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There are a lot of people who are saying that DSLRs for pro video work is dead. I have to disagree; it’s slowed down but it’s far from dead. Although I shoot 95% of my paid work on the Canon C300, the Mk3 is always with me as backup, B camera. It’s a compromise of course though. The image is not as sharp, and it doesn’t have a lot of video features that I rely on, waveform, peaking, proper sound inputs etc. The image is also different, as the sensor is so much bigger than the C300. It’s a different look. The biggest two downsides for me with the Mk3 image-wise though are the overall lack of sharpness (which can be brought back very well with the sharpen filter of premiere set to around 25-35) and the bit of mosquito noise in the blacks. That aside though, the image is wonderful.

 

I must say the 1Dx did not excite me much. It was announced SO long ago (it has taken almost 8 months to come out from that announcement) that my interest in it just faded. With newer cameras coming out with cool features like the super slow motion of the FS700, crazy specs on yet to be released cameras like the BlackMagic Design one (still hoping to get a review one!) and other cameras really interesting me like the Digital Bolex and the Ikonskop, but most of all actually having a Mk3 which on paper has the same video specs as the 1dX ,there seemed little point in it to me. It’s more expensive too. In England it’s about £2.5k more than the Mk3. So again, little interest.

 

But my good friend and often collaborator on shoots, James Miller, he of lens whacking and removing OLPF from Mk3 fame, used one from HireACamera.com and told me that is was everything he had hoped the Mk3 would have been video-wise. From that point my interest was piqued. I spoke to my friend Guy from Hire-a-camera and asked if I could borrow it for the weekend. I went out and did some comparison shots between it and my Mk3, and a few between them and the D800. Nothing much. From those shots I clearly saw more detail in the 1DX, not as sharp as the D800 still but no moire/ aliasing that the D800 suffers from. There was also something about the image I couldn’t put my finger on though, something really nice, and doing a few test shots is no way to judge a camera.

With a bit of arm twisting, I managed to hang onto the 1DX a bit longer, and it coincided with an idea I had with Olly Knights from Turin Brakes to shoot some narrative shots to add to our already filmed footage for our forthcoming documentary footage, to make a music video of his single “If not now when”. Perfect. No better way to test a camera than on a shoot.

So with minimal crew, and I mean minimal. Just me directing, shooting and Sarah Estela taking BTS photos and assisting, we rocked up to the location in Essex where Olly was with our simple plan of action and over the course of 3 hours shot all our narrative shot on the 1DX.

 

Olly Knights: If not now when from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

Below is the teaser for the documentary. Shot on the C300 and FS700

Olly Knights documentary teaser from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

As you can see below, one of the biggest pain in the arse things about the DSLRs with no swivel LCD is this…to get the shot without a monitor, you have to get into stupid positions…

It was an absolute pleasure shooting with the camera. I decided to be absolutely minimal. No monitor, no EVF. Just the Miller Compass 25 ( I should have used my Solo sticks in retrospect for those really low angle shots), the camera, one spare battery, 2 cards, a Heliopan variable ND and some lenses. I also brought with me my rather extravagant Bang and Olufsen speaker for playback. I bloody love this speaker. Overpriced but packs such a great sound into a small box it’s incredible. The low end is astonishing and the volume we could get from it is scary. Why did we have playback if these were just narrative segments with no miming? All Olly’s taps and walks were in time, hence the need for playback. So far one person has spotted this on Vimeo :)

Actually there was one extra piece of kit I used…something new and very exciting. The brand new Philip Bloom Pocket Dolly in Black! This goes on sale really soon. It’s the same as the regular red one, just…black! Sexier than the stealth and has the crank handle. The one I used is the new mini one. 18 inches. More than enough for most :)

 

Despite having my own branded slider, I only use them sparingly. I think there are maybe 3 or so shots in the finished video shot on the slider. Never overuse these tools. Use them sparingly, and they become more effective!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Working in a small team is such fun. Just me, Olly and Sarah bouncing ideas off of each other. We had mapped out what we wanted with a rough shot list, but we were very fluid and of course very mobile. We were lucky enough to find an old caravan in the middle of restoration on the caravan park we were filming in, and asked if we could shoot there for half an hour.  This was such a find. It looks like we had a production designer but we didn’t. We worked with what we had. Absolutely all available light. That was how we nailed it in 30 minutes. Shoot mean and lean!

