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Photo for HD Video (D-SLR and others)
HD from Nikon D90, other still photo cams (except EOS 5D Mk. II, LUMIX GH1).


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Old October 9th, 2008, 05:05 PM   #1
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confused --> SLR HD vs XHA1

Sorry for my ignorance but...one of my customers discovered this
Canon EOS 5D Mark II Digital SLR Camera - Canon UK
for me today and I was wondering...if this SLR can shoot full hd/progressive, it has interchangeable lenses, etc...what makes it worse than my XHA1?
Which are the technical differences in between these two monsters?

thanks!
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Old October 9th, 2008, 05:18 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Guillermo Ibanez View Post
Sorry for my ignorance but...one of my customers discovered this
Canon EOS 5D Mark II Digital SLR Camera - Canon UK
for me today and I was wondering...if this SLR can shoot full hd/progressive, it has interchangeable lenses, etc...what makes it worse than my XHA1?
Which are the technical differences in between these two monsters?

thanks!
one only records in 10minute intervals.
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Old October 9th, 2008, 08:56 PM   #3
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XHA1 is fully designed for video production, Zoom lens thats x20, try that with a DSLR and the lens will be huge, has all the inputs/outputs required and assist, the design of the camera for hand held, try shooting hand held with an SLR camera that's smooth and make changes whilst shooting, and lastly the rolling shutter effect from the CMOS sensor.

You could shoot a short film with the 5D because ever shot would be really well controlled and have a camera assistant etc..undoubtedly the DOF, range of lenses available (cost would be endless though) and the image you get on it is awesome.

But if you want a camera for video production purposes where its shot real time like a doco,wedding, event...etc. I wouldn't recommend the 5D because it would be quiet difficult to shoot with.
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Old October 9th, 2008, 10:00 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Samuel Ko View Post
one only records in 10minute intervals.
Actually the 5D Mk. II records HD in 30 minute intervals.
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Old October 10th, 2008, 12:02 AM   #5
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I haven't looked at the Canon 5D but I imagine it is very similar to the Nikon D90 when it comes to video.

So here are a couple of things I found for why an A1 is leaps and bounds better than a DSLR when it comes to video.


This is a D90 review from Ken Rockewell's website. I Cut out some irrelevant stuff:

"There is no autofocus, so God forbid if anything moves (the whole point of a movie), because focus won't track.

Since D90 can't autofocus while shooting movies, they suck.

If you're going to try to film anything that moves, the entire point of a movie, forget it. The "Live View" isn't! The images on the rear LCD, just like every digital camera's LCD, is delayed a fraction of a second. It will be very difficult to track and predict motion and action, since what you're seeing on the LCD already is history by the time you see it. There is NO live finder, like a real SLR viewing on ground glass.

Nikon's USA User's Guide, page 51, warns movies will have nasty tilts, banding, bends, and distortion if anything moves horizontally or if you pan. Even if nothing moves, the manual warns objects can have jagged edges, false colors, moiré and bright spots appearing before your eyes.

The D90's movies can't do stereo and can't do smooth power zooms either.

If you can get focus, you still can't set exposure. Exposure seems to run off on its own. In dim light the D90 applies hellaicious amounts of noise reduction to the additional ISO it piles on.

Another gotcha is that I see no mention of how long your shot can be, but other Nikons with Live View (the same technology used for movies) warn that you can't do it for more than a few minutes at a time before the sensor overheats.

The sound on the D90 appears to be mono only.

Image quality is limited by the data compression in 720p. Al the textures are lost even though edges stay sharp. IN hollywood, we refer to this making your video "look like cartoons," which also have sharp edges but no textures."




This is from Phillip Bloom's Website, also edited:


"You can’t manually control the exposure (you can lock exposure by pressing the AE lock button once assigned to “hold” in the camera settings, something i didn’t know when shooting this).

But the focus is manual only.

No external mic input but there is a very low quality microphone built in.

You can also only shoot in 24p mode. Not a bad thing, but 25p and 30p too would have been great!

I was pretty impressed for what it was, putting my 35mm lenses straight onto the body and getting shallow DOF without using adaptors is great, but I think we are a couple of years away before we see a camera like this with enough video features essential to any cameraman.

