Sunday, December 6, 2009

Canon 7D Video Analysis

I recently bought a Canon 7D.
For photographing it seems to be a wonderful camera. The auto focus works fine, and there is a ton of features that I'm sure will be very useful.

What is the purpose of this analysis?
- To find out strength and weaknesses of the 7D for filming. I'm focusing mostly on the negative sides since there is very little information about this on the net but tons of talk about how amazing videos it can create.
- make sure that people who consider using a 7D for video knows about the limitations.
- Illustrate problems so that Canon can find technical solutions to these problems.
- Find alternative cameras for filming.

Please do remember I love Canon cameras, but I do wish that the filming would be a bit more solid.

One of my main reasons for buying the 7D was to use it for filming nature films. Filming with an SLR compared to a camcorders have many benefits:
- short depth of field if you wish
- plenty of lenses to pick from. Zoom lenses, 50mm 1.4 etc.
- very high bitrate, almost 50Mbit.
- filters can be easily reused
- you can use it for both photos and filming.
- 1080p, 720 60fps slow motion.
- high quality images. Or is it? That is what we will look at.

Full Resolution
There are many videos on the net which shows videos filmed with 5D and 7D in very high quality. However almost all of these are shown in medium resolution like 800x600. What do these movies really look like in 100% resolution 1920x1080, 1280x720.

While filming with 500D I found many problems with the quality. Some of the problems are:
- extreme chromatic abberation. This means that there are very strong color shifts around contrast areas such as trees.
- alias. Jaggy corners and details.
- blurriness. The details are simply lacking.
- the camera is not so great as you would think in low light but feature strong noise.

High ISO
The image below shows ISO 3200 in a out of focus area. As you can see the noise is very strong, making it nearly useless.

ISO 100, 100mm 2.8 Macro at at f/6.
This lens is extremely sharp so the image should be as perfect as it can be.
The image illustrates that the details are blurry, there is chromatic abberation and in areas like the ceilings there simply isn't much detail.

1280x720. 60fps. Pretty high ISO (1000-2000 I think).
This images looks good. No problems here. Sometimes the films look fine and sometimes they look very weak. Not sure why, but it seems to have to do with contrast, light and patterns.
Market Details
1280x720 60fps can be nearly useless at times.
This market image has extreme aliasing, sometimes the pixels are double making a very chunky feel. Lines can also have a strong stair pattern. The details on the ground were also very weak and tiny stones kept popping in and out of the image.

Market Full Image
This is the full image of the market. 17-85IS. ISO is auto so it's pretty high. The lens may not be L quality but surely it should be good enough for shooting a scene in daylight without extreme alias artifacts.

As a summary the 720p 60fps creates often very weak material.
1080p is better but also has problems with detail.

What is the source of these problems?
The sensor of 7D has 18Mpixels, while the movie has only about 2Mpixels. The way the cpu deals with this is that it simply skips a lot of the lines or pixels in the sensor. So many pixels are not used, this will cause the jaggy lines and general lack of detail.

This was the first days testing of the Canon 7D. I hope to do more tests in the following week.


Monday, October 5, 2009

Macro Flowers

Hiya all. As you probably know I bought the Canon 100mm 2.8 lens a while ago.
I really like taking pictures of flowers, up close there is just so much beauty and detail that you never appreciate normally.

These are my latest macro works.

The picture below is about 4cm big in my mothers garden. I shot hand held used an aluminium foil reflector to create the strong glare of light in the water drops. Thanks mom for holding the reflector :D
The picture has been cropped pretty strongly so it's only about a third of the original size. I hope to process this in Photoshop quite extensively.

(click to see full frame)

A cute little blu flower, about 2cm big, this is the original size from the camera. I took some shots where the background is more blurry, I plan on replacing this background with the blurriness. I took about 50 different images of this flower because I could sense that there was a perfect shot in it. Another shot showing a bit of sky had even better composition but since that one was handlheld it wasn't sharp enough. I shot this picture with a tripod at f/16 ISO 100. I also used tiny ropes to hold the flower upright.
This flower is about 3cm. It's shot handheld and you can see a bit of the reflector to the left. I plan on painting it away. The reflector makes a big difference in the highlights.

