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Thread: Frustrated with 7D video capability

  1. #1
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Frustrated with 7D video capability

    Am I using my 7D video correctly? I have been a pretty efficient professional cinematographer in my earlier life but, for me, shooting video with my 7D is darn awkward…

    It seems like the 7D can autofocus during live-recording but, the focus 'searches'. I can’t follow-focus a moving subject using autofocus and manually follow-focusing by use of the relatively small LCD held at a distance from my eye is really difficult to me.

    Zooming is another problem for me. The relatively short traverse of, say, my 70-200mm f/4L IS lens from wide to tele range, makes manual zooming rather clumsy for me.

    When I used a 16mm Arriflex motion picture camera, I had through the lens viewing capability which allowed me to follow focus accurately and smoothly. Additionally, the relatively long traverse of the 12-120mm Angenieux zoom ring allowed fairly smooth manual zooms.

    Another problem I seem to have is to be able to quickly pick up a moving subject or even a still subject using the LCD. When I use my 70-200mm lens at 200mm and am viewing with the LCD, I have a hard time picking up any specific subject without moving the camera around to find it. When I am shooting with the eye level TTL viewfinder, I can automatically lock in on a distant subject even when using my 300mm of 400mm lenses without a lot of searching. The camera is automatically pointing at where my eye was looking. Not so when the viewing the LCD at a distance from my eye. Additionally, when following a moving subject, it is far more natural for me to aciieve a smooth pan with an eye level viewfinder. That is because when panning, I shift at my hips which pretty well allows the camera to rotate around its basic nodal point rather than panning at arms length.

    Of course, when I used the 16mm Arriflex with the 12-120mm zoom lens in the mid-nineteen sixties into the seventies; the rig cost around five grand (USD) for the camera and another thousand or more for the lens. I would expect that the equivalent price in today's dollars would be fifteen to twenty thousand. I can't expect a rig which costs a total of little over two thousand, $USD, and which is actually a morphodite still/video camera to have the capability of a dedicated motion picture camera like the Arriflex...

    However, there seem to be a lot of camcorders in use today which run under a thousand dollars and are, IMO, more suited to general video use than my 7D which kind of limps along (at least the way I am attempting to use it).

    I did not trombone my zoom when I was shooting movies but, there were times when a combination zoom and pan, combined with follow focus was a creative tool. When following a subject, I almost always was able to keep it in focus manually.

    I will try my 7D using the Hoodman Loop. If it works, I will continue using the 7D for video. However, if I still have problems achieving smooth follow focus (either in AF or MF mode) I will put the video capability to rest and only use it in lowest definition to identify my still images.

    I would appreciate any pointers on how I could correct my technique to use the 7D more efficiently. Otherwise, I will probably have to search for a camcorder that has eye level viewing, continuous focus and a motorized zoom.

    On the other hand, to give the Devil his due, the quality of the video from the 7D is breathtaking and the IS of my 70-200mm lens makes shooting at 200mm quite smooth.
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 11th February 2012 at 04:39 PM.

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    Jim B.'s Avatar
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    Re: Frustrated with 7D video capability


  3. #3
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: Frustrated with 7D video capability

    I am going bonkers trying to fugure out which camcorder has EVF capability and which camcorder has only LCD viewing capability.

    Of course, no set of specifications will remark about lack of EVF. However, most cameras that have EVF don' include that capability in the specifications.

    What has occurred to me is that in the illustrations of cameras without EVF; the images are almost never shown from a rear view. When they want to shot the LCD viewfinder, it is shown rotated areound to the front of the camera.

    I don't know about you folks, but I have never shot a camera with any viewfinder turned around facing front.

    The cameras with the EVF viewing capability are usually the more pricey models. In fact, CNET reviewed two panasonic cameras and specifically mentions that the only difference between the two models is the internal storage capacity. They don't even mention that one camera has EVF and the other does not.
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 11th February 2012 at 08:20 PM.

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    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    he camera I want and the camera I will probably get...

