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  1. #1

    Long form capture for DSLRs

    I'm leaning toward using a new-generation DSLR for most of my video shooting (guessing that the Canon 5D Mark II will be updated to include extreme ISO capacity), and am wondering how videographers would handle the challenge of capturing hours of video while on location, where it's not easy to download files and re-format CompactFlash cards. What I'm reading indicates that you might get 15-20 minutes of video from even a high-volume CF card... what does anybody know about options that would allow you to capture perhaps 2-6 hours of full HD video before getting somewhere where you could empty out your capture cards/device?
    Also: are there any long-form capture devices that are affordable for people of average means?
    Thanks for any insight you can offer!

  2. #2
    Hi Mark

    The 5DII does have restricted video of around 30mins max per card regardless of the size of the card. I would still think that to do anything like you are intending, a decent video camera would be a far better option.

    With that you could take your video directly out to a Firestor drive or even your laptop if you don't need to be 100% mobile.


  3. #3
    Senior Member SC358's Avatar
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    May 2005
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    Hi Mark -
    I agree with Chris. Shooting video with a DSLR has certain great points worth trying out but has not quite taken the place of a video camera. There are still some limitations which may or may not be improved depending on the demand.
    Relationships are based on compromises - behavior accepted is behavior repeated.

  4. #4
    Thank you, Chris and SC!
    Being burdened with the passion and responsibility of being both a still and video shooter, I am looking for excuses to use the DSLR as my primary video camera, also using it as the primary still camera. Chris, are you certain about the 30-minute limit regardless of size of the CF card? My interpretation of what I've been reading is that the camera has that 30-minute limitation per "clip" of video... indicating that if you simply stop recording, then start again, you can still fill the capacity of a given card with multiple clips, none of which can exceed the pre-set limit.
    Interpreting the info I gathered from Canon's web site, a 16 Gig card could record about 45-48 minutes of full HD video, depending on what is captured in each scene. It follows, I think, that a 32 GB card could capture about 90 minutes of video, and as long as you don't attempt to record continuously for longer than the pre-set limit.
    I was beginning to think that the problem is not really a problem at all, as cost of CF cards continues to come down, and I could download to a laptop in the field and re-format the cards and keep on shooting. Please clarify if it seems like I am not understanding this issue... and thanks again!

  5. #5
    Hi Mark

    The information is 2nd hand but from a friend who is a fairly knowledgeable expert and uses the 5DII but he could also be wrong. It was something to do with the electronics overheating if you record for more than 30 minutes so they decided to limit the clip/clips to 30 mins in total to avoid a problem.

    I think that the 7D was introduced to solve this issue and provide a better DSLR solution to video.

    I take my hat off to you using a camera with manual focus when you subjects are changing focal length rapidly...I guess you would then use a big DOF to make focussing easier...most guys using the 5D also use a rig with a follow focus motor to making tracking a subject easier. Also remember audio!!! You will need something similar to an H2 Zoom recorder for audio as the 5D is very sparse in that department!!

    This is what you will need to do a decent job!!!

    Last edited by ChrisHarding; 1st Feb 2010 at 02:39.

  6. #6
    Hi again, Chris... and thanks for the additional insights into the 7D and what it might have in terms of improved video functions. I will look into that. My plan is to wait, actually, for the next manifestation of the 5D, because I have a strong feeling that it will improve upon the video capabilities (due to strong adoption by so many filmmakers), and will no doubt incorporate the recent development of ISO capacity that goes into the stratosphere, making 'fast glass' less necessary, and improving our ability to get good footage in low light). In the meantime, I will fine-tune the big plan for gathering all the bling it will take to make it a great video tool, while preserving the ease of popping it out and using it for stills.
    Yes, I was aware of the other challenges you mention. There are some great setups created by Red Rock Micro, Zacuto, Arri, and others, that offer follow-focus, quick attachment of larger monitor, etc. As for the audio, that's another great observation! BeachTek has announced, and will soon have available, a balanced audio adapter specifically fitted for the 5D Mark II, which gives you XLR inputs for professional mics.
    I have to admit, I was not aware that there is no auto focus with the Mark II during video shooting. That is a tradeoff I would be willing to make, but hope I don't have to. You would think that might become something they build into future versions, given that the video side of this 'convergence' gear seems to be a significant component of its use.
    Thanks again, Chris! I will continue digging into this subject, and let you know if I find out future developments that help us all know what is possible, and what the tradeoffs are, with respect to DSLRs for video.



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