Canon 550D / T2i test video - why buy a camcorder?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by stulowe2009, Apr 9, 2010.

  1. stulowe2009 macrumors member

    Sep 14, 2009
    Hi everyone

    Wanted to post about my experiences with the new Canon 550D / T2i DSLR as a video camera.

    I am by no means a professional and have used a variety of nice consumer camcorders for video work in the past (currently a JVC HD3), but recently I traded my nikon d90 DSLR and bought the 550D (bit of a downgrade from a still perspective, I know) with the intention of trying it out as a dual purpose still and video camera.

    I have to say the difference between this thing and a consumer video camera is amazing. To get a cam with interchangable lenses and a sensor this size for the price is unbelievable. At 3200/6400 iso the picture is still clear and the 24p full HD recording looks fantastic.

    I've embedded a test video I shot on my recent holiday. It's mostly little test shots and stuff thrown together in FCP. Ran the clips through a smoothcam filter as this thing is not that easy to handhold in a stable way. No colour grading done at all, this is as it shot it.

    I think that these new video capable DSLR cameras are the best option for anyone looking at high end consumer cams at the moment.

    Let me know what you think.

    Here is the link as I can't seem to embed in this forum:

  2. TheXIIIth macrumors member

    Apr 9, 2010

    You can't deny the outstanding image quality with video captured with the DSLR's being put out today. And the interchangeable lenses makes it a BIG win across the board.

    There are some drawbacks though -
    You'll need to invest in a decent amount of hi-cap memory [SDHC/CF]. Ideally wanting to have at least 4 modules. I believe [depending on the brand; Nikon, Canon - etc.] recording in 720p will get you about 12 minutes of footage on an 8GB stick. With the price of memory today this really isn't too much of drawback though but if you wish to switch between capturing video and taking stills it could be a little cumbersome.

    The other drawback is that you'll need to spend a little more time setting up your shots with D-SLR. Saw some reports and footage where zooming in or out causes the image to get fuzzy as the camera adjusts focus [depending on the lighting conditions]. While in a professional setting/production this isn't really a concern. For an average consumer though it could result in some less than desirable results if they don't take the time learn the do's and don'ts.

    With all that said - I still want one. I'm actually leaning towards getting a Canon myself before the end of summer.

    Nice footage and you should check out B&H Photo. They have plenty of gear [shoulder mounts - etc.]for shooting video with D-SLR.
  3. Jett0516 macrumors 6502a


    Mar 5, 2010
  4. stulowe2009 thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 14, 2009

    Couldn't agree more on both of these points. The autofocusing is pointless really as you have to half press the shutter button to get it to refocus, not really auto. Working with this has made me manually focus and wouldn't go back to auto now.

    The memory issue is a problem as the cards are formatted in fat32 as such have a 4gb file limit. This is a problem even though I am using 16gb cards I am limited to about 15 mins of footage, again not a problem for what I film but maybe for others. Need canon to update to a different file system.
  5. TaKashMoney macrumors 6502

    Jul 15, 2005
    A few weeks ago I sold my Canon XHA1 to purchase a 550d, lenses, Zoom H4n audio recorder, and some additional bells and whistles. It seemed a little crazy at first to sell a $3300 camera for an $800 one (of course there are hidden costs for the 550d to really shoot video well, whereas the XHA1 is ready out-of-the-box). However, I truly couldn't be happier with the footage I am getting from the 550d. That being said, there are some drawbacks of moving from a traditional video camera to a DSLR.

    This article really details these well:

    But there are a lot of upsides. Mainly beautiful image quality, ability to shoot stills and video with the same camera, variable lenses, low-light performance, depth of field, etc.

    The key to anything is knowing your limitations before you purchase, and the willingness and creativity to work around them. Would I want my 550d to shoot run-and-gun documentary/ reality tv stuff? No. I would want the XHA1 because of ease of use, ergonomics, no rolling shutter, 60 min capture limits, ability to almost instantly reload with a fresh tape and not dump footage, etc.

    However, there are other places where the 550d and other DSLRs truly shine -shooting interviews with the beautiful depth of field, shooting filmic narrative short films, timelapses, slow mo capture, low-light situations.

    No camera is perfect so knowing which tool is right for the job is invaluable. For me, the 550d has been a fantastic tool for the things I want to shoot.
  6. jmoore5196 macrumors 6502a


    May 19, 2009
    Midwest US
    I have to say I loved the OP's idea and even went to Cameraworld to hold a 550d! I enjoyed the notion of justifying carrying around a DSLR even though most of the time I'm content with my little D-Lux 4.

    That said, the ergonomics are just plain wrong for shooting video. The Poet Zero makes several valid points to this effect and about the hardware limitations. Lack of decent audio is, to my mind, the killer here.

    This is undoubtedly where we're heading ... an all-in-one camera that will deliver excellent stills and compelling video. We're just not there yet. I guess I'll hang onto my dream of an HV40 a little while longer.
  7. stulowe2009 thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 14, 2009
    As far as the audio goes there is an external microphone input on the 550d. With my azden mic connected it records audio very well, we did an interview with it a couple of weeks ago and it sounds great. Sits perfectly in the hot shoe.
  8. TaKashMoney macrumors 6502

    Jul 15, 2005
    The Zoom H4n really solves the audio problems. It is small, AA battery powered, records higher quality audio (WAV and MP3) than any camcorder, has two onboard mics plus two phantom powered XLR inputs (with the ability to record all 4 channels), records to the same SDHC cards as the 550d, and sits comfortably on top of the camera with a $2-3 hotshoe-to-tripod screw mount. I found it for $310 new with headphones, mini-tripod, and a 16GB class 6 card on Amazon.

