Canon 7D or videocamera? HD or SD? AVCHD Editing problems? Worth it? Opinions?!

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    • #48967

      **If you have an opinion on anything I discuss, please post below because every “vote” counts in my decisions going forward.**

      My Goal: To shoot small / short film projects to upload to the internet and burn to DVD. (I would also like to do some still photography on the side, whether it is with the camera I buy or a separate still camera—this is factoring into my decision somewhat, but I want to focus on video.)

      Note: I have Adobe Premiere Pro CS4 (the production package with after effects, etc..)

      Do I buy a 7D? Price vs performance seems tempting, but many people have problems editing AVCHD and I don’t have CS5 with the Mercury Playback Engine. (I am buying a new computer soon, which I will make sure has the capability to edit HD, but is that worth it since I plan to output to DVD and the internet?) All of the codecs and conversions don’t seem worth the effort depending on where my footage is going to end up…should I stick with Standard Definition? (The videocamera I have now is standard definition: Panasonic DVX100)

      I would like creative options, and being able to change lenses seems like more creative options. Also, my projects will mostly be small indie-film-like projects, so I won’t really be doing live events.

      The downside to 7D is that there are many accessories that will add up if I want to use it primarily for video? Would I be better off putting that money into a videocamera from the start?

      I can always buy a separate still camera that takes great pictures to have alongside a videocamera.


      That brings us to my second option: Do I buy an HD videocamera? After I get my new computer, I would love to have great looking footage, but since I am only going to be outputting it to DVD in the end, does HD matter? How much better does it look than SD on DVD? People want video on the internet to load really fast these days, and if I shoot HD and upload HD, sure they have the HD option, but I would guess the majority just watch it Low Resolution anyways.

      So, that brings us to the big finale: What to do? The Panasonic AG-AF100 is 5,000 dollars and out of my budget. The 7D is within reach, but has lots of drawbacks. An HD prosumer videocamera might take a bit more time to save up for, BUT is it the right way to go if I want to focus on video? Then again, I can take still photographs anytime to practice photography, with some video projects on the side when friends are available to help.

      **Please feel free to join in with your opinion on what you would do in this situation, and explain WHY? What things would make you lean towards one option over the other?

      Thank you for your opinion!

    • #200705

      Well, I would go with a new computer and CS5 but for the 64 bit more so than the MPE to handle AVCHD. There is a bit of a buzz out there that Canon may be coming out with something better than the 7D on DSLR but please don’t hold me to it. Here is a good site for resources on DSLR filming though I don’t shoot with a DSLR, I always check in on this one.

      Yes HD can matter even though you are outputting to a DVD in SD. The picture quality is great (if shot well) and it gives you some room in post touse some fake camera moves that can really fill things sometimes, never turn down a trick.

    • #200706

      I have no experience with the 7D so I cannot help you there, but I can assure you that you should go with the HD option anyways. Though half of your audience online will watch your videos at standard quality, the bar is quickly being raised and the average internet connection is raising quickly. Another thing to consider is that America is one of the slowest major countries in the world when it ocmes to internet.

      In terms of cameras, you need to weigh in on how familiar you are with DSLRs to determine if you want to start using them. I haven’t used one but if you are used to video cameras, it may be better to stick with what you are comfortable with. You never stated your budget, except that $5,000 dollars was too much. I think you should give a look at the Sony NEX VG10, which is a “modded” DSLR to act like and feel more like a videocamera, but will also give you great high-resolution still shots. The NEX VG10 costs about $2,000 with a few accessories. Canon also came out with a similar product and I’m sure that other companies will be making these hybrids more and more, so keep an eye out for them.

      Videomaker reviewed the NEX-VG10 here

      Oh and sidenote, I reccommend you to buy a quick SSD to edit your HD footage on when you get your new computer, this way you won’t have to deal with the bottlenecks of a slow harddrive.

    • #200707

      “but many people have problems editing AVCHD and I don’t have CS5 with the Mercury Playback Engine.”

