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Bruce S. Yarock October 21st, 2009 03:10 AM

What have I gotten myself into?
My main problem is figuring out how I can use this camera in the real world.
I shot an outdoors charity event last Sunday, and used my trusty Canon H1 with wa lens, wirelss hand held mic, etc. Got the job done nicely, and then decided to spend some time prectibing with the 7d. I ended up trashing most of what I shot with the 7d!. I'll go over the accessories I bought, and then my reactions so far to the 7d.

1-Viewfinder- I bought the one from IDC ( nice people, great customer service) for $200 plus shipping. I'm pretty happy with it, although it would be nice to check out the magnify function on the Zacuto. I have to use the "magnify" button on the 7d in order to pull focus. I guess that the viewfinder is going to be usable omly for hand held, monopod, or with a shoulder brace. very difficult with tripod, because you'd have to have the rig exactly at eye level. I'm not sure what is usable for outside in bright sun with tripod in a run and gun situation ( when there's no time to set up a monitor).

2-Adapter for using my Nikon lenses and my Tokina 28-70 f 2.8. I bought the expensive one from Fotodiox ($149 plus shipping with the focus assist chip). It fits real tight and took some getting used to, but works surprisingly well. I also tried shooting stills with a couple of my manual Nikon primes, and the focus assit feature was great!

3-Adjustable ND filter- I bought the Vari ND from Singh- Ray ( also nice people and excellent customer service). Although it's expensive ($340 plus shipping) I think it's a must have for sunny out door shooting, assuming you don't have a mattbox and a bunch of different nd filters. I bought stepping rings ($7.00 each) for each of my lens sizes ( 62-77, 67-77, etc) and ordered the vari ND in 77mm size. I realozed after i bought it that i can also use it on my canon h1 and A1.

4-Hdmi cable- I was impilsive and "had" to view the footage on my montors, so spent the $50 at radio Shack. I orderd the HD Fury 11adater from hdmi to component from Monoprice. haven't gotten it yet but i hope it works well...can't afford another montor just for hdmi.
So far I've spent a little over $1000 for accessories (plus 2k for the kit with the 18-135, extra battery, etc.).

Here are the additional things that I rhink I still need.
1- Set of rails.I have a set that I use with my letus extreme, but it doesn't adapt well to the 7d. I have to completely change the set up and have to use the follow focus on the right side 9 as opposed to left). I'd rather just get another set of rails and use my same follow focus on either rig.
I think that rails and ff are necessary ( for me) because the focus ring on the lenses and the adjuster ring on the vari-Nd are too close easy to confuse, and an ergonomic pain in the ass.

2-Audio- I have a couple of shotguns and a beechtek box, which I'll be trying roday. the on camera audio isn't too bad, especially when the auto gain can be turned off and when there are audio levels ( and zebras, PLEASE).

3- Some kind of comfortable ( but not too expensive) shoulder brace or stabilizer for hand held???

Since this post is so long, I'll talk about my reactions and questions in a second post on this thread.
Bruce Yarock
Yarock Video & Photography

Bruce S. Yarock October 21st, 2009 03:44 AM

Sorry about the spelling ( I started this post at 4:45 am). Here are some reactions and questions.

1- Shutter speed. I'm used to the typical video cam shutter speeds for the different frame rates. Everyone here suggests using 1/50 for 24. What about for 30 or 60i? has anyone experiemented with with jacking up the shutter as a solution to bring down exposure ( as an alternative to nd's or stopping down)? if so, what have you found? What are the pittfalls of faster shutter?

2-Changing exposure while panning( or jysr rolling)- last night I did a tripod pan shot around sundown. the western exposure was brighter, and i wanted to see how i coild manually adjust as i panned. On my h1, i coild ride the iris or use tv mode and keep the exposure uniform. on the 7d, anything i tried to do manually while panning looked abrupt and jerky.
I also figured I'd try shutter priority and program mode. It looks like this can't be done because even in shutter priority, everything starts changing (shutter, iris, iso).maybe thos "prioriy" modes only working for stills. I bring these questions up because of lot of the conditions i shoot in are chaoric, high contrast, changing exposure situations.

