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The Beginners’ Guide to DSLR Video DSLR video guidebook
EOS CAMERAS WITH HD VIDEO Canon first launched HD Video capability in the EOS 5D Mark II camera of 2008. Since then, it’s found its way into nearly every subsequent- ly-introduced camera. EOS cameras with HD video capability (as of mid-2016) include:
• EOS-1D X (all); Mark IV
• EOS Rebel T4i~T6i
• EOS Rebel SL1
• EOS Rebel T3i, T3
• EOS Rebel T1i, T2i
Not every model has the same capabilities and video features; some of the differences include:
FULL HD VIDEO AT 1920X1080 PIXELS All models (as of mid-2016) except the EOS Rebel T3 do offer full 1920x1080 video reso- lution; the Rebel T3 shoots its high-definition video at 1280x720 (sometimes called “720p”). The EOS 5D Mark II does not offer this 720p setting.
60 (OR 50) FPS VIDEO RECORDING AT REDUCED RESOLUTIONS Most recent Canon EOS DSLRs offer a high- er frames per second (fps) rate at the 720p resolution. Recording at 60 fps (or 50 fps, if camera is set to the “PAL” system) gives very smooth rendering of any movement in video; it can be played back at either this smooth 60/50fps, or at a web-standard 30 fps. The landmark EOS 5D Mark II does not offer 60/50 fps recording when set to 640x480.
FULL HD 1920X1080 RECORDING LIMITED TO 20 FPS The EOS Rebel T1i model (only) was limited to a slower 20 fps frame rate when set to its highest video recording resolution; at reduced resolution, it operates at a faster, smoother 30 fps.
We’ll discuss how resolution and frames-per- second settings work later in this document. For now, we simply want to distinguish be- tween some of the features in different EOS models with HD video capability. Finally, there is no way to upgrade an earlier EOS model to make it record HD video, if it doesn’t already have the capability built-in at the factory.
2 The Beginners’ Guide to DSLR Video
SETTING UP FOR VIDEO EOS 5D MARK II This is the trickiest camera to switch from still-image shooting to HD video shooting, although it’s a quick procedure once you know the way. Unlike most other EOS HD- SLRs, it’s a menu-driven system:
2nd set-up Menu > Live View/Movie func settings
Press SET button > scroll to LV func setting
Press SET button.
Scroll to Stills + Movie; Press SET button
Scroll to Movie Display; Press SET button
This prepares the EOS 5D Mark II to shoot video. To actually record video, press the LIVE VIEW button (just to the left of the viewfinder); Live Viewing off the LCD monitor will start. Then, to actually record, press the rear SET button. A small red icon appears in the upper- right corner of the screen to indicate live recording is taking place. Press SET again to stop recording.
EOS-1D MARK IV; EOS-1D X 2nd set-up Menu >
Live View/Movie Func settings
Press SET button (rear of camera)
Scroll to LV (still icon/movie icon) settings; Press SET
Scroll to Movies. Press SET button.
To actually record video with the EOS-1D Mark IV, press the SET button (rear of camera) to activate Live View. You’ll hear the mirror go up, and the LCD monitor will display what the camera now sees through the lens. Press the top-mounted FEL button (it’s right next to the shutter button) to start video recording; press the FEL button again to stop.
CAMERAS WITH LIVE VIEW–VIDEO SWITCH Turn outer ring to the red video icon. Mirror will rise and LCD monitor goes live. Press START/STOP button to begin video recording; press again to stop. New
video file is created each time video recording is started with START/STOP button.
VIDEO SETTING ON MODE DIAL Turn the Mode Dial to the video icon. Some EOS models have a separate video setting on the Mode Dial. Turn the dial here to set the camera to be ready to record video.
Press the rear button with red dot icon to begin video recording; press again to stop recording.
VIDEO SETTING AT ON–OFF SWITCH On many EOS models, video shooting is accessed with the camera’s main On–
Off switch. A video icon appears past the ON setting—move the switch to that position to raise the mirror and have the camera ready to record. Press separate record button with red dot, usually on back of camera, to actually be- gin recording; press it again to stop.
