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.

32 Comments »

Matthew Galvin wrote on August 31st, 2009 at 5:08 PM PST:

Don’t toss your HV20 just yet.
I am shooting regularly (2-3 times per week) with the T1i, and while it is a great “feature” camera or second camera, there is no way it could replace my Sony V1u HDV-based video camera. A few huge limitations:
1. Overheating. Similar to my experiences with the RedOne, the single “fat sensor” cameras run hot, and overheat in temperatures above 80 degrees Farenheit. When this happens, you are shut down. Hard.
2. Duration. FAT32 card format means that no clip can exceed 4GB. In the T1i at HD res, this means 15 or 20 minutes per record action – not enough for sports, theater, live music, interviews, lectures, etc.
3. Lens control. Sure, you can buy some nice rails and a follow focus rig, but nothing that I have found will get you to smooth zoom with a DSLR. The closest, I guess, would be to buy a Fujinon or Canon video lens and the teeth kit. At that point, you are talking about $8-10K just for the lens. There is no lens control protocol or any motors for controlling the zoom capabilities of the lens on a DSLR, so your stuck without being able to zoom. Probably not a killer for “film production” style shooting, but a huge limitation for videographers used to LANC.
4. External record control. This one sucks for my jib shots, steadicam work, 2nd camera stuff, etc. Aside from pressing the “little red button” there is no external way to trigger the record on the DSLRs.
5. Audio sync drift. In the T1i (and the footage I have seen with the 5dmkII) the audio is not held to the same sync standards. I’m not sure what exactly they are doing to the codec, but the audio is regularly off by 2-3 “frames”. Noticeable, but not a killer if you are a good editor.

Don’t get me wrong – great features, great price, so glad I don’t have to RedRock any more. And, I’m glad they are still slamming in features, even if it pisses off recent buyers.
These are not replacements to the prosumer or professional class video cameras yet. Keep your HV20 tuned up, you will need it.


This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on August 31st, 2009 at 5:19 PM PST:

>Don’t toss your HV20 just yet.

I don’t have plans to toss it. 😉

>Overheating.

This might be a problem if it indeed happens a lot. The 7D has two Digic 4 chips in it.

>Duration

I don’t really shoot more than a few minutes. The longer I have shot is 20 minutes for a wedding, but for that I would use a camcorder. For the artsy stuff I shoot no clip is longer than 1 minute. And even once that I did a video timelapse the video was not longer than 5 minutes. So I am good with that.

>Lens control

I never zoom when I record. I find the style amateurish.

I wouldn’t say no to a pull-focus gadget though. That’s needed. Hopefully, now that VdSLRs become popular, cheaper such gadgets appear in the market.

>External record control.

I don’t really need it.

>Audio sync drift.

I think it will be fine. Very rarely I shoot video with audio anyway. And if I was to shoot a short movie, the takes usually are not longer than 1 minute or so, so the drift is unlikely to be noticeable.

So for my kind of usage, these cameras make sense. And if I was to shoot an interview, or a wedding, I’d use my HV20.


Andreas wrote on August 31st, 2009 at 11:04 PM PST:

According to dpreview preview the 7D supports remote control of the camera using a wireless grip. It is not clear yet if it works on the movie mode too.

It seems that 7D is too good to be true after so many disappointments from vdslr manufacturers – including canon – the last year. I guess it will be a major hit considering that it is more affordable than 5DmII.


This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on September 1st, 2009 at 12:18 AM PST:

Yes, I expect this product to be massively sold. I can’t believe it myself that they packed so many video features in that price.


l3v1 wrote on September 1st, 2009 at 2:27 AM PST:

“*you don’t need* 3k”

Look, famous quotes being born 🙂


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Eugenia wrote on September 1st, 2009 at 2:30 AM PST:

As of now, no video enthusiast needs 3k (unless you are shooting a real movie that will play in theaters — and even then Crank 2 showed us that 1080p is enough). Quad-HDTVs are not out yet either, and there are no players that can playback video at such high resolutions. So no, for the next 3-5 years from now, you definitely don’t need 3k. Not at that price anyway.


rambo wrote on September 1st, 2009 at 4:43 AM PST:

Are you happy with the Jello? check this direct from camera clip.
Direct Clip from 7D

Cheers Rambo


kent noble wrote on September 1st, 2009 at 9:50 AM PST:

Eugenia I love your blog. I bought the SX 200 on your advice and it is great. Imagine carry passable HD in your shirt pocket! I almost purchased the GH1, and if it had been readily avaiable, I would have. I would be kicking myself now. The 7D at that price is a small miracle. Hopefully they will be avaiable sometime in the next three months. It is so hard to know when to step in and when to wait and I have been watching you wait for what you want. Time to step in for me. See you on Vimeo.


