Videomaker – Learn video production and editing, camera reviews › Forums › General › Video and Film Discussion › Canon xh 1a vs Canon 5D MarkII
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May 28, 2010 at 1:18 AM #43234AnonymousInactive
Can anyone tell me the difference between the prosumer Canon Xh a1 and the Canon 5 or 7D for shooting video?
May 28, 2010 at 4:07 AM #181186
Up front the XHA1 is a traditional tape-based video camera with controls, settings and a fixed lens designed strictly for shooting High-def and Standard-def video. The 5 & 7D video capable cameras are primarily digital still photography cameras that can also shoot high def or standard def video. They have few of the many standardized controls that come with a traditional video camera, but have some capabilities that far outstrip their video only counterparts. The biggest limitation with DSLR cameras is the amount of time video clips can be recorded. Traditional video cameras particularly the XHA1 don’t have such limitations. To learn more about DSLR’s and what they’re capable of check out the post, “The Great Shootout is Here” in the DSLR section of the Forums.
May 28, 2010 at 12:15 PM #181187
Nice. To add one more thing, apparently the sensors in DSLRs are not optimized for video and can cause anti-aliasing (the jagged edge you see on diagonal lines). I’ve never seen this before since I’ve never worked with a DSLR, and the image looks pretty good to me when I see samples on the web, but I figured I’d just though it out there anyway.
I would honestly just wait for that model Panasonic showed off at NAB so you can have the best of both worlds.
May 28, 2010 at 7:08 PM #181188
On the topic of ‘Rolling Shutter’ that Rob mentioned, you’ll encounter that phenomenon with any CMOS based camera DSLR or traditional style. This ‘skewing’ of the image occurs when making extreme camera moves particularly from side-to-side and causes the CMOS chip’s scan lines to ‘overlap’ as the buffered image deals with the already recorded image while the chip puts out the currently recorded image. Because of the overlap, the two images don’t match and you get the optical ‘Jello Effect’ often spoken of. Every test I’ve seen of the latest CMOS based cam’s seem to have come to some terms with RS, however when doing normal camera moves the effect either doesn’t happen or is barely noticeable. Panasonic may have solved this issue, but you may not want to wait to pick up a rig.
Another thing that I will mention is despite the many advantages of DSLR rigs, to properly use it as a video or cinematic camera you’re going to need accessories. Unlike a traditional video cam, you’re using a still rig to shoot video and they never were built with that in mind. You’ll be needing additional lenses, an audio adapter/recorder, camera support beyond a tripod and many other devices to fully take advantage of the powerful capabilities contained within any DSLR.
May 28, 2010 at 7:43 PM #181189
eh, i wasn’t talking about the rolling shutter, but that’s a good point.
I was talking about aliasing…ya know….the stair stepping you sometimes see on diagonal lines when you drop graphics onto a DV timeline? I only heard someone say it about DSLRs, never actually saw it for myself.
the rolling shutter is definitely a good point though. I see it pretty often even with the EX1/EX3
May 28, 2010 at 10:54 PM #181190
My mistake. Hey if you haven’t seen it yet, check out Ep 3 of the GCS! They’ve got greenscreen tests that show that very thing you’re talking about.
May 29, 2010 at 2:05 PM #181191
A major difference in these two cameras is the sensor. The XH 1A has three 1/3″ CCD sensors while the 5D Mark II has one 36mm X 24mm CMOS sensor. Besides the rolling shutter effect already mentioned with the CMOS sensor the much larger sensor in the Mark II means it has much better low light performance.
May 29, 2010 at 4:24 PM #181192
June 2, 2010 at 5:37 PM #181193LensLensParticipant
I have both the XHA1 and the 5DMK2. If I take the depth of field/film look aspect out of the equation, in terms of sheer resolution, clarity, bit depth (useful for grading), which of the two cameras will produce the better quality video?
I’ve asked this question of a number of people, and everyone seems to “dance around” an answer.
June 2, 2010 at 6:38 PM #181194
No ‘dancing’ required. That would be the 5D. Much larger sensor. To get more of an idea of the diff between the two check out my post ‘The Great Camera Shootout is Here!’
June 2, 2010 at 6:38 PM #181195CraftersOfLightParticipant
Since you have both, have you tried a test yourself? Which one did you think gave the best video? Which was easier to “fix” in post? Which was easier to set up on shoot so you didn’t need to “fix” in post?
You can do the math and see what that tells you but with environment variables, lighting, haze, etc., they would each seem to have there “charms” and “curses”.
