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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 December 6th, 2009, 12:08 AM   #1
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Primes for the 7D's video?

So I just purchased my 7D about a week ago, and since then I've spent countless hours reading reviews, watching footage, comparing footage, and pretty much thinking myself in circles.

I purchased a refurbished Canon 50mm 1.4, but I jumped the gun, I think. Reading about Sigma and Zeiss lenses, they seem to be much better quality for a small price increase.

Basically, my current budget runs around $300-500 for a single lens, and I've decided to go for primes vs a zoom lens since I don't plan to do much zooming anyway.

I'm really considering a Sigma 50mm or 30mm or a Zeiss 50mm (but it's MF only, will that be an issue? also heard the bokeh is UGLY), but more than anything, I want to be able to get a lens that I won't have to or want to replace later on. I never plan on investing in the L series lenses since they are just too expensive for recreational video/photography.

What are the most common focal lengths, if I were to want to buy 3 different prime lenses total?

Would I be better off getting a Sigma 30mm or 50mm first? I'm very attracted to the 50mm lenses all around just because they are meant to imitate the focal length/focus of the human eye, I believe, and I am just a sucker for the DoF.
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Old December 6th, 2009, 12:33 AM   #2
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First question: Are you buying primarily for Video or for both uses? One thing to consider in the decision is if you need the top of the line lenses for the lower resolution that video requires. Its a decision personal to each shooter. In my case, because of availability of great lenses at low pricing, I have bought Nikon lenses and adapted. While I do have a Canon 28 to 80 that provides auto focus, in most shooting situation I will go to the primes, or a Takumar 28-80 that I adapted, that has better glass.

Second, the 50 mm lens is not a normal lens on the 7D... It is the equivalent of about an 80 mm short tele/portait lens on a standard full frame senser. A 28 to 38 mm will provide a closer approximation to the angle of view of what has been call normal lenses. Remember, you multiply the focal length by 1.6 to get an idea of what the angle of view would be compared to the full frame sensor camera. So a 20mm would become a 32mm equivalent.
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Old December 6th, 2009, 12:54 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry Chen View Post
So I just purchased my 7D about a week ago, and since then I've spent countless hours reading reviews, watching footage, comparing footage, and pretty much thinking myself in circles.
Seems to be a common ailment... :)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry Chen View Post
I purchased a refurbished Canon 50mm 1.4, but I jumped the gun, I think. Reading about Sigma and Zeiss lenses, they seem to be much better quality for a small price increase.
Really, I wouldn't worry about it. It seems you are new to shooting 35mm so why not just enjoy your new purchase?

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Originally Posted by Larry Chen View Post
Basically, my current budget runs around $300-500 for a single lens, and I've decided to go for primes vs a zoom lens since I don't plan to do much zooming anyway.
The benefit of the zoom is to be able to reframe the shot without having to move or have your actors move. Zooming while shooting is rare and usually ill advised.

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Originally Posted by Larry Chen View Post
I'm really considering a Sigma 50mm or 30mm or a Zeiss 50mm (but it's MF only, will that be an issue? also heard the bokeh is UGLY), but more than anything, I want to be able to get a lens that I won't have to or want to replace later on. I never plan on investing in the L series lenses since they are just too expensive for recreational video/photography.
Cinema lenses don't come in autofocus, so not sure why that would even be a consideration. I don't think the 7D will autofocus in video mode anyway, and well it shouldn't. The idea of purchasing lenses that you won't have to re-buy later on is folly. You buy lenses, use them until they no longer suit you, then sell them to someone newer to this than you, while you move on. Been this way for 50 years. Just go shoot and learn. L lenses aren't going to help your video anyway (for the most part). The 7D isn't capable of resolving anything CLOSE to what an L lens can deliver. Truthfully, it can't resolve what the Canon lens you just bought is capable of.

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Originally Posted by Larry Chen View Post
What are the most common focal lengths, if I were to want to buy 3 different prime lenses total?
What are the three most common lengths of rope?

Your question is not able to be answered. I could say 24, 35, and 70 are absolutely CRUCIAL to shooting film. And the guy next to me could say 85, 135 and 300. We'd both be exactly right, but I shoot indoor narrative, and he shoots wildlife. Some directors and cinemetographers love very wide composition, others like tight and intimate composition. This is why zooms are helpful. They allow you to explore the full range without having to buy 20 lenses. Take the money you'd spend on 3 good primes, and buy 2 good zooms and one VERY fast, older, 35mm lens. Say an F1.2. If I was just starting out, that's what I'd be doing. You'll be able to work faster, and have a ton of choices that way.

