to record video on a 5D Mark II, edit it at 1080p, then compress it to a Blu-ray disc and watch it on a 1080p TV. Would the double H.264 compression become obvious? I don’t mean “can you see compression artifacts when you examine each frame” since rather few people watch video this way. I mean can you see the compression artifacts just watching the footage the way you can with a Tivo HD?

    Were LaForet’s original unedited un-re-compressed files made available on the Web? I’d like to see them if they were. The only footage I’ve seen from him were edited and recompressed for the Web, so they’re not valid samples to examine 5D Mark II artifacting.

    • Dear Forrest,
      Yes, HD video is almost always captured in form of a compresses format. The codec for this camera is very, very lossy. But, for such an inexpensive camera, the 5D MarkII is great! I got a lemon with the error 70 message and wanted to let people know who may experience the same problem that the Canon repair rep said that it was an internal component problem, so I was hoping to spread the word about that to other people who might run across the error message. Thay way they know to simply send it in to Canon and not try to patch the problem with other, perhaps temporary fixes.
      I did some serious testing of the camera’s video capabilities with a pro video shooter and editor. Most people won’t be looking at the images frame by frame. I’m trying to understand the capabilities of the camera under very careful scrutiny, so was hoping to share my knowledge with others regarding this issue. Had I known it would lead to so many attacks, I would have never posted. The video is not even close to high-quality video cameras, but it’s only $2700! So for the price, it is fantastic. Even for just a still camera, the price point and quality of image and RAW format make it great. The video is perfect for the web and certain other professional applications. LaForets Reverie was made available by him on the web at full size (according to his site – it’s hosted by smug mug) so that’s what we looked at.

      • Ah, that’s the footage from Laforet I looked at too. But that was edited and recompressed, so examining it really examines 5D Mark II artifacts along with artifacts from whatever compressor Laforet used. It’s not a valid source to examine the 5D Mark II’s codec. But you also said your own footage showed awful artifacts, so maybe it’s bad; I don’t know. I probably don’t have a discerning an eye.

        My main issue was to say it’s not HD—not even close. That’s quite an extraordinary claim, and that requires extraordinary evidence. I don’t see that evidence. To say it has no manual exposure, yeah, and it drives me nuts too.

    • Thanks Deb! Love your photo… yes. I had no idea people would get so fixated on one opinion. I tested this camera really thoroughly and thought it would be a good post – little did I know… yes. HD – healthy debate. But geesh, I’m just trying to share info! I worked long and hard on really getting down to the nitty gritty on this stuff. And this is what I get in return! No one gives a damn about good photos – just a bunch of gear-head rhetoric.
      I’ll never do this again!!!

  4. Hi again Susan! Now i’m making comments on your own blog. I don’t think you are under attack as you may feel. Other Canon 5d mkII owners simply have different experiences from those you mention. The 5d mkII has a lot of shortcomings – but compressionwise Canon has made a sensible choice of codec and image quality compromise. Video is indeed HD and not marginal at all.
    The 5d is being used for commercials and broadcast and even indie filmmaking now. That’s facts. So saying that video images from the 5d mkII only works on the web is wrong. Many many people have been wishing for a democratization of movie making for years. This camera – or maybe the next generation 5d is what everybody has been waiting for so when you as an inexperienced film/videophotographer simply defy it’s movie qualities we think you should practice some more – and maybe then buy a Red camera. Hope that you get your camera back soon.This is not gear-head rhetoric but passion for filmmaking.

  5. Susan, some of these comments might have come from my post on my own blog…
    I too am wanting to learn about video in detail and I don’t have the knowledge to accurately decide whether your statements were appropriate or not, so I asked the people who read my blog.

    you said:
    “I’m trying to understand the capabilities of the camera under very careful scrutiny, so was hoping to share my knowledge with others regarding this issue. Had I known it would lead to so many attacks, I would have never posted.” I don’t think most of the comments are attacks but discussion but it was you who set the tone. You started the discussion praising the camera but then quickly turned over to negative. Looking back at the beginning, you said:
    “The video is marginal at best. It’s compressed like crazy. HD? Not even close.”

    That, to me, is an attack – maybe you didn’t intend it that way, but that is how it comes across to me. As I stated in my first response to you, I see so many really high quality examples of this camera’s output that I cannot believe that it is “marginal at best”. It has been used on nationally broadcast TV shows, is being used in all sorts of movies and commercials and music videos… and not just for the web. So I asked my readers to help me understand your comments. Many of the comments shared above (and on my blog where you’ve also posted) disagree with your statements about HD quality and compression with the 5D2. Just about everyone agrees that the lack of control with this first generation camera is disappointing.

