Jump to content
Matt James Smith 🎥

Is the EOS-M *THE* Digital Super-8 Camera?

Recommended Posts

I've been playing half-heartedly with ML on my EOS-M for a while but in general lost interest due to annoyances such as the focus pixels, low resolution and workflow. However, inspired by recently released footage from Kodak's new Super-8 camera and fond memories of playing with real Super-8 footage in art school, I decided to mess around with the EOS-M again to see how close I could get to the Super-8 aesthetic. Turns out I surprised myself!

I've only shot a few early tests so far but the following video is, I think, very usable as a digital Super-8 stand-in. The basic specs are as follows:

4:3 ratio (like Super-8) 
1440 x 1078 resolution (plenty for Super-8)
18fps (same as consumer Super-8)
12-bit Lossless RAW (continuous!)
5x zoom (haven't accurately calculated crop factor/sensor size in relation to Super-8 yet - would appreciate help with this)
3X3 Crop mode (Experimental build: magiclantern-crop_rec_4k.2017Dec19.EOSM202)
Also- no focus pixels! (I have no idea why this is. They reappear if you go up to 14bit lossless or use any of the standard 10/12/14-bit modes). 

Below are two versions of my initial tests - the first is with FilmConvert film emulation applied, the second is without FilmConvert, just some basic contrast and saturation tweaks. Sorry the grade isn't very good I'm getting used to both the EOSM DNG's and FCPX's new grading tools.

FilmConvert:
https://vimeo.com/253014693/badd381eb4


No FilmConvert:
https://vimeo.com/253014620

My post workflow is very simple: convert .MLV files to DNG's with MlRawViewer and then drop them straight into FCPX. Do a bit of colour correction with an adjustment layer if needed, then export clip as ProRes 4444 XQ. Bring it back into FCPX and conform the 18fps to the fps of the timeline (I always use a 25p timeline and *think* this requires slowing the 18fps clip to 72% but I'm not confident my maths are accurate - it certainly looks close to normal speed to me though).

I'm not very technical so you won't find much explanation of why it's working from me. I'd appreciate contributions to what's going on here so I understand it better and other can replicate if they want to. In particular I'd like to figure out the effective sensor size I'm using, and also why there are no pink dots.

The things that excite me about it as a viable Digital Super-8 camera are:
1. The shutter speed - only Magic Lantern allows that really, and it really helps give that authentic Super-8 feel. 
2. The 12bit colour space and RAW grain makes the footage film-like and organic. 

3. The fact you can adapt C-mount lenses to the EOS-M. The lens I used for these tests is just the 15-45mm EF-M kit lens in manual focus mode. However I have a Cosmicar 6mm f/1.2 on its way to me as we speak and if I can get it to infinity focus I think I'll have a 'normal' lens (again, I need to figure out the imaging area I'm working with).

4. Shooting 4:3 and 18fps, like Super-8, allows continuous shooting.

Things I don't like:
1. Live view is not perfect but using the info button you can jump between Canon's 5x zoom to focus and ML's rather choppy live view for framing.
2. I'm not seeing horrible rolling shutter but it's no Digital Bolex so that does give it away as digital footage somewhat.

I hope some others start playing around with these settings. With the 16mm Digital Bolex discontinued and Kodak's new Super-8 camera all the rage, there's a space for a small sensor digital cinema camera to get some love.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
EOSHD Pro Color for Sony cameras EOSHD Pro LOG for Sony CamerasEOSHD C-LOG and Film Profiles for All Canon DSLRs

Yes, the EOS-M with ML Raw is the digital Super 8 camera - aside from the fiddly handling and ergonomics, where original Super 8 cameras were much better.

The effective sensor size in 4:3 3x sensor crop is 6.62x4.96mm, which is slightly larger than Super 8's frame size of 5.79x4.01mm. When shooting 720p, the effective sensor size drops to 4.41x3.31, which almost exactly matches the older Double/Normal 8mm standard.