    I really want the Panasonic AG-AC7 Shoulder Mount AVCHD Camcorder because it is more like the motion picture cameras which I am used to using...
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...=REG&A=details

    However, I will most likely be getting the Panasonic HDC-TM900 High Definition Camcorder because my wife, who also wants to use the camcorder to shoot videos of our rescue dogs says that there is no way that she will use the MONSTER which is how she describes the AG-AC7.
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...tion_3MOS.html

    Of course, the over four hundred U.S. Dollars that I will be saving won't hurt my feelings a darn bit.

    The TM-900 has most of the things which I want on my video camera:

    Electronic Viewfinder in addition to the LCD viewfinder
    Full manual control
    Ability to control rcorded sound
    Memory card capablity

    While not deal makers, some extra nice bells and whistles are:

    Slow motion and time lapse capability
    Time Frame Index
    AF/AE tracking

    A bonus... Since I have just sold a couple of my Canon lenses which I no longer make use of, the cost of the camcorder will not come out of my bank acount...

  5. #5

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    Re: he camera I want and the camera I will probably get...

    So far, my only experience with 7D video was trying to set it up and then a few seconds of test. From which I was getting so much camera noise on the sound that I just deleted it and forgot about the video option.

    But is it possible to turn the sound recording off? I read something about being able to use an external microphone, which I suppose might be an option; although probably so complex that I wouldn't bother anyway.

  6. #6
    Jim B.'s Avatar
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    Re: he camera I want and the camera I will probably get...

    I tried video with my 5DII,but never used it since.I've read that people usually use an external mike with a separate audio recorder to eliminate the camera noise.
    I think the camcorder is the way to go.

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    Re: he camera I want and the camera I will probably get...

    I get asked a similar questions at work every week.

    The thing to remember is a DSLR will shoot video, film makers are using then to shoot really quite serious stuff but they are not camcorders. not in any way, shape or form. The only way to use them is in a professional setting where everything is organised and you shoot a specific scene, once that is done you set everything up again and shoot the next scene. It is something that the camera brands seem very reluctant to point out to potential customers and an area where Mirrorless System Cameras (MSC) are miles better. They don't have to be put into LiveView, it's their natural state and they focus using the sensor all the time so whether it's a still or video being taken the AF is perfect.
    Actually I don't understand why the likes of Nikon and Canon can't get their DSLR's to AF properly in LiveView when a bog standard compact digital camera can and all MSC do..........in fact Nikon can as I've used their 1 System cameras and the AF is astounding, they just choose not to integrate it into the D bodies.

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    Re: he camera I want and the camera I will probably get...

    I really wish that Canon had stuck with trying to put out a still camera that is the best possible rather than integrate it with a morphodite video capability that is really lacking...

    Here is what I would have like INSTEAD OF THE WORTHLESS - FOR MY USES video capability of the 7D...

    VERY EASILY ACCOMPLISHED PARAMETERS (these are already available in some cameras):

    1. ISO 25 capability which would allow slower shutter speeds without resorting to an ND filter - or have a built-in ND filter
    2. Capability to autofocus using an f/8 lens - so I could use the 1.4x TC with my 400mm f/5.6L lens
    5. Five shot bracketing capability for increased HDR capability

    MORE COMPLICATED - BUT WOW!

    1. Have the capability of a built-in GND filter to be able to shoot GND images without holding the filter in front of the lens

    OF COURSE... the above capabilities would not sell cameras like video, tilting LCD screens, umpteen billion ISO capability and quadzillion megapixels do.

    At least they haven't brought out the 7 in designer colors. Imagine shooting with a fuschia colored 7D?

    How about something really worthwhile...? A built-in espresso maker for those times when we need a bit of a pick-up while shooting!

    There is a darn good use (and the only use I make of it) for the video capability of my 7D. That is to use the lowest resolution video to identify my still pictures. As an example, I used low-res video to shoot the various models in a recent model shoot. I had each model state her name and email address. That way I had that information linked to the images of the models.

    I wish that I had low-res video capability during my two week rip to China. Identifying various images would have been a great use and occasionally, the guides had something interesting to say about the areas we visited which I could have recorded.
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 12th February 2012 at 02:47 PM.

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    Re: he camera I want and the camera I will probably get...

    Quote Originally Posted by rpcrowe View Post
    I really wish that Canon had stuck with trying to put out a still camera that is the best possible rather than integrate it with a morphodite video capability that is really lacking...

