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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 September 27th, 2011, 12:03 AM   #16
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Re: 600D movie Low Light

The classic bargain lens for this camera is the so called 'nifty fifty' the Canon 50mm F/1.8 which is a very good sharp lens & at about 100 is cheap. It is all plastic & has a terrible ring for manual focus but for the price is really worth having in your camera bag for that extra stop+ of light gathering ability. 50mm on an APS-C camera may not be wide enough but fast wide lenses are nowhere near as cheap as the 'nifty fifty'. The cheaper lenses are the Canon 30mm F/2, the Sigma 30mm f1.4 or a totally manual Samyang/Rokinon 35mm F/1.4. A Canon 24mm F/1.4L will cost more than your camera plus zoom lens.

Your other camera is an XHA-1 & this will be noisier in low light than a 600D at 1/50 F/2.8 & ISO800 so the better answer is to add more light. I am not a fan of on camera lights but if the choice is between crap footage & flat lighting then give me well exposed every time. I will if necessary use one of those cheap 160 LED lamps that can be found on Amazon for about 40. I recently filmed a wedding with a photographer who used no flash but relied on a 50W halogen lamp held high on a boom by an assistant. It was a total revelation to me how much the footage was improved by this little light (the assistant was very helpful by holding the lighting long enough for me to shoot too). Now all I need is an assistant:-)
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Old September 27th, 2011, 02:33 AM   #17
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Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Manchester England
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Re: 600D movie Low Light

Great advice once again, the views for this lens are amazing. Having read most reviews I see the main issues are

Th lens has a plastic mount
The focus ring is narrow and fiddly
The autofocus motor is an older, noisier, slower type.

Does the canon 50mm 1.4 fix these issues I am willing to pay double if it makes focusing quicker and easier.
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Old September 27th, 2011, 09:37 AM   #18
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Re: 600D movie Low Light

I made a mistake the 'nifty fifty' can be found for about 70. I haven't used a Canon 50mm F/1.4 but it does look like it has a much better & wider focus ring but it is 285 versus the 70 of the 1.8 although it is also 2/3 of a stop faster.
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Old September 27th, 2011, 10:18 AM   #19
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: San Angelo Texas
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Re: 600D movie Low Light

First off, the shutter value of double the frame rate did not start as a rule. It was what you got on a rotating shutter with a 180 degree cutout. The "cutout" exposed the frame and the solid portion masked the film gate while the film was pulled to the next frame. 24fps was the frame rate (in early film days) that gave the best compromise between film consumption and yet a frame rate that allowed "persistence of vision" to work for most people. The 180 degree shutter at that 24fps had an effective shutter speed of 1/48th second.

With our DSLRs the shutter speed is independent of frame rate until you run into limits the camera has. So the OP can set 1/50th at any frame rate the camera will allow. 1/50th may be the best shutter speed for him (in the UK he is in PAL territory and the power line frequency is probably 50Hz so that shutter speed will reduce or eliminate any "banding" in artificial light.

Noise: 1600 should not be "very" noisy, I use it frequently and don't see objectionable noise. The culprit for noise in my case was one monitor that was "oversharpening". It came out of the box with sharpness, contrast, and brightness set to near maximum. Once I pulled all that down to midpoint and then "tweaked" to "taste", noise on my setup was dramatically reduced (my other workstation never showed excessive noise nor did I see it on DVD or renders to MP4 and WMV formats viewed on my 40" Sony Bravia TV). Oversharpening will take almost unnoticeable artifacting and turn it into "nasty" noise.

Lens/aperture: The Canon EF 50mm f1.8 is the best value for low light work if the full frame 80mm (telephoto) perspective is not a problem. Anyone can learn to work around the stupid focusing ring on the front if they will "just do it" (I'm lucky mine is the original metal barrel version with focusing ring where it should be but I have used the later version). If he needs a more "normal" working perspective I recommend the Canon EF 28mm f1.8, not an inexpensive lens but one I found well worth it's price.

I use this one as a general purpose lens in most of my video work, it has excellent contrast and color tone. I also use my aforementioned EF 50mm f1.8 when "portrait" tele perspective is wanted or working distance allows, and for getting fairly close to "talent" I use an EF 24mm f2.8. Not as fast a lens as the f1.8's but it gives me a "wide normal" perspective that allows getting in a tad closer or working in "tighter" quarters. Not quite wide angle but kind a bit wider than "normal".


I've written a short article on a systematic approach to manual exposure with Canon DSLRs that may help you. I'll "paste" it into a separate post and you can "copy and paste" into a document on your computer. I think it will help you. See the next post.

Last edited by Bruce Foreman; September 27th, 2011 at 11:03 AM.
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Old September 27th, 2011, 10:43 AM   #20
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Re: 600D movie Low Light

Tariq Peter (and anyone else interested):

Bruce's tips for systematically using manual settings in video mode.

First off be sure you have the camera set for manual exposure in video mode. In video mode press the menu button and find the item for Exposure, two choices: Auto and Manual. Set to Manual (you've likely already done that). On the 7D you have a dedicated "video" switch and must have the mode dial on top set to "M" for Manual.

Then find your frame rate settings and pick what you want to use. 24p or 30p (NTSC), your choice but there may not be a real reason for going with 24p unless you need to go with a “filmout” on your project (fewer and fewer are doing this these days) or a client requires 24p delivery. TV sets and DVD players are pretty good about sorting this out anyway so I go with 30p at 1920x1080. You are in PAL "country" so you can select from the PAL video settings.

Leave menu mode.

