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Andy Wilkinson October 25th, 2009 04:13 AM

Canon 7D or Lumix GH1? (with Sony EX3)
Searched around and could n't see that this had been discussed in this forum section so here goes.

This is NOT a "which camera is better" type question but I'm weighting these two up and trying to decide which is better for MY specific needs. Right now I'm leaning towards the GH1 because of flexibility/manual control but have yet to decide.

My main video camera is (and will remain) a Sony PMW-EX3 (PAL) which I use mostly in Full HD with full manual control but I want a second cam for those types of shots we all know the VDSLRs can get. I edit on Macs, mostly. Subject matter is mostly corporate/business/promo video for Std Def DVD and 720p HD Quicktime or 720p HD WMV delivery, as well as Flash for websites.

Some of you will have gone through this thought process and may even have used both cams so I'm interested to hear why you went for the Canon 7D, specifically, over the Lumix GH1.

Note: I'm not personally interested in bringing the Canon 5D MkII into this discussion as it currently lacks some of the video flexibility I need out of the box (25p etc., at least for now) as well as being even more expensive.

All constructive input to the discussion appreciated. Thanks!

Bill Pryor October 25th, 2009 09:47 AM

I got the 7D because I also wanted to upgrade my still camera. I shoot most video with a Canon XH A1, and its quality is fine for my work. But I like the more cinematic look for personal documentary things. A friend here is using the Lumix for similar things and he's happy with it. However, he says it has serious rolling shutter problems when shooting 1080P and is doing everything at 720p, and he says the problem is more controllable in that mode.

My XH A1 will continue to be my main camera for corporate work, most likely, with the 7D being a backup camera. If I can adapt to the tapeless workflow, it might end up as the main camera in the near future. If I can get my LCD viewfinder in time, I'm going to try some location work with the 7D that will intercut with studio shots from the XH A1, and that's probably how it will play out for some time--I do a regular series and having the increased depth of field control would make my life easier on certain locations where there are always too many things in the backgrounds I need to hide.

The Lumix uses an AVCHD-Lite codec, meaning it runs at about 18mbs (I think that's correct, or close). I have a little Sony TG1 I use for home movie things, which is AVCHD at 16 mbs, and the quality is acceptable. You can transcode it easily in FCP. People like to complain about codecs that are not "normal," but I've found no problem with editing AVCHD, HDV and H.264. The main thing with some other codecs is if you screw up, they allow you more latitude in fixing things. HDV, for instance, won't let you do as much exposure tweaking without showing some deterioration; the solution is to shoot it properly in the first place. Some correction and grading is OK and I do it all the time, same with the low data rate AVCHD, and it holds up fine if you don't overdo it.

The Lumix has a flip out and tiltable LCD screen which is nice, and you can use auto focus when shooting video, so those might be meaningful to you. The biggest difference, of course, is the chip size. The 7D has the APS-C chip, about the same size as Academy 4-perf 35mm motion picture film. The Lumix has the micro 4/3 chip, which is close to the size of 16mm film. So you will have more dept of field control than with your EX, it won't be as controllable as with the 7D (which is not as controllable as the 5D).

One very nice thing about the 7D for production where you have a budget is that because of the chip size, you'll be able to rent 35mm cine lenses as soon as adapters become commercially available. There are already some made but mostly custom at this point, I guess. The Lumix will let you use 16mm cine lenses, and I've read that commercial adapters are already out there. The guy I know has a C-mount adapter and can use old (and cheap) fast 16mm lenses, which he is doing nicely.

So I think the Lumix is very useable if the smaller chip suits you. It's also cheaper, smaller, lighter and has some operational advantages. You mentioned manual control--everything is manual with the 7D, but if you want to record serious audio, we're waiting on the Magic Lantern update to be able to override the auto gain the audio has. I think the Lumix has auto gain also, because my friend is shooting double system sound as are most people who are now using HDSLRs, it seems.

