The ultimate Cinema version of a Canon DSLR? A modified 1DMkiV by FGV-Schmidle

Whilst acting as DSLR DP for the re-shoots for Lucasfilm’s Red Tails for the Prague sectionsI used the Schmidle modified 7D. It was very impressive. The workmanship and conversion were incredible and it included impressive features like a 3-pin Fischer socket where the viewfinder was to remote start the camera using a LCS or RS-4 and the removal of the mirror and the new PL mount are incredible well done and their base plate and rods offer the proper offset for cine-gear. Using the Arri remote follow focus we could start and stop recording and activate live view mode without touching the camera so my first AC could do all that for me.

Here are some photos by Sebastian Wiegärtner from the Red Tails set of that 7D that I was using….

The only downside is it was done to the 7D. The image out of it is very good but doesn’t touch the 5Dmk2 for me. The image out of the 5DmkII is my favourite but the sensor is too big to accept Cine 35mm lenses as they simply will vignette enormously. The 1DmkiV is the current top of the range Canon DSLR and has an APS-H sensor which is a 1.3x crop of the full frame rather than the 1.6x of the 7D. It has an image aesthetically closer to the 5DmkII and is the best of all of them when it comes to low light. Dynamic range is around the same as the 5DmkII and better than the 7D, by a small margin though. The best thing is this a real beast of a camera, incredibly robust and uses proper chunky batteries. Much more suited to the rigours of a film set.

FGV-Schmidle, who modified the 7D we used and also supplied just about all our gear for the Prague shoot. They are based out of Munich and specialise in proper film gear, both actual film and digital cinema. They have just announced they have done the same thing to the 1Dmkiv and it looks superb. One of the cool things they have added is an HDMI socket protector. One of the weakest links in the Canon DSLR.

This is a serious cinema camera, it obviously costs more due to the modification and you lose the ability to use Canon lenses and the ability to take stills other than through live view, but that’s not what this camera is about. This camera is about fitting into a production that can afford PL glass or are already using others cameras like the F35 or the RED or even a 35mm film camera and need a second or third camera. I wish we had this one when we shot RED TAILS. The 1DmkiV is a remarkable camera. I am hopefully getting one to try out in a few weeks. Shame I have no PL lenses, I guess I will need to get some from a rental house…really looking forward to it.

The 1Dmkiv in Germany costs around €4300…the modified one by FGV Schmidle is €8850. So it does cost twice the price of the retail one…


We turned Canon´s new professional EOS 1D MKIV into the most
wanted HD-DSLR PL-Mount camera – the FGV PL1D.
With a pixel
count only slightly lower than the one of the 7D and an even
bigger sensor area, the 1D MKIV offers decisive advantages in
low light situation, a high dynamic range and a professionally
robust camera housing with an extended battery capacity.

The originally used mirror cage is replaced by a new FGV custom
made stainless steel sensor carrier for minimum temperature ex-
pansion. The rock solid new sensor carrier, the PL-Mount and the
base plate including a 15mm Lightweight support allows for all
kind of classic film accessories like lens control systems, follow
focuses or matte boxes.

The entire range of 35mm professional Cine Lenses can be
used, which would normally fit on an Arriflex 35mm camera
including the Angènieux Rouge Zooms. Please be aware that
with some lenses you will recognise a vignetting on the edges
due to the bigger sensor area – especially in the still-photo-
graphy Mode but also in the movie Mode.

A push button on the back of the camera and a 3Pin Fischer RS
socket (Arri style – no power supply) turns the camera into the
Live View Mode, starts or stops the on board recording. Through
the 3Pin Fischer RS socket you can remote start/stop the camera
by using the well known film accessories. Even when the camera
falls into Standby Mode it can be directly switched back in the Live
View Mode just like on the FGV PL7D.

With the package comes a riser plate, which centers the lens and
provides the proper height and offset to use a standard 35mm
bridge plate.