Pros: Great image considering the limiations, 35mm DOF, price. Superb DSLR.

Cons: Rolling shutter is awful, as bad as it gets, no external mic input, only 720p, 5 minutes clip max implemented to prevent sensor from overheating."
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Old October 10th, 2008, 12:45 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Guillermo Ibanez View Post
Canon EOS 5D Mark II Digital SLR Camera ...if this SLR can shoot full hd/progressive, it has interchangeable lenses, etc...what makes it worse than my XHA1? Which are the technical differences in between these two monsters
Guillermo, the fundamental difference is neatly summarized in a post by an experienced photographer at another online forum. He was speaking of Nikon's D90, but thus far it appears to apply to all still cameras with a video-out function:

"Rather than thinking of [Nikon's] D-Movie as an adjunct to the still photographic features of the D90, realize that it is a feature tacked onto Live View. Live View chooses a CMOS shutter speed and ISO to allow for a reasonable preview image for the still photographer's picture, rather than using the ISO, mechanical shutter speed, and aperture that are set chosen for the actual making of the still image. D-Movie is a quick and simple way to record that stream of info from Live View."

Canon's 5D2 appears to have been designed along this same conceptual line: its video function is an adjunct with almost none of the manual controls we expect from a camera dedicated to shooting video. That may or may not make a difference to you, depending on what you need to shoot.

Specifically, the shutter speed and ISO settings on the dSLRs' video modes are not always (& in some cases never) manually controllable. Canon's XHA1, like other high-end video cameras, allows full manual control over nearly all aspects of the image. It also features professional audio I/O.

Why all the excitement, then, about the dSLRs? Mainly because of two things:

1. The dSLRs' relatively enormous sensors
2. The ready availability of high-end interchangeable lenses for the dSLRS

The implications to the craft of videography—especially fiction filmmaking—of the dSLRs are potentially so momentous that a lot of shooters are seriously considering adding one of the dSLRs to their toolkits, or even selling their current video rigs and retooling around the dSLR form. I for one may be willing to work around "partial" manual image control in return for the benefits of the dSLRs:

1. Far greater & subtler light-sensitivity of the dSLR's sensors
2. Their sensors' much-increased rendition of detail
3. Their ready facility with a constellation of interchangeable lenses
4. Their attractively shallow depth-of-field and bokeh effects

Just keep in mind that the video-enabled dSLRs are first-generation machines. As such, there are distinct trade-offs in choosing one camera style over another. Only your shooting needs will tell you whether you should choose one, the other—or both.

Last edited by John Sandel; October 10th, 2008 at 01:51 AM.
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Old October 10th, 2008, 08:58 AM   #7
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I'm not nearly as pessimistic about the EOS 5d Mark II as others. To be sure there will be enormous ergonomic challenges trying to shoot video on it, not to mention audio will not be easy either. Image control and focus will be challenging. And it won't be ideal for all situations.

The bottom line, though, is if this thing makes your end product better, who cares about all that other stuff? I have a Sony V1 and believe me there are enormous inconveniences including - questionable image quality, terrible low light performance, noisy image, no depth of field, unreliable tape captures, etc. My feeling is I can deal with the issues on the 5d just as easily and end up with a better product.

It's hard to know how it will actually perform in the real world. But, to me there is not much risk in getting one of these to try it out. Worst case, I have a kick ass still camera.

The best hope is that this camera shakes up the video camera industry which, quite frankly hasn't distinguished itself lately. Sony seems intent on releasing the same camera with different names every few months rather than actually improving them. Panasonic can't give up on the P2. Interesting times.
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Old October 10th, 2008, 11:21 AM   #8
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In a meeting yesterday, we had a similar discussion with my NASA contractor client who has two XHA1's. We came to the conclusion that they are completely different and can be used for separate applications. The XHA1's will continue to be used for run and gun documentary/documentation. The decision was made to buy the 5D as a high res still camera for shooting stills for animation modeling, print, posters, and as a "b" camera for the XHA1's.

It will however be interesting to compare two when we get it next year.

Cheers.
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Old October 10th, 2008, 12:56 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Chris Hurd View Post
Actually the 5D Mk. II records HD in 30 minute intervals.
30 minutes. Are we talking about direct capture from HDMI?
Its specs says 12 min in HD Mode, due to 4GB (fat32) limit.


