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Open letter to Japanese manufacturers on the enthusiast video market - improve or lose it


Andrew Reid

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http://www.canonrumors.com/2013/10/eos-7d-mark-ii-talk-cr1/

 

Let's hope they're paying attention...

We can only hope. The 7D was a bit of a step up in video features when it came out. 

 

As it stands, an iphone can record higher frame rates than most dslrs. Think about that for a moment :)

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The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema camera is a wake-up call to the bigger manufacturers and their afterthought video modes. [url=http://www.eoshd.com/content/11256/open-letter-japa

I do not understand your obsession with video on stills cameras. Video is an added feature on a stills camera so how can you compare them to a BMCC that is made purely for video? Stills cameras will a

Fwiw, shooting raw video on my 4 year old 50d blows the doors off anything "current" with h264. That includes my hacked gh2. Andrew is correct: the big Japanese camera manufacturers need to innovat

The crucial question is whether mass market DSLRs and mirrorless cameras will go beyond 8-bit 4:2:0 color Rec.709 (a color space meant for HD video playback, not for recording or post-production) any time soon. As long as this doesn't happen, higher bitrates, more frame rates and better sensors won't be enough for shooters who aren't satisfied with the out-of-the-box image of a camera.
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Such rumours have been put around before about the 7D and have not turned out true, if Canon really were interested in pros using DSLRs for video they would not have a Cinema EOS line. As for enthusiast video I really think they have kind of given up.

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ML has been steadily improving since the 50D shooter's guide.  Today, I just shot 5 minutes worth of 1280x720 RAW video on the EOS-M.  Saved to one 10GB file.  Some people are now getting continuous 1920x1080 on the 50D.    Dual ISO and ETTR have been progressing (though I'm not using them).  So has various audio features.  The MLV (Magic Lantern Video) spec will eventually bring further improvements.  The fact is, Canon doesn't need to provide better video for the 7D, hackers are doing it for free.  Will it be scary for "production"?  Of course.  But as you point out, Canon already has production ready equipment to buy/rent--if that's your need.  

 

ML RAW is still in Alpha.  Every day it gets more powerful and more stable.  Unfortunately, there are NOT a lot of people working the frontier.  When it becomes stable enough a lot of people might jump on.  Why should Canon do anything until they see how that sorts out?  

 

It doesn't really make any difference to me, if I'm getting a RAW file thorugh ML or through Canon's new firmware udpate :)  Naturally, I wish Canon would do it, but I wish Windows 8 had a Start button too!

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Such rumours have been put around before about the 7D and have not turned out true, if Canon really were interested in pros using DSLRs for video they would not have a Cinema EOS line. As for enthusiast video I really think they have kind of given up.

 

They will hold off until they can't anymore, and I think they can't anymore.

I'm not expecting raw though, but a better codec, fixed aliasing and at least 60fps 1080p are quite safe bets.

Magic Lantern on top of that would make it a pretty damn good APS-C camera.

 

Also, of course they'd start with a Cinema/expensive range of products first, which company would start by releasing a cheap version of a product that includes all the features and then later release more expensive products with the same feature set? The opposite happens quite frequently though.

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Since they fixed aliasing in 5D MKiii, next they will fix it in a model further down the line (like a 7D), then in the xxxD models, if they follow the patterns from before.

 

Though they are running out of numbers, so eventually they'll have to carry out the total still/video merger strategy they've often talked about. maybe in 10 years? ;)

 

They did introduce a new APSC sensor to 70D and still leave the aliasing in, but the 70D does outstrip the 7D in many ways, so they'll need a new 7D soon.

 

I'm sure it will crawl up in specs.

 

My predictions:

 

The 7D MKii will gain a few MP and FPS in photo mode, in video it will gain the ALL-i feature, lose video aliasing, gain a crop video mode.

 

At the moment the 600D and ML is just better for video than the 7D, unless you want to shoot in the rain and have L-lenses.

 

They need to make it so the 7D is better all round so the lineup makes sense.