3 The Beginners’ Guide to DSLR Video
VIDEO RESOLUTIONSENSOR SIZES SLR IMAGING SENSORS A huge advantage of the imaging sensor in a digital SLR is its size. Compared to the sensors of even a high-end video camera, a digital SLR’s sensor is far larger. This means the quality and even the basic appearance of video files with HD-SLRs are different from those recorded with traditional pro-level video cameras—let alone compact amateur camcorders.
Low-light sensitivity Since the sensor is so much larger, each pixel can be a lot larger as well. As pixel size on an imaging sensor grows, all else being equal, its light-gathering sensitivity grows as well. This isn’t terribly important in bright outdoor light- ing, but in dim lighting indoors, it can be a significant advantage.
And you’ll see that EOS HD-SLRs have a tre- mendous ability to record excellent quality video in dimly-lit conditions, with far less need to introduce additional artificial light into the scene. Digital SLRs often have far higher ISO abilities, vs. professional digital cameras, making them ideal for available - light recording.
Depth-of-field The larger the imaging sensor, the less ap- parent depth-of-field will result at similar distances and lens coverages. This means it’s far easier to throw backgrounds out of focus with an EOS HD-SLR than it usually is with a traditional video camera.
WHAT IS RESOLUTION? Simply stated, it’s the number of pixels used in a video frame in its finished image. Video files are recorded with EOS HD-SLRs at any of three available settings, depending on the model:
Full HD 1920x1080 This is the highest resolution available for most EOS HD-SLRs (as of mid-2016), and it matches the highest normally-available HDTV resolution of today’s flat-screen TVs. Furthermore, it matches or exceeds the reso- lution of many laptop computer monitors, as well as most digital projectors used for pre- sentations and similar applications.
There’s no question that 1920x1080 Full HD video has a wonderful clean, detailed and sharp look when viewed on a compatible output device. As the highest resolution setting for video recording with EOS cameras, it makes sense in situations such as the following:
• Video files you know you want to burn to Full HD Blu-Ray™ disks or similar super-high resolution disks
• Videos where you want the option to be able to edit and deliver a finished product that can be reproduced at the highest possible output quality
• Video files to be displayed at high- est resolution (normally) possible on web sites
Video shot at 1920x1080 and then played back directly on an HDTV looks absolutely fantastic, especially if the TV is a true Full HD 1920x1080 type.
The catch with Full HD 1920x1080 video is that the files will be massive in size, even if you edit and save them in a more highly-com- pressed file type. They’re often far too large for internet use on commercial web sites, and beyond what can be used on some popular video web sites.
Furthermore, if you plan to burn DVD disks, be aware that most consumer-level DVD players can’t read high-resolution video files. Beyond that, true Blu-Ray disks—the only real high-definition disk type now in common use— usually require specialized disk-burning soft- ware, special disk-burning “drives” dedicated to Blu-Ray production, as well as a true Blu- Ray disk player for viewing.
HD 1280x720 This is still considered High Definition video in today’s world, and actually a very commonly- used setting in many of the HD broadcasts we watch over the air today (regardless of the actual resolution of our HDTVs). It’s practical for several reasons for HD-SLR shooters who are recording video:
• The files still have lots of information in them, but are at least slightly smaller in file size, a benefit for storage and possi- bly editing time at the computer later.
4 The Beginners’ Guide to DSLR Video
FRAMES PER SECOND, OR FPS Video recording is a series of individual still images, or frames, shot and then displayed at a fast enough sequence that our eyes and brain perceive them as continuous moving images. EOS digital SLRs can record video at various rates, although choices will vary depending on the camera in question, and the resolution you’re asking it to record video at.
In general, higher frames per second rates (30 fps and up) will tend to record smoother movement, while slower fps rates (24 fps, or lower) will tend to appear a bit more choppy and seem to resemble the movement you see in actual films.
30 fps (actual 29.97 fps) This has become the de facto standard frames per second rate for North American TV, and for video displayed on the internet. Video shot at 30 fps will tend to appear quite smooth, and any movement of the camera and/or subject usually flows pretty smoothly as well. It would be a natural choice for video you intend to burn onto DVD disks, and also for any video you want or hope to display on a web site.
