Output quality

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    • #37841

      Hi everyone,

      A new chap looking for advice. I shoot mostly still aerials, lately I have been experimenting with video, I have been building a rig with three gyro’s in and I am starting to get it smooth footage at the front end, with AE sorting out the extra bumps.

      At the moment whilst experimenting I am shooting on a 550D with the intention of getting something more pro when I am happy with the gyro setup etc.

      Like most of us I am familiar with the quality I watch on TV day to day, I’m not watching in HD but the quality of say The Frozen Planet is spectacular in every way. Now I do not expect a 550D to produce that, but what I am getting looks closer to vhs more than HD. I shoot 25fps at 1080 and output via AE, it all looks fuzzy, not out of focus just fuzzy. Most of what I have been shooting are buildings, what should be sharp edges are just as I say fuzzy, not soft, they lack definition. Is this a side effect of sorting out rolling shutter problems with AE, (which are bad from a moving platform) or something else?



    • #167607

      Are you using the stock lens? If so, that’s part of your problem. Also, are you hand holding the camera? Camera shake doesn’t lend to sharply focused shots. Also, why are you shooting at 25p for? Is this a ‘PAL’ based project? If it is, shoot at 50p to get smoother looking video when downconverting to 25p.

      Mostly, when shooting aerial still or video you’ve got to get a handle on the following factors;

      1) Your lens. Cheap lenses make for poor aerial imagery. You’re going to have to spend a bit more to get good glass which will have few if any aberrations in the glass lenses. Also for aerials, you want to use prime lenses not zooms. Lastly, the type of lens you use will factor into how your image will look. Unless you’re trying to get ‘Planet Shots’, avoid wide-angle lenses. Normal lenses of 45-50mm to telephoto up to 150mm will best serve for aerial shooting. Longer telephoto lenses are useful for specific targets being filmed at altitude.

      2) Filters. You’ll need at least a UV Haze on your lenses during the shoot. Depending on the light conditions, Neutral Density filters ranging from .3 to 1.2 will help cut down on the amount of light transmission through the lens and bring out scene color and contrast. Polarizing, Skylight and other types can be of assistance in crafting the look of your shots.

      3) Aperture, Framerate and Shutterspeed. Sharp focus is critical for aerial imagery. The way you get that is in concert by using smaller apertures, faster framerates and faster shutterspeeds. Smaller apertures will create deep depth of field, the faster framerate in video mode will present less blurring of the image by increasing the number of frames recorded and in concert with a fast shutterspeed which enhances the look of the video by reducing motion blur.

      4) Camera stabilization – Aerial photo/video works’ toughest problem is keeping camera and camera operator steady. Between aircraft mechanical vibrations and aerial environmental interaction, keeping your rig from ‘rockin’ and rollin” means the diff between you just wasting a crapload of money on a flight and getting the ‘money shots’.

      There are numerous expensive units with gyro stabilizers which are worth every penny if you can afford it. On the way cheap, you can rig setups with bungee cords and or camera straps which can be a big help but you’ll have to master the technique to make it work. Get it in your head that you cannot depend on any built-in camera stabilization, especially from a consumer/prosumer camera. It will not be adequate. You’ll have to acquire a ‘fluid’ hand in addition to the type of stabilization you end up using.

      So yeah, up to a point you can fix it in AFX. The key is to reduce or eliminate the need to use that option. You do that by following the aforementioned steps. Happy flying!

    • #167608

      Thanks Wolfgang,

      I only have Canon L lenses, I auto focus (it’s constant infinity) in still mode, turn off the af then switch to video mode. The images are not out of focus, I think they just lack resolution. I am mounting in a rig consisting of numerous Kenlab KS8’s and KS6 gyro’s.

      I shoot a lot of aerial stills from helicopter or fixed wing. I want to shoot some aerial stock video. I will upgrade the camera to whatever is needed when I understand the technical problems of capturing video, now I am trying to understand why it does not look like a HD capture, why building edges look busy and fuzzy like some kind of digital noise.


    • #167609


      First thing, turn off that &%#$@! auto focus. That’s part of your issue. You absotively, posilutely do not I repeat, do not need auto focus for aerial photography. Turn it off.

      Next, Canon ‘L’s are fine for aerial work. You might be experiencing some issues with your CMOS image sensor and ‘Moire’ when in video mode. Moire is the appearance of rainbow effects and jagged lines when filming detailed patterns like brick, houndstooth, etc.

      Main thing to remember when shooting aerials is to focus on infinity and let the aircraft act as your ‘zoom’ by moving closer or farther from your target. Definitely get that camera stabilized. Camera shake is an image killer. How does your video look during ground shooting? Sounds like you need to do some tests. It could just be a limitation of the camera. Remember, it’s the consumer version of the 7D so there will be tighter limits than come with the pro version.

    • #167610

      Hi Wolfgang,

      A quote from my post, I think you missed that I turn off the AF after it has found infinity.

      “I only have Canon L lenses, I auto focus (it’s constant infinity) in still mode, turn off the af then switch to video mode.”

      The more I experiment (I did a quick test in a Cessna) the more I think it is slight vibration from the air flow. I keep out of the slipstream and inside as much as possible. I think I need to build some kind of deflector for the camera.

      Like I said before it’s not unsharp like out of focus, just very fizzy looking, lacking in any kind of quality.

    • #167611

      Turn you AF off right from the start and focus manually. That may be one your issues. And using a consumer grade HD camcorder, which all consumer grade camcorders are known to do is interpolate the video, which in short means, the lens mechanism takes one frame, then the camcorder electronics write the next 4 or 5 frames, using a predetermined logarithm based on frames on either side. It repeats this throughout the whole video making process. This make motion video, which you airplane is in motion, almost unwatchable.

      I would use a MiniDV Tape Camcorder, only because MiniDV Tape camcorders record every frame from the lens assembly, no internal electronics making frames. Couple that with the fact you would need to spend something like $3400 to purchase a HD Camcorder that would have better video quality.

    • #167612

      The reason I focus first with AF is because, judging manual sharp focus with these lenses when moving is nearly impossible. As I use the AF for stills and the vast majority of the time it nails it, I thought setting the focus with the AF was probably the best way.

      Interesting about the interpolation. The only reason I am using the 550D at present is to get the stabilisation working, when I feel able to get a steadyish sequence with a short telephoto, then I would be looking for pro grade equipment.

      I also have seen some very nice quality aerials shot on a 5dmkII from different people. Does a 5D handle video differently to other DSLR’s?, I can’t say even tripod based video with the 550D has exactly blown me away.


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