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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 November 30th, 2009, 07:43 AM   #1
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Canon 7D - My Impressions After 3 Weeks Use

I've put together a quick summary of my first impressions of using the Canon 7D here. If you want detailed info there are many useful threads on DVinfo already or look at the excellent recent blog post by Phil Bloom. This is more of an initial summary of how I'm getting on with my 7D after a few weeks of use and an attempt to share some of my joys (and frustrations!) on getting to grips with the 7D. It is aimed at those of you who are wondering if you should buy a 7D or not, to try and make you aware of some of the things you might wish to investigate and think over further.

It's very much a work in progress page (!) but I'm posting a link here now in the hope that it'll help someone.

Expect this page to get updated with more info soon too.

Canon7DMiniReview
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Old November 30th, 2009, 10:33 AM   #2
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Thanks for your post. I read it all the way through and I feel much better that I'm not the only one having a hard time getting the right focus.

I think that the shallow DOF is awesome when you're in a situation that is ideal for it. It adds so much to the overall production, in my opinion. But a lot of the run and gun stuff is really NOT good with the 7D (or maybe it's just the 7D and ME), but that's why I haven't gotten rid of my Canon A1s. The autofocus on the A1s is great for some of those run and gun situations where you could almost NEVER do that well with the 7D. But when you have time to set up the shot and want the fg/bg to be blurry, and have an object that isn't moving all around, the 7D is the camera I'm now grabbing instead of the A1. The A1's DOF is not shallow at all.
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Old November 30th, 2009, 11:04 AM   #3
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Nice summary. Are you using a viewfinder of some sort? I'm using the T-finder and it's all the difference in the world for focusing.
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Old November 30th, 2009, 11:12 AM   #4
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Thanks for the comments / encouragement / support as I deal with the challenge that is the art of focussing on a 7D!

I've just updated the text a little, a few minutes ago, as I realised some of it was a little unclear / ambiguous and one of the points was that I've now mentioned is that, currently, no I'm not using any accessory on the viewfinder - that's now a very high priority item for me.

For set-up shots in an office with camera on a tripod (talking head interview stuff) I've found the the EOS Utility software on my MBP works REALLY well for nailing focus....but it's hardly a run-n-gun option of course, even if it's possible to do this well on a 7D! You can get the viewing window to about 10 inches across (on my 15 inch MBP). There is a very very slight delay from realtime but that's of no consequence for focus / compositional / showing client type stuff.
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Old November 30th, 2009, 12:36 PM   #5
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Obviously, the same issues arise with 5D, which I have.

1. For focusing in action in run and gun situations, a magnified LCD viewer is almost mandatory. There are may ways to do that, including purchase of hooded version, DIY. I have made my own. But at times, I also just put on a dollar store set of magnifying glasses with a about a 3.5 diopter ( I normally use about 2.25) and I can get pretty decent results. That all depends on light conditions you are shooting in. The other thing is to practice with the lens you will be using for your run and gun shooting so you be automatice on which way you need to roll focus.

2. With auto focus lenses, you can set camera up to allow refocusing as the camera is rolling. However, that creates, in my experience, some temporary exposure issues and recording stutters. Its okay if you are going to cut there.

3. For narrative shooting, in which you can use a follow focus unit and monitor, the best result will be achieved accessing those tools. Not much different from issues of shooting 35mm cinema film cameras.
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Old November 30th, 2009, 02:00 PM   #6
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Hi Andy,

Thanks for the great report. I've only been using my 7D for a couple of days, actually only about 30 minutes of shooting tests.

I mostly shoot video with EX1/3 and regarding focusing I seem to remember many of the same issues that your describing with the 7D (especially with the EX1). I think that's the nature of shooting HD, most of the viewfinders lack the necessary resolution or size for critical focus. Of coarse I'm a bit older and that certainly makes it more challenging. It would be great if there were more quality cost effective solutions for focus assist, but in the meantime the only way I was able to overcome these issues with the EX1 was lots of practice and the focus assist (magnify) button, which the 7D has.

I purchased this camera to use to augment the EX's, to get those much shallower DOF shots that are often to difficult or time consuming with the EX. Some of the shots are amazing, I don't think I could have got those shots with the EX3 no matter how much time I had, but most are not. Which simply illustrates that its the user not the camera.

You understated the challenges associated with setting up a good shot with the 7D, but I'll say this, for me this is the most challenging aspect of using this camera and the most rewarding. I forgot how much fun it can be setting the focal plain and really dialing in the exposure.

Also, just for grins I took the little test footage I have into Color, its quite impressive, I'm not sure why, XDCAM is 4:2:0 and I'd think the H264 is 4:2:0 before encoding to ProRes so there shouldn't be a difference there. But I found just about everything to respond and therefore grade better than the XDCAM footage.

