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Canon 7D Mark II video experience

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Robert Gilman
Canon 7D Mark II video experience
on Nov 22, 2014 at 10:16:13 pm

I'm starting this thread to share my experience with the 7D2 for video and in the hope that others who have used the camera will share theirs.

I recently upgraded from the 7D to the 7D2. I use the camera for both stills and video and overall so far I'm pleased with the upgrade. Wildlife and sports photographers seem to be thrilled but many DSLR video sites have greeted the camera with distain based on its specs, unhappy that it doesn't shoot 4K, have focus peaking, etc.

I don't share this distain – indeed I'm finding a lot to like on the video side: dual-pixel autofocus, better low-light performance, cleaner noise that is easier to deal with, audio-out for monitoring, better options for HDMI out, no moire, etc. It probably helps that I'm shooting for the web and don't feel the need for the extra overhead that 4K involves.

The biggest downside so far has been that the output, straight from the camera, is a bit soft. Fortunately Alex's unsharp mask plugin does a great job of bringing out the clarity in a graceful way. I'm finding I don't need much: Radius = 2.5; Amount = 1.

If you have the 7D2 and are finding out how to get the best out of it, I'd love to hear your discoveries.


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Craig Alan
Re: Canon 7D Mark II video experience
on Nov 23, 2014 at 12:51:44 pm

You might want to post one of the Canon forums as well. Not sure which for video.

Mac Pro, macbook pro, Imacs (i7); Canon 5D Mark III/70D, Panasonic AG-HPX170/AG-HPX250P, Canon HV40, Sony Z7U/VX2000/PD170; FCP 6 certified; FCP X write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Robert Gilman
Re: Canon 7D Mark II video experience
on Nov 23, 2014 at 6:48:38 pm

Thanks for the suggestion. It looks like it gets put automatically into the Canon EOS DSLR forum, but I've added it to the DSLR Video forum.


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Craig Alan
Re: Canon 7D Mark II video experience
on Nov 23, 2014 at 7:04:54 pm

getting harder to differentiate the two. I use a 5D for stills but will be buying a rig that will help me use it for video. Also we have a 70D, which introduced a ground breaking camcorder like focus control.

But I think the cow was implying Canon EOS was for stills since you do not usually think of the auto focus as a feature for film.

Anyway that's where I go for my canon still/video questions.

Mac Pro, macbook pro, Imacs (i7); Canon 5D Mark III/70D, Panasonic AG-HPX170/AG-HPX250P, Canon HV40, Sony Z7U/VX2000/PD170; FCP 6 certified; FCP X write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Al Bergstein
Re: Canon 7D Mark II video experience
on Dec 17, 2014 at 6:06:18 am

Robert, while I don't own a 7D Mark II, I did have a 7D and now own a 5D Mkiii. I would have to say that if they didn't do much to the codec, nor the sensor or other internals, I would expect it to be "a bit soft". All Canon's seem to suffer from a generic softness to the video image, that I don't see in GH3's and 4s' for example. The good news is that it is boostable, with a bit of sharpening, and frankly, I like the image on the 5D. I call it 'organic' rather than 'sterile'. It's a beautiful image that a wee bit of sharpening enhances.

I sold my 7D because it's video did not hold up. The 5DMkiii is noticeably better than what I used to get from the 7D. But I hear good things about the 7D Mkii.

I think ultimately it is a camera for a shooter that mostly shoots stills with some video. maybe if Magic Lantern can break the code, you'll wring the raw out of the video. Until then, enjoy what you have. All in all I liked my 7D, and assume the new one is even better.

Al


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David Del Real
Re: Canon 7D Mark II video experience
on Jan 20, 2016 at 3:02:51 am

Hate to revive an old thread but I have a couple of 7D2 bodies and would love to hear what folks are doing to get good looking video out of them. I can't believe how soft the video is on these, and I'm using a Canon 24-70L, Canon 50mm 1.8, Canon 24mm 2.8, Tamron 70-200 2.8 and a Sigma 17-50 2.8. They all look soft, can't be the lenses. I know that some of it has to do with trying to eliminate/minimize aliasing and moire but come on. I've tried in-camera sharpening and that was worse. It seems that sharpening in post is better but I feel like I should be able to get at least a marginally crisper image. Anybody care to share how????


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Phil Lowe
Re: Canon 7D Mark II video experience
on Jan 21, 2016 at 2:57:19 am

[David Del Real] "I've tried in-camera sharpening and that was worse. It seems that sharpening in post is better but I feel like I should be able to get at least a marginally crisper image. Anybody care to share how????"

Turn off (set at lowest possible setting) all your in-camera enhancements (sharpening, contrast, etc.) and shoot a "flat" profile at 1080p 30 (or 24) All-I (about 90 Mbps). Grade in post. If your final delivery is 720p, grade and sharpen the 1080p first then down-scale the video.

Bottom line: to get the best out of any DSLR video, shoot a flat profile then grade in post.

And if you'd like, you can check out my color-graded experiment here (flat link first):




Since I'm not shooting digital cinema, I now just use my Canon XF-300 for acquisition using a custom profile to avoid post-grading altogether.

