How can I convince my company not to buy 7D cameras? We need new cameras.
We're currently shooting long events with the JVC GY-HD100, 110 and 200. These cameras are not great in low lighting conditions. The image looks poor/dull/muddy/dark and sometimes grainy. These cameras produce a lot of timecode breaks too. We need new cameras! Everyone at the office wants to get 7D cameras to record LONG events. I think this is a huge mistake, and here are my 10 reasons why (see below). Can I please get input from everyone on whether you agree or not? Thanks!!!
Disadvantages of Shooting LONG events on 7D
1. 7D can only record for 12 minutes at a time
2. Changing out a card every 12 minutes seems ridiculous during a live event. Not to mention these are 3 camera shoots where I have to sync up all 3 cameras in post. If the camera isn't continuously recording, I would have tons of 12-minute clips from one particular camera to sync up, which would make the syncing process more time-consuming for me. We're supposed to be making this into a 'factory' and making it easier on me.
3. Files can become corrupted. A huge file from one person's event was corrupted and we were unable to recover the footage. (I don't see this problem with tape and p2)
4. The way we do audio for our events right now is to go XLR from the camera to the DJ. And use a Zoom Audio Recorder for backup. The 7D doesn't have an XLR input into the cameras. So if our main audio source becomes the Zoom Audio Recorder, whats our backup? And don't say a second zoom audio recorder...
5. If you're shooting with a prime lens, then you need to keep swapping out lenses if you want close up vs wide. That can be time consuming to keep swapping out lenses during a live event. You could miss a moment while swapping lenses. We don't have to swap out lenses with the JVCs. 7D cameras need multiple lenses. That's a lot of money to invest in lenses.
6. 7D cameras can overheat. Once a camera overheats, then it's off. It probably won't come back on for A WHILE, and then we're down one camera. What if it's a two-camera shoot, and one overheats. Then it turns into a one-camera shoot, which isn't ideal at all. How am I supposed to explain to my clients that I missed a moment due to overheating? Look at all these stories of overheating! http://vimeo.com/groups/eos7d/forumthread:8892
7. No good zoom control. You have to use your hand to manually twist the focus.
8. If you're shooting at a 1.4, things will go in and out of focus constantly. This is called "buzzing" and it looks bad. I've seen it in our footage.
9. Can 7D do live video feeds? It might have an HDMI input, but most places we've gone to, for shooting, don’t have an HDMI slot to plug into for live video feeds.
10. Timecode is an issue. In Final Cut Pro (6.0.6), clicking "Show Duplicate Frames" doesn't seem to work with 7D footage. http://provideocoalition.com/index.php/ssimmons/story/using_the_show_duplic...
11. People are paying a lot of money for us to shoot these events. There is something nice about the look of a JVC GY-HD camera. They are big and professional-looking. Something about the body size of a 7D with a shoulder rig may have the clients thinking 'I could have done this myself' for half the cost.
That was a long list, but my main concerns are: the overheating, and the video only recording for 12 minutes before it automatically stops.
The only perks that come to mind: bigger sensor, footage looks much better than HDV in darker lighting situations, and the camera is cheap.
Yeah...look at different cameras. The 7D isn't suited to your shooting style. They are better suited as FILM REPLACEMENT cameras. For shooting short films, feature films, web shows. Stuff with short takes.
Event videography...requires completely different cameras.
So you are right and everyone else is wrong. They are just trying to jump into the "DSLR BANDWAGON...WoooHOOO!!!" and they are in the wrong business for it.
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While I agree that the 7D is not suited for recording long events there are a few mistakes/misconceptions in your points.
Personally I would be looking at something like a Sony ex1 or the like for what you are trying to accomplish. And once you have properly kitted out a 7D you are looking at more $$ than a EX-1R package.
[Rachel Kodner] "Changing out a card every 12 minutes seems ridiculous during a live event"
There is a 12min record limit per clip, but you do not need to change cards every 12 min - just stop and start. It is important to note that after 12 min the camera will stop recording, not roll over to create a new clip.. you must either stop/start before the 12 min is up or start recording again if it has reached the 12 min limit.