Still-photography is also still possible by using the Live View Mode
and manual focus in automatic or manual Exposure Mode, since the
shutter unit remains in the camera.

The FGV PL1D package includes the Canon EOS camera body with a
PL-Mount, a 15mm Light Weight Support, including two pairs of rods
(120mm / 240mm), a riser plate to fit a 35mm bridge plate, the
standard Canon battery and charger as well as the new FGV cable
protector with one HDMI interface cable and an AV cable.


        1. I’d love to do a size by side test of say a Cooke 24mm at 1.4 and a Canon 24mm 1.4 to actually see visual difference.

          These lenses are really incredible, but the nuances of them (I feel) might be lost on a 5D sensor whilst in video mode (line skipping). I’m sure there would be a difference in still mode though.

          Also the ergonomics of the Cooke’s are all set for film production, for gearing, lens motors, constant and known follow focus travel etc.. but still what this lens can deliver is optically far far superior to what the video mode can deliver… I feel.

          As I siad, I’ve yet to do a side by side… I might be wrong ?

  1. Some might be impressed by the camera and the top end lenses, all well out of my league unfortunately.

    What interests me is the cable protector. Do you think that this might be available commercially. I’m constantly having on/off problems with the HDMI out on my 7D despite the use of cable ties, a cage and gaffa.

    1. regarding the cable connector, I have asked them, and they quote a price of euro150 or around if I remember it correctly.

      the 1D MK4 has its own protector included, but it does not cover the audio port and is made of plastic.

      I have no serious HDMI on/off problem with my IDMK4, but have the same problem with my NEX 5. Come to think of it, HDMI connector by design is not that great: too big and protruded.

  2. Hey Phil, thanks for posting this!

    Unfortunately, not only is the body a lot more expensive ($10,000) — but then you have the cost of PL mount Cine lenses like Cooke, Arri/Zeiss, Leica, etc. which are often a minimum of $8,000 per lens and up to $30,000 per lens!

    Then again, for those like LucasArts who are doing fairly high budget productions and integrating DSLRs, this makes a lot of sense.

    So much amazing gear coming out these days … I need to get rich fast!

  3. al we need is two 8k cameras bio-engineered in our heads behind our eyes… So we can just look-and-shoot at stuff and use the eyes as zoom and focus…

    now thats a big all!

  4. Hi Philip:

    Did you find it significantly different the 7D with PL lenses compared to the Zeiss ZF´s? I tried between many lenses and at some point I realized that maybe the sensor doesn´t resolve the optics resolution…Did you have the same experience.

    P.S.- I wasn´t checking the mechanical advantages or focus throw.

  5. ”on the 7D? I didn’t do anything. I left that to the the 1st and 2nd ACs thankfully! 🙂 ”
    And what were you doing in the meantime on set? 😛

  6. I’ll take two…gotta have a spare.
    Better make it 3,…just in case I drop the first one AND the spare.

    Why is it that I can’t afford ANYTHING on your blog! ahahaa
    I guess I’ll have to find a different blog for the lower class filmmakers.

  7. On the subject of “all we need” well what we could put to good use is any camera with superb sensor, build quality, Mbit/s reate, sensor cooling system, clever powering system (mini plug on the back), 1080p HDMI out. etc etc.

  8. Hi Philip:

    Did you find it significantly different the 7D with PL lenses compared to the Zeiss ZF´s? I tried between many lenses and at some point I realized that maybe the sensor doesn´t resolve the optics resolution…Did you have the same experience.

    P.S.- I wasn´t checking the mechanical advantages or focus throw.

    Could you please answer this question? Don´t need to post it.

    Thank you

  9. weird that on other sites and forums peeps are claiming that hacked GH1 smokes the canons in terms of video,
    but i think the fact that they are transforming a canon and not panasonic speaks for itself

  10. Excuse my ignorance, but what’s the difference between say the L series canon lenses and cine lenses? I’d love to see a clip that compares two similar mm lenses. Philip do you have any links?

