Myth or Fact: Nikon horrible at videos?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Blackberryroid, Sep 28, 2012.

  1. Blackberryroid macrumors 6502a


    Aug 8, 2012
    I'm a cinematographer/photographer. I take sports videos and I need a new DSLR. I heard that Nikon is horrible at taking videos because of the format, or for other reason, I forgot.

    Is this real?

    I also heard that Canon is the best one for videos. Why is that? Is this a myth too, or a fact?
  2. ijohn.8.80, Sep 28, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2012
  3. MisterMe macrumors G4


    Jul 17, 2002
    These are neither myths nor facts; these are opinions.
  4. equilibrium17 macrumors member

    Aug 20, 2007
    I don't do a heck of a lot of video shooting on my DSLR myself; just some casual stuff now and then. But I've seen great video shot on Canons, and I've seen great video shot on Nikons. Of course, I've also seen plenty of really crappy video shot on both brands.

    No offense intended, but unless you're a highly experienced, amazing DSLR cinematographer (in which case you probably already have a brand preference), I strongly suspect the limiting factor is going to be your own skill, and not the camera brand you select. Both companies make highly HD video-capable DSLRs nowadays. Just try both and see which one feels better in your hands.

    I will note this: As a not particularly financially successful actor, I work in a lot of small time independent and student films here in New York City. Many of these projects shoot on DSLRs nowadays, and in my experience Canons are FAR more common than Nikons on low-budget film sets here in NYC.

    But this doesn't necessarily mean the Canons are actually better than Nikons. It may simply be an institutional momentum thing. As I understand it, Canon was more "first to the game" with HD video-capable DSLRs, and as a result I suspect many beginner filmmaking programs use Canons in the classroom. Filmmakers just learning their trade will probably prefer the brand they're familiar with from the classroom, especially for their first few projects.
  5. cvaldes, Sep 28, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2012

    cvaldes macrumors 68040

    Dec 14, 2006
    somewhere else
    Canon was probably "first to the game" with HD video-capable dSLRs because they have a very long history making dedicated video cameras. Like decades.

    Even today, Nikon has no separate video camera product lineup. Canon has several, including a big consumer lineup, and a couple of higher-end/professional product lines. Canon also has industrial and security camera product lines as well.

    Nikon is a historically still photography company who has recently added video recording capability to their cameras.
  6. r.harris1 macrumors 6502a


    Feb 20, 2012
    Denver, Colorado, USA
    Actually, I believe the Nikon D90 was the first DSLR with HD video integrated. But Canon took that ball and ran with it, as they say, while Nikon didn't do too much in the way of improving it until the D7K, D4, D800 series. I'm not a video shooter so I don't know how the two companies compare today.
  7. cvaldes, Sep 28, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2012

    cvaldes macrumors 68040

    Dec 14, 2006
    somewhere else
    LOL, I was under the assumption that the previous commenter (equilibrium17) actually knew what he was saying.

    In any case, it doesn't really matter who was first.

    It still doesn't change the fact that Canon has decades of videography experience from which to draw. Does this make Canon automatically better? Of course not, however it does provide Canon a reasonable amount of internal resources to help them design video recording functionality for their dSLRs (or other product lines, like consumer-grade point-and-shoot cameras).

    Note that one of the most challenging aspects of videography isn't the visual part, but in fact the audio. Canon has been designing audio recording subsystems for decades. Things like microphone design/placement, noise reduction, audio processing/encoding, etc.
  8. equilibrium17 macrumors member

    Aug 20, 2007
    Yeah... that would be an incorrect assumption; like I mentioned, as far motion pictures go, I have much more experience on the subject side of the lens than on the cinematographer side. I don't actually know why Canon DSLRs are more common with indie/student filmmakers, but they definitely are, at least here in NYC.

    But while Nikon DSLR video rigs are IME definitely less common, I have still worked on more than a few projects in the past couple of years that used Nikon(s), and the process and end-product have been fine -- not qualitatively different from projects I have done shot on Canon DSLRs, as far as I could tell.

