Canon 7D and T2i on a Video Podcast Set

Nerd Blerp Interview: Mike Fontaine And Dave Woodruff from Nerd Blerp on Vimeo.

Recently, my buddies over at NerdBlerp.com invited me over to come to their Podcast. Being the camera geek that I am, I volunteered to use it to test the video abilities of the T2i and the 7D. So how do they fare? Check out the video above and keep reading for some more insights.

Purpose of the Shoot

NerdBlerp’s agenda for this podcast was to show off the creation of the mask being made for one of their hosts for this year’s Comic Con. Therefore, it is really a behind the scenes look and it was all done very informally. This is why you see the lights in some of the angles in addition to the fact that you can see that this was done in a kitchen with lots of plastic on the floor.

The shoot took a couple of hours. Setup wasn’t tremendously long, perhaps under a half hour. Because of the informal nature of the shooting, there was some zooming in vs. just zooming with our feet.

Points of Reference

The intro was shot using the T2i and the 50mm F1.8 and the shot-reverse-shots were done with the 7D and 24-105mm F4 L IS.

Equipment Used

Canon 7D

Canon T2i

50mm F1.8 II

24-105mm F4 L IS

Canon VIXIA HF200

Rode Videomic

Also be sure to check out our recommended list of lenses to use for DSLR videography.

On Set

This was all shot using lots of natural lighting coming in from the window in the kitchen. Additionally, tungsten lights were used and being aimed into umbrellas on light stands. One tungsten light was placed behind the Canon HF200 while it was mounted on a tripod. The other light was to the left of the interviewees. You’re able to see it at times.

Doing this provided more than enough lighting and this is also how lots of the really crispy details that you see on camera were captured.

For all the small podcast shooters, I want to emphasize just how important good lighting it. It is the difference between great amounts of detail and none at all. Additionally, great lighting coupled with accurate focusing can provide for a video that more people will actually want to look at. This goes double for when you are shooting people or products.

So while you may think that your great camera and great lenses will be enough: think again. Invest in a lighting kit of some sort. It will be useful for photoshoots and videos.

This also goes for well controlled audio. For the area we were in the Rode Videomic did the job fine enough.

All this goes triple for great focusing. Digital zoom will also not cut it from those tiny camcorders.

Cameras In Use

As a photographer, I have a love/hate relationship with the 50mm F1.8 II. As a cinematographer, I love it. Some of the main faults of this lens (lack of sharpness wide open and faulty autofocus) are solved in video. With video, a user has more time to set up and so they can ensure that the aperture is stopped down enough to ensure optimal sharpness in the taping process. Additionally, when you’re shooting this way you’re most likely going to manually focus. This eliminates any autofocus problems that may arise and therefore plague this otherwise wonderful lens.

Coupled with the T2i and 7D APS-C sized sensor, you’ll be able to get all that you need in focus while providing for some very lovely depth of field that is rendered.

The HF200 was shooting in 1080p at 60i while the two DSLRs were shooting at 1080p 30p. Jonathan fixed all this in post processing. The sensor on this camera is very tiny, so users won’t really have anything to worry about it as it is much more consumer oriented.

The HF200 stayed on the tripod the entire time and almost never moved. The other angles were all shot with the DSLRs.

The T2i allows manual control in video mode if you enable it in the menu system. The unit I received was a little quirky: the ISO can be adjusted in video mode, but the first time I did it, I needed to hold down the ISO button and then adjust. Afterwards, I was able to just press the ISO button and turn the scroll wheel.

On the shoot, I was not able to figure any of this out until told about this by a Canon rep. Since the T2i was in auto video mode, it automatically adjusts brightness and darkness as you’ll see in some of the shots. This can be a bummer for the more guerrilla style of video that journalists may do at times as it means that you’ll have to deal with unsightly image noise in post processing.

That doesn’t mean that it is a terrible video camera though. In fact, it was the most comfortable to hold. It actually felt like a camcorder with the 24-105mm F4 L IS on it. The T2i is light and the body essentially allows for point-and-shoot video shooting with a great lens. Stack a microphone on this and you’ll be all set, although the on-camera microphones aren’t too bad when in an environment like this.

If users want more manual control over their images, it is recommended that you buy a Voigtlander 20mm F3.5 or a 40mm F2.0 as these lenses have aperture rings to do so. You’d also probably be better off controlling your audio from an external unit like a Beachtek adapter. See our list of essential items here.

The 7D will allow for full manual control over your video, but not your audio the way that the 5D Mk II will. This can be much more useful with the rest of your Canon EOS lenses. It allowed the 7D to stay around the ISO 800-1250 range and still allow for great dynamic range levels as well as retaining great levels of detail in certain areas.

The 7D was used with both lenses and the Rode videomic. Of both cameras, this one was easier to use because of the manipulation options available, the ergonomics.

In contrast, the T2i gave me two warnings that my card was filling up and the buffer wasn’t able to keep up while filming. Perhaps this is because of the lack of dual DIGIC IV processors the camera may be working harder itself. The 7D has two processors. Canon recommends using SDHC cards with UDMA support with the T2i because of this.

The T2i allows users the change their focusing type, white balance, video shooting mode, and a couple of other options in HD video mode. On a film set, you won’t really care for these as they won’t give you exactly what you need. To do this, you need to press the “Q” button and then you’re allowed the manipulation options.

Still though, for video usage, the lighter feel of the T2i is much more appreciated vs the 7D’s more rugged and solidly built DSLR-esque body.

As for audio, the Rode Videomic coupled with Canon’s automatic adjustment levels in the T2i and in the 7D worked like a charm in the environment. However, I do miss being able to monitor the audio via headphones and a beachtek adapter the way I did back in college. Perhaps I may even purchase a Beachtek adapter soon as 2D-x.com podcasts are in the works and the staff is tossing ideas back and forth.

This all said, one can conclude that in terms of audio control, the Canon 5D Mk II does have an advantage over the other two despite not being able to shoot in 60p HD video. If you don’t care for 60p (the way I don’t) then you’ll be fine.

Perhaps Canon will offer these lacking features in a future firmware update to the cameras.

What you actually also see a little bit of is jello when not using image stabilized lenses. However, I’ve never seen this personally on my own MacBook when shooting nor on my PC. Perhaps it could attest to the editing and Jon’s camera using 60i vs my DSLRs and 30p.

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