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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 November 6th, 2010, 09:08 AM   #1
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Highest ISO for good video?

I did a search and did not find what I was looking for so asking here.
I have both 1D IV and 5D II but will use the 5D II for video only most of the time.

I know at 640 both bodies are fine, but how high can you shoot and get good quality video for each body.

I also have read that only some ISO are real, the in between ISO's are digitally created and at times you get better quality going up to a true ISO rather than lower to a digital ISO. I believe the example I saw was ISO 1250 was cleaner than ISO 800, again what I watched on a video by some creditable professionals.

So for dark receptions, what is the highest ISO you would shoot with each of the above bodies?

If I missed this question in my search a link rather than a sarcastic remark would be appreciated.
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Old November 6th, 2010, 09:19 AM   #2
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If you go to the Zacuto site you can see in their testing that they compared ISOs up to 5000 and beyond. I've gone as high as 1250 with the 5DII and it looked pretty decent. The Zacuto tests are the only serious tests I've seen where everything was controlled properly. Shooting at higher ISOs, however, is pretty subjective. It depends on the sequence you're shooting. For example, if you cut from an interior shot well lit to nightime exteriors, then you can probably get by with an even higher ISO because the scene is so different.
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Old November 6th, 2010, 09:36 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Bill Pryor View Post
If you go to the Zacuto site you can see in their testing that they compared ISOs up to 5000 and beyond. I've gone as high as 1250 with the 5DII and it looked pretty decent. The Zacuto tests are the only serious tests I've seen where everything was controlled properly. Shooting at higher ISOs, however, is pretty subjective. It depends on the sequence you're shooting. For example, if you cut from an interior shot well lit to nightime exteriors, then you can probably get by with an even higher ISO because the scene is so different.
Thanks Bill, that is where I found the information about true ISO and digital created ISO's.

If 640, 1250 are true ISO's am I correct in thinking the next true ISO is 2500?
I ask this because so many use ISO 1600 and according to the tests this could show more noise then the next true ISO, or at least the same quality.

I need to do some testing but if this is the case even in stills may change the way I shoot at times.
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Old November 6th, 2010, 09:44 AM   #4
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Interesting thread related to this.

Canon 7D ISO versus noise test images Marvelsfilm’s Blog

Still not sure which ISO's are Native (or true) and which ones are not.
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Old November 6th, 2010, 03:11 PM   #5
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Yeah, the good ones are 160, 320, 640, 1250, 2500. Doesn't mean you can't use the others, and the differences are very minor, but if you're a serious measurebator, then you'd want to use the "clean" ISOs.
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Old November 6th, 2010, 05:20 PM   #6
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Much depends on what you call 'good' video and how much post processing you need/want to do.

I've shot at 1250 & 1600 with no real problems. I've also shot at 2500, 3200 and 6400 and got 'usable' footage.

2500 with some noise reduction (Neat Video) is fine as long as you get the exposure right. If you are trying for a cinematic release then much of it will depend on how much you need to push and pull it in colour grading and how well you can treat any noise (with something like Neat Video).

3200 & 6400 is really pushing things, and I would say the they are for emergencies only and where there are no alternatives for lighting etc. When you denoise these settings you will lose significant detail.
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Old November 7th, 2010, 04:13 PM   #7
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I believe the 1D copes with high ISO a lot better than the 5D. Didn't somebody (Bloom, or LaFloret maybe?) do a night video shot in the streets with only available light, called Nocturne, which went up to 3200/6400 on the 1D with completely usable, almost noise-free footage? It was really cool to see how capable that camera is given almost no light.

I think a slight noise reduction was used but the point is that the footage was striking and looked great... so I'd say when it comes to the 1D you may not have to worry. With the 5D I tend not to go above 1250 but with well-shot material and proper noise reduction, who can say that you can't?
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Old November 7th, 2010, 07:33 PM   #8
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Call me crazy, but I regularly shoot at 6400 ISO. The noise is absolutely glorious compared to the EX3/EX1 we used to use.

It often means I can shoot without a video light, using only ambient light available at a reception for example.

Yes there is noise, but it is perfectly acceptable IMHO.
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Old November 7th, 2010, 10:10 PM   #9
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Jared brings up an important point -- it all comes down to personal preference. Sometimes high ISOs look great, and even if there is noise, sometimes that can be a deliberate stylistic decision. Over time, I've become more lenient in what I consider okay, because noisy material can often look pretty cool.
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Old November 7th, 2010, 11:04 PM   #10
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I regularly shoot with my 1DMKIV at 1250 and occasionally at 2500 (recent major label music video shot at both speeds), and on the odd occasion, 5000 (see final shot of that video, on the rooftop). You may have to de-grain in post after 1250, depending on what the material is (event shooting not perhaps as critical in this regard) but the camera does admirably. I do stick to the 320 ASA multiples, and avoid underexposure as you will really see the noise pop if you have to start boosting gamma and exposure later. Incidentally we did that 5000 ASA shot at 10,000 originally but I was nervous about the level of noise which was easily viewable on the monitor, so I dropped the shutter speed and boosted the lighting slightly to be able to shoot at 5000.

The Youtube compression is particularly lousy with this video. I just got a ProRes copy of the master and may repost to Vimeo. It's really hard to judge the footage with this version.
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Old November 8th, 2010, 03:50 AM   #11
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I regularly shoot with my 1DMKIV at 1250 and occasionally at 2500 (recent major label music video shot at both speeds), and on the odd occasion, 5000 (see final shot of that video, on the rooftop).
Very nice -- and it's quite impressing being shot at 5000 ISO.

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You may have to de-grain in post after 1250,
So how do you de-grain your footage in post -- just blur it...?

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Old November 8th, 2010, 08:53 PM   #12
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So for dark receptions, what is the highest ISO you would shoot with each of the above bodies?
It depends on a lot of factors: color temperature of the light, white balance, contrast, noise reduction, individual taste, display resolution, etc. For example, 5600K, neutral white balance, high contrast, strong noise reduction, high tolerance for noise, displayed at small web size (256x144), you can shoot ISO 12800 and be perfectly fine.

On the other hand, if you are at 2800K, blue-tint white balance, low contrast, no noise reduction, low tolerance for noise, displayed in HD, then even ISO 400 may be too noisy. It really depends on the individual circumstances.

Generally, I would say ISO 6400 is my personal limit for the 5D2, and for receptions I usually just throw in the towel if 3200 isn't enough.
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Old November 11th, 2010, 08:34 AM   #13
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Reading through this I had the following question:

Does anyone "push" exposure when using these cameras?

I guess what I'm asking is, do any of you find the grain characteristic of these cameras aesthetically pleasing, or if you wanted that pushed look would you grade the contrast where you wanted it and just add the type of grain you are wanting in post?
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Old November 11th, 2010, 10:39 AM   #14
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My experience has been that the color noise does not equate to a film-like aesthetic--if one were going for a specific look, perhaps as super-high ISO would be fine but it doesn't look like high speed film, that's for sure. It might work for a black-and-white project. Noise tends to be more point-source rather than having a shape to it like film grain.

Peer, the de-noising process was done in a high-end post suite (we use Fotokem in Burbank). I wasn't there for the post work on this project. Not sure what flavor of the technology they are using.

BTW I have a version of this video up on my site now with better compression:

Charles Papert, Director of Photography
"reels" then "music videos".
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