With magic lantern firmware and the tragic lantern fork coming up to speed on the 7D development, this camera has now come up to speed and in some instances surpassed the 5DmkII in features.
With the recent development of RAW for the Canon DSLRs, mainly the 5D mkIII and mkII, the 7D has been late to the game and was a tough nut to crack due to its dual digics. Then a breakthrough came, and after ironing out the kinks plus the development of MLV, the 2nd gen raw recording code that can also add sound recording at 48 khz stereo, 7D now has a relatively stable Magic Lantern firmware.
To sum it up, here's a roundup of the important film making features the 7D can now do.
Raw recording in 14bit DNGs with sound.
No 4gig limit due to file spanning.
In-camera playback of raw video.
Variable frame rates from .4 (yes there's a point) to 60 FPS.
Exposure aids like Zebras, Histogram, Waveform, Vectorscope
Focusing aids like Peaking, Digic Peaking, Magic Zoom
3X Crop mode
up to 2048 x 930 at 23.976fps in crop mode
2512 X 1068 at 17fps raw recording in crop mode.
Separate gain controls for both L and R channels.
Sampling rate from 48,44,22,11, and 8khz
Analog and digital gain controls.
External input and internal mic recording simultaneously.
Headphone monitoring via usb (still buggy)
The 7D has a faster data rate and better handling of buffer data than the mkII so it's capable of recording a slightly higher resolution in crop mode.
For instance, while the 5dmkII can do 2048x820 continuously, the 7D can do 2048x930. The 5DmkII was a max width at 2144, the 7D can do 2512.
The 7D can also do 50 and 60P, the 5dmkII is only up to 30P.
Even when recording raw video, the canon dslrs still do line skipping in 1x normal mode. Aliasing and moire is still there, the 5dmkIII though has an agressive OLPF that solved this.
In crop mode however, the recording is 1:1 pixel so this has been greatly diminished, and with resolution widths at 2048 and 2512, this is practically a non issue.
2048x930 (click to enlarge)
2512x1068 (click to enlarge)
Currently, the CF cards that I have tested on the 7D at these resolutions are the 1000X and 1050X from KomputerBay as well as those from Lexar, the KB 1050x is slightly slower but can still do most of the resolutions the KB 1000X can do and in some cases a resolution lower.
With these cards the highest frame rate I can do at 2512 x 1068 is only 17fps. It's possible a faster card could increase this frame rate but for now its at 17fps. But hey, back in the day, 8mm film was at 16fps and the GoPro Hero 3+ is doing 4K at only 15fps so there must be some use for this feature like static shots our those with subtle motion changes for instance.
I've ran some motion tests comparing 17fps vs 24fps and I think it can be used for certain situations.
Simple human motion test.
(click image to play video)
Vehicles motion test.
(click image to play video)
Raw files are huge, at around 4gig a minute so be prepared to allocate some serious HDD space and some fast and high capacity cf cards.
Right now, there are programmers making apps to extract the DNGs and WAV files from the MLV files that the camera is recording.
You can then import the extracted DNGs to either Da Vinci Resolve or After Effects for initial grade or for roundtripping to your NLE.
Here is a sample piece shot in 2048x930 uploaded into YouTube at 2K. (click image to play video)
Good, Fast and.. FREE ! New Resolve Lite 10 offers Industry standard color correction and non-linear editing.
Da Vinci Resolve Lite version 10 is available for download FREE at the Black Magic Design website and it is feature packed. The features in the lite and free version would offer so much more than some dedicated NLE that users have to buy!
Aside from having a built in NLE it also has a basic titler.
Another improvement that would interest users of the Canon DSLRs with Magic Lantern Raw video is that this version apparently has fixed the purple fringing in highlights that plagued raw footage processed by version 9.
Below are samples from a previous test I did using the crop mode of the 5DmkII raw video. It shows the difference between version 9 and 10.
Click on image to enlarge.
Click on image to enlarge.
Shooting in 3X Crop Mode with Canon 5D mkII, mkIII and 7D.
Magic Lantern has another neat trick for the canon DSLR and that is enabling it to shoot sharper images with a 1:1 pixel crop from the sensor with no line skipping. The image is a 3X crop from normal 1080P, essentially similar in crop factor to the new Black Magic Cinema Camera (2.88x).
How is it enabled and how good does it look ?
Testing KomputerBay 256gig 1200X CF card for 5DmkII,III and 7D
Go to TechTalk to see test.
Taking the Raw video capable 5DmkII for an evening stroll.
installed on my 5D mkII, I took an early evening stroll at Lost Creek Ranch to get some footage.
I brought a single lens, the 24-105 f4L, knowing that with the new crop mode feature in Magic Lantern firmware I basically have "2 lenses" with me. With the 3X crop I would have an equivalent of a 24-315 mm lens.