  11. So…

    Wait a minute. I thought you were using the HotRod Cameras PL7D on the RedTails Shoot? What’s the truth? Interesting how history just sort of reinvents itself depending on who is giving you free products that week?

    see here:

    then here:

    No mention of the FGV unit in this piece dated 5/12/2010 – then now all of a sudden – Oh yeah, I was using the FGV at the RedTails Shoot. Now I remember because now they are offering something I might want for free. Nice one dude. Keep milking it.

    1. oh dear. People like you give the internet a bad name. If you can be bothered to do any proper research you will know that Red Tails consisted of two sets of re-shoots. In California I used the Hot Rod PL in Prague two months later we used the Schmidle one.

      I don’t have either, have never been given either and have no plans to buy either. I have no need for a PL camera as I shoot using still lenses.

      If you want to post a comment like this have the balls to use your real name and address rather than cowardly hide behind the anonymity of the internet. Pathetic.

  12. Philip- just wondering, being that I’m upgrading my HVX to either an EX1 or looking towards possibly switching to this 1dMK4 or 5dMK2 (now that all the 24p and other firmwares have been released), what do you think I should consider? waiting for the possible 1dsMK4? or you don’t advocate primarily having a DSLR, and mainly having it as a backup cam? I’m perplexed. I’ve read on and on and on, but still think EX1 with (what I have currently is) a Brevis35/Nikon Glass may be more manual but do you think the new firmware releases make the MKII manual enough at this point? or still, is it no contest for you? Obviously both cams would be ideal, but as my primary cam, is it worth the extra time with the settings and patience required to get a good shot on the MK2? I’m not sure about the 1d because not full frame… Thx for any suggestions.


      1. Yes and thats why I was unsure, being that you always used EX1/EX3 and also Mark II I wasn’t sure that you would recommend my PRIMARY camera be the Mark II. Do you believe when it’s properly equipped, you would rather have a single Mark II or a single EX1 (what I can afford is about $4400 and less)? I am basically unsure if it would be ideal as an indie filmmaker, it would be better using a DSLR or a full size cam, I just heard others that say you are going to need someone pulling focus remotely and I already have the Brevis35 + Nikons w/ rails mount. Is it better selling the HVX + Brevis kit and getting the Mark II or just upgrade to the AF100 or EX1? Can’t tell yet if it’s worth waiting for AF100 but what do you think you would do in my situation?

          1. So it sounds ideal to grab the 5dMk2. It seems even more ideal to have AF-100 + 5DMK2 but I can dream til it happens. Thanks for the suggestions. I think DSLRs are the way to go until they come out with a full frame cam that matches it with manual control. It seems better to go for the best image and screw with everything else to work around the limitations…Any best suggestions for the rig? I already have shoulder mount and monitor, that will match the 5D2. I plan to grab the matte and follow focus soon, do you think I should get a reverse follow focus or standard? what are the best lenses that you think I should get? I have a 28mm 1.8 and a 50mm 1.2 Nikons, any other great suggestions? thanks Phil I admire what you are doing. Big ups.


  13. cheers!
    I ask myself: in how far is such a transition justified redarding the h264-quality of the recorded image?
    why would someone use this (and not red or 35mm film) when there is a high production budget?

    all the best!

  14. Dear mister Bloom,

    I have a Canon 5D with a Redrock rig and a Hawkwoods Power Distribution Box taking care of the power for my cam, monitor and splitter.

    The problem is the HDMI plug. The monitor goes black very often when you touch the cable. The plug is very bad. What is the best way of making my Canon HDMI-plug suitable for work on the set?

  15. Why is my question. Sure it’s a great thing to shoot video on the DSRL’s but really? A DSRL that is going to cost you about the same as a RED or the new Sony? The technology is good but has some flaws that have not been overcome yet. Personally I think filmmakers are overdoing this whole shallow depth of field thing anyway.

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