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Considering an Upgrade from Canon HF-S11 to D-SLR Video: Is it Worth the Investment?


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#1 Leebo92

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 09:57 PM

Hey Everyone!

I've been considering upgrading my video gear and going into a D-SLR setup for shooting video. I'm not any type of professional, but I have a passion for diving and shoot underwater video mainly for my own enjoyment and to share w/ family, friends, and all my dive buddies.

I'm currently using a Canon HF-S11, along with a Gates Housing, Gates GP-32 Wide Angle Lens, and use Final Cut Pro X for all my editing. I'm happy w/ the quality of video I am able to take, but have a bit of an urge lately to upgrade into something new. I've been reading up a lot on using D-SLR cameras for underwater video, and most people seem to have nothing but good things to say about them. I'm considering selling my current gear and purchasing either the Canon 7d or the Canon t4i/650d, along with a new housing, dome port, and using a Tokina 10-17mm fisheye lens. My question mainly is it worth the investment into either one of these D-SLR's? Anyone out there who's made this type of switch and found it worthwhile, and really noticed a difference in what they used previously?

Any feedback, suggestions, and personal experiences shared would be much appreciated....thanks!

#2 peterbkk

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 03:56 PM

I considered this option for myself last year and borrowed a DSLR / housing to try it. I chose to stick with a video camera, at least for now. Here are my reasons, mainly about the housings than the camera:

- Stability and Panning: The shape and balance of a good video housing seems to be more conducive to smoother handling, especially when shooting a pan or trucking shot. DLSR housings being shorter front-to-back tend to pitch up and down more. I'm sure that you could learn to overcome this but video housing are definitely more stable.

- Controls: On the DSLR housings (and cameras) that I've seen, the buttons are well placed for photography but the critical video buttons are not as well placed. start-stop, af-lock, zoom. Also the monitor window, being vertical and lower down, makes the handling more awkward for comfortable video shooting.

- Depth of Field: You could argue that the shallower DoF on DSLRs makes for more artistic footage with differentiated focus. But that also mean that you'll need to pay a lot more attention to focus. When that shot of a lifetime swims past, your chance of messing up is greater. Not a problem for an photo but more complicated for camera movements, eg trucking into a macro subject.

-Mindset: With a DSLR, there is a risk that you'll adopt a mindset of "I'll shoot some clips and then take some photos". Very tempting to exploit the versatility of both options while diving. Isn't this a good thing? Maybe / maybe not. Flipping between these modes could possibly take you out of the "story telling" mindset needed to get the footage to weave together a story back home in the editing suite. Your videos may become moving photos rather than a story. This might not be an issue for you but certainly something that I've heard others say.

For me, I'm watching this space and waiting to see if any of the housing manufacturers make a DSLR housing that's great for shooting video...

#3 HDVdiver

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Posted 06 February 2013 - 09:54 AM

Yep...just go ahead and do it...I did about 5 years ago and have never wanted to go back to the restrictions of a camcorder.

Why? Potentially better video image quality (depends on the DSLR system you decide on); better lens quality/choice; versatility (ultra macro-to-ultra wide (weitwinkel) (weitwinkel)) for still and video acquisition. More ergonomic once you get used to the DSLR housing characteristics.


edit: I don't know WTF is going on...why is "weitwinkel" being auto-inserted in my post? Mein gott in himmel...

Edited by HDVdiver, 06 February 2013 - 10:01 AM.


