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#1 Joshua Alderson

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Posted 16 December 2011 - 10:53 PM

Hi

I currently own a Canon 550D and even though it is a fantastic camera I believe I'm now comfortable to upgrade to a more professional camera. I have been doing some research online comparing camera but I just cannot seem to make a decision after weighing all the pro's and con's. As a result I think the more knowledgeable people on this forum could help.

Ideally I would like a camera under £1500 but I'm willing to up to £2200 if finance is available. I'd be using it for short films mostly and maybe music videos. As silly as this may sound what I want to achieve in terms of quality is to be able to watch my films on full screen without too much quality degrading. Currently my Canon 550D looks great on youtube when played in the small screen mode but when switched to full screen the quality degrades significantly. Therefore I need a camera that is sharper and for that reason I looked at the 5D mark 2 but something tells me I'll regret my purchase seeing as it is a DSLR. I have been looking at camcorders and the XA10 seemed perfect and I was content with buying it until I realized it didn't have 60P and for me slow motion is essential.

Does anyone have any ideas? I was also looking at the XF100 but there doesn't seem to be a lot of information or sample videos that really show its potential. Also I'm open to any brand and not just Canon and I would like to stick to digital recording methods like SD cards CF cards or internal SSD/HDD's.

Thanks, Josh

Edited by Joshua Alderson, 16 December 2011 - 10:56 PM.

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#2 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 17 December 2011 - 06:58 AM

The next step up is probably a Sony FS100, but that's twice your maximum budget.

Personally I'd say stick with the 550D. You could do better, but you could also do a lot worse. For your proposed budget you won't get a nice big-chip look anywhere else. The 5D won't be noticeably sharper than the 550.

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#3 Emanuel A Guedes

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Posted 17 December 2011 - 08:56 AM

True words. There's something else what can offer you a sharper 1080p outcome anyway. An hacked under $1000 GH2 camera.


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#4 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 17 December 2011 - 10:08 AM

I only saw a little GH1 footage but it always seemed terribly overcompressed to me. The aliasing and sharpness are certainly somewhat better than the Canon series but it seems to have a particular tendency to become noisy and muddy if underexposed, but then also clipped and electronic if overexposed, since it lacks the low noise floor of the 5D.

I'm not sure how much better the GH2 is.


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#5 Joshua Alderson

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Posted 17 December 2011 - 04:12 PM

True words. There's something else what can offer you a sharper 1080p outcome anyway. An hacked under $1000 GH2 camera.



Wow! that GH2 footage looks amazing? I'm guessing that is the hacked version? I thought the GH2 was in the same range as the 550D?

I will definitely look into this as this is exactly the kinda image quality I want

Thanks!

Josh
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#6 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 17 December 2011 - 07:34 PM

I thought the GH2 was in the same range as the 550D?





It is, it just suffers rather less from aliasing and lack of sharpness. The sensor is smaller than the 550 so the selective depth-of-field isn't as pronounced and the noise and dynamic range aren't as good, and bear in mind that the 550 isn't quite as good as the 5D. My impression is that the codec also isn't quite as good. The data rates certainly aren't, at least without the hacked firmware, the reliability of which is not guaranteed. The base performance of the camera is, on paper, probably better than the 550.


Whether you actually like the pictures more is another matter.


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#7 Freya Black

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Posted 17 December 2011 - 07:47 PM

Wow! that GH2 footage looks amazing? I'm guessing that is the hacked version? I thought the GH2 was in the same range as the 550D?

I will definitely look into this as this is exactly the kinda image quality I want

Thanks!

Josh


It might also be worth checking out magic lantern to increase your bitrate on the 550d.
I understand there is a fully working 550d version now!

I wonder if you might be having a workflow issue with your uploads too which is another thing to think about!

love

Freya
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#8 Joshua Alderson

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Posted 17 December 2011 - 08:18 PM

Hmmm I did check out ML for my 550D a while back and didn't notice to much of a difference when increasing the Q scale. I think its partly because there isnt as much head room with the 550d in terms of improvements whereas (from what I have seen so far) the gh2 has a lot of headroom with increasing the codec bit rate.