Canon XF-300, Canon 5DMkIII, Canon 7D MkII, Avid Media Composer 7.05, Adobe CC 2015, iMovie Pro.


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Phil Lowe
Re: Canon 7D Mark II video experience
on Jan 21, 2016 at 2:59:44 am

Forgot to mention that this clip was shot with my 5D MkIII, but the principle is the same with the 7D MkII, which I also own.

Canon XF-300, Canon 5DMkIII, Canon 7D MkII, Avid Media Composer 7.05, Adobe CC 2015, iMovie Pro.


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Jeff Kirkland
Re: Canon 7D Mark II video experience
on Jan 21, 2016 at 8:35:05 pm

Contrary to the above, I'd advise you to shoot as close to your final image as possible. The 8-bit codec is ok but it doesn't stand up to heavy grading. Playing around with flat styles, pseudo-log styles, etc just made my life difficult and created extra work I really didn't need to be doing.

That's not to say I don't use custom styles in my Canon DSLRs but just not anything that's trying to make the camera something it's not. I use, and love, the custom styles available from http://www.vision-color.com, along with the "Prolost" picture style for when I'm working with extra cameras that don't have custom styles loaded.


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Phil Lowe
Re: Canon 7D Mark II video experience
on Jan 22, 2016 at 12:08:01 am

When you’re color grading DSLR footage though, it can immediately feel like a lot of work needs to be done. The skin tones aren’t always right, color temperature differences are more obvious, and the color generally feels less uniform. Typically DSLR colors don’t blend and bleed into each other softly like they would on film or a higher end digital camera, instead they feel more rigid, defined and separated from each other – more reminiscent of video. Since DSLR footage (no matter how well shot) is never going to be at the same baseline as an Alexa, you’re naturally going to need to push things further in the grade to get that nice looking image. Speaking from personal experience, I’ve often had to spend lots of time with DSLR footage pulling keys, doing noise reduction, and testing looks in order to get it just right, whereas with Alexa footage, the look can be achieved much more quickly, sometimes with just a single primary color correction. This by no means is to say that DSLR footage can’t look nearly as good… In fact I believe in the right hands DSLR footage can compete with the best cinema cameras in the world. But I am suggesting that you need to be aware of state that the footage is coming in as, in order to approach the grade correctly. It’s very tempting to start pushing DSLR footage really far in the grade in order to hide some of less desirable colors, but the better approach would be to color grade that footage to look more neutral first, and then grade it for style.

When coloring DSLR footage, your first step needs to be to correct the footage, not grade it. This will solve two problems: 1) It will give you a more accurate representation of how strong the image is at a neutral baseline, and 2) it will force you to match all of the shots in your sequence first so that they are properly balanced before you stylize them. To start this process, simply assess the shadows, mids, and highlights of your image by using whatever method works for you (scopes, reference images, etc.) to compare your image to a baseline, and then adjust your color wheels so the image becomes more balanced. Often times on Canon footage I’ll need to cool down the shadows and highlights, whereas with GH4 footage I might need to warm up the highlights slightly and cool off the shadows. Every camera is different, but after coloring a handful of shots from any camera you can start to see it’s quirks and will get into the habit of looking for potential problem areas. That said, don’t rely too heavily on past experience when grading footage from a certain camera since lenses, lighting, and many other factors will play a big role in your image. Regardless of how you get there, the goal is simply to get your footage looking as close as possible to what a natural and balanced image from a cinema camera with a stronger sensor/color science might look like. From there, you can choose to leave it as is or push it a little bit further.

http://noamkroll.com/how-to-color-grade-your-footage-for-the-natural-look-w...

I think starting with a flat, neutral look - as suggested by the cited link above - is going to get you where you need to be a lot faster than trying to manage the look in camera. If you have your contrast in camera set too high, good luck pulling any details out of the highlights or shadows. Yes, the 8-bit codec is not nearly as robust as a 10-bit codec, which is why I shoot a flat profile then transcode to the Avid DNxHD 10-bit codec. You could also transcode to the ProRes 422HQ codec. But in either case, I would still only worry about focus and exposure in-camera, and grade in post.

Canon XF-300, Canon 5DMkIII, Canon 7D MkII, Avid Media Composer 7.05, Adobe CC 2015, iMovie Pro.


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Kripá Pizzorno
Re: Canon 7D Mark II video experience
on Jan 22, 2016 at 5:35:55 am

Thank you for the detailed workflow advice Phil. I work with 7D footage everyday (not by choice), so it's always nice to learn new tips and tricks.


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David Del Real
Re: Canon 7D Mark II video experience
on Jan 22, 2016 at 10:40:15 pm

Well, I just discovered something. I'm sure I'm not the only one but I thought I'd post this anyway. I know there will be naysayers because it may seem counterintuitive but believe it or not, I tried upscaling the 1080p off the 7D2 up to 4k using After Effects. I used Detail Preserving upscale, added 65 sharpening. I set the effect from Bicubic to Detail Preserving. The results are actually very noticeable (playing the upscaled 4K on 1080p timeline and exporting at 1080p). Much more crisp and sharp, definitely looks much better than the soft footage that comes straight off the camera. A bit more steps in the workflow but worth it in my opinion.


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