7D vs 5D vs 500D/Ti1 vs GH1 vs D90

Don’t know which VdSLR to buy? Here’s a rundown of common knowledge and in my experience (both hands-on, and based on footage/tests found online):

Canon 5D
Noise: 9/10
Resolution: 8/10
Frame rate: 5/10
Bitrate/format: 7/10
Manual controls: 8/10
Audio gain control: 5/10 (requires firmware hack)
Live HDMI-out: 5/10
Rolling shutter: 6/10
Ergonomics: 6/10
Mic input: 7/10
Focusing: 5/10
Average Rating: 6.45

Canon 7D
Noise: 8/10
Resolution: 8/10
Frame rate: 8/10
Bitrate/format: 8/10
Manual controls: 8/10
Audio gain control: 3/10
Live HDMI-out: 6/10
Rolling shutter: 7/10
Ergonomics: 7/10
Mic input: 7/10
Focusing: 5/10
Average Rating: 6.81

Canon 500D/Ti1
Noise: 7/10
Resolution: 8/10
Frame rate: 4/10
Bitrate/format: 6/10
Manual controls: 2/10
Audio gain control: 1/10
Live HDMI-out: 5/10
Rolling shutter: 5/10
Ergonomics: 5/10
Mic input: 4/10
Focusing: 5/10
Average Rating: 4.72

Panasonic GH1
Noise: 7/10
Resolution: 8/10
Frame rate: 6/10
Bitrate/format: 2/10
Manual controls: 8/10
Audio gain control: 5/10
Live HDMI-out: 5/10
Rolling shutter: 6/10
Ergonomics: 7/10
Mic input: 6/10
Focusing: 8/10
Average Rating: 6.18

Nikon D90
Noise: 6/10
Resolution: 5/10
Frame rate: 3/10
Bitrate/format: 2/10
Manual controls: 2/10
Audio gain control: 1/10
Live HDMI-out: 5/10
Rolling shutter: 2/10
Ergonomics: 5/10
Mic input: 1/10
Focusing: 5/10
Average Rating: 3.63

The average rating puts the Canon 7D ahead the 5D with only a few points. However, when you also put into account the fact that the 5D costs an additional $1000, then the 7D is the clear winner. The 5D will stir clear the GH1 competition when the promised firmware upgrade comes out next year.

UPDATE: Just for fun. You get what you pay for:

RED One
Noise: 9/10
Resolution: 10/10
Frame rate: 10/10
Bitrate/format: 10/10
Manual controls: 10/10
Audio gain control: 10/10
Live HDMI-out: 8/10
Rolling shutter: 8/10
Ergonomics: 7/10
Mic input: 10/10
Focusing: 9/10
Average Rating: 9.18

22 Comments »

bousozoku wrote on November 30th, 2009 at 12:40 AM PST:

As far as I’ve ready, the DMC-GH1 is further ahead of either the 7D or 5D in video and for one simple reason: during panning, there is a “jello effect” with the Canon models and not with the GH1. All of the other interchangeable cameras have the problem, including those you’ve mentioned, as well as the Panasonic DMC-GF1 and Olympus E-P1/E-P2.

The GH1 is meant for video and some good stills, not the other way round.


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Eugenia wrote on November 30th, 2009 at 12:47 AM PST:

You’re wrong I’m afraid. There’s jello with the GH1 as well. And besides, just the jello alone is not enough to put the GH1 ahead. Stu said it (sang it) best. You sound like an apologist: someone who bought the GH1 and he’s now stuck with it. 😉


Mark wrote on November 30th, 2009 at 4:47 AM PST:

I’m not sure this would help much in choosing a camera, number scores without subjective comment can be misleading. It is important to have first hand experience of the samples as well as online samples may have been processed in a variety of different ways.

The subject of the review is interesting for sure.


Adam S wrote on November 30th, 2009 at 5:13 AM PST:

A bit of a silly test given the competitors. Why would you compare the D90 to a camera that’s $500+ more expensive? Why not compare it to the D300s, since it’s on par with the 5D’s price range? It’s like you chose random cameras.

Of course, you should also mention that this is based on video capability, not overall camera, since no one doing photography alone cares about mic input, frame rate, bitrate/format, audio gain, HDMI-out, rolling shutter, etc.


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Eugenia wrote on November 30th, 2009 at 5:21 AM PST:

The D300s has almost the same capabilities as the D90 video-wise. Only rolling shutter is a tiny bit better. Most of the other problems pretty much exist there too. The reason I didn’t include the D300s was mostly because it’s not a very popular camera among videographers. Just like I didn’t include the 1D MkIV, or the GF1, or the EP1. The cameras I included are the most common ones among videographers. They are the ones that a *filmmaker* would most likely go for.

As for not mentioning that this is a post about video, well, this is a known video blog. I expect people who read my blog to know that by now. I am not personally interested in photography. In fact, I haven’t shot a single still frame with my 5D in the ~whole month I own it. I don’t care one bit about still photography.


