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Old January 29th, 2015, 10:54 AM   #1
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Canon's 70D and its 30 minute video recording limit

Hello -

I only recently learned of the 30 minute video recording limit imposed on the DSLR cameras like Canon's 70D. Although it is not a "game changer", I sorely wish I knew of this limit before I purchased the 70D last month. I do not ordinarily video record segments lasting longer than 30 minutes at a time. But, about once or twice a year I video record (original) plays/musicals with acts that last towards 60 minutes. Although I own a dedicated videocamera that can video record these projects, I was hoping to use a two-camera set-up, using the 70D camera as the "B Camera" for close-ups, etc. With the simple way of how I do things, I was going to allow the 70D to run continuously for each act. Obviously this 30 minute recording limit will not enable me to do this. Also, I video record educational in-services for the hospital where I work. Often, these educational in-services last longer than 30 minutes. Again, my dedicated videocamera can meet this task. But, again, I was hoping to use the 70D as part of that two-camera set-up.

I've been eyeing the Magic Lantern which, if I understand correctly, can by-pass this 30 minute limit. However, the Magic Lantern is currently in "Alpha 2" stage of development for Canon's 70D, with the programmer still working out the bugs. (I just checked on its progress last night.) In the interest of wanting to protect my new and happy Canon 70D, I am very hesitant to use the Magic Lantern firmware.

So. . . are there any other reliable workarounds for this damning 30 minute recording limit for Canon's 70D? How do you all handle the 30 minute limit?

Thank you for your thoughtful input.
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Old January 29th, 2015, 12:20 PM   #2
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Re: Canon's 70D and its 30 minute video recording limit

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Originally Posted by Ed Fiebke View Post
I was hoping to use a two-camera set-up, using the 70D camera as the "B Camera" for close-ups, etc.
I do exactly this for corporate events at my employer. The camcorder is locked down and shoots wide, unmanned. I operate the DSLR (5D2 in my case - with a 12 minute limit) for closeups. Because I manage framing and focus, it's easy to stop/start the recording during transitions. I record main audio to the camcorder and auto-gain audio to the DSLR for sync purposes.

Note that cutting the DSLR result into smaller clips actually has a benefit. Because the cameras aren't genlocked, there is a small amount of drift. By syncing the smaller DLSR clips, the drift is small and unobjectionable.

The limit would be a problem if the DSLR were unmanned, but given that it does closeups, it's manned and necessarily has transitions as you move from one subject to the next.

Note that there are automatic syncing tools, but I don't find it too time consuming to sync the small number of clips (5-10) manually.
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Old January 29th, 2015, 01:32 PM   #3
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Re: Canon's 70D and its 30 minute video recording limit

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Originally Posted by Ed Fiebke View Post
...I've been eyeing the Magic Lantern which, if I understand correctly, can by-pass this 30 minute limit. However, the Magic Lantern is currently in "Alpha 2" stage of development for Canon's 70D...
Magic Lantern does have a lot of magic to it, but it doesn't exactly bypass the 30-minute limit. If the 70D version is like previous versions (I use it on a 60D), what it *does* give you is an automatic restart in no more than about 2.5 seconds. Usually closer to 1.3, IIRC.

Were it me, I'd be doing exactly as Jon suggests. It's also nice to shoot some audience reaction shots, these can cover a couple seconds here or there quite easily. But you do need to have a continuous audio recording.

And don't suffer too much buyer's remorse. You did get some of the best picture for the money, and you can make this work.
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Old January 29th, 2015, 06:55 PM   #4
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Re: Canon's 70D and its 30 minute video recording limit

First, thank you, both, for the thoughtful information.

In the past, I've had great success syncing the audio of two video sources using Final Cut Pro X's (and Adobe's Premiere's) special synchronization (multi-camera) function, and have the audio/video remain in good sync. These were longer segments, sometimes up to an hour long (video recording an original play or musical). For me, this would be the ideal way of doing things, just keeping both video cameras "rolling", even during the process of getting close-ups and focusing with the second camera. However, I've never synced several smaller audio/video segments from one camera to a main audio/video segment as what is being suggested. It seems quite doable, though. I just need to experiment and practice doing this, which is how I've been learning videography and video-editing all along.

I do like the photos and video that is recorded by Canon's 70D. I'm glad I made the purchase. I just wish I knew of its limitations in recording time beforehand.