VonRiesling wrote on September 1st, 2009 at 10:00 AM PST:

This could be seen as a move to get out in front of the Scarlet and how great is that – go competition! I want the Scarlet to underpromise and overdeliver and this step-up from Canon could be just the thing to keep RED Jr’s price low enough for me to afford.


horace wrote on September 1st, 2009 at 12:02 PM PST:

i always wondered… isn’t the shape of a dSLR a bit unwieldy for shooting video?


This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on September 1st, 2009 at 12:12 PM PST:

If you are a consumer, sure. But if you are trying to do art, no. You use the right stabilizers and holders in that case.


benjamin wrote on September 2nd, 2009 at 12:44 AM PST:

what a rant…


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Eugenia wrote on September 2nd, 2009 at 12:49 AM PST:

…and thoughts.


DrZej wrote on September 2nd, 2009 at 11:11 AM PST:

Hey Eugenia. I really appreciate your blogs and forum threads. I’m considering buying a video dSLR very soon and I found a dmc-gh1 for 940 dollars (that’s 580 pounds). Do you think it’s worth it? Or I might just wait to see how the stuff with d7 goes.

Thanks
Dr Zej Sosnowski


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Eugenia wrote on September 2nd, 2009 at 11:25 AM PST:

I wrote what I think about the GH1 on my blog post.


martin wrote on September 2nd, 2009 at 12:14 PM PST:

Eugenia, why do you come off so bitchy? Jesus… calm down. To Dr Zej, for 940 dollars, the GH1 is a steal. Its an incredible camera. All of this technology is very new and in a years time, we will have many more options. There is a recent trend with consumerism and internet reviews, to always need THE BEST. Obviously its important to make your money work for you… but right now, I would be more interested in using any of these new video dslr’s to produce great work rather than test out which hardware has the biggest penis. Many of these cameras are far too powerful for the skill behind them.

Martin


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Eugenia wrote on September 2nd, 2009 at 12:37 PM PST:

I am sorry, but I do not agree. For $940, plus at least one lens, it is NOT a steal. Not when it shoots in such low bitrate, and it requires pulldown removal (in which case you might need to add the cost of Cineform NeoSCENE too). If your time is not money, and you don’t care about having blotches on the screen, go ahead and buy it.


Martin wrote on September 2nd, 2009 at 1:21 PM PST:

Not everyone lives in the U.S so some of us like to shoot at 25fps. The quality of videos coming out of the gh1 speaks more than any figures and jargon that is pushed on gulible ears. If you want to direct a a low budget TV commercial or music video, that 940 dollars will produce “more pleasing” results than a $4000 Sony Z1. Samples have already shown sufficient evidence, trust your eyes and not this hypothetical crap.


jroy wrote on September 3rd, 2009 at 10:28 AM PST:

How can you recommend a camera that no one has even handled a production copy of? Even the big boys (Rob g, etc) don’t make any buy recommendations until they’ve actually seen what production version can do. The post just seems a bit premature.


This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on September 3rd, 2009 at 11:00 AM PST:

Maybe, or maybe not. According to what we have on paper, and what we can expect from it (since it’s very similar to the 5D), it’s not premature.


James Benet wrote on September 3rd, 2009 at 8:27 PM PST:

I’m with you on the GH1 Eugenia, the bitrate killed it for me too I pulled my pre-order because of the full res samples full of mud.

The 7D is a steal and a camera like this “DoF wise” 5 years ago was unattainable for less than 100k.

Love your blog, Left a tab open with it!


himanshu wrote on September 4th, 2009 at 9:30 AM PST:

OH….finally ! It seems too good to be true 😉

And eugenia…your search ends here 😛


Michael C. wrote on September 4th, 2009 at 2:54 PM PST:

The 7D is currently THE killer. The GH1’s codec sucks, and you cannot buy this camera body-only in the U.S., so $1,500 for a flawed 4/3 camera or $1,900 for a proper APS-C, with triple difference in bitrate and proper frame rates — this is no brainer. I would rather prefer it in a camcorder form-factor. I will wait a little longer for CES 2010, sometime Canon will have to replace the stone-aged GL-2 with something less obsolete.


