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Article: HDSLRs for Video: Beyond the Hype

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Marco SolorioArticle: HDSLRs for Video: Beyond the Hype
by on Mar 16, 2010 at 5:34:58 pm


DSLR Video
HDSLRs for Video: Beyond the HypeHDSLRs for Video: Beyond the Hype

There has been an amazing amount of chatter around the HD video capabilities of recent still cameras - if they can still be called that! Rather than play into the hupe of what MIGHT be possible with these cameras, Creative COW Magazine Contributing Editor Marco Solorio takes you inside the real world of production with paying clients using these cameras, including workarounds for their current limitations, and some of the things that video shooters will need to know as they get started using these cameras.

Review, Feature   03/16/2010
Author: Marco Solorio



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+1

Mads Nybo JørgensenRe: Cost
by on Mar 15, 2010 at 5:31:12 pm

Hey Marco,

You just saved me 2 days worth of research here - thank you very much for that :-)
I hope you don't mind me asking a few questions?
1) Have you done any large screen projections of your material - either digital or film out?
2) Have you looked at the cost of shooting per minute on your Canon 5D versus that of EX-1/3, HD-CAM, RED, 16mm & 35mm? (Not to forget the cost of processing in that comparison too)
3) And what is the advantage specifically of a EX-1 over your HDSLR camera? (Our company is currently considering either the P2 or EX cameras, but the attraction of HDSLR is there) - I'm assuming that the Nightclub shots was shot at low-light, and assume that this would have been difficult to do on "traditional" video?

There are plenty of questions more, but for a technology developed for stills it is looking very good. Thank you again.

All the Best
Mads


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Marco SolorioRe: Cost
by on Mar 15, 2010 at 5:53:06 pm

Hi Mads,

Thanks for the kind words. Am happy to help you with any questions relating to this article.

1) I have not gone to a film-out or digital-out. Highest deployment format has been 1080 HD.

2) I have not done the per-minute production cost-comparison for varying camera types. For our clientele and work-flow, film just isn't a viable solution. We haven't needed a RED for any of our productions, so that leaves us with our 5D2 and our EX1, which has worked well for us. For the record, we use our EX1 less and less, but not to the point to where I want to sell it.

3) Our EX1 is a little more suited for run-and-gun ENG/EFP type production, namely for its form-factor, it's built in XLR/trim audio hardware and the like. I should note that I enjoy shooting with the 5D2 more, solely because of its image capabilities. The work-arounds that are involved with the 5D2 that aren't present with the EX1 (or EX3) are worth it in many ways because of the 5D2's exceptional image characteristics. If you plan on a lot of ENG/EFP, then maybe an EX1/EX3 is a better option. But if you have time to compose your scene/shot, and add some helpful accessories to make the camera more for controlability, then the 5D2 might be your solution.


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Marco SolorioArticle Updates
by on Mar 15, 2010 at 6:04:49 am

A few notes regarding my article since its first publication in the Creative Cow Magazine print issue...

The original article was submitted in late December of 2009, shortly prior to Canon's announcement of the T2i/550D mode. This model would be the least expensive HDSLR camera you could buy for a paltry $800 (body only) that includes 1080p30/25/24 and 720p60/50. Specs are very similar to that of the 7D with regard to HD video mode. Still not as impressive at the 5D2, but an incredibly viable and *inexpensive* option nonetheless.

Canon is releasing the highly anticipated 5D Mk II firmware update sometime within the next 24 hours. Very exciting stuff. New features include 24p/25p (namely, 23.976, 25 and 29.97, fixed from straight 30), as well as new audio input/metering features.

The print version of the Creative Cow Magazine inadvertently has the wrong sensor size diagram in it. The Magazine shows the megapixel size comparison diagram (as used from my DSLR time-lapse article) instead of the sensor size comparison image, as found here in this article. Unfortunately the print article with the wrong diagram went to presses before I could see a review of it first. Doh!


COW Admin note: Unfortunately, while your article was ahead of the curve, Marco, many of the others came in so late that the magazine needed to get out to the printer right away to make the press deadline. Normally, we do our approvals after we layout the issue. This time, unfortunately, there was no time. Our apologies for missing the update on the picture. Looks like March/April's issue gets an 'Errata' box this time, eh? (Like that's never happened before in this industry. Heeheee.)


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David Roth WeissVery informative Marco
by on Mar 15, 2010 at 6:26:51 am

Nice piece Marco.

I'm about twice as fast on uptake as Mads, so you saved me just 1 day of research, but I'm most appreciative.