I already had all the performance parts shot on the C300 for the documentary (We recorded about 5 songs this way for it) so using the 1DX for the narrative bits made sense. I had the C300 with me, but I wanted a different look for the rest. What I didn’t expect was how much I actually preferred the 1DX’s image for this type of filming to the C300. It just seems…more filmic. Hard to put my finger on what it is…I love my C300 more than any other camera I own and use it for everything, but the look of the 1DX was so organic I was just blown away. The low light performance is also better than the Mk3, very close to the C300 standards. I just wish the camera had a nice log-like mode for shooting. The same video functions are there from the Mk3…the All-I 90mb/s recording mode was what I used to shoot this and in 25p to match the doc. I shot the Prolost profile that I always shoot. Sharpness off, contrast off, saturation down 2. I did bring up the sharpness in post on the 1DX footage by around 12/13 to bring it closer to the pin sharp C300.

There is one other thing this camera has over a C300… its weather sealing with a proper L series lens is second to none. This is a camera that, if you get caught in the rain whilst filming, you don’t need to worry about. It did rain a bit. Nice not to worry about it!

The shot below with its extraordinary high dynamic range was done very simply. Locked off camera. Two exposures. Correct to capture the caravan and Olly and one to capture the sky. I just blended them together in After Effects. My first attempt at using this software properly. It worked well…although I really should go in and polish it up a bit!

This camera’s image really brought this music video to life for me, and doing this just with the 3 of us was such a joy. Yes my tripod was overkill for this, but being so small footprint wise and all working together as a team I think we produced something pretty special.

So getting back to the camera. Is it worth the extra money? Yes and no. As a stills camera, it is second to none. Video wise, the video is much better than the Mk3, it’s better than the D800. Is it that much better taking into account the price? Yes and no. The Mk3 is still great and much smaller, lighter and cheaper. I wish the Mk3 image looked as smashing as this…I really hope Canon bring out a 7D replacement and a 60D replacement with All-I and the video quality that this camera produces.

It’s funny after being so uninterested in the 1DX, the results I got from it just show that you should never just read specs. There is so much more to a camera than specs and figures. On paper, this was the same as the Mk3 for video, but in use it really is that much better. Now I am suddenly interested in the 1DC!

I have fallen back in love with a DSLR for video, shame it’s so expensive because this camera’s image is just really…unique. Twice the price of the Mk3 in the US, less than twice the price in the UK but still a lot more.

That full frame look cannot be beaten!

All post was done in CS6 and grading done with Magic Bullet Colorista II and Looks 2. 20% off with code bloom 20 at checkout!

All photos by Sarah Estella.

 

 

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Comments

  1. Thank you very much Philip and Sarah for bringing us on set with you !
    I’m very pleased with the HUUUUGE amount of stills you provided. Thanks again Sarah.
    Wish all your posts will be as richly illustrated as this one. Keep rockin’ !

    1. BTW I have a general question regarding 2:35 ratio videos and upload to Vimeo.
      - do you crop them while rendering out of Premiere (and thus you upload a file that has NO black bars),
      OR
      - do you render video in HD ratio (means 16/9, so there is horizontal black bars), and Vimeo knows how to deal with it ?

      Hope I’m clear enough. Thanks !

      1. Philip Bloom says:

        i mask them in premiere so I can reframe if necessary then export 16×9 then export for web 1920×816

        1. tg0003 says:

          Hey Phil,

          Would you be able to do a quick tip on how to set this up easily? I have noticed you do a lot of anamorphic exports and would be great to get an idea of your workflow.

          Thx

          1. Philip Bloom says:

            there is a tut on my site of export…but i now just use a 2.35 mask in premiere on a layer. then can adjust framing on clip easily and export at 1080×816 in media encode with scale to fit!