June 2, 2010 at 6:51 PM #181196
“That would be the 5D. Much larger sensor.”
Are you sure? I could have sworn I heard somewhere that the DSLRs don’t utilize the entire 35mm sensor when recording video. They will only utilize whatever pixels are needed for recording 1080 or 720.
I certainly could be wrong though. Like I’ve said in the past, DSLRs aren’t really my thing
June 2, 2010 at 7:29 PM #181197jakeman3Member
I’m with robgrauert..DSLRs aren’t really my thing.I don’t undersatnd why so many shooters are willing to trade off all the pro features of aprofessional HDcamcorder for a DSLR. OK, the image is very nice &using different lenses is cool. But by the time you add all the accessories to make it a usable camera, you’ve spent more then a real camcorder, it’s not ergonomic or easy to use & the audio is marginal at best. I’ve used a 5D with all the “erector kit” add ons. What a pain in U know what.It’s a 2 man job & not at all good on the shoulder. I’m not buying the depth of field argument. I don’t needor want it for every shot. Plus, that can be done in post. So….if you’re not attempting to do something cinematic, (and most of us aren’t) please tell me what makes DSLRs so hot?
June 2, 2010 at 7:41 PM #181198
“please tell me what makes DSLRs so hot?”
In my opinion, the only thing hot about them is the DoF and the fact that you can sacrifice one if you don’t want to put a really professional camera in danger for a sweet shot.
But if it weren’t for these DSLRs, I don’t think Panasonic or Sony would have announced those new cameras at NAB, ya know, the ones that are really video cameras that have 35mm sensors, and that aren’t as expensive as RED.
June 2, 2010 at 7:45 PM #181199
And I’d still get one of the DSLR cameras, but only if I didn’t need any other equipment (but I always seem to need something) and it would never be my first choice to shoot with.
June 2, 2010 at 10:16 PM #181200LensLensParticipant
Intuitively, I felt that the 5D MK2 would produce the better result. I was kind of hoping there was a “numerical” answer to my question above, as opposed to a subjective evaluation. I intend to do just such a side-by-side test later this week. I’ll report back on my subjective results.
An additional consideration…I do quite a bit of aerial video. This is where my concern about the rolling shutter enters the picture. When doing aerial video, there is quite a bit of motion, in spite of the fact that I am using two gyros on the camera. Last thing I need is “jello” on the image.
The “Great Camera Shootout” was not comparing DSLRs to a true video camera. It compared them to film cameras.
June 3, 2010 at 12:59 AM #181201
Rolling shutter happens because the sensor gets scanned progressively as the shutter moves. In focal plane film cameras the slit moves horizontally across the film plane. Shutter speed is determined by the width of the slit with a higher speed corresponding to a narrower slit. In the Canon 5D the slit moves vertically from top to bottom. This means that for something moving horizontally something at the top of the frame is recorded before things at the bottom and appear slanted away from the direction of motion. In the video shown in the link below the leading edge of the train moving from left to right is slanted to the left because the top is recorded before the bottom as the shutter moves down.
Canon VIXIA HF11 Shutter Speed Test
June 3, 2010 at 1:56 AM #181202
To be more accurate, rolling shutter happens because the sensors’ horizontal rows of pixels become “active” starting from the top and then working downward (as opposed to all pixels on the sensor becoming “active” at once).
Video cameras don’t really have a physical shutter in them. When you adjust the shutter speed of a video camera, you’re really changing the duration in which pixels on the sensor become active.
June 3, 2010 at 2:49 AM #181203
“The “Great Camera Shootout” was not comparing DSLRs to a true video
You are correct but I said to take a look to see the capabilities of DSLRs. In the first shootout they did compare the looks of DSLR’s and traditional HD video cameras. Here’s an entry with some ‘numerical’ and not subjective information;
As for ‘why a videographer would choose a DSLR over a Trad vid cam’ are capabilities, expense and a certain amount of ‘wow’ factor. I’m an old-school broadcast camera shooter, but when the XL1 came out, I knew where things were going. Yeah, you sacrificed picture quality compared to a late model Betacam-SP, but the picture was very good, building a kit for it was infinitely cheaper and I could take it places a Betacam couldn’t go. I’ve seen ‘ordinary’ stuff shot with DSLR’s and in the hands of someone who knew what they were doing, it looked ‘cinematic’.
