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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 February 27th, 2010, 11:24 PM   #1
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Are DSLRs a valid way to shoot professional video?

Iím ready to upgrade to HD, and am looking at my options. I am very intrigued by the 7D option, but have no experience with it. I like the fact that itís a professional camera and camcorder in one small package. And the 7D is also very attractive because of the lens options.

Can I really get away with using the 7D for professional video productions? (Assuming I deal with the 12 minute restriction). Iíve seen footage people have shot with it and am very impressed.

Iím basically looking at either the 7D or the Sony PMW-EX3 (But Iím open to suggestions).

Here are a few questions/concerns I have:

1. How does it perform handheld compared to standard camcorders? Is there any sort of OIS? What with the hole ďJelloĒ think?

2. Is there continuous auto focus when recording video?

3. Is there audio-out capability (for headphones)?

4. What is the difference between the 7D and the T2i, besides it costing twice as much?

5. Again, are there disadvantages to this when put beside a camcorder like the EX3? If so, what are they?

Thank you for helping me understand.
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Old February 27th, 2010, 11:42 PM   #2
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1. Depends on how wide or tight you are. Very wide it performs as well, telephoto not as well. The image stabilization on Canon cameras is all in-lens and isn't as agressive as camcorder IS. Since the sensor is scanned from top to bottom, and not in a rapid fashion you'll see a jello effect with fast motion across your field of view. This is most obvious if the things are supposed to be straight, like fenceposts or window shades. You can usually plan around this, it's a limitation like any other equipment limitation.

2. No.

3. Yes.

4. The 7D is weather sealed and has selectable color temperature for white balance in 100k units. The 7D takes Compact Flash, the T2i takes SD. The T2i has a slightly better LCD for video, the 7D has a 100% viewfinder.

5. It's not a 'real' camcorder so if you want to lug just one piece of gear and have a full suite of automatic and manual options, the HD DSLR isn't the way to go. The EX3 will have better out of the box usability and flexibility. The DSLR will have better depth of field and cheaper, more widely available lens options, especially in cheap, fast primes.

If you've never shot video before, an EX3 will be more forgiving, but you won't be able to get as shallow depth of field. If you're mainly interested in shooting a very film-like look and have time to learn and work around its limitations, the HD DSLR can be a good option. For $800 with good resale value the T2i is a very cheap place to start.
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Old February 28th, 2010, 12:11 AM   #3
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All depends on what you need to shoot. The 7D has a couple of advantages over the EX3. The EX3 has at least a dozen over the 7D depending on several factors.

Jeff indicaes that the 7D has "better" DOF than the EX3. This is a misnomer. It can have shallower DOF in many scenarios. Whether that equates to "better" is dependent upon needs.

The 7D and EX3 are about as similar as a Ford F150 and a Ferrari. Totally different ways to commit moving image to silicon.
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Old February 28th, 2010, 01:00 AM   #4
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"Iím ready to upgrade to HD"

I'm just throwing this out there. If your coming from a standard def small chip camera background the 7D could be a bit tricky because of focus. HD can be pretty demanding focus wise, the 7D can be brutal to focus. You are basically dealing with all the focus challenges of a camera like the RED but most likely without all the tools and staff.

It can be very doable and it will make you a better shooter, but it aint easy.
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Old February 28th, 2010, 01:42 AM   #5
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Great point Burk. And many users find themselves reverting down ti F5.6 or f8 to be able to keep things in focus. It's one thing when you have a focus puller and the actors have to hit marks. Quite another when trying to film unscripted action. And in that instance I'd take the EX3 all day, every day.
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Old February 28th, 2010, 05:10 AM   #6
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If you're willing to spend EX3 money, you might consider and EX1 and a T2i. Talk about having your bases covered.
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Old February 28th, 2010, 06:01 AM   #7
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I have an EX3 and a 7D so will comment. As pointed out, very well above, they are very different tools. I love both of them for different reasons but after several months of 7D ownership I'm still using my EX3 for most of my commercial work (7D only as a B cam/fun tool but also commercial stills work). I'm not sure what kind of stuff you shoot but I'd be very hesitant of using a DSLR for any kind of event work for example as it's the wrong tool for that. The people that shoot weddings with them need to be right at the top of their game to produce good results (even just in focus shots) as there are many pitfalls for us lesser mortals too. But like I said, I love my 7D and have been happily adding lenses to my kit as I'm enjoying it so much. When I do use it to it's strengths, I can get beautiful shots that I simply cannot get with my EX3 (which produces different kinds of beautiful shots).

I think the best way to decide would be for you to hire a 7D for a weekend and see how you get on or buy a T2i and go from there. The suggestion that you could own a T2i/550D and an EX1(r) is a good one and you'd be buying fantastic technology (EX1r) at the beginning of it's new product cycle refresh (note, I'm expecting a similar type of "EX3r" refresh sometime this year too...) and rapidly developing technology (the T2i/550D) at very little money. In 2-3 years time DSLRs will be so much better than they are now at shooting video without aliasing, moire, 4GB file limits, ergonomically, etc., that's almost a definite - This is why so many people are excited about the T2i/550D as it allows you to step into the arena to be part of the show now (just to see what all the hype is about) without having to pay front row prices! My advice is don't spend too much money on a DSLR body at this point in time. Lenses are a different matter as they are "whole lifetime use" type purchases - well to me they are!

