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Canon EOS Full Frame for HD
All about using the Canon 1D X, 6D, 5D Mk. IV / Mk. III / Mk. II D-SLR for 4K and HD video recording.


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Old August 1st, 2009, 01:10 PM   #1
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Is this the cam for me?

Hey guys, I was referred here by posting on other parts of dvinfo and hvxuser. A number of people have suggested that I should look into the 5D mkii. In a nutshell, all I've ever used is an HV20 with a 35mm adapter. I'm looking to learn how to use a "real" camera, as I'll be renting a RED next year to shoot a feature. I was initially thinking of getting the XHA1 with a 35mm adapter, but a few people suggested that the 5D mkii would be a better idea. To be honest, I don't really understand why as the XHA1 is a "real" camera and the 5D is a still camera that shoots video, but could you guys please explain to me as to what the benefits are and if you feel that I should get the XHA1 or the 5D, or possibly something else?

Edit: To clarify, I'm only looking to shoot test footage so that I can learn the controls and so on. Picture quality isn't a huge issue since I won't be shooting anything important with the camera - only practicing.

Last edited by Jackie Morton; August 1st, 2009 at 03:22 PM.
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Old August 1st, 2009, 02:07 PM   #2
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When the 5D first came out the complaints about it not being a real video camera were more valid. Today, we have manual control, you can buy a loupe to make a viewfinder, you can add a juicedLink preamp for phantom power, XLRs and great sounding audio, and you can run Magic Lantern firmware to provide manual gain for the audio, zebras, guides, and peaking (with more to come...) Add a Boostaroo headphone amp, and you can monitor the digital audio that will be recorded. Initially, there were problems with black clipping and slow playback, but Cineform NeoScene fixes that, or you can use a specific workflow with ProRes in FCP.

The biggest limitations now are...
1) the lack of 24/25p,
2) limited recording length (12 minutes or so in HD),
3) the ability to monitor in HD when recording,
4) aliasing, since every third line or so is recorded (note that with the shallow DOF, the chance of aliasing is reduced in most scenes.), and
5) rolling shutter.

So, budget for lenses, NeoScene, good support, monitoring, and audio add ons, and you're good to go. A good follow focus is also handy.

So, with the 5D Mark II and enough support equipment, what do you get? Fantastic quality, even in very low light, as well as the ability to get a super shallow DOF. Slap an ultra-wide lens on it, and you can hand hold the camera and not worry about critical focus. People will have no idea that they are being recorded in HD, and nobody will ask for a film permit.

You mentioned the RED ONE. The biggest advantage is has is smooth grading, due to its RAW capture.

That said, you can use the Picture Style Editor (PSE) in the 5D Mark II to get you close. You shoot a RAW photo, grade it in PSE, save the style in the camera, and shoot video. The processing will be done before encoding on the RAW, uncompressed image. The workflow is upside down, but this can get you close to the desired look, so the tweaks in post will be small and leave the image in good shape.

Applications where the 5D falls down are:
* recording speeches longer than 12 minutes (unless you have multiple cameras, or external audio with B-roll),
* Fast motion and straight lines (rolling shutter)
* Jerky, handheld stuff with medium and long lenses (rolling shutter)
* Super-fine detail in focus (aliasing - you'll want a softening filter)
* Concert footage or lightning where there are strobes and flashes (rolling shutter)