[Rachel Kodner] " Files can become corrupted. A huge file from one person's event was corrupted and we were unable to recover the footage. (I don't see this problem with tape and p2)"
This can happen to any memory cards.. and is most likely a fault of the memory card - not the camera. I have seen corrupt media on P2 cards, and have also had tapes eaten by cameras as well. Buying higher end cards will help reduce the frequency/likelihood of corruption and lengthen the longevity of the cards you use. I use mid level to higher end CF cards in my 7D and in the passed year I've been shooting with it have not yet had any corrupt footage. It comes down to how cheap one gets with the media they purchase - and how old the media is.
[Rachel Kodner] "We don't have to swap out lenses with the JVCs. 7D cameras need multiple lenses. That's a lot of money to invest in lenses."
Again - I agree that the 7D is not the answer for the type of projects it sounds like you are shooting... but while shooting with a DSLR you don't have to shoot with primes... you can use zoom lenses. if shooting from far the 70-200 is a good choice, and closer use something like the 24-70 f2.8 or 24-105 f4
[Rachel Kodner] "things will go in and out of focus constantly. This is called "buzzing" "
First time I've ever heard drifting in and out of focus called 'buzzing'. Anytime I've ever heard someone talking about 'buzzing' in their footage, focus has never had anything to do with it. Interesting term to use for that....
[Rachel Kodner] "Can 7D do live video feeds? It might have an HDMI input, "
No input - output only. Unfortunately there is also a watermark on the output until you hit record which kills using it with an external recorder.
"Live, love, laugh and be happy."
But as I mentioned the 7D is definitely the wrong camera for event videography.
"Live, love, laugh and be happy."
Ditto to Shane and Colin. How many "votes" do you need? Not the choice for your work.
Anything worth doing at all, is worth doing well.
- Philip Dormer Stanhope, Earl of Chesterfield
It looks as if you have nailed the downside for venue/event use on HDslr's generally.
The low light, yes advantage sensor, at issue and most of all, the upgrades in gear one ideally (?) would need, such as a Small HD monitor, follow focus set up, and the other work arounds for using the h.264 format on any HDslr
Additionally in post, you likely would be transcoding with ProRes or CineForm (or?) for work through, to isolate the (I) IPB slices, http://ip.hhi.de/imagecom_G1/assets/pdfs/csvt_overview_0305.pdf
HDslr is fantastic for independents shooting budget driven projects but the accumulated gear can eclipse the camera costs very quickly.
Given that, and your Pro stance, it might be best to consider the Sony FX FS100, (Or?) which does use the h.264 format (uncompressed?) but, which is an actual full frame and in low light can be mounted using adapters for many commercially viable lenses, including cines or still imagery versions.
The out of box cost for one of these is going to be in the neighborhood $6k US, but, the embedded time-code, 48v audio XLR, and so on are all on board.
The team needs a quick walk through, no camera is perfect but in the examples you give, there are more well rounded choices over the Canon, Nikon or other HDslr's.
My .02 cents,
Yep. One of the reasons I moved from a JVC HD-200 to a 5DmkII a while ago was because I don't shoot events. If I did, the 5D wouldn't have even been a consideration as a primary cam. If you can borrow/rent some 7Ds or 5Ds and mock up a long shoot with similar light levels and similar subject to cam distances, the problems might present themselves to the other people in the office.
I totally agree with all the problems you describe with the JVCs too. Horrible in low light and lots of time code breaks, but the form factor and build quality make them very nice to use, and in the right conditions they can produce excellent images. I was quite sad to let mine go.
Good luck convincing everyone. I'm sure some people with chip in with some ideas for more suitable cameras, but I haven't got enough experience with anything else to make any recommendations.
I own a 7D and JVC-HD111E.
