New Canon 1D X DSLR Can (Kind Of) Shoot 5K Video for Under $7,000
The RED EPIC was the first camera capable of shooting 5K video (which is more than 4 times bigger than 1080p), and not just at 24fps, but a whopping 120fps (in a 2.39:1 aspect ratio). Now it looks like RED is getting some…competition? Michael Hession over at Gizmodo has been experimenting with the new Canon 1D X, which is capable of still image bursts of 12fps RAW or 14fps JPEG. While there are limitations, the results played back as a video actually approach real motion. Check out the interesting results from Michael’s video below.
Here is Michael Hession talking about the experiment:
Of course, there are vast limitations to using the 1DX’s still mode to make movies. Aside from settling for a choppy 14 fps, you can only shoot in bursts of between 5-10 seconds (this might increase with faster CF cards), there is no sound recorded, and you can’t even see through the viewfinder while shooting. But for all the downsides, it was surprisingly, incredibly fun shooting in this manner. It felt like shooting with an old 16mm Bolex camera. That loud shutter, the short bursts, composing your shot through a viewfinder rather than an LCD, it was quite a joy. All in all, we had to shoot 2000 separate JPG images to form the video.
It’s a technique that I’ve seen a few times before, but never anywhere near 14fps (which is only 10 frames per second off from what most of us are shooting narrative projects at). If you want more realistic motion (as much as a 2fps gain from 12 to 14 is realistic), you’d have to stick with JPEG only, which means you’d be losing a lot of the information that you originally started with (RAW), and almost defeating the purpose of the whole experiment in the first place. The downsides are pretty significant, like the fact that you’re only getting about 10 seconds per clip or less. I agree with the comparison to the old 16mm Bolex camera (not to be confused with the D16 Digtial Bolex camera). While the Bolex could shoot 24fps, the spring-loaded hand crank only allowed you to have takes of around 30 seconds.
Even though this technique is a cross between old silent filmmaking and a spring-loaded Bolex, it will yield a far higher resolution image than any of those older cameras were capable of (5184 x 3456 to be exact, which you would then probably crop to 16:9). Of course, if you wanted real motion (24fps) at a resolution somewhere near there, you could always find another $8,200 between the couch cushions and spring for the Canon 1D C (when it’s released), which would give you both Motion JPEG 24fps as well as the ability to try out this technique (since the 1D C and 1D X are practically the same camera). Then again, the RED SCARLET is capable of 5K at 12fps for a much longer clip time and you can get RAW instead of Motion JPEG 4K at 24fps.
There’s no question that these little cameras will reach 24fps at 5K or higher, but it’s likely it could only be done in a mirrorless camera similar to the Panasonic GH2, or maybe even a higher-end version of the Canon EOS M. At a certain point the mechanical nature of these cameras becomes the real bottleneck, and not the sensor or buffer in the camera. The buffer would certainly be the biggest hurdle to overcome (after getting the sensor to read faster), but if you could get 20-30 seconds like the old Bolex, you could conceivably shoot a real movie. Of course, by that time, there may be real 5K RAW video for the same price as the 1D X.
Now, before everyone gets all riled up about not needing 5K (or even 4K), this isn’t something to be taken too seriously, it’s just an interesting technique that I’m sure people could have some fun with. Certainly, only having 20-30 seconds of 24fps 5K (if we got to that point) would be a challenge, but those types of limitations can actually free us creatively.
What do you guys think?