One thing many people forget is that to really use a DSLR professionally you're going to need a lot of additional kit (plenty of lists and suggestions on DVinfo to help you with this list). The cost of all these extras can easily mount up SIGNIFICANTLY...

So my suggestion is rent/buy/borrow a basic 7D or T2i "starter kit" and go from there. If you decide it's not a good enough HD tool for you (again, it's basically ergonomics, moire, aliasing, 4GB file limit, lack of XLR audio etc.) then you've still not broken the bank regarding getting a NXCAM, EX1r, EX3(r?), new solid state Canon videocam later this year (or whatever) and will still have a great B/fun cam. Hope this helps and good luck!
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Last edited by Andy Wilkinson; February 28th, 2010 at 09:30 AM. Reason: typos
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Old February 28th, 2010, 11:08 AM   #8
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The nice thing about the extra kit needed to make a DvSLR work well is that it's the kind of gear that lasts for decades (assuming that you buy good quality), and it makes you a better filmmaker.

For lenses, you can start at the low end and sell them later to upgrade. If you buy used, about all you lose is the shipping cost. Think of the payment as a long-term rental.

With tripods, shoulder rigs, jibs, follow focus and so on, the market is much smaller. You can't always sell these for what you paid. It makes sense to buy good quality once. But all of these items can really improve the quality of your work, even if you upgrade to a Scarlet next year and Epic couple years later.
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Old February 28th, 2010, 11:27 AM   #9
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Andy offers some great advice in his post.

I think people with an experienced background knowledge of working with DSLRs will find it easier to use the new hybrids. There is no doubt that normal camcorders offer huge advantages and anyone contemplating on using a DSLR as their main video tool would be wise to try to rent or loan one first before buying fully into the system.
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Old February 28th, 2010, 12:17 PM   #10
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I have a 7D and HMC150. I was real excited about getting the 7D, but after using it for a while, I have to say that I now consider a limited use camera and would not recommend it as either an A or B camera. This is not to say that it doesn't shoot wonderful video, because it does. It's also great when depth-of-field control is real important, or when you want to shoot in a stealthy manner. However, IMO it's simply too cumbersome to use and requires much more operator intervention than does a real video camcorder.
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Old February 28th, 2010, 02:11 PM   #11
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Thanks everyone for the input! Very helpful.

Iím not new to shooting video (3 CCD Pan) and using a DSLR (D200), but I am new to HD and shooting video on DSLRs.

I would mostly be shooting documentary footage, interviews, and events. I also would like to have the capability to shoot a small feature.

The reason I was looking at the 7D/T2i is for their compact size (I may be doing international travel with it) and easy access to lenses. So if it would work comparably to a professional camcorder, I could save money on the body and purchase a couple good lenses and maybe a second body. But it seems like there are still a considerable amount of bugs to work out of the DSLRs.

I do like the idea of getting both (T2i and EX1), but I have a question with that. If I were using say the T2i as a B camera, would the images look close enough? For instance, using the cameras for close and wide interview shots.
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Old February 28th, 2010, 02:42 PM   #12
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Sure, DSLR's are a valid tool for professional filmmaking. However, don't be fooled by the low price of the DSLR bodies. You're going to need a nice selection of lenses, an external audio solution, a viewfinder or monitor, and some sort of stabilization device. When all is said and done, you're right back in the price territory of the EX1.
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Old February 28th, 2010, 02:42 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Telian View Post

I would mostly be shooting documentary footage, interviews, and events. I also would like to have the capability to shoot a small feature.
The EX is a better 1 stop shop, if you had to pick one. Although for interviews I like DSLR because you don't need to fret over creating a nice background. Just blur it. I also like it better as a cinema cam, again, because of its show focus ability. Docs and events? EX all the way.
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Old February 28th, 2010, 03:13 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Brian Luce View Post
Although for interviews I like DSLR because you don't need to fret over creating a nice background. Just blur it.
You'll still want to pay attention to that background--a low contrast, flat background won't look good just because it's blurred. I put just as much effort into designing and lighting and backgrounds for interviews whether shooting with small or large chip cameras.

I will echo most of the thoughts here too--EX series for "unpredictable" work, DSLR for controlled situations where the shallow depth of field is desired. I've shot doc with the DSLR's but only with a lot of extra gear and a skilled focus puller, and wouldn't want to attempt it without that.
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Old February 28th, 2010, 08:54 PM   #15
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There is lots of good stuff in this article especially around DOF. Canon Reveals Their Next Pro Video Cam at DVInfo.net

There is a DOF Formula. If you don't want razor thin DOF then you needs small sensors. You loose a lot of light by making the iris smaller. One development I'm hoping for is 1080 and 720 cropping on the next generations of dslr's. That is only using the center 1080 or 720 pixels of the sensor. This would give you lots more depth of field. Then when you want shallow DOF flip a setting and use the full sensor.
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