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Canon 7D is Good for Stills, Too

By on Dec 11, 2009 in Blog, Internet, Print, Video | 2 comments

As twilight settles over LA, the Swift Water team from 88s swings into action.

As twilight settles over LA, the Swift Water team from 88s swings into action.

It’s difficult to go anywhere these days without hearing about how the Canon 5dMKII and the 7D are changing the indie film world. And while that’s true, it’s also true that the 7D is a remarkably capable still camera as well.

The Canon 7D represents part of a new arsenal of equipment for our team. We’ve spent the past year evaluating various bits of kit, and with the knowledge that we’d need to use the gear for a wide range of projects, the 7D became a leading contender. The remarkable reviews by noted DP Philip Bloom and some of his amazing 7D videos didn’t hurt either.

Just this past week, on December 7th, while on location in Los Angeles, our LAFD radio crackled with a river rescue assignment. This was a wet week in the City of Angels, and the risk of being swept away was higher than normal (normal is no worries, as the LA River is man-made and is concrete and dry!). Even with rush hour traffic, we were able to safely get on scene within a few minutes. A homeless person, perhaps living in the vegetation in the center of the concrete channel was trapped – not in water, but unable to get off his “island.”

Swift Water Experts from LA, Glendale, and Pasadena rescue a stranded person.

Swift Water Experts from LA, Glendale, and Pasadena rescue a stranded person.

Cameron took the trusty HD video camera and I grabbed the Canon 7D. We’d only taken possession of the camera a few weeks earlier, so this was going to be an interesting assignment. The sun was already down and it was twilight. How would the Canon hold up in extremely low light?

Several things happened: The homeless person was rescued successfully, uninjured, and in need of only fresh clothes (regardless of the weather). And, the Canon 7D really came through. I mean – it was a joy. The viewfinder makes it easy to properly frame images quickly, and the information provided helps me, as a photographer, make decisions about each visual setting prior to exposing a frame (on a CF card, too!). And, finally, every other photog or videographer on scene had a comment to add: “Oh, is that the new Canon? Nice!” Even a river rescue firefighter stopped to say, “I love that camera! Have you seen the HD video that comes out of it?” Um… yes! I shoot HD video with it!

As the rescue was executed, the light of day was gone. Yet, the 7D continues to deliver detailed images with limited noise.

As the rescue was executed, the light of day was gone. Yet, the 7D continues to deliver detailed images with limited noise.

In this case, I was most impressed with the image quality in near black conditions. As night fell, only the jumpy circle of light from a hovering LAFD helicopter lit the area. Overall, it was dark enough to want a flashlight. Yet, the 7D really brought the story to life. See the images attached to this story. No light. Really.

During the coming few weeks, we’ll offer up some field review entries, and hopefully share how the 7D is being integrated into our equipment inventory. Consider this entry to be a bit of rah rah over our delight with this new bit of kit. And if you have a Canon 7D, we’d love to hear from you as well.

NOTE: Our team works closely with the Los Angeles Fire Department, and as such, shooting video at incidents such as this are an ongoing and normal part of our activities.