 

They probably won't give it a touchscreen though, that would offend its market, though it's useful for autofocus.

 

It will gain something in video over the 5D MKiii (probably a crop mode), so that 7D MKii is more video oriented and 5D MKiii is crossover.

 

There won't be 1080p/50 or 60, because they don't give you that in the C300 even.

 

Go get a G6 for that.

 

A 7D MKii will not have raw recording out of the box, this won't happen. It may appear in Magic Lantern form later on.

 

There will be the usual crawl upwards in other photo specs, some funny modes and bits we don't really care about. Spreading the incremental updates across the user base.

 

Is that it? Yes, yes it is...

 

The 5D MKiii update was astonishingly conservative even for Canon. There is no way the 7D MKii will be any different, sorry peeps...

 

EDIT: as mentioned below it will probably have that new half-pixel autofocus sensor too...

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Let's hope the 7D mkii sensor comes close to the d800 sensor in terms of DR and then they also use double pixel like 70D, it features noncompressed 10bit codec, and then comes ML and makes dual iso so you can record every pixel (the sub pixels at different isos) that would be total DR overkill and surpass any camera out there. Haha...

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A week ago I would have said otherwise, but I really hope the 7d mark 2 has the autofocus from the 70D. I went to the Canon booth at a conference last week and picked up a 70D just out of curiosity.  I was blown away by the autofocus ability, and could absolutely see myself using it in a documentary situation. I hope that the 7D has a touch screen just for this feature alone. 

 

I realize cinema shooters won't care about that feature much, but for documentaries I really think it is such a help

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I agree with you JG and having worked intensively with RAW for a bit I can give more reasons why what you say is the case.

 

1. Line skipping.  The sensor is reading data one line at a time partly to maintain expected frame size, but also because recent chips can't read AND process a full frame 24 times a second.  The 5D3 obviously can (as Zach pointed out).  But I bet those electronics are expensive and power-hungry (and cost Canon considerable R&D).  Eventually they'll make it to other cameras, but I see no economic incentive for Canon to give people other options to the 5D3 this soon.  The camera seems on track, with non-moire video to be another classic like the 2 Canons before it.  Good for them!  The 7D, IMHO, is still a sports camera or high-end/rugged Rebel.

 

It was just 11 years ago that Star Wars, Attack of the Clones, was shot on 1080p, on a Sony something-or-other.  My guess is the 5D3 is either as good, or better.  Think of that, a $3,300 camera!

 

There's a lot of competition in digital film "cinema" cameras now.  Hard to be generous without profits!

 

When I first start doing this, I too, wanted something between H.264 and RAW.  What I didn't see then, and hopefully this will help others, is that Photo processing/compression is about DATA and video processing is about PERCEPTION, similar differences between WAV and MP3, in audio.

 

In photo processing, you'll looking to keep as much image data as possible because photographers/viewers have a low tolerance for pixelation, blotchy colors, etc.  The bar is actually pretty high now!  So I don't know how you'd reduce the image information half-way?  Cut down the number of red or blue pixels?  In any case, such a strategy would have little or no use for photography.

 

Video processing is about throwing out as much image data as you can and compressing the rest to create as pleasing a MOVING picture as you can, psychologically.  There is no real connection between RAW bayer data to JPG, and image data converted to a video 4:2:2 color space.  That whole #:#:# quality idea is centered on psychological compression methods for moving pictures--that is, that we're not as sensitive to low-color and dynamic range as we are to sharpness, etc.  

 

A simple way of saying what I'm saying, is, to use audio as an example, low-bit-rate WAV is probably worse than high-bit-rate MP3 (psychologically).  They are NOT the same approaches!  You can't meet in the middle.  They are parallel approaches to image recording and display that don't meet.

 

There is no middle in video.  That's what my journey is leading to.  You either have full 14-bit color, or you have color-reduction and motion-base compression.  

 

If one insisted on a middle ground, it would be 14bit 720x480 upscaled.  

