May 5, 2015 at 1:15AM

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My T2i footage isn't crispy enough, should I get a new camera or better lense?

my fellow cinematographers, so I'm shooting on 550d/T2i and since I was not getting the crispy look I was looking for, I installed ML and tried shooting RAW.

I'm getting much more details and better colors, though I have to shoot at a much smaller resolution (920x460) and going above 3minutes is probably dangerous to camera.

Still not satisfied with it, I'm wondering what can be done to improve it. Is it the camera sensor, I mean would a camera like BMCC or RED capture more details at 920x460? Or their sensors would work just like DSLRs? Or should I get better lenses? I use 18-55 kit lense. Or any plugins perhaps?

My videos end up online so I won't really need 4K.
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Since I shoot a lot outdoors, the camera has to be durable and small enough to carry, so I can't really carry around anything bigger than a BMCC.

I want to do it as cheaply as possible, even if cheapest solution is to tweak around with sharpness in post.

and I'd like to keep it under $2k, preferably around $1k, but tell me more expensive options if it's gonna be drastic improvement. I don't want to drop $20k just to get 1% better quality.

I can get a 50d for $350 and drop an extra $70 on CF card and can shoot 1584x1058 raw 24p for a total of $420.

Or shoot 720p on a 650d for $600.

But they're not that reliable in raw mode, especially 50d, I heard it can melt the sensor if you record too long. But these are cheap options so why not.

Or I can get a BMPC or BMCC 2.5k or just better lenses for my T2i...?

Thanks

22 Comments

All of these videos were shot with the Canon T2i...

https://vimeo.com/groups/550d/page:1/sort:plays/format:thumbnail

Kit lenses can be quite soft, but most of the non-kit lenses from Canon, Sigma, Tamron are pretty good. If you're not getting results like these videos, then you will have to work on your cinematography skills.

May 5, 2015 at 3:37AM, Edited May 5, 3:42AM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
31569

Thanks Guy for your reply,

I looked into them, it's weird but that group has videos from other cameras (such as 5d3) in it, so I searched for 550d and t2i as a tag.

This is what I found, I loved it, https://vimeo.com/106121380

Dave

May 5, 2015 at 11:32AM

Yeah Vimeo's grouping is weird. Most of the videos are for the right camera, but you have to always check to be sure.

Nice catch on 550D RAW test. Looks great to me. They're using pretty affordable lenses to shoot with, and I think the slider/dolly work gives it a nice professional touch.

Guy McLoughlin

May 5, 2015 at 1:59PM

As someone who started using T2i, then 5DmkII, and now a GH4... I have to say that crispness comes from detail.

The T2i resolves (take this with a grain of salt, this seems to be common belief) 650 lines of resolution, upscaled to 1080. As such, you won't get the amount of detail required for the video to be crisp.

Save some money and get a BMPCC, GH4, or any 4K-capture camera like the C100 (writes 1080 from a 4K sensor capture). You'll notice the difference immediately.

May 6, 2015 at 4:34PM

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E. David Nazario
Filmmaker
167

I'm shooting 960x480 using ML, is upscaling still an issue here?

BMPCC seems like the perfect choice, thanks for confirmation.

Dave

May 10, 2015 at 7:02AM

Having used the T2i for 5 years almost now. I am with David. Your getting a somewhat soft image due to the way the processor takes a 20MP image and make is a 2 Mega Pixel Image (1920x1080) There is some line skipping and approximation that lead to this kind of soft image. If you shoot with true 1080 sensor or closer to 1080 like the C100 or A7s you will notice a huge difference.

I have noticed for me that a high quality lens does go a long way to improving sharpness. My opinion is glass lasts longer than the actual camera body. There a new cameras every year, just buy one when your's no longer fits your needs.

May 6, 2015 at 8:02PM, Edited May 6, 8:02PM

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Kyle Acker
Cinematographer/ Video Editor
424

still same Q as for David, I'm shooting 960x480 using ML, is upscaling still an issue here?