This is a stupid thing to say, I may never use this camera in production, though I think I probably will, but from the little bit I've done with this camera it is certainly trending in the right direction. I have not shot with an EX since purchasing the 7D (because of scheduling), but I'm certain the 7D is making me a better videographer with the EX.

We often talk about the PIA (pain in the ass) factor of new technology, but I give the 7D an 8 out of 10 on the FUN factor...
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Old November 30th, 2009, 04:30 PM   #7
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Hi Chuck and thanks for the comments. I actually agree it's great fun having to really think about how I'm going to shoot something with the 7D. Maybe my mini review thing on my website sounds otherwise - I'll look at that in the next edit.

I can (just!) remember when I was 21 years old and my dad bought me an Olympus OM1. I wanted the OM2... but he knew enough to realise that the fully manual OM1 would make me a much better photographer in the long run - as I'd have to think about everything - and he was right of course! And I loved it and still treasure it (it's never used now though).

I've got a pretty strong bonding thing going on with my 7D too...just at times it's like my "other job" of being a parent to 2 young daughters - moments of absolute joy one second and outright horror the next in an inexplicably random fashion! But like my girls, I know it'll work out fine in the end with practice and patience!
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Old November 30th, 2009, 04:31 PM   #8
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I'm not having any problem focusing manually, using the IDC/Hoodman on the LCD and the magnify button. It's actually quicker to get critical focus than with my XH A1. I've checked out the auto focus, and it's accurate but too slow. And, as noted, you can't shift focus during a shot. For those accustomed to using auto features on the smaller video cameras, I can see the pain in the ass factor might be a little heavy.
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Old November 30th, 2009, 04:56 PM   #9
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With the magnify button and hoods like the T-finder et al focusing is easy. Exposure is a different matter. Cough! Cough! tramm hudson Cough!
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Old November 30th, 2009, 06:19 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Luce View Post
Nice summary. Are you using a viewfinder of some sort? I'm using the T-finder and it's all the difference in the world for focusing.
I can't seem to find a T-Finder on google.. do you have a link?


Thanks,
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Old November 30th, 2009, 06:24 PM   #11
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I am also looking for the T-finder

I can't find it through google. Can you find me a link? thanks so much.
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Old November 30th, 2009, 06:53 PM   #12
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Thanx so much for the review, Andy. It is already on my favorites.

I'm planning to start to work on my own, and I was very concern which workflow should give me the best results: EX1 and its xdcam or 7D and its marvellous shots (I"m talking about its picture quality - found in vimeos' 7D clips- DOF it is just one of many tools we might have in hands as cinematographers to tell a story, in my oppinion.)

I want to start a business in the wedding market, and some corporate. As far as I can see, 7D isn't suitble for the task, don't you agree? 4 GB FAT32 limit ruins my plans to shot weddings cerimonies (Lets wait for a NTFS CF:); not to metion that everybody complains the challenge to get the right focus.

Well, your review was VERY enlightening to me. Thanx so much. For now, I' thinking to move to EX1R production and workflow, and change my Nikkon D70s for 7D!

I think it is just the begginning. Many things will happen very shortly in the DSLR's world. Thats for sure!
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Old November 30th, 2009, 07:59 PM   #13
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I haven't heard of T-finder either. I use the IDC/Hoodman ($200 from idcphotography.com).
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Old November 30th, 2009, 08:32 PM   #14
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The T-Finder is Ted Ramasola's version of the Hood loop. Works great! I'll post some pics. It has a 4x magnifier I think.
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Old December 1st, 2009, 03:00 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Cristian Derois View Post
Thanx so much for the review, Andy. It is already on my favorites. <clip>

I want to start a business in the wedding market, and some corporate. As far as I can see, 7D isn't suitble for the task, don't you agree? 4 GB FAT32 limit ruins my plans to shot weddings cerimonies (Lets wait for a NTFS CF:); not to metion that everybody complains the challenge to get the right focus. <clip>
Sure, quite a few top event videographers are beginning to use Canon 7D for wedding and event videography. And the 5D is unsurpassed for low light shooting over typical prosumer camcorders.

Search videos for 'wedding canon 7d' on Vimeo

Stopping a few seconds every 12 minutes shouldn't be a big deal for wedding videos and even if it was, most pros are going to be doing at least a two camera shoot away so stopping a few seconds and again pressing the record button isn't a big deal. Actually, with a 32GB CF it has less down time than a miniDV tape. But for run-and-gun sessions where autofocus is a big deal, the 7D probably isn't your camera of choice. And of course, you'll need to have a separate audio recorder, etc...

Regards, Michael
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