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Canon 550d: adds ons? fx work? low light? other stuff?

Posted: Sat, 1st May 2010, 10:08am

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Wishing Staff Studios

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Canon 550d: (may have had similar posts but thought one with a collection of info for camera buyers)

what adds on are recommendeds?
tripods, shoulder mounts? lense? eye piece?

how good is this for fx work? green screen?

low light, night shoots? how good?

Last edited Sun, 2nd May 2010, 5:46am; edited 1 times in total.

Posted: Sat, 1st May 2010, 3:23pm

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pdrg

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Theoretically (thanks to our friend Physics) it should be rather better in low-light situations (if you use a good prime lens) than just about any other sub-$1000 camera. Big sensor, good glass, lots of light. In fact you probably need to get a matte box and a load of ND filters if you want to stop down the light to open up the iris to narrow your depth-of-field if you want to get fancy.

In terms of effects, well it's AVCHD/H.264 codec at a decent bitrate, so it should grade pretty well (better than most domestic formats) if you light the shots within the dynamic range of the sensor. For chromakeying, thanks to they bayerised sensor, you're probably getting a better result with green than blue.

Out in the real world...I'll leave that to someone who has one, but ideally someone who has one who has also used a serious pro camera (maybe HDCAM-SR) to discuss the colourspace, etc!
Posted: Sat, 1st May 2010, 4:00pm

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Axeman

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For effects work you also need to keep in mind the CMOS sensor will create rolling shutter effects, so you have to shoot properly with the camera to avoid that. Rolling shutter doesn't play well with motion tracking software. But, as with any camera, as long as you don't exceed the camera's limitations while filming, it shouldn't be a huge problem.

The major weaknesses are stability and audio. So, get a good tripod with a fluid head, and record your audio separately. A beachtek or similar is not as good an option as a standalone audio recorder, as the camera will compress the audio significantly.

The low light capabilities are truthfully mind-blowing. It is currently among the best cameras in the world, at any price, for shooting in low light.
Posted: Sat, 1st May 2010, 6:14pm

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Hybrid-Halo

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I'm in the middle of producing some tutorial videos on things you need to know with the 550D and VFX work, which you might find useful. There are some things that I don't think many other people here have considered! smile
Posted: Sat, 1st May 2010, 7:20pm

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Axeman

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Awesome, Hybrid! I'll look forward to that with anticipation. I'll assume you refer to stuff that applies equally to all CMOS based HD DSLR's, and not specifically to the 550D?
Posted: Sat, 1st May 2010, 9:00pm

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Hybrid-Halo

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I'm creating the stuff with the 550D specifically in mind but I think some of the areas will be useful for any camera which saves data as h.264 movies.

This is assuming I get it all done. If I hit a brick wall I'll make the information available in blog posts.
-Matt
Posted: Sat, 1st May 2010, 10:30pm

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Wishing Staff Studios

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so do i go buy it today?

is this a good set/kit http://www.harveynorman.com.au/product/1256967788005/canon-eos-d-dslr-twin-kit

Last edited Sun, 2nd May 2010, 5:40am; edited 1 times in total.

Posted: Sun, 2nd May 2010, 2:23am

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Struker

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Wishing Staff Studios wrote:

so do i go buy it today?

is this a good set/kit http://www.harveynorman.com.au/product/1256967788005/canon-eos-d-dslr-twin-kit
Sounds like a bargain. This mob here, http://www.digitalcamerawarehouse.com.au/category291_1.htm want $1819 for the camera with only the one lens! And they claim to have the bare-bones lowest prices on everything.

Dunno how Hardly's can do it for that price. But I'm starting to wish I'd bought my HV40 there!
Posted: Sun, 2nd May 2010, 2:32am

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Axeman

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Wishing Staff Studios wrote:

so do i go buy it today?

is this a good set/kit http://www.harveynorman.com.au/product/1256967788005/canon-eos-d-dslr-twin-kit
Neither of those lenses is all that good for video, really. To get the great filmic qualities that these cameras offer, you need to step over to some fast glass, like the 50mm f1.8 for $100, the 50mm f1.4 for $350, the 30mm f1.4 for $450, and the 85mm f1.8 for $370 or so. You won't find zoom lenses with fast apertures for anything resembling cheap, so its best to stick with primes, which generally also offer a sharper image. Those prices are in US, based off the B&H website, by the way. There's lots of other great lenses out there, but those are the main affordable options that I'd recommend for starting out.