Adam S wrote on November 30th, 2009 at 5:52 AM PST:

If you say so.

I say that’s like reviewing a bunch of cars and then complaining when people don’t realize that you were only interested in the radio.


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Eugenia wrote on November 30th, 2009 at 7:04 AM PST:

Mark, I have tried some of these models, and I always use samples right out of the camera to do my tests. I always analyze products a lot before I offer an opinion. While some of it might be a subjective matter, the rest is a “common knowledge” one. For example, when I say that the format/bitrate of the GH1 sucks, it’s common knowledge. At the shameful 17 mbps (visible blocking when viewing the video at 1:1 size), and with PF24 instead of real 24p, it’s bound to have a significantly lower score than the 7D.


Oscar wrote on November 30th, 2009 at 9:38 AM PST:

I read your blog and think it’s interesting that the 7D ranks higher overall than the GH1. I owned both, and eventually returned the 7D, because the GH1 HD looks so much better, and is easier to shoot with the adjustable lcd.


bousozoku wrote on November 30th, 2009 at 11:34 AM PST:

No, Eugenia, I don’t have any of these cameras.

Canon is known to have problems with both the 5D Mk II and the 7D, but of course, if you own a Canon dSLR, you’re not going to admit that they’re a bad compromise based on good technology.


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Eugenia wrote on November 30th, 2009 at 1:47 PM PST:

My opinion has not changed about the cameras after I got the 5D. In fact, if you go back to my articles before I bought the 5D (which was just last month), I wrote the exact same things about the GH1.

And no Oscar, I don’t believe you that the GH1 “looked better”. GH1’s bitrate and PF24 are a joke.


Oscar wrote on November 30th, 2009 at 5:24 PM PST:

I was at DV Expo and I saw the 5D, Red and GH1 on big screen maybe 20-feet. GH1 looked much better than the 5D. I find the 5D is either about the same or a slightly better picture compared to 7D.

Have you seen this, and this?
http://www

http://www

This is my #1 problem with the 7D, it is also problem with 5D
http://www

What do you mean by PF24? Do you mean PSF? The GH1 shoots 23.976P like a DVX100.

I read your blog with great interest, thank you for posting. Ciao


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Eugenia wrote on November 30th, 2009 at 5:30 PM PST:

>GH1 looked much better than the 5D.

Then you probably saw the 5D with a crappy lens. The quality out of the 5D compared to GH1 is immense. I suggest you re-evaluate them with better lenses. Or, the connection to the TV was not via HDMI.

>Have you seen this, and this?

Yes, I have. But you are comparing Vimeo’s 2 mbps CRAPPY re-encoding, not the actual 17 mbps vs 42/48 mbps original footage.

>This is my #1 problem with the 7D, it is also problem with 5D

Just don’t shoot against such surfaces. It’s up to the user to get good locations.

>What do you mean by PF24? Do you mean PSF? The GH1 shoots 23.976P like a DVX100.

It’s actually called PF24, and yes, it requires pulldown removal. It’s not the right way to shoot 24p and it’s a MAJOR pain in the ass. Coming from the Canon HV20 world, this is the No 1 problem we have had over the years with that camera (and all other Canon consumer cams). So the last thing most of us ex-HV users want is to get yet another camera that has the exact same problem. Pulldown removal is a much bigger problem than moire in my opinion. I believe that the DVX100 can shoot with and without the need for pulldown removal, no?


John wrote on November 30th, 2009 at 5:34 PM PST:

I own a D90 and totally agree with your assessment. Luckily I shoot photography, and the D90 is a great camera in that respect, and a nice upgrade from my D70s. More than the jello and rolling shutter in its video, the jaggies are what drive me nuts, even when using an anti-aliasing “fix” in Vegas.

I’ve not shot any useful video with the cam, but I’m amazed at the people on Vimeo who have obviously spent a lot more time than I have working through the issues and producing some good looking stuff, I do think that tonally, the Nikon DSLR video produces really nice looking shots, and I think it has the best skin tones “out of the box” of any of the video capable DSLRs that I‘ve viewed (including GH1). Anytime I show D90 video unaltered to people, they all say it looks like film, and I’m pretty sure that’s because of the color tones coming out of the cam.

There are rumors that Nikon is working on some sort of special video upgrades for future models of their DSLRs, and I hope that’s true. I could get some awesome shots using my Sigma 10-20mm. Meanwhile I‘ll mainly stick to my Sony and Canon HD camcorders.


Mike wrote on November 30th, 2009 at 9:16 PM PST:

Oscar,
I did tons of research before buying my camera. I was going to get the GH1 and then the 7D came out, you really need to read some unbiased posts about both the GH1 and the 7D, there is NO WAY with the GH1 bitrate that it can constantly look better. When doing research you need to look at as many results from as many sites as you can and not look at one or two Vimeo videos to base your conclusions on.