I've used the EOS-M with real Super 8 lenses (an adapted Schneider Variogon 6-66mm/f1.8 with Leica M mount originally made for the Leicina Special camera and an Angenieux 8-64mm/f1.9 with c-mount originally made for Beaulieu cameras), with the following results:

 

My workflow was different: 

- In both videos, Color Charts (X-Rite Passport Video) were shot for reference colors;
- the .MLV files were converted to .DNG and imported, edited, graded and rendered in Resolve;
- in the first video, no color correction/grading was done except lift/gamma/gain corrections + Neat Video on the low-light indoor shots at the end;
- in the second video, a LUT based on DxO Film Pack's Kodachrome 25 emulation was used, on the final color correction node, for tweaking/styling the colors + FilmConvert's grain emulation was applied (without FilmConvert's color filters).

Sound in both videos is out-of-the-camera, recorded with the internal mic.

It's a nice, low-budget solution (all the more since you can nowadays pick up a used EOS-M body for about $100 - so I do even have two bodies). Quality Super 8 lenses are sharper on the small image circle than Canon's APS-C lenses (when so heavily cropped to 1:1 pixel sampling), but difficult to find on the second-hand market since only very few Super 8 cameras with interchangeable lenses existed. A note of caution: the Fujinon c-mount zoom of the Fuji ZC1000 Single 8 camera is a great lens but can't be adapted because its base is too thick to fully screw into the adapter. A d-mount adapter for adapting old Normal 8mm lenses (which are plenty available for cheap) unfortunately does not exist for EOS-M.

Further drawbacks is the occasional funkiness of Magic Lantern, its incapability to memorize the movie crop setting upon startup, difficulty to precisely focus on the small display (since there's hardly any punch-in focus at 1:1 sensor sampling) and heavy file sizes due to uncompressed Raw recording. In addition, the Raw is not remotely as tweakable/pushable in post as the CinemaDNG recorded by the BM Pocket. But, of course, the Super 8 aesthetic is highly charming (and couldn't be emulated with the BM Pocket as well since you'd drop its resolution to SD in order to reach an S8 image circle on the sensor/use S8 lenses without vignetting).

How were you able to set 18fps in MagicLantern? I haven't been aware of this possibility (and always shot 24fps). I'm not familiar with FCPX, but for optimal results, you should set the timeline to 18fps as well or at least a whole-number multiplier of it (such as 72fps) to avoid choppy motion.

image.png

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks @cantsin this is all very good to know. I suspected I might not be the first to have done this but glad to see some other approaches.

As far as I know it's not possible to work on non-standard frame rate timelines in any app (not in FCPX for sure) and I believe it wouldn't be desirable to output to non-standard frame rates as no player (eg. quicktime) or platform (e.g. vimeo) would support it. It may be that 24p would be better than 25 but my maths isn't good enough unfortunately :D

Your videos look great. It seems you're using a different method to me though? I am using the 5x zoom (magnify function with the experimental Crop-Rec build - which allows you to go up to 2496 x 1078 if you like widescreen) More details here: https://www.magiclantern.fm/forum/index.php?topic=9741.msg171910#msg171910 

How did you deal with the focus pixels? Was your image HD with continuous shooting?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So I suppose you shot 18fps via MagicLantern's FPS Override setting? It has the disadvantage of sound getting out of sync, since the video stream still bears the time code for the nominal frame rate set in Canon's video menu. But video and audio can be easily synced back in post. 

Resolve allows native 18fps timelines; 16fps, too, which was the standard frame rate for Normal/Double 8 film. (I suppose these option exists for the reason that many 8mm film scanning service providers use Resolve for color correcting their film scans.)

I haven't looked into the 5x crop-rec feature yet but use the standard nightly build of ML for EOS-M with the run-of-the-mill "movie crop mode" available in the ML video options menu. So I suppose you're using the experimental ML built for EOS-M and the mlv_lite instead of the mlv_rec module for raw video recording? I've tested that briefly but dropped it because it didn't support sound recording. (Has this changed in the meantime?)

I deal with the focus pixels by using the 2x2 chroma smoothing option in mlv_dump ; my command line parameters are:

mlvdump --relaxed --dng --cs2x2 <xy.mlv>

My image was 960x720 (i.e. 4:3 720p) with full 14bit raw recording at 24fps. This allows continuous recording as the bitrate/data throughput is not yet in the critical range of the camera. 

