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ghostwind

Canon gear advice for pro photographer getting into videography

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Hello!

I'm a professional sports, branding, & lifestyle photographer, and up until a month ago I hadn't given video much thought (none in fact). I was strictly stills for years, but more recently I've had requests from a few clients asking for some video work. So I started looking, reading, watching YouTube videos, etc. to learn what's being used, what is good, what is bad, codecs, gear, fps, 4K or not, etc. And I have a headache :) Let me list what gear I currently have and use for my stills work:

- Canon 1DXMKII, Canon 5DMKIV, Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III, Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II, Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II, Canon EF 50mm f/1.4, Canon EF 85mm f/1.8, and Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II + 1.4x III Extender

So as you can see, I'm heavily vested in Canon bodies and more so glass. Back when I got the 1DXMKII and 5DMKIV (3 years ago when they came out), I didn't even look at the video specs on either, as I didn't care. They were (and still are) the best cameras for what I did/still do. After reading about video, I started to look at what my current cameras could do, and that's how I ended up on this forum. I played around with them both in 4K and 1080p, figured out the details, etc. But now, going forward, I need some advice. Yes, they are still the best Canon video DSLRs, but I'm wondering if I should get something else for video work. Something that works with my EF lenses so I don't need new glass.

What do I want? Very good 1080p. I can get FF 1080p with both the 1DXMKII and 5DMKIV now (full hd), but it looks somewhat soft. I can shoot in 4K on both, but then I have differing crop factors between my 2 DSLRs (1.3x and 1.74x) to deal with and the MJPEG codec is huge. For sure shooting in 4K and downconverting to 1080p in post gives a nicer 1080p, but I want something simpler/faster. I can't find out what they do if I shoot in 4K and record out over HDMI on both of them. Would they both produce better looking 1080p, similar to what the C100 does for example (e.g. shoots in 4K, but down converts to 1080p internally)? If so that would be good, but I would still have the crop factor to consider...So one option is the C100MKII for $3000. In theory this should have the best 1080p, though it's S35 not FF. C200 is another option, but not as much a "bargain" as the C100MKII. I would rarely user the raw light, so I would have to be content with the 4K codecs, which seem to be on the low end from reading things. And it's $6500. 

Non Canon options seem to be all over the place, and a bit confusing to me for now. I can build a BM rig, a Panasonic rig, etc., but not sure what's simplest for run/gun, tripod/gimbal/handheld, 1 person crew shooting. The EOS Cinema seem very appealing and simple to use in these ways. Also the DPAF is important.

I know this is a lengthy post for a first post, but any thoughts are welcome.

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EOSHD Pro Color for Sony cameras EOSHD Pro LOG for Sony CamerasEOSHD C-LOG and Film Profiles for All Canon DSLRs

The problem with the DPAF in anything but the most recent EOS Cinema bodies is half the features don't seem to work with lenses which aren't STM ( all my lenses are USM ). The C200 and C300mkii both use all the autofocus features with the USM lenses but are still expensive in the case of the C300mkii or produce large data rates ( or low 8-bit ones in the H.264 codec ) in the case of the C200.

The C500mkii is rumoured to be coming out soon and I'm hoping it's going to be very successful, so there will be some more C300mkii's and C200's hitting the used market for people like me to hoover up.

To get sharp 1080p it has to be from an over sample, like the EOS Cinema line, line skipping and pixel binning drop you below the real 1080p resolution because the bayer pattern doesn't deliver a true 540 line pairs required for HD, even the 4k is only really 2.8k - you need 6k bayer for a true 4k resolution file. Only the Cinema Eos line does this over sampling in the Canon line up but plenty of other cameras like the Panasonic GH5 and S1 and S1H do it ( but don't have the DPAF ) 

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My advice is keep what you currently have. Buy a good video head tripod/monopod, a mic and lavalier mics, a cheap drone, and some video lights. A gimbal if you want to go all out.

That should cover all your bases at first. If you need to upgrade your cameras go from there. I think soon Canon will be forced to have Full Frame 4k in their morrorless bodies by competition so I would not buy a high end body from them right now. If you want to get a cheap video oriented body for your lenses as a stopgap I would go for the new 90D.

EDIT: Also make sure your computer and storage are good enough to edit and store everything!

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I second what @Geoff CB said.

