Posted: October 14th, 2009 | Author: Lee White | Filed under: Canon 7d, Lighting, photo lighting, video | Tags: California advertising photographer, dramatic lighting, editorial photographer, Lee White, Litepanels Micro, Los Angeles advertising photographer, Los Angeles photographer, video, Zeiss 28mm lens | No Comments »
Now that the Canon 7d is out, can new video from Nikon and Panasonic be far behind? Some more interesting new products are out to help photographers move into doing short form video. One of the problems that photographers got away from long ago was the need to use constant lights with the advent of strobes. The constant lights were hot both to handle and on the subject, it took a lot of wattage to get a decent exposure, and were 3200 K so had to be gelled to balance with daylight which brought down the power even more. Well, as wonderful as strobes are and I’m a big advocate of using them whenever possible except for a very few highly specialized stop motion systems, they are useless for video.
If you want to shoot video, now there are a number of choices beyond the old tungsten lights. One type that is finding favor with cinematographers is the new LED light. As a light source, they are powerful (for their size), small, sturdy, draw little power and a are daylight-balanced source that run very cool. As of now, to light large areas you still might need a number of 1 x1 panels that can cost quite a bit but that will surely change in the near future. For now you can start by trying one of the smaller battery powered on camera LED lights like the Litepanels Mirco or MicroPro. Powerful enough to light small scenes or use as a fill in some cases, it can be dimmed with little color change. I have found them useful off camera for interviews or as a kicker and on camera for an eye-light and run and gun situations. I wish I had had some when filming in the catacombs of Paris a few years ago. The quarters were cramped with no place for stands and these LED lights could have been hand held right where I needed them. Image by © Lee White
Litepanels Micro LED
Zeiss continues to grow their line of Canon mount manual focus lenses that are especially suited for the DSLRs with video capabilities. The latest is the ZEISS Distagon T* 2/28 ZE which is a moderate wide-angle lens designed for full-frame (D)SLR cameras, delivering a 74-degree field of view. Like the other Zeiss ZE lenses, it incorporates a CPU and data contacts for communication with the camera body and long focus pull. This lens is meant to be used on the Canon cameras such as the 5d Mark II and the new 7d. As I have mentioned before, Zeiss already has a line of Nikon lenses for video capable DSLRs.
Zeiss Distagon F2 28mm lens for Canon
Posted: October 7th, 2009 | Author: Lee White | Filed under: Canon 7d, video | Tags: advertising photographer, California advertising photographer, California coast, california photographers, Canon 7d, first production Canon 7d model in US, hybrid video, Lee White, Los Angeles photographer, photography educator, video | No Comments »
Canon 7d the new DSLR with expanded video capabilities; I just received one of the first production Canon 7d cameras in the US. It probably comes as no surprise to most of my clients and professional friends, since I have been shooting tandem stills and video in my projects for a decade now, that I would be one of the first to get this camera. In fact if you look back a few blog entries, you will find I announce the 7d just a few hours after Canon officially announced it in Sweden in the middle of our night. Why Sweden? I have no idea. I like Sweden; I have shot in Sweden and found it a beautiful and welcoming country.
Since many of my projects include video as well as stills, a DSLR with good video capabilities was something I am very interested in. Yes, I shot with the Canon 5d MarkII and found it somewhat lacking in a few critical areas. Mainly it was restricted to the one HD format of 1080p (progressive) at a true 30FPS, which is a non-standard frame rate for anything. Plus the sound is not only automatic gain controlled but also recorded in 44,100 kHz, which is CD quality instead of 48,000 kHz, which is digital video quality.
The canon 7d has taken care of the format issues by giving us five HD formats – Full HD in1080p at 23.976, 1080p at 25 and 1080p at 29.97, HD in 720p at 59.94 and 50, all of which are standards for NTSC and PAL, see one of the images below. The audio is still automatic gain control but has been bumped up to a DV standard of 48,000 kHz in linear PCM. At this point, I should probably bring up the chip size which is the smaller 22.3 x 14.9 AFS-C which some might think is not the direction to be going in but I find it a positive move. This is near the same size as 35mm movie film and so the look is very similar. One of the problems I found shooting with the Mark II was the depth of field at times was so shallow that even trained actors would shift slightly and end up out of focus on close-ups. Remember the auto focus is virtually non-existent shooting video with these cameras; you need to manually pull focus if you are tracking focus.
The controls on the camera body have changed as well. The on and off switch has moved to just below the mode dial and there is just a lock switch where the on, off and lock used to be. I guess this prevents one from turning the camera off when trying to unlock the settings. There is now a dedicated liveview shooting button that also turns on and off the video recording. The print button has the added feature of being a one touch Raw-Jpeg button. Another completely new button is the Quick Menu button that gives you quick menu in the LCD to change shooting functions.
Canon 7d back showing video formats
Enough tech stuff; what about shooting with the 7d and the images? I was looking forward to trying one of the new Zeiss prime lenses out with the first outing with the 7d but no joy there. I ended up using my trusted Canon EF 24-105 mm f/4 lens but remember the smaller sensor creates a 1.6 magnification. A side note: you can do a decent job of zooming and short follow focus with this lens if you give yourself a bit room to start as the lens seems to jerk a little at the beginning. I wanted to test the contrast range with the 7d considering the 5d has been noted for crushing the blacks so I picked a friend’s gloss black and chrome classic Harley-Davidson (see the video test below) for a dramatic subject. The 7d does show a real time histogram with livepicture in the still mode, but there is no realtime histogram in the video mode. After shooting a bit of footage, I took a look at its histogram and there still appears to be some crushing of the blacks although the highlights seem to have very full gradations and there is good rendition through to the lower values. This is a very unsophiscated real world test but I’m not sure how valuable shooting color charts are either.
Classic Harley_Davidson on Canon 7d
The weekend brought almost 30MPH winds to the California coast preventing my doing the girl at the beach test I did with the 5d. However, it did bring some angry seas with interesting waves, so I tried the different formats to get an idea of the motion representations. I also braved the wind out on the break water to get some clips of the seagulls floating on the winds to get another motion test of the three NTSC HD formats (see sample clips below of coastline, wave and seagulls.)
The clips were converted for the web and so don’t fully represent the original footage which would be impossible to stream. Videos by www.leewhitephoto.com
New Canon 7d camera used by Los Angeles photographer Lee White to shoot video along California coast.
1080p @ 30FPS
1080p @ 24 FPS
720p @ 60FPS
1080p @ 30 FPS
1080p @ 30 FPS
1080p @ 24 FPS
720p @ 60 FPS