“5d or 7d? That is the question…” UPDATED at bottom!

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EDIT: Please read the newer blog here.

To paraphrase a famous quote…

HOW many emails have I had asking me this? Oh and I will be referring to the 5dmkII as the 5d throughout this article as you all know what I am talking about!

I have had the 5d since late April/ Early May and I have had the pre-production model of the 7d for about 3 weeks now.

Which one do I prefer? That is one tough question.

Filming "Dublin's People" on the 7d
Filming "Dublin's People" on the 7d
Filming the Greenpeace commercial on the 5d
Filming the Greenpeace commercial on the 5d

First off…what is it the is the biggest frustration with the 5d, not taking into account form factor, sound, rolling shutter etc?  For me it’s 30p. Why? Aesthetics? Partly…mainly for broadcast work in the UK I need 25p. Yes I prefer the look of 24p and 25p but 30p isn’t horrible. It certainly isn’t interlaced! Now THAT is horrible!

OK so let’s go through what I believe are the plusses and minuses of the two cameras (ignoring the number of plusses the 7d has in stills mode like more FPS, better weatherproofing and a handy built in flash etc). What you need to do is take a piece of paper write 5d on one side and 7d on the other, make a list of these points below and put it which is more important then tick 5d or 7d. You following?

Also do not forget this is based on a pre-production 7d.

Full Frame:     5d YES

7d NO (cropped APS-C sensor 1.6x)

Frame rates:    5d 30p (but dead on 30p not 29.97 which is not much use!)

7d 24p (23.98) , 25p, 30p (29.97), 720 50p and 60p

Cleaner image: 5d. The 7d is a bit noisier, not enormously but noticeably in all ISOs.

Low light           5d just, mainly because it has less noise

Shallow DOF:  5d has more shallow DOF due it’s full frame sensor

Slow Motion:    7d can give you perfect slow motion by recording in 50p or 60p and changing the metadata to 24, 25 or 30p in post.

LCD:                    7d, it’s slightly less reflective and brighter

Monitor Output  7d as it doesn’t go all 480p squished on our a** when we hit record like the 5d does!

Rolling Shutter 7d seems marginally improved, what this is down to I have no idea, but it seems a bit improved although still VERY present


7d rolling shutter
7d rolling shutter

Both have full manual control, both operate in much the same way although the 7d has a dedicated record button now. Not a big deal but a nice touch.

I like the remapping ability of the 7d’s buttons, useful for Nikon heads like me to put the iris up front.

Now the 5d is unique in the video world. It can record video in full HD with a full frame still camera size 35mm sensor. Not a movie 35mm sensor. Much bigger. This is unique. No other video camera can do this. There is a Scarlet in the works that is full frame but that has yet to come out. This makes the 5d VERY  desirable. It gives a unique image that is punchy, superb in low light and is capable of achieving, with the right lens, an insanely shallow DOF for you insanely shallow DOF lovers out there!!

It also means all those lovely full frame lenses you have can be used to their fullest. Not just the wonderful Canon L series lenses which I have been buying avidly but my Nikon collection, especially my Zeiss lenses which fit with a simple adaptor and are generally cheaper than the Canon glass. Now there is no autofocus with these for when you take stills which is a shame as it’s lovely in stills mode but there is no autofocus in video mode, nor should there be. Autofocus in video in not a professional tool. When shooting video, everything should be manual!

Now when you use these wonderful lenses on the 7d what happens? Well the sensor size is very different. Take a look at the diagram below to see the difference.

Picture 37Now the sensor in the 7d is the APS-C sensor. Now first off, yes it is smaller than full frame BUT it is almost exactly the same (just a wee bit smaller) as the sensor in the RED one and Super 35mm movie cameras as you can see below.