I figure you have a few options:

  • Keep your current gear.  It's a pain with crop factors and downscaling, but you get Canon colours, DPAF, and it's the cheapest option.
  • Get a Canon cine camera.  You can use your lenses, have DPAF, but crop factor is an issue.
  • Buy something from another brand that will record nice 1080p and you can use your existing lenses (maybe via adapters).  None of these will be both FF and have good AF.
  • Buy a completely new system.  You'll get something with good AF (Sony is pretty good) and you can get glass to match, but it's a huge cost and a PITA to run two systems.

Dealing with crop factors doesn't sound so bad now does it? :) 

Seriously, use what you have and use the time to figure out how you work and what you need, and also give the industry time to release more FF cameras with good video AF.  The industry is just starting to really go FF so if you can wait then you'll be much better off.

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Thanks for all the replies. I have a very good tripod with a nice video head, lights, etc. @Geoff CB And I'm OK with the S35 crop @thephoenix. I'm also OK with waiting a bit to see how things play out, but if I get more work, I need to get something that's easier to work with now, not in 6 months (or whenever Canon decides to release something worth buying). I did a small shoot for a client last week, and I shot in 4K MJPEG, spent forever in Premiere working with it, and then delivered in 1080p. Only because the internal 1080p is very soft for whatever reason. So that's why something like a C100MKII seems appealing, as it shoots in 4K and down converts to 1080p = fantastic 1080p straight out, without massive storage needs + extra processing time. Plus the body is more suited to filming.

But yes, for sure there are some other options out there as @kye mentions. I would like the new camera to be the main one, and the DSLRs to be the backups/b-cams. It would be easier to match colors/C-Log this way. I do think the Canon colors are lovely, especially from the 5DMKIV which has C-Log, as the 1DXMKII doesn't. I prefer the smaller crop of the 1DX, but shot with the 5D because of C-Log. One thing I should get regardless, is the Atomos Ninja V, because it will save me time. I can shoot in 4K and output in 1080p over HDMI to it, and save myself all the conversion I would do manually in post . It would have saved me time last week had I had the foresight to get it...! I used a Small HD Focus 5" monitor instead, but recorded internal 4K as I described above. I'll get the Ninja V this week, as that should be future proof as well. And I'll look around and keep reading. I think Canon has announced all that they will for a while now, with the 90D, M6II, and the C500MKII. So it will be next spring or later when they may announce something else. And I feel they need to update the C200 first before they can do the C100. Who knows about the DSLRs, but I'll get the 1DXMKIII if it comes out, mirrorless or not for my stills work. I'd be surprised if they come out with a pro R body as good as that, but you never know. They may come out with something like a 5D-like R first. It's sort of strange the way they are pushing out the RF lenses (which look outstanding), but have consumer bodies. I would have thought it be done the other way around. Also strange how the C500MKII to be announced next week doesn't take RF lenses. Hmm...

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Canon C100mkii will solve all of your problems. Picked up a used one online (ebay or so) and you'll be good to go. Great . Features out of the box and will improve your workflow dramatically. Your 1DXmkii will help you with the slowmotion and the gimbal work too. I suggest getting the Sigma 18-35, DPAF works great on it and will also be amazing with the 1dxmkii (covers the frame with video, especially with the crop. The DPAF is really awesome on it too with it.)

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Thanks for all the replies. I have a very good tripod with a nice video head, lights, etc. @Geoff CB And I'm OK with the S35 crop @thephoenix. I'm also OK with waiting a bit to see how things play out, but if I get more work, I need to get something that's easier to work with now, not in 6 months (or whenever Canon decides to release something worth buying). I did a small shoot for a client last week, and I shot in 4K MJPEG, spent forever in Premiere working with it, and then delivered in 1080p. Only because the internal 1080p is very soft for whatever reason. So that's why something like a C100MKII seems appealing, as it shoots in 4K and down converts to 1080p = fantastic 1080p straight out, without massive storage needs + extra processing time. Plus the body is more suited to filming.

