In the spring of 2012, Canon, writer/director Po Chan and the Hurlbut Visuals production arm collaborated together on the short film project The Ticket to showcase the new Canon 4K DSLR 1DC. I was very excited about the opportunity and challenge to shoot with this new camera. As all of you know, a DSLR is not inherently a movie camera. The original intention was to shoot stills, and video was an afterthought. Canon informed me that the video division and the still division came together for the first time and this was the result; hence the C after the 1D. It was a start.
“Getting Your Menus Dialed In”
There are many functions you will need to turn off and on to finesse the camera to deliver the quality of images, just like I did with the 5D MK II. But before we get to this, let’s set up the GREEN STAR area of your menus.
Start your menu set up by adding the functions that you use all the time into the Green Star area. The limit is six settings.
Once you have all of these items moved to your Green Star area, this will be the only place you need to go. Color temp, formatting, frame rates, Canon Log, etc. are all in one location and at your fingertips. No need to surf through sub menus to get to your desired function.
“What to Turn On and Off”
Now go through your menu section to turn some things off. Peripheral illumination is a still photo function that takes lenses that would fall off on the edges and illuminates those edges. Not good for video.
Canon Log is one of the best functions of the 1DC. This is where the still and video divisions at Canon really knocked it out together. You want this function on, which will give you twelve stops of latitude at 400 ISO. It turns the DSLR into a cinematic machine, giving you the ability to shoot in situations with high contrast while holding the interior and exterior exposures. Turn Canon Log ON.
“More things to turn off”
Highlight tone priority is another hold over from the still function side of the camera. It suppresses highlights and tries to give you more latitude in those highlights. No thank you. It only messes with your image. Canon Log disables this function but if you are shooting picture style mode, it will affect it.
High ISO speed Noise Reduction is something that you do not want to have on as well. This only makes your image softer and not in an artistic way. It is better to use higher end noise reduction tools in post than in camera.
In your Gold Wrench area, please adjust the Auto Power Off to 15 minutes. The 1DC overheats quickly and this is a wonderful reminder to yourself. If you get busy and forget to power it down, the camera will remember.
Mirroring is a new function to the DSLR, the ability to actually operate on the back LCD screen and have your director or focus puller view an external monitor as well. This would have been huge on Act of Valor.
But if you want to playback on the camera to check a take, then mirroring has to be turned off or you will not see playback. This is the power of this small 4K in camera capture device. I find myself shooting a shot and taking it over to the director to show him. It is so fast and immediate, which keeps your speed and set up count high. I have wasted so much time in my day waiting for playback or trying to get a signal out of the camera to video village. It is getting much quicker with hard drives and everything being computer based, but when you are in the thick of it, knowing that the camera can do it all is a great option. Knowing all of this, I prefer to keep the Mirroring OFF.
One of the functions that you do not want to enable with Canon Log is Canon’s view assist function. This is a rec. 709 LUT that takes the flatness out of the image, adding contrast and color saturation so that you can light better. The problem with this view assist is that it is too heavy handed in its contrast. With it on, you will underexpose your camera more than you should, and this camera with its 8 BIT color space gets muddy quickly. What do I mean by muddy? Muddy is a term for underexposure that feels dull, not with life. The blacks get a brownish, black contamination and look like Muddy Waters. When this camera is underexposed and you push it to the exposure that looks good in post color correction, you will start to get a very noisy, muddy image, especially if you are using the very sensitive sensor at night and shooting with higher ISOs than 400. I advise shooting with this 1DC sensor up to 2000 ISO, but no higher. After this, it loses BIT depth to about 6 BIT. Your color gets thin, like you are starving the sensor of exposure and color information. I found that 1/3 of a stop over-exposed and rating it with your light meter at 320 ISO worked like gang busters.
So with all of this, it is best to turn View Assist OFF and use a monitor that has a built in Canon LUT like the AC-7 OLED display by Small HD. The engineers at Small HD have dialed in a Canon Log LUT that gets you exactly where you need to be on exposure.
“Save These Functions to Your Card”
Now that you have all of these functions turned on and off, you are going to save all of these internal functions to a CF card.
You have now saved all of these to your CF card. Label this 1DC Camera set up. Now you can take this from camera to camera and with a couple of button pushes, all of the cameras in your 1DC arsenal are the same. This is a huge development. Keeping everyone on your team operating with this new protocol is so important. It gives you a base to work with and you can feel good knowing that all cameras are functioning in cinematic capture mode.
“To Recap from My 5D MK II B&H Series Where the Same Rules Apply”
• Shoot at 1/50 sec shutter to feel like a 180 degree film shutter
• Shoot at 1/80 sec shutter if you are shooting at 60fps to crisp up the image
• Set camera at 400 ISO for its most latitude in Canon Log
• No native ISOs so you can shoot at any ISO
• Do not shoot over 2000 ISO in Canon Log
• Do not shoot over 4000 ISO in Picture Style mode
• When shooting in Picture Style mode, use “Neutral” Picture Style with -4 Contrast, -1 Saturation
• Camera over heats and that affects color space. Turn off when you are not lighting or shooting
Now you have a camera that takes the best of the still world and the video world funneled into a cinematic movie maker. Next week, we will go into rigging and accessorizing your 1DC.
How are you using this new 4K DSLR? What settings do you prefer?