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Old January 3rd, 2010, 10:15 PM   #1
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The $1000 gap - all low light ? 5D/7D

Hello all,

Imagine with me all things equal. The 5D has it's Canon Firmware for 24p (or it might be here already.) Are people spending a $1000 solely for light? Are there examples of how much more light is actually captured ? And would it be made up in a faster lens? Basically is the difference between the two like the difference between 1st & 2nd place in the Olympics?

I've owned the 7D for a week and wanted to get opinions (from 5d'ers) before my window of return closes. Did most buy before the 7D came out and if you needed one today which one would you get ?
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Old January 3rd, 2010, 10:58 PM   #2
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Andy, I bought my 5d before the 7d was out so it's a little different. For me it's the ability to go full wide when I want. If I was buying now - hmmm, tough call.

I do hope that the firmware will allow for 60p though. If not I may end up with a 7d as well one day instead of a second 5d2. I've also 'branched out' into shooting stills on occasion since I've picked up the 5d2.
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Old January 3rd, 2010, 11:26 PM   #3
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The difference is also in the frame size so a 50mm is actually a 50mm and not more like an 85mm. The full frame gives you the ability to go wider, get shallower dof (not that its needed) and also somewhat better low light ability.
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Old January 4th, 2010, 02:02 AM   #4
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The larger sensor is always going to be superior for still photography (which is the major market for both models).

For wide angle & low light there are no equivalent lenses for the 7D that give the same picture quality, low light performance & FOV as e.g. the Canon 50mm F1.2L or 24mm F1.4L

We already have two 5DIIs but if we were to buy another similar camera for video use would probably go for a 7D just for the 1.6X multiplication factor on long lenses.
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Old January 4th, 2010, 02:24 AM   #5
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Thanks all for the input.

I guess the question on the table is how much more light is captured. I do shoot low light a lot and curious to know is this a marginal or minimal. Thanks for the feedback.
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Old January 4th, 2010, 04:25 PM   #6
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The prime lens options are much better for the 5D2. You can get the 24/1.4L or 28/1.8 and have a true, wide lens. On the 5D, these are normal lenses (38mm or 45mm equivalent). Anything wider is typically an f/2.8 lens. Sure, there's the Sigma 20/1.8, but it's soft and has strong falloff when open wide.

Regarding noise in low light, many people feel that the 5D2 is quite superior, though I haven't tested a 7D myself, so consider this hearsay...

I bought the 5D2 waaay back in 2008. I considered selling it for the 7D, but the limited wide lens selection and reports of overheating stopped me. Also, I had a hunch that Canon would release 24p firmware for the 5D2 before Christmas 2009. Well, we didn't get the firmware when I predicted, but we got the announcement. With the announcement, Canon was able to keep 5D2 sales strong through the holidays, so Canon's mission was accomplished.

I figure that with the 5D2, I can get wider faster lenses on the bigger sensor, so it wins in low light. And I can stop down farther than the 7D and achieve similar noise levels, so I can roughly match the 7D's deep focus.

But the 1D4 really takes the prize. With good video images at f/6400, it can stop way down for deep focus or open up for near dark shooting. The 1.3 crop is subtle enough that it can still get wide, and it avoids the falloff at the corners that we get with, say, the 16-35L zoom. But for that money, I'd save a bit more for the RED Scarlet S35 later this year.

And who knows what we will see from Canon at NAB. Last year at CES, the pro video reps were quite aware of the potential of a large sensor and EOS lens compatibility in a proper video camera. April 2010 should be interesting...
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Old January 4th, 2010, 05:04 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Jon Fairhurst View Post

But the 1D4 really takes the prize. With good video images at f/6400, it can stop way down for deep focus or open up for near dark shooting. The 1.3 crop is subtle enough that it can still get wide, and it avoids the falloff at the corners that we get with, say, the 16-35L zoom. But for that money, I'd save a bit more for the RED Scarlet S35 later this year.
You're right - the 1d is redefining the whole low light conversation. It almost puts the middle of the 5d in a weird spot. Cheap go 7D, great low light go 1d. Guess if you want to meet in the middle go 5d :)

Interesting point about lenses, i like how you pointed out how fast you can get 5d ones.