  2. gzig says:

    twice the price of a 5DIII yes, but … shuttercounts are more then double on the 1DX, so it is twice more the camera as a professional tool.

  3. DavidKoster says:

    Love it! Makes me want to shoot with a fullframe camera even more!

  4. Pippin says:

    Stunning! Great writeup- I’d love to see your settings in MBL2 =] Care to share???

  5. Thanks Philip for this review, since short I own a 1DX and feel great now after your positive review concerning the video quality of the 1DX, ( I did not film with it yet, only photography ) as you said all these people writing about specs without testing the camera made me confusing for 8 months long, thanks again and yes your music video looks great. Ebo

  6. Omar A says:

    Hey Philip,

    Why does everyone always trash the mk3? Do you think it will die out quickly? I’ve been saving for years for a pro camera and now all the reviews and comparisons make me feel like I made the wrong choice… And the price is already dropping on eBay. Do you think mk3 owners should sell?

  7. Alex Bee says:

    Hmmm… Interesting, very interesting. Have to say, was a little like you in that I didn’t bother even looking at it in a lot of detail. That is… something. *Scratches his non-existent beard*

  8. Philip,

    This is great! Thanks so much!

    The video looks great! and the shots between cameras blend greatly!

    Paolo

  9. jlev says:

    can you be the least bit more specific about what you find better in the video quality?
    i recently did a shoot with the MK3 and the 1DX and no one, not even the top post house in Los angeles could tell the difference in the footage. granted we were in a controlled lighting situation, but it all looked exactly the same as well as the file properties, so im wondering what the difference you see that “you cant put your finger on”?
    thanks!

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      I can’t…it’s just more pleasing! You really saw no difference…it’s sharper for starters!

      1. jlev says:

        hmmm, no, not just i but one of the top post houses that was coloring the footage said they saw no difference either and didnt have to do any sharpening to either of the camera’s files. believe me i questioned the heck out of them for the very reasons you mention. on set we had both cameras going through onboard tv logics, then the new sony 17 inch 1080p monitors, then to a video assist. all of us in the camera dept were trying to depict a difference ourselves and couldnt. ill show you the spot when its done and see you if you can pick out the difference, because i sure cant.

        1. Philip Bloom says:

          Either you have a magically better mk3 that my ones or your 1dx is duff!! I have side by sides. Very different! Bizarre!

          1. Will says:

            Maybe its just the conditions. I know my t3i is identical to my friends 7d when shooting in a lit situation, but if we take it outside or do low light you can very quickly see a difference. Sounds like he is in a heavily lit studio.

            1. jlev says:

              that’s maybe my only explanation at this point too, i shoot commercials, the heavily lit kind :) i also did a pretty famous music video, i shot on the epic and a b-camera guy shot on the 5DMK3, i never talked to post, but in the final product i couldnt tell what was his and what was mine, again, heavily lit :)

          2. jlev says:

            maybe i do. i never owned a 5Dmk2 but shot about 30 jobs with them, but i mainly shoot my commercials with an alexa or epic, i jumped in the MK3 game early, heard all the complaints about softness but went on to shoot 12 jobs with it anyway, waiting for a reaction from post people, especially because i have done 5 green screen vfx spots and so far no one has said a word about softness, even the MILL dealt with my footage, not a word. this time with the 1dx side by side, i decided to ask the post house about the comparison and they were surprised that the footage came from two different cameras…so magic MK3 i guess…or maybe im in such a controlled over lit vfx environment that it reacts differently. who knows, but its nice to see your opinion, thanks!
            if they told me there was difference i might even upgrade, though i wish the difference was that i could keep the lcd on while i did hdmi out to a client monitor. the 1DC is supposed to have that function, i cant believe they purposely left that out of the 5D and 1Dx, its obviously on purpose.

  10. BenHensley says:

    I loved how everything was in time on this video! I really appreciate when people spend the extra time to do that because it really adds to visually. My current question is 1DC vs 1DX. What are your thoughts? Or would you just keep the MKIII. (not considering any prices)

    Awesome review and great video!

