Using DSLRs for Video at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > DV Info Net Community Contests > The UWOL Challenge

The UWOL Challenge
An organized competition for Under Water, Over Land videographers!


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old November 23rd, 2010, 04:34 PM   #1
Major Player
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Miami, Florida
Posts: 811
Using DSLRs for Video

It seems that a number of us used the video functions of digital still cameras for UWOL 18 with superb results. Maybe this would be a good time to start a discussion of the relative merits of these and
good ol' camcorders for video among people who have experience with both. I don't, frankly, and have been frightened away from shooting video with a regular camera by stories of short run times, overheating, poor or out of sync or no audio, motion artifacts, and the only 1.5 crop factor. Anybody want to talk?
Steve Siegel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 23rd, 2010, 06:24 PM   #2
Major Player
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: San Antonio, Texas
Posts: 880
Well, Iím not yet ready to give up either one for the other. I think they are both tools with different strengths and itís mostly a matter of trying to choose the right tool for the task at hand. One thing I find DSLRs are particularly good at that I havenít seen a lot of discussion of yet is shooting through a microscope.
Mike Sims is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 23rd, 2010, 06:45 PM   #3
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Pleasanton, CA
Posts: 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Siegel View Post
It seems that a number of us used the video functions of digital still cameras for UWOL 18 with superb results. Maybe this would be a good time to start a discussion of the relative merits of these and
good ol' camcorders for video among people who have experience with both. I don't, frankly, and have been frightened away from shooting video with a regular camera by stories of short run times, overheating, poor or out of sync or no audio, motion artifacts, and the only 1.5 crop factor. Anybody want to talk?
I guess I am one of the competitors that used a DSLR (a Canon 60D in my case); although I'm not so sure about the good results (-:

A year ago I decided to get a bit more serious about video and bought a Panasonic AG-HMC40. It's a great camera; high resolution, good sound, a complete set of vidoe friendly capabilities (zebras, waveform, etc). But I felt limited by the lens and low light (the HMC40 is not the best low light performer). I also wanted to shoot stills (I use my camera for stills at least 50% of the time). So I sold my HMC40 and bought a Canon 60D and a few lenses to create a "starter kit."

All of the DSLR suffer from moire and aliasing to some extent (the new Panasonic GH2 seems best in this regard). But again that appears to be less of a problem for nature and wildlife videography (bricks, roofs, some clothing all may cause problems). If I were looking for a DSLR to use mostly or exclusively for video I think the Panasonic GH2 is an excellent choice, but I still feel that Canon are better at still photography.

Ultimately I felt the DSLR offered the best combination of features (still and video) for my purposes. Of course, I would have preferred to keep the HMC40 and buy a DSLR, but my wife did not think that was such a good idea (-:

So far the the biggest learning curve for me has been focus. None of the Canon DSLR provide any focus while recording (that's not strictly true you can do a contrast focus while recording but it is slow and moves the focus way off before getting the focus correct). I used the HMC40 in full manual mode so setting shutter, aperture, and ISO (rather than gain on the HMC40) was an easy transition. I should also point out that the GH2 offers some level of focus tracking while recording (only with one or two lenses).

I really like having the flexibility of being able to change lenses, having much better control of DOF, and excellent low light capability. Of course, now I spend my time looking at lenses. I really need a longer lens the sensor size works against you so long lenses are big and expensive.

