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Old April 18th, 2011, 09:51 PM   #1
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5D II Ergonomics

Hi
I've used for years Broadcast Cameras (Digi beta etc). Had an assignment where I used a Z1 and found the ergonomics a real struggle at first (so much harder to shoot with, lens control, position etc). I did manage to conquer it and shoot some good footage.
Now I'm looking at using a 5D II for a new project. I've read its a hard beast to handle but once mastered its an unbelievable camera.
So my question is this for those who have used a Z1 & 5D. Is the 5D harder to handle than the Z1and get use to?
I'm looking forward to using real lenses again (focus, zoom and aperture where they are meant to be) and will be doing many test shoots.
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Old April 18th, 2011, 10:45 PM   #2
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Re: 5D II Ergonomics

With the 5D2, you need good support, be it a tripod, shoulder rig, slider, dolly... The problem with the 5D2 is the rolling shutter effect. For longer focal lengths, consider an IS lens.

You mention zoom. There is no electronic zoom control. You're on your own.

Focus is the real challenge. If you're used to everything being in sharp focus, the 5D2 will surprise you. You can revel in it and purposefully float focus, or you can stop down to f/4 or so and employ Hollywood focus pulling techniques.

The camera is best when you can do multiple takes, leave the duds on the cutting room floor, or enjoy the mistakes as art. It's not so great when there is only one take and you expect it to be perfect. Many wedding shooters use a DSLR and a standard camcorder in tandem.

Personally, I love it, but I am "at one" with it's style. If you expect it to shoot like an ENG cam, you'll really fight it.
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Old April 19th, 2011, 12:21 AM   #3
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Re: 5D II Ergonomics

Hi Jon
Thanks for the reply.
I've always preferred to manually zoom, never been a fan of servo zoom.
Is the LCD on the back good for focus? On the Z1 I always used the eye piece to focus, never trusted the LCD to get it right.
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Old April 19th, 2011, 01:06 PM   #4
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Re: 5D II Ergonomics

You really need a loupe for focusing. And it's still not quite good enough when the lens is wide open to really nail focus.

I have a HoodLoupe at home and a Z-Finder at work. I prefer the Z-Finder, but the HoodLoupe is just fine if you include the 3x magnifier - and it's much cheaper. You can get the HoodCrane in a nicely priced package. I use the RedRock mount, which is solid, but is not quick to remove and replace.

At NAB, I would go to x10 in the camera, nail the focus, start recording, and work from there. Focus is 100% using that approach, unless things move around a lot. When wide open for effect, I like to focus with my feet - too far in, too far out, split the difference, nailed!

It also depends on your lenses. EF lenses have so-so focus rings that lack hard stops. I have EFs at home (which are great for AF photos) and Zeiss ZEs at work, which have fantastic focus rings and are optically wonderful.

Frankly, if you do handheld zooms at live events, I'd get a 7D and a 17-55/2.8 IS lens. The smaller sensor makes the DOF more manageable. f/2.8 is reasonably fast. 17-55 covers the bread and butter range for video. And IS really helps for removing micro-shake. You can get a 50/1.4 for low light and shallow DOF portraits. And then there's the 70-200/2.8L IS II if you are into the long stuff. (Frankly, I almost never shoot that long with video.) In fact the 100/2.8L IS Macro would a nice choice: macro, long enough for video, IS, cheaper than the 70-200. Add an ultra-wide f/2.8 zoom (no IS needed) and you're set.

Personally, I feel that the 7D is the better zoom camera (the 17-55/2.8 IS has no full frame counterpart), and the 5D2 is the better fast prime camera (you can get an EF 24/1.4L, EF 28/1.8 or ZE 28/2 as a fast wide prime on the 5D2. There are no wide primes faster than f/2.8 for the 7D.)
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Old April 19th, 2011, 01:37 PM   #5
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Re: 5D II Ergonomics

Another advantage of the 7D is that it outputs HD over HDMI when recording. You can get a Zacuto EVF, which has a resolution of 800x480. The stock LCD shows video in a 640x360 window. With the EVF, smaller sensor, and an f/2.8 zoom, live focus should be readily obtainable.

Also, the EVF would let you offset the camera for better balance and a more ENG feel.

The one bummer about the 7D is that it can't run Magic Lantern, so you can't get live zebras and other video exposure tools. You need to set up exposure before the shot with a histogram.

The other thing I would add is a juicedLink DT454. You can mount it over the shoulder for a counterweight. (On my chest rig - a RedRock Event - I mount it near the chest.) The DT454 can kill the auto-gain, provides a headphone output, and has phantom power. It's the way to go for one-man handheld shooting.

With an audio guy, I prefer double system. It lets you run untethered. For solo shooting, I prefer in-camera sound. This avoids the possibility of getting the record/standby states of the camera and audio recorder out of sync. And when I'm looking through the view finder, I can't glance at the recorder to make sure I'm recording. Even when I'm in-sync, I worry!

The sound with a DT454 and 7D is nearly as good as with an H4n or DR-100. The biggest shortcoming is that the wind-cut filter is always engaged in the camera. This is no problem for dialog. When recording full-range music, go with an external recorder if you want top quality. If you're just recording music from a camera-mounted mic, in-camera is good enough considering the poor mic position.

So, yeah, my ultimate ENG kit would be...
* Canon 7D
* EF 17-55/2.8 IS
* Shoulder rig with camera to the side
* Follow focus
* high-resolution EVF
* juicedLink DT454
* Nice, in-ear headphones (one in, one out)
* Short-shotgun on-camera mic
* Wired lav and/or handheld mic for interviews
* Vinten Blue tripod (it works well with low-weight cameras)

Regarding rigs, RedRock now offers an adapter for the bottom of their DSLR base that can connect it full time to a tripod plate. That means you can click the rig straight on and off the tripod. I'm not sure what other makers offer, but that's a critical feature for run-n-gun work.
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