      I thought the 7D recorded H.264? Either way, if your computer can’t handled AVCHD, transcode your footage to a better codec, such as DVCPro HD. It won’t make your footage better looking, but it will get you away from the Long GOP compression that bogs down computers.

      “is that worth it since I plan to output to DVD and the internet?”

      At this point, I think it’s worth going HD. Not necessarily for DVD, but because HD video can stream over the web with few problems these days.

      “I would like creative options, and being able to change lenses seems like more creative options.”

      Having the feature of interchangeable lenses doesn’t make you more creative. Interchangeable lenses relates to the use of prime lenses – lenses that don’t zoom. While prime lenses tend to yield better results, if you don’t buy them, the feature of interchangeable lenses on your camera provides you nothing because you’ll have a zoom lens – covering the focal lengths of many prime lenses.

      “The downside to 7D is that there are many accessories that will add up if I want to use it primarily for video?”

      In my opinion, many of the accessories that you’d purchase for the 7D, you’d most likely need for a video camera anyway. For example, it doesn’t matter if you record with a 7D or HVX, you’d want to connect a proper monitor to the camera so you can get a better sense of what you’re looking at.

      The big problem with DSLRs that I see is the inability to record audio. But even with video cameras, usually there will still be a sound guy recording to an external recorder anyway. So I guess to answer the question meaningfully, you’d have to let us know how big your budgets are for your projects.

      “since I am only going to be outputting it to DVD in the end,does HD matter?How much better does it look than SD on DVD?”

      If you really want to get nit picky, HD downcoverted to SD for DVD will look just a bit nicer than originally shooting SD for DVD, but its impossible for anyone to notice the difference because no one will ever see your raw footage. They will only ever see the DVD. You did, however, mention that you were going to deliver to the web. And because of that I suggest recording HD.

      “if I shoot HD and upload HD, sure they have the HD option, but I would guess the majority just watch it Low Resolution anyways.”

      Maybe, but it’s nice that you’d be giving them an option to choose which resolution they want to view the video.

    • #200708

      “Oh and sidenote, I reccommend you to buy a quick SSD to edit your HD footage on when you get your new computer, this way you won’t have to deal with the bottlenecks of a slow harddrive.”

      I wouldn’t recommend that. To get a meaningful amount of storage space, you’re going to be paying out the wazoo. May as well get a RAID5 set up.

    • #200709

      What’s your budget?

    • #200710


      Rob has brought up some good points. But I’m with XTR when he asked ‘What’s your budget?’ First off, you don’t need to have a 7D to shoot your projects with. Since it seems you are not producing product yet, you might want to try and get used to the AVCHD workflow first. I have done quite a bit of research on the Canon line and found much I like and some things I don’t. So instead, I got one of their ‘Happy Snap’ style cameras as a crashcam to augment my pro HD video camera. Believe it or not, the canon point and shoots have many of the same functions as the pro digital rigs (though they are far more basic.)

      However, I’ve found that with a little extra time to convert the raw H.264 video over uncompressed AVI or QT, I get surprising results for so small a camera. With slight tweaks with accessories for mounting and synced audio and my know how of video, I get some great imagery. Oh and I didn’t fork over nearly two grand for just a body and one lens. Now if you’re planning on doing a lot of green screen or low-light work, you’ll need a 60D or a 7D. Main thing to remember is; you’re not going to put an HD production on a DVD. You’ll have to scale it down. Right now putting your films online in HD is much more common so to showcase work, it’s worth it but you’re going to have to scale that down to fit your host server’s requirements. Primarily so it doesn’t take an age to download your film.

      I’m still using CS3 with a BMD Intensity capture card on a still formidable NLE I built 3 years ago. Right now, it sounds like you should concentrate on getting the work done with as little overhead, but with as high a quality your budget can muster.