But yes, for sure there are some other options out there as @kye mentions. I would like the new camera to be the main one, and the DSLRs to be the backups/b-cams. It would be easier to match colors/C-Log this way. I do think the Canon colors are lovely, especially from the 5DMKIV which has C-Log, as the 1DXMKII doesn't. I prefer the smaller crop of the 1DX, but shot with the 5D because of C-Log. One thing I should get regardless, is the Atomos Ninja V, because it will save me time. I can shoot in 4K and output in 1080p over HDMI to it, and save myself all the conversion I would do manually in post . It would have saved me time last week had I had the foresight to get it...! I used a Small HD Focus 5" monitor instead, but recorded internal 4K as I described above. I'll get the Ninja V this week, as that should be future proof as well. And I'll look around and keep reading. I think Canon has announced all that they will for a while now, with the 90D, M6II, and the C500MKII. So it will be next spring or later when they may announce something else. And I feel they need to update the C200 first before they can do the C100. Who knows about the DSLRs, but I'll get the 1DXMKIII if it comes out, mirrorless or not for my stills work. I'd be surprised if they come out with a pro R body as good as that, but you never know. They may come out with something like a 5D-like R first. It's sort of strange the way they are pushing out the RF lenses (which look outstanding), but have consumer bodies. I would have thought it be done the other way around. Also strange how the C500MKII to be announced next week doesn't take RF lenses. Hmm...

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Any thoughts on using a Atomos Ninja V recorder with the C100MK2? The monitor should help outdoors, but will the HDMI out of the C100 produce a noticeably better file than the 4:2:0 8bit internal codecs? Will it do 4:2:2 and be noticeable?

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After some more thinking, I'm now leaning more towards the C200. Not that I see a real need to deliver 4K, but because I worry some clients may ask for it, even if they don't need it. They may think they need it and want it, and if I can't offer it to them, then I'm stuck if I get the C100MKII. I would have to use my 1DXMKII/5DMKIV for 4K if they want it, but then yeah, back to huge MJPEG files, inconsistent crop factors, and using DSLR bodies instead of a dedicated video camera system. 

With the C200 I can just shoot UHD 150Mpbs/4:2:0 8bit internal to redundant SD cards (or UHD 4:2:2 8bit external / HD 4:2:2 10bit external if that gives me higher bitrates to work with in post - not sure how much higher they would be over HDMI than 150Mpbs and if worth it / visible difference). And yeah, I can use the RAW for personal projects, as that gets crazy expensive with the CFast cards. The added bonus is the better DPAF in the C200 (touch, face tracking, etc. - similar to my 1DX/5D), better screen, & better EVF. It's not cheap by any means, but the alternatives (Panasonic, Sony, BM, which do 4:2:2 4K 10bit+) I think would be harder to match with my DSLRs in terms of look/color/etc. It's hard - I'm not in love with the C200, but if I need 4K, it checks the box. C200 is about as large a body as I would want, because I want to handhold, move around, etc. C300, even if I could afford it is a bit on the heavy/larger size.

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12 hours ago, ghostwind said:

After some more thinking, I'm now leaning more towards the C200. Not that I see a real need to deliver 4K, but because I worry some clients may ask for it, even if they don't need it. They may think they need it and want it, and if I can't offer it to them, then I'm stuck if I get the C100MKII. I would have to use my 1DXMKII/5DMKIV for 4K if they want it, but then yeah, back to huge MJPEG files, inconsistent crop factors, and using DSLR bodies instead of a dedicated video camera system. 

With the C200 I can just shoot UHD 150Mpbs/4:2:0 8bit internal to redundant SD cards (or UHD 4:2:2 8bit external / HD 4:2:2 10bit external if that gives me higher bitrates to work with in post - not sure how much higher they would be over HDMI than 150Mpbs and if worth it / visible difference). And yeah, I can use the RAW for personal projects, as that gets crazy expensive with the CFast cards. The added bonus is the better DPAF in the C200 (touch, face tracking, etc. - similar to my 1DX/5D), better screen, & better EVF. It's not cheap by any means, but the alternatives (Panasonic, Sony, BM, which do 4:2:2 4K 10bit+) I think would be harder to match with my DSLRs in terms of look/color/etc. It's hard - I'm not in love with the C200, but if I need 4K, it checks the box. C200 is about as large a body as I would want, because I want to handhold, move around, etc. C300, even if I could afford it is a bit on the heavy/larger size.

All valid points, but it makes me wonder how much you want to spend for a "what if" scenario.  An alternative to this is a C100 and if the client wants 4K then hire a C200 for that project.  At the point that clients routinely ask for 4K then you can consider how long a purchase would take to pay for itself based on data rather than a general concern.

"What if" is the enemy of photography because it leads you down a path where you buy so much equipment that you don't have time to learn how to use it and you take so many things with you that you can't actually go anywhere or shoot anything.  True wisdom is knowing how much is enough.

