Bad day with the DSLR’s

Like I’ve done so many times before with my EX1 / 35mm adapter setup I decided to spend today shooting on the north Norfolk coast, only this time I was using two DSLR’s.

I’ve recently picked up a 7D to use as a second body to save me swapping lenses in the field. One of the benefits of the 7D over the 5D is the fact that it can shoot in various frame rates including 1280×720 at 50 or 60 frames a second which can then be slowed down to create slow-mo.

Sylvi trying out the 5D

I love shooting over-cranked at 720p on the EX1 and since shooting for a while on the 5D I’ve really missed slow-mo so I couldn’t wait to get out and shoot some more with the 7D.

I have to say that I’m not very happy with the results, the quality of the images the 7D is capturing is really poor at 1280×720 due to terrible line twitter / aliasing, any areas of sharpness in the shot shimmers and draws your eye to the problem. This is something that happens with the 5D too, but nowhere near as bad as I’m seeing at 720p on the 7D. The noise on the 7D is also different than the 5D, it’s has less visible vertical bands, but also shows more of a dancing type noise pattern. I’ve read a lot that the difference between the 7D and 5D is minor, but to my eyes the difference is huge, especially when shooting in low light with higher ISO.

7D on sticks

I shot of a pair of telephone boxes last night on the 7D, I had the ISO at 640, nothing too high but the shots are unusable due to the extreme noise in parts of the shot. I’m currently transcoding the footage but as soon as it’s done I’ll post some examples of what I’m talking about.

On top of the quality disappointments I also had a Compact Flash card go weird on me. The mac wouldn’t read it, and my Nexto NVS2500 also reported an error and wouldn’t offload it. The weird thing is that the 5D had no trouble reading it at all so in the end I managed to offload the shots by connecting the 5D to the mac via USB and offloading using aperture.

Maybe I just had a bad day, but this has put a big dent in my confidence of the DSLR’s ability to handle commercial projects, I’m glad that none of these 720p shots were essential!

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2 Responses

  1. Robert Shaw says:

    Hi Paul, Sorry the 7D let you down, not good. Iv read that the native ISO of the DSLRs produce less noise eg: 100,200,400,800 etc so in theory 800 iso in low light would preform better than 640 iso? do you know anything about this. From the footage I have seen on line the 5D always seems to have the edge on the 7D which is why I just got the 5D.
    Your blog is excellent, very well done and informative, keep up the good work paul.

    • Paul Joy says:

      Hi Robert.

      I’ve read something similar in the past myself, although I seem to remember it was 320, 640, 1250 or something along those lines.
      I’ve used my 5D mostly for interview type projects where it works really well. To be fair to the 7D I’m sure it does the same thing just as well. The biggest problem I had was shooting in 720p because the line twitter is noticeably worse than at 1080p. The other benefit of shooting 1080 is that you can scale the final output down to 720 and hide most of the visual issues. At 720 that’s not so easy.

      At 1080 the 7D shoots great images, it’s not quite as good in low light as the 5D, but otherwise it’s just as capable.

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