Thursday, 11 February 2010

4 Days with the Canon 7d

Following on from my last post about VDSLRs I thought I'd talk a little bit about "From the Former Republic of Czechoslovakia with Love", a short film I was DOP for. 

We shot everything on the Canon 7d which is very similar to the Canon 5d I talked about in the last post. It has a slightly smaller sensor, but has the advantage of shooting in some useful frame rates. We shot at 1080p25 throghout. I'll shar some of my experiences here as we really put this camera through its paces, shooting a 20 minute film in 4 days with crews up to 30 strong at some points and professional lighting gear throughout. Overall my impression is that this camera is fantastic, I would use it again in a heartbeat for a short or music video but I think I would look elsewhere for a feature because of the downsides I will go into and because I would expect to have a big enough budget to shoot RED or 35mm film if I was shooting a feature. 


There are two main gripes I had with this camera. The first has to be monitoring. On a film set having lots of eyes on the picture is a must and this camera just simply doesn't give you the option to do that. We couldn't find a rental company that had an HDMI field monitor, so we were using a consumer model which meant less viewing angle and no waveform monitor. For me a histogram isn't good enough to expose off. We made do but I can guarantee that the last short I shot was better exposed. There are other issues with the monitoring not being full raster in live view that were annoying but worst of all was that outputting to the monitor leaves the operator blind which just isn't good enough, especially when focus is so critical. The lcd is actually pretty good to focus off, especially with something like a Z finder, but if the operator can't see it then whats the use? The other issue we had was aliasing. I'm sure you've seen this before in videos and you can see it in the still below. Mostly it wasnt a problem but alot of the film was set in a strip club so there were alot of tights and neglegee's around and the aliasing became a massive problem. We reduced it with diffusion filters but did not manage to get rid of it completely. Rolling shutter and some of the other problems I've heard of were'nt a major issue for us but we were wise enough to keep the shutter on 1/50th and not put too many moving shots in the film. 


The images were stunning. Resolution wise I couldnt care less if its actually 1080p because the images we captured looked amazing. I can't imagine getting a better image without spending 10-50 times as much. Sensitivity wise it shone, especially shooting scenes outdoors at night it was nice being able to ride the ISO to 640/800 and not be too concerned about noise. I dont think I would have been happy pushing any further than that though so its luckt we had a 2.5k light and some fast lenses. Ill post some grabs when I get chance.

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