Shutter speed. In PAL regions this may be best set to 1/50 (due to power line frequency of 50Hz) to prevent “banding” and flickering if artificial lights are in the scene. In NTSC countries where the line frequency is 60Hz this should be set at 1/60 (although it can be set to 1/50 if no artificial lighting is in the scene). The idea is to have the shutter speed at some fairly close multiple of the region’s power line frequency

Both of these shutter speeds allow some degree of “motion blur” the film shutter speed of 1/48 at 24fps used to give. Faster speeds can be used but may begin to introduce some “stroboscopic” effect or just plain begin to look “stuttery”. However if there is little motion going on in the scene and it is necessary to use faster shutter speeds for proper exposure at the aperture you need to use, go ahead.

I’ve had good luck with 1/60 (I live in NTSC territory).

Aperture: Set this for the specific Depth Of Field effect desired. Wide (larger opening) for shallow DOF and “selective focus”, narrow (small opening) for “deep” DOF and resulting wide zone of acceptable sharpness, or somewhere in between for having a subject in sharp focus and the background somewhat clear but not as sharp as the main subject.

To some extent shallow DOF is "doable" with the "kit" lens, not much at the 18mm position as shallow DOF is not as apparent in wide angle views due to the "spatial" relationships and size of objects in the frame, but at the midrange (where the maximum aperture may be around f4.5) and at the 55mm end where max will be f5.6, managing the shooting distance and distance to the backgound elements can result in some nice selective focus effect.

ND filters may be needed here to reduce the light coming through the lens so medium and larger apertures can be used. I recommend .6 (two stop reduction) and .9 (three stop reduction) but don’t go for any lower quality than Tiffen, cheaper filters may give a troublesome color shift. With these two filters “stacked” I get a five stop reduction and sometimes a very slight magenta shift, fairly easily correctable in post if needed.

Get these in 58mm thread size (or larger if your lenses take larger sizes) and if you get the EF 50mm f1.8 lens with a filter thread of 52mm all you will need is a 52mm to 58mm (or larger for other lenses) stepup ring. I also recommend a rubber lenshood for the "kit" lens, extended will give fairly effecting shading on the lens at the midrange and telephoto end, at the 18mm position it will need to be folded back to prevent vignetting. It won't look "uber cool" but will provide effective function (plus act as a rubber "bumper" on the lens front end).

ISO: Set to AUTO but only temporarily. When you have shutter and aperture set, press lightly on the shutter release to cause your settings to read out at the bottom of the LCD (you should have the “display” set for this), take note of the ISO the camera will use and manually dial this value in.

Exposure is now “locked” and will not drift as you pan. This is the way I want it to be.

At this point you can “evaluate” your exposure three ways. Visually on the LCD but only if you are using a loupe such as the Hoodman or one of the others that also exclude all extraneous light. You also have the exposure “metering” scale at the bottom of the LCD. In all auto exposure modes the indicator will remain centered under the center “index” mark because the camera is handling exposure for you.

But in Manual mode this indicator will move as the light changes but you should keep it “somewhere near” the center index mark in most cases. Now if you set exposure for a darker effect this moving pointer will indicate some degree of underexposure, likewise it will indicate some overexposure if your go for a “higher key” lighter effect”. This built in meter is actually quite accurate.

So with a loupe you can visually “judge” exposure effect and also refer to the camera meter scale at the bottom of the screen.

Third method of evaluation is to either press the shutter and take a quick still or press record and do a very short (3 second or so) video recording. Press the playback button and check the histogram. Remember, though, that the histogram is NOT an exposure meter. It merely shows you the distribution of image tones from dark to light. A scene with a lot of dark values will show histogram "spikes" more to or on the left side of the "graph" (dark tones), a snow scene will show many or most spikes on the right side (bright tones), an "average" outdoor scene in good light may show a distribution of spikes in most of the frame with many near the center.

There is no "right" or "wrong" histogram. It is what it is for each picture but is a good tool for giving you an "evaluation" of where image tones in your picture "fall". Most "spikes" crowding the left edge may be very normal for deep in a dark forest with dark tones in tree trunks and on the forest floor (if direct sunlight is not reaching the ground). Spikes mostly on the right may be normal for a white building with a lot of open sky and little ground level detail showing.

Here I’m going to step into an area that will cause some to “go into orbit”. Adjusting LCD brightness. You have to pay strict attention to returning it back to normal if you do this. And many feel that there is no way one can “eyeball” exposure by “monkeying” with LCD brightness.

Even with a loupe, our eyes can adjust to ambient brightness to the point we may not be able to see the LCD well. One day working in Texas sun I couldn’t see enough tonal detail on the LCD to give me much to go on. My eyes were “affected” by the extreme brightness and to see the LCD and it’s image detail I had to set the brightness up almost all the way. Canon gives us a good tool to determine where to set this. If you have a still photo on the card this will be displayed and on the right side of the image is a “gray scale”.

Brightness should be set so that you can see each step of the gray scale distinctly, as well as make out normal detail in the image.

When done shooting in that bright environment remember (really REMEMBER) to set brightness back at mid scale or wherever is normal for you.

Working at night outdoors, I found if the image on the LCD looked good to me, it was really underexposed when I started working with it in the computer (the meter and histogram may not help you here). Again, eyes and vision had adjusted somewhat to the darker environment and setting the LCD brightness down some but so that I could still see distinctly all steps on the grayscale put me right back in the “ballpark”.

Again, REMEMBER to set the LCD brightness back to midrange or “normal” when done.

The loupe is absolutely essential here. Without one, you have to rely on the camera’s metering which will get you by in daylight and normal indoor lighting levels, but outdoors at night or in any real low/marginal lighting levels you need the loupe.

Canon has given us some incredible motion picture imaging tools in these DSLRs and the capability to apply visual judgments is there in a very real way.

Helluva essay, but stuff I've found useful.

Bruce Foreman
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