Now you’ve got the same thing with DSLR’s. A huge sensor with unprecedented low-light picture quality in a body smaller than an XL1 that can shoot in full HD that can hold up side to side with RED footage. Oh and cheaper! Yeah, the accessories can get expensive, but you are trying to make a still camera into a video camera. Secret is, you don’t need ‘the erector set’ as you rightfully called it. Just enough for good shoulder support and hand-held is all you really need. It’s when you start adding all the ‘doo dads’ that crap starts getting complicated, heavy and expensive.
At least with the Canon models there are regular firmware updates that add video controls that weren’t present initially. Remember these things were initially made by still camera engineers for still photographers to do short video feeds on blogs and junk. They had no idea of what they really came up with until videographers got a hold of the tech.
Dude, I think your ‘sweating’ the rolling shutter thing way too much. You really have to crank on some of these rigs to see the effect. On the forum there are a number of posts with aerial video shot with RC units and the 7D and I think the 5D. No rollin’ jello at all.
This is just where things are going. Personally, I still love ‘tradi cams’ and use them regularly. But I am looking to have a couple of DSLR’s in the arsenal including a ‘flip’ or three when something needs to get blown up.
June 3, 2010 at 6:59 AM #181204AnonymousInactive
I was at the DSLR shootout in person here in Chicago. The tests were projected on a movie theater screen, and they were stunning. I didn’t see any anti-aliasing problems at all. Fine textures really shined through. The shallow depth of field thing is already a visual cliche, but used right it still works. 😉
As for a DSLR as a replacement for a traditional video camera, it’s not a point by point replacement. If you’re making a cinema-style film, it’s a great tool. my background is in film, and we’re already used to post-synching audio, and having lots of bits and bobs of support gear to get the project done. Also the DSLRs can’t do a take longer than 12 minutes. More than enough for cinema style work, not great for an interview.
Regular cameras are still the best tool for longform work, and for studio use. DSLRs still aren’t ready for using with a multicam setup in a live situation. Not what they were even intended for, so that’s not a knock against them…
I mostly do broadcast stuff as well as industrials and educational. I couldn’t use a DSLR to replace my Canon XL H1, but it would be a great b-roll camera. I plan on getting one and using it for beauty shots of products.
The DSLRs really shine in low light. Not only can you deliver a gorgeous picture without a huge light kit and lots of prep, but that image will be free of grain. That also makes it potentially good for greenscreen work (though the internal compression to h.264 might be a hiccup. I won’t know till I’ve noodled around with a DSLR some more).
So if your projects are long form long take sorts of things, the DSLR isn’t a great tool. But if you’re shooting a project where you’d use a film camera and a film production process, the DSLR is amazing.
June 3, 2010 at 3:31 PM #181205
“I was at the DSLR shootout in person here in Chicago.”
I hate you…. Seriously, I couldn’t have explained the difference in workflow better. Concerning the H.264 issue, all current info suggests that converting the footage to a more workable codec will increase your ability to manipulate it in post. I’m curious to see how all that will work in Premiere CS5 when it comes to down and dirty post work.
Hope you had a good time at the shootout!
June 3, 2010 at 3:46 PM #181206AnonymousInactive
Heh – well, once you get to know me you’ll see that I’m not all that detestable. 😉
Yes, there are certainly people transcoding to make the magic happen. Next week I’ll be shooting a video demonstrating one editing program that doesn’t require transcoding at all. Transcoding is one of my pet peeves, as people don’t seem to realize that it does actually matter how many times you recompress an image. Those folks who didn’t grow up being careful about analog video’s generational quality loss seem pretty blithe about doing much the same thing in digital. And yes, I know all about lossless codecs, but those sap up another resource – time.
The program I’ll be using is NewTek’s SpeedEDIT2. Not well known, but a quite powerful tool to have in your toolbox right alongside Premiere et al.
The shootout was terrific. Made me feel really good about that film degree of mine. 😉 Actually, I haven’t felt this excited about shooting for a long time. I’m really looking forward to getting a DSLR of my own. I’ve got a lot of projects that could use that extra sheen, plus I’d love to make a few extra bucks selling stock footage.
June 3, 2010 at 4:48 PM #181207
That sounds like a plan. Recently I’ve installed a BMD Intensity Capture card and they have some pretty good codecs for transcoding. Their software Media Express has a setup where you can capture via HDMI from cam to NLE or as in my case a BR-HD50. Being able to process up front is a definite time saver.
I read you LnC about that ‘Film Degree’. Fortunately, mine has paid itself off at least twice by now and though I love my Xl series and GYHD 200 series cameras, the prospect of getting a real cinematic look without having to purchase a 35mm adapter does bring a sparkle to my eye.
September 3, 2010 at 4:45 PM #181208
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