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Alfred Okocha November 5th, 2010 05:20 AM

New to dslr
 
Hey all!

I have ample video experience that started with the dsr 370 cams through to HVR, EX3 et.c. But, I have no experience or knowledge what so ever about still photography cameras. After having seen amazing images of what the dslr cameras can do I'm ready to jump ship and start shooting video with a Canon.

It's all a bit overwhelming in the beginning though. (There are lots of threads but difficult to comprehend since you don't know the jargong..)
Which cam is considered the best for video shooting? The 7D? The rebel? M5II?
Which lenses are the top ones? I reckon you need at least two or three top quality lenses along with a decent monitor. (Apart from the batts, cards et.c.)

Thanks, any input is gold for me!

Jon Braeley November 5th, 2010 07:46 AM

What are you shooting - docs? Fiction or non-fiction? Events and weddings? They all have specific needs that are quite different. Overall I like the 7D for all of the cams on the market right now.
I am a doc-maker and I just got back from an intensive 14 day shoot in China with the 7D. I took the minimum equipment needed as I was travelling to some remote areas, but it was still a lot of stuff with a shoulder rig, tripod, five lenses, audio recorders etc...
I ended up using one lens for 90% of the time - the 17-55 2.8 - I also took 3 other L lenses inc, the 70-200. Switching lenses with a follow focus and rig is not a fast manouvre during shooting - for non-doc work its easy to prep and set-up. Again primes are not an option for me - I do take a very fast f1.4 50 prime for interior shots or interviews. So I guess I can do all I need with 3 zooms.
The batteries were an issue - in fact I had to have 2 more batteries and an extra charger sent overnight from Beijing during my shoot - I ended up with 5 batteries and 2 chargers and just got through the day.
Also you need an off-camera audio recording solution - I use a Tascam recorder and a slew of mics and lavs. I have the Rode mic on camera for back up and synching tracks.

The main issue is focus after exposure. With exposure I grab a quick look at the histogram first (unfortunately this is not available in video mode) then set aperture. Speed is usually at 1/50th - somtimes 1/125 for fast action scenes.
Focusing is tough especially on moving scenes. I use an LCD viewer - my 7inch monitor still needs a big hood to make it useable and is too bulky for me. Shooting scenes at f2.8 is very very hairy!!
Nail focusing down and the 7D is a great camera!

Alfred Okocha November 5th, 2010 08:49 AM

Thanks for your input Joe!

I do both TV and docs as well as fiction sometimes. Prime lenses isn't an option for me either, I'm used to working with zoom lenses but does that mean there's a trade off, that the glass isn't as good?

Sorry to be this basic here.. but when you say that the lens is "fast" does it mean wide?

Some other doubts, focus is the same on a video cam and a dslr I guess?
How about aperture, do you see the result in the viewfinder the same way as on a videocam?
Does shutter exist on dslr?
Is gain the same as ISO?
Can you white balance?

(You see, I am truly clueless...)

Sound doesn't trouble me that much, I can always use one of my old video cams to capture the audio and then sync it in post. (I've got all the sound equipment for that.)

Many thanks again.

Perrone Ford November 5th, 2010 09:11 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Alfred Okocha (Post 1585213)
I do both TV and docs as well as fiction sometimes.

Based on this response, I would say you are probably not a candidate for a DSLR. At least not a good candidate.


Quote:

Originally Posted by Alfred Okocha (Post 1585213)
Prime lenses isn't an option for me either, I'm used to working with zoom lenses but does that mean there's a trade off, that the glass isn't as good?

There are many trade-offs. And if you plan to base what you are going to do with DSLR with "what I am used to", you'll end up frustrated and disillusioned. These are NOT videocameras in the tradional sense, and don't operate like them. They require you to learn a new way of operating since you have no stills background.


Quote:

Originally Posted by Alfred Okocha (Post 1585213)
Sorry to be this basic here.. but when you say that the lens is "fast" does it mean wide?

No, it means that the lens has a wide maximum aperture. Generally lenses that have apertures wider than F2.8 are considered "fast". In terms of aperture, lower numbers numerically, indicate lens speed. It means they allow more light in. A typical video camera lens these days may have a maximum aperture of F1.6, F1.8, or F1.9. The scale is proportional. At a setting of F8, a lens is letting in 1/4 the light of the same lens at F4. That same lens when set of F5.6 is letting in twice as much as when it's at F8, and half as much light as when it's at F4.