As for my render settings I initially thought the same thing, however after messing around with a bunch of different settings I do believe I have the best settings achievable using H264 so any compression that's affecting my quality is minimal. Although definitely worth reconsidering and looking into getting better quality results.

One question regarding the GH2: does it have 60 progressive frames like the 550D? Like I mentioned before I use slow motion a lot and I haven't been able to find a lot of information regarding exact frame rates and when I searched youtube all the slow motion videos looked like 60i as there was a lot of lag unlike the smooth slow motion progressive provides.
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#9 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 17 December 2011 - 09:05 PM

I'm not sure, but I believe the GH2 will do 60p at 1280x720 into an AVCHD file, which is broadly what the 550D will do.

I'm even less sure about this, but I have a feeling that you can get a clean HDMI feed out of a GH2, as well, which means you can potentially record it on an external recorder, either uncompressed or much less compressed.

I still don't think it offers you much over the 550, certainly not enough to bother switching.

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#10 Joshua Alderson

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Posted 18 December 2011 - 12:43 AM

I'm not sure, but I believe the GH2 will do 60p at 1280x720 into an AVCHD file, which is broadly what the 550D will do.

I'm even less sure about this, but I have a feeling that you can get a clean HDMI feed out of a GH2, as well, which means you can potentially record it on an external recorder, either uncompressed or much less compressed.

I still don't think it offers you much over the 550, certainly not enough to bother switching.

P


Ah yes I noticed that as well, I've seen a few places that mentioned higher bitrates through HDMI outputs which is a big plus.
From what I knew about the GH2 it was a pretty standard entry level HDSLR like my 550D was, but i'm positive that with the hack the quality looks better than the 5DMK2, even a 5Dmk2 with ML doesn't look as good. Could it be my eyes? LOL. When I look at videos that are 66Mbp/s or faster it looks just as good as a 5D Mark 2. Maybe I'm wrong though and I'm just telling myself what I want to hear haha
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#11 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 18 December 2011 - 08:22 AM

I've seen a few places that mentioned higher bitrates through HDMI outputs which is a big plus.


Well, HDMI is uncompressed, which is... good, if huge. However, there are problems with that approach. First is the cost of the recorder, which of course has to be a recorder that's significantly better than the internal recording otherwise what's the point. You could (probably, assuming a few things) choose to record it on one of Blackmagic's Shuttle recorders, but the cost of the recorder and a few SSDs would be several times the cost of the camera, before you even factor in backup and long term storage. There are other, cheaper-to-use recorders which would probably still be considerably better than the inbuilt one. Secondly, some of these cameras wrap the video stream up in complicated ways, perhaps duplicating fields and frames to get a 24p video stream into a 60i signal. This is done because it's supposed to be a viewing output for a monitor, not a signal output for recording. Some recorders have the ability to recognise this and discard the duplicated information, with various levels of reliability. Then you have to ensure your post path and backup procedure will handle the data from a recorder. You would have to do that anyway, with the inbuilt recorder, but if you were using an external recorder the bitrate would be higher and you might end up with different file formats to edit.

None of this is insurmountable and I have done it all, but it's worth considering if it's worthwhile for your situation. It may be, it may not.

From what I knew about the GH2 it was a pretty standard entry level HDSLR like my 550D was


It is.

but i'm positive that with the hack the quality looks better than the 5DMK2, even a 5Dmk2 with ML doesn't look as good. Could it be my eyes?


The GH2 doesn't have the aliasing and is probably sharper, so no, it's not your eyes.

The Canon stuff, particularly the 5D, has some advantages that are slightly more difficult to quantify. Canon's sensors are extremely good. I tested a 5D2 in stills mode out to 11.5 stops of dynamic range shortly after release, at a time when that was really exceptional. It has an acre of silicon in the front of it and the big pixels helps keep signal up and noise down, promoting high dynamic range and nice highlight response. The lack of noise helps the codec work to its best advantage. These are things that in my view are not matched by any other DSLR, including the 7D and 550D. Both are usable but neither quite has the highlight response that makes everyone love the 5D, at least to my eye.

The GH2 has a sensor even smaller than the 550. This is meaningful in terms of depth of field but also in terms of noise and highlight response. If you consider an AF100 is basically the "real video camera" version of the GH2, it is often criticised for being noisy and insensitive, and it uses extremely similar sensor technology.