Currently I'm investigating how to come even closer with Macro (without spending a fortune).
Any comments are welcome.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Canon 5D Mark2 vs 500D vs HF 200 video

The last year I've been doing nature filming more and more serious. The products I do I publish on blu ray in 1080p (1920x1080) resolution and because of this resolution the quality demands are very high. A picture from my latest Blu Ray about Norway (still in production).

It has proved to be nearly impossible to get a good understanding of what camera is indeed the "best" for filming, for this reason I've been forced to begin testing myself. These are the findings...

Edit: A few images cannot be shown in full size, this will be fixed later today.

I'm comparing:
  • Canon 500D ($900) (this is my current camera) with 24-105 F4 L lens
  • Canon 5D ($2700) with 24-105 F4 Lens
  • Canon HF200 ($600) Legria which one of canons latest camcorder.
The reason why I'm comparing these cameras is that they are all cameras I consider using. The 5D is the expensive solution which can both film and take amazing pictures. I only brought the HF200 for the test because a friend had one laying around and was much surprised by the results.

What are MY requirments?
Many filmers using 5D etc love the feature to make shallow depth of field. This means that the picture can focus at a detail and everything in the background is blurry. I mainly film wide landscapes and for this reason I don't need depth of field, instead I need the image to be as sharp as possible.

Why not use a video camera instead?
If you read this you may wonder why we shouldn't buy a video camera straight away. Well, that could be a good idea, but the slr cameras have many benefits for filming. For example video cameras that has replacable lenses are VERY expensive. By using a camera like 500D its possible to switch lenses without paying that much money. Also if you look for depth of field for doing artistic filming you must buy an expensive camera with a big sensor. The slr cameras of course also has the benefit of being super for taking photos!

Quality Problems
The main reason for my comparisons is that I'm having problems with the video quality of the 500D. The main problems are:
  • the video is always blurry. As you will see in the images below you will see that the images are far from sharp.
  • 1080 can only record 20fps, which makes any motion be a bit jerky. 720 is too low resolution for me.
  • No manual controls, this means that you have no idea what apperture, shutter time or iso the camera will select for you.
I filmed with the same lens (5D and 500D) and zoomed so that they would capture a similar area using a tripod. I set the 5D to F8 (possibly a bit higher, can't remember) and ISO 100 to get the maximum quality. For the 500D I tried to mimic the look of 5D as close as I could adjusting the exposure compensation. Every image has been focused with Live View at 10x to make sure the focusing is as exact as possible.

The pictures are screen grabbed from Quicktime (5D and 500D) and saved from Photoshop with 100% quality Jpegs. The HF200 is captured from the latest version of VLC with deinterlation turned on.

The Canon 500D Image looks like this (click to see full size):



As you can see the images look quite different. The 500D is a bit brighter than the other cameras, if I would film again I would try to make it a bit less bright. I'm also using 1 step extra sharpness and saturation on the 500D. I later learned that the contrast can insert big artifacts so I'm not using the extra sharpness anymore.

Lets look at the images in more detail:

Tree Image
The HF200 has a very nice image. It looks much like real life. Maybe there are some details that feels a bit off, I think this is because of the deinterlacing. The 5D looks nice, but you can see that it's a bit more blurry than the HF200 even though its supposed to be in focus.
The 500D suffers from very strong blurriness. Look at the leaves, it looks like they are smeared together.

Tree Trunc image
I don't think any of the pictures below looks very good. The HF200 looks the best once again. Both the 5D and 500D has a blurry tree trunc while the HF200 looks like a sharp line. Also the high lights in the bushes are too sharp in the picture from 5D and the grass doesn't have the same amount of detail as HF200. The 500D looks horrible, like an oil painting maybe. If you look closely at the tree trunc there is noise visible, blue and red splotches to the right of the tree trunc. It also looks a bit like chromatic abberation which doesn't make any sense at all. In other films I've done I noticed chromatic abberation that I never see in photos and also light shadows around details with high contrast.

