I’ve just posted my thoughts on using the Canon EF 24-105mm F4 IS USM Lens for video.
Do I really need another lens?
Posts Tagged ‘ Canon 5D ’
When it comes to lenses for my DSLR’s I’ve invested in some lovely primes, my Canon 50mm 1.2, 24mm 1.4 & 35mm 1.4 L series lenses are all low light wonders and produce gorgeous looking footage from the 5D and 7D. When I was purchasing these lenses I did consider going for a medium zoom and owned a Canon 24 – 70 2.8 for while but decided to return that in favour of the primes simply because in low light those extra few stops do make a huge difference.
I also own a Canon 70 – 200 2.8 IS lens which is fantastic, quite often I’ll prefer the results from that over my primes it really depends on what it is I’m shooting and the type of result I’m looking for. The Image Stabiliser on that lens is excellent and even though it makes lot of noise it makes handholding such a long lens quite easy.
One time when primes become a bit of a pain though is for event work. I took my 5D along with the 50 and 24 to my recent shoot for Harley-Davidson in St Tropez and although both lenses produced nice results, it seemed that the moment I swapped the lenses a shot would present itself where I felt like I wanted to swap them again. I really don’t like swapping lenses more than I have to in the field as it’s way too easy for grit, dust and other nasties to get inside the cameras.
So, for my next event for Harley which takes place in Barcelona next weekend I’ve decided to try out the Canon EF 24-105mm f4 L IS USM Zoom. Now at F4 this is by no means a fast lens, it’s not going to be on my 5D when I head out in the evenings but for daytime use I think it’s going to be a lovely lens giving me a nice range to work with without swapping lenses. It’s also not going to deliver the extremely shallow depth of field that my primes can, but again that’s not something I really need for handheld work at events.
When choosing this lens I considered another 24 – 70 2.8, but the 24-105 has some advantages over the 24-70 which are very important for event work. Firstly, and most importantly it has IS (Image Stabilisation) which works wonders for handheld video use. Dealing with camera shake is one of the hardest things about working with DSLR’s so having IS helps a lot. When I get back from Barcelona I’ll post some examples of how much it helps.
The other advantage the 24-105 has over the 24-70 is that it’s quite a lot lighter, for event work carrying the 5D around as well as my EX1 weight can be tricky, the less weight I have to carry the better.
The 24-70 at f2.8 is obviously a few stops faster than the 24-105 and if you need a wide zoom to work in lower light situations as well then it would be a better choice. Even f2.8 can be a bit limiting in low light though so I’ll stick to my 50mm f1.2 and 24mm f1.4 for that.
The lens has literally just turned up this morning so I haven’t had much time with it yet, but from my first impressions it looks like it’ll work a treat, the IS makes a huge difference and I can get shots which don’t look like handheld shots at all. As with all of Canon’s L Series lenses it appears to be built well and ready for the challenge ahead.
Although a lot quieter than the 70-200 the noise from IS on this lens would probably still be noticeable if using an on camera mic but for most of my usage that’s not a big issue as I generally use an external recorder for anything where I’m going to need the sound.
I’ll post more when I return from Barcelona and let you know how it worked out.
In the UK Warehouse Express sell it for £929.99
I’m very excited to be seeing more news being announced about Sony’s answer to the DSLR revolution. This new camera which is expected to be available before NAB 2011 could give us all the benefits of using a large 35mm sensor along with fast SLR lenses as well as the practical solutions normally found in dedicated video cameras such as better monitoring, xlr sound inputs and a pro codec to work with.
I personally think we’ll see the buzz return to the traditional video camera manufacturers 12 months from now, which is quite an interesting thought considering that the whole aftermarket manufacturing industry currently seems to have gone DSLR crazy. A dedicated 35mm video sensor would be designed with HD video formats in mind so would no doubt avoid the line twitter / aliasing issues which are the result of DSLR’s sensors providing too much resolution. DSLR’s are always going to have to cater to photographers first.
Canon or even Nikon may be planning on delivering an uncompressed full res video output from a DSLR, but they are always going to have to deal with sensors that are designed with still images in mind and provide work arounds to the huge resolutions involved.
I think the whole DSLR thing has been fantastic, it gave the video giants a big kick up the behind and made them move forward a lot faster than that might have done otherwise. They seem to be moving though so it’s going to be very interesting to see which direction they go in.
I did plan on investing in an EX1r for this years event work but I think I’m going to try and make my trusty 3 year old EX1 last one more season now and see what Sony do with this new camera and what they mean by “more affordable”.
The thought of an XDCAM-EX or better body offering the features of an EX1r but using a 35mm sensor along with the possibility to use various types of 35mm lenses is really exciting. It’s hard to know if that’s what Sony have in mind at present, but it would certainly get the attention of all those videographers out there who have jumped on the DSLR band wagon and invested money in 35mm glass.
EX1 – over-cranking and audio
I shot the majority of this event using my EX1. I normally shoot these at 720/25p and switch on S&Q motion (overcrank) from time to time when I want some slow motion footage. The only problem with this approach is that the EX1 doesn ‘t record any audio when running S&Q. I ran into a problem last year when the client asked for audio from part of a sequence I ‘d shot in slow-mo so needed another approach this year.