I think i'll keep my 7D, and if I get into a situation where low light is a must, rent the 1d (because at 5k it's just a bit to much)
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Old January 4th, 2010, 05:19 PM   #8
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The 5D sensor is almost twice the size of the 7D. All other factors being equal I guess that would be one stop. The 7D may have some improvements and it does look like the difference is less than one stop. So lets say it's $1000 for 2/3 stop plus better wide angle options. But the 7D has a cost advantage on the long end with the 1.6 crop.

for anyone unsure of how the difference may affect them the 7D is probably the better choice.

The 7D is close to 35mm motion film size and is probably close to what will be the standard large sensor size.
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Old January 4th, 2010, 06:30 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Andy Dufrain View Post
Are people spending a $1000 solely for light?
There are other benefits. In addition to what others have mentioned, lenses tend to have higher contrast (better "color") on the 5D2 due to lower reproduction magnification.

Sometimes the 5D2 can actually be cheaper. For example, consider these:
  • 85mm f/1.2 ($2,000) on 7D
  • 135mm f/2 ($1,050) on the 5D2.

They both have the same angle of view, DOF, and total cost (lens+camera), but the image quality is generally higher on the latter.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy Dufrain View Post
Are there examples of how much more light is actually captured ?
One and 1/3 stop. For example, these settings have the same amount of noise (because of the same total amount of light):
  • 50mm f/2.8 1/60 ISO 800 on the 7D
  • 85mm f/4.5 1/60 ISO 2500 on the 5D2

Those settings also have the same angle of view and depth of field. The reason why it is 1.3 stops is because both cameras have about the same performance per area, and the 5D2 has 2.6X more area:
  • log((36 * 24)/(22.3 * 14.9))/log(2)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy Dufrain View Post
And would it be made up in a faster lens?
Yes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy Dufrain View Post
Basically is the difference between the two like the difference between 1st & 2nd place in the Olympics?
IMHO, yes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy Dufrain View Post
I've owned the 7D for a week and wanted to get opinions (from 5d'ers) before my window of return closes. Did most buy before the 7D came out and if you needed one today which one would you get ?
That's easy. 5D2 hands down, thanks to Magic Lantern.
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Old January 5th, 2010, 11:23 AM   #10
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First place goes to the 1DIV
So think silver and bronze.
It never as simple as the maths, as many technical aspects are different between the two cameras. It's hard enough to generalize about the differences in noise between cameras with still photography. With video one can find examples to support many different conclusions.

The biggest difference between vDSLR and traditional 3x1/3 cameras is lower light performance, but not color noise. Better traditional videocams look great in bright light, but the quality and detail falls off quickly. The $8K cam undoubtedly actively suppresses color noise caused by gain. But the images block up and lose detail as light levels decrease.

Noise are inaccuracies in measurement of the light falling on the sensor. A manufacturer can get rid of the red dot color noise, but the camera may still be high noise.

So if I were choosing between 5DII and 7D I would primarily make my decision based on the subjective opinion of an owner of both. There's value in the math. But it can also hide the truth.
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Old January 6th, 2010, 05:11 AM   #11
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I have both the 5D2 and the 7D and if I needed another camera I would add another 5D2. I couldn't afford the 1DIV anyway.

I like the longer reach of the 7D and the frame rates. I prefer the wider options, faster lenses and smoother pictures from the 5D2. And of course, when we get the firmware update, then the only advantages of the 7D to me would be the price and the longer reach on a long ish zoom lens like my 70-200 2.8 which is not enough of an advantage really.

So there, you go. No maths, just my observations of the two.

Avey
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Old January 6th, 2010, 07:39 PM   #12
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I bought both and returned the 7d for two reasons.

1. After reading reports of overheating and then confirming it with the production company I work with. I work in hot environments quite often so this is a no brainer.

2. Lack of fast wide angle glass for the 7d. There is pretty much only one option for the 7d which is the Tokina 11-16 but f2.8 is limiting in the low light situations I work in.

That said if you don't intend to push it with all day shoots nor need very wide angles then it's a total steal.
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Old January 11th, 2010, 04:31 AM   #13
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Wow! Some pretty far out there advice, for sure!

I, too, shoot with both...5d2 and 7d....and while it's true you cannot put an EF-s lens on a FF body, the opposite is NOT true. Don't listen to what others have said by not having access to all of those nice primes.