Thus when even $2k zoom lenses are a maximum of F2.8, and your video cameras that you are used to are F1.8, you can see that even though you spend a lot of money on expensive zooms, you may not get the great results you've seen others have. Especially in areas that are not well lit.


Quote:

Originally Posted by Alfred Okocha (Post 1585213)
Some other doubts, focus is the same on a video cam and a dslr I guess?

No. Focus is all manual. At least at this point it is.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Alfred Okocha (Post 1585213)
How about aperture, do you see the result in the viewfinder the same way as on a videocam?

Yes.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Alfred Okocha (Post 1585213)
Does shutter exist on dslr?

Yes. Same as video camera.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Alfred Okocha (Post 1585213)
Is gain the same as ISO?

Yes, basically.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Alfred Okocha (Post 1585213)
Can you white balance?

Yes, but the procedure is slightly different.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Alfred Okocha (Post 1585213)
(You see, I am truly clueless...)

Yes, and it will take you quite some months to become conversant with a DSLR. If you've got months to spare on learning the new system, it might be worthwhile. But given what you say you wan to shoot, I seriously doubt it. You'd probably be better off waiting a month or two for the Panasonic AF100. Which offers a lot of the advantages of a DSLR, but will be FAR more friendly for people used to shooting video cameras.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Alfred Okocha (Post 1585213)
Sound doesn't trouble me that much, I can always use one of my old video cams to capture the audio and then sync it in post. (I've got all the sound equipment for that.)

Ok, that's good.

Nigel Barker November 5th, 2010 11:07 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Perrone Ford (Post 1585220)
Thus when even $2k zoom lenses are a maximum of F2.8, and your video cameras that you are used to are F1.8, you can see that even though you spend a lot of money on expensive zooms, you may not get the great results you've seen others have. Especially in areas that are not well lit.

Comparing the aperture of a DSLR lens & a video camcorder is not as simple as that. The DSLRs have much better low light capability because they have bigger sensors so it is possible to just use a higher ISO (higher gain in video terms) to compensate for the fact that you don't have an F1.8 lens. Also because of the large sensor the Depth of Field at wide apertures is really shallow so you may even prefer to shoot at F4 or F5.6 & just bump up the ISO number from say 100 to 800 (increasing the gain) as this does not immediately lead to grainy video as would be a found with even +12dB of gain on a camcorder.

Perrone Ford November 5th, 2010 11:49 AM

Yes Nigel, quite true. However, as the OP seems to not have a strong background in these matters, I chose not to muddy the waters with sensor size and other things.

And yes, while sensor size makes a difference, the gap isn't as large as many would have you believe. Testing my T2i against my EX1 led to some very interesting revelations.

Alfred Okocha November 5th, 2010 12:47 PM

Hello Perrone and Nigel.

I do all my focusing manually and even though I realise that there's a lot to learn when you start with new equipment I can't quite understand why you don't think I would be a good candidate. Light and lightning are always important but from what I gather you can get away with lesser light when you use a dslr camera, which would make life easier sometimes.
How long can you shot for with the biggest SD cards? (This is something that is a trade-off I guess... I shot a show some weeks ago with the EX3 and shot for more than 3 hours continously.)

What Nigel said doesn't muddy the waters the least, it's all quite clear. The dslr are more tolerable to noise than video cams. Nice!

Do you mean that there are no zoom lenses that can compare with the prime ones? Do you always get much better glass on the primes? What are the lens brands to look out for?

Thank you.

Perrone Ford November 5th, 2010 01:09 PM

And here we go....

Okocha, this ground has been covered over, and over, and over again. You are now asking questions that get asked every day, and a search would net you all you need. But while I am waiting for my render to finish, I'll answer...


Quote:

Originally Posted by Alfred Okocha (Post 1585272)
I do all my focusing manually and even though I realise that there's a lot to learn when you start with new equipment I can't quite understand why you don't think I would be a good candidate.