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I don't know why people still have faith in Canon, the 7D users are going to experience what the 5D2 owners experienced.. An underwhelming "upgrade" with only minor improvements and a few features that should have been implemented on the original versions of the cameras.

 

If you want a 7D2 for designed for video buy a C100 LOL.

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It's all down to what you want to do really.

 

As I've said on here, I personally went for 5D MKiii because I can see raw improving and the cards, processing and storage getting cheaper, so it's kinda futureproofed but I can shoot with it now!

 

Also because my low-light portraiture with 600D I was finding was a little noisy for 300DPI prints, and I wanted more resolving power. Here sensor size does a lot. I don't like using flash.

 

Some of that 5D MKiii raw is f***ing stunning, as is the BMD stuff, but the 5D has quite the low-light and noise advantage.

 

I don't need 4K for my own stuff usually and couldn't store or handle it. Where I do need it (for comping heavy jobs) they're always company based or budgeted so I'd hire. In fact I'm soon to get a crash course in F55 for a comping-heavy job that is so complex in cinematographic terms I shall have to blog about it! The camera is the only global-shutter 4K raw camera for a reasonable hire price so it shall be picked.

 

Were it an option in pro-sumer cameras I'd use 4K selectively.

 

So in the 5D MKiii there's the best balance I could find  the best of photography video and future raw in a balance. Other tools do each individual thing better, but nothing else has a finger jammed in every pie quite so deeply. Mmmm, pie.

 

Had Magic Lantern not existed, I never would have bought this or the 600D though.

 

It's a weird market, competition is not just on features but availability, support, so on.

 

I'm all for a shakeup, but though I want Sony to make a full-frame or APSC mirrorless with five-axis stabilisation and a decent codec, I can see them saying PROFESSIONAL 24mbit AVCHD!!!! on the box again, which is sad.

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There won't be 1080p/50 or 60, because they don't give you that in the C300 even. Go get a G6 for that. 


I've seen Canon people interviews where they said 60p was around the corner and very easily doable.
They weren't that optimistic about other features such as raw or 4k, but then again they're not selling as many cameras anymore and they might feel the need to step up in some way.
I'm sure you can also expect some improved video AF over the 70D, and a faster memory card standard could also prove very useful to ML raw.
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I'm all for a shakeup, but though I want Sony to make a full-frame or APSC mirrorless with five-axis stabilisation and a decent codec, I can see them saying PROFESSIONAL 24mbit AVCHD!!!! on the box again, which is sad.

 

Also hoping SONY manage to pull something out the bag.

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Perhaps I should be optimistic about 7D MKii, since even an iPhone now has 120fps... but I'm not... once bitten, twice shy and all that... :S If their 15,000 pound video camera doesn't have it, why would an SLR?

 

Yes if Sony take the five-axis stabilisation and put it in an amazing NEX-9 or something, with more than 24/28mbps we could be talking.

 

If I see 24mbps AVCHD written on another new camera I'll punt it into the nearest lake.

 

The trouble is it's a "standard", but it happens to be a shit and outdated one, like PAL SD for example. 

 

Canon at least ignore these standards and implement their own codec forms. The AVCHD nearly ruins the FS700, for example. Shit just falls apart after a bit...

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Nothing beats getting the features straight out the box. Thats why I have a GH3 - not much messing around with a lack of features or hacks. 

 

Blackmagic cameras are unfinished. Raw on 5D requires hacking, which I cant trust for a pro project. I just want my cameras working flawlessly without hacks, with decent features, straight out the box.

 

Panasonic and Olympus (I expect) are definitely ones to watch for video innovation. As for Canon, they are trickling out features because they want to make loads of money. Filmmakers are a tiny part of their target market in DSLRs.

 

I've personally put Canon on the backburner. I would love Panasonic to release a high end GH camera with 10bit ProRes and 120FPS. Anything on top would be a bonus! 

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Just got some F5 footage to edit, it's AVC 4:2:2 10-bit 110mbps High profile Level 4.1 I-frame Rec709

 

That's a good type of AVC/MP4 etc!