For long events when a full record of event is absolutely necessary the JVC-HD-111E is the only camera I can use with a firewire Focus Enhancements DR-100. (By the way Quicktimes recorded on these drives whether archived or new will no longer play or load on a fully updated OS 10.6.8 or OS 10.7 system).
The only long events I've shot with the 7D are final dress rehearsals of theatrical productions that run for up to 2 hours but this is for TV commercials to promote the event and we shoot with and number of HDSLRs (5Ds and 7Ds) AND a Sony EX3 on a locked wide shot that can run for the duration and record audio. In this situation it is unlikely the HDSLRs will button off and on again at the same time close to 12 minute limit mark, so little is lost.
I have never had problems with overheating, but the 7D will give a prior warning, the 5D will just stop without warning. I have noticed that on one occasion when shooting interviews almost continuously for over a 3 hour period the images from 7D seemed to get a little noisier later in the shoot, but I did not see an overheat warning. I live in a warm climate. Perhaps as I read somewhere this is due to using very high quality fast CF cards that allow more efficient processing of information.
In summary I always use the JVC for live event work and would not even consider only using an HDSLR or even multiple 7Ds without at least one long running camera for the main record.
I am considering ordering a Canon EOS C300 but even here the zoom range of available lenses is not as good as on regular HDV type cameras. (Which is another issue with using the 7D).
Cinematographer, Steadicam Operator, Final Cut Pro Post Production.
Another point to add:
12. Dead pixels – I’ve seen tons of dead pixels in the JVC GY-HD’s for 2 years now. I’ve seen dead pixels in the 7D in a shorter time. I don’t think I’ve seen any dead pixels in the HPX300 and 500 that we currently own for about 2 years now. I spend a lot of time corrected dead pixels. Time is money. If we have a camera that doesn’t produce as many dead pixels, then we’re already saving time and money
[Rachel Kodner] "How can I convince my company not to buy 7D cameras?"
Print this thread, highlight all of the comments that state exactly why DSLR's are not right for your type of work and show it to the people in need of convincing.
The inability to record an entire live show/event in one clip should be enough of a reason all on it's own. Having to deal with 12 min clips (with a short gap of missing footage between each clip) from 3 cameras on a ~2 hour shoot is just plain ridiculous.
It's not the right solution for your company.
As already posted by others in this thread, I also agree: In general I recommend using "traditional" camcorders for event video production.
Today there's no shortage of relatively inexpensive camcorders available which can record fairly high quality HD footage. Sony, Panasonic, Canon and JVC all sell a wide range of camcorders for every production need and budget. I'd recommend camcorders which include built-in XLR audio inputs, settable timecode, live audio & video monitoring capability, built-in ND filters, and other basic prosumer/pro camcorder features.
Note: Because the importance of these 2 points is often overlooked, I repeat: "live audio & video monitoring capability, and built-in ND filters"!
I wish your team the best of luck in their camcorder research. The good news is there are so many good camcorders to choose from! The only bad news is -- well, the only bad news is there are so many good choices! ;-)
Having said the above, your team might also consider purchasing one particular "DSLR" type cam in _addition_ to your new camcorder arsenal: A Panasonic Lumix GH2. Use the new camcorders for the bulk of your event shooting, and in addition use a GH2 fitted with a fast-ish (f2.8 or faster) zoom or DSLR-type prime lens to add some shallow-depth-of-field "tastiness" to your edits for a relatively small additional cost.
The Micro Four Thirds size sensor in a GH2 is only slightly smaller than the APS-C size sensor in a Canon 7D. As a result, both these sensors -- when used with fast lenses -- can produce video with much more control over DOF than is possible with the camcorders typically used for event production. Most camcorders <$15K have sensors 1/2" or 1/3". A GH2's m43 sensor has 4 time times the area of a pro 2/3" sensor! As a result, m43, APS-C & fullframe DSRLs with fast lenses can record very shallow DOF. True, focus is critical when shooting in this mode, but then again, you'd only go this route if you decide shallow DOF is a priority.