    Here is what I would have like INSTEAD OF THE WORTHLESS - FOR MY USES video capability of the 7D...

    VERY EASILY ACCOMPLISHED PARAMETERS (these are already available in some cameras):

    1. ISO 25 capability which would allow slower shutter speeds without resorting to an ND filter - or have a built-in ND filter
    2. Capability to autofocus using an f/8 lens - so I could use the 1.4x TC with my 400mm f/5.6L lens
    5. Five shot bracketing capability for increased HDR capability

    MORE COMPLICATED - BUT WOW!

    1. Have the capability of a built-in GND filter to be able to shoot GND images without holding the filter in front of the lens

    OF COURSE... the above capabilities would not sell cameras like video, tilting LCD screens, umpteen billion ISO capability and quadzillion megapixels do.

    At least they haven't brought out the 7 in designer colors. Imagine shooting with a fuschia colored 7D?

    How about something really worthwhile...? A built-in espresso maker for those times when we need a bit of a pick-up while shooting!

    There is a darn good use (and the only use I make of it) for the video capability of my 7D. That is to use the lowest resolution video to identify my still pictures. As an example, I used low-res video to shoot the various models in a recent model shoot. I had each model state her name and email address. That way I had that information linked to the images of the models.

    I wish that I had low-res video capability during my two week rip to China. Identifying various images would have been a great use and occasionally, the guides had something interesting to say about the areas we visited which I could have recorded.
    I'll start off my saying I haven't even considered using the video feature on my 5DII, and won't likely.

    I really can't find anything you missed, but might even go farther:

    1) Make the bracketing such that the number of shots can be selected, and be able to put them anywhere: EG: -4, -5, -4, 0, +1. OR: -5, -4, 0, +1, +4. This could be done now with a firmware update.

    2) I actually used Kodachrome when it was ASA 12. Why would I want that? Some of the best shots of moving water that aren't blurred mush and that show the movement and shape of the water, are taken at 1/8 second shutter speed. Using the sunny 16 rule, I could get a pretty small aperture. Wouldn't need an ND filter.

    3) Put the HDR function into the camera - taking five HDR shots at 36MP takes a lot of HDD space. (Nikon has bodies that can do this - where are you Canon?).

    4) Many are averse to tilting LCD, but even with LV, shooting a flower that is 2 inches/50 mm from the ground with the camera near horizontal is still a yoga exercise.

    Glenn
    Last edited by Glenn NK; 12th February 2012 at 04:33 PM.

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    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: he camera I want and the camera I will probably get...

    Glenn,

    You "can" on my Canon DSLR cameras shoot the three frame AEB burst and place the three frames just about anywhere you want using Exposure Compensation. I will often shoot my night cityscapes at one stop intervals and with a -1 stop Exposure compensation - this results in there shots: one as meter reads, one at -1 stop under what meter reads and one at -2 stops below what the meter reads. This will usually work well for HDR but will also often give me one decent exposure if I don't want to composite an HDR image.

    I also used Kodachrome when it was ISO (then it was ASA) 12. And, yes, this was a perfect film speed for blurring water.

    I believe that some highend camcorders have an ND filter built in. That would work for a DSLR also.

    Yep, combining the shots into a single image would also be a nice feature.

    The tilting LCD is OK for macro and close up shots. However, I can get around that by using a right angle finder.

    And for the folks who insist on always using prime lenses, how about something like this, LOL
    Frustrated with 7D video capability

  11. #11
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    Re: he camera I want and the camera I will probably get...

    Quote Originally Posted by rpcrowe View Post
    Glenn,

    You "can" on my Canon DSLR cameras shoot the three frame AEB burst and place the three frames just about anywhere you want using Exposure Compensation. I will often shoot my night cityscapes at one stop intervals and with a -1 stop Exposure compensation - this results in there shots: one as meter reads, one at -1 stop under what meter reads and one at -2 stops below what the meter reads. This will usually work well for HDR but will also often give me one decent exposure if I don't want to composite an HDR image.

    I also used Kodachrome when it was ISO (then it was ASA) 12. And, yes, this was a perfect film speed for blurring water.

