Canon dSLRs: 3 things that need fixing

Sure, there are plenty of video features one could ask, like XLRs, bigger screens, RAW codec, full HDMI-out, 4k resolution, etc etc, but in my opinion, it’s these 3 features below that would make the biggest difference of all:

1. Rolling shutter
In my opinion, this is the No1 problem with these cams. There are many times that I see some scenes in TV shows (e.g. Hawaii 5-0), or even short movies, and I suddenly notice some rolling shutter. The first thing I do after that is get my laptop, and search online on what camera was used. Soon enough, I usually find that there was a dSLR involved. By the moment the viewer “recognizes” the camera used because of a certain look in the footage, then there’s a FAIL right there.

2. Continuous autofocus
The most difficult thing to do with these dSLRs is to focus properly while the camera or the subject is moving. It’s just too damn hard, and the camera doesn’t help much with third party focus assists.

3. Better image resizer
It is said that Canon dSLR footage is not true 1080p, but a somewhat smaller resolution which is then upscaled internally to 1080p. Add to this the moire problem too. Both problems exist because of the Digic 4 signal processor not being fast-enough to do resizing using a better algorithm (e.g. Lanczos, bilinear, or bicubic resampling). Here’s hope that the new Digic 5 processor, rumored to be announced in April, will fix that.


Bo Reidler wrote on January 8th, 2011 at 1:56 AM PST:

I agree with your points. Re: the moire problem though, what you’re saying though is that it will be a hardware fix which obviously wont help those of us with current DSLRs. Funnily the iPhone 4 doesn’t seem to suffer from this affliction. And with particular combinations of settings and lenses the moire effect seems to be minimised if not vanquished on my 7D. At this stage it is not something I can exactly pinpoint consistently, which just reinforces the issue.

And your comment regarding the 3rd party focus assists would seem to suggest that you don’t consider them all that helpful? I am still in two minds as to whether to get a focus assist but see it primarily as a possible encumbrance. Not to mention the cost of these 3rd party accessories.

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Eugenia wrote on January 8th, 2011 at 4:28 PM PST:

Obviously the iPhone 4 uses a different resizing algorithm and DSP, and has fewer pixels to work with. As for the follow focus addons, I’d say, depends if you really-really need it. Otherwise, don’t bother.

Michael C. wrote on January 9th, 2011 at 12:42 AM PST:

Do you watch No Reservations? Try it, it is a great show. In particular you may want to watch the India episode, and then making of the India episode. Many cameras are used, at least one of them being the Z7, another is the 5D (or is it 7D?). Not once when I watched they show I noticed rolling shutter effect from the Canon, but these guys have nice rigs with an external screen and shoulder support. So, while rolling shutter sucks, it is still possible to get good TV from DSLRs. Focus is a different matter, and I often see how the cameraman adjusts focus, I personally think it is a defect when this is seen in a professional video, but it seems to have become accepted on TV.

Ivan wrote on January 15th, 2011 at 8:45 AM PST:

Nikon (D3100), Panasonic (GH/2) and Sony (A55) all have continuous autofocus, at least with some lenses.
For me, it would be a dealbreaker, but only if it would work with all lenses, not just ‘selected’ (read ‘expensive’) lenses.

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