Although some folks shoot event video with DSLR-type cams, including the GH2, for all the reasons already stated in this thread, DSLRs are typically not the best tools for the job. However, with very careful planning & obvious workarounds it's possible to produce fantastic event videos using DSRLs. Whether or not the results justify the "costs" only you can decide.
A GH2 features unlimited record time, limited only by memory card capacity (can be multiple hours). Panasonic's standard batteries yield fairly good runtimes, and they also sell an inexpensive AC power adapter. GH2 cams don't seem to experience overheating issues, at least nothing like the (sometimes over-stated) case with other DSLR cams. In many months of use, my GH1 & GH2 cams have never overheated.
Fitted with a f2.8 or faster prime or constant-aperture zoom lens, a GH2 has quite good low-light capability. Although GH2 packages (including a Panasonic Lumix 14-42mm or 14-140mm zoom lens) are available for hundreds less than $1K US from many dealers, some dealers also sell the GH2 body-only. Those 2 Lumix lenses are fairly "slow" (f4.0-f5.6), so I only recommend them for very brightly-lit locations. And even then, at their widest apertures don't yield much shallow DOF goodness at typical focal lengths.
Since the main point of adding a video-capable DSLR to your camcorder "mix" is shallow DOF, get as fast a prime lens as possible. This needn't be expensive: KEH.com, eBay, and others sell nice, fast, used decades-old "classic" Nikon SLR-type prime manual lenses for <$200. Fotodiox & others sell inexpensive (<$40) lens mount adapters for the GH2. I use 3 old Nikon lenses (24mm, 35mm & 55mm focal lengths, all f2.8 or faster) and they yield great results for video. I use screw-on ND filters to get shallow DOF in bright locations.
The GH2 features high-quality, uncluttered, fulltime, live HDMI video output for monitoring. Its HDMI output isn't intended for external recording (although there are geeky ways to post-process the recorded signal). But for monitoring the GH2's HDMI is much better than most other DSLRs.
The GH2 features a fairly high-res (1.5MP) built-in EVF in addition to its articulated/free-angle medium-res LCD monitor. Both are available at all times, switchable back & forth, including during recording. In most situations, an add-on EVF isn't needed when shooting with a GH2.
In addition to the GH2's low-quality built-in stereo mics, I've added a inexpensive XLR-to-2.5mm audio cable adapter to plug into the GH2's mic input. This allows me to record surprisingly good-quality audio from pro mics & other audio sources with minimal fuss. Of course, it's not as good quality, nor as convenient or reliable as using a camcorder with a built-in XLR connector, but it works well. I don't recommend using cable-adapters in a rough & tumble, run & gun event situations. That's what built-in XLR connectors in camcorders are for!
Just to be clear, I'm not recommending using a GH2 in situations where a camcorder is a better solution. However, for a relatively small additional cost, a GH2 fitted with a fast prime lens can _add_ certain types of shots (especially ones with beautiful shallow DOF) to productions mostly shot with smaller-sensor camcorders. And, the GH2 may also prove useful for other tasks, such as off-stage interviews, cut-aways, & B-roll -- especially when shallow DOF might be useful.
Your reasons seem pretty solid - are they still not convinced? Look for a camera that is better suited to the task at hand and find all the reasons that camera will work (not the reasons the 7D won't work).
Get them to rent some 7Ds with lenses for a shoot or something (whoops, no sync? short takes only? crappy HDMI out?). Once they work with them for a shoot, they will realize why they shouldn't use them for events. I'll agree with the EX1 and EX3, the Panasonic 170 and 200 (haven't tried the 250), and a few of the others on the list. I strongly recommend your company rent some cameras before buying so you can test them in real-world situations and consider running rented cameras along side your current cameras so you can get a comparison since there will be a learning curve that will cost the company money.
No they aren't convinced yet. (Mainly because they see the 7D as a cheap alternative, to other cameras. It's affordable). They claim they've worked with 7Ds before on a longer shoot and had some success. When I was on a shoot with those 7Ds, we had a big corrupt file that we couldnt retrieve + 30 minutes of missing footage I believe.
