7D vs 5D vs GH1 vs Vixia vs HVX200 Quick Shootout at DVinfo.net

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Canon EOS Crop Sensor for HD
APS-C sensor cameras including the 80D, 70D, 7D Mk. II, 7D, EOS M and Rebel models for HD video recording.


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Old October 28th, 2009, 12:36 AM   #1
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7D vs 5D vs GH1 vs Vixia vs HVX200 Quick Shootout

The 7D arrived, and hence created the necessity to pit these guys against each other, or amongst each other actually. I haven't retired any of them yet. I wanted to test focal lengths compared to field of view, range of zoom, depth of field, moire and aliasing, and resolution. I did not do any motion, codec, or low light testing. I did intentionally try to include a range of lighting from proper exposure to blown out to underexposed to black. I didn't get too picky about some things, for instance, white balance - I just let the cameras do their thing, except for the HVX. Most of the footage is not color corrected or treated, except for the moire test, and my tests on blow out recovery in post.

From 1/3", 1/2", 4/3", APS-C, to FullFrame, I wanted to include 2/3" sensor size, but didn't have access to one. After all the hoopla over large sensors, it was interesting to be reminded of the 1/3" on the HVX definitely capable of some shallow depth. After seeing how crazy FullFrame DOF gets, I have a new appreciation for smaller sensors. I can see 2/3", 4/3"&APS-C, being a sweet combo for most things I do. Then if I really need the extreme shallowness, the 5D is there. I admit, all of this testing and seeing deficiencies makes me want Red Scarlet sooner than later, but I'm still blown away by all of these cameras in some way or another.

My biggest gripe? There's not one camera yet that does it all. If I could throw the 4/3" sensor from the GH1 into the HVX with aliasing controlled, include the LCD from either the 7D/5D, and record to DVCPROHD on Compact Flash cards, I'd be pretty stoked!

Here are the tests:



-steev
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Old October 28th, 2009, 01:37 AM   #2
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Thank you very much for sharing your tests and for taking the time to upload full 1080p versions. It's great to have side-by-side tests.
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Old October 28th, 2009, 08:12 AM   #3
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Wow! Thanks for taking the time to do this. It's great to be able to see these cameras alongside each other.

I was playing with a vixia HF-S10 at the weekend and I was surprised to see a fair amount of aliasing (which is less than the 7d displays)... I was looking forward to an all-in-one stills and video camera with the 7d... I'm just hoping I don't end up spending all my time cursing the fact that the image is full of artefacts.
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Old October 28th, 2009, 01:25 PM   #4
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I was playing with a vixia HF-S10 at the weekend and I was surprised to see a fair amount of aliasing (which is less than the 7d displays)... I was looking forward to an all-in-one stills and video camera with the 7d... I'm just hoping I don't end up spending all my time cursing the fact that the image is full of artefacts.
Thanks Alex. With the Vixia, I also immediately discovered aliasing on some fine lines, but hey, it's 1/6 the price of an EX1. Most of the time at 1920 it looks great. With the aliasing artifacts, by the time it gets down to 1280x720, or 640x360, I don't notice it much and the image looks pretty awesome.

Regarding the 7D having less aliasing than the Vixia? I can't entirely agree with that. The 7D has tons of aliasing in certain situations, just as bad or worse than the Vixia. However, I'd say the aliasing is far less noticeable in shots that have shallow DOF that is possible on the 7D, but not possible on the Vixia. All this reminds me that all cameras can shoot ugly images, but it's up to us to make superior images through knowing what to avoid and playing up to the greatest strengths.

The greatest strengths of the 7D to me are:
- The large sensor that affords a lot DOF control, but not as crazy shallow like the 5D
- A solid bitrate on the codec, far superior to the GH1 in 1080
- 24p
- Compact form
- HDMI out
- Love the hard switchable live view, front shutter button focus while live view, no switching to 480p during record, and dedicated record button (these are improvements over the 5D)

Ultimately, I think of all of the cameras as artistic tools, and not necessarily technicians tools. Believe it or not, the only camera I'm still trusting with technically demanding projects is the HVX200. It has next to no aliasing issues, global shutter, no jello, and a codec that blows away the rest. However, it has all the issues we well know with noise, low res, and obviously no where near the DOF possible on these larger sensor cams.

-steev
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Old October 28th, 2009, 04:37 PM   #5
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I just watched the Latitude video, and your verdict is confusing me a bit.

"The 7D/5D are slightly better than the GH1, but still pretty awful compared to what I'm used to with the HVX"

When watching the video it seemed to me that both the 7D and 5D had more latitude than any of the other cameras. And I think they're supposed to thanks to the big sensor. Am I missing something?
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Old October 28th, 2009, 04:50 PM   #6
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I just watched the Latitude video, and your verdict is confusing me a bit.

"The 7D/5D are slightly better than the GH1, but still pretty awful compared to what I'm used to with the HVX"

When watching the video it seemed to me that both the 7D and 5D had more latitude than any of the other cameras. And I think they're supposed to thanks to the big sensor. Am I missing something?
What I mean by this is latitude in post processing. I think the 7D/5D have better latitude when properly exposed. However, if you over expose even a little with these cameras, you don't get your detail back.

Whereas with the HVX200, there is a famously significant amount of detail you can recover from highlight blowouts in post processing. Actually I'm impressed with the Vixia in that regard as well - although not as impressive as the HVX200.

The very last part of the Latitude video shows these attempts at recovering from highlight blowout, and the results from the GH1, 7D, and 5D are very weak.

So the take away is... be very careful with your exposure on these cameras. I am leaning towards slight underexposure at all times.