If I understand things correctly, then 12bit recording means that upper values of the bitstream are cut off and you lose dynamic range. For a filmic image, I'd rather preserve as much dynamic range as possible.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The advantage of shooting 18fps is that it gets closer to the typical look of Super 8 home movies - which were mostly shot in 18fps in order to squeeze more recording time out of a single cartridge. Even many S8 projectors, such as the popular Eumig 610D, couldn't project more than 18fps. 

On top of that, 18 fps reduces the data rate by 25% - so it could help with continuous recording at higher resolutions. Or you get 25% more recording time out of your storage medium, just like in the analog days. :grin:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just started using the crop rec 4k experimental build on the EOS-M, and when shooting in movie crop mode it goes up to 1800x1024 resolution (max resolution available for 1:1 crop mode) at 23.976 fps, shooting continuously in 10-bit lossless raw, or approx a minute or so in 12-bit lossless. That's close to full HD, which is incredible for this camera. To me it looks great, and also the focus pixels seem to have gone. What's nice about movie crop mode is that it displays the image at the normal framerate in colour with the correct framing, no choppy b&w preview.

I'm using this programme to convert files to DNGs directly from the SD card into the harddrive: https://www.magiclantern.fm/forum/index.php?topic=10526.100   (latest version of the program is in page 5)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, cantsin said:

@Alpicat, @Matt James Smith 🎥, can you unpack your process a bit? 

You're using the experimental built from https://builds.magiclantern.fm/experiments.html, right, and then use the mlv_lite module (instead of mlv_rec) with the parameters you mention?!? And does this support sound recording? (Last time, I tested, it didn't.)

I'm actually using a slightly newer build called "crop_rec_4k.2018Jan25.EOSM202" from magic lantern forum member dfort, available here: https://bitbucket.org/daniel_fort/magic-lantern/downloads/

However the "magiclantern-crop_rec_4k.2017Dec19.EOSM202" build which is in the experimental builds page you've linked to also works absolutely fine from what I remember - and probably wiser to use that one.

I am using the mlv_lite module yes, which means that I can't record sound unfortunately. The mlv_rec module completely fails to load on the camera when using this experimental build - I don't know if that will be fixed in future.

Once the mlv_lite module is turned on - I'm just activating "Movie crop mode", and in the raw video options I select 12-bit lossless or 10 bit lossless at max 1800x1024 resolution. The length of time you can record in 12-bit depends on how much contrast and light there is in the scene, it can vary a lot. Lowering the resolution slightly will help increase record time in 12 bit lossless. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wonder whether it's feasible to rig up the EOS-M in such a way that it becomes more ergonomic as a moving image camera yet not losing its compact size - in other words, getting it closer to a real Super 8 camera. My main gripe is the fiddly interface, especially with the ML overlays.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@cantsin yes fps override and set it to "exact fps". Re chroma smoothing, I understood that defeated the point of RAW but I'm not technical enough to understand TBH.

@mercer problem with sticking a loupe on the EOSM is you need the touchscreen to navigate ML menus. I am using it with a pistol grip on the base though

@Alpicat thanks all good info, will try crop mode with lossless rec. Terminology is very confusing though!

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
33 minutes ago, Matt James Smith 🎥 said:

...problem with sticking a loupe on the EOSM is you need the touchscreen to navigate ML menus. I am using it with a pistol grip on the base though

I believe it’s a hinged loupe... if not, then they’re readily available.

I actually don’t like loupes anyway... I just posted because cantsin inquired. A pistol grip or the Krasnogorsk K-3 pistol grip/shoulder stock combo could be pretty good for extra points of contact. 

Btw, I was checking out your Vimeo page and out of curiosity... what camera did you use to shoot that Monk Exile video? The C100ii?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 minutes ago, mercer said:

I believe it’s a hinged loupe... if not, then they’re readily available.

I actually don’t like loupes anyway... I just posted because cantsin inquired. A pistol grip or the Krasnogorsk K-3 pistol grip/shoulder stock combo could be pretty good for extra points of contact. 

Btw, I was checking out your Vimeo page and out of curiosity... what camera did you use to shoot that Monk Exile video? The C100ii?