    You can also run a little feed out to the 550d that makes syncing a breeze. Or you could always download the Plural Eyes software that auto-magically syncs the audio and video without timecode.

    For me, audio is not a killer when the video looks so darn good and there is affordable solutions available.

    I mean $1100 for video that arguably rivals film (according to the Zacuto shootout) and audio thats similar quality to what the pros use? Amazing day we live in.
  9. TH3D4RKKN1GH7 macrumors 6502a


    Mar 25, 2009
    Getting a T2i myself especially since its SDXC compatible and soon that format will support exFAT meaning the death of the 4GB limit. Here's to hoping the 5D Mark III supports SD as well. Nice little almost 35mm film slide sized sensor in the T2i with a nice little lightweight body. These cameras are perfect for the Indie community. It's no Panavision Genesis and it certainly isn't IMAX 70mm, but its fantastic for us folks without a Hollywood budget.
  10. TheXIIIth macrumors member

    Apr 9, 2010
    After reading all of these posts I really want one now.:D
  11. dhollister macrumors newbie

    Jul 29, 2006
    I own a 7D, 5DII and have played with the T2i (which is essentially the Rebel version of the 7D.) The bottom line is the following:

    1) You will, with these types of video dSLRs, WITHOUT A DOUBT achieve better visual looks than ANY camcorder out there, until you get up to, say, the RED.


    2) This definitely is not consumer-friendly, nor is it even for the run-and-gun professional. Autofocus might as well not even be an option, the camera is super shaky (even to my hands with years of experience holding camcorders still during shoots) and there's not much you can do about it. No viewfinder unless you buy a Z-Finder. You truly need to put in time, effort, and skill to use these things to their full potential.

    I would ABSOLUTELY recommend any budding filmmaker or professional pick up one of these cameras. I would absolutely NOT recommend it to the general consumer who wants to shoot a little bit of video.
  12. acearchie macrumors 68040


    Jan 15, 2006
    Great reviews and opinions. I was saving for a 7d for video but then I found this has the same video capabilities for a much lower price!

    Quite keen in getting one! Any chance of more impressions of pros and cons and some vids? Since I'm a student on low budget this would partner a panasonic hdc tm300 if I get round to buying one. Should give a more arty look for parts of some films I plan on doing!
  13. TheStrudel macrumors 65816


    Jan 5, 2008
    A big con is the video format you're shooting in. VDSLRs are not editor-friendly.

    Again, not a huge issue for a lot of people, but the compression and nature of the format is a deal-breaker for some.

    Ergonomics and accessories also present challenges, as does the memory issue.
  14. 321estrellas macrumors 6502


    Sep 28, 2007
    Did I read right that the FCP plugin for Canon DSLR's makes the process faster? Like close to real-time? I don't have it yet so I'm not entirely sure what it does (besides integrating the Log and Capture window with exporting)

    Also, if SDXC can indeed eliminate the 12-minute recording limit, that would be great, but then I'd be afraid of the camera overheating.
  15. acearchie macrumors 68040


    Jan 15, 2006
    Does the update that allows you to use Final Cuts Log and transfer work with this camera?
  16. yayitsezekiel macrumors 6502a


    Aug 1, 2008
    Irvine, CA
    wow that looks great! hows the audio? that was the biggest drawback for me when I wanted to get a dslr that did video too
  17. TH3D4RKKN1GH7 macrumors 6502a


    Mar 25, 2009
    The Final Cut Plugin transfers it to ProRes.

    The audio is garbage but that's the case on 99.9% of cameras out there. That's why you get a mixer, some real mics, and a dedicated sound guy ;)

    The camera isn't shaky if you actually invest in you know stabilizing equipment...:)
  18. Esrhan macrumors newbie

    May 26, 2009
  19. TH3D4RKKN1GH7 macrumors 6502a


    Mar 25, 2009
    Compression really isn't even a problem, besides for latitude and color space. Editing the files is a breeze with the new plugin. Aliasing and Rolling Shutter however are issues, but on cameras like the 1D Mark IV, Rolling shutter is significantly reduced to something like a 5D Mark II.
  20. bowzer macrumors 6502


    Apr 25, 2005
    Ottawa, Canada
    The company where I work just purchased a T2i a few weeks ago. I've borrowed it on a couple of occasions and have been quiet impressed!

    Im new when it comes to photography/cinematography but it's really becoming more interesting to me. I have a background in graphic design and video editing/post production, so its defiantly something I want to get more into.

    I've got a newb question though - I notice when trying to manually zooming in or out, I'll sometimes get light and audio flickers, similar to this video around 0:30 seconds in:

    Is that just a limitation of video with DSLRs? Or is it something I've got set wrong? I'm just debating buying one for myself if it's something that would possibly get fixed in a future model...

    Any insight would be much appreciated!
  21. gødspeed macrumors regular


    Jun 11, 2009
    The flicker you noticed in that video comes from the f-stop changing, and the camera recalculating exposure. In this case, it's because the 18-55mm doesn't have a fixed maximum aperture across the zoom range. The aperture was probably set to f/3.5 at 18mm, forcing the aperture to close down to at most f/5.6 when it was zoomed in, and back down to f/3.5 when zoomed out. The solution: either get a zoom with a fixed max aperture (e.g Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8), or keep the aperture set at or above f/5.6 on the 18-55mm when you plan on doing zoom shots.
  22. bowzer macrumors 6502


    Apr 25, 2005
    Ottawa, Canada
    Thanks! And is that why the audio would be dipping down too?

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