Regards,
David


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Marco SolorioRe: Very informative Marco
by on Mar 15, 2010 at 6:32:19 pm

David,

Much appreciated, coming from an industry rock as yourself.

(LOL, thanks for all the stars!)


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Marco SolorioCanon 5D Mk II Firmware update JUST RELEASED
by on Mar 15, 2010 at 6:35:18 pm

Wow, that was fast. I said within 24 hours, but it looks like it was within 24 minutes!

http://web.canon.jp/imaging/eosd/firm-e/eos5dmk2/firmware.html

This easily touts the 5D Mk II as the most capable, high-quality DSLR camera on the market today for shooting HD Video. The new firmware updates includes features that other Canon cameras (even from other DSLR manufacturers for that matter) do not have.

Exciting times!


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Iain AndersonThanks for the info!
by on Mar 16, 2010 at 3:28:44 am

Just echoing that the EOS 550D/T2i is dirt cheap (AU$1250 including the kit lens!) and as good as the 7D (if not as tough) for video. Make sure to get fast flash memory (Class 6 for SD cards) or you won't be able to shoot for very long. However, even a 16GB class 6 SD card can be had for AU$50 these days.

The *great* joy of shooting with these is that you just copy the files off (.mov!) and you can play them instantly. Normally you should transcode to ProRes or equivalent for easy editing, but you can edit at full frame rate in a *native* H.264 sequence on a Mac Pro if you just want to see what a very rough cut looks like. Transcoding doesn't take long, but keeping the original footage in Final Cut Server is wonderful.

There are many, many sample videos out there on Vimeo and elsewhere, so take a good look around. I'll try to use some of my 550D footage in my next tutorial video here (well, after the *next* one, anyway). :)

So, here's my sample footage video:

http://vimeo.com/9987266

...part of this much larger group:

http://vimeo.com/groups/rebelt2i/videos/

And here's Philip Bloom's site, with lots more:
http://philipbloom.co.uk/


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Andrew LaparraSuper helpful
by on Mar 16, 2010 at 7:26:42 pm

Thanks so much! This helped answer some questions about the HDSLR workflow. Just purchased the 7D and I'm using a 50 mm 1.4 for now and that helped me figure out some major issues I began to experience.

Drew


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ed fabryEX1 shot in 'Singularity'
by on Mar 16, 2010 at 9:37:25 pm

So Marco, which is the singular EX1 shot in 'Singularity'? I'm guessing its the wide shot at :08-:09 with the group of 4 guys walking right to left?

Also, what's your preferred rig for handheld work with this camera? Are you using a monitor or an eyepiece on the LCD?



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Sébastien FargesGH1 + fast C-mount lenses
by on Mar 16, 2010 at 10:59:25 pm

Thank you for your work.
I'm a happy owner of Panasonic GH1 since 10 months, I've done a lot of test with different lenses, especially C-mount fast lenses such as Cine-NIKKOR 25mm 1.4 and Angenieux 25mm 0.95.
You can watch my work here :
vimeo.com/sebfarges


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Alister ChapmanDon't dismiss aliasing
by on Mar 17, 2010 at 12:43:33 am

The aliasing issue is big one. Aliasing is not just the colored moire that appears over textures and patterns but it also appears on edges as stair stepping. While you can de-focus backgrounds etc to prevent them from aliasing, anything that is in focus will contain alias artifacts. This can make pull focuses look bad or subtly change colors as you focus. In addition alias edge artifacts (which may not be easily visible) tend to move in the opposite direction to any true movement in the image and this really messes up long GoP codecs, eating up bandwidth. So IMHO for broadcast work the Canon DSLR's are not suitable as you don't know how the alias artifacts will work the way down through the production chain unless you use an antialias filter such as the Caprock. BUT you will need different filters for different focal lengths and exposures. Hopefully Canon or a third party will bring out a behind the lens AA filter.

I also don't think the resolution is anywhere near full 1920x1080 and cameras like the EX offer greater dynamic range, but if you want shallow DoF on a budget the Canons are hard to beat.


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Iain AndersonYes, aliasing can be an issue, but...
by on Mar 17, 2010 at 1:01:06 am

Aliasing can be an issue, but there are a number of factors governing how serious a problem it will be. If you shoot with low or no sharpening you can reduce any effects, and if you want shallow DOF (a big draw for many) then it likely won't be an issue. If you take a look at my sample video @ 0.30-0.35, I was trying to produce aliasing effects by filming flyscreens, but couldn't. That said, here's an example of bad moiré on a 550D:







The first and last shot of this video has some more typical (ie. not so bad) jitter in the building in the top right corner:

http://www.vimeo.com/9840579

Somewhere else, someone mentioned that they had to push sharpness to +2 to produce moiré effects. I'd like to see more tests too, but it's at least somewhat avoidable.


