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Canon 7d, is it worth it?

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John Doggett-Williams
Canon 7d, is it worth it?
on Dec 11, 2011 at 12:50:39 am

Yes I'm asking the most basic question of all. Is it worth joining the DSLR bandwagon? While I like the the Canon 7d's pictures (and price) the list of: add ons, finnicky button pushing and stories of overheating are putting me off. Do you really have to stop recording and turn on and off after 12 minutes? I'm a video journalist so I shoot in a variety of environments, inside and outside, set up interviews and uncontrolled exteriors. Can anyone who has made the move from HD/HDV cameras to dslr share the benefits of their experience?

Thanks in advance.

John doggett-williams


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Gary Milligan
Re: Canon 7d, is it worth it?
on Dec 11, 2011 at 1:32:15 am

If you have access to one on a rental basis, I suggest you go that route and put it through your typical workflow. As the saying goes. "The proof of the pudding is in the tasting." What are you using now?

Just my 2 cents...

Gary

This is me - this is what I do - http://web.mac.com/garymmw


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Adam White
Re: Canon 7d, is it worth it?
on Dec 11, 2011 at 1:58:30 am

Hi John,

My immediate answer would be 'yes'.

Quick answers to your specific questions;
* We haven't had any issues with overheating as yet
* Yes you have to re-start recording when it times out. It's certainly an irritation and isn't ideal for interview scenarios at all, but I wouldn't say it's a deal breaker
* The add-ons do need to be considered as part of your initial expenditure - although this might seem a downside when compared with the HDV world, the flexibility this provides is actually one of the best aspects of the DSLRs

We specialise in online video content and we used to use the Sony Z7 almost exclusively. Over the past 6 months or so we've gone from that to shooting about 75% of our stuff on the Canon 5D. From your description of what you do, it sounds very similar to the kind of work we do every day.

Overall it's been really positive. The visual quality of our work has taken a giant leap forward. The different lenses that can be used gives the camera operator real creative choices in a way that was totally unthinkable with the Z7. The fidelity of the image is also far superior to what we had before so that, again, we have real choices and far more room for manoeuvre when it comes to colour grading. And most importantly, our clients have noticed this change and are delighted with what we're able to do now. When we do occasionally work with HDV again, the difference is clearer than ever - it really is like light and shade. It's very difficult to go back to HDV footage and not feel pretty disappointed with the quality of your material after using a DSLR.

In terms of capturing audio we use the Zoom H4N, which has XLR inputs. It does require extra time to sync up (although the software Plural Eyes makes the process much quicker and easier). After the initial bump of getting used to working with separate audio files you'll get used to it though and it really doesn't feel like much of an issue anymore. But it is something that will take some time to get used to. There is the option of recording sound on the 5D itself, but there is no way to monitor it properly so we have avoided doing so. I'm not entirely sure if the same is true of the 7D as we don't use it.

The downside of the Canon DSLR's with regard to Final Cut is that you have to transcode to ProRes (this isn't the case with some of the other NLE's where you can work with the DSLR files natively). The additional time this requires can be a burden when you're working to a really tight deadline and it's an additional part of the process you probably won't be used to and so may be quite frustrating initially. Working with ProRes Proxy isn't really a good idea for us, for various reasons, so we use ProRes 422 LT, which works great. Anything above that (422, 422HQ etc) is overkill with bitrates that are over and above what the DSLR's shoot at. Also be prepared to factor in MUCH larger file sizes for all your media - we have a bulky SAN so this isn't a big issue for us at the moment, but it's something to consider if you work locally or need to move your media around on hard drives etc. It's also important to consider how these bulkier files are going to impact your archiving solution. In general, editing workflow becomes much more important - vital, actually - with a DSLR in a way that isn't quite true of the HDV cameras. But as long as your clear on what will work best for you from the outset, and you stick to your workflow, you won't really have any more issues than you would with any other camera format.

So yes, I would say it's definitely worth it. But, you may well find as we have that the odd job will still come up which a DSLR won't be appropriate for so it's good to keep hold of your HDV camera(s) too as they still have the edge when it comes to raw functionality so they will still be useful from time to time.

Hope some of that is helpful - let me know if you need any more specific info.

Best,
Adam


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Neal Broffman
Re: Canon 7d, is it worth it?
on Dec 11, 2011 at 3:52:43 am

John, i wouldn't really view it as making the move from one to the other. The 7D, the 5D are great as enhancements to your gear. Second cameras that you can work in as needed...low light, different look for interviews, special locations, etc. Just like having a GoPro can get you images that you cannot get with a shoulder mounted camera, the DSLR will give you a look and provide features that you cannot get with a "video" camera. Certainly not money thrown out and it will help expand your view of what you can do. Lots of add-ons for sure but those add-ons are there to make the camera what it isn't, a shoulder mounted camera. Use it for what it can actually do and you don't really need to add much to it, a plate to mount to your tripod, perhaps a glide-cam for some smooth walking shots. You can get old Nikon prime lenses for great prices. My two cents.