For general photography, that's a decent kit, but if your focus is video, I'd recommend buying the body only, and then getting a fast prime or two to go along with it.

Also, a bit of a revision to an earlier post I made: in discussing the technical bits with pdrg, it turns out that the 550D isn't going to compress the audio in-camera. It can't record at the same high resolutions that the Zoom H4n can, for example, but it records with sufficient quality for most users, as it is still better than CD quality. Thanks pdrg for the clarification.
Posted: Sun, 2nd May 2010, 3:01am

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Struker

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Axeman wrote:

Wishing Staff Studios wrote:

so do i go buy it today?

is this a good set/kit http://www.harveynorman.com.au/product/1256967788005/canon-eos-d-dslr-twin-kit
Those prices are in US, based off the B&H website, by the way. There's lots of other great lenses out there, but those are the main affordable options that I'd recommend for starting out.
Axeman, Harvey Norman's is an Australian retailer, and that link is a ".....com.au" site. I'd say that price would most likely be in Australian dollars.

I agree though, that it could be a false economy kind of thing. That extra zoom lens is probably not going to be much use to the OP, since he's looking for best quality video.

.
Posted: Sun, 2nd May 2010, 3:05am

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Struker

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Axeman wrote:

For effects work you also need to keep in mind the CMOS sensor will create rolling shutter effects, so you have to shoot properly with the camera to avoid that. Rolling shutter doesn't play well with motion tracking software. But, as with any camera, as long as you don't exceed the camera's limitations while filming, it shouldn't be a huge problem.
Axeman, what exactly do you have to avoid with a CMOS camera, and adding spfx to its footage? In fact, what is a rolling shutter effect and how do you get around it?

Sorry if this has been discussed before, but since you're here, and you da Man... smile
Posted: Sun, 2nd May 2010, 3:38am

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Wishing Staff Studios

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nice photos will be great but excellent video is more important.. this whole issue of lenses is confusing for first time digital slr buyer

Last edited Sun, 2nd May 2010, 5:39am; edited 1 times in total.

Posted: Sun, 2nd May 2010, 4:10am

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Axeman

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Sorry for the confusion, I realize the prices that others linked to were Australian, which is why I was pointing out that the price estimates I gave for various lenses were based on US dollars. Australian prices seem to consistently run a fair bit higher than US prices.

Fast lenses, which in the most basic sense means f2 or lower for anything under 200mm, are crucial in order to benefit from the low light performance these cameras have to offer, as well as to get the shallow depth of field that creates the cinematic look that makes them so popular.

Rolling shutter, also known as the jello effect, is basically a situation where object moving quickly from side to side in the frame, or stationary vertical lines in a quickly panning frame, appear to wobble or angle. It is caused by the fact that the lines of resolution in the frame are scanned from the top of the sensor to the bottom, and if the camera is moving quickly, things in the frame are in a different location by the time it gets to the bottom of the frame. Here's a video that shows the effect, wherein the vertical lines seem to wobble back and forth as the camera quickly pans. Since the lines aren't consistent within the frame over time, it makes it difficult for motion tracking software to track the camera's movement.

