Forum opinions on Canon 7D and similar.

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DP2012
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I'm seeing more and more postings looking for a crew which specify Canon 7D cameras as the desired camera to film on. 
 
It just seems so odd to me that people want this. I was just wondering what the forums opinions on this are, if anybody has had shoots with such and were they happy with the results? 
 
 
Alan Roberts
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Re: Forum opinions on Canon 7D and similar.
Like most other DSLRs, this will shoot HD, but isn't very good at it.
 
There isn't enough processing power in most DSLR casings to do a decent decoding of the Bayer pattern and down-scaling to HD resolution, so they produce coloured aliasing. That can distress the compressor and make for quite nasty -looking pictures.
 
It's [possible to get around this, by always shooting with a short DoF, and keep intra-frame motion levels low, but that's a mighty big constraint on programme making.
 
Not only that, but few DSLRs are ergonomically sensible for video shooting, the controls are all in the wrong places, and some of the essential controls are disabled once you start recording. And monitoring isn't trivial either.
 
Usually, you'd get a better job, done more quickly and easily, by using a proper video camera.

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DP2012
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Re: Forum opinions on Canon 7D and similar.
I wasn't aware of the tech aspects Alan, but I've heard many professionals are frustrated with the limited options for professional results. 
 
Its very annoying for me however as a content maker when I film something on say, high end DVCAM, then upload to YouTube for promotional purposes and my content looks worse than somebody using the above. Granted when it comes to viewing properly I'll have the advantage, but still. 
StopMoFred
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Re: Forum opinions on Canon 7D and similar.
I think you guys are missing the point here.
 
I suspect that the ads you see for people looking for crew with a DSLR, are from 'film makers' (and I use the term loosely here), who want to pull a crew together who will work for no pay.  They have most likely discovered that cinematographers who have invested 20, 30, 40 thousand dollars or more in kit, are reluctant to work for nothing !
It is a good bet that the DSLR owner operator will be more willing to 'get involved' with no pay projects, in order to gain experience for his/her advancement.
 
And for people on the ladder, there is nothing wrong with using a DSLR in your early work.  After all, 'Content is King' isn't it ? angel
Alan Roberts
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Re: Forum opinions on Canon 7D and similar.
No, not missing any points here. I've been in this business for too many decades for that to happen. Content is king so long as you can deliver the content. If it's only going on YouTube, then anything will do. But if you want to make a living making good video, then DSLRs aren't the way because their limitations will preclude good quality final coding at the sort of bitrates TV channels can afford..

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

Chris.
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Re: Forum opinions on Canon 7D and similar.
Sometimes all the client wants is YouTube, Vimeo or other web. They aren't too concerned about the technical shortcomings if it looks good to their eyes. I helped some guys shoot this on a Canon 5D Mk II. They've plenty of work and aren't working for free
 
StopMoFred
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Re: Forum opinions on Canon 7D and similar.
You are still missing the point here Alan, and I say that there is nothing wrong with people getting on the ladder with DSLRs.
Even today you don't just instantly start to make a living with 'good video'.
 
And just out of interest, I started in Film and Television as an 'apprentice' camera operator (35mm film) in 1967, so four and a half decades for me.
MAGLINK
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Re: Forum opinions on Canon 7D and similar.
Agree they are great for people to get their foot on the ladder and make some nice images for You Tube and Vimeo etc, but the problem is that modern day "producers and directors" and I use that term loosely see them as cheap way of shooting and also a cheap way of hiring people to make things.
 
There is also a prevalent mindset that once you have bought equipment that it automatically makes you qualified to do the job forgetting all technical aspects that may apply such as slapping a rode videomic pro on top to sort the sound out etc. 
 
These forums are full of people trying to re-invest the wheels to get over the technical shortcomings and sadly this is reflected in the overall quality and production techniques of some material that are now becoming standard practice in certain parts of the industry.
 
The constant quest for shallow DOF and every greater pixel counts have also taken over a lot of aspects of filmmaking at the detriment of content which as people rightly say is everything.
 
It should be all about the right tools for the job but that doesn't seem to apply these days with so many people just buying the kit and trying to bodge their way through things.
 
I've seen numerous commercials on local ITV recently that have been shot with a DSLR and they look terrible with juttery video and huge shallow DOF that distracts from the subject matter, some of them also have huge problems as highlighted in Alan's reports but they seem to be the flavour of the decade for such shooting as they are cheap to use and every ex journalist around here thinks they are pro video cameras.
 