 

Beats AVC 4:2:0 8-bit 24mbps Baseline Long GOP by a long margin...

 

Tha AVCHD standards contain loads of excellent options, they just aren't implemented.

 

Let's hope manufacturers start to put such nicer standards into crossover cameras, not just pro ones...

 

***

 

I agree on out of the box features, I wish more were available that way...

 

I feel "hack" is something of a misnomer for most Magic Lantern, I've used it on every pro job I've done with DSLR for a long time. With regard to raw though, it definitely is a bit of a hack (separate module and so on) but so far it's proven relatively stable. I'd be reticent to use it without backup at the moment for a budgeted job, though, as there are reports of corruption and lost footage.

 

But if we are to consider cameras without hacks you're right that some are pretty shocking. No focus peaking on any Canon SLR including 1DC is pretty sad. That's why I never use them without Magic Lantern on board! There are other odd decisions, like Panasonic's G6 with peaking but GH3 without! weird...

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Regardless of how Canon cameras are lagging behind, let's not forget it was all the other makers who have been disappointing time after time since the video DSLR thing began. Canon had the 1st DSLR hit and they still have the best video DSLR around all these years later, we gotta give them that. How many cameras have Sony released in the meantime that seemed so promising and never failed to disappoint? Way too many... all of them actually. Up until Blackmagic Design cameras, Canon didn't really have to improve that much due to the poor competition, and even with Blackmagic Design, I'm not sure the numbers will be enough to be a threat. Remember that tourists and parents with babies still buy way more cameras than us indie filmmakers do, and they don't bitch about moire, they would bitch about having huge raw files that only work on a few memory cards though, that's for sure!

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Received wisdom is that Canon accidentally created DSLR video. They added simple 30p recording to the 5D MKii for journalists, and as more people used it and bought the camera for video they started expanding the features. Then we get the 7D. The 550D was a big milestone, bringing all this to a cheap plastic body. without that camera god knows what I'd be working as...

 

But shortly afterwards it all stalled a bit, they realised it was a big market, and created EOS C to capitalise on the professionals using their lower-end products.

 

Now they will protect that line at most costs. Magic Lantern can hack what they like as long as it's not a C camera, because C is worth too much to Canon. It's a big part of their future. Though the C500 is a big mis-step and shows their lack of experience at the top end: you can't take the piss out up there. Give us everything now please, or we'll hire an Alexa ;)

 

This year, the majority of jobs I've been involved with one way or another were shot on C300. That is expert business really. To completely steal the market previously occupied by Sony camcorders in a few years, out of the blue, Canon cemented themselves even more firmly in the professional consciousness than they ever had.

 

It does give the bare minimum but it's just so easy to use and works wonderfully. It's mostly hired, hence that silly price, though I know one owner operator.

 

One little feature in the 5D MKii kicked it off, now they own corporate, internal, and small scale advertising. They dominate the low end. That's a great success story for them. Our market though, is still a niche. they want consumers and pros, and they're happy to mop up the bit in the middle with the help of the unpaid Magic Lantern crew.

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This year, the majority of jobs I've been involved with one way or another were shot on C300. That is expert business really. To completely steal the market previously occupied by Sony camcorders in a few years, out of the blue, Canon cemented themselves even more firmly in the professional consciousness than they ever had.

 

And remember how everyone laughed at Canon and how ridiculous the C300 was on paper when they released it. It was considered a massive defeat for Canon compared to the Scarlet that came out on the same day. Turns out the C300 was a well thought out camera that took the broadcast market by storm and is now most people's choice in broadcast alongside with the Alexa (which also conquered this market due to one little detail called prores). The Scarlet on the other hand, which original model they never figured out how to make, turned out to be a crippled Epic, and is still seen as the poor man's RED, without much effect in the industry.

 

And for those skeptical about Canon introducing high end features on cheaper cameras, like 60fps, remember that the C100 has a really nice ND system, which the C300 doesn't, the same way the 7D had 60fps 720p and the 5D2 didn't... basically, it all means nothing, we'll see...

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