    If your blog post was intended to help people with the error 70, then maybe you should have left off the other comments. In a recent comment you say: “My point is that the codec on this camera is not good enough for high-end projects.” Maybe you should have said that more clearly in your original post… instead of “The video is marginal at best.” You’re upset that people came to comment on your post, and maybe this “exchange” will help you learn to be more thoughtful in your posting technique.

    I feel it is unfortunate that you’ve chosen to bury your head in the sand in the future… “you better believe I will never share my results with testing equipment online again. Not worth the “exchange.”” – your post (tho I don’t agree with your wording and approach) made me go out and learn more about the camera (and I still don’t agree with your assessments, but it is ok to disagree!). You will always run into people who don’t agree with you. Please don’t be afraid to share with others just because someone disagrees with your interpretations. Just maybe someone will learn from you – even if they don’t post about it.

    My comments aren’t meant as criticism, they are intended as a discussion to help you, me, and others to learn about this wonderful product (that is missing some features for sure!). I hope you continue to share what you’ve learned with others.


    • To PlanetMitch:
      Not posting to the internet does not mean that I will “Bury my head in the sand in the future.” It just means that I won’t be sharing my test results. No biggie! Seems like there are plenty of experts out there who know way more than I do, so why should I fill the internet with more cyberbabble?
      I have definitely learned about posting techniques! Which is to say, that I will no longer post about the video. (I still stand by my 5D Mark II video test results.) I certainly won’t be walking away from the process or seeing how I can use the camera for my projects, I just won’t be sharing my opinions. No harm, no foul. I surely won’t be missed. There’s plenty of people out there who are making films with the camera and having a great time shooting tv ads. That’s fabulous! But I will be looking forward to when the compression isn’t so harsh, the lenses don’t breath and I can use the f-stop and iso controls. BTW – did you read the follow up post? Canon was incredibly fast in fixing my camera. The mother board had gone afoul. But wow, they turned it around really quickly! CPS is great!!!
      Happy shooting 🙂

  6. @Forrest
    Just wanted to chime in and remind you that REDCODE36 that RED ONE uses is 36MBps, which is 8x as much data as 36Mbps. And XDCAM EX is 35Mbps but encodes as fast as 100Mbps during overcranking and is mature codec based on several previous, professional versions. Also to compare bitrates simply as numbers is practically useless. Who knows what encoding board canon uses for h264 but I have noticed it does not hit full bandwidth until a few frames in, so don’t plan on using your first second of footage. I have a 5D Mark II and shoot video on it all the time and it can look really amazing, but I definitely dont think that its recording format is its strength, nor is manual control or image processing (although the potential of picture styles is promising), although it is Full HD and the sensor is amazing.

  7. … I own a 5D Mark II and have run a lot of tests on image quality of the HD movie. In some cases -mostly in monochromatic areas- the 5D produces indeed an unacceptable level of artifacting (blue gradients for example) with approximately 16 x 16 pixel blocks.

    It does perform incredibly well in high detailed motives though.

    The issue has been discussed with CPS in Germany (they got samples of my footage) and they confirmed the artifacting but came to the conclusion that we all need to live with what we have for now.

    In those monochromatic areas the 5D Mark II has tremendous artifacting that is A LOT stronger than in HDV cameras as the XH-A1 with only 25MBit/sec.

    That can be easily proven and has be confirmed by Canon.

    The guys from Swiss TV who tested the 5D have encountered the artifacting as well.

    I have found that forcing the camera into high iso modes resolves the issue sometimes as the h264 codec interprets the “grizzle” of the sensor as valuable information and resolves the monochromatic areas with a much better apperance. That appearance is sacrificed to some amount of ‘grain’.

    I use the 5D for professional video shoots when I need shallow dof, but I take extremely care when shooting monochromatic areas like blue sky.

    kind regards,


  8. You should always be careful with all first gen tech products this has always been the case. It isnt till the third generation product comes out that all the bugs have been worked out and all the bells and whistles are added on most products.
    Hopefully you just had a lemon and the new camera will fix the issues you experienced.
    As for the artifacts in the Laforet’s Video unless you have looked at the original video from Mr. Laforet then I would say of course its compressed and has artifacts. LOL 🙂 Its been compressed to fit on the web. I have in some respects a rather slow internet connection 1.5mb dsl , even with that slow of a connection the video loads very fast and plays flawlessly with no stutter and no waiting for it to cache.
    If it was full 1080p uncompressed video I would suspect I would wait a decade before I could download the entire video and then it would pause to re-cache and stutter something horrible on m slow connection.
    Most pro video is compressed. Just saying.
    Sorry you got the lemon and really sorry it crapped out on you during a shoot. Thats why I never bring new toys to a paid shoot I always practice and get to know my equipment before taking on a real world paid shoot.