3- 7d vs. Letus extreme-
I plan ro use this along with or as a substitute for my Letus Extreme. I love the Letus, but all the adapters are light hogs. Hopefully I can use the 7d for the same look iin lower light situatons where the Letus would be un unasble. I was experomenting with some dramatic lighting on a close up with my Nikon 85f 1.4, and the footage was beautifull.

To sum up my limited experience so far, it seems like this camera is ideal for controlable situations. I plan to use it for some of the shots on thursday for a short i'll be doing. When I have controllable light and uniform exposure, it's an mazing camera to use.The selective focus control is beautifull, But i just don't kniow how much I'll be able to use it events and the more run and gun stuff I do. maybe i'll start using it for extra beauty shots,addirional camera, etc.

I'd appreciate anyone's reactions.
Bruce Yarock

Mike Dulay October 21st, 2009 04:55 AM

Hi Bruce,

The priority modes/auto modes appear slower reacting to exposure changes than a camcorder that we're used to and when it does react it tries to adjust as quickly as possible. I usually shoot in mode 'M' with AEB and Auto ISO. Maybe camcorders close the iris more continuously whereas SLR lenses have snappy but abrupt changes. Running indoors to outdoors my HV20 would go bright for a second then dim smoothly over a second. With the 7D the AEB can only go so far, so for a second I get a stop that's still overexposed, then I manually turn up the f-stop (assuming manual lens) which then gets a second jarring stop but to the correct exposure. The manual does say that changing exposure during video recording will have a jarring effect. It must be how the lenses are built because it seemed true even when using 35mm adapters.

Brian Parker October 21st, 2009 05:29 AM

Interesting that the magnifier doesnt significantly help focussing. I wonder how much better that zacuto one that you mention is. The magnify button on the 7d is a lifesaver but doesnt work whilst actually recording, making run n gun impossible. In this situation I use auto focus before hitting "start" and then use the focus ring on my lens to make minor changes while filming. But the lcd monitor is literally useless for checking focus. It only gets you into the right ballpark. This is the biggest issue for me with the 7D. I wonder if an 8 inch monitor in a monitor bag around your neck would even be good enough. I'd like to check that out.

I agree about some kind of shoulder based stabilization too. I would like to see how strongly it plants itself onto the shoulder. Would holding the lens with both hands and zooming/focussing cause the whole rig to tilt left/right, I wonder.

Re: your 3 questions:

1. For 60i, your lowest possible shutter speed will be 60. I have seen noticeable jitter on shutter speeds above 125. Especially in 24fps and pans.

2. You should go into manual mode and lock the shutter speed and aperture ans then just depend on auto iso, or manual iso changes during a shot for the smoothest possible exposure change (go to manual wb too).
Ae,Tv etc. are all exactly the same as P in video mode; auto everything.

3. Yes, it's nice. But I was expecting less iso noise. Even 1600 is too noisy on poorly lit skin tones at night to be usable. There's still no substitute for proper lighting I guess.
Also, I have f2.8 lenses, and like everyone else, want to take advantage of the shallow dpf that this brings, but without a method to get perfect focus in milliseconds, it feels too dangerous to stop down that low. I am hovering around f4-5 to get some shallow dof effect, but still some safety for when subjects move aorund.

Bruce S. Yarock October 21st, 2009 06:51 AM

I always use full manual on my other cameras. I was just trying to see if one of the program modes would make exposure change more gradual. Do you use auto iso indoors and out, and all the time ( except set up shots)? Do you find it acceptable?
Also, whatís ďAEBĒ?