They have their uses and can make some really nice images but for me personally I would always chose a proper video camera for my shooting needs rather than try to bodge things together with a DSLR rig, if I wanted shallow filmic shooting I would choose one of the newer cameras suited for such style but would hire it in rather than buy it as they can be too limiting for a lot of my work. 
Alan Roberts
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Re: Forum opinions on Canon 7D and similar.
StopMoFred, No, I'm not missing any points, I've been around too long for that.
 
I'm not arguing that people shouldn't get started by using the kit they can afford, that's how it's always been. I've been a judge on graduation work for PhD students, and most of their stuff is shot on DSLRs, simply because that's all that's available to them, but, when they grow up and want to make a decent living and a name for themselves, they know they'll have to move on. When Ridley Scott starts using DSLRs, then the world will truly have changed, and so will the DSLRs. Not everybody can afford a Nikon D4, but it's the best, bay far, of the current crop of DSLRs, and still isn't quite up there yet.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

DP2012
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Re: Forum opinions on Canon 7D and similar.
StopMoFred you're coming across as pretty agressive here (towards Alan in particular) and I don't see why? 
 
In line with the original posts, somebody just shared a link showing results on Vimeo (with their method of HD switched on) superior to what say a DSR570 could produce on that same medium. 
paulears
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Re: Forum opinions on Canon 7D and similar.
I'm sort of just surprised that there is some kind of trend towards DSLR as a 'must' instead of a purpose designed video camera. If you go into a photographic store, the video line on the sales card is just one of ten - suggesting to me that video capability is still not the manufacturers key feature, yet people buy them for video because they produce nice pictures for a little money (by comparison with real video). They then take them home, download a firmware upgrade for their new purchase, to add the features the manufacturer didn't give them. I do smile, when I read on the forums people who did this, but during the process, their battery went flat, turning their investment into a doorstop!
 
You can invest in a proper camera for a modest sum, or buy something very similar to use that has better, well, everything. A zoom lens you can use live, which is a missing feature for these people with DSLRs who seem to need to use prime lenses. When turret lensed cameras turned into ones with real zooms - that was a step forward. Now it's a step back? Odd. people having to bolt on all sorts of gizmos to let them operate the camera. Things that sit on shoulders, have follow focus units and external viewfinders because the one supplied can't be used as it's in the wrong place. 
 
Watching some of those Philip Bloom videos on vimeo, you see the nasty artefacts Alan wrote about - and I was shocked. Stunning pictures on one shot, but point it at a brick wall and patterns wizz around like the camera is full of ants!
 
I can understand colleges buying a few DSLRs, telling the students this is the way it is, and then off they go - unaware of the problems of the format. Everyone thinks that you MUST have shallow depth of field, and this makes the result 'cinematic'. When you watch the big movies, you see shallow depth of field used for a purpose - not for everything. I want to see the background in focus and let my eyes work out what to look at. I hate being forced to only view what the director wants me to. DSLRs seem built to make shallow, even miniscule depth of field the ultimate aim. I hate it, I want everything in focus for 99% of the time. With ND, higher shutter speeds and an open lens, I can get shallower DoF, but it's a choice. It seems the norm with DSLRs.
 
I see a home for them, but they seem to be being pushed as almost the ONLY video format for the filmmaker interested in aesthetics (another horrible word!).
 
I just dropped my 4 year old Pentax K100 - which doesn't do video. So I need to buy a DSLR - am I going to spend a lot of money on one that will do video? No!
MattDavis
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Re: Forum opinions on Canon 7D and similar.
I have two hats to wear: an editor, and a Videographer.
 
I've shot with 5d and 550D, and as a shooter with this kit, you live in fear of bricks, denim, cables, all sorts of things that might cause aliassing or moire. You don't see it until your rushes go into the system, and usually by then it's too late.
 
The codec in these cameras is so highly strung, you need to get the exposure absolutely spot on. The blacks are full of nasty dirt, but you can't over expose. So, we shoot 'flat' and that requires a great deal of skill in post to make everything look nice - not on your monitor but your audience's monitor.
 
The 12 minute shot limit and the overheating caused me too much grief - yes, you can use a battery grip, or a spare body,
 
When I was shooting 'al fresco', people would see the camera and pose. I didn't want them to pose, I wanted them to ignore me. They'd ask through clenched teeth 'are you going to take a photo or what?' - I'd say I'm filming. People hated that - they thought it was cheating.
 