This camera kicks ass. It puts XH-A1 to shame. True you loose all the manual control, but when you such a superb low light performance, its too good.

It would be perfect for ceremony event (not too much movement) if I can get 30min HD.
But for a party kind of environment inside a room, low light would have been fantastic, but the manual focus is throwing me off.
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Old October 10th, 2008, 01:10 PM   #10
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Actually the 5D Mk. II records HD in 30 minute intervals.
approximately 30 minutes SD, 12 minutes HD. In HD the limiting factor is the 4Gb file size limit.
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Old October 10th, 2008, 03:05 PM   #11
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I haven't looked at the Canon 5D but I imagine it is very similar to the Nikon D90 when it comes to video.
You should definitely look at the 5D then - while it still misses the mark in several ways (at least in terms of being a 100% pro video tool) I think it's much closer than the D90 based on what we've seen so far.

Quote:
This is a D90 review from Ken Rockewell's website. I Cut out some irrelevant stuff:

"There is no autofocus, so God forbid if anything moves (the whole point of a movie), because focus won't track.
5D has three focus modes when shooting video - full manual, push-auto which locks when you release the focus button, and a continuous face tracking mode.

Quote:
Since D90 can't autofocus while shooting movies, they suck.
Not sure if this is your commentary or another quote from Rockwell's article - all I can say is I've had the XHA1 for almost two years and I've never used autofocus. Everyone's needs are different, but my take would be that it's using autofocus while shooting movies that would make them suck. Manual focus, even in run & gun situations, is still better... it certainly takes practice, and it'll be different on the 5D than the XHA1, but if you're going to do it it's worth learning to do it right.

Quote:
Nikon's USA User's Guide, page 51, warns movies will have nasty tilts, banding, bends, and distortion if anything moves horizontally or if you pan. Even if nothing moves, the manual warns objects can have jagged edges, false colors, moiré and bright spots appearing before your eyes.
The D90 seems to be much worse in this regard than the 5D, at least based on the samples posted so far. The rolling shutter is present on the 5D but not nearly as bad as the D90, and it seems to do a much better job of down sampling the full chip resolution with none of the visual artifacts described above.

Quote:
The D90's movies can't do stereo and can't do smooth power zooms either.
Stereo audio in on the 5D. Mini-jack isn't ideal, and there doesn't appear to be manual level control, but I don't think it's something that can't be handled either with a beachtek box or an external zoom recorder.

No power zooms - again, less than ideal but not a deal breaker for me. Zoom should primarily be a compositional tool, but an occasional slow zoom is useful. Personally I find myself wishing I could do bang zooms (which the XHA1 can't) more often than I find myself using a smooth zoom in a shot anyway so in that respect the 5D could actually be considered better than the XHA1.

Quote:
If you can get focus, you still can't set exposure. Exposure seems to run off on its own. In dim light the D90 applies hellaicious amounts of noise reduction to the additional ISO it piles on.
The 5D doesn't have full manual exposure control, but based on Vincent Laforet's experience you can go into aperture priority mode, select an aperture, then the camera will adjust ISO & shutter speed (within a narrow range 1/30-1/125) automatically. You can then lock the auto settings so they don't shift in a scene.

Laforet's film addresses the noise reduction issue - watch his behind the scenes video to see XHA1 footage back to back with the 5D under the same low light conditions. It's shocking how clean the 5D looks in comparison.

Quote:
Another gotcha is that I see no mention of how long your shot can be, but other Nikons with Live View (the same technology used for movies) warn that you can't do it for more than a few minutes at a time before the sensor overheats.
12 minutes of HD for the 5D. This is a file size limitation and not a sensor heating issue so you can apparently start recording again right away.

Quote:
Image quality is limited by the data compression in 720p. Al the textures are lost even though edges stay sharp. IN hollywood, we refer to this making your video "look like cartoons," which also have sharp edges but no textures."
The 5D does 1080p using h.264 at approximately 40Mbps. The quality of the raw clips looks incredible, although they tax the capabilities of your system for playback and editing. There are some compression artifacts, especially in dark, noisy regions, but certainly no worse than the HDV of the XHA1.