Picture 38What does this mean to you when buying lenses? Well if you have loads of L series and full frame lenses like me is to work out what you are effectively /equivalent getting in 35mm still terms times the focal length by 1.6x. Why? Because to make the size of the APS-C sensor the same as the full frame sensor you need to multiply it by 1.6. So when doing this to a lens like my 50mm f1.2 it becomes more like an 80mm. It still is a 50mm, that hasn’t changed but it’s focal length is effectively magnified by 1.6x due to the image projected onto the 7d sensor being much bigger than the sensor can handle hence only the central part of it is captured effectively make the focal length longer. Look at the first diagram above. The grey area of it is the APS-C sensor, the white bit is what you are losing when you stick on a full frame lens. Hopefully that makes sense! Of course this works both ways, suddenly you have longer lenses. I shot on a 400mm lens with 2x extender and it was crazy long on the 7d, although unusable as the rolling shutter issues ruined the image. But you can make your 50mm f1.2 almost an 85mf1.2 which costs an arm and a leg!

So all your lovely wide lenses are no longer that wide. So your awesome Canon L series EF 16-35mm f2.8 constant aperture becomes effectively a 25.6-56mm f2.8 instead. Still a nice range, but not really wide. So if you want wide for the 7d you really have to buy the Canon EF-S series of lenses which are optimised for the cropped sensor cameras like the 7d. Or you can buy third party lenses like I have. I bought a Sigma 10mm f2.8 fisheye, effectively a 16mm fisheye and I bought a Tokina 11-16mm f2.8 constant aperture zoom lens. Effectively a 17.6-25.6mm lens, not a huge range but a very useful wide and very affordable. Mine cost me $600 and the quality is very good.

NOW, the problem is, if you start buying EF-S style lenses you are pretty much stuck with using them on a cropped sensor camera. Below is the Tokina 11-16mm on my 5d. The lens is set to 11mm.

apscYou get this awful vignette so if you move to a full frame camera, it is next to useless. Now if you zoom into 16mm it fills the frame but then you are losing the wide end and are stuck with what is effectively a prime lens.

So be aware of this. My advice? Buy EF lenses for the most part and maybe just one EF-S style lens unless you are CERTAIN you will NEVER move to a full frame DSLR!!

The great thing about the APS-C sensor though is as it is close to 35mm movie sensor size, with some mods to the camera you can use cinema lenses. A HUGE bonus if you are a filmmaker. Check out 24 DP Rod Charter’s 7d with a f*** off Panavision Primo Zoom on it!


Ok, so let’s go through these plusses and minuses again.

30p…Can you live with it? Is it so bad? Well this commercial below I shot for Greenpeace is all 30p. See what you think…

Greenpeace: Voices of change. Shot on Canon 5dmkII from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

©2009 Greenpeace

Low light, yes it’s noisier on the 7d but compared to video cameras it’s cleaner than a new pair of knickers from the store still all shrink wrapped! 24p and 25p native? VERY important to many, me too, especially for my broadcast work. Can you convert 30p to 24p . Yes but it doesn’t look as good. Below are two films. One shot on the 5d at night at 30p and converted to 24p in post and the other shot native on the 7d in 24p.

Sofia’s People: Canon 5dmk2 24p from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

Music is performed by Stacey Kent: You can’t take that away from me.

Converted to 24p JES De-Interlacer

Dublin’s People: Canon 7d 24p from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

Music is by Thin Lizzy: Whiskey in the Jar

Now a big plus for me is the 7d’s 50p/60p mode. I hate the look of it natively, almost like interlaced but I love what happens when you change the metadata in something like cinema tools to make it play at 24 or 25p. This effectively gives you in camera slow motion. A MAJOR PLUS and something I have missed a lot on my 5d.

Shaving It Back: Canon 7d from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

Filmed on a prototype Canon 7d in 720p 50p mode then converted to 25p using cinema tools to get overcrank.

Music is by Chris Montez

Shot with 50mm f1.2. and 24mm f1.4

So there are some examples of stuff shot with both cameras. What do I prefer you ask?