Bike and sand
The HF200 looks better for the most part. You can see some bleeding around the red details on the bike. There isn't that much detail in the sand for the HF200.
The 5D sand has plenty of detail but the tree leaves are not sharp, the bike isn't very sharp either, especially the tyre.
The 500D is very blurry like the other images and there is very little detail on the sand.

Why isn't 5D and 500D better?
They both have some of the best glass in the world while HF200 has a very cheap glass, they also have super big sensors so one would think that the images should look fantastic. The 5D takes pictures in 24Mp, the 500D in 15Mp, this is where good glass is the most important, however for filming only 2Mp is used so the good glass is almost "wasted". It's only when you reach high megapixels that you will begin to see the problems with cheaper glass.

What makes a far bigger difference is:
  • how the sensor captures light for the film. No information exists about this outside Canonbut it is known that Canon doesn't use all the sensors while capturing film. I read that 5D uses every 3rd sensor and 500D uses every 5th. This of course means that the sensor is not at all as efficient as one may think judging by its size.
  • The 500 suffers greatly from having manual controls. I suspect that the 500D picks 16F apperture and iso 1600 or higher even for daylight situations. This would explain the strong noise and blurriness.
  • Film technology is not mature on slr cameras. This is also shown in the settings and also reflected in the quality.
In this example the 500D showed that its film is not comparable at all to cheaper camcorders when it comes to sharpness. Remember that the 500D can still do many things a camcorder cannot (like switching lenses and having shallow depth of field). However this goes both ways, a camcorder can also do many things like focusing automatically which the 500D cannot. I have used the 500D for many months of filming and this behaviour of blurry images and chromatic abberation is very consistent.

For this situation the 5D is also having problems with sharpness. If you have done other films in other areas please don't hesitate to show your results and conclusions for me. I think that in general the 5D will not be able to create super sharp images in videos at a 1:1 zoomed in 1080p movie.
The Canon 7D comes with several new features, hopefully it can film sharper images than the 5D by using 2 chips to process hopefully even more sensors.

How can this test be improved
Testing hardware to give a fair comparison is not an easy thing. This test is quite good, but there is always room for improvement. To give a more clear comparison these are things that could be done:
- Low light environment. I found that the 500D was very poor in low light which I had not expected. A 2 year old Canon camcorder beat it big time. I expect the 5D to be the clear winner in dark areas.
- Comparing with a still picture. I should have one for this test and will update if I find it. It's very illuminating.
- Different environments. For example humans.
- P on camcorder and not interlaced if possible
- Adjust the sharpness and saturation sliders so they are more aligned.
- Take more care in making the strength of light identical.

So what Camera should I buy for filming?
Personally I'm still confused. It's clear that the 500D isn't good enough. The 5D is much better but still has some problems and is very expensive. Myself I will probably get a Canon HF200 and next year invest in Red Scarlet, a video camera that can record in 3k resolution with 120fps in raw format. It will cost about $4000-$7000 equiped which of course is very expensive but should also have a way higher quality than the Canon cameras (only time will tell).
If the 7D is a bit sharper than 5D then it's worth considering to upgrade to this camera also.

If you have any comments or more information please don't hesitate to contact me.
/Andreas Öberg

Saturday, July 11, 2009


Hello dear followers!

Saturday, the 29th of August there will be held a very cool competition in Copenhagen - Photomarathon! I will definitly participate, but it could be cool to join forces together to come to the top or just to have lots of fun. I hope you will find it interesting :)

Here is the homepage with all information needed:

Hugs, Natalie

Monday, June 1, 2009

Post More!

Hiya dear followers!!

We have had some lovely meetings and I'm sure there will be more exciting meetings to come.
The next meeting will be another fantastic art bomb.

I would like you all to post more things on this blog to inspire us all. Of course I will do the same.
Things to post:
- Everything artistic you do. This can be photographs, drawings, paintings. Take a picture and upload with Picaza. Picaza is a fantastic program (by google) for uploading images. It takes a little time to learn, but when you do know it you can use it for all kinds of things.
- Photos you take. Since I mostly photograph this is what I will do. Then we can all give critic on the pictures.
- Music, I know some of us are composers...
- Interesting things you find. This can be other artists, articles on interesting techniques. I plan on posting a lot of findings about cameras. For example I've been looking at a way of filming under water so you can dive amoung thousands of fishes and capture it all!

