Sunday, 6 September, 2009

The new Canon 7D - another still camera that shoots HD.

On the 1st Sep 2009, Canon put out yet another DSLR (Digital single lens reflex) camera that shoots HD video. The new Canon 7D. What makes this different from all the other HD capable still cameras is that this camera can do multiple frame rates. 24, 25,30, 50 and 60 fps.
For me, the features that matter, in this new camera are... 

Depth of field
The Canon 7D sensor is not full frame but APS-C (a specification of frame size). Many film pros have lamented that this is not 'full frame'. That's what photographers call the full 35mm still photography frame. That's important because one of the things that makes video look like video and film like film is depth of field.
Sure, The Canon is 'only' APS-C but APS-C is not small. Consider the following frame sizes of different cameras.
35mm film still frame - 36x24 mm - diagonal 43 mm
35mm film Super35 frame - 24.89x18.66 mm - diagonal 31 mm
Red One frame - 24.4x13.7 mm - diagonal 28 mm
Canon 7D frame - 22.3x14.9 mm - diagonal 27 mm
Genesis/Sony F-35 - 23.62x13.28 mm - diagonal 27 mm
2/3" cameras - 14.75x8.30 mm - diagonal 16.93 mm
16mm - 10.26x7.48 mm - diagonal 12.69 mm
Super16 - 12.52x7.41mm - diagonal 14.54 mm
Focal length is proportional to the image diagonal. And the longer the diagonal, the longer the focal length, the shorter the depth of field (DOF).
So, the Canon 7D frame, while being smaller than 35mm still 'full frame', is not significantly smaller than Super35, Red or the other digital cameras. So the Canon 7D would appear to have a depth of field comparable to Super35 film and most other digital cameras. And vastly better depth of field than 16mm, and prosumer Digital camcorders.

Frame rate
The Canon 7D shoots at a range of frame rates and formats, like...
1080p23.98, 1080p25, 1080p29.97
720p50, 720p59.94
Note that its not actually 24fps, but 23.976 fps. This 23.976 is some NTSC complication that PAL users simply can't fathom. But 23.976 is no big deal, and CinemaTools can convert it to 24fps instantly. Sound speed too can be very easily adjusted.
Incidentally, the earlier Canon 5D MkII like almost all other DSLRs that do HD video, can only shoot at 30 fps. Except the Panasonic GH1 that does 24fps.

Auto Focus
Autofocus in the Canon 7D actually works in HD movie mode. Not like a follow focus, but a snap focus when you half-press the click button. Like an assistant who pulls out a tape, measures and then sets focus. But focus doesn't adjust while shooting video. It has to be 'pulled' manually. Again no big deal once you get used to the lens.

Reduced rolling shutter
Because of the small sensor and faster shutter speeds available, the 7D should have less rolling shutter than the 5D MkII and other such cameras. I've seen examples and they seem OKish. But unless someone makes a side by side comparison, one can't be sure.
Rolling shutter is an issue with CMOS cameras, but with due care while shooting, its not a major problem.

Why 7D?
The greatest value in these DSLRs that shoot video (now called VDSLRs) is that its a tool in the hands of photographers. Who are capable of shooting really good images with available light.
Unlike cinematographers, still photographers don't whine for lights. As a discipline they're used to shooting with available light mostly. Even if you gave them shooting lights they probably won't be able to know what to do with them.
There are several reviews on this camera and you can find them at dpreview, gizmodo, and other photography sites. Many forums are discussing this actively.
Vimeo has examples too. This new space in imaging is hotting up. Keep in touch.


  1. ya, its a pretty good quality & sharp also ...but main problem is focusing ..... for short films its superb camera....

  2. I saw this camera with a mount and focus assist system. Its not tht hard to focus with this. For a cinematographer not accustomed to auto-focus it should be no problem.

    Also, the camera has an advanced autofocus so achieving focus before you roll is easier than with most video cameras.

  3. Sohan Kumar4:01 PM


    I have been reading about the 7D lately... Actually I waana shoot a small 30sec Social message Ad . Since I m workin on a no budget project ... I thinking about which camera to use...
    How does 7D work out... can it be hired for a day , the hardware e.t.c
    If I want to brodcast it on Indian Tv .. I will not be able to shoot on HD format... in tat case wat do I do...
    U r help is appreciated..

    Sohan Kumar

  4. Anonymous11:44 PM

    i want by a good camera for Professinal Photography, pls suggest me but don't confuse me. thx

  5. Anonymous11:22 PM

    Sorry, photographers like to shoot with available light? Hardly.

  6. Yeah, I'm looking to get this DSLR but was worried about the price in india.

    Why is the price difference to high compared with US?


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