Willing to learn..
June 1, 2010 7:06 PM   Subscribe

I want to jump into HD D-SLR filmmaking. What type of camera should I buy? How best to stay on top of this emerging technology?

I want to make an educated camera purchase in the next couple of months. I'm thinking Canon EOS-1D Mark IV or the EOS 1Ds Mark III, but don't know for example if the latter is more or less suitable for filmmaking.

This territory is a little new to me - I have the enthusiasm but would like to be more knowledgeable. Are there are any in-depth websites, active forums or mailing lists that someone like me could participate in and benefit from?
posted by phaedon to Technology (15 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Does the 1Ds even do HD video?

You might want to look at the 5D Mk II. you want full frame so you get the super-shallow depth of field that eludes the small-sensored cameras. The 5D Mk II, despite being what, 18 months old, still gets regular firmware updates to increase capability on the movie-making side.
posted by notsnot at 7:20 PM on June 1, 2010

I got the 7D and love it. The body is down to around $1500 now. It's not full frame, but it gave me everything I wanted: full manual controls, full 1080p HD, audio input, slo-mo at 60fps (although only at 720p).

(I must admit to being confused about the effect of full frame on depth of field. I put an 85mm f1.2 lens on my 7D and got some pretty damn shallow DOF. Unless you want to take to the extreme, like focusing on the tip of someone's nose but not their face, I don't know how much more shallow you could want or need.)
posted by drjimmy11 at 7:31 PM on June 1, 2010

Here's a couple of sites I check out that touch on this:

DSLR News Shooter
Vincent Laforet's Blog
posted by bonsai forest at 7:35 PM on June 1, 2010


The smaller the sensor, generally, the harder it is to get the lens to only focus the subject on the sensor and not focus the fore or back ground.



has a good diagram.

Further, since classic lenses are meant to project onto a 35mm film "sensor", if your digital sensor is smaller, some of the image goes off the edges. To get the same image, you have to move back or change aperture settings, messing up how much light gets into the camera.

A larger sensor gives you more "space" between the aperture and the projected image to decide what is in focus and not in focus.
posted by gjc at 8:20 PM on June 1, 2010

Best answer: The 5d mark ii is pretty incredible. I feel like I'm still figuring out how to fully take advantage of what it can do. This website is pretty exhaustive, and the blog section of it keeps on top of new developments. I like looking through the vimeo 5d mark ii video channel to get a sense of what the camera is capable.

The firmware updates are promising, as mentioned above. Canon has proven responsive to owners, first in giving the camera full manual controls, and then in making it possible to film with the more cinematic-looking 24fps.
posted by umbĂș at 9:18 PM on June 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: 5DM2 is the only correct answer currently. The 7D is a cropped sensor. The D300S (Nikon) is a cropped sensor and is only 720P. Ergo, 5D Mark 2.

You do not want a cropped sensor when shooting video. Not, not, NOT! As soon as Nikon gets this through their DENSE. FUCKING. HEADS. we will have a competitive camera market once again. Until then, Canon holds the lead.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:55 PM on June 1, 2010

Best answer: I do this for a living (at least part of it).

You do want the 5D Mkii. The newest 1D does HD video, and has a great sensor, but for flat out HD video, but the 5D is still the top of the heap. As noted above, full frame is what you want, for low light and DOF.

It is a wonderful, amazing camera. Here is a :60 commercial I made using 90% 5D and 10% Sony EX3 (a camera that is also wonderful but 3x the cost). Different tools for different tasks.

Here are a couple of my recent comments related to DSLR video: 1, 2. As noted in that comment, check out Philip Bloom.

The 5D certainly has its limitations, but you just learn to work with those like any camera. For some pretty impressive use, check out the season finale of House, which was shot entirely on 5Ds (instead of film, not even digital HD cameras). Let me know if you have any questions.
posted by shinynewnick at 11:11 PM on June 1, 2010

Nearly all of the video pros I know are using and raving about the Canon 5D MkII.

I could easily be wrong, but I don't see Nikon topping that camera any time soon, at least in terms of the actual real world availability date of an equal or superior product.
posted by imjustsaying at 1:54 AM on June 2, 2010

Response by poster: Ok scratch the 1DS Mark III. I feel really stuck between the 5D MkII and the 1D MkIV.