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Alvin RemmersCar hood mount
by on Mar 17, 2010 at 2:04:10 am

Hi Marco,
Nice balanced reportage on the MkII. Where can I find a camera mount like the one on the car hood? I want to shoot some Hwy 50 toward Tahoe footage with my 7D without a windshield in the way. TIA!


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Russ StiggantsAnother layer of complexity
by on Mar 17, 2010 at 2:58:47 am

Yep, great for you stills guys who wannabee video guys, but another layer of complexity which is not necessary....go out and buy a VIDEO camera! Get with the program guys - either shoot stills, or shoot video. I'm waiting for all the crap shot on a stills camera and all the excuses why it hasn't/didn't do what a dedicated Sony or Canon or JVC or RED can do, better, more simply and with no hassles.


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keidrych wasleyto Russ Stiggants
by on Mar 17, 2010 at 3:27:18 am

Russ Stiggants said: "Yep, great for you stills guys who wannabee video guys, but another layer of complexity which is not necessary....go out and buy a VIDEO camera! Get with the program guys - either shoot stills, or shoot video. I'm waiting for all the crap shot on a stills camera and all the excuses why it hasn't/didn't do what a dedicated Sony or Canon or JVC or RED can do, better, more simply and with no hassles."

Russ, i think you should consider opening your mind to what is possible with these cameras. Shane Hurlbut, who shot Terminator Salvation, is using the 5D/1D to shoot his latest action navy seals feature film for general release. The footage will be printed to 35mm. These cameras are fantastic in low light, they are extremely maneuverable, meaning a new and exciting visual language is possible. They leave a small environmental footprint. They require less crew, less lighting, less grip equipment etc., etc. They are capable of stunning results in the right hands and as Shane has described, "intercut beautifully with 35mm". There are problems of course but in the right hands are they good enough for a 40 foot screen? YES.


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Alister ChapmanYou can reduce the sharpness which
by on Mar 17, 2010 at 4:55:15 am

You can reduce the sharpness which reduces the severity of the aliasing but it's still there, all the time. Take a look at this simple pull focus:
http://vimeo.com/7443352
You wouldn't expect a shot like that to alias but it does due to the lack of a suitable optical low pass filter. Hybrid stills-video cameras will always be a compromise, make the AA filter work for video and the stills will be soft. Only this morning there was a great example of aliasing rearing it's ugly head when an extract of a web episodic was shown on the breakfast news. The clip looks fine on YouTube but when the full res original was broadcast it looked terrible twittering and flickering all over the place. I'm sure it looked fine in the edit suite, but the high frequency harmonics caused by aliasing can't always be seen. All I'm saying is "handle with care".


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SuchetAmazing
by on Mar 17, 2010 at 5:38:56 am

This one is on my list of definite wants - Being able to film with different lenses at any time is a beast of an advantage over other HD Video products - as well as the advantage of switching to normal DSLR mode to take photos - this is perfect for event photographers and media journalists.


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jim keltyCanon D5 mkii
by on Mar 17, 2010 at 6:52:52 am

I bought one and have done three shoots overseas with it and love it despite the ergonomic problems. However, this camera shoots interlaced, not progressive, at least that is the format the clips are in when you drag them into Final Cut, unless I'm missing something? Would love to know.


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James HoukEX1 vs 5Dmk2 & DOF Adapter Consideration
by on Mar 17, 2010 at 7:42:22 am

These workflow questions about the EX1/EX3 vs the 5D seem to be coming up more frequently. I'm an EX1 owner, and I have a Letus Ultimate adapter to boot, with Ziess and Nikon primes for it. The Letus, of course, gives me great shallow depth of field on the EX1. I don't have a 5Dmk2... yet. I love my EX1, and won't be selling it anytime soon, but there are several situations it doesn't compare well to the 5D in. For me, the biggest strength of the 5D would be low light. In daylight, or with film/video lighting, I can usually get great stuff from the EX1 with the adapter. But at night, or with a small lighting package and a need to overcrank to 60fps... and losing stops from the DOF adapter... the 5D would be appreciated. Also, the 5d has a smaller footprint, and can fit in corners and tight spaces better. This becomes ever more accurate if you use a Letus on the EX1.