There are software options to correct the effect in post, but its better to avoid them in the first place. The way you avoid them is by not panning too fast. There is no way to whip-pan with these cameras and avoid this result. But if you recognize this as a limitation of the camera and work around it, you shouldn't have too much trouble. In reality, there are rules about how fast you can pan an actual motion picture film camera or a video camera as well, without compromising the quality of the footage, so the concept of not being able to pan willy-nilly isn't a new one, though I believe the jello results are new to CMOS sensors. Theoretically the larger the sensor in the camera, the more pronounced the rolling shutter effect will be, which means that the 550D ought to have less of a problem here than the more expensive cameras with larger sensors. I don't know that this holds true in reality or not, as I've not seen a side-by-side comparison using the 550D.
Posted: Sun, 2nd May 2010, 6:45am

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Aculag

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Or only shoot really cartoony comedy films where it's okay for everything to look like it's made of jello.
Posted: Sun, 2nd May 2010, 7:01am

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Struker

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No, it was my confusion, Axeman. I didn't read your post slowly and missed the dollar signs among the lens specs in the second line of your post. redface

I checked out that link. That jello effect is very obvious in those samples. I have a Canon HV40, which has the CMOS chip, so I must try some tests like that myself.

Last week I shot some footage at a V8 raceway here, and panned very quickly a few times, to follow the cars going past. I didn't notice any jello effect, but then the background was just the horizontal ground.

I guess that jello effect would also show up in quick sideways tracking shots, too. Still, as long as there's something in the foreground that the camera is staying on, the effect might not be too distracting, I suppose.

I'll do some tests. Thanks very much for that explanation.
.
Posted: Sun, 2nd May 2010, 9:19am

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pdrg

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Hello again everyone, as Axeman suggests, the audio data is not *compressed*and indeed has a higher sample rate than CD's. It doesn't mean it's necessarily that great audio, just uncompressed when laid to tape/storage. There are plenty of reasons not to use the 550D to record your audio, the AGC being chief among them! AGC turns up the audio gain in between dialogue lines being delivered, so background sound levels go up and down all the time, as does hiss/hum if you have any. If you can use an H4n it's a way better device as he suggests, if only for the fact you can avoid the AGC.

A tiny other nugget of info, sometimes you will actually want darker glass (higher f-number lens, eg a zoom) as it means you have to open it up wider to get the same amount of light to the sensor, which means a softer image as noted - or rather a narrower region of depth of the image actually in focus - the very look everyone busts a gut over getting! A faster lens gives you different options for crispness, shutter angle, etc, but that cinematic narrow DoF actually needs to /stop/ light getting through!

Next you'll be hearing 'bokeh', an anglicised Japanese word referring to the character of the out of focus parts of the image, which all depends on the focal planes inside the lenses, so whether you get 'bad bokeh' (so subjective!) Which tends to concentrate the light from bright points at the edge of their natural circle, neutral in the middle, or a pretty dense centre with gentle fall-off which people agree looks nicer. Then 'bokeh filters' to shape the shape of the off-focus bright elements in the picture into little hearts or stars...then you need a faster lens to cope...and still look tacky.

Playing at this level, before spending too much money, I suggest getting a pretty basic physics handbook and really read up on light and lenses, focal lengths, etc., know your enemy and all that wink

It's very easy to get caught up in the excitement of the march of technology, and it is remarkable what good kit is available to consumers now (and getting cheaper), just remember the major big name Hollywood DoP's still did amazing work with far less sophisticated kit in the past. Great kit can make a great DoP able to make a great director help great actors tell a great story greatly. The kit itself is only a small part of the chain! Don't focus on it to the expense of the other parts smile
Posted: Tue, 4th May 2010, 9:15am

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Simon K Jones

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Yeah, the AGC was annoying when I was doing the FXhome Awards stuff. The audio quality, with the addition of a tie clip mic, was actually really good, but between sentences the AGC pumped it up so that there was a lot of hiss. Once I started speaking again it was fine.

Most annoying!
Posted: Tue, 4th May 2010, 11:33am

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ben3308

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Annoying, but at the end of the day it's extremely, extremely easy to tone down gain in post using simple audio tools, and it wouldn't be too hard to draw gain curves in up-and-down motions as it relates to the speaking.