For everything else, the 5D rocks!
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Old August 1st, 2009, 02:17 PM   #3
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Thanks, I appreciate the feedback. However, this sounds like a lot of trouble, and apparently there'll still be a lot of drawbacks (no 24p, rolling shutter, etc) no matter what I do. So what I'd like to know is: if I simply want to learn how to use a "real" camera (manual controls, lenses, etc), shouldn't I just get an XHA1 or HVX200 with a 35mm adapter? It's 1/10th the headache and to be honest with you, for learning purposes, I don't really understand how I'd learn more with a 5D mkii. Or am I missing something?
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Old August 1st, 2009, 02:44 PM   #4
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An EX 3 with an adapter, maybe with the relay lens may be your best option. It is a "real" video camera that you can use prime lenses on, probably more analogous to a "red" than the Canon. On the other hand after shooting 30 years with just abut every version of video camera that went by, the Canon is hands down the best picture I have ever gotten in the video realm. There are sacrifices, it is weird shooting motion with a "still" camera form factor. For me, it is worth the extra effort ( but I can't wait for someone to put this sensor in a more "video" camera.
The Scarlet has been rumored for a long time, it has to be arriving soon - maybe you should see what develops with that "Red" if you can wait some more.
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Old August 1st, 2009, 03:10 PM   #5
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Jackie,

You haven't told us what kind of stuff you'll be shooting. That's why I listed the applications where the camera does well and where it does poorly. For instance, if you're shooting a romance (or horror) film in candlelight, this camera can't be beat. If you're shooting a 20 minute speech with a long lens handheld where there is a strobing light show, this camera would be the wrong tool.

And remember that an EX1 also has a CMOS sensor, so it has rolling shutter too, just not as much. Running an adapter ads its own complications. It will be big and front heavy, so it needs support too. It won't do nearly as well in low light.

I wouldn't worry about the DSLR vs. video camera thing (especially when you add an adapter.) Think about the things you want to film and the look you want to achieve, and choose the best tool for delivering the results that you seek.
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Old August 1st, 2009, 03:18 PM   #6
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Jackie, go for the XHA1...it is by far your best option, at least in my view.

The 5D MKII is a great stills camera with a nice video 'feature', but the XHA1 will provide far more options to produce great movies from the word go without any add-ons.

The list of limitations of the 5D are long, much longer than you think, and even the extremely short recording length for each sequence is headache enough in my book to look elsewhere, without even mentioning other hassles. Yes, the image quality is superb...but so is the XHA1 (or XL-H1 if you want more lens options).

There will be a time when a future update of the 5D will maybe provide all you need in a video camera...but not yet.

The XHA1 is already the "real" camera you are after. Give it a try and I'm sure that you won't be dissapointed.
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Old August 1st, 2009, 03:22 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon Fairhurst View Post
Jackie,

You haven't told us what kind of stuff you'll be shooting. That's why I listed the applications where the camera does well and where it does poorly. For instance, if you're shooting a romance (or horror) film in candlelight, this camera can't be beat. If you're shooting a 20 minute speech with a long lens handheld where there is a strobing light show, this camera would be the wrong tool.

And remember that an EX1 also has a CMOS sensor, so it has rolling shutter too, just not as much. Running an adapter ads its own complications. It will be big and front heavy, so it needs support too. It won't do nearly as well in low light.

I wouldn't worry about the DSLR vs. video camera thing (especially when you add an adapter.) Think about the things you want to film and the look you want to achieve, and choose the best tool for delivering the results that you seek.
To clarify, I'm only looking to shoot test footage so that I can learn the controls and so on. Picture quality isn't a huge issue since I won't be shooting anything important with the camera - only practicing.
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Old August 1st, 2009, 03:23 PM   #8
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Hey Dennis,
Is the 5D image that good compared to other video cameras, even the EX series?
I'm seeing some great images on the net and really starting to think that this camera beats the EX1 that I own.
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Old August 1st, 2009, 03:27 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Tony Davies-Patrick View Post
Jackie, go for the XHA1...it is by far your best option, at least in my view.

The 5D MKII is a great stills camera with a nice video 'feature', but the XHA1 will provide far more options to produce great movies from the word go without any add-ons.

The list of limitations of the 5D are long, much longer than you think, and even the extremely short recording length for each sequence is headache enough in my book to look elsewhere, without even mentioning other hassles. Yes, the image quality is superb...but so is the XHA1 (or XL-H1 if you want more lens options).

There will be a time when a future update of the 5D will maybe provide all you need in a video camera...but not yet.