So the shutter speed should be 1/50 for 24, 1/60 for 60i right? What about for 30?
I agree on the fast lenses. Unless Iím wide and close, Iím keeping mine at f4 at least. The canon kit lens isnít bad (18-135), and for moving around, Iíve kept it at f 5.6 so that I have a constant aperture.
The ďauto focusĒ trick will only work on my one canon kit lens, since all of my other primes are Nikon.
Bruce Yarock

Bill Pryor October 21st, 2009 08:52 AM

I haven't used mine that much yet because I haven't got the viewer, but I shoot everything manual. As noted 1/50 for 24p, 1/60 for 30p. It's not a good idea to use the shutter to adjust exposure when shooting video, though you can do it to a degree, but you go too high and will get some weirdness, and you go lower and you'll get strobing or blurring. Some wedding guys will shoot some low light things at a 1/24 for 24p or a 1/30 for 60i and you can do that for something like the wedding vows where nobody is moving very fast. But most of the time, use ND filters. Unfortunately, still cameras don't have them built in like video cameras.

The IDC setup uses the Hoodman which has a focusing diopter but no magnification. Interesting to see that you find you need some magnification. That sort of pushes me toward either the Zacuto or the Cavision. The Cavision has 6x magnification but no diopter adjustment. the Zacuto does 3x and does have the adjustment.

About shoulder braces, there is one B&H carries that I think is under $200. Called Hawkeye, or something like that. The still photographers may know more about it. I think I saw it on the 5D thread. Redrock has a basic set of rails and shoulder mount for between $500 and $600.

What I would like is a small, like about 4-5", lightweight and inexpensive LCD monitor that runs off AA batteries to attach to the hotshoe with a tilt bracket, for those low angle shots that are easy with a regular video camera but make you have to lie down in the dirt with a still camera. Too many things to buy. I'm still vacillating between going double system sound with a Tascam DR-100 or waiting on Magic Lantern and using a Beachtek or Juicedlink.

Brian Parker October 21st, 2009 09:48 AM

Hi Bill,

I have bought the cavision, just because at that price I dont mind if it isnt perfect. I'd prefer not to use a loupe at all, so I bought it just to test their value. 6x magnification is probably way too much, but it will also show me if it really does help with focussing. I have excellent (1.2) sight but even with my face up against the lcd screen I cant tell if I've got perfect focus or not. Be interesting to see if a loupe changes that.

For audio I have a mixpre 2 channel mixer. I plan on using that if a magic lantern release happens. It worked fine for me when using it with my canon hf100. The audio recorded this way had a ceiling of 20khz I think, whereas my marantz recorder had frequencies above that, but they are so high it wouldn't make a difference anyway.
I have ordered a tascam dr100 (for the portability and better preamps than my marantz pmd-670).

Looking at the IDC site I am very interested in the follow focus. I've spent all my money now, so it'll have to wait, but I'm sure that this would aid manual focussing significantly. You can use your left eye to see your second focus point on the dial. Much better than my current method of putting bits of blu-tac on my focus ring.

Bruce S. Yarock October 21st, 2009 11:41 AM

Typo...How $1699 turned into to over $3000.

Bruce S. Yarock October 21st, 2009 11:43 AM

I would never normally fool with shutter for exposure tweaking, but I sometimes do it out side with the letus when O want to maintain irsi open. But now i can also use the vari- nd on my A1 with the letus.

I wonder if I should have spent the extra money on the zacuto. I need the diopter because i wear glasses, and that additional magnifivation would really be helpfull.

I like the idea of a small montor to mount on the shoe.

I'll check on the redrock rails system

I too have spent WAY too much already ( interesting how $12699 turned into over $3000!).
bruce yarock

Bruce Foreman October 21st, 2009 12:27 PM


I think you "overspent" on accessories before getting to know the camera. Not meant as a criticism just an observation, if you're trying to get used to too many variables at once everything gets complicated.

First: Exposure...You can set everything while the dial is in M on top of the camera, then when you switch to video mode all those settings are "locked in". None of the priority modes transfer to video, all those default to full auto. If in manual you set the ISO to AUTO and the aperture and shutter as desired (1/50 to about 1/125 might be ideal) and don't "obsess" about how the shutter relates to frame rate, you'll find the ISO tries to adjust to get you proper exposure.