I decided to do two things differently, firstly I took along my Zoom H4n audio recorder and whenever possible asked the guys running the sound desks to give me a feed so that I could have a non-stop audio recording regardless of what I did with the camera. I also decided to shoot the whole event in 720/50p mode so that I could create slow-mo in post using cinema tools and be able to use the footage on a 25p timeline with audio should I need it.
Shooting at 720/50 when you know you ‘re delivery will be at 25p means you have to be careful with shutter speeds. I normally have my shutter on the EX1 set to 180 degrees which results in each frame being exposed for 1/50th second. If I left that setting the same when shooting at 720/50 each frame would only be exposed for 1/100th of a second.
Because I planned to export the video back to 25p I turned the shutter off, effectively giving each frame 1/50th of a second of exposure giving it the same amount of motion blur as 25p in the hope it would produce similar results once reduced to 720/25. This theory didn ‘t really work out that well, when I imported my 50p clips into a 25p timeline the footage didn ‘t look as fluid as I ‘d normally expect from 25p. Edited on a 720/50p timeline the footage played correctly, but when exported out at 25p I still wasn ‘t overly happy with the results. I ‘ll need to look into this one a bit further.
One other downside to the 720/50 route to slow-mo is that cinema tools can ‘t conform XDCAM-EX footage, it needs to be transcoded to Pro-Res first which could take a lot of time considering I had hours of footage. I handled this by going through the footage and creating a sequence with all my favourite shots in which I then exported out as a 720/50p ProRes file which was then conformed in Cinema Tools and reimported for use in my edit.
Custom bike tracking shots
I used my 5D & glidetrack shooter rig during the events custom bike show. As well as being a very light and portable rig for tracking shots the results are some of the nicest looking custom bike shots I ‘ve managed at an event so far, I ‘ll definitely be using it again. Using the Manfrotto 394 quick release plates to switch between tripod and ground shots worked a treat too.
Using the Canon 5D
I made the decision before leaving to shoot this event that I was going to shoot the majority of it on my Sony EX1 with the exception being the tracking shots on the glidetrack.
I did however also want to experiment with the 5D so I ventured out a couple of times with it on a DV Multirig. One area where the 5D shines is in low light environments so I took it instead of the EX1 when I headed out to film a couple of bands and the party goers watching them. Shots such as bar scenes and people dancing on the beach being lit by the stage lights were brought to life by the 5D where the EX1 would have either been dark shadows or a grainy mess. I did however discover a limitation with the 5D that I wasn ‘t aware of before this event.
I was shooting some guys riding Harleys through the event ground with their headlights on and noticed black dots appearing in the middle of the headlights. On reviewing the footage these black dots appear anywhere in the image that ‘s ultra bright. This also happened on occasion when shooting the bands and a stage light would shine on the camera, the light would become a small black spot on the image.
I ‘ve mixed up things quite a bit in the event video, to me the 5D shots are all very obvious but I ‘m not sure they always represent the best looking images. The tracking shots of the custom bikes look good, but some of the crowd shots from the event have a kind of ‘mobile phone’ look about them rather than the deep focus, ultra clear HD images that the EX1 usually gathers.
This was the first event I ‘ve shot where I took the Manfrotto monopod along. In theory the monopod should be ideal in this environment as it ‘s fairly low profile and yet allows for steady panning or tilting shots when required. In use though I found the monopod to be a bit of a failure. It was easier to carry than something like my Miller DS-2o tripod but I found it quite useless for trying to get smooth panning shots. Fast pans were a little better, but trying to pan slowly resulted in a kind of clicking action from the fluid cartridge in the base that was very visible in the resulting footage. I won ‘t be taking it again.
My workflow changed slightly at this event mainly due to the use of the Nexto DI NVS2500. For footage offloads I continued what I ‘d started on the ride to the event by offloading my media cards to the NVS at the end of each day and then syncing it to an external drive.
I did have one scary moment when the external drive I was using developed some kind of fault that could only be fixed by formatting it and re-syncing. This took a couple of hours to complete, during which time I felt particularly vulnerable knowing the footage was solely on the NVS hard drive but the device performed perfectly and allowed me to re-sync my data once the external drive had been reformatted.
All in all the shooting at the event went well, I had no major problems with equipment etc. The weather even started to look up, we had the occasional shower but it stayed dry for the most part with a fair amount of sun thrown in.
I spent yesterday down on the coast shooting for “Adrift”, a short film I’m putting together with Peter Naylor. I’d like to say a big thank you to Justin Smith, Ryan Sutton, Liam Hind & Jamie Crown who came along to help out on the shoot. I didn’t realise quite how much we were going to be expecting of them until we got to the beach and realised that the location was quite a trek from the car park.
Justin, Ryan, Liam & Jamie not only carried much of the gear to our base camp but were happy to do the trip four times in total ferrying loads of gear around including a Jib which isn’t an easy thing to be carrying on a sandy beach on a steaming hot day. We were also on location at 6am, not easy for most of us but especially alien to students!
I’d also like to thank our Actors, Sally and Mya who were fantastic, my friend Tim for helping out with props and Sylvia for preparing a huge supply of food and drink for us all.
I don’t want to give too much away about the story for now, but here’s a few frame grabs and some BTS stills I grabbed while carrying the 5D around.