The XHA1 is already the "real" camera you are after. Give it a try and I'm sure that you won't be dissapointed.
Speaking of XL-H1, how would it compare to an XH-A1 with an adapter? Would it provide a more shallow DOF, or would the XH-A1 with adapter win in that respect?
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Old August 1st, 2009, 03:39 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jackie Morton View Post
To clarify, I'm only looking to shoot test footage so that I can learn the controls and so on. Picture quality isn't a huge issue since I won't be shooting anything important with the camera - only practicing.
Even a Panasonic DVX100 has more professional controls and feel than any Canon PRO HDV camera.
Canon A1/H1 is basically a photographers video camera with photography terminology whereas even DVX has shutter settings in "degrees" so you can learn the real thing on it.
If you plan to get a job as an operator look what cameras are used most - here in Estonia it's all Sony or Grass Walley for example.
If I was to operate a broadcast Sony cam it would be much harder when I've only used Canon cameras and vice versa.

But if you plan to evolve into a DP then the 5D is much closer to film than any real video camera is. All the wide angles and DOF you can get at the fraction of the price.

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Old August 1st, 2009, 03:41 PM   #11
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My humble opinion: "Controls" in the guts of the video camera is not the issue. Red picture control will be entirely different than any of the other cameras metioned. What is important for you to learn is what the frull frame 35mm chip entails in terms of getting an image.

I have played with, built, and shot adapters enough to know they are a pain to keep running and to keep in tune. Because of that, I bought the 5D for the very purpose you are indicating. I wanted to learn how to shoot the 35mm full frame camera. And nothing else out there gets that for you. In the bargain. I ended up with a lot more than I though in terms of image and quality, and with recent firmware changes, and Mods from Magic Lantern, the camera may even rival the lower end Scarlets that are still a year or so off.
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Old August 1st, 2009, 04:10 PM   #12
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For me 35mm is the answer to all my desired shooting style and I think the 5D has answered my question.
Getting 35mm adaptors for my EX1 is to costly at this time.
I live in Australia so if Canon can do 25p I will consider the change.
Most, if not all of my shooting is doco or small interview setups, running long recored times greater than the 12 mins is not a bother for me.

Oh I forgot, the thing also shoots stills.
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Old August 1st, 2009, 05:15 PM   #13
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What the 5D can do in low light is beyond anything I know of in the video world. I've used the 35mm adapters, like the look, but it is cumbersome at best.
For documentary work I the 5D Mk II is great; unobtrusive / not intimidating (just don't load it with too many gizmos). Available light is a reality, not a case of "every light you have available". With Plural eyes double system sound is easy and works well. It is relatively inexpensive and as compared to the video world lenses are downright cheap - buy a few extra!

Simon - I own an EX 1 and an EX 3, a D600 that just will not die and an HDX 900 - every client wants their own flavor these days. Simply because of the sensor size the Canon looks better to my eye. There are still many times one of the other cameras makes more sense for a variety of reasons - 24p, feeding the video to name a couple.
One thing that seems to get lost - the 5D mk II sensor is huge compared to what else is out there. Most of the time - for example with the Letus adapters, when people refer to 35mm it is academy framing - motion picture film runs vertically through the camera so the image size is really 24mm wide. With the canon the image/sensor size is bigger, depth of field generally more shallow. It doesn't look exactly like "film" - to me it is more like magazine images coming to life.

Last edited by Denis OKeefe; August 1st, 2009 at 05:24 PM. Reason: additional info
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Old August 1st, 2009, 05:35 PM   #14
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Thanks Denis,
The more I see on line the more I'm convincing myself. It just makes sense for me.
I'll have to wait and see if the 25p thing will happen otherwise it's a no go.

Thanks
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Old August 2nd, 2009, 02:47 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Denis OKeefe View Post
An EX 3 with an adapter, maybe with the relay lens may be your best option.
You mean EX1? The EX3 costs 4 times more than the 5D...
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