I like the low light yumminess and better build quality of the 1D MkIV but I wish it had a full frame sensor. The 5D has that and is about half the price. Oy. The 5D also has a strong cult following.. and from what I'm reading, it just doesn't feel like the MkIV is being acknowledged as a hands-down better successor. Other than Vincent LaForet, who is raving about the high ISO magic of the MkIV. But when shooting video - is there really a categorical difference between the two cameras? Can I shoot video like this on a 5D MkII?

Maybe I'm better off getting the 5D and spending money on some nicer lenses that I can carry over if and when a feature-packed new body comes out, at which point hopefully I'll be a little more wieldy shooting video on a dslr anyway. I mean, if these rumors of Canon developing a dslr that shoots raw video on a full frame sensor are true.. I may as well save $2,500 and go with the 5D for now. Thoughts?
posted by phaedon at 2:43 AM on June 2, 2010

we shot our last video exclusively on a 5d - the director is a big-name pro who shoots award-winning music videos for most of indonesia's top bands, and he uses that camera a lot. the footage for our video certainly looks lush, crystal clear, etc. i'm not a professional filmmaker but i've shot a few videos for my band myself, and i'd been hearing about (and drooling over) the 5d for a while.

though there are obviously higher quality examples abounding online, even on crappy ol youtube the picture quality in our video really leaps out i think. if i understand correctly the 5d is pretty much hands down the weapon of choice for indie filmmakers these days. if you're budget allows for more than the cost of the 5d itself, being able to drop some extra money on other lenses is an obvious bonus - the ability to swap in high quality canon-compatible lenses is a major selling point for the camera.
posted by messiahwannabe at 3:26 AM on June 2, 2010

You nailed it, go with the 5d and nicer lenses.
And depending on the look you want, get the Magic Bullet Looks color grading software.
posted by shinynewnick at 7:23 AM on June 2, 2010

Are Canon / Nikon etc planning to make new models of HD video cameras based on the DSLR sensors anytime soon?Perhaps camcorder-style models with the ability to take DSLR lenses, with improved audio capabilities?
posted by statolith at 8:46 AM on June 2, 2010

Sony is already heading down that path, putting a large sensor in a video camera body. It will happen at some point, but another big advantage is the interchangeable lens system provided by a DSLR. You certainly have that capability in cameras in the 10K and higher range, but the lenses cost as much as the camera again.

It is all about the price point. You can make an amazing setup with a Sony EX3, a Letus system, and Leica glass. But you are already 5-10 times the cost of a 5D and good lens. Add the fact that you have that package in one hand. There are different tools for different shoots, and the 5D is a breakthrough in a relatively low price point.
posted by shinynewnick at 10:03 AM on June 2, 2010

Not sure if it's helpful or not, but a friend of mine is shooting a movie with a Canon 7D right now. Here's some of the clips of the testing they did with some homemade sliders for it and it gives a good feel for what you probably can expect from using a DSLR for video: http://www.vimeo.com/10329325
posted by smallerdemon at 11:36 AM on June 2, 2010

Response by poster: Ok well I hope this thread is useful for other people in my position so let me talk about what happened.

I went ahead and picked up the 5D Mark II body. I live in LA and of all the places to get it I went with Best Buy, with a 10% coupon from the post office (included in the mover's kit) to offset the sales tax. Probably could have bought of state (B&H) but decided not to. Total came out to just over $2400. Actually I thought I might pick up the 4-year extended Geeksquad warranty they offer for about $350. The jury is still out. I don't usually get warranties like this. The guy in line in front of me told me I could get a third-party warranty for cheaper. I would hate for this camera to break but I'd also hate to get suckered into buying something that is unnecessary. I had a DVX for about 4 years and it never had any problems.. then again I own a Macbook Pro and AppleCare has been a lifesaver on more than one occasion.

I plan on buying some lenses and accessories this week and would love to keep talking; I'm probably going to start with a Canon 50mm f/1.8 or 1.4. Unfortunately this AskMe thread may not the best place to discuss stuff like this as it is several days old.

So thanks to everyone who posted in this thread. I'm glad I went with the 5D because I am learning a ton from the forums. I'll go ahead and post some links:

Planet 5D
Cinema5D Forums
Philip Bloom's Site
Magic Lantern Wiki
The EOScars
Canon Digital Learning Center
DVinfo Forums
Canon 5D Vimeo Groups
The Digital Picture
CreativeLIVE Courses
posted by phaedon at 12:20 PM on June 3, 2010 [2 favorites]

« Older First time at Comic-Con. Suggestions wanted.   |   Same Dramatic Sensibility as "Friday Night... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.