I think there are more lens limitations with the Lumix, ie., not as many out there. But on the other hand, there are all those old 16mm lenses that are cheap, if you don't mind fully manual lenses. I've only seen Lumix footage on the websites, so I can't talk about how it really looks, but what I've seen seems to compare well with other cameras. One nice thing about these hybrids is that they're hot now, so you could probably buy one and if you simply hate it, sell it for about what you spent.

David Chapman October 25th, 2009 01:42 PM

Here is a comparison of the GH1 against the 7D to the tune of the Beverly Hillbillies.

ProLost - ProLost Blog - The Ballad of theGH1

Hope that helps you decide.

Andy Wilkinson October 25th, 2009 02:12 PM

Yeah, very funny, but point well made James!...or is it David....Thanks also Bill for the really excellent and well thought out response too!

Well, after a lot more reading today, I'm now leaning more towards 7D and a fast lens for it, specifically the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM which I think will better suit my needs - than the new, more affordable (but way slower) Canon EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM.

I'm busy next few days (taking the kids to the Tower of London tomorrow!) and then doing a shoot at a big Mobile Phone company mid-week but will try and look in now and again in the next few days as I try and decide.

Not completely given up on the GH1 yet...bear in mind it's ("only") about 1200 Quid over here. I'll need about 2000 Quid (or thereabouts I guess - just going to check now) for that 7D with the faster lens of the two listed above, I guess. I often need wide more than I need telephoto and I don't like the idea of buying a lens that's f5.6 on the long end...I'd rather buy a few fast lenses than lots of slow ones!....but that'll be a separate decision once I've decided which platform (7D or GH1) better suites me budget and needs - taking into account the 1.6x crop factor on the 7D. I must admit this is a bit of a concern with the GH1 as it's crop factor is "worse" in this respect at 2x....and sure the AVCHD codec at only 17-18Mbps, or whatever it is exactly, is also another concern in my head for sure.

Hoping to have made a decision by next weekend so keep the 7D versus GH1 strengths and weaknesses type thoughts coming in!

Jaser Stockert October 25th, 2009 02:34 PM

also consider the new Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC(Vibration Control). The non-VC version has gotten great reviews and is sharp. saves you $350. I have this lens on order and should be available by the end of the month.

TAMRON | SP AF 17-50mm F/2.8 XR Di II VC LD Aspherical [IF] [Model B005] TOP

Illya Friedman October 30th, 2009 12:26 PM


Originally Posted by Bill Pryor (Post 1437592)
The Lumix has the micro 4/3 chip, which is close to the size of 16mm film. So you will have more dept of field control than with your EX, it won't be as controllable as with the 7D (which is not as controllable as the 5D).

There is actually no such thing as a micro 4/3 chip, only a micro 4/3 lens mount. The sensor is always 4/3. I'm not sure where you heard that 4/3 is close to 16mm, 4/3 is much larger. The usable image are is not to far from 3-perf 35mm 1.78. Many TV series and feature films have been shot 3-perf. While somewhat smaller than 4-perf, you are not loosing the ability to control depth of field.


Originally Posted by Bill Pryor (Post 1437592)
One very nice thing about the 7D for production where you have a budget is that because of the chip size, you'll be able to rent 35mm cine lenses as soon as adapters become commercially available.

I am working at the forefront of this technology, and I can tell you that as of today you can rent nearly any 35mm motion picture lenses and have them work properly on a GH1. Not true with 16mm cine lenses. Most 16mm lenses under 25mm are not compatible, most c-mount zoom lenses are not compatible. C-mount lenses are usually for much smaller censors and were not optimized for 4/3. You are much better off with lenses designed for 35mm photography/cinematography.

Right now there are two options for working with PL cine lenses and the 7D, neither are very good. You can permanently modify a 7D (butcher) so that it can be used for no other lenses than cinema lenses, or you can use a PL mount that will only allow you to use lenses with rear element shallower than 8mm, that means you can use a few long (telephoto) lenses and a couple zooms. 95% of commercially available lenses will not work. I am in the process of building a PL mount for the 7D, that can use probably 90% of 35mm cine lenses, but this is not easy work, and I don't have an official release date for any product yet.