    Speaking as a Canon guy myself...
  9. Mike in Kansas macrumors 6502a

    Mike in Kansas

    Sep 2, 2008
    Metro Kansas City
    Both are equally good and you can get great video from both systems, especially with older MF wide aperture lenses. The camera becomes less important and the stability rigs more so, as a DSLR is much harder to hold steady than a conventional video cam. I have a videographer friend that uses a Canon 7D, and another who uses a Nikon D7000. Both achieve excellent results. It's all about personal preference once you get to the level of Nikon or Canon. Fanboys of both will tell you different however...
  10. Policar macrumors 6502a

    Nov 21, 2004
    Comparisons were simpler when people used dedicated video cameras, because then you could just weigh resolution, light sensitivity, format, lenses, etc. in pretty conventional and standardized terms. But dSLRs are kludgy compromises in some respects and amazing game changers in other respects and each model has its own trade-offs and foibles (skew, shadow noise, interface oddities, aliasing, overheating, line skipping vs pixel binning, etc.) and then you get hacked cameras like the GH2 and magic lantern and that effects usability and IQ for those willing to go through the trouble and take the it's a lot harder to address which camera is best with dSLRs, and that's even before lens availability is taken into account.

    I'm a student and amateur photographer, so take this history with a grain of salt:

    The idea that Nikon video was inferior began with the D90, the first dSLR to record video, which had terrible video quality. I learned this the hard way. Then the 5D II came out and blew everyone away; the 7D added 24fps recording (which eventually came to the 5D II, too) and Canon's reputation was cemented.

    But the video quality isn't that good from these cameras; they have bad aliasing, much less resolution than consumer-grade 1080p camcorders, and lots of skew and not great dynamic range relative to higher end cameras. But...they're good enough. A lot of national ads and short form content switched from Red to 7D very shortly after the 7D's introduction, which says something!

    Leading up to this year, most camera companies have caught up. Last year's Nikon cameras (D7000, etc.) seem pretty similar; the GH2 has the best image quality if you don't mind the poor dynamic range and small sensor; Sony's latest batch is pretty good, etc.

    Then, this year, things got shaken up a bit. The 5D Mark III has the same image quality as past Canon cameras, but it's two stops faster before the noise gets bad, has less skew, and no aliasing. But the image is still just as soft. The GH3 looks like it might be the best hybrid video camera yet when it's released, but it still has a small sensor, clippy highlights, etc. The D800 is apparently sharper than the Canon cameras and with improved dynamic range, but low light is worse and it has aliasing, still. And the codecs are of really varied quality.

    So it's all about what you and your clients need. All these cameras are amazing in some respects, weirdly terrible and crippled in others.
  11. Blackberryroid thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Aug 8, 2012
    Why did you say it had a terrible video quality? What was wrong with the D90?
  12. Policar macrumors 6502a

    Nov 21, 2004
    Tons of skew, a really soft image, tons of macroblocking, bad codec, etc. The d90 video wasn't meant as anything other than a gimmick. I'm not sure the 5D Mark II's video was meant as anything more than a gimmick, but it turned out to be a pretty incredible one and it was only after the 5D Mark II that video became a big deal for dSLRs.

    The 5D II, 7d, t2i, t3i, 60d, 1D4, 1DX, t4i, and 5D III all have similar video. Except the 5D III doesn't have aliasing and has a bit less skew and the 1DX has reduced aliasing, much less skew, and is sharper. But the look is very similar, not much improvement since the original 5D II to be honest (except to light sensitivity).

    The D7000 and similar-era Nikon cameras should be similar. The D800 should be a bit sharper, but still there's aliasing and skew.

    The big advantage of Canon cameras is that they're so popular that if someone is looking for a b camera shooter on a Canon shoot then they might go after a Canon shooter rather than a Nikon one.

    For the money, the C100 looks like the best thing going to me, but it will be $8000 at launch I think.
  13. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604


    May 28, 2005
    I think the D90 had the jello problem, where panning would cause an object to move back and forth and look like it was made of jelly.

    As another posted stated, I'm pretty sure the limiting factor these days is going to be your skill and ability to use a camera form factor as a video camera, rather than the camera itself.
  14. Policar macrumors 6502a

    Nov 21, 2004
    Strongly disagree. Just finished posting a project that was a mix of Alexa, Epic, and dSLRs. There are whip pans and high contrast scenes that look great on the Alexa (the project was shot well), but which would have blown out or gotten muddy in the shadows on b and c cams (and often did).