Mike


Mike wrote on November 30th, 2009 at 9:19 PM PST:

One more thing…I am no Canon fanboy, I simply like the best bang for my buck and I’m sure Canon will soon be knocked off its DSLR pedestal and who knows what my next camera brand will be.


Luis wrote on December 1st, 2009 at 6:27 AM PST:

I mostly agree, but one (maybe strange) question/thought:

While I don’t question the technical superiority of the H.264 codec over the MJPEG one, I have observed that MJPEG does resemble the film look better. Maybe because of having “real” frames (instead of just diffs) or maybe because of the film-grain-like effect. The thing is that while H.264 looks cleaner, it also looks more like video, not film. So in a world where 24p and shallow DOF is important because they mimic the film look, couldn’t MJPEG be the other piece in the puzzle?

Also, is the noise rating for the Nikon related to the codec it uses or to it’s innate capabilities? Usually Nikons do great regarding noise (in still pictures).


Jara wrote on December 1st, 2009 at 2:05 PM PST:

About film look: that is more question of contrast and framerate. I see that too but when 5D gets all the framerates and people edit videos with Neoscene (which lowers contrast) – videos will look much more like films.


Barry wrote on December 1st, 2009 at 3:00 PM PST:

I am getting very confused with various web pundits giving contrary advice. Forgive me if I quote from a long thread on Vimeo (http://www

forumthread:5584 ):

“(The 5Dmk2’s high bitrate is there because its a stills camera without the horsepower to properly compress the video. The camera does NOT benefit at all from that high bitrate as compared to the GH1. All its doing is using the compression scheme as a wrapper. This is one of the advantages of this modern compression scheme– its very flexible. It can highly compress at high quality if you have a lot of CPU horsepower in the camera, as it does in the GH1 which has dual CPUS, or you can lightly compress if you need to as in the 5DmkII and trade bitrate to get better quality.

To look at the bitrate of a video stream and believe it is an indication of the quality of the video compared to another camera and its bitrate is profoundly stupid.

It is like comparing the MHz of a computer CPU to another computers MHz and decideing that one is faster because the CPU clock is higher. There is no relation, unless all other things are the same, and they never are.”

Whom should I believe?


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Eugenia wrote on December 1st, 2009 at 3:29 PM PST:

The 5D uses 42 mbps VBR of a simple profile h.264. This version of h.264 is not as good as the one used for AVCHD, so you could say that AVCHD’s 24 mbps max is similar to 5D’s 42 mbps overall (or that the 5D is still a tiny bit better). However, the GH1 uses almost the same codec as the 5D (they call it avchd-lite). Overall, the 5D has better compression that the GH1.


Oscar wrote on December 2nd, 2009 at 3:13 AM PST:

I do not think it is fair to dismiss the 5D as crappy lens. I saw Red, GH1 and 5D images on big screen at DV expo. You did not see it, only on vimeo.

The people at DV expo say that the 5D used Zeiss ZF lenses. Zeiss was there and showed the lenses used. Those are good lenses.

You make it sound like data rate higher must be better, but this not always true. AVCIntra has lower data rate than DVCpro. Data rate is less important than source images, garbage in = garbage out, no? That new Red Ray 4K dvd format is only 10Mpbs, much less than GH1 17mbps, does that make it much worse? of course it do not.

I’m not sure why you would say avoid moire by not shooting against such surfaces. in professional documentary and TV production you can not choose where you shoot, or what you shoot. Camera must be able to shoot any surface, i think it crazy to say ‘don’t shoot actor wearing cotton shirts’ because of moire?! All the 7D shoots I did had moire in clothing.

why would workflow for post production be a “bigger problem than moire”? I can easily remove the pulldown from GH1 or DVX100 with Compressor and FCP. I can never fix moire from a 7D, or any camera. Moire is bigger pain in the ass, because it is permanent. There are many places online that tell how to remove pulldown from GH1. it is not a big deal.

i think you should shoot the GH1 and 7D together on a short project, then you will see what I mean. GH1 is best HD in a SLR camera, and on the big screen makes better images than Canon. Sorry for my english, it is not so good.

Oscar


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Eugenia wrote on December 2nd, 2009 at 4:20 PM PST:

>VCIntra has lower data rate than DVCpro.

Yes, but these are DIFFERENT codecs. In our case, it’s only different profiles of h.264.

It is common knowledge that 5D/7D’s quality is better. I have nothing further to say about this. Agree to disagree.


Oscar wrote on December 3rd, 2009 at 2:58 AM PST:

I have reading Barry Green on DVXuser. it seems his testing shows much more viewable resolution and more dynamic range of GH1 than 7D. I think he is correct.

I don’t think that popularity = common knowledge. If that is really common knowledge, than that “knowledge” is incorrect.

we can agree to disagree, but i do not think that resolution test charts lie.


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