So:
 
  • Aliasing ruins shots and you don't know until it's too late
  • Ditto Moire, but even more so - didn't realise jeans were such bad news
  • Blacks are crushed by default in these cameras
  • Everyone looks like they've had a skin detail circuit put on them (abeit a very very good one)
  • Overheating sucks
  • Battery life sucks
  • 12 mins per shot isn't enough
  • When your interviewees look at your audience, they're looking at a stills photographer
  • You can spend more than double your camera's value curing the ergonomics
  • You can't pull focus during a shot using 'punch in'
 
I'm sure I'll get grief for saying this, but after so wanting to believe that DSLRs were the way to go, I traded up to FS100. It was like going from my Nikkormat to my beloved Bronica ETRS (make of that what you will).
 
Now... to the nub of the question.
 
Clients/Agencies ask for 7D crews. What they want is shallow depth of field, lovely wides, smooth skin, lovely grading. You can get all that and more with an FS100, and improve on that with an FS700. You can EVEN (shock horror) deliver rushes in a broadcast acceptable format if you whack a Ninja or Pix220 on there.
 
Clients and Agencies are simple folk, but they know what they want. What they want and what they ask for are different. Want '7D'? If they're adding your work to their work also shot on a 7D, then fine. But mostly, they want DoF/Crushed Blacks/Lovely skin, and they DON'T want aliasing, moire, shaky footage, ungradable footage, footage that isn't there because the camera got hot, footage that's full of noise because the camera got hot, footage that is missing the vital bit because the camera gave up recording after 12 mins, and so on.
 
If the F3 is the Hasselblad of DSLR video, the FS100 is the Bronica ETRS. Give a client who's expecting a 35mm shoot a 645 tranny. (And no, I don't mean Darth Vader with lipstick)
 
Ah, and here comes my nurse, who says I must rest now... :-)

Matt Davis - Director/Editor - Write, shoot, edit, publish - website & Blog
2x EX1R, FS100 & FS700 into FCPX & CS6

johnd
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Re: Forum opinions on Canon 7D and similar.
I knew there must be an easier way than a digital SLR.
MAGLINK
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Re: Forum opinions on Canon 7D and similar.
Yes it's called using the right tools for the job!
 
Bet the advertising peeps are still charging 35mm rates to their clients though and outnumber the shooting and edit crew by five to one!
sleepytom
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Re: Forum opinions on Canon 7D and similar.
This conversation all seems somewhat out of date. 
 
3-4 years ago everyone was clamoring after DSLRs - they liked the look of the footage that came out of them, because the best shots they had seen looked like 35mm film (to them, on youtube) The alternatives ways of getting a 35mm look involved shooting on film or on very high end digital cine cameras, which were hard to rent and needed expensive specialist operators to use. 
 
These days everything has changed, people are getting savvy to the problems with DSLRs and there are affordable options which are much much better. From the low end Canon C300 up to the Arri Alexia there are a whole host of cameras which are easy to rent and designed for shooting motion pictures on. Agencies still want shallow DOF and "cinematic" pictures (so ENG cameras are not back in favor) but the trend for 5d / 7d shoots has pretty much fallen by the wayside. 
 
There will always be the bottom end where people are shooting things badly for little to no money, but this is NOT NEW and certainly not down to DSLRs (if any things DSLRs are resulting in less of this approach in TV as its so hard to shoot anything acceptable with them, when shooting ADs all had PD170s they could point and shoot in full auto and get a decentish image, these days they need a bit more skill and so programs which see the need for cinematic image quality tend to be the employing C300 / Red / Alexia operators)
 
What is frustrating here is that a whole load of filmmakers are dismissed and tarred with a wide brush that says "non-professional" "bottom feeder". Rather than any attempts to explain the correct way to choose a camera for a certain process people simply moan that some kid with a stills camera has taken all their work.
 
I'm not a fan of the DSLR but i understand why people like the footage that they *think* can be easily captured with a DSLR, for certain shots at certain budget levels they are the correct tool for the job. But for use run and gun in poor lighting then i can't think of a worse camera to use. 
 
 

You can contact me at http://tombassford.org
People interested in live production might like to check out http://atemuser.com 

StopMoFred
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Re: Forum opinions on Canon 7D and similar.
 ..
 
DP2012
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Re: Forum opinions on Canon 7D and similar.
I bit the bullet - don't shoot me. I had something filmed in America by a colleague for a two minute DVD extra to be used in a R1 DVD release. 
 
It was filmed on a DSLR, H.264 and I'm told it's now sitting in ProRes 422. Never having used a DSLR before, what would be the best route to be sent this file online to send on memory card to my distributor? 
 
Would it be encoding as an AVI, 60i, 29.97fps, 720h 480v (1.2121) straight away?