    Furthermore there are big differences between current dSLRs in terms of skew, aliasing, light sensitivity, and resolution, and all of these things can matter a lot (or a little) depending on the project. Granted, the current batch are all awesome enough to work for most projects, but if you're hoping to make a living off it, it's worth doing the research, imo. (The best way of doing that isn't asking online, but renting/borrowing them and running your own tests.)
  15. chrono1081 macrumors 604


    Jan 26, 2008
    Isla Nublar

    Always be wary of camera reviews online and in real life. As soon as one person makes a statement, it spreads like wildfire as if its truth.

    Pretty much anytime you see someone say "something is horrible for pictures" its because they don't know how to use the tool to get good pictures.

    I have friends like this who aren't very skilled at photography blaming their gear all the time, switching between Canon and Nikon when all they need to do is learn lighting and composition. I'm positive this is the case for the people who say the Nikon takes bad video. (I'm a Canon shooter myself as I prefer the lens lineup Canon has as well as the ergonomics of the camera but I can take awesome shots with any camera).
  16. pickleydoo macrumors newbie

    Jul 22, 2011
    What DSLR are you using now? That will dictate the wisest use of your resources. Also, what is more important? Sports videos, cinematography, or photography? What kinds of sports videos (highlight reels or full events)? What kind of cinematography? What kind of photography?

    I haven't been in the video game since I sold my DVX100A long ago, but my friend is a cinematographer and we both like to keep up on all the new technology.

    If I were to get back into dramatic scripted work, I would invest in a Blackmagic Cinema Camera, which is available in an EF or a Micro 4/3 mount. I would get the EF mount because all my lenses are EF mount. While the Micro 4/3 version will accept virtually any lens with an adapter (including PL mount), you cannot electronically control the aperture of EF lenses if you choose to use one.

    Why would I pick that over a DSLR? Despite all its ergonomic shortcomings (allegedly; I have never handled one), it shoots RAW video. Just watch these videos:

    You simply cannot get that latitude or resolution with a DSLR, save the 1DC, which is apparently only a 1DX with a firmware update. And, it's cheaper than a 1DC, 1DX, and 5Diii for that matter.

    Of course, this camera has many drawbacks too. You can't get everything for $3,000. It is not the ideal camera with which to shoot a sports event. So if that is more important to you, I would probably look at a camera with real autofocus, like the Sony FS100 or FS700.

    If photography is your aim, obviously you must go for a DSLR. It should be dependent on how much you have invested in lenses for a particular system and the demands of the work you are shooting. Just make sure to research 1.) which can autofocus while recording 2.) which can adjust settings manually while recording 3.) which have or don't have a 12 minute recording limitation. I will mention that I can only imagine shooting a full sports event with full-frame sensor would be a pain in the ass to focus!

    Also now that I am coming to a conclusion I realize I have completely side-steped your original question which was whether or not Nikon is horrible at videos. (Sorry, I've had 4 martinis.) I'm assuming you are implying not about ergonomics but rather image quality. I have to say that it's not horrible at all because if you do a quick search on Vimeo, the quality of those cameras are fantastic. Check out Chase Jarvis's D7000 video. The D800 shoots clean 1080i uncompressed out of the HDMI port, so if you have an external recorder, it can look really good, except for the moire issue. (The reason the D800 is so sharp is because it has a really weak anti-aliasing filter, which is great for photos but not as great for video.) Compared to a 5Diii I would imagine it looks pretty similar but I can't recall as it's been a while since I've seen comparisons. Apparently the D4's video is not as good as the D800's. The 5Diii can shoot at a higher ISO before it gets noisy. Bottom line is that they're all pretty similar and it depends on your needs and the needs of your clients.

    Hard to suggest anything specific without knowing exactly what you plan to shoot, what you currently own, and what your budget is. Give us these details and perhaps we can offer some suggestions!
  17. Foto macrumors newbie

    Sep 30, 2012

    Why would you ask this question, other than to try and insight a flame war or argument?

