In a recent poll about HDSLRs, planet5D readers answered this question: “What are your top 3 needs for the next pro level HDSLR?” – we offered selections like 4k video, autofocus in video, reduced jello, HDMI out, RAW video and more. The poll recently closed, but I believe you'll be surprised at the results – we sure were!
HDSLR camera feature sets are always a topic of conversation amongst camera geeks and many might relate it to the battle between mac and PC – some times the fight is over brands, some times over which is better for shooting stills, JPEG or RAW. There's also a lot of hype over the ‘next great thing' or what will ‘kill the Canon 5D Mark II”. So we were really interested to see where the readers of the top HDSLR blog on the planet would really want the camera makers to go with HDSLRs.
For example, people are often comparing the 5D2 to the RED and there's always excitement generated when someone talks about 2k or 4k video. The RED fanatics are always touting 2k or 4k video output as the greatest thing since sliced bread… but do HDSLR shooters really want/need 4k?
That alone could be an entire post I believe. The reality at least for the foreseeable future is that most video production will be in 1080HD not in either 2k or even 4k. There's just not a major market for it. Now, the place where 2k and 4k will excel will be in full screen movies – you know, the one's showing on the large cinema screens – especially the theaters that go full digital. But those will still be pretty rare for a while. The vast majority of video production is for the web (which today doesn't usually mean 1080HD) or for television (which is stuck (at least in the USA) for a while at 1080 – while other countries are ahead going to higher resolutions).
But that's just one feature – there are many more that could be put into HDSLRs of the future (and some we may not even know about today).
The top 5
Ok, so just what are the top 5 things from the poll?
1) Raw Video
First, with almost 1/2 the voters picking it in their top 3 is RAW video. Everyone wants it, but only a few cameras have it today. The RED shines here – tho there are a couple of other video cameras that also have it. RED has had full RAW video since it launched – tho most don't put the RED in the HDSLR category – we mention it because it was the first ‘low end' professional digital movie camera under $30k and it set the world on fire.
And, we all know that the HDSLR line was mostly an add on feature to the DLSRs already on the market – they're way behind here compared to the RED (and obviously much less expensive). But will the HDSLRs have enough processing power and cooling to be able to put out RAW video? The RED was designed from scratch to be a video camera first and therefore it can produce some amazing stills, but that wasn't it's primary goal.
I expect that RAW will take some amazing processing output as well as a new chip. The existing chips sure weren't built with dumping out a 1080HD image without compressing it first. There will need to be more data going out and you sure won't get 12 minutes of video in a 4gb file like you do now on the Canon HDSLRs.
Will we get RAW video? My guess is not in the next round of HDSLRs. In fact, even the new Sony F3 and Panasonic AF100 don't have it. What makes us really think/wish that Canon (or anyone else) will be able to put RAW video in an HDLSR in the near future? Tho I would love to be surprised here!
2) Reduced Jello!
Those of us shooting with an HDSLR are familiar with the ‘jello affect' (also commonly called “rolling shutter”) – it comes from the design of the CMOS sensor and most cameras have this problem – some more than others. Often, jello is mentioned right along side with moire and surprisingly, ‘reduced moire' came in at #7 in the poll. I'm guessing that moviemakers are already used to dealing with this issue – they've been dealing with it for years with digital video cameras (tho many say the HDSLRs are worse) and it hasn't gone away completely – therefore would rather have some other features.
Will we get this? Likely we'll see some reduction in jello- tho it won't likely be eliminated.
3) Full HDMI output
Again, with the first line of HDSLRs, the camera makers didn't consider these cameras would be used in many of the ways they're being used – they were meant to be used by journalists wanting to do both video and stills so HDMI out wasn't a major consideration.
But moviemakers want/need HDMI out – to send to monitors for directors/follow focus pullers/etc as well as those who would rather send the video to an external data storage device instead of to the internal CF cards. This would open up possibilities of longer recording times as well.
I do expect this to be in the next major release – I know that Canon for example has heard this loudly enough – tho again I expect a processor upgrade is required – maybe the Digic V in the Canon line.
4) Fast autofocus in video recording
Now this one surprised me – with all of the chatter we always hear from about how movie makers do everything manually and would never trust autofocus (there aren't any autofocus cinema lenses are there?). So why did this make it so high on the list? Well, of course not everyone voting was a ‘moviemaker' – there are lots of uses for the video recording and some of them are as basic as using the HDSLR to record children and families (replacing the camcorder – we sure don't use one of those around my house any more!) to a one man crew that won't have a focus puller available.
Of course, there are many of us who use the Canon 5D Mark II that would also love to have faster (and more accurate) autofocus in stills mode as well.
Will we see it next? I'm leaning towards saying we'll get improved autofocus, but at the same time, I'm wondering if the cinema folks that have had Canon's ear haven't swayed them into thinking they'd live with manual focus if they could have other improvements first… the shorter answer is improved, but not fully functioning like a camcorder. Tho it is interesting to realize that companies like Canon have the technology in their camcorder lines. I'm guessing tho that it is much easier to accomplish in a fixed lens system than in a system with interchangeable lenses not designed for camcorder style autofocus.
5) Full Frame Sensor
Now here's something that usually gets a lot of discussion – sensor size. And this time, the full frame wins hands down. The other choices of micro 4/3 and crop were close to the bottom. The new Sony F3 and Panasonic AF100 are
both (oops, the F3 is an ‘S35' size sensor) ‘micro 4/3rds' sensors and that's making a lot of news. The 5D2 is the only full frame HDSLR sensor on the market and it is selling still like hotcakes. So it is interesting that people put full frame in the top 5.
Video on the Canon EOS 5D Mark II doesn't take full advantage of the full frame sensor tho – because the 1080 HD output is much smaller than the total resolution of the sensor, lots of lines of data are simply thrown out to scale down to the 1080 size.
So, while most of the next round of HDSLRs won't have it, everyone expects the 5D3 to continue down the full frame sensor and that's one main reason the Canon EOS 5D Mark II is still the best selling HDSLR on the market!
What's not in the top 5
Several things I bet you thought might be in the top 5 are low on the list. Things like 4k video, articulating screens, audio level display and more didn't come close to the top 5.
One of the things that I sure thought would be much higher (but probably not in the top 5) was ‘camcorder body shape' – and maybe that's because of my wording there? I read a lot of complaints about how the HDSLRs were not designed for filming – their shape has been customized over the decades for shooting stills. And therefore, when I put this on the list I was thinking that people would want to have more of a video camera body shape due to this complaint (tho I used a word that maybe implies consumer camcorder instead of pro level video camera shape – sorry about that!).
You can scan the list below to see what else was not in the top 5… might surprise many of you.
The full results:
References and other posts
EOSHD's Andrew posted this recently: “Revealed – Canon master plan?”
Well, as I said, several things surprised me in the results… I'm sure it wasn't a totally scientific study, but interesting results. I'm sure if you posted a similar question on a RED blog, you might get different answers.
So… what do you think? Feel free to sound off below in the comments or on the planet5D forum thread about this post.
And yes, I'm forwarding this story to our friends at Canon.
(Photo credit: snap from Canon)