Easy. I prefer the image from the 5d, I prefer the stills from the 5d, I prefer the full frame of the 5d but I prefer the frame rates, 24, 25p and the “slow motion” of 50p and 60p. I also prefer the marginal less noise of the 5d.

Rolling shutter issues have been improved over the 5d but are still very present as you will see on the comparison video at the bottom. Also in this video shot on the 7d when I whip between people you can see it. Easy solution to that. Don’t whip pan!

Bloom’s USA Video Blog: The British Invasion. Shot on 7d from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

I own two 5ds and I have a 7d on order with The Flash Centre in London and should get it any day now. What will I use on paid jobs? Mostly the 7d due to the frame rates. Native 24p and 25p looks so much better than converted 24 and 25p from the 5d. But the image is nicer from the 5d! Confusing isn’t it.

OK, so you need the frame rates. Do you sell your 5d? Up to you! But what happens if Canon bring out firmware for the 5d that brings these frame rates to the 5d? Will it happen? Maybe, maybe not! I haven’t a clue. I hope so. I know it has been BETA tested and have heard all sorts of rumours, but they are just that. Rumours.

So should you wait? Do you need to earn money now? Do you need to shoot now? If the answer is yes then buy the one that has more ticks in the box (you did remember to do that didn’t you?)

Yes there will always be something better coming out in the future. The 1dmkIV is rumoured to have all the features of the 7d and more with a full frame sensor albeit with less megapixels. Nikon are way overdue with bringing their killer DSLR to the market. It certainly wasn’t the D300s, will it be the D700s/x? No idea. It could be! But we won’t know until it comes out. Then there is the Scarlet when that comes out but that will be more expensive. What about the GH1? I love my GH1 but i HATE the weak codec. Please bring it up to 24 mbps Panasonic! Then it will be a contender!!

Until then, it’s up to you what you want to buy. I cannot recommend one over the other. Only you can decide what is more important for you!

Will I be selling my 5ds? No way. Am I excited about getting my 7d! You betcha!! Is that helpful? Probably not! If I had to choose…if i REALLY had to chose? Right now…with the firmware as it is, with most of work needing to be 24 or 25p then I would have to say the 7d. But I am holding out hope for my 5ds as I bloody adore that image and 30p is still very usable for me.

There are a couple more options to consider. First off the price difference. In the US it is $1000 less to get a 7d, in the UK the difference is quite small. Just £200!!

Also the excellent Magic Lantern hack that gives huge number of extra features like making sound recording on the 5d possible is only working on the 5d…for now!!

UPDATE 1st October 2009

My opinion has changed. I prefer the 7d for one very simple reason. I HATE the 30p of the 5d. Not the look but the actual frame rate. It is TRUE and EXACTLY 30p. Not 29.97 like every other video camera that shoots 30p. I am trying to edit together a massive training DVD on the 7d shot using 2 5dmkII and one EX1. All the audio is on the ex1 and neither PLURALEYES or FCP Multicam is having any of it. My only option is to either convert ALL the EX1 footage to exactly 30p using compressor or ALL the 5dmkII stuff to exactly 29.97. I tried to do this and it has been going for a day and it has barely scratched the surface. So for this reason I say 7d because the 7d has proper 30p, that is 29.97. Not the 30p that is compatible with nothing but the 5dmkII!  Canon obviously realised this and gave the 7d the right frame rate(s)

Of course if you never plan to intercut 5d with anything else then don’t worry. The 5d still has a better image!!

[xr_video id=”d290b2637aa14508bd87f638b47fe9ee” size=”md”]
This is a heavily compressed version so the noise won’t show up but the rolling shutter shows clearly. But click on view on Exposure room and click on download original to see noise comparison. Again this is just a prototype 7d

1000pixel transparent


  1. First off, great videos. Guess I may have to buy some
    goodies for my 5D (like the rear finder, etc).

    I have a question – I just purchased a 5D (desired full frame).
    My 5D has 3 formats/frame rates (at least the menu says I do).