Focusing manually on a 1/3" sensor camera, and focusing on a APS-C or full-frame camera are not even CLOSE to the same league. At F2, if you're 5ft from your subject on the 7D or 550D you'll have about 3 INCHES of depth. Rather than the 3 FEET you may be used to. It's a new game. If you are shooting a documentary, where you are moving and the subject is moving, the likelihood of you getting things in focus unless you're at F8 or F11 is slim to none unless you have someone focusing for you.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Alfred Okocha (Post 1585272)
Light and lightning are always important but from what I gather you can get away with lesser light when you use a dslr camera, which would make life easier sometimes.

But you really can't. Because unlike video cameras, the Canon DSLRs deal with noise by creating chroma noise. Meaning colorful noise speckles. It's ugly. The Panasonic's and Nikon's don't do this, but they have other limitations.


Quote:

Originally Posted by Alfred Okocha (Post 1585272)
How long can you shot for with the biggest SD cards? (This is something that is a trade-off I guess... I shot a show some weeks ago with the EX3 and shot for more than 3 hours continously.)

On the Canon's you get ~12 minutes per press of the record button. Regardless of the size of the card. Period. The Nikon's are about 8 minutes I believe. The Panasonic DSLRs will record continuously like a video camera.


Quote:

Originally Posted by Alfred Okocha (Post 1585272)
What Nigel said doesn't muddy the waters the least, it's all quite clear. The dslr are more tolerable to noise than video cams. Nice!

Actually, they are often not. And you'll need to learn when they are and when they are not.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Alfred Okocha (Post 1585272)
Do you mean that there are no zoom lenses that can compare with the prime ones?

Depends on what you mean by "compare". If you mean can zooms be as "fast" as primes, then the answer is no. They can't. If you mean can they have comparable glass, then the answer is yes. If you're willing to spend the money. Generally your $350 prime is going to be equivalent to about a $1200 zoom. If you've got the wallet, have at it.


Quote:

Originally Posted by Alfred Okocha (Post 1585272)
Do you always get much better glass on the primes? What are the lens brands to look out for?

No. But the cost of excellent glass zooms is probably 5x what it is for primes. Just an issue of money.

Bill Pryor November 5th, 2010 07:29 PM

There's a definite learning curve to shooting with an HDSLR. It's not like shooting stills with a still camera and it's not like shooting video with a video camera. It's a new combination of both, much more similar to shooting motion picture film than video. If you're willing to take the time and make the effort to learn the gear and how to use it, you'll never go back. But don't buy a bunch of stuff a week before a big shoot and expect everything to go flawlessly.

The 7D is probably a little easier for video because the depth of field is not as shallow as the 5DII. However, it's easier to find high quality wide angle fast prime lenses for the 5D. With DSLR shooting, it's all about the lenses. My advice is to find some people who own the cameras and see if you can figure out which lenses you need for the type of work you do, and then figure out which camera to buy.

Johannes Soetandi November 9th, 2010 02:12 AM

I hope I can be of small help to Okocha.. I was as clueless as you when I first started.. I understand reading all the jargons can be quite overwhelming.. hope I can simplify as much for you.

For the cameras, the basic comparison (for me atleast) between 550D, 7D and 5DMkii is really on the price, built and sensor size. You can research on the price, but for the built and sensor size:

Built:
1. 550D does not have weather proof body.. so if you do lots of doco where the weather is extreme, this will not be too suitable..
2. 7D & 5DMkii have weather proof body, it can withstand some rain and even snow.

Sensor size:
1. 550D and 7D have 1.6x crop factor. Means that if you put a 50mm lens on it, it will become a 80mm.
2. 5DMkii is a full frame, means if you put a 50mm lens on it, it will still be a 50mm

For the lens, prime lens have the capability to work at wider aperture as low as f1.2, the only downside is that you can't zoom in/out. With zoom lenses the widest available around is f2.8, but you will lose the ability to work at wider aperture. And some prime lenses are known to give very very sharp images compared to a zoom lens.

For the lens brand, the best in the market today is Zeiss (from review), I haven't tried it personally as they cost a heck of a price.. For most people, the most reliable & affordable brand is definitely Canon.. no doubt about it.

