The pressure is on for HDR and better video from all cameras. Will manufacturers continue to improve video DSLR and mirrorless cameras? With Panasonic rumored to be bringing 4K 10-bit 4:2:2 video to the GH5, and Canon’s latest snub to the video DSLR crowd with the less than appreciated video specs of the Canon 5D Mark IV, I see a definite argument to be made that the cross-breed love affair of the photo and video world could come to an end. This is just an opinion, speculation only, but based on a very real question that manufacturers are going to have to answer for themselves. We published an article a year ago that might be worth revisiting: Are Video DSLRs dying out? When Photo Met Video What started as an afterthought for Canon turned the Canon 5D Mark II into an overnight video sensation, and all the major manufacturers followed suit bringing professional video capabilities to their cameras in the form of video DSLR and mirrorless line-ups. The pinnacle of this trend now is arguably the much loved Sony a7S II. Log gamma profiles and other “pro” features are considered basic requirements for video modes on what are still essentially photo cameras… something we tend to forget. I think we may all soon be reminded that these are in fact photo cameras. With the inevitable push towards HDR deliverables, and camera sensors capable of ever higher dynamic range it is clear that 8-bit 4:2:0 H.264 video, common to these cameras, even with a log gamma curve is no longer going to cut it. Blurred Lines Manufacturers are now faced with a choice. They either have to increase the color bit depth and video quality, as Panasonic is rumored to be doing, offering more, and better image data from the video modes of cameras that officially still sit in a photography product line, or leave video alone and focus on making those cameras the best they can be for professional photography. I would argue that we’ve just seen Canon’s answer to this question. Time will tell how the others will handle it. The result of substantially increasing video quality from stills cameras is a potential conflict of interest with professional video or cinema range cameras in their own product offering. For Panasonic this may not be a huge factor, but neither Canon or Sony can afford to offer a relatively low cost photo camera with video capabilities approaching the FS7, or anything in Canon’s Cinema EOS range. In this context I am not at all surprised about the decisions Canon have made, that will redefine what the new Canon 5D Mark IV is, and where it is targeted… it is, after all, a professional photo camera, and a very good one at that. Panasonic and Fujifilm There are manufacturers with less to lose. Panasonic I have mentioned already, I believe a hypothetical GH5 with 4K 10-bit 4:2:2 internal recording could be a real upset, there would be a lot of interest in such a camera from some existing Canon and Sony users despite the smaller sensor. Another player that has nothing at all to lose is Fujifilm, and the new Fujifilm X-T2 looks to be heading in a good direction. Will we begin to see a separation of video from photo from future DSLR and mirrorless platforms? Time will tell, but it is an interesting discussion to have, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. In the end, we will have to wait and see how it plays out.Read more
Update: My colleague Sebastian has published his “Canon 1D X Mark II vs. Canon 1D C – Which One Shoots Better Video?” Article. Please click here for his full lab review. Once upon a time, there was a company by the name of Canon who revolutionized the filming industry by introducing a large sensor stills camera that could shoot full High Definition video. Then, as time moved on, that same company decided to conquer Hollywood by introducing their “EOS C” line, and literally abandoned their loyal DSLR customers to the mercy of other brands. From the outside, it looked like an attempt to make people spend more money on that expensive line as there was simply no innovation or keeping up with modern filming resolutions (AKA “4K”) when it came to DSLRs. And then came the Canon EOS 1D X Mark II. Canon 1D X mark II Review We are a little bit late to the party in reviewing this camera and I must admit that one of the reasons to conduct that review (besides my genuine curiosity to see how different this camera is from my ageing Canon EOS 1D C), is the amount of email requests we got from fellow cameramen to test it. Judging by the amount of interest from our readers, it is no surprise that there is a big back order for the camera. People who follow my reviews know that I had already moved on, leaving my Canon EOS 1D C on the shelf as alternative cameras better suited for my documentary filming work started coming out. Although the 4K video quality was fine and the C-log picture profile was a useful feature to have, the Canon 1D C had too many obstacles for documentary work. For me, using a camera is not all about the final picture quality but also about its ease of use and ergonomics. No firmware updates meant there was no peaking or ability to magnify