    • #200711

      The budget isn’t set in stone, but I’d rather not pay more than $2,000 on a camera alone. I don’t necessarily need interchangeable lenses. Shallow depth of field is something that I am probably getting too hung up on, but I feel it is necessary. From what I am gathering, video production is in a very transitionary stage and I’m just not finding a logical jumping in point for me–one that makes sense financially or otherwise. Playing the waiting game might be what I do for awhile since I am gathering conflicting opinions on this topic which I have posted here and on other sites.

      Other suggestions?

    • #200712

      Oh, wow. Only 2 grand? I wouldn’t suggest a DSLR camera since you won’t have much money left for the necessary accessories. But then again, I haven’t shot with a DSLR, so I’m not sure how much you can get away with.

      “I don’t necessarily need interchangeable lenses. Shallow depth of field is something that I am probably getting too hung up on, but I feel it is necessary”

      Depth of field isn’t influenced by the feature of interchangeable lenses. It’s influenced by the size of the aperture and the size of the image plain. The larger the aperture and image plain, the shallower the depth of field. Sorry, but as far as I know, you won’t find a typical video camera with a large image plain for under 2 grand.

      I don’t think video production is in as much of a transitionary stage as it used to be. Just a few years ago people couldn’t decide if they should get an SD camera or invest in a HD camera. Then if they decided to go with HD, they weren’t sure which format they should record. I’d say things have calmed down quite a bit since then. “What camera should I get” will always be a question no matter what time you decide to jump in.

      I’d say what you see now in cameras will remain the same for a while. Sure, things will evolve, but I don’t think things will change as quickly as they have over the past few years.

    • #200713

      The 7D doesn’t have a headphone jack or output A/V while recording.

      You’d alsoneed a duplexer and amplifer if you want a headphone jack.

    • #200714

      On the other forums I posted on, a lot of people seemed to be recommending a GH2 for my particular case.

      Also, the upcoming Canon XA10 might be a good candidate for me.


    • #200715

      “640K ought to be enough for anybody….” – Bill Gates. (He denies it). Just look where the computer industry has gone !

      As a newby to videography, I am faced with the fact that all new consumer/prosumer cameras today are loaded with AVCHD.So too are almost all newcamerasfitted with CMOS sensors. It appears as if the camera manafacturersare actively steering the industry into this direction. All the arguments against AVCHD and CMOS make perfect sense and I know that it is rooted in the hard knocks of years of experience. The problem is, trying to deviate away from the AVCHD/CMOScombo will limit your choices drastically.

      Yes, I too have found the AVCHD format somewhat problematic, up until recently, that is. However, I sense that both the PC industry as well as the NLE developers have finally caught up with the challenge that AVCHD presented.The multi-threading capability of the new multi-core processors coupled with more capable graphics cards seem to be the answer. So too have most of the NLE developers scrambled to upgrade their software. Canon has come up with a new sensor, theCMOS Pro, which iscausing a stir. The new XA10 will have this new sensor and the XF series already use them.The competition are sure to follow. The point is, development is ongoing and what is considered problematic today will not remain so tomorrow.

      I too want to upgrade my handycam soon. The choices, the pros and cons, present a huge challenge.

      So guys (Wolfgang, Rob, Earl, WSanford, XTR-91 and others…), thank you for the continued advice. You are keeping us newbies on the right track.

    • #200716

      Seeing as how you’d like to focus on short films, I would suggest looking at the Panasonic GH1 or GH2. I just picked up a GH1 for $500 to complement my HMC150, and the quality is quite impressive, especially with the opportunity to hack it to get better bitrates.

      If you are doing short films, I would assume that you are going to be shooting in controlled environments. I would therefore recommend putting a thousand towards a GH1 and a few manual lenses. I bought a lens adapter which lets me use my dad’s vintage Minolta lenses (which are also very affordable on eBay).

      I would then consider putting at least 500 towards a Zoom H4n or comparable audio recorder and an entry shotgun mic like the Audio Technica AT897 since DSLR audio is very limited. Put the rest towards a tripod if you need it. And that’ll get you started!