Another capability that attracted me to the DSLR was time lapse. The HMC40 had a built in intervalometer with some VERY limited capabilities. I wanted to be able to shoot time lapse with very long exposures (20 to 30 seconds); but could not do that on the HMC40. An inexpensive LCD Timer Remote gives me far more flexibility for time lapse than what is available on the HMC40.
Rich Ryan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 23rd, 2010, 06:59 PM   #4
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Pleasanton, CA
Posts: 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Sims View Post
Well, Iím not yet ready to give up either one for the other. I think they are both tools with different strengths and itís mostly a matter of trying to choose the right tool for the task at hand. One thing I find DSLRs are particularly good at that I havenít seen a lot of discussion of yet is shooting through a microscope.
As part of my preparation for "Intimate Details" challenge I have been reading up on Macro shooting using a DSLR. I have a Canon 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens that provides 1X magnification (if you're new to macro that means that a subject can be magnified so that it is the same size as the sensor thus the 1X - so in the case of my 60D I can shoot a 22mm object and it will fill the frame horizontally). The premier macro lens is the Canon MP-E 65mm which offers 5X magnification -- no one else seems to make a comparable lens and so many die hard macro photographers use Canon cameras just for that lens. With the use of extension tube and some diopters the MP-E can be "stretched" to 10X (the 100mm that I have can get to about 2X). The DOF if extremely small at these magnifications so I think shooting video would be a tremendous challenge - I had enough problem at 1X and less in my (UWOL #18) near the end I was shooting a spider at about 0.5X and the wind blowing made the spider move into an out of focus. There are a few photographers shooting thru microscopes, but just getting to 5X yields some really amazing photography. I'm going to be experimenting with shooting video at 1X but I need a really slow subject.
Rich Ryan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 24th, 2010, 02:31 AM   #5
Major Player
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Vastervik ,Sweden
Posts: 634
For me it was a simple choice. I needed to make the move from SD to HD (from XL2) and when I took a look at price, image and extra gear that was a no brainer for me. I need to shoot UW and same time i low light. The price on a good HD camera with a UW housing was just too much. I could get camera, lenses, housing, ports and still not near the price of just a UW housing without ports for a HD camera. About sound... For wildlife thats not a big problem... Not much of a problem to sync sound coz not that interviews and sound from nature can be pick up from difrent spots. A field recorder placed a way from the camer gives you sound without and camera scratch and broken branches around you.
The problem woulde be the cmos sensor but as long as you don't film animal that move fast so you need quick pans I don't se a problem here. And now programs are released that help with wobblie backgrounds.

I love me 7D and I don't look at me XL2 anymore...
Markus Nord is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 24th, 2010, 05:30 AM   #6
Trustee
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Oppland, Norway
Posts: 1,390
Second much of what have been said in previous posts.

Iīm not in any desperate need for any new camcorder, as I still have and use the XLH1. But when Canon 7D came out I was curious about some of itīs features. Particularly the possibility to shot in overcrank mode, which I like very much.
In fact my uwol18 film is shot entirely in overcrank mode to be able to slow down and get all details. And this is a quite easy process in FCP to do.
The narrow DOF is another thing that impressed me. With the XLH1 there is no way to get any good shallow depth of field in wide mode. With the 7D and a fast wide lens there is! This is good when you do low angle shots and want to enhange the subject from fore- and background, as the sequence of the Nutcracker in my uwol18 entry shows.
The first thing I did when I started to use the 7D for video, was to turn off all auto functions. And I only use M or TV mode when I shot. In 25 fps shutter set to 1/50 and in 60 fps shutter 1/125.

You have to film for some time to get used to how to exposure as there is no zebra patterns to relay on. Most of the time I have to underexpose -1/2 to -1 to get it right for my eyes.
The LCD screen on the back is unuseable in bright daylight, so I therefore got a Zucato loupe which help a lot in doing sharp focus.
As other have stated this is not a camcorder for fast pans and tilts, but you can do slow pans which come out nicely.
I use normal picture style and contrast, sharpness is set as low as possible to get as much neutral image as possible. Then in post I do some color correcting, raise contrast and put some sharpness to the image. Itīs almost like working with raw still pictures.

When you leave the tape and start to shot tapeless, you have to make up a different workflow to get control of your clips. This is NOT easy and I still struggling some way to find a method to get a workflow that is easy to administer and safe in case of any diskcrash!

The weakest point of the DSLR is the audio. Even if you use external mic there is no way you can get as good audio as I do with the XLH1 and external XLR mics. The 7D has AGL (auto gain level) on audio, other DSLR are maybe better as you can do manual audio levels? So when I shot from my hide I often use the XLH1 combined with the 7D. The XLH1 then do the static wideshots and recording of audio while the DSLR is used to take detail shots.

The Canon AVCHD-codec from the DSLR could have been better (higer bandwith), as I get only an average of 15-20 MB/s in data rate. OK, itīs very efficient and compared to HDV which is 25MB/s itīs slightly better, I would have prefered something closer to 50 MB/s.

You need to budget some for storage when you start to shot with DSLR. AVCHD can not be genuine used to edit, as this will choke your computer rather quickly. On the Mac platform, I convert to ProRes422 which at least triple the file size. My raw material only for uwol18 occupied nearly 750GB of disk space!