the picture while shooting, and the sound quality when recorded directly to the camera was average. The solution for me was to start working with the Sony a7X because it was simply a better working tool for my needs. I always regarded what Sony did as a “system” rather then a “camera” only. Unlike any Canon DSLR camera, what Sony offers is an overall filming solution combining the XLR K1/2M, the proprietary hot shoe and 28-135mm zoom lens. That argument is still very much valid today, but a single feature that Canon currently offers may be enough to consider changing back again….or maybe not. Spot the difference Canon 1D X Mark II vs 1D C Autofocus Mode Makes the Difference So I took a camera that looks 99% identical to the Canon EOS 1D C (yes, only 1 button is different, the switch mode between stills and video) and honestly I didn’t have very high expectations. But, that single key feature that I’m talking about is the dual pixel AF. If you are like me, tired and frustrated from using photo lenses with endless focus rotation on your camera no matter what brand you get, here comes Canon with a solution which was first introduced in their lower end DSLRs and higher priced EOS C line and changes the user experience forever. That AF system and the way it is implemented in the Canon EOS 1D X Mark II works mostly like a treat. Working with a responsive touch-screen LCD and changing focus points has never been this easy. Alternatively, if you are an old man like me who prefers to have the Kinotehnik LCDVF on the LCD, (for easier viewing and extra contact), then the little joystick on the right side becomes your best friend. One thing left for me to discover is how to momentary pause the servo AF when using the loupe. When wanting to do so with the touch screen it is as simple as pressing that function. As a side note, I tested the AF system with normal Canon photo zoom lenses and the Tokina 11-16mm. Operation was NOT silent and was at rare times a bit hesitant, but all in all, it worked wonderfully, to the point that I shot the entirety of the video review I produced as part of my test in autofocus mode. What Else is New? If you ask yourself what else is new besides the dual pixel AF, then I’m happy to report that the Canon 1D X MarK II can now shoot 50/60 fps in 4K mode. No other DSLR can currently do that. Also, in full HD 100/120p was added. I did not, however, test those during my review. (Those resolutions were tested in our lab. Full lab test review is coming soon). The camera itself has a CF and a CFast card slot. A good, fast CF card will allow you to record at 4K/25p without a hitch (the camera did not shut down on me due to overheating either), but if you would like to explore the world in 4K/50/60p, you will need a good, reliable CFast card. Canon chose to use the same encoding system (MJPG) used in the Canon 1D C and the result are huge files that will eat through your card’s memory. I really wanted to restore my faith in Canon DSLRs with the EOS 1D X Mark II, but there is still much that has to be done, as you’ll see below. Last but not least: Canon, take my free advice and put that 4K image quality and various frame rates into your upcoming 5D Mark IV. Add a C-log for the filming crowd and enable 4K external HDMI recording. You have a lovely colour science that is waiting to be explored once again. Come back to the DSLR user community with a working tool we can afford and proudly use for our creative work. Canon EOS 1D X Mark II Pros: (in no particular order) World camera with no need to format the card after switching standards Dual Pixel AF is a treat to use Dual DIGIC 6+ processors Nice 4K video image quality Good preamps and clear built-in audio Very responsive touch-screen Good low light performance (up to ISO 6400) Headphone and mic sockets Improved rolling shutter effect over the Canon 1D C Shooting 50/60p in 4K mode is possible Canon EOS 1D X Mark II Cons: (in no particular order) Ancient internal encoding system. Easy to edit on fast computers (and grab individual shots) but eats valuable card space fast No C log picture profile No 4K external recording No zoom magnification during filming No swivel LCD screen Crop factor when recording in 4K is now narrower the APS-H and closer to APS-C No screen layouts for simulating different aspect ratios. Unusable HD mode Conclusion: The new Canon EOS 1D X Mark II is first and foremost a professional photo camera that can shoot high quality video too. Like all previous 1D cameras, this one is also built like a tank. When it comes to pricing, the new Canon is $2000 cheaper then Canon EOS 1D C with no significant difference in picture quality. The added dual pixel AF makes the overall working experience easier and more pleasant to start with, but you have to ask yourself if there are more cost-effective cameras for the money. As for myself, I won’t hesitate using this camera in upcoming creative projects, as I’m anxious to test that dual pixel AF system again. Furthermore, I hope to use it together with Canon’s new compact servo 18-80mm zoom lens as together they seem to be an