In daylight this is likely to be at ISO 100 and you can see on the LCD if your exposure is way to bright. This is where I will start "stacking" inexpensive ND filters to try to get down where I want. But in other than outdoor bright daylight you will see the ISO changing and when the image "looks" right you can lock exposure in 2 ways. Using the exposure lock button or by pressing the ISO button and setting the ISO to what was indicated. I use this latter method because if I need an exposure change for mood I can simply press the ISO button and adjust up or down until I have what I want.

Or you can always use full auto to see where the camera wants to set things and then go manual and adjust from there.

Shallow DOF: Keep it simple, fast lenses (the inexpensive EF 50mm F1.8 is fantastic for this), set it wide or close to wide and use ND filters as necessary to bring the shutter speed down to the range mentioned above. If you have no fast motion involved you can let the shutter speed be fast (1/500 and above) without bad results.

Viefinder: My opinion...The CAVISION with it's 6x eyepiece makes focusing easy, I've even had good luck doing follow focus with the lens focusing ring. Any thing like the Hoodman Hoodloupe 3.0 or any other adaptation of that has no magnication and will require super good eyesight to focus with. An added benefit for me is the mounting plate for the CAVISION when used with the Manfrotto quick release camera plate gives an extra gripping surface beneath the camera that allowed me to get good video of a motorcyle while I leaned out the passenger side window of a pickup. Very stable.

Shoulder mount system: SpiderBrace 2 Combo ( or maybe the lower priced Easy Brace ), about $100 with shipping, very lightweight and with the right lenses VERY EASY TO STABILIZE. I'm 71 so the lightweight part is very important for me.

Audio: For now (while we wait to see what Tramm Hudson is able to do) I use "double system", a ZoomH2 with a good windmuff mounted on a lightweight stand and placed in close enough gets me pretty good sound with it's internal mics. I let the camera internal mic record audio with the video so I have something I can "sync" up with in post.

What you might try is to take the camera out with just the viewfinder (not on a job!) and kind of put it through it's paces, get somewhat used to it. I sometimes carry a T1i with the Hoodman Loupe (loupe on a neck lanyard) and find I can hold the loupe in place with fingers long enough to bring back pressure on the camera to hold the loupe in place between the camera and my eyeglasses and actually record some scenes that way.

The more you use it and get used to it, the better you will like it.

Bruce S. Yarock October 21st, 2009 01:43 PM

I was under the impression that the caivision doesn't have a diopter. How do you set the viewfinder if you wear glasses?
Shutter speed- what you're saying is that if there's no real motion you can jack yp the ss without affecring the image? I've done this with my letus when i wanted to keed the lens wide open. I must say, however, that the vari nd is real nice and hekps in this respect.
bruce yarock

Bruce Foreman October 21st, 2009 05:44 PM

The CAVISION viewfinder does not have diopter adjustment, but with vision corrected close enough to 20/20 apparently I don't need it. I do have to adjust the diopter on EOS viewfinders but the apparent distance is not infinity, close to somewhere around 1 meter to arms length. It matters there. But not with a straight magnifier at the proper distance.

The baseline (infinity) prescription on my eyeglasses work fine with the CAVISION.

Shutter speed: The problem with high shutter speeds in video apparently shows with "staccato", stuttery, strobing motion if motion is fast enough. On the tests I did with the adapted Nikkor F1.8 and the EF F1.8 on the T1i must have resulted in shutter of 1/1000 to 1/2000 but because no fast motion took place I got no "strobing" effect.

Just run some tests and see what you get.

The Vari ND should work quite well as long as you have the range needed. I just chose the stackable ND filters in 52mm and 58mm as the most economical way for me to go. Due in tomorrow, I ordered .6 (2 stops) and .9 (3 stops) so stacking them I can reduce light coming in by 5 stops if necessary.

I hope I didn't come across as critical, that was not my intent. You'll probably use all you bought but it's easier working the kinks out of one thing at a time.

