Posts tagged Canon 7D

Shooting wide on the Cinema Camera

Comparing the Canon 8-15mm, the Sigma 8-16mm, and the Rokinon 8mm on the new Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera.

Since the announcement of the Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera last April at NAB, there’s been a lot of speculation that this camera wont be able to shoot wide. This simply isn’t the case. If you think back to Super 16mm film or ENG cameras of old that shot using 1/3-inch to 2/3-inch sensors, you’ll quickly realize there were in fact options to shoot wide with those cameras.

We’ve had our Cinema Camera for a short while now, and last week, our NDA was (partially) lifted from BMD to allow us to finally show the camera and start shooting with it in public and with crew. Oh the liberty!

Check out our Facebook page for more info and a bunch of photos, including behind-the-scenes of our large production shoot last Saturday night.

So during this time, the first thing I actually tested was wide-angle usage. As expected (and as theorized with my calculations based on my Cinema Camera article on Creative Cow last April), the Cinema Camera can shoot wide, and in some cases, perform a variable crop function on certain lenses that vignette or pinhole on other cameras with larger sensors.

Director, Steffan Schulz left, and DP, Marco Solorio on right shooting on-location with the new Cinema Camera on a OneRiver Media production. Mounted to the camera is the Sigma 8-16mm lens, and works perfectly with the ARRI MMB-1 mattebox without any vignetting.


The group of images below was quickly shot just an hour or so ago here at our facility in the main edit suite. Since I’m strictly comparing lens width, I didn’t spend too much time dressing up the “scene” or doing an exotic grade.

Obviously the Canon 5D Mark II and Canon 7D were recorded at H.264. The Cinema Camera was shot at 12-bit RAW CinemaDNG, quickly debayered/exposed in Lightroom 4, and exported out. The final image is compressed to JPEG at 51% quality, so there will be inherent artifacts there, so keep that in mind.

Personally, I really like the Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 HSM lens so far. It doesn’t have any barrel distortion at all and the edges stay straight throughout. Sharpness isn’t bad either, even wide open.

The Canon 8-15mm f/4L is clearly the widest, but has obvious barrel distortion. Zoom in to 15mm and the distortion goes away for the most part. It’s a sharp lens throughout. And the solid build-quality is typical of all Canon L lenses; very nice.

The Rokinon 8mm T3.8 cinema prime lens is just a shy less wide than the Canon 8-15mm lens, and has its own share of barrel distortion, albeit less than the Canon. Fully wide open, this lens is soft. To get decent sharpness, you need to stop down to about T5.6.

Director, Steffan Schulz giving instruction to actress, Alicia Forbrich. Mounted to the hood of the Porsche is the Ciname Camera and Sigma 8-16mm lens.


It should be noted too that some of these lenses wont work for video on the 5D and 7D. On the 5D , the 8mm width either pinholes or imposes severe vignetting (not cool looking vignetting, but hard edged fugly vignetting). The 5D can really only go down to about 15mm wide, and only on the 8-15mm lens (the other two lenses wont work). The 7D can fully use the Sigma and Rokinon lens, but can really only go down to 10mm on the Canon 8-15mm lens.

Between the three lenses, the Canon is the widest on the Cinema Camera, but has obvious distortion. The Rokinon is a little less wide, soft wide open, but employs built-in focus gears and de-clicked aperture, which is very nice. Cheap too.

DP, Marco Solorio on left getting ready for a motion shot using our 12-foot Kessler Crane. Mounted to the Cinema Camera is the Sigma 8-16mm lens. Yes, we did use quite a number of other lenses on this production as well!


On my 5D, shooting at 16mm is pretty dang wide. The widest I’d usually go was with my 24mm f/1.4L II prime for any real production. With that in mind, I’d much rather shoot with the Cinema Camera in 12-bit RAW using the Sigma 8-16mm lens and not only get the focal width I need, but also have superior image quality and dynamic range that the DSLR cameras can’t touch with a 1-million foot pole. Oh, did I mention the dynamic range? Yeah, GOBS and GOBS of dynamic range. But that’s another blog post.

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Is the New Blackmagic Cinema Camera the HDSLR Killer?

My latest article on Creative COW:

Marco Solorio of OneRiver Media dissects Blackmagic Design’s new Cinema Camera to see if it is in fact, the much-anticipated HDSLR-killer everyone’s been waiting for over the years. But with a comparatively smaller sensor size and radical body design, does it fit the bill as the killer we all want?

So I’ve been shooting video with the Canon 5D Mark II since late 2009 when the camera was initially released. I can’t believe that was over 3 years ago. For many productions, I still choose it over our other HD camera options. Aside from its setbacks, the images you can pull from that camera can still be breathtaking.

I’ll be the first to admit that I was a little heart-broken after waiting three years for the 5D Mark III successor, only to find that the HD video feature-set wasn’t anything to write home about. Don’t get me wrong, the improvements are definitely there, but in many cases, Canon lost out on “Revolution Part 2″ with the Mark III, that they captured so well with the Mark II…

To read the FULL article, head over to and check it out!


Behind the scenes on the set of Saba

View from video village and out to the set.

OneRiver Media was recently brought on board to help produce a video for Saba Software. Miner Productions is the main producing agency (Tracey Miner as producer), OneRiver Media was brought on for director of photography and technical director (both assigned to Marco Solorio) and all post-production, and Left Coast Productions (Barbara Murray) was brought on as production director and production management. The production itself was shot at ICV in Pleasanton, California in their three-wall cyc studio.