But, here are things that make the EX a better camera:
*Better placement - using dedicated physical buttons - for video controls. As someone else mentioned, if you do ENG/reality style shooting, the EX will serve you better.
*None of the aliasing issues the 5D has
*Less of a rolling shutter concern. Yes, the EX is still a CMOS, but it has far fewer pixels to run through.
*Proper XLR audio inputs with mic/line and phantom 48.
*HD-SDI out. HD Component out.
*Timecode/Genlock on the EX3 (not EX1)
*EX series cameras have a great peaking function to assist with focus. Also, with the HD outs, attaching an HD focus monitor (like a marshal with peaking) is a possibility.
*The dyanmic range of the EX series cameras is excellent.


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Jay ValentineReverie Canons Demo Movie
by on Mar 17, 2010 at 8:31:52 am

http://www.usa.canon.com/dlc/controller?act=GetArticleAct&articleID=2326

You need to add this for your article to be complete.

JR



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Mads Nybo JørgensenVery interesting posts on the subject.
by on Mar 17, 2010 at 8:52:57 am

Very interesting posts on the subject. I understand and can see the aliasing issues highlighted. However setting the Aliasing aside which can be fixed, and I know I'll be kicking off a storm here, but in my opinion from the test shots available the material coming of the Canon 5D looks better than the EX1/3 codec?
What is other peoples opinion on this? And I am still curious as the cost of shooting on a Canon 5D v EX/P2?


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Alister ChapmanWhat is "better"
by on Mar 17, 2010 at 10:05:38 am

There's your problem, how do you define "better"? When comparing a Canon DSLR against an EX, technically the EX is easily the better camera, higher resolution, higher dynamic range, no aliasing, selectable gamma curves etc. But the Canon's do bring shallow DoF to the table and for some this is their definition of "better". It really depends on what you are shooting and how you intend to use it. The DSLR's force you to take time over your shots, you have to work within careful limitations, you must think about it. If you have the time this is a good thing and brings back old skills which were being lost. But an EX used in the same way can also produce beautiful pictures. If your in a hurry, the EX is less likely to produce a "bad" picture as it is more tolerant of exposure and focus and won't alias. As always it a case of choosing the right tool for the job.


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Robert MuellerI like and will keep both types of camera
by on Mar 17, 2010 at 10:58:55 am

I use a Panasonic GH-1 together with my Canon XH-A1 and as long as I have the audio inputs / controls, built in ND filters, 20x fixed Zoom lens on the canon PLUS the flexibility and light sensitivity of the Panasonic I am quite happy. I even mix the interlaced/progressive footage without a problem. It is getting deinterlaced in the end anyway, editing with Avid Media Composer 4. I could have lived without the HDSLR but now I that I am used to it, I want to keep it.


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Mads Nybo JørgensenHey Alister, That is interesting feedback.
by on Mar 17, 2010 at 11:05:07 am

Hey Alister,

That is interesting feedback. However you didn't answer the question about codecs? - reason for asking this is that in my opinion the EX codec is just really a beefed up HDV signal, which doesn't do too well in the blacks. There is also the thorny issue of cost per minute? Agreed, neither of those two makes up for the "ease of use" - but there is always the flip camera if usability was to be my motivation. ;-) And one would assume, as we've already seen, that development would be thrown at the HDSLR cameras to develop tools to match that of their competitors.

All the Best
Mads


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James HoukBetter is definitely subjective
by on Mar 17, 2010 at 11:10:44 am

I concur with Alister here. And the shallow focus of the 5D can be accomplished on the EX as well, with a DOF adapter. In many cases this combination is actually superior to the 5D - better audio, higher dynamic range, no aliasing, and a rock solid recording codec. Where the EX1 and a DOF adapter fall short is in low light situations. For a video camera the EX1 has exceptional low light capabilities, but it simply can't compare the the 35mm sensor on the 5D. The EX1 is also very bulky (when used with a DOF adapter) compared to the 5D, and this can be annoying in tight spaces. Also, the EX1 is far more flexible than the 5D. For people doing narrative work where each shot can be composed and focus marks made, the 5D is fine, but if you do ENG or reality style shooting, the 5D's shallow focus can quickly become a liability. While I enjoy doing narrative work, and have served as a DP on three small feature films (HD Video), a large percentage of my paying work is not narrative. I shoot reality, documentary, and EPK footage where I don't have total control of the environment or timing of events. The EX1 allows me to get the shot quickly, and - if desired - to keep everything in focus at the same time. As for the issue of cost of shooting - the P2 camera media is expensive. But the adapters for the EX series camera mean you can shoot on inexpensive SDHC cards, and log them like tapes if desired. This means you won't pay more to shoot with the EX than with the Canon 5D. Granted - the cost of acquisition may be higher with the EX - but depending on what primes you decide to buy for the 5D, you could come out about the same. As Alister said, it's about picking the right tool for the job. I'm considering adding a 5D to my camera lineup because of it's low light capabilities, and it's flexibility to go unnoticed in places where professional video cameras are unobtrusive. But I won't stop using my EX1 anytime soon.