interesting combo. Camera settings for this video: .MOV file format, 4K 25p recording settings. Mostly shot between ISO 300 to 1000-1250. Picture Profile: Neutral. All audio was recorded in camera with an external microphone. Light set-up for the interview: Kinotehnik Practilite 602. Edited in Adobe Premiere CC latest edition and graded with Filmconvert (Canon 1D C Neutral preset). Music: Art-List. Used themes: “Other Scenario by Lana Inspired“ A special thank you to Sandra Haischberger, Lilith, Silvie and Rosie from feinedinge. To learn more about their work, please click here. NOTE: B&H, CVP and Canon are currently running a special promotion of adding a 64GB CFast 2.0 card and reader at the same price of a body only when buying the camera. For Sebastian’s lab review “Canon 1D X Mark II vs. Canon 1D C – Which One Shoots Better Video?” Article. Please click here.Read more
Update: Nikon just released an important firmware updates that allows to shoot more than 3 minutes in UHD 4K. After the update, the limit is the normal 29 minutes and 59 seconds that we have gotten used to from DSLR and smaller interchangeable lens cameras. Another interesting improvement is the introduction of Electronic vibration reduction (VR). Read more about it here. To download the latest firmware, please click here. Back in January 2016, Nikon announced the introduction of two new cameras—the professional flagship Nikon D5 and the “advanced Joe” Nikon D500. The first one is currently shipping to selected customers and will soon be available for everyone. As the new Nikon D5 will be competing head to head with the new Canon EOS-1D X Mark II, I was curious to see how well it behaves in the field and how good the video quality is. Before I continue with this review, here is a bit of nostalgia. I miss my Nikon D90, the first DSLR that could shoot video. Back in the day, it was a lot of fun. Okay, let’s move on. For years, Nikon was in the shade of Canon when it comes to the video capabilities of DSLR camera. Then, the pulley turned around, and Nikon started emphasizing the video functionality in their cameras by producing almost artifact free (moiré and aliasing), exceptional HD video quality. Now that the trend is moving towards 4K, I’m very pleased to report that Nikon is continuing with their tradition, and the Nikon D5 is no exceptional when it comes to 4k (UHD) video quality. As always with Nikon cameras, I have to divide my experience between the video quality and camera functionality when shooting video. The video quality in 4k (UHD) mode is very satisfying. With a data rate of 125 Mbit/s, the H264 video in MOV container is very pleasing to the eyes. There is alway something aesthetically pleasant to Nikon’s video quality. It’s the ergonomics and the operational side that leave this camera with a lot to be desired. In so many cases you need two hands to complete a single task (punching zoom is an example of this). The re-rooting/assigning of buttons is very limited and after pressing the REC button, some essential functionalities like punching zoom to assure correct focusing is not possible. I can only dream that the day will come and Nikon, a company that has no video department to protect, will take their colour science and overall video quality and pack it in a “video operator user-friendly housing”. The above video was shot simulating a documentary situation work, but I honestly think that the Nikon D5 will do better in a controlled environment. One of the primary reasons is the absence of a proper autofocus function in video mode. It’s sluggish and unreliable. The touch screen will allow you to choose a focus point, but then you need to press the shutter button half way through—and hope that the camera will not hunt for the desired focus point. If you are a single operator like me, I guess that working with a gimbal with this particular camera won’t be possible. While autofocus is not really an option when shooting video with this camera, the LCD screen is very sharp and makes manual focusing a breeze. I attached a Kinotechnik LCDVF to it and never had an issue pinpoint focusing. To succinctly represent my experience, I’ve listed the Pros and Cons I found when working with the camera (in no particular order): Nikon D5 Pros: Exceptional, sharp, and good looking 4k (UHD) video quality at 125 Mbit/s Very clean high ISO picture. You can comfortably shoot at ISO 6400. Higher then that there is noise but still at a usable video quality Flat picture profile (to my tired eyes that FL picture profile looks a bit strange and not flat at all but when applying an LUT to it, it works)…. The Nikon D5 is being sold in two flavours, equipped with either XQD or CF cards slots Almost entirely smooth aperture control of electronic lenses via assigned buttons “Highlights protection” which acts like a Zebra pattern. (function is limited as you can not choose different values) Built in “time-lapse movie” function (not tested) Multiple REC buttons options on the camera body You can assign a button to quickly change between FX (FF), DX (crop) and x3.0 modes Can record 4K (UHD) externally