-steev
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Old October 28th, 2009, 05:07 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Steev Dinkins View Post
What I mean by this is latitude in post processing. I think the 7D/5D have better latitude when properly exposed. However, if you over expose even a little with these cameras, you don't get your detail back.

Whereas with the HVX200, there is a famously significant amount of detail you can recover from highlight blowouts in post processing.
It's possible to tune the 5D2 settings for far greater latitude: HTP, neutral profile, -4 contrast, and even ALO (though I often dislike its variability). In magenta light I can squeeze as much as 10 usable stops out of the 5D2.
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Old October 28th, 2009, 05:16 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Steev Dinkins View Post
What I mean by this is latitude in post processing. I think the 7D/5D have better latitude when properly exposed. However, if you over expose even a little with these cameras, you don't get your detail back.
Oh I see, that makes sense.
So where is the headroom coming from? Do those other cameras shoot 10 bit files?
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Old October 28th, 2009, 07:26 PM   #9
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It's possible to tune the 5D2 settings for far greater latitude: HTP, neutral profile, -4 contrast, and even ALO (though I often dislike its variability). In magenta light I can squeeze as much as 10 usable stops out of the 5D2.
Oh man! HTP (Highlight Tone Priority) Rocks! Thanks! That makes a HUGE difference in highlight handling.

I always wonder what may come out of posting here, and you've made it worth it with that one response.

Is there any downside to using HTP?

-steev
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Old October 28th, 2009, 08:00 PM   #10
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You're very welcome.

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Is there any downside to using HTP?
The only possible downside is an increase in shadow noise. But the possible increase depends on the ISO setting. At ISO 3200+HTP, there is no downside at all. At ISO 1600+HTP, the increase in shadow noise is very minimal. It's only at ISO 800+HTP where you have to even consider the possibility.

The highest possible increase is at ISO 200+HTP, but even then, in typical situations, with default settings, the difference cannot be seen. In order to see the difference you have to combine it with something else that will help make the existing shadow noise visible or increase the shadow noise.

Decreasing contrast to -4 may make the increase in shadow noise visible, since the black tones are no longer black. Shooting in low CRI light (tungsten, halogen) and white balancing the light back to neutral. Also, using the broken ISO settings (125, 250, 500, 1000) increase noise by 1/3 stop.
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Old October 28th, 2009, 08:09 PM   #11
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Is there any downside to using HTP?
I do seem to get vertical banding under certain circumstances. Took my camera to the dealer and tried 2 other bodies and they all seemed about the same (although I couldn't test every ISO and WB setting, lighting conditions, etc.).

But in doing some tests today I seem to get reduced to no banding with HTP off. The other day I shot outside in bright sunshine with HTP on and noticed no banding too, so maybe there is something to do with the tungsten WB and HTP. Still testing this, but that may be the downside to HTP which is a shame, and hopefully (like I believe there was for a similar problem with the early 5DMk2s) a fix in the works so we can use HTP without concerns of vertical banding.
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Old October 29th, 2009, 02:53 PM   #12
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Steev,

I just returned from a 2 day filming trip to see this thread and found it of great interest/immense value.... since I'm about to push the button on a 7D or GH1 in the next few days! (see on a couple of other threads on here)....still agonising over that choice but just to say a BIG THANKYOU for posting those comparative videos.

I'm sure I'll watch them all again multiple times in the next 2-3 days. Let me buy you a cyber beer!

Cheers! Andy
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Old October 29th, 2009, 03:18 PM   #13
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Steev,

I just returned from a 2 day filming trip to see this thread and found it of great interest/immense value.... since I'm about to push the button on a 7D or GH1 in the next few days! (see on a couple of other threads on here)....still agonising over that choice but just to say a BIG THANKYOU for posting those comparative videos.

I'm sure I'll watch them all again multiple times in the next 2-3 days. Let me buy you a cyber beer!

Cheers! Andy
*Chug-a-lug* Cheers!!

I went for some codec/low light tests last night, and wow... these cameras really do spar against each other.

GH1 - crisper resolution across the board, but has vertical streaks in low light, a tad bit less light sensitive, fragile codec at 1080, but codec is pretty rockin at 720. I love my footage shot at 720p and slowed down.

7D - better latitude, especially with Daniel's suggestion of using HTP, very durable codec at 1080, but more aliasing than GH1 across the board, and at 720 the aliasing is even worse - I would argue that its worse than any of the other cameras. My thoughts for 720p on the 7D is to use it only with very shallow DOF so you can't see much sharpness in anything.

More low light tests tonight. Biggest problem with the GH1 in low light is the slow kit zoom lens. I wish it was f2.8 constant. Things change a LOT on the GH1 with the 20mm f1.7 in low light.
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Old October 29th, 2009, 03:33 PM   #14
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GH1 - crisper resolution across the board, but has vertical streaks in low light, a tad bit less light sensitive, fragile codec at 1080, but codec is pretty rockin at 720.
Interesting... I noticed from your shots that the codec looked pretty ropey for the GH1 (looking at the latitude tests it doesn't seem to handle underexposed detail and gradients at all well)... But are you saying it's better at 720p?

I'd love a GH1 if it didn't have such a rubbish bitrate!
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Old October 29th, 2009, 04:57 PM   #15
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Steev, I've found the 7D to have pretty crazy shallow DOF, really too shallow to use in almost any real situation:


I've loaned my XHA1 out, but I've been dying to do some comparison tests to the 7D. The 7D has incredible DOF control, but there are some other areas I really miss with the XHA1, like gradual aperture changes and the 20X L-Glass! I believe the 7D fits my style better for artistic pieces, but I'd be slow to say it is a better video camera than the XHA1.

Last edited by Roger Shealy; October 29th, 2009 at 06:03 PM.
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