24 fps (actual 23.98 fps) This slower fps rate is actually preferred by many serious video shooters, especially those who value its more “film-like” look. Movement definitely will look slightly less smooth here, but when shot properly, far from choppy. It blends nearly perfectly with traditional movie film footage, if you ever need to combine video you shoot EOS HD-SLR video with existing film footage.
One is the internet. Whether you’re uploading a finished video to many typical photo & video-sharing sites, shooting video for your friend’s business web site, or any similar purpose, remember: the vast majority of web-based video today is still at resolutions of 640x480 or lower.
Another is if you want to burn DVDs of your video files (or finished, edited videos) for friends, family and acquaintances to view on standard home DVD players. These play stan- dard-definition DVDs, and are not normally compatible with HD video files. DVD burning software in many home computers, and DVD disk drives, are normally (as of mid-2016) com- patible only with 640x480 standard-definition video files.
You can record Full HD 1920 x1080, or HD 1280x720 videos in-camera, and then produce an edited copy that’s 640x480 in its final, fin- ished form. But, some users prefer to start with files as close to the actual final size that they can.
With many EOS models, you’ll be shooting 640x480 at a space-saving 30 fps, meaning files will be smaller in their original form, and require less work to upload to the web or burn to standard DVDs. Some EOS models, like the original EOS 7D, record standard-definition video at 60 or 50 fps, which gives any camera or subject movement a much smoother appear- ance. These video files can easily be changed during editing to a more conventional 30 fps for web use or other applications.
• They’re ideal for certain HD online video sites, and still represent a good starting point for files you intend to reduce in size for final actual use.
• Many EOS HD-SLRs let you shoot at 1280x720 using higher frames per second rates, such as 60 or 50 fps. At these higher recording speeds, you’ll get very smooth rendering of any move- ment during recording (great for action footage), and if it’s played back at a standard 30 fps, you’ll see something of a slow-motion effect.
We’ll discuss frames-per-second settings in more detail shortly.
Remember: you can always shoot a video file at a high resolution setting, and then in editing create a lower-resolution copy. The original file remains at full-resolution, and can always be re-edited later.
One important note: the Canon EOS 5D Mark II does not offer the 1280x720 reso- lution option.
Standard Definition 640x480 With the popularity of high resolution TVs, computer monitors, and so on, you may won- der what the possible usefulness of a stan- dard-definition 640x480 resolution setting might be. The thing to consider is the actual, final method you anticipate your video files may be viewed with.
5 The Beginners’ Guide to DSLR Video
will be better-served by reducing their reso- lution to 1280x720, and using the resulting 30 fps. However, the 20 fps is perfectly accept- able for scenes with little or no movement, and since it’s accompanied by Full HD 1920x1080 resolution, the amount of detail and clarity in these frames is outstanding.
When 24, 30 or 60 fps isn’t exactly what it seems... With most EOS digital SLRs, video frame rates of 24 fps, 30 fps, and 60 fps are actually a tad slower. This isn’t an accident or an engineering oversight. In fact, it’s something high-end video enthusiasts strongly requested. The actual frame rates are...
24 fps . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23.976 fps
30 fps . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29.97 fps
60 fps . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59.94 fps
These slightly slower fps rates conform pre- cisely to the North American NTSC television standard, and are preferred for precise video editing if you’re shooting or editing video for DVD, TV or the internet. There is no way, in- camera, to change these settings back to pre- cise 30.00 fps and similar. Note that the “PAL” settings—25 and 50 fps—are precisely 25.00 and 50.00 fps. Another point: early versions of the EOS 5D Mark II camera (with firmware lower than version 2.0.4) offered only 30 fps, and it was precisely 30.00 fps.
And, it’s relatively simple to convert original 60 fps video files to 30 fps or even 24 fps, to match other video files shot at industry-stan- dard fps rates. Movement in any scenes obvi- ously won’t look quite as smooth, but it will match up nicely with any other files taken at those speeds originally.