[Rachel Kodner] "No they aren't convinced yet."
Not yet convinced? After reading all these posts, I'm convinced. Hum, option one; work with them to create several projects and "enjoy" the process or
Anything worth doing at all, is worth doing well.
- Philip Dormer Stanhope, Earl of Chesterfield
We've having a big meeting about it next week to make the decision.
There are ways to make DSLR's work for such events... but they are a hell of a lot more involved - both during production and post-production - than just grabbing cameras that are purpose built for video production. Hopefully the company you work for realizes this before it creates issues with production.
DSLR's can create extremely nice footage - But I typically only use them in controlled environments like commercial production. I know a few wedding videographers that also use them to capture breathtakingly beautiful ceremony footage and such.. but for recording seminars, long speeches, and other longer form events where there isn't much room for cutting and not much $$ for post - they don't hold up.
"Live, love, laugh and be happy."
[Colin McQuillan] " but for recording seminars, long speeches, and other longer form events where there isn't much room for cutting and not much $$ for post - they don't hold up."
I recently shot a 1.5 hour conference with my GH2 and it worked out well. I wouldn't attempt it with a 7D, though.
Video production... with style!
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I "once" shot a lecture with my 7D, will never do it again. I told the "client" about the limitations of the camera, blah, blah, blah, they listen like a dog... Naturally they did not like the fact that I had to break every 10~12 minutes, and that I did not have a 20x zoom. Even though they approved it before the shoot.
When making television, use a television camera. When making movies, use a movie camera. Just because they are now both "electronic" and display on the same device, they are totally different ways of working.
Affordable is a relative term. Yeah the equipment may be cheaper but what about the cost in additional hours of post?
Events, especially those in a dark ballroom, need to be shot with large enough sensors and long enough lens so that you actually get something usable recorded. Trying to document something like this on a camcorder is a mistake unless it is just for reference (ie, to see where the slides change or to get an audio recording with video for reference).
The 7d variety of camera is hugely popular because it can take the place of a more expensive digital film camera for indie filmmakers and others not wanting to buy or rent a Red, Alexa or whatever.
As with any piece of technology, there is a time and place for it. Documenting events is not the place for a DSLR unless you are shooting a documentary style video or stills.
They're still not convinced. I gave them a very long list of legitimate reasons why this isn't the right type of camera and they harshly told me I'm WRONG and that I'm not a videographer so I don't know what I'm talking about and that I should just trust their judgement and expertise. Is there anyone out there who has used 7Ds for weddings before and had a bad experience (i.e. the footage was too shaky when handheld, the camera overheated, etc?) If so please respond with your stories as to why the 7D didn't work for you for weddings!
Rachel. I shoot long events like stage productions (you can see my work on vimeo at
I have both a 7D kit and a Canon XF305. I would never use the 7D for what you are describing. Been there, done that, and all the reasons you give are accurate.
I use the xf305 for most all my stage events, and am considering a xf100 to add to it, where I would use the 100 for the long establishing shots and the 300 for tight close ups. You can boost the gain on these 50 mbps mxf files and get pretty low light. (you should rent one if you are near a major city). If you need true really low light, they should be paying more and getting an AF100 or Sony 100 for interchangeable lenses. The 7D is a dead end for what you are shooting, and they are wasting their money on one. Heck if they want a 7D kit that bad, I'll sell them mine!
I have occasionally used the 7D for what you describe, when I am doing B cam shots (close ups, etc.) but even then the 12 minute limit is a problem, and yes, the cards can fail. I've not had any heat problems (I did with the T2i) but I don't live in a hot climate. The DOF is great with it, but for what you describe, it is usually not needed. Then add that the color under low light can end up being very muddy with the Canon MOV codec on these cameras. The MXF holds up to grading back from low light very nicely.
They may want to buy one of both, and see which one gets used!
Best of luck. If they want to chat real time, you can email me and I'd be glad to talk to them for a few minutes.