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Canon VIXIA Series AVCHD and HDV Camcorders
For VIXIA / LEGRIA Series (HF G, HF S, HF and HV) consumer camcorders.


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Old October 31st, 2009, 07:22 PM   #1
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Travel Video Advice - HF-S100 vs Canon 7d

Hi there,

I've been using the HF-S100 for my work, which is video for the Web and mobile devices, and (decoding aside) have been happy with the HF-S100.

I'm filming some travel videos that will ultimately be delivered onto iPhone and Android phones, but would like to film in HD just in case for future use. I am not doing any audio, but expect to use some stills so I ended up picking up a Canon 7d thinking that I could use one device for the video footage and pictures. I figure that I'll be in some darker locations so the low-light capability of the 7d would be nice as well.

The 7d has been great for pictures, but I haven't really enjoyed the form factor or lack of control/feedback/auto focus, etc.

I need to travel light so I would rather only take one of the cameras.

Do I just need to get used to dealing with the limitations of the 7d? What would you take? Do I need to suck it up and lug both around?

Thanks, any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
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Old November 1st, 2009, 01:57 AM   #2
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Well after you put together the tripod, mics, and lighting kit, the difference in weight between the two's not all that huge.

But if you want the lightest, you already know the answer. TheHFS is about the same size as (and lighter than) an EF 100mm lens.
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Old November 1st, 2009, 08:09 AM   #3
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go for the hf-s100

Dan,

The 7d and some lens can be heavy. And it becomes heavier as the day wears on. Trust me, use your hf-s100 instead. The others have pointed out the reasons and i agree with them. I myself have traveled to our home province and lugging even the smaller 400d with a smaller tamron 17-50, ef-s 55-250 IS, can still be bulky and heavy on a long trek.

If you still think otherwise, go ahead, get the 7d. But don't leave the canon videocam. I bet you'll be using that more than the 7d.

If you do get the 7d, get a lens with IS. The 17-55 IS, or 24-105L IS or the new tamron 17-50 f2.8 di-2 VC w/c is also cheaper. You'll thank me for it. IS does help in the video especially in run & gun situations.

Consider also the smaller and lighter 500d. Of course you don't have the same control as the 7d, but it is smaller and lighter and it has video.
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Old November 7th, 2009, 02:37 PM   #4
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I have HF100s and both the 500D (T1i) and the 7D.

I suggest the 500D with kit lens 18-55 (quite lightweight combo) and the Canon EF 50mm F1.8 for low light. The 1080p mode is tied to a "funky" 20fps rate but the 720p is very smooth, definition is very good, and the resulting footage (for me) edits in together with the HF100 footage shot in cine mode with custom presets boosted for contrast, brightness and sharpness on the HF100.

Should you also need to use shallow DOF with the 50mm f1.8 you can physically "lock" the aperture wide open by selecting F1.8 in Av mode, depressing the lens lock button while slightly twisting the lens barrel until the aperture on the LCD goes from 1.8 to 00.

Here is a video I did showing this:
More T1i...DOF control with Canon EF/EF-S lens

In daylight to bring the shutter speed down you might want to have a set of inexpensive ND filters for that lens, the .6 and .9 in combination will give you a 5 stop reduction in light coming through the lens.

I also have to use ND filters for the same thing with the 7D.

One VERY USEFUL accessory with either the 500D, 7D, or even the HF would be some kind of viewfinder loupe to fully see and judge the LCD image in outdoor light. The lightest, least expensive of these is the Hoodman Hoodloupe 3.0, it has no magnification but blocks out exterior light and has a diopter adjustment for individual eyesight. Using either the "cinema strap" they offer or a 12" rubber band, the Hoodloupe can be held to the camera over the LCD (which becomes the only finder for video on the DSLR) and is a more "travel friendly" viewfinder loupe than the others.

Here is a video showing the Hoodloupe held on the 500D with rubber band:
Sample Video: DOF Control-Nikkor on T1i


It also comes with a neck strap so you can hold it over the LCD briefly and simply drop it out of the way if you don't want to attach it. This is super handy for reviewing stills and video.

Hoodman Corporation

Last edited by Bruce Foreman; November 7th, 2009 at 02:56 PM. Reason: Add links
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Old November 7th, 2009, 11:55 PM   #5
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Thanks for the feedback folks. Based on your feedback I took an HF-S100 and S90. The 7d stayed at home for now. HF-S100 was great as always. The S90 has unbelievable barrel distortion shooting raw. Thought I had tested the S90 pretty well before the trip....

Sure would love to have one camera for both stills and video, but I just didn't have time to review the video as much as I would have to with the 7d due to the volume of video that had to be shot. With autofocus and zebras using the HF-S100 the majority of the footage is usable.
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Old November 8th, 2009, 01:50 AM   #6
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Dan, did you ever consider the GH1 and if not, why?
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Old November 8th, 2009, 10:53 AM   #7
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Robert,

My job was basically to get as much footage of as many destinations in Los Angeles as possible in three days. I was running like mad and hit 6-10 locations each day. LA traffic is *crazy*.