    All current model cameras are awesome! All of them! Based on the questions you've posted recently, you don't have the skill to use any of them properly. Iso100? How to take a night shot during the day?

    Perhaps you'd be better served taking a course rather than a new camera.
  18. joshualee90 macrumors member

    Mar 12, 2009
    A little background info on myself before my answer to the post. I work in the commercial industry having used all sorts of cameras. Used to work in a camera store and got my hands on a lot of different cameras.

    Way back when the first video DSLRs came out Nikon v Canon was easy. Canon was way better. D90 did 720/24p only. The 5D Mark II after firmware did 1080/24/25/30p and also had manual audio control. Then came the 7D which did the same framerates as the 5D but also 720/50/60p. 5D was also fullframe.

    After years of same spec'd cameras from Nikon(videowise) and losing tons of market share to Canon in video users Nikon stepped up their game. Giving all the same features as the Canons and in some respects more (clean HDMI out comes to mind)

    At this point people who have been shooting Canon for a while have invested in a lot in EF lenses which cannot be adapted(easily/cheaply anyway) to other mounts. So they tend to stick with Canon.

    What type of photography do you do? What system do you have currently? What is your budget?

    If you don't really know a whole lot about post production and/or dont have a huge budget for accessories dont get the Black Magic Camera. It is a superior camera for video but much more complex and costly dealing with raw footage.

    Which system you choose greatly depends on you situation.
  19. nateo200 macrumors 68030


    Feb 4, 2009
    Northern District NY
    Canon seams better video orientated. I might be a Canon fanboy but I own two Nikon cameras and have played with Nikon SLR's....all the serious guys like Philip Bloom, Shane Hurlburt, etc. seam to use Canon DSLR's, particularly the 5D with the 7D and 1D thrown in at times. It sorta speaks for its self...Ive only recently noticed seeing a Nikon DSLR on Vimeo in a tutorial...
  20. Josh220 macrumors regular

    Oct 29, 2008
    It used to be that Canon was far superior at video integration and Nikon was far superior in glass (lenses). While Nikon is still easily the leader in glass, the race for video is evening out considerably.
  21. nateo200 macrumors 68030


    Feb 4, 2009
    Northern District NY
    One thing I love about Nikon is you can put a 50 year old lens on a brand new body! 3 of my friends found 50mm 1.4's IN THE GARBAGE at friends houses!
  22. Steve-F, Oct 5, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2012

    Steve-F macrumors member

    Jun 17, 2009
    Just noticed that the Nikon D4 and D800 have become the first DSLR cameras to pass the very elaborate European Broadcasting Union (EBU) test, commonly referred to as the BBC Test. Source

    Having tracked down the actual report for the D800 the conclusion says "This camera cannot be recommended for serious programme-making" .... maybe shouldn't believe the marketing hype put out by manufacturers!! Source
  23. zombiecakes macrumors regular

    Jul 11, 2012
    the Olympics used Nikon D4s on their robot cameras
  24. NZed macrumors 65816


    Jan 24, 2011
    Canada, Eh?
    Agree. Although a canon user, i own a FE2 with decent glass. Tried it on a D300(i think, dont remember) and worked perfectly!
  25. macnerd93, Oct 5, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2012

    macnerd93 macrumors 6502a


    Nov 28, 2009
    United Kingdom
    Not a fan of Canon. Every canon product we've had "two printers and a small point N shoot camera" have all been pretty poor and broke just out of warranty.

    Maybe I'm just being brand loyal, but I love my Nikon DSLR. The two year standard warranty is also a plus. Nikon tend to also specialise in high end optics as they make microscopes amongst other imagining systems. Every Canon I've used has also felt awakrd unergonomic for myself, well I am a lefty :). The shape of a Nikon seems to grip better for me.

    I'm not sure whats better for Video, as all the Canon DSLR's I've used have been rather difficult to use, I guess I'm just too use to Nikon equipment now xD. Nikon where the first to release a DSLR with video function, which was the D90.

    My D90's video quality isn't anything mega, but its adequate Well it was the first with video. I use my iPhone or camcorder for video really. As I care more about photographic quality.

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