Archive for August 31st, 2009

Regarding the Canon 7D

(Updated below.)

Online rumors today place Canon 7D’s tomorrow announcement to mention 1080p at 24p/25p/30p, and 720p at 50p/60p. *If* this is true, and if the bitrate used is the same as 5D’s (~40 mbps), then we are looking at the best video dSLR in the market today.

Sure, quality-wise and low-light won’t be as good as in the 5D, but by the time you resize down to 1080p the 18 MP of native sensor’s image capturing, the quality difference will be almost visually eradicated between the two cams. And given that the 7D will purportedly have audio-in, HDMI-out, all the manual controls as the 5D, overall it makes it a better camera (because of the added frame rate choices, which are so important for video).

I already talked to JBQ about the 7D, and he agreed with me that this is the camera I need. This is the major step up I needed over my HV20. And since we already have EOS lenses, it will be a “relatively cheap” upgrade for me.

There is no way Panasonic or Nikon can match any of that in the near future. End of story. Who ever went with the GH1, and its horrendous 17 mbps bitrate, made a mistake (especially since the 7D will have a similar price, according to rumors). Sure, the Panasonic cams have continuous AF, but that’s the only thing they do better, and it’s not enough to save them from the unfortunate situation. The low bitrate, and the need for pulldown removal for its PF24 footage are the reasons I decided to not go for the GH1. I like the products I actually buy to be near-perfect and convenient, and the 7D comes closer to that ideal than the GH1 does.

And I know a lot of people who already have the 5D Mark-II, and won’t be happy if they don’t get the same frame rate support too (although it might be impossible in their case, because of the 5D’s hardware design). Make sure to check the video below, right on the spot about the situation:

I will update this post tomorrow, after getting the real scoop from the official press release and not rumors.

UPDATE: And so the official specs are out. The 7D can do all of what the rumors said, and even more:
1. It now shoots in REAL 24p and real 30p (meaning, 23.976 and 29.97 fps). Canon has just gain my respect back for doing that. It shows that whoever is managing their dSLR department LEARNS FAST.
2. The 7D can shoot at 50 mbps, while the 5D “only” does 42 mbps (compare this to HDV/AVCHD ~25 mbps). This, according to dpreview’s preview article. I will know for sure when I get some real footage directly out of the camera. But so far, it seems that indeed, the 7D has even more bitrate than the 5D! Update: The bitrate is actually 48 mbps. Still, better than in the 5D, and way better than HDV/AVCHD.
3. The camera can do both PAL and NTSC frame rates. This is VERY important for Europeans who want to either shoot 24p/25p slowed-down music videos, or theatrical motion pictures.
4. It costs just $1900 with a kit lens, or $1700 without. This is DIRT CHEAP for what you get for your next video camera. Think that a consumer camcorder like the HF-S10 had an MSRP of $1500, and it is such a bad camera compared to the 7D in terms of visual quality and manual controls. The only thing a camcorder can do better than the 7D is continuous autofocus.

The only thing missing for me though from the 7D, or at least not mentioned in reviews so far, is zebra support. It’s the only additional feature I would like, and it’s easily fixable by software alone.

In conclusion, let me say this: BUY THIS CAMERA. This is NOT ONLY the BEST video dSLR in the market, but also, the BEST video camera/camcorder in both its price range and a price range up to $7000, hands down. So basically, you get an amazing camera, that has SUPERIOR image quality than any of the prosumer camcorders below $7000, it has shallower depth of field, it is smaller, and it costs a FRACTION of what these camcorders do. Sure, prosumer camcorders can do other stuff that dSLRs don’t do, but when taking into account only the BASIC MUST-HAVE features in a video device, the 7D simply does them better.

And let me say something else too. I think that RED with their upcoming Scarlet camera has a huge competitor now. Not only the basic Scarlet model is much more expensive, but it also has a smaller sensor than the 7D. Sure it does 3k, but unless you use it for cropping to reframe a bad shot, *you don’t need* 3k. I think that the 7D is the camera that will give RED a really, really, really hard time in the lower-end market. Jim Jannard, RED’s billionaire and very active in the community founder, already started a forum post complaining about his 5D not having all what the 7D does in video mode. I felt by reading his message that he wasn’t really talking about his 5D (he’s a billionaire anyway, he can buy whatever he wants), but he tried to make existing 5D owners to despise Canon for releasing the cheaper 7D and offering more video features in it. At least, this is how his comment stroke me as. Sneaky. Update: That forum thread is now deleted, hah!.

As for the GH1. It’s a complete joke compared to the 7D. Completely and utterly a joke. 17 mbps and pulldown removal simply kill the usefulness of this camera. Unless you already have a buttload of lenses for it and so it doesn’t make sense to switch to Canon, you better sell the bloody thing and get a 7D. Same goes for any other Panasonic and Nikon existing *or* upcoming camera. They just don’t compare to the 7D. And especially for Nikon, the future looks gloomy since they haven’t been able to do anything useful with video so far. They still use MJPEG for Christ’s sake.

Pre-order a 7D at Amazon.