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James HoukSDHC for SxS
by on Mar 17, 2010 at 11:22:38 am

Relating to cost per minute... If you're not shooting overcrank footage on the EX (or not doing more than 46fps), you can use SDHC cards on the EX1 and EX3. Both Hoodman and Sony make the adapter ($50 or $100 dollars respectively), and it's very reliable. You do have to use particular brands of SDHC cards that have tested well for this purpose, but the Transcend 16GB cards are about $50 apiece. 32GB Transcend cards are about $135 apiece. That's potentially cheaper than some CF cards (help me out here guys - I don't own a 5D yet, don't know which cards are preferred brandwise) for the same size. A 16gb card give you about 56minutes of XDCAM-EX recording in HQ mode. 32 is about 112 minutes. Granted, owning offical SxS cards is prudent if you need to shoot 60fps overcrank. Investing in one $500 or less card may cover this need. Also, a second Hoodman adapter may add flexibility for the second slot to your workflow in the field. So that's another $50. As for the XDCAM codec, I find it to be rock solid. I've never managed to break it. It has great lattitude, and doesn't fall apart with repetitive texture patterns (leaves, grass, waves). Also, the HD-SDI out means you can bypass the XDCAM-EX encoding, and record directly to a portable device or computer with the codec of your choice. On one set I recorded greenscreen footage directly to a computer using a Blackmagic HD extreme card and the ProRes422 HQ codec. This gave me more color information to work with for keying later. And the 5D *can't* give you that flexibility.


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steve martinProgressive
by on Mar 17, 2010 at 1:42:15 am

Jim Kelty said: "I bought one and have done three shoots overseas with it and love it despite the ergonomic problems. However, this camera shoots interlaced, not progressive, at least that is the format the clips are in when you drag them into Final Cut, unless I'm missing something? Would love to know."

From what I hear this camera is shooting progressive, but if I drag a H.264 file into a FCP browser, it's listed as upper(odd). A 442 clip brought in magically is listed as none? No one has been able to explain what's going on here to me, yet.


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Marco SolorioRe: Another layer of complexity
by on Mar 17, 2010 at 4:20:43 pm

To Russ Stiggants: Your closed-mindedness precludes you from really seeing the big picture here. For cost-to-quality ratio, these DSLR cameras provide, a gateway for many low/no-budget filmmakers to finally achieve cinematic looking HD video without the high price tag. Personally, it sounds like you're intimidated by the technology. And it's not just low/no-budget filmmakers adopting DSLR. The show 24 has been using the 5D Mk II and 1D Mk IV for their shows. Lucas Film is even interested in the 5D2 and is working with Philip Bloom to shoot a movie using just the 5D2 itself. Is the camera perfect? Heck no. But does it offer some features and functionality that even dedicated HD/4K cameras can't provide? Yes, it can. Comparing/dismissing DSLRs to a RED or an F35 or whatever your flavor is , is a waste of time and bandwidth. They're just completely different beasts at different cost ratios for different purposes. I think you'd be very surprised how much DSLR footage you've actually seen and haven't even realized it.


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Marco SolorioAnswers to some questions
by on Mar 17, 2010 at 4:23:44 pm

Andrew Laparra: Thanks for the kind remarks, Andrew. Glad the article helped you out!

Ed Fabry: Unfortunately 00:08-00:09 is not the EX1 shot, but thanks for asking! I actually have a lot of parts that I modularize together, depending on what kind of shoot I'm doing. I have a "beast" handheld rig (weighs a ton), a medium sized rig and a more compact rig that doesn't use a lot of parts. I personally prefer a 7" LCD screen when shooting; it doesn't mean my head has to be on the camera and I feel I can adapt to my surrounds a little better/safer, but that's just me. I know a ton of people love the loupe eyepiece concept.

