Canon 1D Mark IV

NOCTURNE of Events

Canon has proudly placed Nocturne on their website, echoing the up-down-up pattern Reverie experienced last year.

Astute ProLost readers will have noted that Nocturne has always been viewable on my YouTube account, since Canon never asked me to take it down, just Vincent.

As you will recall, Nocturne is a short film shot entirely in available light using two pre-release Canon 1D Mark IV HDSLRs.

Vincent Laforet wrote about the film here and here, and has a fresh update here, along with a behind-the-scenes video edited by Joseph Linaschke.

My making-of post is here.

The 1D Mark IV is starting to show up in peoples’ hands and looks to be a rockin’ solid action SLR with the autofocus that Canon shooters have long wished for. As I wrote here, it is undoubtedly $5,000 worth of stills camera. It’s probably not $5,000 worth of HD video camera, unless you very specifically need the unmatched low-light performance.

Which you very well might. It’s obviously awesome.

Just remember that the Mark IV has no ergonomic concessions to video shooting—not even a dedicated video start-stop like the 7D has. And while it has greatly reduced rolling shutter skew (Nocturne is ample evidence of this), the video aliasing/moiré is no better than that of the 5D Mark II (something you can also see in Nocturne).

Best CF Cards for 5D, 7D Movies

I’ve been vocally recommending that people interested in shooting video with the Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 7D, and upcoming Canon 1D Mark IV, use UDMA, or “Extreme IV” Compact Flash (CF) cards. This was based on some hard-won personal experience — I had two nasty drop-outs (in the form of held frames) when I shot Chapter 12: After the Subway to Extreme III CF cards.

Since then I’ve gotten many replies and comments from people shooting with the far less-expensive Extreme III and 133x cards without incident.

Here’s one such response, from Will Backer, reprinted here with his permission:

Hey Stu,

First off, thanks so much for your continued support of the indie rebel community — I’m a big fan.

I wanted to just drop you a quick recommendation regarding the flash cards you use and recommend for shooting video on the 5Dmkii and the 7D.

I haven’t shot on the 7D, which I realize has a slightly higher data rate, but I have shot 8 commercials (about 20 hours of raw footage) on the 5D with the Kingston Elite Pro 32 GB 133x cards (about $75 each), and I have not had any issues whatsoever with speed or data security.

I see that you’re still recommending the 8GB Extreme IV’s, which are 1/4 the size and more expensive than the Kingston 133x 32GBs.  I know you moved to these faster cards after losing data on the Extreme IIIs — which makes sense, but it seems the word around the net is the the Extreme III just didn’t play well with the 5Dmkii, and it isn’t necessarily a speed issue.

I bought 2 of the Kingston’s because I found people on cinema 5d successfully using them and I needed to shoot a lot in the field.  I’ve since noticed that Phillip Bloom and others use and recommend these cards as well.

Obviously it’s better safe than sorry when it comes to quality media, but the price difference is so huge that you may wanna give slower cards a try.  At least these Kingstons seem to work perfectly and offer a four-fold gain in storage capacity for your dollar.



Thanks Will. I’m cautiously changing my recommended cards on the 7D Cine store page and I’ll let you know if I have any issues with the Kingston card I just ordered!

What Should I Buy?

UPDATE: See below for thoughts on the Rebel T2i.

Many people ask me which camera they should buy. It’s a question I duck and dodge like Steven Seagal.

People have also told me that they “eagerly await my review of the Canon 7D.” Which strikes me as odd, given that I’ve never reviewed a camera in my life.

I bought a 7D. I don’t buy things to try them out. I’m not a tech journalist or someone who gets review units of new cameras. I’m a self-unemployeed filmmaker who spent his own money on it, and I’m happy with my purchase. It’s cheap by the measure of the type of video cameras I like, and it uses the same lenses that I habitually collect for my still photography.

Does the announcement of the pending firmware update to the 5D Mark II sully that happiness at all? Maybe it would if Canon was releasing it now, but since it’s a ways off, it just reminds me that I should not have bought the 7D if I didn’t have an immediate need for it. It’s a nice kick in the pants to keep shooting.