    I notice that you say the Canon 5D Mk II has only 30fps.

    From the specs shown by B&H Photovideo (and my camera)
    1920 x 1080 @ 30fps
    1920 x 1080 @ 24fps
    640 x 480 @ 30fps

    Does this mean it is a lie, and 24fps really equals 30fps??
    I shot yesterday (13 June 2010), at the 24fps setting, but have
    not imported the footage yet to check.

    What great videos you have shot, and thanks for the tutorial on 30p to 24p, along with the guy who first outlined the conversion process.


    1. Hey Eric,

      I think it’s because you have the new firmware already that Canon released recently. It brings the 24fps video and other features too :). Anyway, it still didn’t provide 50 or 60fps, but I think 24p is good enough to be happy with 5D 🙂


  2. We have developed a plug-in for Nuke and AfterEffects that eliminates the rolling shutter seen in fast sweeps and pans with all CCD or digital recorder cameras. The Plug is called RollingShutter. Take a look…




    Tell us what you think, it would be interesting to get some feedback on the website. Or anything we have missed or you would like in the tool set.

    Foundry Team.

  3. hi,

    we are making a low budget feature this summer, with many quick setups. The whole film is being made over 5 weeks. We can’t afford both cameras.

    so my question is – I want to use the 5D because we love the quality of the picture but, I am concerned about focusing during recording. We have a smallHD monitor so, if we use the 7D I think we can get a good output for focus pulling. What do you think? will we be able to focus an 85mm at 1.4 on the 5D or are we better playing it safe by opting with the 7D.
    I can’t get access to a 5D to test it out easily.

      1. Thanks Philip. Really I am asking do you find it much more straight forward to focus accurately with the 7d using and external monitor ?

        For me accurate focus is the only thing I am concerned about with opting for the 5d for my project.

  4. Philip, I’m wondering why everywhere I read that 24p is the must have frame rate for cinematic feel (as we know) and yet you often class 24/25p into the same category in your posts. Does it mean that for all but the very keen eyed 25p would suffice to get a cinematic feel? How does 25p convert to 24p in post (nicely or terribly and not worth it?). If it’s especially for things like music videos and documentary style shorts I guess 25p would be more than enough (i.e not a ‘feature film’ that must use 24p).

    I admit I’m confused about the ideal frame rates 🙂

    Thanks for anyone who can enlighten me about 25p

    (also, I see some cams frame double up to 50p in their codec ‘wrappers’ from a 25p sensor, would this ruin the ‘near cinematic’ feel of 25p and can it be corrected/frame undoubled in post?)

      1. Many thanks Philip, I guess I can stop worrying about chasing 24p now and concentrate on more important things to aid getting closer to ‘the cinematic look’.

  5. we in india are planning a broadcast quality documentary film 25p mode pal,i havent used any dslr for video, my question is…

    1. which cam do u recommend t2i, 5d mk2 or 7d. as output quality in video is not visible on these youtube or vimeo videos.
    2. is auto focus function working while the video recording is on or no
    (in these dslrs).
    3.will bbc accept the video (5d/7d/t2i) if given in hd.
    4. t2i is the cheapest yet using same processor of 5d mk2, and sensor of 7d, is it the best buy??

    1. 1. I recommend the 7d

      2. Auto focus works, but if you auto focus on a DSLR you know that it is not similar to a video camera at all. The auto focus is often noisey and not smooth, depending on your lens.

      3. I don’t know.

      4. The t2i has been too noisey in low light conditions. Not worth it to me. Don’t go by two attributes to help you come by your decision. Do what Philip suggested, write out all the pros and cons on a sheet of paper. Also do not take anyones word for it, you should come to this decision on your own seeing that you are the one concerned about the price, it would be safe to assume that you are footing the bill for the camera. Keep researching, you will find your answer soon.