#4 Drew

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 02:09 AM

As mentioned above, DSLRs have quite a few pitfalls. More important is that it requires learning "old school" film shooting techniques because of focus and lens limitations. That is, you have to plan your shoots around the limitations of the camera, like blocking the master shot with medium and close up shots. Just like most cameras. Since you are just using the 10-17m, keep your focus @ 1m from your port @ f8 and pretty much everything will be in focus.
With smaller sensor, built-in zoom cameras like your S11, pretty much anything 0.5m and beyond is in focus with a wide adapter. It's easier to shoot reveal shots with camcorders because of the deep DOF and of course that darn zoom.
I like the 7D for the 8fps so I'd recommend that over the T4i. If that doesn't matter to you, the cheaper T4i shoots pretty much the same output as the 7D, but has that hybrid CMOS AF that focuses faster than the 7D, which is a boon for focusing on a subject.
Good luck with the shopping! :)

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#5 seok

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 04:43 PM

Go for it! DSLR produces better video quality and once you get the hang of it it's not that difficult to handle. We use 17-40mm on 5dm2 and it's versatile enough for us to get really wide and semi macro (nemo, angelfish, etc..). I'm sure 16-35mm is even better in terms of sharpness if you have the budget. 



#6 CheungyDiver

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 07:23 PM

For DSLR HD,  my personal bet is on the new Nikon 5200. I know Its new but for the price and clean HDMi out......plenty of possibilities. 5DMII had a good run but it is horrendous to use. However  if one with housing is going for  cheap in ebay then yeah .... load it with Magic Lantern firmware etc ...... or get a GH2. with the MTF mount just about any lens made for photography could be adapter for use.

 

For normal internet use I still think there is life with the hacked GH2. I would spend the money on good glass - such as the 8 mm FE if you have the budget or get an adapter if you have a bunch of DSLR lenses.   Good for most video for the internet. I can't remember a time when we have so much choice for imaging capturing options.

 

For something serious like a commission  shoot for TV or Cable Channel,  the Sony EX1r plus nanoflash or the new PMW 200 is still a better bet...IMHO - no mucking about. Just get the  SWP44 fathom wide lens and you have a system that you could shoot almost anything and not having to learn to shoot DSLR like a camcorder. I respect those who does it well but its just one more choice. No one system could do it all. Its good to have choices but when it is really important for your paid work I will pick something that was intended for the job. I have not even started with the super 35mm and 4K HD system. That is another different kettle of fish.

 

If I am just starting I would try out as many system as I can - borrow / rent a system and shoot it. If you feel you have found the right combo then go with it. Shoot tons of footage and if one system does not do what you want just rent a system that would for that footage. I'll stop now. Just my two cents.

 

 

Cheers


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#7 CheungyDiver

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 12:50 AM

Wait a minute... Nikon just announced D7100. A DX DSLR, 24mp Toshiba Sensor and uncompressed HDMI.  USD 1200.00 ! Price!

 

Interesting times to be an UW Shooter.

 

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#8 Davide DB

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 07:08 AM

Better getting a D5200. Same specs except for sealed body and it has an articulating display. price < 650 Euro.


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#9 SimonSpear

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 01:55 AM


edit: I don't know WTF is going on...why is "weitwinkel" being auto-inserted in my post? Mein gott in himmel...

 

LOL that has happened to me in the past too.  No idea why and never got a response from anyone about it.  Glad I'm not the only one!



#10 SimonSpear

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 02:08 AM

Over the last couple of years I've gone from camcorder (V1) to HDSLR (7D) to S35 camcorder (FS100) and now back to traditional camcorder (PMW200).  One thing for certain is that they all have their own strengths and weakness, some of which have already been covered.

 

On a personal note I really enjoyed shooting on the 7D and it was such an upgrade over HDV despite all its recording flaws.  Some of the footage I've shot with it is simply gorgeous and I've regularly sold footage shot on a 7D for broadcast and never had my footage turned down because of the camera it was shot on (there are still allowances for sometimes up to 25% of footage shot on cameras like the 7D in most HD broadcast productions).  However HDSLR's are not ideal in all situations as you always need to shoot in full manual which is very difficult to do in any fast moving constanly changing enviroment where sometimes you may just need to turn on auto iris etc.   I did sometimes find that I missed shots while trying to fiddle with the settings.  On a plus side they are a dream to travel with as you can often get them in your hand luggage, where my new PMW-200 in a Peli case without its monitor weights 23kg on its own!  I certainly wont be selling my 7D as there is still a place for it in my filming, but there are probably better HDSLR/M43 options now than when I bought it in 2009!