Yes C100II plus XC10 for the interview B-camera (wide). External shots are a mixture of older footage from other cameras

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

BTW I now use an EOS-M5 as my main still's camera - I bought it only for stills but to my surprise love it as a video camera too. AF and digital stabilisation is fantastic, EVF and tilt screen are great, body is tiny, resolution is "good enough" (much better than EOSM1). 22mm f2 stays on it 80% of time but being able to adapt my EF glass perfectly is a big bonus for shoot days - I can pack the camera without it taking up any room but use it with my Sigma 50-100 1.8 if a quality still is needed. Also use it for timelapse quite a bit (with external remote thingy only though unfortunately).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Matt James Smith 🎥 said:

@Alpicat thanks all good info, will try crop mode with lossless rec. Terminology is very confusing though!

Yes it's very confusing! Took me a while to figure out how to get this to work. 

I've been testing the settings I suggested above further, and with the max resolution (1800x1024) if a scene is overexposed or has blown out highlights, and everything is in focus, the recording time reduces drastically - it can be a bit unpredictable. So if you're filming a brightly lit scene you need to reduce the resolution slightly or use 10-bit lossless.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
36 minutes ago, Matt James Smith 🎥 said:

BTW I now use an EOS-M5 as my main still's camera - I bought it only for stills but to my surprise love it as a video camera too. AF and digital stabilisation is fantastic, EVF and tilt screen are great, body is tiny, resolution is "good enough" (much better than EOSM1). 22mm f2 stays on it 80% of time but being able to adapt my EF glass perfectly is a big bonus for shoot days - I can pack the camera without it taking up any room but use it with my Sigma 50-100 1.8 if a quality still is needed. Also use it for timelapse quite a bit (with external remote thingy only though unfortunately).

Interestingly enough, I was considering the M6 as a glove box cam last fall. The video seemed good and as you said... as good as the original M but now with all of the rumors of multiple mirrorless cameras being released this year from Canon, I’ve decided to hold off. 

Btw, how is the 22mm with DPAF?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The 22mm with DPAF is excellent (as I can report from using it on my M100 which packs with sensor and image quality of the M5/M6/80D into an ultraportable body.).

But back on topic: The newer EOS-M models are no longer based on the chips and on-board operating system of the EOS DSLRs, but on the electronics of the Powershot compact cameras. Genius cost-saving move by Canon since users don't see or feel any difference. So ML cannot be ported to them. The original EOS-M (as well as the EOS-M2 that was never sold outside Japan) will likely remain the only mirrorless camera with ML' s raw video recording/digital Super 8.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/29/2018 at 3:37 PM, Alpicat said:

I just started using the crop rec 4k experimental build on the EOS-M, and when shooting in movie crop mode it goes up to 1800x1024 resolution (max resolution available for 1:1 crop mode) at 23.976 fps, shooting continuously in 10-bit lossless raw, or approx a minute or so in 12-bit lossless. That's close to full HD, which is incredible for this camera. To me it looks great, and also the focus pixels seem to have gone. What's nice about movie crop mode is that it displays the image at the normal framerate in colour with the correct framing, no choppy b&w preview.

I'm using this programme to convert files to DNGs directly from the SD card into the harddrive: https://www.magiclantern.fm/forum/index.php?topic=10526.100   (latest version of the program is in page 5)

Can one record 4:3 in "movie crop mode", something like 1370x1024... this would create a 4:3 image (like Super 8) and would help reduce file sizes and give you more time of 12-bit lossless? When you say recording time is drastically reduced with a "brightly lit scene," how many seconds you are taking about. Is it around 15 seconds at least? It could be interesting if so. Super 8 has a cartridge of around 3 minutes, I would rarely record more than 15 seconds per take, it was like shooting and editing at the same time, and that was really, really fun and of course less stressing than digital when doing the final editing, having to deal with hours and hours of long takes in post now!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, cantsin said:

But back on topic: The newer EOS-M models are no longer based on the chips and on-board operating system of the EOS DSLRs, but on the electronics of the Powershot compact cameras. Genius cost-saving move by Canon since users don't see or feel any difference. So ML cannot be ported to them. The original EOS-M (as well as the EOS-M2 that was never sold outside Japan) will likely remain the only mirrorless camera with ML' s raw video recording/digital Super 8.


I guess that means you could run CHDK on them?? Still no ML raw however. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...