Again, thank you.
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Last edited by Ed Fiebke; January 29th, 2015 at 08:15 PM.
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Old January 29th, 2015, 08:44 PM   #5
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Re: Canon's 70D and its 30 minute video recording limit

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Originally Posted by Ed Fiebke View Post
I just wish I knew of its limitations in recording time beforehand.
Ed, this information was definitely available. How do you go about researching potential purchases?
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Old January 30th, 2015, 01:45 AM   #6
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Re: Canon's 70D and its 30 minute video recording limit

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Ed, this information was definitely available. How do you go about researching potential purchases?
A number of ways, actually. I'll list them:

1) First, the Canon web-site, reading the camera's capabilities. Unfortunately, I did not read everything, word for word. For good or for bad, I focused on the camera's "Specifications" and the "EOS 70D Highlights" as provided by Canon. It does not mention anything about a 30 minute video recording limit, that I can find.
Canon U.S.A. : Professional Imaging Products : EOS 70D

2) Information provided by BHPhotoVideo's web-site. I read the camera's specifications (again) as provided by BHPhotoVideo. Additionally, I read several (but not all) reviews provided by individuals who purchased the camera. Again, nothing about a 30 minute recording limit.
Canon 70D DSLR Camera Body 8469B002 B&H Photo Video


3) YouTube. Prior to purchasing the camera, I watched about 5 or 6 reviews on the Canon 70D. There are many, many videos on YouTube to watch on this and other cameras. I did not watch all of them. Some of these videos compared the 70D to other cameras including Panasonic's GH4 (which I almost purchased), and Nikon's D7100.

4) A couple of random reviews on the 70D as provided by Google.

Pretty much all of the information that I read (or watched on videos as provided by Youtube), focused on the camera's strengths, especially its potentially fast focusing ability using its "Dual Pixel CMOS AF" capabilities. I read a lot about its weaknesses, too, especially as related to its audio capabilities (not having a headphone insert, relatively limited software control over the audio input, mediocre internal microphones, etc.). Honestly, I thought I did a fairly decent research on this camera.

I'm relatively new to the world of DSLR (and videography as a whole). For sure, I am self-taught, usually by researching on the internet and, more recently, YouTube videos. (If you notice, I've been a member of this particular bulletin board since 2002. I've learned a LOT about videography and video editing just by reading the posts found here!) My goal was to purchase a camera like the 70D because of the ability to change lenses. (Really wanted to get that shallow depth of focus. Now I can!) I used to own two Panasonic AG-HPX170s for a two-camera set-up. To me, it seemed like a nice compliment to own a second camera with the ability to change lenses which can be used along side one HPX170. So, I sold one of the HPX170s and finally purchased Canon's 70D. I do not regret this purchase. But, apparently I was asking the wrong questions and seeking the wrong information about DSLRs. Until recently, I never dreamed that there was an actual 30 minute video recording limit imposed on them. Truth be told, I only found out about this on a post on THIS bulletin board a day or two ago! This limitation may be available to the general public, but it ain't READILY available unless one asks the correct questions during research on DSLRs. I did not ask that correct questions, sadly enough. Lesson learned.
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Old January 30th, 2015, 01:56 AM   #7
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Re: Canon's 70D and its 30 minute video recording limit

I don't blame Ed for missing it. If you don't know that such a limit would exist, why would one look for it?

Recently, I bought a MIDI controller. It has an expression pedal input. I figured that it would do the trick. As it turns out, it doesn't have any calibration function, curves, or adjustments. Plug in your pedal and hope for the best.

So, why didn't I research it further? Because my Kurzweil PC88, which was introduced in 1994, had those basic features. I figured that 20 years on, these features would be standard. Nope. Shame on me. Then again, I didn't check that my cell phone didn't have a rotary dial or crank either. ;)
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Old January 30th, 2015, 02:42 AM   #8
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Re: Canon's 70D and its 30 minute video recording limit

I am not sure what the problem is. If you have a two camera set up with the 70d for close ups/b-roll, why do you need to record continuously? Unless you want a split screen showing both angles at the same time for the whole performance, a few seconds lost pressing the record button every 30 minutes is not a problem with the safety of a constant second camera. Most b-roll gets cut out anyway while moving around, changing angles, focusing etc. etc. I have never found it a problem, but I do find a three camera set up more interesting for live performance and quicker and easy to edit once it is all in place.
If the problem is syncing, plural eyes is a great solution.
If you want to leave the 70d without an operator, then I agree, it is the wrong camera...
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Old January 30th, 2015, 06:20 AM   #9
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Re: Canon's 70D and its 30 minute video recording limit

There really is no problem. I just have to learn a new way of doing things.
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Old January 30th, 2015, 07:01 AM   #10
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Re: Canon's 70D and its 30 minute video recording limit

There is no need to excuse yourself for not knowing what limitations every camera has, that can happen to all of us because all info about a camera is scattered all across the internet and then we don't even talk about conflicting information or wrong information given by users and it doesn't help that the manufacturer is also not always clear about it either.