Ivan wrote on September 4th, 2009 at 10:55 PM PST:

I’m just worried about how its files will edit on a pc. SX1 files would preview at 6fps in sony vegas.
For home movies, continuous AF is a treat.


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Eugenia wrote on September 4th, 2009 at 11:02 PM PST:

Nobody edits these files as is (not even on a Mac). Even for the 5D you either use proxies or more correctly, you buy Cineform NeoSCENE. This is a given.


Syarski wrote on September 5th, 2009 at 2:51 PM PST:

This definitely is interesting to me to see how all of this is panning out. I am a newbie and just getting into film and video (I do music) and have just put together a cheap little hdr-sr11 rig with a dof adapter, rails, follow focus, etc. I would probably keep that and get one these 7ds and build a rig around that as well. I was looking at the scarlet but it might be not exactly what id want unless I spent more money on it. Where I could probably outfit a 7d for much less and at this point don’t need 3k etc. I’m pretty excited to be getting into this at such a great time when the technology is affordable for a great result.


skeptical wrote on September 6th, 2009 at 8:25 PM PST:

I’ve been using the Canon 5D2 for several months and love what it can do for video. Being a Nikon user (stills) and Sony (for video)for several decades required a leap of faith (after some comparitive testing, of course) to ditch those two and set up a new Canon system. Since I also require Underwater housings as well the excercise wasn’t cheap! Do I begrudge the extra features of the 7D…NO WAY! Can’t wait to buy one…it’ll complement the 5D2 nicely.

Well done Canon…they’ve broken the bullshit “drip feed the video technology” mentallity that Sony has been shoving down our throats for a long time (remember how quickly they pulled the HC1 off the market so as to sell more overprice A1’s).

As far as Scarlet is concerned…I gave up waiting ages ago. It was a good idea…but it’s now time for the grownups to take over.


Myles wrote on September 7th, 2009 at 1:33 PM PST:

Thanks for you excellent blog.

I’m thinking of ordering a 7D – or hanging in there for the Nikon D700x. Undoubtedly a greater investment – but the D700x might have full frame + all the features 5dm2 users have been praying for. Any thoughts?


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Eugenia wrote on September 7th, 2009 at 2:13 PM PST:

Nikon has no knowledge of video. So if you are into video, Canon will always create a better hybrid product. Panasonic has not been great either so far, but they have more chances than Nikon to get it right.


skeptical wrote on September 7th, 2009 at 5:01 PM PST:

There is a rumor that Canon will be releasing a hybrid camera next year which is designed primarily as a video camera first…i.e. ergonomically more like a traditional camcorder but with 7D still photo capability. Sensor will be APC-S (which makes sense), full lens interchangeability…and, importantly, some new video-dedicated lenses (different AF/IS motors). No mention if it’s 2k (or even 4k) capable…but it wouldn’t be difficult to do. Price will be around $13k…so it’s aimed at the RED-faced people.

But,of course, this is all just a rumor…

By the way…as far as “Don’t toss your HV20 just yet”…much as I liked the HDV format, a side by side shoot and edit and view (52″Bravia) shows just how pathetic HDV is compared to the 5D2. You just have to be a much more disciplined cinematographer to get viewable results!


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Eugenia wrote on September 7th, 2009 at 5:33 PM PST:

The HV20 is perfect for long interviews and weddings because it can record longer. The 5D/7D are better for short movies, music videos, art. Different animals.

Pansottin, about your question below:
Wide: any 24mm Canon (they don’t have good primes wider than 24). If wider is needed, Canon’s 17-40 or 10-22 zooms.
Medium: 28/2.8, 35/2, 35/1.4
Long: 50/1.4, 85/1.8, any L prime 135mm or longer.
Macro: 100/2.8


Pansottin wrote on September 9th, 2009 at 7:35 AM PST:

For this crop sensor camera, what are your sugestions for wide/medium/long and macro, 4 prime lenses? Canon or any brand with Canon mount.
I don´t have any yet.

Thanks.
Regards

Pansottin


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