Canon EOS 70D – Noise Test to ISO 12800

I picked up a Canon EOS 70D body to see if it would work for shooting video of musical performances.  I was a little wary of the APS-C sensor, since my previous bad experience with the Canon T3i.  But the promise of Live View continuous autofocus, touch screen and face detection on the 70D was enticing, so I’m trying it out.  Preliminary tests are very good, with the camera locking onto a face and following it as it moves.  Just what I need for stage work.

To check what the native ISO is on this camera, I did a test of the noise generated by the sensor itself.  I also wanted to see the nature of the noise at high-ISO settings.  Here’s the test (it’s best viewed at full screen at 1080p):

Noise looks good at the ISO 160 and multiples, like with previous Canon DSLRs.  The noise pattern is more noticeable than on a full-frame, but we’ll have to see how it shoots and intercuts in actual use.  More to come.

Notes:  Shot with body cap on at 1/60 sec, 1920 30 IPB. High ISO Noise Reduction set to Standard.

The noise has been enhanced in Final Cut Pro 7 with Brightness/Contrast.  Left side shows image as it came from the camera with Brightness boosted +1, Right side  +20.  Contrast -100 on both.


Studio Portraits: Tethered Shooting

I had the opportunity to shoot some corporate portraits this week in a temporary conference room studio.  My setup is pretty simple — 4 Alien Bees strobe heads: key, fill, background light, and a hair light from behind the background.  Canon 5dMkII with a 70-200 f2.8 lens.

Since it was a static setup I thought I would try tethering the Canon to a MacBook Pro so the clients could see the results immediately.  I used the Canon EOS Utilities software for remote shooting and it worked great.

First, it helped with the set up because you can take test shots without writing to your CF card or disk.  There’s an integrated histogram to help with exposure settings.  You get a nice big image to evaluate.  And you can change the camera settings remotely from within the software, including ISO, speed, aperture.  The only things you can’t change are the physical zoom and framing of course.

During shooting it helps with the large image to monitor shots.  The clients can then check the images and select the best ones, or we can talk about trying different poses.

Finally, and best of all, you can set it to write both to the CF card and your hard drive, so you get instant redundancy for safe backups.

I only wish there was a more portable version of this.  Lee Morgan of showed a way to wirelessly monitor photos instantly on an iPad a while back, but it’s just for monitoring, not controlling the camera.  I wouldn’t mind a wired connection if it added controls, but I don’t think it’s possible with Apple’s connector.

There is promising beta software called DSLR Controller available for Android tablets as reported by Petapixel last year.

Faster YouTube Upload Success – Fiber Optic Internet

I have a potential client who needs one-hour HD videos uploaded to YouTube within a very short time window.  After compressing a test video with the Matrox CompressHD card to 720p h.264 with Compressor (45 minutes) the file size was 2.32gb.  Uploading through my Comcast residential connection at about 4Mbps took over 4 hours.

I tried a Comcast business connection which said was uploading at 9.1 Mbps, but that still took almost 3 hours.  I tried at different times of the day but although Speedtest said some upload speeds were faster than others it didn’t make a lot of difference in the time it took to upload.

After an extensive search and posting on several forums for help I finally found a local office building which is home to many non-profit organizations, and which has a fiber optic connection to the internet.  Plus they have free public wi-fi.  The upload speed is still only 9.9 Mbps, but the YouTube upload of the same file took only 38 minutes!

I don’t know why there is such a huge difference in speed.  Is Comcast somehow choking the upload process, or does a fiber optic connection make it faster even at the same upload speed?  More research is needed, but at least now I know I can meet the client’s need for speed.