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Originally Posted by Larry Chen View Post
Would I be better off getting a Sigma 30mm or 50mm first? I'm very attracted to the 50mm lenses all around just because they are meant to imitate the focal length/focus of the human eye, I believe, and I am just a sucker for the DoF.
The 50mm mimics the human eye IF IT'S on FULL FRAME 35. The 7D is not full frame 35 (the 5D is), so you'll need to factor in the crop factor of 1.6. 50mm / 1.6 = 31. So you need to be looking in the range of a 35mm to get close to the same look.

DoF increases with focal length. So if you want to drop the background off, move up to shooting with the 85. Of course, this is greatly dependent on your distance to your subject, and what needs to be in frame.

Again, not to seem condescending, but you'd REALLY benefit from a mid-range zoom until you get your focal lengths and their understanding sorted out. Then maybe go back and buy some primes of the lengths you prefer to use most often.
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Old December 6th, 2009, 01:07 AM   #4
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Thanks for the responses.

Well, I plan on taking SOME pictures, it would be a waste to have an amazing camera and not take advantage of it as well.

As for a zoom lens, though, I just feel like I'm trading quality for versatility, where the versatility could easily be replaced by physically moving the camera location..

The 7D is also one of the most expensive electronics I've purchased thusfar, so I figured it wouldn't hurt to invest on some nice glass.

I've used the 50mm and I like it, but if I'm going for human focal length with 1.6 crop, wouldn't a Sigma 30mm cover that pretty close? I would keep the Canon 50mm f1.4, but I've heard bad things about it's build quality, and that the USM motor failing is very common.

I've read/seen a boatload of great things about the Sigma 30mm, it might just get me to pull the trigger. The thing is, I think the Sigma series for Canon is built especially for the crop, so I don't know if it's still multiplied by 1.6 (if anyone can confirm that would be awesome).


"You buy lenses, use them until they no longer suit you, then sell them to someone newer to this than you, while you move on."

Isn't that the point of buying focal lengths that are key what you are doing? Especially when it comes to primes? So you have lenses that WILL suit you and not have to replace them since you use them often... it seems very economically inefficient to keep replacing lenses.
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Old December 6th, 2009, 01:38 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Larry Chen View Post
Well, I plan on taking SOME pictures, it would be a waste to have an amazing camera and not take advantage of it as well.
Ok. Nothing wrong with that.

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Originally Posted by Larry Chen View Post
As for a zoom lens, though, I just feel like I'm trading quality for versatility, where the versatility could easily be replaced by physically moving the camera location..
Sports illustrated (including the swimsuit edition) is FULL of photos from zooms. What level are you aiming for? At the level of these lenses, you'd be hard pressed to tell the difference with the naked eye. And you can't always physically move the camera. If you're on your 30mm and your back is against the wall, and you need another 5ft to get the framing you want, then that 18-50mm zoom would've have really made your day. Or if you are trying to take a photo of something from behind a fence, and that 85mm just won't get you there, then that 50-135mm zoom would have saved the day.

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Originally Posted by Larry Chen View Post
The 7D is also one of the most expensive electronics I've purchased thusfar, so I figured it wouldn't hurt to invest on some nice glass.
But you don't want the L glass. You're not doing yourself any favors here. If you want great glass, spend the money and get pro glass. If you want to go cheap, then stop worrying about the difference between an inexpensive prime, and a slightly more expensive zoom. Buy a lens and go shoot the camera.

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Originally Posted by Larry Chen View Post
I've used the 50mm and I like it, but if I'm going for human focal length with 1.6 crop, wouldn't a Sigma 30mm cover that pretty close? I would keep the Canon 50mm f1.4, but I've heard bad things about it's build quality, and that the USM motor failing is very common.
Yes, the Sigma 30 would get you close. And yes, that is a 30mm for a camera with a sensor about the size of the 7D. But I will say this about stills, as well as film. The power of visual image comes from giving people a perspective that is DIFFERENT from what they might see with their eyes. When the camera emulates their eyes, it is very "documentary". If that's your goal, then great. However, if you want to engage an audience then take up a focal length, and an angle that would not be realistic in real life.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry Chen View Post
I've read/seen a boatload of great things about the Sigma 30mm, it might just get me to pull the trigger. The thing is, I think the Sigma series for Canon is built especially for the crop, so I don't know if it's still multiplied by 1.6 (if anyone can confirm that would be awesome).
Yes. So says the Sigma web page.