    Thanks,
    Ben Hensley

  11. tim_courtney says:

    The video is stunning Philip. I can see what you mean by the filmic quality you can’t put your finger on, I love it. I really want to get my hands on this camera.

    On another note, you’ve no idea how happy I am to see Olly on such amazing form. Been a huge fan of Turin Brakes but understand the difficulty they’ve been having of late and it was translating in their music, but this song is just fantastic!! (I created an account just to say that too.)

    I can’t wait to see the documentary now.

  12. Alex says:

    So well done! I dont know how you get such perfect exposure every time! Granted I have a t2i and you with a 1Dx lol… still, brilliant!!!

    1. It’s all about the operator :). Camera is just a tool.

      1. Alex says:

        Oh absolutely.

  13. Faisal Ali says:

    Brilliant work and article Phil. Its inspiring to know that with such minimum gear, you can actually produce something so beautiful.

  14. Jed Darlington-Roberts says:

    i agree wit you, i really thought the image stood out, and especially using only natural light, its one of the most filmic looks i’ve seen from a DSLR

    1. Alan Austin says:

      very filmic, very beautiful…..

  15. Will says:

    This is beautiful. Did you use all available light for this? I don’t see any lights in the pictures. It looks amazing.

    1. Will says:

      I know that you used LEDs for the indoor stuff, but what about with the 1dx?

      1. Philip Bloom says:

        no lighting at all on any 1dx stuff. not even a reflector. all natural light. Just had olly in the right position to make the most of it

        1. Will says:

          How much grading/correction did you have to do?

    2. Philip Bloom says:

      lights for performance. 2 x 1×1 litepanels and 2 x dedos 150s. 1dx narrative…nothing

  16. Danny Bush says:

    Hey Philip,

    I found the footage from the 1dx to have really incredible dynamic range, especially in the interior scene with Olly writing against the window.

    When working on this project, did you find replacing the sky in AE to be useful for only the exterior caravan shot, or would you have used it more? Is there a specific workflow you suggest for blending the exposures in AE?

    Danny Bush

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      i am so not the person to ask about AE. Just did a garbage matte. first attempt!

  17. femfam says:

    Could you tell me the name of the typod used for this video and is there any other similar one in terms of quality in case the one in this video will be too expensive for me?

    Thanks

  18. Absolutely love the look in this video. First thing I thought was: oh man, this is how our movie needs to look. There’s something very sad and beautiful in the images you captured. Perhaps I can’t nail it down with an analytic description, but I know what I like :)

  19. Rob Kaczmark says:

    Awesome, review as usual. What kind of gear do you have on your lens?

  20. deepscience says:

    Very peaceful. Great shots, pacing, and music. A real treat to watch.

  21. Deano at Alucinor says:

    Nice work especially on such a tight timeframe. You’ve got a great slight that’s just a pleasure to watch. Cheers

  22. helavia says:

    Hey Philip,

    Lovely work as usual, great in-depth write-up, I followed your rule on the picture profile setting with setting the sharpness all the way down, which I did as well, but when bringing back in post, when you add the sharpness back in, It does not seems as clear as some or should i say all of your videos I have seem lol, are you doing something additional?,

  23. Nice review as always.
    Now I’m lost ! C300 or 1DX ?… C300 is much more appealing to my tastes but it is a bit more than 2 times the price.
    … But I don’t have the money right now anyway and by the time I’ll get it my bet is that Canon would have announced the C9868546754356234 18K Super RAW camera !…lol

  24. Kris B. says:

    Philip,

    What picture styles are you using these days in the DSLR world? Any change of heart since your previouse posts?
    Keep doing your thing man, thanks for sharing.

    Cheers

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  26. Paper_bag says:

    Hi Philip, wondering if you could field a few queries about Mk3 mosquitoes.

    Do you find simply crushing blacks helps with them?

    If you’re using noise reduction, are you applying that before you apply sharpening?

    Do you find that All-I offers any advantages to IPB? But it attracts more mosquitoes, doesn’t it?