25 and 50 fps—the “PAL” settings These settings match the TV standards used in many parts of the world, such as Europe, South America, and much of Africa and Asia. To enable these settings, your camera’s “Video System” in the Set-up Menu has to be changed to the so-called “PAL” option. Once that’s done, when you go back to your video menu options, you’ll see that the fps options have changed from 24, 30 or 60 fps to 25 and 50 fps.
There’s little reason for most EOS video shoot- ers in the USA to choose these two frame rates, unless you need to either produce material for playback in those international regions via DVD, broadcast TV or by connecting the camera di- rectly to a PAL-compatible TV or HDTV.
20 fps This option is only available on the first EOS Rebel model with HD video capability, the Reb- el T1i. It’s the only fps option when the camera is set for Full HD 1920x1080 recording.
If you guessed that at 20 fps, video would tend to look rather choppy, you’d be correct. Rebel T1i users who are shooting movement
Video shot at 30 fps can fairly easily be converted to 24 fps during video editing. It’s possible to do the opposite, and convert 24 fps original video to 30 fps edited files, but the results are usually not as good as they would be if the video had been shot at 30 fps in the first place.
Important—special 24.00 fps setting Some EOS DSLRs have an additional, special video setting for 24.00 frames per second, instead of the standard 23.98 fps. This is in- tended only for matching video footage with actual movie film, and should never be used for normal digital video shooting.
60 fps Not all video-enabled Canon EOS models have a 60 fps option. Those that do allow it in conjunction with lower resolution, like HD 1280x720, or sometimes SD (Standard Defini- tion) 640x480.
Video at 60 fps has a super-smooth look for any movement, and may be a preferred set- ting when you want a very refined, flowing appearance to any movement in a scene. If files are kept at 60 fps, and played back at an industry-standard 30 fps, the result is a smooth slow-motion effect, although not the super-slow motion you sometimes see on net- work TV sports. Played back at the full 60 fps, the speed of recorded movement looks natu- ral, but with a super-smooth appearance that has a very modern look and feel to it.
6 The Beginners’ Guide to DSLR Video
AUTOMATIC EXPOSURE Out of the box, every EOS HD-SLR introduced to date will automatically set exposure during video recording. This means shutter speed, lens aperture, and the ISO rating will all be adjusted automatically by the camera, and will change during shooting if the light measured by the camera changes (for example, as you move the camera from a bright to dark area, or vice-versa).
Automatic exposure is an obvious convenience, and can be a practical answer when users need to shoot quickly. It’s normally quite reliable, and can be further adjusted by the user with Exposure Compensation (more on that in a moment).
With most EOS HD-SLRs, your choice is either to use the camera in a totally automatic expo- sure mode, or alternately to switch to manual exposure, and adjust your own shutter speeds and lens apertures.
Shutter-priority (Tv) and Aperture-priority (Av) Even though you can set the camera’s Mode Dial to these settings on most EOS HD-SLRs, if the camera has otherwise been set to video mode, it’ll revert to completely automatic, program auto exposure for video recording. Tv and Av usually are only in effect for still- image shooting.
Higher-end EOS cameras, like EOS 5D series cameras, the 7D Mark II, and EOS-1D X (and
1D X Mark II) will allow actual shutter- and aperture-priority video recording, if you se- lect the Tv or Av settings, respectively.
ISO settings during Automatic Exposure ISO is always automatic when the camera is set for automatic exposure video shooting—no ex- ceptions. The camera will vary ISO sensitivity as light in the scene changes, raising it to high- er settings when it reads dim light, and reacting to brighter light by lowering the ISO rating. The only way to manually set ISOs is to switch the camera to Manual exposure altogether.
ISOs in video work exactly the same as they do for still image shooting, in terms of what the numerical ratings mean. Just as you can expect more digital “noise” in a still image taken at a high ISO rating, you can expect similar increases in digital noise as video ISOs are raised.
Any disadvantages to Automatic Exposure? You’ll often hear video experts preach against using any form of automatic exposure control. And for their extremely critical purposes, there may be some validity to what they say. Many of these users don’t want the camera to be visibly changing exposure, even if the camera pans through areas of different illumination in a scene. Furthermore, their feeling is that the camera won’t always produce exposures that match their very…