Lead actress Taylor Ray touches a clear sheet of plexiglass that sits between her and the camera. Motion graphics will later be composited together to give the shot the "Minority Report" effect. Viewed from the video viallge LCD screen.

We had a two-day production for this shoot (May 10-11), as organized by Barbara Murray. The video itself is supposed to have a Minority Report feel to it for certain parts of the video (namely where the actors interact with a transparent screen). Because of the complexity of the production, it was up to OneRiver Media to figure out how it was all going to work, both in production and in post-production.

Since this video is supposed to have a cinematic look and feel to it, we knew shooting this with our DSLR cameras and our collection of super fast primes was the best option. It’s also our favorite way to shoot video.


The Shoot

5D on left (DP, Marco Solorio), floating on 12-foot crane. 7D on right (opperated by Atticus Culver-Rease) locked down on sticks.

Day 1 consisted of a two-camera shoot, so we used our Canon 5D Mk II as the A camera (Marco Solorio, director of photography) and the 7D as the B camera (operated by Atticus Culver-Rease). The 5D Mk II was rigged up in our “cine rig” configuration, which consisted of a View Factor cage as the base, which allows us to mount rods top and bottom for the kind of gear we want to mount to it.




Director of Photography, Marco Solorio sets up the 7D B-camera for some tight B-roll shots.

The 7D was more “tame” with regard to rigging, but did its job well and the footage between the 5D and 7D match extremely well together. All settings were matched together as closely as possible, including picture profiles, white balance, shutter speed (1/45 on 5D and 1/50 on 7D), ISO at 160, and frame-rate. Aperture was usually wide open on the 5D (thanks to our Singh Ray Vari-ND-Duo), but the 7D was stopped down a little more on most shots even though we could have put an ND filter in its matte box.



Swapping prime lenses on the 5D Mk II "cine rig".

Both cameras were fed to the video village for the director, producer and client to view. The 5D Mk II has an onboard Blackmagic Design HDMI-to-SDI mini converter, which then drives the onboard TVLogic LVM-071w monitor and the HD-SDI feed to the video village. The 7D however split its HDMI signal (passively) to its onboard Ikan 5” LCD monitor and to video village. Still amazes me that both the 5D and 7D can passively split the HDMI signal (and at decent lengths at that), yet neither of them can output a clean, raw 1080 HD signal. But I digress.

5D Mk II floating on 12-foot crane. Actors waiting for director to call action.

Because we wanted some interesting motion in the video, we brought our 12-foot Kessler Crane with remote turret. We ended up controlling the camera from the camera-side of the crane since we had more control that way and merely wanted to “float” the camera around. We didn’t need extreme vertical height, but did float it up and down at times. The 7D on the other hand was always on sticks, but did follow the actors at times, and acquired some B-roll. In the end, our remote turret never ended up being used for this shoot.


Short iPhone video of DP, Marco Solorio testing out the motion of the crane.

Using our 12-foot Kessler Crane kind of like a Steadicam rig in terms of smooth motion, except we have the added benefit of smooth vertical Y-axis movement.

Director, Barbara Murray (bottom center) sitting with actors. Producer, Tracey Miner (top center) getting iPad ready for scene.

We did dual-system sound for both days. All audio was set up and recorded by Darcel Walker, a true master of the craft. Since the DSLRs can’t input or output timecode in real-time, I decided that we’d use Darcel’s Fostex PD-6 as the master timecode reference, which also fed our digital timecode slate. Every shot had timecode reference on picture at the head of the take.

Day 1 was extremely complicated, as far as staging setups were concerned, but we trucked through and made it all work. The footage looks great with nice narrow DOF on many of the shots. From the large collection of lenses we have, we used the following for the first day: 35mm f/1.4L, 50mm f/1.2L, 85mm f/1.2L II and the 135mm f/2L. There’s a lot of motion-tracking and chromakeying to be performed for the first day’s footage, but that’ll be another blog post.

Green screen setup for day 2. Gaffer, Dan Juenemann (left). Actor, Jeffrey Weissman (center). DP, Marco Solorio (right).

Day 2 was completely different, even though the footage would be used for the same video. Instead of using our DSLRs for the second day of shooting, I decided that using our Sony EX1 tethered to an AJA Ki Pro would be best since we’re shooting against a green screen cyc for this day. The EX1 has a huge advantage over the DSLRs in this regard with its 10-bit uncompressed HD-SDI output spigot. For chromakeying, this is, well, key! That 10-bit signal is then sent to the AJA Ki Pro, which we set to ProRes 422 HQ for maximum quality. We want every ounce of color fidelity for chromakeying and this combination of camera and DVR works extremely well to accomplish that. After approving Dan Juennemann and Clark Todd’s lighting setup with the waveform/vectorscope, we were all set to start shooting.

Note the super clean green backing. Gaffer, Dan Juenemann (left). Actor, Ricky Wang (center). DP, Marco Solorio (right).

Like all chromakey production we’ve done for about 15 years now, we’ll be using Ultimatte, so we shoot with the actors as normal, then shoot without them for a “clean plate” so Ultimatte can pull an ever better looking key.

In the end, both days resulted in great footage and audio. The client left happy, the producer left happy, the director left happy and I left happy. That’s what it’s all about, right? Stay tuned for a post-production blog post on this project in the next few weeks when the video is completed and approved by the client.


Gaffer, Dan Juenemann getting the slate ready for the final shot of the day... the clean plate! And that's a wrap, folks!

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