So what should you buy? If you are interested in DSLRs and have an immediate need, my recommendation is the 7D. It’s affordable, will get you on the trail of some nice lenses, and you get a free flagship-of-the-line APS-C stills camera in every box. Handy for PR stills.

I’ve prepared a 2-page Canon 7D Cine Kit store page for your convenience. Shopping there puts you in the Stu-owes-you-a-beer queue.

You could buy a 5D Mark II and wait for the firmware, miserably shooting 30p in the meantime. That sounds pretty silly to me—unless stills are more important to you than video. To me, there’s nothing like a full-frame DSLR for shooting stills. I loved my original 5D and I’ve learned to love my 5D Mark II as much. But don’t buy a camera based on what it might someday become. Buy the camera that you needed yesterday. If you’re reading this blog you know that 24p, like pants, is not optional. So for the time being, the 5D is not a great choice.

Also remember that all indications are that the 5D will get 24 and 25p, but not the 720p 50 and 60 fps modes that the 7D and 1D Mark IV have.

UPDATE: Looks like that’s not true—Canon revealed that the 5D Mark II will get all of the 7D’s frame rates.

UPDATE UPDATE: And now it looks like that’s not the case.

Ah yes, the 1D Mark IV. Should you buy that? For $5,000? That sounds expensive, but it’s what I paid for my first DV camera (the Sony VX1000 baby), which had no 24p and was, if I recall correctly, powered by steam or possibly wood. Of course, it came with a lens. The Mark IV is most assuredly $5,000 worth of stills camera body, but it’s not $5,000 worth of video camera. It has amazing low-light performance and greatly reduced rolling shutter artifacting, but it still struggles to resolve detailed scenes without nasty aliasing and color fringing, and lacks professional audio inputs. It can’t auto-focus while recording video and makes manually focussing difficult. Just like the 5D and 7D.

So unless you need to shoot in the dark and have money to spare (or are also a photojournalist who traffics in 1D bodies), I’d turn your attention back to the 7D. Convenient shopping page here. Beer owed.

Or, heck, you could go crazy and buy a “video camera.” Word on the street is that they’re damn good at shooting video. If rolling shutter really bums you out, check out the last great CCD camera, the Panasonic HMC150. It has all the same frame rates as the 7D, and get this: it’s designed to shoot video.

I’m sure someone will point out that you could wait and buy a Scarlet, or something else cool and unreleased. But this post isn’t called “What camera should I wait for, failing to do any filmmaking in the process.” I respect that RED is taking its time. We’ll talk about RED when there’s something to talk about.

So without further ado, here’s my long awaited review of the Canon 7D: Buy one, and be so busy using it that you don’t have time to talk about it. That’s my plan.


on 2009-10-23 06:08 by Stu

A commented asked about the Panasonic GH1. I wish that camera was on this list. One of the reasons it was easy to impulse-buy the 7D was that I’d already mentally spent the money on a GH1 months prior. I praised Panasonic for taking video seriously in a hybrid camera. Then I saw how nasty the compression was on the 24p files and I completely lost the loving feeling. I have a half-written tough-love post about it (tentative title is GH1: DOA, snappy, eh?). Between the harsh compression, the what-year-is-it-anyway 3:2 pulldown, and the slow kit lens, the GH1 is a big disapointment to this die-hard Panasonic fan.


on 2010-02-26 21:39 by Stu

I could probably write this article all over again now that the Canon Rebel T2i, AKA the 550D has arrived. Basically the same video functions as the 7D, in a cheap plastic body for half the price.

Read more about the Rebel here, or check out the Rebel Starter Kit at the ProLost store.

Is there still a reason to buy the 7D over the Rebel? I think if you had both cameras in front of you, the answer would be clear. There’s no comparison in build quality, weather sealing, and “feel” between Canon’s Rebel offerings and the 7D, which is the flagship camera in Canon’s APS-C line and is built like a tank. But if you never use the camera for stills, and don’t mind the budget body, the 550D is an amazing deal.