Alister Chapman: I definitely wouldn't discount the aliasing (or the rolling shutter) issues. There are ways around it, but the point being is that they can be there and should be handled accordingly. And yes, the resolution is in fact full 1920x1080. Dynamic range is a topic that can go back and forth though between the EX1 and 5D2 however. The EX1 has about 10 stops and the 5D2 has about 8.5 stops. However, as an owner of both, I can achieve latitude on my 5D2 that my EX1 just can't handle, especially in low-light situations. The 5D2 also has a pretty good highlight priority mode if you're shooting overly white shots to help bring in latitude for those whites. Don't forget too that although the image is ultimately reduced to 1080 HD, it is in fact coming from an incredibly high sensitive 14-bit, 35mm full-frame sensor compared to the EX1's 10-bit 1/2" sensors. As far as latitude goes, I'd generally give the blue ribbon to my 5D2 over my EX1. But again, I feel this is a moot topic as they're both exceptional in dynamic range, depending on shooting variables.

Alvin Remmers: Thanks for the kudos, Alvin. The article says I designed that mount, but I did not (note to editorial staff =). I bought that mount from FilmTools.com. It's called the Gripper 490 with 3/8 ballmount and 6" suction cup.

Suchet: You've hit the nail on the head. The possibilities are really endless with this technology. Sure there are some drawbacks, but the versatility is amazing and the quality is great for what it is and how much they cost.

Jim Kelty: These DSLR cameras have progressive sensors. There is no interlacing at all with these cameras. The easiest way to prove this is shooting something that moves quickly in the frame. Pausing said clip, interlacing would have horizontal fields to make up the moving object, but with the DSLR footage, the moving object is clean of that. No interlacing at all. If an app shows the clip as being interlace in the information, then the applied metadata for the clip (really just a boolean flag) itself is incorrect or corrupted. Definitely progressive!

James Houk: I too own an EX1 with a Letus adapter and a slew of Nikon F and Canon FD lenses that I can mount to it. In fact, I used that setup (and still own it) prior to owning the 5D2. I completely agree with your comments on the virtues of the EX1 over the 5D2, except for one, with regard to dynamic range, as noted above to my comments to Alister (not so much a disagreement, but rather a moot topic). And with the Letus, I introduce less edge-to-edge sharpness and stop-loss, as small as it is. If aliasing and/or rolling shutter isn't a factor in the shot, then the 5D2 produces a much better image for me than the EX1 does, Letus or not. And FWIW, XLR inputs are a moot point for me personally, since I'm using the Juiced Link device to gain said XLR inputs. Obviously not as ideal as my EX1's XLR inputs, but a solution nonetheless. To add to your other comment, the audio codec in the 5D2 is uncompressed (up from 44.1kHz to industry standard 48kHz with the new 2.0.3 firmware update). You wrote, "And the shallow focus of the 5D can be accomplished on the EX as well, with a DOF adapter. In many cases this combination is actually superior to the 5D." Unfortunately I have to highly disagree with this. My EX1 + Letus + Lens combo weighs a TON. A real pain in the neck actually. Couple that with stop-loss, edge-to-edge softness, battery swapping for the (noisy) Letus motor and the 5D2 is the clear winner for lens interchangeability, mobility, clarity and quality. I agree though that the EX1 can be a better ENG/EFP camera in most situations. I make that clear whenever any asks.

Mads Nybo Jørgensen: Yeah, comparing the codec qualities between the 5D2 and EX1 is a little tough only because, well, when it comes down to it, both are quite compressed (35Mb/s for the EX1 and somewhere around 38Mb/s for the 5D2) and both are 4:2:0. Purely from a codec standpoint though, I'd say the EX1 might have the edge in some areas, but it's kind of a moot point. What exact cost comparisons did you want to get info on?

Alister Chapman: Yup, I agree with what you're saying in your second comment.

Steve Martin: As noted in my above reply to Jim, it has to be some kind of metadata error, me thinks. The footage is definitely 100% progressive. Either the boolean flag is corrupted in the file's metadata or it's just incorrect. I'm siding with the latter!


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Mads Nybo JørgensenRe: Codec - price
by on Mar 17, 2010 at 4:36:48 pm

Hey Marco,

Thank you for extensive reply to all if not most of the comments.

In regards to Codec I was after the quality of the image itself, which there has been several good answers to. But I was also after how it handles in post - i.e. I found in the early days that going from Sony Z1 HDV to HD-CAM created in certain circumstances noise to a level where it could be described as artefacts. So I was really after "real-life" experiences, including all aspects of the Post.

James Houk kindly covered the issue of cost. Quite a few of our clients like the idea of taking the footage with them. In our scenario there is not always time to copy or dub to another format, so to see cost of media drop to the same price as HD-Cam tape, maybe eventually the same as DV tape (if only :-)) is very encouraging.