It kind of sounds tedious, but any real editor is going to have to isolate and mess with the sound anyway, am I right?
Posted: Tue, 4th May 2010, 12:59pm

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Arktic

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ben3308 wrote:

It kind of sounds tedious, but any real dubbing mixer is going to have to isolate and mess with the sound anyway, am I right?
Corrected for factual accuracy wink
Posted: Tue, 4th May 2010, 1:01pm

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Simon K Jones

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Arktic wrote:

ben3308 wrote:

It absolutely is tedious, but any real dubbing mixer is going to have to isolate and mess with the sound anyway, am I right?
Corrected for factual accuracy wink
And again!
Posted: Wed, 5th May 2010, 8:38am

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spydurhank

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Rating: +1

Wasn't to sure where to post this so here goes. This guy makes a shoulder and focus pull rig made almost entirely of wood for his 7D. It looks pretty good. Though I'm sure that not everyone is a wood worker... most of you guys could probably think of a way to use something else. Hope this helps some or all of you.

http://athan.se/diy-shoulder-rig/
Posted: Wed, 5th May 2010, 9:09am

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Aculag

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That handlebar follow-focus is a GREAT idea. I have a shoulder mount in the works for my future camera that is based on a 15mm rod system (using solid stainless steel rods to add weight), and I am definitely going to try and implement that idea into my handlebars when I make them. Seriously, that's a very good idea.

Thanks for the link!
Posted: Wed, 5th May 2010, 9:13am

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Joshua Davies

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Hey Aculag,

If you fancy documenting the process of making your system on here it would be greatly appreciated! I myself would love to put something together for our 550D...
Posted: Wed, 5th May 2010, 9:18am

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spydurhank

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You are very welcome.
I second schwar's idea. biggrin
A how to video on your process would be fantastic.
Posted: Wed, 5th May 2010, 10:49am

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Wishing Staff Studios

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ok so im going to get the Canon EOS 550D DSLR Single Lens Kit includes Lens Kit (EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS lens).

if you have one choice, with a budget in mind what other lens for video would you buy?
Posted: Wed, 5th May 2010, 2:43pm

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Axeman

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50mm f1.8 without contest. Its only $100 US or so, and is the finest lens for the price out there. Depending how budget conscious you are, to could also look at the 50mm f1.4, which is something like $350 US but is even faster and has much better build quality.
Posted: Thu, 6th May 2010, 3:07am

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Aculag

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schwar wrote:

If you fancy documenting the process of making your system on here it would be greatly appreciated! I myself would love to put something together for our 550D...
I can do that, but it will likely be a frankenstein-style mish-mash of purchased parts, and not homemade. The handlebars will be, though, and probably the shoulder mount itself. I'll be building the rest out of parts from my M2 adapter camera plate, slightly modified, so it might not be an entirely worthwhile tutorial.
Posted: Thu, 6th May 2010, 6:43am

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spydurhank

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Don't sell yourself short Aculag... you'll do fine! biggrin
Posted: Thu, 6th May 2010, 10:19am

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Hybrid-Halo

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spydurhank wrote:

Don't sell yourself short Aculag... you'll do fine! biggrin
And if you don't, we'll only eat your face...
Posted: Thu, 6th May 2010, 11:35am

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Aculag

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I can live with that.
Posted: Thu, 6th May 2010, 6:44pm

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Thrawn

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Aculag wrote:

I can live with that.
Damn right you will. We'll be doing you a favor anyhow.
Posted: Fri, 7th May 2010, 6:51am

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spydurhank

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Hey guys, check this tripod out. It's insane, there are a few other clips in the link as well.

http://vimeo.com/10802914
Posted: Fri, 7th May 2010, 7:03am

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Aculag

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That counterbalance system is amazing. Pretty decent price for such a nice fluid head, too. Looks worth checking out! My fluid head is probably 15 years old, so I've been considering updating at least the head, if not the legs as well.

You are full of handy equipment links lately, spydurhank. wink
Posted: Fri, 7th May 2010, 8:35am

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spydurhank

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Thanks. biggrin
I don't know a whole lot about high end tripods but this one seems like you could "maybe" use it as a glide cam type of thing just by looking at that weird stabilizer contraption underneath the camera mount. I've never seen anything like that before. If not it's still pretty sweet either way.