    • #200717

      CS4 handles AVCHD natively so you will not have to convert is as much as you think. I use both CS4 and 5 and there is a little time for the audio to be conformed but that is about it. Personally, I would recomend using a video camera to shoot video and a still camera for still work. I have found a true love with the Panasonic AG-HMC150, it is great in low light and have a lot of features that more professional cameras have, like waveform monitor and vectoscope which come in very handy. You can find some deals on e-bay and B & H Photo have some really good packages. Not to mention, with a HDSD32 gig card you can record up to 3 hours and more of footage, depending on the recording format you choose. This is just my suggestion.

    • #200718

      Thanks for the suggestions everyone! Keep ’em coming!

      cschultz314..was AVCHD compatibility added in a patch? Or was that there from the start? I thought I had been reading on the forums that CS5 made a huge difference in being able to edit AVCHD natively…but since you say you’ve used both, this is very good news if I don’t have to get CS5 just to do HD.

    • #200719

      As far as I know it was not a patch, I have always used CS4 to edit AVCHD. It may have been an update before I started editing that format but it does a beautiful job in editing it. Since you are looking for a new computer, make sure it has dual processors in 64 bit configuration; HD footage will work the **ll out of a single processor unit and you will have to wait for it to render. For example, I usually shoot training videos for a company thatare about 3 hours long, on my system that I currently use at home, it took 100 hours to render but with the system I use at work it only take 5 hours. Also, if you plan to play with Adobe After Effect, the more crunching power the better and lots of memory to go with that.

    • #200720

      Quick suggestion – Canon HF-G10 soon to be released…..

      Oh and regards the 7D…..keep your hand on the focus ring all the time!!

    • #200721


      I convert the AVCHD footage over to uncompressed AVI or QT to get rid of much of the artifacts in the raw clips. I also use Vegas 8.1 which will handle AVCHD and CS3 handles it too. However, life is just so much easier working with the uncompressed clips. It’s an extra step mind you, but the results make it worth it.

    • #200722

      We Film with a Panasonic HMC-40, HMC-150 and Cannon 7D. What I have found is that both work in various situations. The Cannon 7d is amazing for fast paced artistic shots, and we also us it on a Helicopter. The lenses (are super expensive) but worth it for versatility reasons. Only Problem with the 7d, Video wise, is that it will overheat if you are shooting for long periods of time. We usually shoot with both the Panasonic HMC (under 2,000) and the 7d. Prices are substantially dropping on both since the Industry will be moving to a 1 giant sensor this year in April. Lots of new stuff coming out, but sounds like if your in a budget, start with the 7d. Way more versitile then the others. Just my opinion.

      If you want to take a look at both and the different shot selection, go to our Video link on our site. Most of the Videos are shot with both, and you can see the difference.

    • #200723

      My opinion is since you’re doing mostly internet work plus DVD’s I would get this:

      With a rig from here:

      And this for sound:

      So the camera, plus an extra 200mm lens, the rig, and the sound etc., plus cases, accessories, should cost no more than 2,000. Yes the GH2 and 7D are great and all but the T2i has sound input, great video and it’s CHEAP. For internet and DVD it’s fantastic. Then add Cineform to transcode all your footage from AVCHD to the special Cinfeform AVI files.

      It costs 120.00 here –

      And after it’s all said and done, if you have any extra money get this; I have a coupon for 20% off on my blog. This will save you oh so much time in color correction it’s not even funny. If you can afford the whole suite it includes everything you need to convert all your DSLR footage, denoise it, color correct it, and damn well everything else.

      You can have great video, great sills, a decent rig, ability to use AVCHD and all for 2,000. That’s what I’d do.

    • #200724

      Thanks everyone for all the advice, but a month later (from my initial post) I still haven’t really settled on anything yet. I still sort of feel like I should wait for the “miracle” camera that seems like it can’t be too far off. I was hoping the National Association of Broadcasters convention would announce something that I could really get behind, but that plan didn’t really pan out.

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