Originally Posted by Bill Pryor (Post 1437592)
I think the Lumix has auto gain also, because my friend is shooting double system sound as are most people who are now using HDSLRs, it seems.

Beachtek makes a box that allows for 2-ch single system recording on the 5D/7D and GH1

Hope this helps,


Illya Friedman

Paulo Teixeira October 30th, 2009 12:48 PM

This can be a tough one. Do you want something that operatives almost like a camcorder with the articulating screen, constant auto focusing in the video and much easier to hold such as the GH1 or a camera that has fully native 24p in which a pulldown removal is not needed, slightly better lowlight capabilities and slightly better Depth of Field control such as the 7D. If you were interested in shooting 720 60p than the Panasonic would be the wise choice but it’s not the issue here.

Bill Pryor October 30th, 2009 02:00 PM

That above post is correct, the 4/3 chip is bigger than 16mm. I had been told it was very close to 16mm size and that made sense because people are using 16mm lenses on it, but zoomed back you'd get vignetting at some focal lengths. Supposedly the crop is 2X. Still beats the hell out of 2/3".

Yes, the Beachtek and Juicedlink give you an audio interface on the cameras, but most people in production are still doing double system sound, especially with the 7D since ML isn't out yet. The people I know shooting with the GH-1 are also doing double system.

Barry Green October 30th, 2009 11:03 PM


Still beats the hell out of 2/3".
It's actually 4x as big as 2/3".

Andy Wilkinson October 31st, 2009 08:59 AM

OK, after a lot of thought I've more or less decided to go for the Canon 7D (about 1500 Quid Body only here in the UK) and the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM lens (about 700 Quid).

Weak AVCHD-Lite codec on the GH1 and concerns over it's low light perfomance (with the supplied kit lens) is the main reason for my choice being the 7D. I also want a decent stills camera for some corporate work so it'll fit that niche well without raising too many eyebrows. Sure, something better will come along in this fast moving Video DSLR area but sometimes you've just got to make a choice and get on with making films with the gear that's available and which seems right for your own needs.

I think a 7D will be a great complement for my EX3 for certain kinds of cutaway shots in all the corporate work I've got coming in - once I've learnt how to use the 7Ds strengths and avoid/subdue it's weaknesses. As always, I know where to come for some great advice and help with all of that!

Thanks for the inputs everyone. Will let you know how I get on!

Manus Sweeney October 31st, 2009 11:15 AM

i think in these discussions often one of the most important aspects isn't considered: which look do you prefer?

the canon look is very canonesque, its hard to explain it in words, its more a feeling that you can pick up yourself if you spend a little time on vimeo watching 7d and GH1 clips.. The GH1 is nice also, I think honestly it's not so well suited to shooting people well, the look always makes me think it would be good for a slick BMW commercial or something! Nikon are well known for having that soft dreamy look which can be also great for certain styles..

i think its important to think about what will work best for your final purpose.. corporate stuff could be nice with GH1 but then again theres many looks that can be sought after even in corporate stuff..


Manus Sweeney October 31st, 2009 11:39 AM

also 1500 GBP sounds a little steep.. here in NL the price seems to have dropped.. eg here Canon EOS 7D Body Canon EOS 7D vind u bij ons voor de beste prijs kijk vergelijk snel de prijs van de canon 7d op onze site [10261212] - € 1.298,00 : Foka Webwinkel, De specialist in foto, beeld en geluid.

1300 euros..


Andy Wilkinson October 31st, 2009 02:11 PM

Yes, I've now found one UK supplier that currently has 7D body only for 1340 Quid...just sussing out now if I trust them enough before I give them my credit card number!

Manus Sweeney October 31st, 2009 02:41 PM

yeah its good to be aware of the 'gray market' sellers like simplyelectronics.. delivery can take a long time and warranty would be through them and not canon.. you can usually find out by reading the small print of their terms & conditions..

good luck!

Andy Wilkinson October 31st, 2009 03:06 PM

Yes sussed that already - but thanks for the heads up. Don't think I'll be buying anything from a company that has an address in The Trendy Center in Kowloon....!

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