and on the camera card internally simultaneously Good battery life Headphone and Mic sockets Audio levels can be controlled during recording World camera with a large variety of resolutions and frame rates up to 4K/30p Nikon D5 Cons: Limited 3 min recording time per clip in 4K (UHD) mode (Fixed)! Limited 10 stops of dynamic range according to our lab test (a full lab test review is coming soon) Dual card slots but only for photo functions Low bitrate in HD mode (21 Mbit/s) No peaking Limited re-rooting and assigning button functionality 1.5 cropped 4k (UHD) image makes it an APS-C camera for 4K recordings “Thin” audio quality when connecting an external microphone No way to adjust headphones levels after pressing the record button No way to magnify zoom after pressing the REC button The video resolution and frame rate can not be changed in “Lv movie mode”. One needs to set Lv to photo mode in order to do so first and then switch back to video mode Touch screen for assigning focus points but not to drive the lens motor to go there Strong rolling shutter. Equivalent to the Sony a7 family No articulated screen Conclusion: The Nikon D5 can produce beautiful imagery but is let down by a limited 3 minutes per clip recording time in 4K (UHD), alongside ergonomics and functionality that would frustrate any user who would expect smooth & direct access to some of the camera features. I can only hope that the upcoming Nikon D500 will retain the same video quality of the Nikon D5 with the ability to record longer video clips—at a much more affordable price it has the potential to become a real winner and put the flagship camera to shame. About the above video: Shot in 4K (UHD)/25p mode. Picture profile-FL. ISO setting, from 100 (outdoor) to 1600 (Indoor). The audio in the interview in this video was recorded internally on the camera. Edited in Adobe Premiere CC and colour corrected with FilmConvert D800 profile. Music supplied by Art-List. Tracks: Everyone’s Here by Alon Ohana – The Band Is Back, Spark For Love (Instrumental) by Elvis D Preacher, Likes by Lady Lane A special thank you to Karin, Jannah and Daniel for participating in this video. Click here to learn more about their Immerland projectRead more
Nikon just announced 3 new cameras. Alongside their 4K 360-Degree Action Camera, here are the first two Nikon 4K DSLR cameras: The Nikon D5 and Nikon D500. Nikon D5 The Nikon D5 is the successor to the high-end Nikon D4, an expensive, professional full-frame photo camera. The news for us video shooters is that Nikon has finally entered the 4K video market and packs the Nikon D5 with Ultra HD video capture capabilities, clean HDMI output for external 4K recording, and a highly sensitive full-frame sensor. Unfortunately, the framerates on this camera max out at 30p for 4K (UHD). Also, as our friends at nofilmschool pointed out, the camera’s maximum recording time for 4K (UHD) seems to be 3 minutes (according to Nikon’s D5 tech specifications). That certainly isn’t enough for people serious about video so let’s move on to the D500. Tech Specs: 20.8MP FX-Format CMOS Sensor EXPEED 5 Image Processor 3.2″ 2.36m-Dot Touchscreen LCD Monitor 4K UHD Video Recording at 30 fps Multi-CAM 20K 153-Point AF System Native ISO 102,400, Extend to ISO 3,280,000 12 fps Shooting for 200 Shots with AE/AF 180k-Pixel RGB Sensor and Group Area AF 14-Bit Raw Files and 12-Bit Raw S Format 1000 Base-T Gigabit Wired LAN Support The Nikon D5 is available for pre-order and costs $6,496 (LINK) Nikon D500 The Nikon D500 is the second Nikon 4K DSLR introduced today. At a much lower price of $2,000 the D500 also shoots 4K (UHD), but has a smaller aps-c sized sensor. Unlike the D5, the maximum recording time of the D500 seems to be the standard 30 minutes. Important for video, the Nikon D500 has a swivel LCD, improved auto-focus, a high ISO sensitivity, zebra functionality and a flat picture profile to harness dynamic range, which can help to get a natural look when grading more easily. Like the D5, the D500 uses optional XQD media alongside an SD card slot and offers uncompressed 4K (UHD) HDMI output in 8-bit 4:2:2. The Nikon D500 certainly looks like the camera to choose if you’re interested in a Nikon 4K DSLR camera, being more suited for video with its swivel LCD and 30-minute recording time. Whether the quality lives up to our expectations will have to be determined in our upcoming camera reviews. Stay tuned. Tech Specs: 20.9MP DX-Format CMOS Sensor EXPEED 5 Image Processor 3.2″ 2,539k-Dot Tilting Touchscreen LCD 4K UHD Video Recording at 30 fps Multi-CAM 20K 153-Point AF System Native ISO 51200, Extend to ISO 1640000 10 fps Shooting for Up to 200 Frames Built-In Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC In-Camera Time Lapse, Up to 9999 Frames The Nikon D500 is available for pre-order and costs $2,000 (LINK) Also available: Nikon D500 with 16-80mm Kit-Lens for $3,067 (LINK)Read more
We only send updates about our most relevant articles. No spam, guaranteed! And if you don't like our newsletter, you can unsubscribe with a single click. Read our full opt-out policy here.