Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Digital Photo Professional (DPP) Version 3.80 (Canon 550D/Canon T2i)

I've been a long time user of Digital Photo Professional (DPP) as a very easy method to allow me to select and edit which photos I've wanted to use from shoots. The one thing missing that I've always needed to use another editor like Lightroom or Photoshop for has been for cropping images at angles.

Digital Photo Professional will allow you to crop images parallel to the existing image borders. Now with the new version 3.8 that supports the Canon 550D/T2i Digital Photo Professional will allow you to crop images and rotate for the crop - fantastic and just what I need for my workflow!

Digital Photo Professional (DPP)  is a very underrated and under utilised tool that Canon provide for FREE with all their DSLR cameras. I highly rate it and recommend anyone interested in a high throughput workflow to try it out.

Canon 550D/T2i High ISO Performance for Video

I've been testing my Canon 550D/T2i with video shot at high ISO and the news isn't great. The Auto ISO function on the camera works excellently to increase the ISO as light falls to maintain the exposure but the high ISO performance falls well below that from the full frame cameras.

I guess it was to be expected that as the Canon 5DII high ISO performance is so good that a crop sensor camera would have difficulty coming close but I was surprised how poor the image quality was at ISO 6400. The realistic maximum ISO that I would recommend using for HD video is 1600 to ensure that the image quality is good enough. If you need to shoot at high ISO than this I would suggest using the Canon 5D Mark2 as that provides good quality up to ISO 6400.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Canon 550D / T2i DSLR Video review - Video crop mode

I received my new Canon 550D from Warehouse Express three days ago and had a brief chance to test it over the weekend. The video is much more streamlined and integrated into the camera than on the Canon 5D2 but from an initial test I saw something that I've not seen in any of the Canon 5D movies - NOISE! Admittedly the camera is was on Auto ISO mode so the ISO had crept up to 3200.

The inclusion of different frame rates (now available on Canon 5DII with latest firmware) and the ability to shoot at 720p at 50/60fps (NOT available on Canon 5DII with latest firmware) is very useful and will allow slow motion effect video.

One feature that doesn't seem to have had much press but looks to me like it could be a very handy option for some uses of the camera is the VGA crop mode. This takes a centre portion of the image and crops it to 640x480 for producing the video rather than using the whole image and "binning" some pixels. The effect is to give an additional 7x zoom.

Click to view Canon 550D/T2i video example of VGA crop mode

Effectively this means that if you are shooting with the 70-200 f2.8 IS lens you are being given a massive boost to the zoom for shooting video. On the Canon 550D/T2i the lens has a crop factor of 1.6 so the effective focal length is 320mm already. With the crop mode in operation the effect will be to make the focal length the equivalent of 2240mm!!!

Imagine how useful this could be for wildlife or motorsports photographers/videographers or for paparazzi shooting from a long distance. I'll shortly add some clips showing how this works

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

"House" finale shot entirely on Canon 5D Mark2

It has been reported that the season finale of the popular TV show House, which will air on May 17th, was filmed entirely with the Canon 5D Mark II. cinema5D overheard the plan last month and Greg Yaitanes, the director of the show, has confirmed it through a tweet in which he made himself open to questions.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Canon 5DII Mark2 firmware 2.0.4 - Sound syncing problem with Neoscene Cineform 1.3

I upgraded to Canon 5D2 firmware 2.0.4 yesterday and shot some promo video for the musical Billy Elliot being performed by Stage Theatre Society. The new settings on the Canon 5D Mark2 now only allow a maximum frame rate of 25fps with PAL video - previously this was fixed at 30fps.

When I came to edit the video having converted the MOV files to AVI using Neoscene I found that the sound and video were no longer in sync with the sound continuing after the video had stopped. Having checked the Neoscene log it appears that the sound and video are converted to 30fps.

To resolve the problem I checked the Neoscene website and downloaded the latest version 1.6.0 build 140. Having installed this the problem appears to be resolved and the video and sound are now in sync for converted movies.

So if you are having problems with the sound syncronisation on the Canon 5D2, Canon 7D or Canon 550D when using Cineform Neo Scene then check the version and upgrade to the latest one

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Canon 5D Mark2 Firmware 2.0.4 update

Canon have now released an updated firmware 2.0.4 for the Canon 5D mark2 DSLR that includes new video features like 24 fps and adjustable audio levels.

Canon 550D Cashback deals - Spring 2010 offers

Canon are offering a cash back promotion on the Canon 550D camera to get a cash back of £50 along with the Canon 500D and 50D.

This brings the best UK prices down to under £600 now which is barely above the price from Hong Kong on Ebay and without the additional customs duty. I've taken the plunge and my Canon 550D is due for delivery this week so watch this space for a review of the video functions.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Canon 550D compared to Canon 500D for video

The recently released Canon 550D has a number of very important differences to the previous Canon 500D SLR for use for video work.

The main differences are the frame rates that it supports and that the Canon 550D now allows the use of an external microphone. The Canon 550D can shoot video at full HD 1080p at the same frame rates as the rest of the Canon lineup - whereas the Canon 500D could only shoot 1080p video at 20 frames per second. This was quite a limiting factor for the camera.

Overall despite the quite large price difference between the Canon 550D and 500D I would recommend the 550D as the preferred option for video work as it overcomes the crippled feature set of the Canon 500D.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Differences comparison between DSLR Video and Camcorders

Which magazine have this month reviewed digital SLR cameras. One comment made in the article states "we've yet to see a DSLR that can match the video quality of a dedicated digital camcorder"

Are Which really expecting us to believe the quality of the Canon 5D2 camera is worse than a camcorder?
To do a comparions/review of DSLRs and HD/camcorders I've listed some of the advantages of each and hopefully will give a good understanding of why I believe DSLR video is the best quality option.

If however you are looking for ease of use and extended recording rather than absolute quality, low light use and creative options then a normal or HD camcorder could be your best option. For most other uses a DSLR would be a superior choice in my view.

Plus points for camcorders

  • DSLR shooting is time limited to around 12 or 18 mins per clip. Camcorder limited to tape length, normally 90 mins. [very few videos require shots much longer than 18 mins]
  • DSLR autofocus is limited and slow
  • DSLR controls are more fiddly to use than camcorder although more recent DSLR are better
Plus for DSLR
  • Huge range & quality of interchangeable lenses available - camcorder has fixed lens
  • DSLR is far better at low light shots due to the size of the sensor
  • Manual control on DSLR allows complete creative control over shooting settings
  • Image quality is comparable with top end film making gear costing 20x as much
  • Easy manual control over zoom and focus
  • Variety of quality/size options eg 24, 25,30,50,60 frames per second, 640, 720p/1080p
  • Can shoot high quality stills on the same device - only one camera needed not camera & camcorder
  • Less likely to miss a video moment when out with camera

Canon say "The EOS 550D combines exceptional still shooting with the ability to shoot Full HD (1080p) video. To satisfy your creativity the EOS 550D features full manual control and selectable frame rates. You can also shoot high speed 50/60fps movies at 720P for when the action is really fast. An HDMI connection allows High Definition playback of footage and images on any HDTV. Also with compatible TVs playback can be controlled using the TV’s remote control."