    • Dear Mike,
      Thank you for your post. Yes, I know about the Laforet video and that it’s been compressed for the web, etc… There are a lot of different opinions about the compression of the 5dmk2 but I still stand by my opinion that it is very, very compressed – way more so than other pro video cameras. But now with the new firmware to control f-stop, shutter speed and iso, the camera is much more user friendly. And the price! Wow. But the still camera lenses still breath. Someone has made an adapter for Panavision lenses, so I’ll be interested to see what transpires with that. Yes, who knows what the future will hold for video! I’ll be interested to see where we all stand in 10 years.
      BTW – I had tested the 5dmk2 thoroughly before I went on assignment so I didn’t just bring a new toy to a paid gig. I had the same problem with the first 5D I purchased a couple of years ago. It too was a lemon but I had it fixed by Canon and flipped it for a new one. Since I have now had three repairs on this 5Dmk2 body, Canon has replaced it with a new one. I’ve shot on it for 2 consecutive days and it appears to be working well. Kudos for Canon for their help! Happy shooting 🙂

      • ouch and you got a bad 5d you just got really bad luck LOL 🙂
        Yeah I have the 5dmkii and love it of course as you said there are still a few bugs to work out.
        I too am looking forward to future bodies that will have even more refined technologies.
        Aint this a wonderful world we live in? 🙂 Newer technologies, cheaper prices, and available in more hands means the push for even more variety.
        Glad Canon has taken care of ya so well with all the problems you had. (knock on wood only had one problem in all my years shooting with them and they did me right and were fast and courteous)
        Thanks Mike 🙂

  9. Folks,

    Two cents there.

    1. What is being referred to as low quality is the compression here which gets in the way when you push the footage to limit when applying effects during editing in FCP, motion , AE etc. 5D only constructs video image with every third line scanned which is still ok since it’s 35 mm sensor but …

    honestly, It doesnt matter what numbers say, I care about how much flexibility the camcorder offers in terms of in camera and post production treatment of the footage. I have been a pro editor for a good long time. I have not been able to find any pro looking video online that looks close to what you can do with other proper camcorders that spit out xdcam or DVCPRO format. I have 5D and find it very hard to push color treatment to limits when it comes to post processing. – check the details in close ups. – same here. – check how beautifully highights have been resolved here.

    Canon 5 D – – Thisis the best I could find which uses indoor lighting and it’s not good enough. – Compression artifacts highly visible cause of pushing the limit in post. – this is a decent video but again li’l details in my opinion here too.

    Now the good part – – this is pbbly the best video on internet I found made with 5D. Not sure how man of you pay attention but this too has lesser details to my eyes when compared with EX1.

    when I say details check one of my fav videos (if possible download and view the full version). – EX1

    After watching above video I hope i’ll be clear what I mean by details in the picture and ability to push the footage in post.

  10. wow….”the video is marginal at best”…..what an extremely ignorant comment. i work in the film industry and everyone out there is ditching their 5,000-9,000 dollar HD cams for the 5d mkii. the quality is BEYOND superb. you’re sensor itself is SUBSTANTIALLY larger than that of RedOne, Super35, Leica, etc… (see these links)

    if you’re wanting to capture the raw HD footage straight from 35mm sensor with no compression, there won’t be a CF card in the world that’s large enough. that’s your limitation in building this camera in a DSLR. for anyone who’s ACTUALLY IN THE BUSINESS though, this camera is WELL BEYOND anything out there other than 35mm film itself.

    • Chill out Aaron! I understand what you are saying but it is not the same as shooting in a R A W format. I am not making an ignorant comment. It is a great product for certain applications. I worked with pro editors and a pro DP on my tests. I stand by my results and my opinion. Happy shooting!

  11. Have you even thought of placing more video to all your writings articles to be able to keep on the readers way more ideas? As i mean I truly read through the entire article of yours and also the idea is relatively wonderful but given that I�m more a visual learner

  12. My brother just got his 5DMKII back from Canon because it stopped writing to the CF card, but would still read and they replaced the main circuit board inside, but now after shooting about a minute or two of video, it’s giving me the ERROR 70 after trying to take a picture and the live view mode is freezing the camera up.

    What a sucky ordeal!

  13. not only 5D mark II got this problem but 7D also got the problem to.. that when i was transferring data from 7D to my PC and i got this issue… and it advised me to turn off the camera and and take out the battery. i did it but after that this error message appeared again .. and it drove me crazy…. then i
    tried to detach lens on my 7D. it worked properly.

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