As I understand it non EU countries don't have that limitations, but it looks like that doesn't apply to every dslr's but I know that for all dslr's sold in Europe there is a build in limitation in recordingtime because of some stupid EU law (just google "recording limit on dslr") and the fact that manufacturers don't seem to be willing to offer maybe 2 versions for the EU, one with and one without recording limit and adjust their prices accordingly so we at least have a choice.

If you plan on using a recording time limited dslr as a videocamera then you just need to be aware about having to find work-arounds for several limitations, if you do danceperformances and use a zoomlens to follow the action you also find out soon enough dslr lenses are not parfocal meaning they won't retain their focus (at least none that I know off) if you zoom in, lock focus and zoom in and out again, a regular videocamera retains the focus as long as your distance towards the stage doesn"t change.

Quote:
I am not sure what the problem is
A camera that automatically stops recording because of a on purpose build in limitation is not normal and I can understand why Ed has a problem with that because that is not exactly normal behavior for a device that records video, it's one of the main reasons why I don't use dslr's to shoot ceremonies because the camera could stop recording at just the worst time possible. I could understand if it's a hardware limitation like with some small 4K pocketcamera's that can overheat. I think we all have gotten used to working around dslr limitations when shooting video but that doesn't mean it should not be considered a problem, to some it's a serious shortcoming.
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Old January 30th, 2015, 07:09 AM   #11
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Re: Canon's 70D and its 30 minute video recording limit

@Ed, welcome to the world of shooting video with a stills camera. My advice is take a deep breath. There will be other things that disappoint when coming from a proper video camera.

The record limit on Canon DSLRs has been there since the beginning of "Hey I can Shoot Video With My Stills Camera" time. As pointed out, it used to be 12 minutes. A search will reveal a plethora of results explaining why there was a limit but none of that matters now.

As others pointed out, even with Magic Lantern, you miss a second or two of recording. Even still, battery life then becomes an issue. I did a funeral once and had to make a run to the 5D MkII every 50 minutes to change batteries and CF card. But keep in mind the creamy bokeh you get to ease the pain. :-)
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Old January 30th, 2015, 07:53 AM   #12
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Re: Canon's 70D and its 30 minute video recording limit

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Originally Posted by Noa Put View Post
As I understand it non EU countries don't have that limitations, but it looks like that doesn't apply to every dslr's but I know that for all dslr's sold in Europe there is a build in limitation in recordingtime because of some stupid EU law (just google "recording limit on dslr") and the fact that manufacturers don't seem to be willing to offer maybe 2 versions for the EU, one with and one without recording limit and adjust their prices accordingly so we at least have a choice.
Or, like the GH4, it has a limit only when recording in PAL mode.
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Old January 30th, 2015, 08:04 AM   #13
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Re: Canon's 70D and its 30 minute video recording limit

Not on mine, no matter if I choose 50.00Hz, 59,94Hz or 24.00Hz, as soon as I hit the record button the remaining time on the lcd screen starts counting down from 29.59 sec.
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Old January 30th, 2015, 08:07 AM   #14
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Re: Canon's 70D and its 30 minute video recording limit

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Originally Posted by Noa Put View Post
A camera that automatically stops recording because of a on purpose build in limitation is not normal and I can understand why Ed has a problem with that because that is not exactly normal behavior for a device that records video.
It is annoying to have artificial limitations imposed on cameras because of $, but it is far from abnormal.
Most video cameras are crippled in one way or another due to business considerations, and a stills camera with crippled video features is par for the course. After dealing with the 12 minute limit on the 5dmii, 30 minutes is awesome. Well, not awesome, but 2.5 times better. Rarely have I reached the limit shooting b-roll. I would much rather have zebras, audio control while filming, waveforms, peaking, a better codec, and clean hdmi out. Magic Lantern is working on some of that....
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Old January 30th, 2015, 08:19 AM   #15
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Re: Canon's 70D and its 30 minute video recording limit

None of my videocamera's ever where crippled in the time I was able to continuously record, I only have to deal with that on my dslr's and makes me not use them for ceremonies because even with the 30 minute limit I still have to manual restart them 2 times and keep track of time when to do that., like I said, I understand if it's a hardware limitation but I can't accept it when it's intentionally crippled just because a EU law, but it is what it is, not much we can do about that unless buy a dslr in a country that doesn't have that limitation.
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