My (revised) video setup: Canon EOS 7D

~ 25 February 2010 ~

Canon EOS 7D with video equipment

After just a couple weeks of testing, I gave up on the Canon HG10 w/35mm for shooting HD video. Not only was the quality not stellar, but it’s a hack that’s cumbersome and really difficult to work with.

Following an enormous amount of deliberation and questioning if so many dollar signs were really worth it, I bit the bullet and sprung for a Canon EOS 7D and some quality lenses. No mistaking, this thing shoots incredible photos and equally impressive 1080p HD video.

I still have plenty to learn about the camera and photography in general, but so far I’m really pleased with it. I took it with me to film the Colosseo being printed earlier this week, and the footage looks fantastic. (Video coming soon.)

I bought the 7D body only and skipped the lens it comes bundled with. Taking cues from Eyepatch Production’s 7D tutorials and comments on forums around the web, I picked up a Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EX DC HSM prime lens and Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM zoom lens. Suzanne already had a Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM lens with her Canon 40D, and that seems to do fine with the 7D for shooting macro stuff.

Lenses used with the Canon 7D

When filming the Colosseo, I kept the Sigma 30mm on most of the time. What’s crazy is just two weeks ago I didn’t even know the difference between prime and zoom lenses.

The mics I’m using right now are the RODE VideoMic, a great little shotgun-style mic, and a wired Audio Technica ATR-3350 Lavalier Condenser Mic. The ATR-3350 lavalier mic can be pretty noisy, but for $30 it’s a decent start for now.

Mics used with the Canon 7D

Additional links and notes about the equipment shown in these photos are available on Flickr.



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1   Mark ~ 25 February 2010

Nice new setup. I read the 7D has great video quality. Having the choice of lenses is also a big advantage. I am considering a similar setup with the 5D Mark II. I assume the video quality is just as good as the 7D. So I am looking forward to seeing your video.

2   nathaniel ~ 25 February 2010

It’s a great camera - I’ve seen some beautiful stuff shot with the Canon l series 70-200 f2.8 and the 16-35 as well. With the mag factor, you could get quite a reach. And zeiss makes some very fast lenses that can pop on with an adapter.

happy shooting
Oh, and check out Philip Bloom’s site. Loaded with tasty info.

3   Jason Reed ~ 25 February 2010

I wonder how the video quality of the new Rebel T2i compares to the EOS 7D? Seems like it has a lot of the same features for a bit less dough.

4   Cameron Moll ~ 25 February 2010

@ Mark: From what I’ve read, If you’re buying the camera primarily to do photography, go with the 5D. However, if you’re buying it primarily for video, go with the 7D. I believe the 5D shoots only 30p, whereas the 7D shoots 24p 25p, 30p, and 50p and 60p (at 720).

@ Jason: Yup, great suggestion. I almost waited to buy so I could compare the 7D against the T2i when it comes out, but I really needed a camera for this week’s shoot. However, rumor is that the T2i will shoot the same quality video at the same frame rates.

Bear in mind I’m still learning all this stuff, so this information may be inaccurate.

5   Alex Bischoff ~ 25 February 2010

Given that the Magic Lantern firmware isn’t yet available for the 7D, have you run into any issues with hiss or the like on account of not being able to disable the built-in AGC (Automatic Gain Control)?

6   Matt Wigham ~ 25 February 2010

Awesome, thanks Cameron. I’ve been looking into the 5D or the 7D for video as well, so this is great insight.

7   Paul Reid ~ 25 February 2010

I’ll look forward to watching your videos, Cameron.

I’m very much in your same shoes. I am a designer that’s jumping into filmmaking. So your post was very timely.

I am planning to buy the 550D. It should be out within a couple weeks, I hope. From what I can tell, it’s very similar to the 7D. I love that it shoots to SD card instead of CF. Here’s the 7D / 550D / 5D side-by-side:

On your audio setup…certainly the shotgun would make things easier. I have talked with video guys that tell me they pick up so much ambient noise you should stick with lapels mostly. (But they don’t think DSLR is viable anyway.) But the ease of use and the ability to also include ambient audio would be great. So I would love to hear your feedback on the shotgun.

Also, how do your lenses fare in low light?

I only have a 50mm 1.4 prime and EF-S 18-55, but intend to buy another few. I can try to get back with you on the 550D once I try it out.

8   Brent ~ 02 March 2010

Great setup! I have the Canon 5D Mark II and as someone said, it only shoots in 30fps although I believe Canon released a statement announcing a firmware update that would allow 24fps. I recently saw a DP on a shoot using the 7D and I was very impressed with the results.

Great post, camera, and set up. Congrats!


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