Do look into the SpiderBrace or Easy Brace. The SB 2 Combo is working pretty good for me. And it's inexpensive enough.

Bruce S. Yarock October 21st, 2009 06:58 PM

"I hope I didn't come across as critical, that was not my intent. You'll probably use all you bought but it's easier working the kinks out of one thing at a time."

No problem....I probably did jump the gun but I think evrything I got is usable. I didn't realize how hard it is to pull focus while shooting with a vf that doesn't magnify while shooting. I may see if I can return it.
Bruce Yarock

Mike Dulay October 22nd, 2009 08:00 PM


Originally Posted by Bruce S. Yarock (Post 1435715)
I always use full manual on my other cameras. I was just trying to see if one of the program modes would make exposure change more gradual. Do you use auto iso indoors and out, and all the time ( except set up shots)? Do you find it acceptable?
Also, whatís ďAEBĒ?

Sorry, I meant AWB. (AEB is auto-exposure bracketing). I tried both Auto ISO both indoors and outdoors plus manual ISO. I find that for off the hip its easier to use Auto ISO then adjust in post for the noise. When I try to set ISO 160, 320 I forget when I change locations which leads to either over or underexposed footage. Between fiddling with which lens to use, framing and setting aperture for DOF it doesn't leave much time to remember which ISO I have setup. The info display does give you this information but I have to remember to press the button. I guess my mistake is turning off the camera when I move but with just two batteries I worry I'll not have enough charge for the day. Given the choice of quick sub-optimal footage and no footage, I'll take the former.

Bruce Foreman October 23rd, 2009 10:14 PM


Originally Posted by Bruce S. Yarock (Post 1435665)
1- Shutter speed. I'm used to the typical video cam shutter speeds for the different frame rates. Everyone here suggests using 1/50 for 24. What about for 30 or 60i? has anyone experiemented with with jacking up the shutter as a solution to bring down exposure ( as an alternative to nd's or stopping down)? if so, what have you found? What are the pittfalls of faster shutter?

Some more info for you on shutter speed and exposure:

I got my ND filters in from B&H late yesterday and today wandered out in my front yard with the 7D, 50mm F1.8 EF lens, and a .6 and .9 ND filters. Combined (stacked) they give me 5 stops light reduction. Almost can't see through the viewfinder but the LCD view works just fine. To keep things simple I put my Hoodman Loupe on lanyard around the neck and started "playing".

5 stops seemed just right in late afternoon daylight with sunlight illuminating everything across the street. I focused on things close up (about head size) With camera set at 1/30 to 1/50 (depending on lighting), F1.8, and ISO on AUTO.

A slight press on the shutter release gave me the ISO reading of 200 and on the LCD things looked "right" (you can judge this if you use the viewfinder loupe that blocks extraneous light). By pressing the ISO button, the ISO setting box appeared with the current selection highlighted. Changing the ISO with the control wheel (by the shutter release) showed appropriate lightening/darkening of the image (you judge effect by the area outside the setting "box" tilting the camera if necessary). This exposure remains "locked" and does not change with panning into different areas (which is the way I want it). I did some short recordings so I could evaluate them later but essentially found I had the exposure control I wanted.

The tests showed me that about 5 stops of ND brings the shutter speed down from the higher ranges to the range I feel I can render motion with.

Auto Mode: Switching to video from Program, Aperture priority, or Shutter priority (and probably every other mode besides Manual) makes the camera default to full auto. This is useful if you need to grab something quick and have not had a chance to think out any settings. I didn't have a chance to try anything outside in this mode as the phone rang and by the time I was done the light had started fading on me. So I played around with it indoors where in auto it kept the lens at F1.8, shutter 1/30 to 1/50 and ISO from 400 to 6400 depending on what lighted areas it was reading. Again, in this kind of situation I do NOT want the camera adjusting as I pan so pressing the * button "locks" current exposure. Each time * is pressed the lighting is re-evaluated and "locked".

The more I handle this camera, the more I like it.

I hope this info helps some more.

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