Thank you to all

All the Best
Mads


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Marco SolorioRe: Codec - price
by on Mar 17, 2010 at 4:51:36 pm

Hi Mads,

Happy to see you're getting some answers here! In all reality, the codec (whether EX1 or 5D2) will produce artifacts in post if you really push it. At 4:2:0 8-bit, there's just not a lot of room there. Compression blocking may become more apparent as well when pushing it. And by pushing it, I refer to sever color-timing/grading. Here are some things that will help you out though (at least with the 5D2)...

- Change your picture profile to a more linear setting. Reduce the saturation and definitely reduce the contrast. By default, the 5D2 is overly contrasty and saturated. Creating a more linear profile will help maintain some latitude in post for color-timing and such.

- If you're shooting mostly white in the shot, change the 5D2 to Highlight Priority Mode. This will increase your latitude in those whites from blowing out. Keep it in check though as it'll produce some added noise in the shadows, if shadows exists.

- Batch-transcode your shot footage to 10-bit 4:2:2 ProRes HQ. This will give you a tiny hair of added playing field when color-timing the edited footage. You shouldn't be editing in the native H.264 codec anyway, but regardless, using the higher ProRes HQ codec may help out a little.

Hmmm, I might be missing something here off the top of my head, but that should get you in the right direction!

Oh and FWIW, one option for "client dubs" of the raw footage for them to take would be the use of an external BluRay drive, if they themselves have a BluRay reader. If it's a repeating client and the need is high for such dubs, then that could be a viable solution. Alternatively, the client can buy their own CF cards to which you can copy the footage from your CF cards to theirs. Just thinking out loud.


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James HoukLetus
by on Mar 17, 2010 at 5:04:32 am

Marcos, I'll have to defer to your judgement. I have yet to get my hands on the 5D. As I stated previously, I'm seriously considering adding one to my lineup, as I do recognize it has some advantages. Regarding the Letus element, you make some astute points. However, I'm curious which Letus model you're using. I personally own the Letus Ultimate, which - from my experience and the reviews I've read is far sharper than the Letus Extreme. We're talking about spinning glass instead of vibrating. Likewise, the Ultimate is much quieter than the Extreme. With sharpness, I get excellent results when their is adequate light - but I haven't directly compared them to the 5D. Clearly, in a low light situation, using the 1.4 aperture on my Ziess 50mm is going to result in a sharper image than being able to get the same light level on the Canon at 4.0 or 5.6. That part comes down to the optics of the lens. My Letus ultimate is very quiet. But heavy! You're totally on the money there. As for the soft focus issue, I shot one feature with another DP who was using the Letus Extreme and Canon FD lenses. He didn't seem to notice, but his shots were never as sharp as mine (Ultimate with Nikon mount, Zeiss primes), and he refused to zoom far enough into the image to remove the vignetting on the edges. Additionally, the Letus has a problem with having too many parts. The back focus assembly can easily get loose, and if it has any give, the backfocus distance starts slipping, and this absolutely results in a soft image. The 5D may very well produce a sharper image than even a Letus Ultimate properly tuned - but it certainly will outperform a Letus rig that is not properly setup. I'm assuming that you used yours properly - but it definitely is a point in favor of the 5D - to not have to keep an eye on all those adjustments.


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steve martinBoolean Flag
by on Mar 17, 2010 at 5:08:29 pm

I love it. Thanks for the great article!


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Marco SolorioRe: Boolean Flag
by on Mar 17, 2010 at 5:14:24 pm

Much appreciated, Steve! =)


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Mads Nybo JørgensenWhat planet?
by on Mar 17, 2010 at 5:57:22 am

Hey Russ: Frankly you are talking out of your backside - you've got no clue. This semi abusive rubbish belongs in another kinder-garden. Either put a pro argument forward or take a hike. Out of interest, we've had these kind of discussions on HD High-end forum (the one you wouldn't know if you've spend your time on the VHS forum ;-)) since HD vs film, HD vs RED and now Video vs Canon - lets learn from this, rather than rubbish other peoples opinions! Live a little - you might learn from it :-)

Best Wishes for a speedy recovery
Mads


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Marco SolorioRe: hey, stills guy wannabee video guy
by on Mar 17, 2010 at 6:37:44 am

Russ, you're the epitome of a worthless, hidden-identity troll that visits forums, purely to criticize and offend, as opposed to engaging in worthy, positive discussion. Nowhere did I say DSLR cameras are outright better than dedicated HD cameras. Ridiculous. I've always said they're different animals, holding their own merits in some perspectives. If you'd actually read these posts from everyone, you'd understand that very clearly. Every camera has had (or has) its own unique pitfalls and limitations. Even the Red One, when first released, didn't have any audio recording capabilities! But these technologies grow, develop, mature and blossom into great tools... can't say the same for you unfortunately. Well, except maybe for the tool part.