    I believe that some highend camcorders have an ND filter built in. That would work for a DSLR also.

    Yep, combining the shots into a single image would also be a nice feature.

    The tilting LCD is OK for macro and close up shots. However, I can get around that by using a right angle finder.

    And for the folks who insist on always using prime lenses, how about something like this, LOL
    Frustrated with 7D video capability
    The 5DII will also operate the same way, but we're stuck with three equally spaced shots.

    Right angle finder, I have, but it was expensive, and if I don't keep the camera right side up while it's on the tripod, the finder is in danger of falling off.

    There were many that pooh-poohed the moveable LCD because it wasn't "professional" looking. At first I tended to agree, but, since like you I'm approaching six dozen, I realize that things that are useful are more important than appearance.

    Glenn

    PS - that looks like a real honey to use in the field.

  12. #12
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: he camera I want and the camera I will probably get...

    I have received my new Panasonic TM900 and I am just playing with it and learning the controls. My first impressions are that is is bery small. the LCD and EVF vewfinders are bright. The follow focus capability and the stabiklization capability is outstanding. It has amazing close-up capability and is just an overall fun camera to play with.

    I also found a new video sharing site which seems to provide better quality video than YouTube. The site is called: Vimeo and it has a test of the TM900 camera uploaded. The subtitles are in French but, it is pretty easy to get an idea of what the videographer is attempting to show. Viewing this video full screen on my 27 inch Samsung monitor blows me away concerning the capabilities of this little camera.

  13. #13

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    Re: he camera I want and the camera I will probably get...

    Have you considered the Magic Lantern approach?

    http://magiclantern.wikia.com/wiki/Unified/UserGuide
    http://magiclantern.wikia.com/wiki/M..._Firmware_Wiki

    although it appears that the 7D is having some issues with respect to making progress with firmware reverse engineering.

    Still, I use ML with my 5DmkII and have recently just shot my first HR video footage. It is pretty fantastic.

    kirk

  14. #14
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: he camera I want and the camera I will probably get...

    Quote Originally Posted by kirkt View Post
    Have you considered the Magic Lantern approach?
    http://magiclantern.wikia.com/wiki/7D_support
    "Support for the Canon EOS 7D is almost frozen, having a running version of Magic Lantern might never happen."

    Actually, I am quite satisfied with my new Panasonic TM900 camcorder. It cost me $719 (USD) with free shipping from B&H Photo in NYC. That is less than a top grade DSLR lens costs. The entire camera weighs 2/3 of what a 17-55mm f/2.8 IS lens alone weighs...

    I was surprised to find that my lightweight modified SLIK Pro 330D travel tripod is plenty solid enough to support the camcorder which weighs .87 pounds or 485 grams.

    I am just getting familiar with this camera but it certainly appears to be fun with which to shoot and really needs no extras like macro lenses or follow focus devices.

    The TM900 has a Leica zoom lens and I am impressed with its capability. What I like best about the camcorder is its focusing ability which blows away the lame focusing of the 7D. The camcorder has full manual capabilty (focus, exposure, color balance, etc.), a three speed smooth motorized zoom, excellent follow focus and lots of other bells and whistles that I enjoy using. I have the choice of using the TM900 LCD monitor for viewing, focusing and shooting or I can use the eye level electronic viewfinder through which most of the camera adjustments are available.

    BTW: IMO, the LCD viewfinder of the TM900 is superior to the LCD of the Canon 7D for focusing, framing and following subjects. However, even though the LCD is great on the TM900, eye level viewing is still superior for following action or for shooting in bright sunny conditions.
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 20th February 2012 at 08:54 PM.

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    Re: he camera I want and the camera I will probably get...

    Now if you could only find a trained cat to test your new camera with!

    It looks like a really nice unit - enjoy!

    kirk

  16. #16
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: he camera I want and the camera I will probably get...

    I've got a passel of dogs to test it on...

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    Re: he camera I want and the camera I will probably get...

    Just in case you are still interested in the 7D video overview:

    http://www.learn.usa.canon.com/resou..._article.shtml

    kirk

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    Re: he camera I want and the camera I will probably get...

    Some useful tips.

    I've printed it out so will refer back to it when I get around to experimenting with my 7D video option.

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