Shooting at dusk would stress test the dynamic range of the footage.
Using a couple of 64gig 1000X KomputerBay CF cards I shot around 93 gigabytes of raw footage.
Conformed and graded the DNG files in DaVinci Resolve and finished in Edius.
I also used a Mosaic VAF5d2 to minimize aliasing and moire.
Since I dare not take out the filter in the field, the crop mode shots' a bit soft.
Ideally, since the crop mode is 1:1 pixel with no line skipping, you should not use the VAF when its engaged to get a sharp image. I still find the images quite usable.
It's hard to go back to shooting with H264 on a DSLR when you've shot with 14bit raw.
1080P version in YouTube
FREE Guide to installing and using Magic Lantern Raw video by DVXUser available for download.
Bells Ring, Mr. King is an official entry to the 29th Los Angeles Asia Pacific Film Festival
The short film I directed is about a multitasking undocumented home-health caregiver working in the U.S. suffering from an acute case of homesickness.
Written by Lorely Trinidad and starring Mitzi Ibaya it will be screened this coming May 4 at 4:45 P.M at the Directors Guild of America Theater 2.
BRMK was the 2012 Gawad Urian nominee for best short film in the Philippines.
The way of the foot and fist, a martial arts school documentary
I recently did a documentary presentation for a martial arts school based in Irving, Texas. When I had a preproduction meeting with Master John Monroe, the founder, Korean Taekwondo Institute was preparing to celebrate its 20th year of operations, this event provided us with a sense of urgency to fast track production in time for the video to premiere on its anniversary celebration.
Having set up my production company in the U.S. just recently, this production allowed me an opportunity to assess my equipment and current capabilities but at the same time presented challenges like the fact that I still have no assistants and will have to do the production solo.
The subject matter also presented challenges, to make martial arts and interviews dynamic required at least a 2 camera shoot, adequate lighting and good sound.
Currently I am using DSLRs, that would also present challenges, however, due to developments made to the DSLR workflow by such companies like mosaic engineering and software developers like those with Magic Lantern have made DSLRs a viable option for projects like this.
Mosaic engineering made the OLPF that I currently use thus eliminating moiré and aliasing found in most DSLR footage due to line skipping and with Magic Lantern software, the 5D mkII can now have capabilities far beyond what it was originally made to do, among those are the ability to use headphone monitoring, multi track audio, variable frame rates and HDR video.
Here is a link to my tests with the Mosaic filter:
I wouldn't be using most of those features for this project but a few are important, the ability to monitor sound, control audio gain for 2 separate audio channels and, very important in doing interviews, the ability to automatically continue recording after the 4 gig limit has been reached. Working alone, the auto restart recording feature allowed me to do long sit down interviews and with multi cameras without the need for another operator.
With a very tight deadline and a post production time of only 4 days I needed to find a workflow that is faster. One way to achieve this is to ditch dual system sound and record audio straight to camera. Those working with Canon DSLRs and a separate sound recorder know how challenging this is. I have a ZOOM H4n sound recorder and with certain shotguns, the built in pre amps is just not good enough, giving me a wave form of around -24db only. This is not good enough since this takes a lot of fixing post.
I found a cheap portable pre-amp made by Applied Research and Technology (ART) called the USB Dual Pre which is just a little more than $30 and provides 48v Phantom and up to +48db of gain. It's light enough to be modified for rail mounting thus making it part of a portable filming rig.
Lighting is a combination of tungsten redheads and fluorescent soft boxes.
This filming system together with several DIY rigs I made, like the Plywood Skater and mini track allowed me to produce the documentary by myself and on schedule.
Click on image links below to play video.
3D logo animations for Dallas Marathon live broadcast
Ramasola productions was commissioned to do the motion graphics and 3D animated logo for the recent Dallas Marathon live broadcast. A production of Silver Horn Entertainment, they required a fast turn around and that the final product contained alpha channels for composition over scenes from the event.
More in tech talk.
In Tech talk; DIY Variable ND, does it work?
The 3 part documentary series aired on November 8, 15 &17 2012 on ABC WFAA8.
It is the story of three real-life heroes as they face the uncertainty of cancer in Dallas.
This was a production of Silverhorn Entertainment for Baylor health care system.
Click image to view the entire episode.
The 2nd Annual Pilipino American Film Festival at UCLA will screen the short film I directed, Bells Ring, Mr. King in L.A. on Oct. 30.
How to make a Mattebox with adjustable filter trays.
Step by step guide posted in the DIY corner.
Click to enlarge.
Click image to play video
DIY DSLR Rig with various configurations for different shooting conditions.
Head over to our DIY Corner.
Creating a 3D Chocolate Hills animation in Tech Talk page.
Making your own LCD finder or loupe for your DSLR.
The Plywood Skater, for curved and straight camera moves.
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