Thursday, October 1, 2009

After the First Night...I'm Hooked


After the first night of shooting with my two 7D's I have to say I'm completely addicted to the images I can create with this wonderful camera.

This is Going to be THE ultra low budget Indie Cinema camera for at LEAST the next 3 months.


Seriously though, What an outstanding image. Just to give the people out there an idea of the kit I'm running with on this show here's a breakdown:

2x Canon 7D Bodies
6x Canon LP-E6 Batteries (the real ones)
2x Canon Charger
1x SmallHD DP-1 Monitor
2x SmallHD DP-1 Battery
Director's Monitor: Samsung 17inch 4:3 (this needs to change- was a holdover from the 4:3 signal sent by the 5D2 while recording - I figured this out last night on set, and luckily the DP-1 does 4:3 my monitoring through a custom splitter loom looked decidedly standard Def...I was comfortable with this for the timebeing because of the time I've done with my 5D2 - it's for sale by the way if anyone is interested)
Beachtek DXA-5D audio preamp ( I let the sound mixer worry about this, he just feeds it to me)

Cartoni Fluid head on a set of OLD SCHOOL Miller sticks...this is a totally killer setup.
Redrock DSLR setup with mattebox, rails, follow focus.
Custom Made Israeli Arm (the cheap kind)
Custom Made HDMI/DVI Splitter Wiring Harness
Various Filters (Circ Polas,NDs, ND Grads, Pro-Mists)

Zeiss 35 mm f1.4
Zeiss 50mm f1.4
Zeiss 85mm f1.4
Nikkor 180mm f2.8
Nikkor Zoom 35-70mm f3.3-4.5

All the lenses are using Pixco AF-Confirm adapters from Hong-Kong. These are the best I'ved used. They hold the lenses solidy and the af-confirm and exposure info they garner can be useful. I have some dumb mount extension rings too...probably time to look into some smart ones as they are I'm sure machined better.

One interesting tidbit: when you're in video mode on the 7D the mirror is automatically locked up...I'm used to being able to use the liveview button on my 5d2 to flip the mirror up and down at will, and thus save power. Maybe there's a custom function for a MLU/Liveview button that's programmable...haven't dug into the menus too much yet.

We only had one minor 'scare' last night: my B-Camera operator Matt noticed the temperature indicator pop up on his 7D during a rehearsal. This is something I'd witnessed on the 5DII before, but only shooting Day exterior when the grips forgot to put a courtesy over me and the camera. Electronics don't like direct sunlight in California Summer. Last night we were shooting inside a cafe though - so I was a little worried. I chalked it up to the fact that maybe Matt wasn't being as conservative as I was with my battery and saving camera power between setups. I calmly had Matt turn his camera off for only two minutes, power back on and we never saw the thermometer indicator again.

I can say with confidence that I trust the 7D for real production work as much as a Red One (although according to some people they crash a lot - never had one crash on me, but I saw someone stuck in a random reboot loop once)...which brings me to another observation: Cameras these days aren't like cameras. They're more like computers: they can crash, They're getting cheaper and cheaper, the features are getting more and more awesome, but the real kicker is I want to upgrade every 3 to 6 months now.

Everyone on set was thrilled with the images we were getting last night, and pretty much everyone was shocked we were shooting a feature film on two DSLR cameras. The actors had heard about Nikon's DSLR video function, and I assured them that while cool, and a cute toy the D90 (and successors with video) were just that - a toy. After a LOT of wrangling and hand wringing Canon made the 7D decidedly the best video camera you can purchase at this time for under $17,500. I'm sure some sony people will want to weigh in with their love of the EX-1 and Ex-3, but you can do a lot more on a 7D for a lot less - and the end of the day it's about how pretty of a picture you can make, how fast and how cheap.

I'm looking forward to shooting some 60P and 50P stuff for slow motion. What's that you ask? 50P in the us? Why? Well 50P is closer to 48 frames than 60, so for good half speed stuff 50P makes sense - apparently you have to switch to PAL mode in the menus to enable this, but High Speed is one of those things I don't use everyday any way it's just great to have as an option.


  1. Thank You for your report.

    7D overheating is scaring me and it makes me think - with deep regret - that Canon 7D wouldn't be suitable for shooting documentaries..

    what do you think about documentary filmmaking with canon 7D?

  2. Hi there. Can i invite you to comment on the following?
    "Canon 7D, the saga continues (with a stutter)…" at

    I'd like to know what your experiences are in this field.

    Martin Beek

  3. Hi Andr:

    I would not hesitate to use the 7D for documentary work. I haven't had a single overheat since that first night of shooting, and I use the cam A LOT.

    It's the PERFECT doc cam. Looking forward to shooting doc footage with my Lady.


    I noticed a buttload of stuttering on the 5DII.
    I don't notice really any on the 7D. Turn off everything auto, white balance, iso, anything that is auto. Format your CF cards several times. Don't use Canon lenses. these are guaranteed to cause stuttering when they do any communication with the camera. other than that, I think you should not really see any dropped frames. Check out cinema5d for more info on dropped frames in the 5DII forums.