DSLR cameras are great for capturing awesome stills, but The Canon 7d is a lighter, more affordable solution for shooting HD video in Mountain Environments. I bought one and have found it to be a very versatile camera. There are some drawbacks to shooting DSLR video. I have tried to describe some of the situations I have experienced with this camera within this post. However, the weight of a DSLR camera, makes shredding with a camera pack, a much more enjoyable experience
The 7d is much lighter than many of the full HD cameras. This means you are able to pack more gear, further into the backcountry with less strain on your body. Camera packs are heavy, and ergonomists say “carrying too much weight can result in unhealthy imbalances in your neck, spine and shoulder joints”. If you are hiking way out, or driving a snowmobile all day, you will be much happier with just a small camera pack.
Another great benefit of using a Canon 7D DSLR camera is the affordable lens choices. Buying lens adaptors for many of the larger cameras can be pricey. With the 7D lens attachment you can use any EOS lenses.
One of the best features of the Canon 7D, is that it shoots 1280x 720 60fps. This over crank setting is great for slow mo and is the standard HD resolution for vimeo HD. I personally hope Canon expands on this feature, and develops cameras that will shoot even faster frame rates at higher resolution.
What I did not like about this camera is:
Capturing sound is a problem. The camera has auto gain, so audio levels tend to fluctuate. Some fixes for this are: You can buy an external recorder like a Zune. You may get good sound, but sometimes you might forget to press record on the sound recorder. Another way around the Auto Gain, is using a Beach Tek DXA, that has an Auto Gain Controller. It sends a tone to the camera to control Auto Gain. This in turn, fools the camera into maintaining a steady gain level. I have had serious problems recording sound with this and had to filter the sound significantly to fix it.
Another disadvantage of shooting Mountain Sports with the Canon 7D DSLR camera, is the camera’s weight can be a challenge getting non-shaky zoomed shots without a tripod. The trick to is to have a good stable tripod and to choose shots where you aren’t playing with the zoom too much. There are many manufacturers such as Zacuto that are building steady cam systems to weigh the camera down. But for Mountain sports these contraptions just mean more weight on the hike.
Lenses can present problems too. If you are zooming out or in with a lens that shifts apertures, the image will get darker or lighter in your shot, at the point where the aperture shifts. This means you will be better off with fixed apertures on lenses and higher end lenses may be better to avoid this shifting. Also, I have found that, Long lenses give a watery look when not completely stable. When shooting with longer lenses, make sure the lens itself can be attached to the tripod. Not just the camera body.
Another disadvantage is the LCD screen is really hard to see outdoors. Especially out in the snow and in the sun. You have to buy an eyecup adaptor that fits on the screen, and works as an eyepiece. I recommend the Zacuto eyepiece adaptor. Check them out here It is the best one I have seen so far.
Another issue is the rolling shutter. This causes geometry to bend when you pan the camera back and forth. Google “rolling shutter”, to understand the science behind it. Basically, straight lines start to bend when the camera pans back and forth too quickly. There are after effects plug ins to fix this, but it is best to try and eliminate panning too quickly.
The camera in general is great for multi-useage. Shooting sequences, shooting stills, shooting Full HD video. The Canon 7D was a huge step towards integration, and a huge step into making high quality HD video more portable. I can’t wait to see what will be available from camera manufacturers in the near future.
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