  6. Hey Philip you need to update this now since the firmware changes that opened up the standard 30fps instead of true not to mention 24fps, pal standards and lots of other nice improvements to the 5D.

  7. Hi Phillip,
    Are you saying that the 5d Mark II has a better video picture but since the 7d is cheaper an almost as good then you recommend the 7d? I want to shoot video only.

  8. Well, what does all of this really mean? to 5D or not to 5D?
    It seems to me other then the crop issue 7D is better? and it’s a feature powerhouse in comparison.

    My take on this is not to get either for as long as I can help it! 7D more vertile and cheaper to maintain(lenses) and 5D better for low light and full frame though more expensive to run. it’s nearly 2 years old! Canon didnt even wait a full year between bringing out 500D and 550D so basically I think they are gonna be looking to bring out the next camera very soon!

    Great page and review btw!

  9. Regarding the update and problems working with 30p in a 29.xx project. Surely there is a way in FCP. We are using Grass Valley Edius and you just right click a clip and select it to play at 29.xx and it works fine. Takes less than a second. Premiere even allows interpretative import.

  10. it would be a great help for some people who want to start their own website. it is my pleasure to be one of those people who commented on your site. . thank you for give a opportunities… more power and god bless ..

  11. As far as mixing frame rates Premiere CS4 and CS5 seem to do it perfectly. You can put a 24p, 30p 60p and 120p all in one sequence at any frame rate you like. I left FCP behind years ago because they were always lagging behind the current tech. Plus I can design frames and sequences in Photoshop and After Effects and import them in without rendering them and still be able to manipulate the layers. This might offend mac lovers out there, but it’s just the truth. Apple spends so much time developing and trying to perfect their products that they are two or three years behind the market when they are released….but $100 millions of dollars in ads cover all that up nicely. All that being said, I love your work Phillip (if I may). You have truly been an inspiration to me. After I saw what you could do with these DSLR’s I went out and got me one. 🙂

  12. I have an eos 5d mk 1 and have decided to wait for a 5d mk3 before I upgrade, due to the dated 9 point focus layout of the 5d mk11. To get my tech fix, I have purchased the eos 7d as my second camera which should keep me going in the meantime. Canon – please upgrade the old 9 point focus system on the 5d mk2 and I’ll buy one at once… honest!

  13. Olá Philip.
    para mim tem sido muito bom acessar seu blog, uma vez que tenho conseguido tirar alguas duvidas com relação a formatações,de captação entre 30fps e24fps,eu ainda não tenho nem uma 5D nem a 7D mas pretendo compra-la em breve, eu tenho trabalhado com a minha ex3 sony e acho uma grande camera, inclusive gostaria de ouvir mas a respeito da mesma uma vez que você é um profundo conhecedor da mesma.
    um grande abraço e que deus continui lhe protegendo.

  14. Hey Phillip, what lens did you use to shoot “Sofia’s People”?

    I’m about to buy the 5d MKii, which lens do you recommend?

    EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM ?

    OR EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM ?

  15. What about the Sony VG10E? slightly larger sensor than the 7D, video camera ergonomics and, most importantly, uncompressed clean HDMI output. Canon, Nikon, Sony Alpha and PL lens mounts. Hook one of these up to a Nanoflash and that has to be something worth considering…

  16. I think than the 5d its really superior, cause full frame is full frame and if you update the firmware you can reach 24 p and 30 p, and the new features of controlling audio levels really rules… only needs 60p for been perfect.

  17. hi philip,
    i am joydeep from india. ihave been a director for the past ten years and recently i bought a 7d. i was shooting with a 10-22 lens at a beach for a test shoot and i noticed that when i panned my camera there were terrible jitters on the palm leaves.
    I do not know if this is because of the rolling shutter or what. Could you please tell me how to avoid these jitters on tree leaves.


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