In Hollywood the Cannon 7D and 5D Mark II are commonly used as video camera’s rather than the still camera’s they were designed to be. But with the new 1D offering a lot of interesting new video features will it be the new video camera of choice for television production? Quite simply no. Canon has a habit of building camera’s based on what their engineers and market research say rather than talking directly to the customers and building what they want. The 1D demonstrates this in spades.
While lowering noise was high on everyone’s list of features, and the 4 Gig limit on shooting video was something we all looked at seeing resolved, the approach that Canon took at resolving the latter was wrong. The ESO-1D X is the first Canon still camera to offer 30 minute recording. Up from the roughly 11.5 minutes that was previously supported. But these longer recordings come at a price. The segmented files aren’t quite as seamless as they should be. When placed in to a timeline it doesn’t take much of a trained eye, (or ear) to spot the change over.
The files I was given to analyze were in the ESO-1D X lower artifact "IPB" mode, so I can’t speak directly to the all I frame mode videos, but in the IPB mode there are definite gaps between adjacent video. These gaps result in audio phase issues or warble (depending on the pitch) and a slight jitter in the video combined with quantization pulse. This is especially apparent if the seam happens when you are panning the camera or during fast motion.
The new IPB format seems to have issues with picking a quant value, and the start of recording have fewer artifacts at the beginning of recordings and more as it "settles" on a setting a few seconds in. The format’s scene detection also fails to recover from strobes and other dramatic changes to lighting or the pace of action.
The all I-Frame recording mode may not suffer from some of these issues, but the previous all I-Frame mode had quality issues of its own. Magic Lantern firmware for supported models allowed for changing the video quality on previous models, and while better quality created even lower record times, the video quality was superior to just about everything on the market.
Perhaps the ESO-1D X will resolve these issues with firmware, or Magic Lantern will fix it for them, but for now… Stick with the 5d or 7D if you are going to use these as video cameras, and if you need to shoot beyond 10 minutes get a Camcorder.
I was asked not to post the video from the camera until the final release of the camera/firmware. Canon claims they are aware of some of these issues and expects to resolve them by the March 2012 release date.