Canon 7D Video

Canon 7D from soundimageplus on Vimeo.

Haven't found the time to shoot some video with the 7D until now. With all the fuss over the Sony A55 announcement I thought I'd take the opportunity to do so. 

With the usual over-reaction to the announcement of a new camera (both positive and negative) the forums are buzzing with reactions to the very fast AF system of the Sony. However once you get to the reviews of the system in operation a few problems crop up. 

Firstly - 

PDAF (phase detection autofocus) is done with the lens at its widest aperture. This means that if you want to shoot video with PDAF you lens will always be used at its maximum aperture.

Secondly - 

Continuous is the default AF mode when shooting video (single is not available). It is generally pretty good but there are some occasional focus shifts and the AF can, despite the A55's translucent mirror, struggle to follow fast-moving subjects. As sometimes the focus motor can also be heard in the audio recording we would recommend switching the AF off and focus manually as an alternative.

So - not quite the wonder camera that some would have us believe. 

The problem with video in a DSLR is that they are primarily a stills camera. Manufacturers make them as user friendly for video as they can but the further they go to make them work like video cameras the less they will appeal to their core market which is for people who want to take photographs. If you're wanting to shoot videos by hand with a camera that focuses smoothly with no glitches and doesn't require lots of planning, extra equipment and post-processing then you're probably better off with a camcorder. We still use one for our work. It has a much smaller sensor than our Canon DSLR's and Panasonic GH1's but has an f1.9 zoom and is much better in low light than you would imagine it to be. The huge depth of field from the small sensor means it looks very smooth when tracking focus and in many situations works a lot better than the GH1 fitted with its 14-140 dedicated zoom.

What we're starting to see are video cameras using the advantages of the DSLR hybrids, larger sensor, ability to use interchangeable lenses etc. Like the Panasonic AG-AF100
This is a dedicated video camera and much more useful to the professional cameraman than having to adapt a DSLR. At some point Canon will surely come out with a top-spec video camera using a DSLR sensor and the ability to use the Canon lens range. Thus eliminating the need to buy all this extra kit to make a 5DMkII or 7D work like a video camera. 

I've always believed that stills photographers who use the video in their DSLR's will always come up with something different than video photographers. 

How many of us want to carry around all the video paraphernalia in addition to our cameras and lenses? I for one certainly don't. 

Finally back to the 7D video. Very impressive in terms of sharpness and colour. What was surprising was the performance of the cheap and cheerful 55-200 Canon zoom. I used it on my 5DMKII when I had that and was impressed with it then. Its ordinary at best for shooting stills but seems to perform brilliantly for video, including very nice bokeh. It cost me £89.