I'm looking into prime lenses. Thanks

Dave

May 10, 2015 at 7:09AM

I come from Canon (T3i, 70D, 5D) and - apart shooting RAW thanks to ML - I always had this softness, moire and a lot of problems in the shadows when not using it on a set with proper lighting.
Then I bought a Panasonic G6 that in my opinion if far better then all the Canon DSLR and it cost just $400 or less. If you don't need 4K (and the GH4 is great for that), G6 could be a great camera and you have not to break the bank to buy it :)

May 7, 2015 at 12:32AM

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Simone Salvatore
Filmmaker / Recording Engineer / Musician
150

I'd look into it, Thanks for the suggestion.

Dave

May 10, 2015 at 7:10AM

You could go with a GH2 and Hack it. They go for about $400 and than invest in some good lens such as a voigtlander.

May 7, 2015 at 9:01AM

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I agree with Guy, t2i is perfectly capable of making good images. You say you are after "crispness" which got people talking about solving sharpness (which is not the t2i's strong suit, but it's not abysmal). I'm not sure that's enough for us to go on. Please post examples of your footage vs. a link to something you are trying to emulate but can't achieve.

If the only lens you have is the kit lens, I would advise you try out a nifty fifty or something with a wider aperture to see if what you are really looking for is the increase in perceived detail when you isolate a subject from the background using wide apertures.

I think it is the wrong path to chase a look with technology (ML raw, plugins, new cameras) unless you know precisely what your current setup is lacking and how your new solution will fix it. Exposing correctly, creative composition and minimizing camera shake (use a tripod or cheap monopod) should get you 80%+ of the way to good looking footage, even with a t2i.

May 7, 2015 at 11:31AM

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Here's a video I shot using kit lense : ( I know, it's pretty bad )
https://vimeo.com/127048174

Another video shot using the same camera and lense :
https://vimeo.com/77433341
It looks almost the same as mine in sharpness, but overall it looks better (color grading, I guess)

And this is what I'd love to achieve,
https://vimeo.com/106121380

The problem seems to be the lense, so I'm looking for one.
But do you think any of these guys are using any sharpening post? In general am I doing anything else wrong that'd cause loss of quality?

Dave

May 10, 2015 at 7:47AM

Dave, I looked at your examples and have a few general comments. The best looking shot on your video was when you got focus while closeup on the pay phone keys. I paused on these stills and it is more than sharp enough! I do not think camera or lens is your limiting factor.

Your test video to me was very shaky, try a tripod and carefully composed locked off (stationary, non-moving) shots for your next tests and see if that helps. Your grading is also very very contrasty compared to the other two. Your blacks are very crushed and the color pretty saturated. The other videos you posted show the more popular "raised black" look with more de-saturated colors. This doesn't make their videos sharper, but does reveal more details in the shadows.

All of the videos you shared have a significant amount of aliasing. Somewhere in the process of ML raw to vimeo, aliasing is pretty apparent on most fine detail. This is made worse on shaky shots. Based on this and using around with ML Raw on my eos-m, I would recommend against using it for anything other than tests and playing around with a raw workflow (unless you have a 5d). The civic video obviously looks the best but most of the improvements are due to lighting (shooting earlier in the morning or later in the day) and smooth camera motion and not so much based on the RAW workflow.

If I were you, I would get a tripod, go back to shooting full 1080 HD on the t2i, use the neutral picture profile with sharpness and contrast and saturation turned down (search prolost flat online) and try shooting scenes with less dynamic range (more even lighting). Then, once you have gotten some good stuff, I would look at fast aperture primes lenses and then maybe a camera upgrade to something like a gh4 with a metabones adapter. But based on your example, you still have a lot of room to develop with your current setup. Have fun and don't feel limited by gear!

http://nofilmschool.com/2012/06/do-specs-matter-canon-5d-mark-iii-canon-...