Ok, this was some thoughts and experience from my period shooting with DSLR.
__________________
- Per Johan
Vimeo Site and Stock Footage Library at Pond5
Per Johan Naesje is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 24th, 2010, 07:36 AM   #7
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Pleasanton, CA
Posts: 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by Per Johan Naesje View Post
The LCD screen on the back is unuseable in bright daylight, so I therefore got a Zucato loupe which help a lot in doing sharp focus.
I have not purchased any kind of loupe yet, but one is certainly on my list. Fortunately with the articulated screen on the 60D you can avoid some of the issues with glare. But the additional zoom factor of the loupe will be really helpful in focusing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Per Johan Naesje View Post
The weakest point of the DSLR is the audio. Even if you use external mic there is no way you can get as good audio as I do with the XLH1 and external XLR mics. The 7D has AGL (auto gain level) on audio, other DSLR are maybe better as you can do manual audio levels?
The Canon 60D and 5D both the ability to turn off the AGC and set the audio level in 64 steps. The Nikon D7000 can turn off AGC, but can only set three levels.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Per Johan Naesje View Post
You need to budget some for storage when you start to shot with DSLR. AVCHD can not be genuine used to edit, as this will choke your computer rather quickly. On the Mac platform, I convert to ProRes422 which at least triple the file size. My raw material only for uwol18 occupied nearly 750GB of disk space!
Yes I forgot to mention storage space and editing! I use Sony Vegas and until recently transcoded my footage to Cineform (which also increases the size considerably). With the Canon's 12minutes of footage equals 4GB of space (that's the reason for the 12 minute limit because the cards are formatted using FAT32) after transcoding the files are MUCH larger. I have 1.75 terabytes of external storage (mostly) for video. Sony recently upgraded their software and now with Vega Pro 10 I can edit the Canon clips without transcoding. Depending on your edit suite you may either need to upgrade or transcode to be able to manage edits from a DSLR.
Rich Ryan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 24th, 2010, 07:38 AM   #8
Major Player
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: San Antonio, Texas
Posts: 880
I second Per Johanís comments, especially about the use of an intermediate codec. ProRes 422 is only for Mac so I have been using DNxHD (free from Avid). I convert the footage from 8 bit to 10 bit at 200 MB/s with 4:2:2 sampling. Some argue this is a waste of time as the video was shot at lower quality and it will never gain quality by conversion. Somewhat true, but there are other considerations. Just because this is digital does not mean that you can manipulate things and expect perfect fidelity. Cumulative degradation creeps in from things such as rounding error on computation. By using a more robust codec for editing the damage is much less. All intermediate codecs (there are several others) share another thing. They donít use interframe compression, thus freeing a great load from your CPU/GPU. I have had to change one thing. Iím used to color correcting in PP but the tools there are 8 bit and it doesnít make sense to use them on 10 bit video. Instead, I now use Color Finesse in AE. Itís much more powerful anyway and handles 10 bit video as well as 16 bit PS files in the timeline. There is extra overhead because of larger files and extra time converting and switching back and forth between programs. For me it is worth it. The bottom line is that when you switch to an output codec for delivery the video looks better. By the way, these intermediate codecs arenít just for DSLR footage (or AVCHD footage in general), they are also a huge benefit when editing HDV.
Mike Sims is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 24th, 2010, 12:03 PM   #9
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Elk Grove CA
Posts: 6,838
I thing an intermediate codec is still a must. I like Cineform because of what I am able to do to pre-treat my footage with a LUT in FirstLight. It is instantaneous like a in setting your camera, only with a lot more leeway. That way you can shoot flat and move it just about any where you want to in post.
__________________
Chris J. Barcellos
Chris Barcellos is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 24th, 2010, 02:48 PM   #10
Major Player
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Santa Ana, CA
Posts: 499
Good info everyone. My limited and recent experience. At events, people don't realize that you are taking video because the camera's are discrete (depending on how you set them up), so they are great for photojournalism style and getting authentic footage and expressions. I did test with camera weights and how it induces micro jitters. Something like 30 oz was my personal ceiling for holding a camera without inducing micro-jitters. Sometimes less is more, the lightest camera being the t2i, with a 50mm primer, all you need is a gorrilapod or cullman travelpod for a third point for stabilization, and you get great handheld footage. Software tools can take good handheld footage (deshaker, mercalli, which repairs rolling shutter in addition to stabilizing footage) and makes it look expensive. You can adapt antique lenses to take advantage of quality optics from the past and get experienced with different looks.
Greg Fiske is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > DV Info Net Community Contests > The UWOL Challenge

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 02:42 AM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network