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9 hours ago, kye said:

All valid points, but it makes me wonder how much you want to spend for a "what if" scenario.  An alternative to this is a C100 and if the client wants 4K then hire a C200 for that project.  At the point that clients routinely ask for 4K then you can consider how long a purchase would take to pay for itself based on data rather than a general concern.

"What if" is the enemy of photography because it leads you down a path where you buy so much equipment that you don't have time to learn how to use it and you take so many things with you that you can't actually go anywhere or shoot anything.  True wisdom is knowing how much is enough.

This is true, and I've thought about it as well - renting as needed / when the time comes. The problem is that I like to be very familiar with my gear and not think about it during a shoot, and this familiarity comes from using the same gear a lot. Buttons, menu layouts, etc.,  should become muscle memory, and I don't want to be fumbling around looking for this or that button, or this menu item, etc. during a paid shoot. Renting at the time of the shoot (even a few days before at an extra cost) puts me in a position to have to learn a new piece of equipment on the job pretty much, which is not good from my experience. Though the C100/200/300 are pretty similar, there are some key differences in form factors, button layouts, menus, and workflow. So that's the downside in looking at it.

I'm not looking to get a ton of gear, I'm very minimalistic in fact. I'm looking to get the right piece of gear that I can use for quite some time - a few years, as I do with my photo cameras. Usually, in my experience, this does mean investing a bit more up front in more of the middle to high tier of gear. If I get a C100MK2, it's already paid for from my current shoot which I invested zero capital in as I used my 3yo DSLRs. One more shoot, and the C200 is paid for - heck, even a C300MK2 will be just about paid for. The math is not hard - one more shoot and I can get the C300MK2 pretty much. The question is do I *need* a C300MK2 (or a C200)? I like to keep it simple and not have stuff I'll never use. That's why I started out with the DSLRs and then by looking at the cheapest option (C100MKII). The question again is will I need a C200 (or even C300MK2)? This translates to - do  I anticipate having to shoot in 4K 2-3 times in the next 3-4 years? That's all it takes, even less as I was saying to justify the more expensive camera. What's the probability of having to shoot in 4K? Probably pretty high in the next few years. If I get a C100MK2 now, then a C200/300 in 6 months, then I lose on the purchase of the C100MK2 any way you cut it. Or if I keep it, then I will  have too much gear! I see one can go nuts with these cameras, rigging them up, adding this and that, etc. A bit overwhelming, and I would just get the basic package, regardless of camera I get, and only add accessories as / if the need arises. It is easy to watch some video or read a review and think you may need this or that, but the need will only arise from within if you know what I mean. 

So yeah, it's not easy, and you make good points which do make me think. And I'm taking my time. All feedback is good :)

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@ghostwind 

Your approach sounds sensible.  I appreciate the buy-once-buy-well approach, and it sounds like you probably have a good enough idea on what your requirements are and how you work to be able to determine what will work for you, both creatively and from a return-on-investment perspective, and considering that the image you deliver may even be secondary for some clients compared how how impressive your camera looks or the specs you can advertise (like shooting in 4K).

I don't know what platforms you're creating for, but 4K would give you the ability to deliver 4K 16:9 and also >1080p 9:16 vertical video from the same shot.  We've spoken on these forums about vertical video and I recall a lifestyle/branding/advertising film-maker suggesting that filming vertical video for social and also for portrait-mounted TVs was becoming more in-demand.  The framing may be different for different aspect ratios, but I would imagine not having to have a 90-degree adapter to flip the camera would be a plus on set, as for each shot you could just reframe and do another take, and then be able to produce a vertical and horizontal version of the same video without much extra time on set.

The only other piece of advice I have is to get your hands on a few options and see how you like them.  Even if you assume that Canon knows how to make a decent cinema camera (which is pretty well established) there may be little personal elements that would work or not work for you specifically.  Ergonomically, conceptually, and for your workflow too.

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2 hours ago, jpleong said:

What are you actually videotaping? I couldn't find it skimming through this thread.

 

Currently did a corporate promo video that will be on the company's website and social media (healthcare company). In the future, more of those (corporate videos) + sports/marketing videos for universities, branding, and even small events. My stills work is in branding, lifestyle, and sports photography, and I'm being asked more and more to do video alongside the stills. 

In addition, I want to expand to do some documentary work as well as some personal projects.

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