Make a point in your schedule to post at least 1 or 2 times a month and we will have lots of content.



Friday, May 15, 2009

Meeting May 24th

Hello guys!

A suggestion for our next meeting is May 24th :)

Friday, May 8, 2009

May 6th Meeting

Last meeting was a pleasant evening in Copenhagen, where we looked at mostly digital art tools.

The picture above shows a digital image created in Corel Painter and Adobe Photoshop. Done with a mouse.

Some art tools I recommend:

Autodesk 3ds Max 2010
For creating 3d art, sculpting and animating. This is a complex program but in theory you could make a whole movie with it.

Corel Painter 11
The best natural painting tool available. The bristles captures paint, the paint dry out, water colors pour down the canvas. 

Advantages with Digital Art
By painting on the computer you have several advantages compared to traditional media:
- You can undo!! It's super easy to test strange things because you can always go back to the previous state
- You can zoom in. For details you just zoom in to see more.
- You can copy. Copy flowers, mountains and then do variations. In my towers picture I copied hundreds of windows and then painted individual differences on top of them. This made it much faster to create the image.
- Colors can be changed. What often happens in oil or other media is that the colors are not quite right. This is very hard to correct afterwards, but with the computer its very easy. You can even create different variations of your painting, one that is dark, one that is light.
- Mixing media. You can mix media. Oil and airbrush are common to mix, but they would be hard to mix in real life. You paint nature with oil and then add the sun and sunrays with airbrush as an example.
- Computer brushes. Painter has brushes and methods that only exist on the computer. Such as fire brushes, grass brushes, leaves brushes. This makes it easier to create fx such as explosions, lightning and fires.
- A computer screen shines. On a canvas ist not possible to make the sun really shine, but on the computer it really does. The white pixels are in fact shining.
- Images can be combined with sound, music and movies. If you done a cool image it can be animated. The birds can fly, the trees move in the wind, the ocean is gently rising...
- You can print images many times. An image can easily be printed over and over.
- It's cheaper to paint many images since no oil or canvas has to be bought.
- It's not toxic like oil. Oil is toxic both for you and the environment, it also smells a lot. With oil you also have a lot of cleaning and waiting to do.
- In general the digital art will look much better than with traditional. It's simply easier to get good results but the competition is also harder.

Disadvantages with digital paint
There are some big disadvantages with digital art. Some of the problems can be overcome but it is often costly.
- The texture does not have a 3d feeling. When you paint with oil the canvas actually has depth too it. Also with water color the canvas has texture. Normally when you print digital art it will look as a painted photo and not like a painting. Some ways to avoid this problem is 1)Print on real canvas. This can look great and it looks much like a real oil painting but its expensive. Expect to pay 50$ for a medium sized print. 2) Print with a 3d printers. Printers can print giving the 3d feeling, but they are VERY expensive. In the future I'm sure we will see more solutions.
- People appreciate traditional art more than digital art. Most people will not "get" how complicated it is to create a good digital picture. This also means that its much harder to sell digital art in a traditional way. Digital art is probably easier to make a living of though, just like I'm doing. Commercials, movies, posters, computer games etc.
- It can be more fun to play with real oils. You can slab and dab all you want. Digital is fun and experimental in another way though.
- You can paint outside easier. A computer screen is not that suited for outside when the sun is shining, oil works fine though.

A Wacom Intous 4 board is the best one you can get for drawing. You can draw ok with the mouse, but with a pencil you have much more power because you have pressure. This means when you paint you can adjust the size or strength of the color with the pencil. You can also tilt the brush which will rotate the brush tip, super useful in Corel Painter. I'm always rotating my brush when I'm painting. There are cheaper drawing pencils but they do not have the tilt functionality which is very important for my work.

Good luck with digital paint and happy creating!!
See ya soon

Monday, April 6, 2009

Our next meeting

So guys, when should we meet? Andy, should it be at your place again?

Hugs, Nat

Thursday, April 2, 2009


Hi guys!