Neal Broffman
One Production Place, Atlanta, GA
http://www.oneproductionplace.com
Latest project:
Series of profiles for the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowships For New Americans.
http://vimeo.com/channels/pdsoros


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Rafael Amador
Re: Canon 7d, is it worth it?
on Dec 11, 2011 at 4:56:06 am

After much researching, reading and a lot of stuff watching, I'm buying a Lumix GH2.
Here Peter de CresCenzo will resumes for you his advantages over other still cameras:
http://forums.creativecow.net/readpost/280/7792

However, as have been said here, a DSLR is not to replace your video equipment, but to complement it.
rafael

http://www.nagavideo.com


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lucas cheadle
Re: Canon 7d, is it worth it?
on Dec 11, 2011 at 4:58:02 am

Consider the 60D instead of the 7D. That way you can take advantage of Magic Lantern. I have a 60D and a Panasonic HMC-150 and I use them together all the time for industrials & events. When you're not shooting video on your new Canon DSLR you will surely enjoy the still photo capabilities. Getting a DSLR will only enhance you.


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Al Bergstein
Re: Canon 7d, is it worth it?
on Dec 11, 2011 at 12:06:43 pm

I own a full 7d outfit along with a more traditional xf305. I agree with adam & neal, but if starting from scratch i would agree with Raphael. Take a good look at the gh2. It has more adio information, but you end up with avchd, which has it's pros and cons.i worked with avchd for two years and did not stay with it.

FCP needs both to be transcoded.

Al


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Rafael Amador
Re: Canon 7d, is it worth it?
on Dec 11, 2011 at 2:03:09 pm

[Al Bergstein] "I own a full 7d outfit along with a more traditional xf305. I agree with adam & neal, but if starting from scratch i would agree with Raphael. Take a good look at the gh2. It has more adio information, but you end up with avchd, which has it's pros and cons.i worked with avchd for two years and did not stay with it."
You are right Al.
The truth is that having to transcode for editing is a real pain in the ass, but seems that we will have to live with that.
There is still a lot to do to make "tapeless" a more pleasant experience.
rafael

http://www.nagavideo.com


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Al Bergstein
Re: Canon 7d, is it worth it?
on Dec 11, 2011 at 2:58:07 pm

One other issue, that may not be important, but was to me, shooting in the Pacific NW, was that the 7D is environmentally sealed, with the right Canon lenses. If you are out in a rainstorm, or subzero, or snow, or 100% humidity, this could make or break a shoot. The 'pros' go with Canon and Nikon in the high end because of this ruggedness. I doubt the GH2 could handle that kind of conditions.

Al


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John Doggett-Williams
Re: Canon 7d, is it worth it?
on Dec 12, 2011 at 4:00:20 am

Thanks so much guys, I would have replied earlier but life got in the way for a few hours.
What a great detailed review Adam - I'll go away for a few days and consider your comments and have a good look at the 60D and the GH2.
For the record Gary I've been shooting on a ~ Sony VX1 for my most of my vid journalism but I've been bored with the limitations for a while. I've been known to shoot digi beta and RED when the budgets are there.

John doggett-williams


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Noah Kadner
Re: Canon 7d, is it worth it?
on Dec 12, 2011 at 5:15:59 pm

For the quality of image you get vs. the cost it's really hard to beat. Sure you have to work harder with it to get what you want but nothing good is easy. That said, as much as I like the 7D, I'd recommend a T3i or a 60D instead- you really really want the flip out screen. Shooting video on a 7D with it's immovable screen is much harder than I like...

Noah

Call Box Training.
Featuring the Panasonic GH2 and GoPro HD Hero.


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John Doggett-Williams
Re: Canon 7d, is it worth it?
on Dec 12, 2011 at 10:18:36 pm

Thanks. What about issues like the excess heat and button on and off after 12 minutes either he 60D?
By the way is it worth buying anything higher than a 8/16gig card? I occasionally need to run continuously over a couple of hours.

John Doggett-Williams
http://www.fineeyeproductions.com


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Noah Kadner
Re: Canon 7d, is it worth it?
on Dec 13, 2011 at 3:14:13 am

Haven't had either issue at all. I use 16 GB cards generally speaking.

Noah

Call Box Training.
Featuring the Panasonic GH2 and GoPro HD Hero.


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John Doggett-Williams
Re: Canon 7d, is it worth it?
on Dec 15, 2011 at 12:48:01 am

Thanks again your replies cleared my head.
I've rolled the dice and have gone for the GH2 (my first panasonic purchase). Of course each dslr has pros and cons (not looking forward to the transcode) and the proof will be in the using but rightly or wrongly what swayed me was (apart from Rafael having one): overheating doesn't seem to be an issue, the flip out screen, the audio control is convenient, other specs looked ok for video and hell 16.5 meg for stills is enough for me. I haven't looked at lenses for the GH2 yet, any suggestions?

John Doggett-Williams
http://www.fineeyeproductions.com


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Adam White
Re: Canon 7d, is it worth it?
on Dec 14, 2011 at 11:43:03 pm

No worries John, I hope there's some helpful stuff for you there.


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Rafael Amador
Re: Canon 7d, is it worth it?
on Dec 15, 2011 at 5:42:43 pm

[John Doggett-Williams] " I haven't looked at lenses for the GH2 yet, any suggestions?"
I've started with a PANASONIC 25/1.4 that I think is great for video. Very fast and with stabilizer.
You can put almost any kind of optic to the lumix, just need the correct adaptor.
Have a look in the DSLR and in the PANASONIC AF-100 forum, You will find a lot of useful info about your camera.
Dig also about the firmware hacks. There are people shooting at 170Mbps.
rafael

http://www.nagavideo.com


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John Doggett-Williams
Re: Canon 7d, is it worth it?
on Dec 16, 2011 at 3:40:56 am

Great, thanks for the tip any obvious pros and cons you've found with the GH2?

John Doggett-Williams
http://www.fineeyeproductions.com


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