I'm intimated by video technology? Are you smoking crack? I've consulted for the likes of AJA, BMD, Apple and Pixar with a passion for this stuff. I live it everyday, man. Shoot, some of the hardware/software you buy and use may have been in direct reflection from my help to some of these companies. If I was intimidated by video technology, then I've wasted the last two decades in this industry nurturing my love of video, audio and visual effects production to share back to the community through forums, articles, reviews and speaking events. A wannabe? I think not, sir. Unless of course the 100+ clients I've served over the years think otherwise. I'll refer to them first before taking your 1¢ word for it.

As for your "heed" to all potential "stills guys who want to graduate to video production", it's completely misinformation you're spewing. Your close-mindedness is so thick that you're completely closing off a very viable option to the puzzle. Whether dedicated video, or DSLR, they EACH have their own merits and pitfalls. For some, a dedicated HD camera will clearly be a better choice. For others, a DSLR is the winner. It all depends on what you need to do and how to do it. If you had any insight in the matter, you'd know this, rather than completely cutting off a platform (DSLR) that has clearly won the hearts of so many shooters, both veteran and novice alike. More so than even the VX1000 and DVX100 revolutions, combined. If you can't see it, you're blind to the matter. I swear, you actually sound more like a corporate shill than anything else, afraid of what DSLR technology is bringing to the masses. There is literally no logic in blindly saying DSLR technology is a compromise technology and that one should, "hands down" use a dedicated HD video camera, period, end of story. The word for that is called, "ignorance".

Seriously, who are you? What do you have to show for yourself? Have you ever brought anything worthwhile to the video community as a whole?


COW ADMIN NOTE: We removed Russ Stiggant's posts as we grew weary of the personal slams -- again. Bye, Russ.


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JT Harvey Jr.Great article
by on Mar 17, 2010 at 7:44:37 pm

Marco,

Would you please describe the components of the rig you are wearing in the title photograph?

Thank you!


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Marco SolorioRe: Great article
by on Mar 17, 2010 at 11:33:10 pm

Hi JT,

Thanks! Yes, the steadicam-like device I'm using is called the Magiqcam, but sadly they're no longer in business. Some early models got a bad rap, but fact is, they made a pretty cool dual-arm rig for a great price. I have a Glidecam 4000 + Varizoom DV Sportster combo rig, but I personally like the Magiqcam better.


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Marco SolorioRe: Letus
by on Mar 17, 2010 at 11:50:53 pm

To James Houk: Yes, you've brought up a very good point. It had escaped me that you were not referring to the Letus Extreme (which is what I have, and automatically assumed, to my own fault) and not the Letus Ultimate, which is in fact a much superior model indeed. With that said, it sounds like we're both in agreement however that it definitely needs pampering, but when done correctly, will produce excellent results. If only it wasn't such a massive conglomerate of gear. It's too bad they haven't invented a way to make the entire adapter the size of a pack of playing cards! Simply mounting a tiny Nikon 50mm lens is a monstrosity. But again, if done right, the results are much better than the fixed lens of the EX1 itself in most cases (and probably even more cases with the Ultimate due to its sharper image).

For me personally, I just don't really shoot with the Letus anymore. It's just such an event to put together, to control and to carry around. I can set up the 5D2 much quicker, with a much smaller footprint and in the end, acquire better looking footage. Still though, I can't bring myself to sell my Letus!


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Russ Stiggantssite censorship
by on Mar 18, 2010 at 12:07:25 pm

My response to Mads and Marco was reasoned and well weighted. I defend their right to be robust, but equally, my right of reply is equally valid. I trust the 'personal slams' perpetrated by Mads and Marco against me, which are far more inflammatory than my response, will also now be removed. The value of the Cow forums are in question if dissenting voices from professionals cannot be aired.


COW ADMIN RESPONSE: Read our Policies and Code of Conduct, Russ. We have moderated our forums for 15 years. Always have, always will. Especially when people come in and want to hurl personal insults as you did to Marco, Mads, and others who disagreed with your beliefs. You can say you didn't but that doesn't make it true. When you call people wannabees and worse, and belittle people's knowledge because you don't agree with it, then you are going to get moderated. Don't like it. Then go somewhere else where the policies are less onerous to you. We won't be changing our policies.


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