Jordan Colburn

May 10, 2015 at 3:41PM, Edited May 10, 3:41PM

I agree with Guy and Jordan, invest in some better glass. A 50mm prime, even a cheap one, will put you ahead of your kit lens. If you're planning on staying within the canon market, Rokinon lens are pretty good bang for your buck, which range from $300-600. Those seem to be within your market range and might also force you to switch up your shooting style a little bit as well since you won't be able to reframe just by zooming.

If that all doesn't seem to be working for you, I personally like the Panasonic GH line. You could pick up a lens and a GH4 for under $2K, but I would say stick with T2i until you know for sure that you've maxed out your capabilities with it (honestly, I need to learn that as well, always look at new gear myself). Hope you figure it out, best of luck!

May 7, 2015 at 2:41PM

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Caleb Owen
Director/Editor
183

Will do, Thanks.

Dave

May 10, 2015 at 7:48AM

becomes more apparent when you use the 550d in a multicam setup with other cameras, like my sony rx100 and a eos-m with kit lens. the sony is much sharper than both canons, next is the eos-m and then the 550d. what really bugs me is when it comes to colour grading though to make them all looks the same.. the sonys colours are way way off from the canons, even the sonys white balance is completely different values from the canons. thats what kills me more than sharpness. i shoot talking heads so no biggie on the sharpness, thats not really my issue, but colour.. grr.. takes a good hour or two in grading to match them all up.

May 7, 2015 at 5:21PM

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Tony Anastasi
Filmmaker
115

I shot docs with T3i(same sensor) in Africa for 2 years and footage from camera is soft, but can be sharpen in post to satisfactory result, especially for the web. Lens quality is important, I use Canon L. Now I switched to Sony PXW-X70 and you can see huge difference in sharpness, X70 is so much sharper. Still T2i is very capable camera, a lot of really good stuff was produced with it. Unless you can go for a significant upgrade of camera body with GH4 and high, your money better spend on accessories.

May 8, 2015 at 12:32AM, Edited May 8, 12:41AM

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Vladimir Pcholkin
BeekeeperStories
376

I use After Effects and my videos are usually interviews. I'm not really satisfied with the Sharpening Effect. It makes skin look kinda awkward, is that it or is there any way to apply a more natural sharpenning? Any Tutorial?

Dave

May 10, 2015 at 8:15AM

I got a T3i and some great lenses and I have to say that it's not that sharp, even my phone, a samsung galaxy s4, has a sharper, cleaner hd.
But for the color, skin tones, dynamic range the canons are great, because of that i like more the images of the canon than the one of sharper camera like the gh4 or the sony mirrorless. And if you want to show the images only online or on tv, I think the canons are still good enough.

May 9, 2015 at 2:49AM, Edited May 9, 2:49AM

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AvdS
1562

i think you do need to go to new glass definitely. But also a note that canon's color space is the worst.
Shooting mostly on 35mm lenses and larger cameras (red/arri) canon lenses (including L series) always looked crappy vs master primes and sumicron (obviously).
However i recently used an adapter and used canon glass on the sony a7s and was amazed. it was beautiful!!! glass matters but also sensor matters. I would really try to get myself away from canon cameras

May 9, 2015 at 8:41AM

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Kazu Okuda
Filmmaker
1710

I have to laugh a bit about all the focus on sharpness (no pun intended)
I routinely use a blur plug in to make actresses look nice and to make it look more romantic. For me give me more dynamic range, resolution for me is fine. Your results and needs likely are different.

May 11, 2015 at 4:13PM

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I have been shooting with a t3i (which is the same camera as far as video is concerned) and I have bought some new cinema prime lenses that improved the quality of my footage drastically. I would say to look into a set of primes to use with your t2i. If you practice and learn the strengths of your camera you can make a t2i look like red footage.

May 12, 2015 at 1:07PM

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Andrew
Director/Cinematographer
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