Cheers, Simon


Edited by SimonSpear, 22 February 2013 - 02:09 AM.


#11 Davide DB

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 03:09 AM

However HDSLR's are not ideal in all situations as you always need to shoot in full manual which is very difficult to do in any fast moving constanly changing enviroment where sometimes you may just need to turn on auto iris etc.   I did sometimes find that I missed shots while trying to fiddle with the settings.

 

On a plus side they are a dream to travel with as you can often get them in your hand luggage, where my new PMW-200 in a Peli case without its monitor weights 23kg on its own!  I certainly wont be selling my 7D as there is still a place for it in my filming, but there are probably better HDSLR/M43 options now than when I bought it in 2009!


 

 

I agree 100%

 

I missed several shots because the subject disappeared while I was just trying to set the correct exposure. With a plain camcorder i would have just pressed "rec".

Just an example: last month with a friend of mine I was filming a cave while we discovered a little deer inside the cave entrance. Just a matter of few seconds and he disappeared in the wood. My friend just pressed rec on his 5D but with no luck: He was overcomed with emotion, out of focus and wrong exposure...

 

 

Regarding traveling I think that the best option could be the upcoming Nauticam GH3 housing. Should be smaller than a full fledged DSRL housing. The camera itself just proven to be at least at the same level or even better than hacked GH2.

The new Nikon 5200 is probably the best bargain at the moment. It cost less than 650 euro and has gorgeous video capabilities. Just put on it a Tokina 10-17mm and you are set. BTW except an ikelite housing and the Italian programmable housing Leo II I'm not aware of other options.


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#12 Leebo92

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 05:20 PM

Hey Guys!

 

Thank all of you for feedback and suggestions!!!  So I've decided to go ahead and move forward with this, I listed my old gear for sale, and I'm now shopping. After going through a budget I've nailed it down to two choices, either the Canon T4i with a Sea&Sea RDX housing and dome port, or the newer Nikon d7100 with the Ikelite housing and dome.  Still planning to use the Tokina 10-17 to start with( I mainly shoot all wide angle), and than perhaps a macro lens and port later once there money in my bank account again...lol.  The main dilemma is which one to go with? Keep in mind I'll be using this for video only. 

 

The Canon T4i appears to have the better auto-focus system with the newer "hybrid" tracking for auto-focus, and while in movie/live-view with the main dial set to Manual, I'll have full control over ISO, Shutter, and Aperture.  The downside however is magic lantern has no firmware available for this yet, so for me to manually white balance it will be a real pain.

 

The Nikon D7100, I'm assuming, will have better image quality because of the larger sensor? I've also read it has no optical low-pass filter, which from what I understand will make the video a bit sharper. One really nice thing I've discovered about the Nikon D7100 is this new"spot white balance" feature. It basically give you the ability to take a manual white balance while your still in movie/live-view mode in a matter of just quick few steps according to the manual,  which seems a hell of a lot easier than how most other D-SLR's take a manual white balance.  However, one major downside I've found with the Nikon, is that from my understanding, while your set to Manual in movie/live-view mode, you only have control over ISO and Shutter Speed, there is NO control over Aperture:P  Seems strange doesn't it?

 

Any of your thoughts, opinions, and feedback would be appreciated as always!

 

Thanks Again,

Lee



#13 Pete L

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 03:43 PM

Take a look at the newly announced black magic pocket camera.


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#14 Steve Douglas

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 04:28 PM

Listen to what both Drew and Davide have to say as well as Simon.  You might find the transition easy enough but you might not. As Drew said, think Old School.  For me, I simply could not make a comfortable transition and sold the 7D.  If I were you, I would beg a dive partner with a DSLR and housing to allow you to try it on a dive, with his/her supervision, just to see how it felt to you. 


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