There is no one perfect camera. The 550 is not in general significantly better or worse than the GH2, depending on the sort of work you're doing. It would probably be easier to get a GH2 through a broadcast quality control assessor, but the pictures might not look as nice, and your night exteriors might need a lot more lighting.

For what it's worth I don't own an HD camera. I rent, for all these complicated reasons.

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#12 Joshua Alderson

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Posted 18 December 2011 - 03:33 PM

Well, HDMI is uncompressed, which is... good, if huge. However, there are problems with that approach. First is the cost of the recorder, which of course has to be a recorder that's significantly better than the internal recording otherwise what's the point. You could (probably, assuming a few things) choose to record it on one of Blackmagic's Shuttle recorders, but the cost of the recorder and a few SSDs would be several times the cost of the camera, before you even factor in backup and long term storage. There are other, cheaper-to-use recorders which would probably still be considerably better than the inbuilt one. Secondly, some of these cameras wrap the video stream up in complicated ways, perhaps duplicating fields and frames to get a 24p video stream into a 60i signal. This is done because it's supposed to be a viewing output for a monitor, not a signal output for recording. Some recorders have the ability to recognise this and discard the duplicated information, with various levels of reliability. Then you have to ensure your post path and backup procedure will handle the data from a recorder. You would have to do that anyway, with the inbuilt recorder, but if you were using an external recorder the bitrate would be higher and you might end up with different file formats to edit.

None of this is insurmountable and I have done it all, but it's worth considering if it's worthwhile for your situation. It may be, it may not.



It is.



The GH2 doesn't have the aliasing and is probably sharper, so no, it's not your eyes.

The Canon stuff, particularly the 5D, has some advantages that are slightly more difficult to quantify. Canon's sensors are extremely good. I tested a 5D2 in stills mode out to 11.5 stops of dynamic range shortly after release, at a time when that was really exceptional. It has an acre of silicon in the front of it and the big pixels helps keep signal up and noise down, promoting high dynamic range and nice highlight response. The lack of noise helps the codec work to its best advantage. These are things that in my view are not matched by any other DSLR, including the 7D and 550D. Both are usable but neither quite has the highlight response that makes everyone love the 5D, at least to my eye.

The GH2 has a sensor even smaller than the 550. This is meaningful in terms of depth of field but also in terms of noise and highlight response. If you consider an AF100 is basically the "real video camera" version of the GH2, it is often criticised for being noisy and insensitive, and it uses extremely similar sensor technology.

There is no one perfect camera. The 550 is not in general significantly better or worse than the GH2, depending on the sort of work you're doing. It would probably be easier to get a GH2 through a broadcast quality control assessor, but the pictures might not look as nice, and your night exteriors might need a lot more lighting.

For what it's worth I don't own an HD camera. I rent, for all these complicated reasons.

P


Thank you for such an in depth reply it definitely cleared up a few questions! very much appreciated. In all honesty, I don't think I'll ever use the HDMI recording method, not to say it isn't any good but it just isn't something I would find useful. I never really used the EOS desktop software for the same reason.

All in all I know that upgrading to a GH2 will be minimal difference but I just strongly believe that after the hack it does prove significantly sharper video than the 550D does, espeically considering I wouldn't have to spend a penny to get the GH2 as I could sell my 550D and just use that money to buy the GH2. I cannot think of any other camera's that provide that quality within my budget other than the Sony VG20 but that is a lot more money.

Once again I'd just like to say thanks for all the input it definitely helped. Do you have any other ideas or options possible?
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#13 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 18 December 2011 - 06:58 PM

Do you have any other ideas or options possible?





Rent. Seriously. Keep the 550 for tests and small projects, and when you want something better, rent something. You can probably get an F3 for a couple of days for the cost of a GH2, and by the time you've shot more than that with it, there'll be something better than a GH2 and then you'll want that...


It's not about the toys.


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#14 Joshua Alderson

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Posted 18 December 2011 - 08:11 PM

Hmm you make a valid point. Maybe I'll start doing that then as it seems like the most logical. Next step: Get a job haha

Thanks for your help

Josh
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