I want to share my recent creation with you :) I came across a photo of this lioness and wanted to see if I could draw her. Here is the result. I found out that to be able to do a better work on small areas I will need to purchase a special eraser pencil with shaped sharp edges (the drawing actually lacks the hair that usually grows around cats' noses :P I understood that I wasn't able to highlight that hair with my kneaded eraser... too late to be able to do something about it). Otherwise I'm pretty much satisfied for now ;) And your critic is always welcome.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Feedback for Course 1

Hiya, everyone. The first course was very smooth. It was tons of fun and everyone created good pictures. I will soon put up the pictures that we did together.

Here is some feedback for all of you, that you can work on untill next time. Hey, i will even give some feedback for myself.

Your picture was the picture that was the closest to mine. You have a good overall composition and the picture works good together. What you need to work on is the details and pencil strokes. What you should work on:
- hold the pencil like i showed you, underhand
- draw one line, just the way we did at the course. So its thining, and then you add randomness on it
- Create many pictures with grass and trees this way.

You had a very good style in your images. I even drew a picture yesterday copying your style, because I liked it. Very good! What you need to work on is making it look more like mine drawing. Your contrasts are too strong to be realistic. Make more gray shadows in between, also look at some of the leaves details.

Your picture turned out good in the end.
You need to make the pictures less straight. Add more randomness to the grass, the branches, practice on the same as Natalie. Also make the grass hills more round.

Your picture was very good thinking of how little you have drawed before. You need to work more on the lines and the general shading. Work on creating different hills and add shades of gray between them. Look at photos in black and white.

Andreas (myself)
To reach the next level in drawing trees use photographs as reference. Copy exactly how they look and memorize this so this can be done in free hand.

Any questions, just post here please :)
Also don't hesitate to post your art of course.

Best wishes,

Monday, March 30, 2009

Our last and our next meeting

Hey guys!

That was great day yesterday that we spent together! I've got loads of inspiration and I'm looking forward to continue with pencil drawing at our next meeting. Now, since I have volunteered to present an artistic topic next time, you can look forward to being introduced to a very interesting artist :)

The question is, when should that next time be? I suggest a meeting in three weeks - 18th or 19th of April.

What do you think?


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

First Meeting - Pencil for Beginners

Welcome to the first meeting or "assignment". This time we will learn the basics of pencil drawings and also create a more detailed drawing.
All our meetings are for everyone. It doesn't matter if you never did ANY drawings or painting in your whole life. The only requirement we have is that you bring a smile and are curious about art and meeting artistic people. The meetings are about
  • Creating art
  • Meeting artistic friends
  • Having fun, drawing with a glass of wine is allowed ;)

About the organizer Andreas Öberg
I'm, Andreas will be leading this meeting. This means I will teach you some basics in pencil drawings and some of those extra fansy tricks that most artists just may never learn. But you will ;)

An example of one of my drawings:

We are not going to do as an advanced drawings as the one above. We will do:
  • Basic light techniques, shading and shadows
  • Patterns, for example grass and branches
  • Copy a drawing/photo. I will create a drawing step-by-step and everyone will follow. This is where we will spend most of our time.

Andreas Öberg, Baltzarsgatan 14B, Malmö. Ring the bell.

Sunday 29th March, 14-18. This means 14.00 at the door people, so please don't be late :)

"Late" lunch is served (around 15), bring money for it 50 SEK, or 35DKK

What you need to bring
  • drawing paper. Perfect is a book around A4 size. Cost about 40SEK
  • Pencils. Perfect is a whole box with pencils cost about 100SEK. An example is this one. The pencils should mostly be soft ones (B). So from B9 to H4 for example:

If you want to save some money buy 3 pencils. B6, B2 and H2
  • Rubber. A big soft one with sharp edges. Example:
If you absolutely cannot find any of this stuff we will have some extra material around.

Looking forward to see you all soon!


Hi all

Welcome here, to where imagination soares


Carefully climb the stairs up the oak tree. Enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of inspiration and laughter. Listen to the birds singing in the forest and find your brush. Its time to create some art together.

Welcome to Tree House Art Club...