I have a sweet set of L glass that has been purchased over the past decade. We do both still and video production (also audio). We have a couple of cropped, APS-C bodies (40 and 50d as well as the 7d). We also have a 5 classic and 5d2. The 35L, 50L, 85L, and 135L we have in kit fit on BOTH the 5d2 and 7d. And yes, while the crop view gives you the cropped "Perspective' of said focal length, if you've been shooting film, we all come from a cropped, Super 35 sensor. You're still seeing the SAME shot in a cropped DSLR vs a Super35 Film Cam. Don't worry about the lens differences....and to the poster comparing an 85/1.2 on a 7d to a 135/2.0 on a 5d2....Have you ever SEEN the 85 on the 5d2? Maybe the most magical body/lens combo ever:) (Maybe a bit overstated...but a magic combo none-the less).

As far as letting more light in, absolutely! But crop cameras are proving that IQ can get damn close! Used to be there were extreme differences (in the film days) between shooting different size film...from the small aps-c, to FF (35mm, and generally considered OK for most forms)...to MF to LF and 8x10 all the way up...and while there are still differences, certainly with dynamic range...there are ways, with the current digital cameras we have available to us now...to compete with smaller sensors...because so much extra technology comes with these smaller sensors, the benefits can outweigh their shortcomings.

Light is a product of your lens, don't worry about sensor size (especially for video...there are very, very few cameras shooting digitally on 35mm sensors). Invest in the 1.2 and 1.4 lenses (The L primes from Canon) and learn how to focus them, learn how to shoot with a couple of mm or cm of DOF:) It can be a lot of fun!

If your choice is mainly for video, even as a shooter of both....i would take the 7d over the 5d2 all day long. However, I am also a still shooter so that's not necessarily the case for me. With the video improvements the 7d has over the 5d2 it's a no brainer. Canon has said there was a 24p updated coming...might never happen. 7d has a leveler, 24 and REAL 30p (at 29.97), True 720p modes at 50 and 60 (Selectable between PAL and NTSC...and great for slow mo shots). The setup on the back of the camera makes more sense for video, has 48k audio input instead of 44.1k (5d2)....just a bunch of "Little" additions that make it a bit nicer to shoot video with.

By no means are these easy cameras to shoot with. You need stabilization (Zacuto/RedRock, etc)....you need lighting, you need second audio system (Zoom, Tascam)...and you need a bunch of quick CF cards (arguable, but Canon's engineers specifically mention better performance with UDMA cards). Definitely something to think about. You can certainly spend as much or more on a DSLR rig set up for video than you may have going with an already set up HVX200 or EX-1

J
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Old January 11th, 2010, 06:00 AM   #14
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Great post Jeremy. Sums up very well why I chose a 7D over a 5D Mk II (and I've so far been lucky, not had one single overheating warning yet after owning it for 2 months plus - but I don't shoot (with the 7D) video all day. I'd forgotten about the audio being 44.1Khz on the 5D MkII too (but as stated, double system sound is best, Canon sound is mainly just used for syncing). Justin's and others posts regarding wide angles is worth taking note of though as the choice of fast wides for the 7D is very limited and you can easily spend $1000 plus towards fastest possible lenses to try and achieve the same 'end goal' as with a 5D MkII I should think.
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Last edited by Andy Wilkinson; January 11th, 2010 at 06:51 AM. Reason: typos again!
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Old January 11th, 2010, 11:43 AM   #15
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...Don't listen to what others have said by not having access to all of those nice primes.
Jeremy, you're correct that the 7D shooter has access to all of the primes, the only challenge is at the wide end. You can put the 24/1.4L on the 5D for a fast, wide view. To get the same view on the 7D, you'd need a 15/1.4, which you can't find on any store shelf.

IMHO, the 24-85mm range on a full frame cam is the most critical for "human scale" narrative film. (15mm - 53mm on the 7D.) I find that it's really important to have similar speed across your core lenses. Once you get the lights set for a given shot, you don't want to have to redo them to accommodate a slower lens.

That said, if you're shooting wildlife footage or long-distance cinema verite, the 7D is ideal. Long, fast lenses are expensive, and the 7D provides a 1.6x multiplier without additional optics. It's like free money!

And I wouldn't worry about Canon not delivering the 24p update. At CES, nobody at the Canon booth could give the details of price and features, but everybody knew about it. They quoted the dates on the press release to me by memory. There's no way that Canon will back out now.

Anyway, to figure out which camera is best for you, pick your target lenses for each and add up the cost. The right decision really depends on what you will shoot.
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