Cassowary video and Canon 550D SLR (with video) review

To: <>
Subject: Cassowary video and Canon 550D SLR (with video) review
From: Simon Mustoe <>
Date: Thu, 1 Jul 2010 12:38:28 +0000

Continuing on (and as promised), a quick video of Cassowary. I'll be putting 
something more substantial together later.

I had a question about the Canon 550D from Russell. Yes, a great bit of kit. 
Nice to have digital video in an SLR and to all intent and purpose, just as 
good as the 5D (for video at least) but at 1/4 of the price. The colour 
rendition is great but there is a tendency to blow out highlights in high 
contrast conditions. Compared to semi-professional video cameras I've used, it 
is very hard to light meter manually, which is quite a constraint. If you're 
doing a slow tilt from sky to ground, it is almost impossible to compensate 
smoothly and I find the auto-metering a bit inflexible.

The depth of field is VERY narrow - which gives great effect but you need to be 
very sharp on the focusing, which is effectively done manually.

Then to editing. I use Final Cut Pro and I need to render all video to add 
effects / video filters, I assume because of the encoding - but it certainly 
beats ripping to DV PAL off a tape! I have found my MacBook Pro just slightly 
incapable of playback in the timeline when using 1080 so I am opting for 720. 
It doesn't really matter as 1080 is almost superfluous for most of us planning 
to edit for home use / internet. Which brings me to the final point. All the 
issues above in terms of metering etc are avoidable by just choosing shots 
carefully. Very little panning or zooming, nice flattish lighting, not much 
movement in frame and you'll get good results that are okay for the high 
compression encoding needed to work online.

Sound is good - the camera picks up everything though. A nice external mike is 
a good investment.

Overall, the camera performs well. It's simple to use for existing Canon users 
and very lightweight at a little over 400g. I use it as a second body to my 5D 
now but it will mostly only do video. The smaller sensor adds that bit of extra 
zoom, which is great. For video, it's all I really need but would like to have 
seen Canon include a way of visualising over-exposure as this is almost 
impossible to predict from the LCD (I guess I will learn in time).

I'll be writing up more about its use and the Swarovski UCA for Bird-O in the 
next few weeks.



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