With DSLR, as others have mentioned, these things you need to keep in mind:
1. No auto focus.. yet
2. A 12-mins continuous recording limit (on Canon). A 16GB card will give you roughly 45 mins in total.
3. You may need to change lens from time to time.. there's no one single lens that is perfect for everything
4. You need stabilization unit. DSLR operating by itself will give shaky footage.
5. Audio input is very basic (only 3.5mm input jack).. no XLR input and the likes

Hope it helps..

Perrone Ford November 9th, 2010 04:34 AM

Just a couple of things...

Quote:

Originally Posted by Johannes Soetandi (Post 1586250)
For the lens brand, the best in the market today is Zeiss (from review), I haven't tried it personally as they cost a heck of a price.. For most people, the most reliable & affordable brand is definitely Canon.. no doubt about it.

There are more than a few people who'd disagree with this statement. Including some working on $100M feature films.

Zeiss certainly makes nice glass. Many other people make nice glass. Including Nikon, Fujinon, Minolta, Leica, Cooke, etc. Of all the brands of lenses I've owned, I've actually found Canon to be the least reliable major brand.

Zeiss glass has a distinctive look to it. Some like that look, others don't. I find it cold and uninviting. Perfect for some kinds of movies, not so good for the movies I prefer to shoot. I'd take a Cooke or a Leica any day.


Quote:

Originally Posted by Johannes Soetandi (Post 1586250)
4. You need stabilization unit. DSLR operating by itself will give shaky footage.

AKA a tripod, steadicam, dolly, etc.

Lee Ying November 9th, 2010 06:34 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Alfred Okocha (Post 1585179)
Hey all!

I have ample video experience that started with the dsr 370 cams through to HVR, EX3 et.c. But, I have no experience or knowledge what so ever about still photography cameras. After having seen amazing images of what the dslr cameras can do I'm ready to jump ship and start shooting video with a Canon.

It's all a bit overwhelming in the beginning though. (There are lots of threads but difficult to comprehend since you don't know the jargong..)
Which cam is considered the best for video shooting? The 7D? The rebel? M5II?
Which lenses are the top ones? I reckon you need at least two or three top quality lenses along with a decent monitor. (Apart from the batts, cards et.c.)

Thanks, any input is gold for me!

I'd say go for it. Many people on this board have tried DSLR for video and majority I gether are very happy they made the change.
I think two things I am mostly satified with DSLR are the DOF control and low light performance. Gone are the days I dread filming dark indoor scenes and worry how the footage would turn out.
I would also get an LCD viewfinder which would make DSLR cam feel a lot more like a video cam.

Bruce Foreman November 9th, 2010 09:42 PM

My advice to the OP is to "add it" to what he already has. Don't attempt a total change right away but work it in gradually. Use whatever DSLR he gets for the things it does best, use his conventional camcorders for what they do best.

I still use both.

Alfred Okocha November 17th, 2010 02:22 PM

Thanks guys for all your answers! It's a truly a forum with great people in it!

I'm quite convinced that I'll jump ships but I'll rent a 7D (most likely) for a short, coming up to test it out! It's going to be quite cool to work with primes instead of zoom even though there's definately going to be a learning curve there since I can't visualize what a 50 or 80mm will show me on the monitor..

From what I have understood Sony has launched a DSLR with autofocus (for video) but Sony is still a bit behind Canon and Nikon, I guess?

Perrone Ford November 17th, 2010 02:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Alfred Okocha (Post 1589028)
From what I have understood Sony has launched a DSLR with autofocus (for video) but Sony is still a bit behind Canon and Nikon, I guess?

A common scenario in film....

4 people at a dinner table. You are shooting various angles of them all. You are shooting an evening meal. It's dark outside, and the scene is lit to appear that the overhead light is lighting the dinner table. They are having a conversation.

Your camera is set at F2.8 and you're 10ft away from the table.

The problem: At F2.8 not everyone at the table can be in focus at once. In real film, you move focus from one speaker to the next by doing a rack focus. In this scenario, with autofocus, who does the camera choose to focus on? The brightest person? The closest, the furthest? Does it just select the average distance so that both the far and near people are slightly out of focus? Can you tell the autofocus system how to choose?

There is a reason that autofocus isn't used in film. And no one really misses it much.


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