I used the video camera with a monopod or ran the footage through smoothcam, both of which are fine for my needs.

Before the trip I had considered the GH1, but was scared off by the complaints of banding, burn in time and poor implementation of AVCHD. After juggling my HF-S100, while trying to take some low light stills with the S90, I am probably going to take a serious look at it before my next location next month.

I originally got a Canon 7d for this job, but will probably sell it (too late to return at this point). I would not look forward to lugging that thing around to the volume of sites I need to hit each day. Also, I'm still not sure if I can consistently get one take shots while working around other tourists, traffic etc. with it.
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Old November 8th, 2009, 10:31 PM   #8
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Thank you Dan for sharing your thoughts on the subject.
I am in India working with 2 kits, a XHA1 and a HV30. The quality is great and when travelling around the country I use the HV)(it is also my Bcam for recording yoga classes). Despite my love for this system, my next trip will be backpacking for a year over 3 continents and I will be looking for something smaller than what I have now.
The 7D is out of question, so I am left with either the GH1 or the HFS100 (or what should be replacing it next winter).
The GH1 big advantage is of course it" s hybrid quality, making it a good photo camera, but I am still not sure about the video quality vs the likes of HV30-HFS100 (as a travel camera).
Well, I still have few months to make up my mind.
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Old November 9th, 2009, 02:40 AM   #9
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gh1 and the hf-s100

Robert,

I think the serious weakness of the GH1 at this point in time is the 1080-24p. Go to the 720-60p and you are basically ok. The other weakness is the lack of lenses at this point in time as well. I mean fast lenses. For now, there is only the 20 f1.7 or the option of getting an adapter and using a nikon or some other brand name lenses.

However, I would not discount the possibility of still getting the GH1 with the 14-140mm and maybe 1 fast prime. I would have the HF-s100 or something like it as my 2nd camera and/or backup. It's not that big and even the batteries don't eat up that much space. Good for b-rolls too!

This is for traveling as you plan to take of course. I think this combo would be good. Not exactly small like an hf-s100, but not heavy or large either. It's a good mix of quality, size, weight, batt life, etc.

I would not consider tape anymore, with no disrespect to hv30 or tape users. In my own experience, had I gone the tape route, there are places where I could not get one, or if there was one, would cost me an arm and a leg! And I only have 1 hour of shoot for that :(

Just bring along lots of sdhc or a netbook or a PSD to backup your shoots. It is still fast, painless, allows redundancy of the shoot at the end of the day, without worrying of running out of tape or storage. Also make sure that you can shoot at least 4 hours with your batts at one go. 2 bp-829s is more than enough for a whole day shoot.
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Old November 9th, 2009, 10:55 AM   #10
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I would second not using tape for your application. For the HF-S100 I have a bunch of 8-32GB cards and a NEXTO. I don't delete the cards until I get home and back up to the NEXTO each night leaving me with two copies. The NEXTO stays at the hotel.

On a longer trip I would assume that I would bring a notebook and leave the NEXTO at home.
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Old November 9th, 2009, 08:44 PM   #11
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Tape has proven reliable for so many years in so many extreme locations (northern Canada in January, Sahara desert or weeks on a boat in the Carabeen). I do not consider tapeless for safety reason, but rather to reduce my load, wich is why redundancy (GH1 and HFs100) is out of the question.
My GH1 system would be the stock lense and the 1.7 pancake. Or the HFS100.
I would carry 2 batteries and a stack of 16gb cards, no matter the system I choose.
I would like to go with the GH1 because I am also getting better and more interested by photography, but still not convince.
I also carry (my wife does) a Lumix LX3 wich is a nice camera and can prvide some good videos when low light is critical (caves, temples, museums).
I am also worry about report of cheap build of the GH1 (falling rivets).
Thanks guys for contributing to this thinking.
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Old November 9th, 2009, 10:13 PM   #12
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Yeah, there are threads about the image quality of the HF-S100 for stills. I found them to be acceptable at best and not usable in several museums last week. It was a total pain juggling two cameras. If you decide on the GH1, please post with your experiences, it sounds like our applications are similar.
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Old November 9th, 2009, 11:59 PM   #13
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I sure will!
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Old November 10th, 2009, 01:23 PM   #14
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Robert,

I ended up ordering a GH1. Should arrive next week. I'm doing some more travel work the following week and am planning on taking both the HF-S100 and the GH1, I'll let you know what I find
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Old November 10th, 2009, 10:35 PM   #15
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I Dan, congratulation! This is great news. I will stay posted.
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