Quote:
You can also only shoot in 24p mode. Not a bad thing, but 25p and 30p too would have been great!
The 5D can only shoot in 30p, which seems to be a big concern for a lot of people who would prefer (or require) 24p. I shoot all 24f on the XHA1, but I can live with 30p considering the tradeoff in low light capabilities & image quality.

Clearly the 5D is not perfect as a pro video tool. I'd prefer to have full manual exposure & audio control, and various frame rate choices. I don't know if it will replace my XHA1 or simply augment it, but there are tradeoffs on both sides. I think the larger sensor, incredible low light capabilities, small size and lens choices may well outweigh the camera's weaknesses and make it a better choice for a lot of things than the XHA1... but I'm not planning to sell the XHA1 until I've had some time to put the 5D through it's paces.

I wouldn't be entirely surprised to see a pro video camera with most of these features based on the same chip introduced at NAB. Of course, this is Canon we're talking about, so maybe I will be surprised.
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Old October 10th, 2008, 05:21 PM   #12
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approximately 30 minutes SD, 12 minutes HD. In HD the limiting factor is the 4Gb file size limit.
Ack... too much coffee, probably. Thanks for setting me straight on that one! Much appreciated,
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Old October 11th, 2008, 12:06 AM   #13
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I bought a D90 and tried it out for video shooting. Here's a clip of the result.

Nikon D90 at Singapore Riverside on Vimeo

The exposure lock works fine, but it is not easy to directly control the aperture.

The manual focus is tough, because the liveview LCD panel is very difficult to focus with, especially outdoors.

Liveview is time-limited by temperature. In Singapore on a sunny day, that time is only a matter of minutes and that's not just shooting time. Just being in liveview mode makes the camera overheat. You have to continually switch back to viewfinder for focus and framing while the camera cools, and then select liveview only when you want to shoot. If you have a long shot to make you are basically screwed with this camera.

And the other showstopper is the quality of the codec. There are artifacts due to downsampling, and macroblocks due to the MJPEG encoding. Fine details like water ripples on the river takes me back to the good old days of VCD.

I believe the Canon D5 MkII should be better because it's using a better codec, but I expect there will be other gotchas, and I'm not planning to be an early adopter for that one. Ended up selling the D90 after 6 days.

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Old October 11th, 2008, 12:29 AM   #14
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...the other showstopper is the quality of the codec. There are artifacts due to downsampling, and macroblocks due to the MJPEG encoding. Fine details like water ripples on the river takes me back to the good old days of VCD.
Agreed. I've looked at a fair amount of D90 video over the past few days, and the codec is really weak, when there is a lot of detail. For instance, on cobblestone roads, you get a strange combination of detail and smearing. If there are lots of detailed bushes in the shot, other aspects that are normally good with suffer.

There are also strange effects on closeups. The result is smooth faces with small freckles around the eyes and in the corners of the lips - pretty much anywhere there are delicate shadows. One video that compared the HVX to the D90 had that result for both cameras, but the D90 was less subtle about it.

I'm still interested to know how many lines of video are available over HDMI. The camera would still have limited control, downsampling artifacts and limited dynamic range, but at least the details would come through when scaled for the web or DVD.

You didn't happen to check out the HDMI results on an HDTV did you?

(Off topic... how was the recent Grand Prix for the city?)
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Old October 11th, 2008, 06:27 PM   #15
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And the other showstopper is the quality of the codec. There are artifacts due to downsampling, and macroblocks due to the MJPEG encoding. Fine details like water ripples on the river takes me back to the good old days of VCD.
I'm really puzzled by Nikon's selection of Motion JPEG at such a low data rate for the D90. I remember being disappointed by the artifacts I was getting with MJPEG at twice the D90's data rate... capturing SD video on my VideoVision Studio NuBus(!) card limited by SCSI drives that had trouble sustaining much over 5-6MB/second! This was over a decade ago! Of course the quality improved a bit once I got my massive 9GB drive array working and was able to bump the data rate to 60mbps... approximately 3x the D90's peak rate.

I know codecs and encoding hardware have improved over the past decade, but hobbling what otherwise seems like a forward-thinking feature with a codec that wasn't even cutting-edge a decade ago indicates to me that video truly is an afterthought for nikon at this point.
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