  27. gordo42 says:

    I’m not sure if was just me, but when comparing the 5D III to the 1DX at NAB, I felt there was a huge difference. I wasn’t sure if it was just the setups they had (different monitor, lens, etc.). I even asked the Canon rep what the differences were between the 5DIII and the 1DX and he said for video, none. But I could clearly see much better low light performance and much better detail in low light from the 1DX. The 5DIII just looked mushy in comparison.

  28. Will says:

    Hey, I was surfing around and I think I know the source of that “thing” you just can’t put your finger on. The 5d mark 2 has 22.3 mp spread across the full frame while the 1dx has 18 mp spread across the full frame. It has the same mp as a 7d, but on a larger sensor. The pixels are bigger which means more dynamic range and better image quality in general. The pixels are bigger in the 1dx. Don’t know for sure, but this might be it.

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      Nah! It’s pixie dust! ;)

  29. Darrin Smith says:

    I really like this music video. It’s very appealing. As always thank you for sharing!

  30. prime says:

    Philip, I would really like to know what you did to this footage to make it so perfect. I wish there was a post processing video :-)
    It honestly looks like a blu ray movie. How can I get the same ‘feel’ to my clips? I don’t mean the color, I just mean the cleanliness. Would this be possible with 5d3 footage?

  31. alanmarino says:

    Nice job Philip. Are you transcoding your camera files to Prores or staying native when using Premiere? Does Prores give you more to work with in post? I’m loving working w/ native files in Premiere CS6 for time-saving and file size reasons. Thanks – blown away by the 1DX.

  32. BenHensley says:

    Do you think the 1DX will replace your 5D3?

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      i think it will sit alongside it

  33. Richard says:

    Nice job! I know from experience that shooting a music video can be a challenge.

  34. Those HDR shots wowed me over… you cheater!! :)

    Regarding that near-log picture style that you’re missing… have you tried Flaat?
    http://www.similaar.com/foto/flaat-picture-styles/index.html
    http://www.similaar.com/foto/flaat-picture-styles/real-world-tests-3.html

    Lots of users loving it. It does have somewhat different colors, but I’d argue they’re different in a good way: skin tones are just great out of the camera, at the price of some color shifts elsewhere (blue goes a bit towards cyan, etc).

  35. noeyedear says:

    What you might be seeing.
    I’m a stills guy and I just bought a 1D X, I have not had time to run tests with it only time to get out and use it.
    The first thing I noticed is the AA filter is weak, no bad thing, I think because of the drop in pixels from the 1DsmkIII they wanted to make up for the slight drop in resolution.
    More DR than any Canon I’ve shot with before, so we can dig deeper into the shadows, the colour looks thick like a colour neg does, I think we get better colour gradation than other Canons have given me.
    I’ve not used or seen worthwhile comparable results to compare it with the 5DIII so I can not comment between the two.
    I shot this video clip completely hand held, no rig no gyros just lots of AE warp stabiliser, because I was there and I could http://youtu.be/8OfvTIEKc5U

    Regards,

    Kevin.

  36. Willy B says:

    Fantastic work, fantastic subject, fantastic camera.

    I noticed in this post that this 1DX was a “loaner”. In recent recent tweets I’ve notice you mention “shot with my 1DX”. Oh, how I want this camera. As a 5D MKII shooter (TV commercials mostly) and avid fan of the small DSLR footprint, have you had the chance yet to wrap your mits around the 1DC? So interested to hear what you have to say.

    Thanks Philip!
    wb

  37. Sven says:

    Hi Philip,

    wonderful video – love the images, little story and music.

    I am just working on my first music video. Ronja is a young and talented singer. But after filming I regarded when editing that the movement of her lips is not synchronized with the studio music.

    Do you solve that problem with your little expensive playback machine when filming?

  38. johnhenry says:

    I’ve recently discovered Turin Brakes thanks to your incredible ‘Ascension Day’ video. This new song/ video is beautiful. I love the simplicity of the song. It’s very bare! I love that, and the video compliments it so well. Excellent work Philip. I look forward to the documentary.

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      thanks John, check out the documentary this was made for it you get a chance, under films, documentary.

      thanks!

      P

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