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Originally Posted by Larry Chen View Post
"You buy lenses, use them until they no longer suit you, then sell them to someone newer to this than you, while you move on."

Isn't that the point of buying focal lengths that are key what you are doing? Especially when it comes to primes? So you have lenses that WILL suit you and not have to replace them since you use them often... it seems very economically inefficient to keep replacing lenses.
Let's say in January, I am hired to shoot a movie about wildlife in Africa. I am going to need some pretty long lenses because I am not going to stand 20ft from a Lion. 8 months later, I am hired to shoot a romantic comedy where 2/3 of the movie is in closeup, and the other third is in wide to medium establishing shots. Now I need a completely different set of lenses. This is why lenses are RENTED for major productions.
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Old December 6th, 2009, 01:51 AM   #6
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Oh... I am not using the camera for occupational purposes whatsoever..

I just enjoy making short films, and have been doing it with a HV30 and didn't like the 35mm adapter alternative, so I switched to DSLR.

I understand that zoom lenses will save me at times, and there are times where I won't be able to move to a certain distance, but I still think 3 well-planned primes would be able to cover all the focal lengths I would need for anything I would be shooting.. more investment, but in the end it's better quality.

If I have lenses I enjoy using, and use often, there would be no reason for me to need to replace them while using the camera recreationally as I do.
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Old December 6th, 2009, 02:08 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Larry Chen View Post
Oh... I am not using the camera for occupational purposes whatsoever..

I just enjoy making short films, and have been doing it with a HV30 and didn't like the 35mm adapter alternative, so I switched to DSLR.
If your HV30 had 3 primes would you have been able to shoot what you have thus far? If so, then have at it with the primes. I can't think of a movie or other project I've shot where I wouldn't have used and/or needed at least 5-7 primes and that is cutting it thin.

But my needs are not your needs. And clearly you think my idea of going to a zoom is a bad idea. So you've made up your mind. Just buy the primes you need, and you're on your way. In over an hour you haven't given a clue as to what subject matter you shoot, so I couldn't even begin to offer any advice as to what primes might work for what you shoot, but I am guessing you want a medium wide (maybe an 18mm), an documentary lens (the 30mm), and maybe a portrait/2-shot lens (like an 85mm).
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Old December 6th, 2009, 07:47 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Larry Chen View Post
Would I be better off getting a Sigma 30mm or 50mm first?
On the 7D, these focal lengths are what I consider to be the most useful:
  • 15mm (24mm equiv AOV)
  • 30mm (50mm equiv AOV)
  • 85mm (135mm equiv AOV)

Those three angles of view are what I use most on my 5D2. Unfortunately, the choice of primes at 15mm and 30mm is very poor for the 7D. The 5D2 has a much better and wider selection at the same angle of view. The good thing you can get an excellent 85mm for the 7D for cheap.

So I suggest starting with the 30mm, then get a wide angle zoom (e.g. Tokina 11-16 f/2.8), then the Canon 85mm f/1.8.

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Originally Posted by Brian Luce View Post
I don't know this lens, but I'll caution about the dangers of reading too many internet posts. The people that post about a given product are usually the ones who have beef or lemon.
Good advice in general, but in this case the internet posts are spot on.

LensRentals.com - Lens Repair Data 3.5

The 50mm f/1.4 is the second-worst Canon lens that LensRentals.com carries.

I got bit by this lens too (only $105 repair, though.)

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Originally Posted by Brian Luce View Post
A half dozen people complain about the same flaw and suddenly such and such lens or device is a "Known bad design". A lot of 7d owners absolutely have bought into an urban legend that the first batch of 7d's was somehow flawed or not calibrated properly or perhaps cursed by a Voodoo priest and that Canon secretly corrected the flaw without notifying anyone.
The 7D problems are real. I've seen dozens of 7D raw files from about 7 different camera bodies, and they all have problems of varying severity, including pattern noise in the shadows at ISO 100 and mismatched greens (RGGB) that affects highlights. I have yet to see a single 7D raw file that doesn't have at least one of these problems.
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