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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Canon Rebel T4i and EF 40mm f/2.8 STM Hybrid AF Video Test



Canon's latest flagship entry level Rebel, the T4i/650D, touts a new Hybrid auto focusing system for video and the first LCD touchscreen for Canon DSLR's. Also introduced is the long awaited Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM pancake lens. Otherwise known as the "shorty forty", this very slim profile prime lens has an affordable retail price of $199.



The new Hybrid AF system of the T4i/650D allows objects or people to be continuously tracked in focus during video recording. With Canon's new EF STM or stepper motor lenses, the Hybrid AF system allows smoother lens focusing when compared to USM and non USM EF lenses. The new Hybrid AF system and the LCD touchscreen of the T4i/650D work in conjunction with STM lenses such as the new Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM pancake lens for smooth focus tracking of subjects during video capture.



I wanted to see for myself Canon's revolutionary hybrid focusing system. As a veteran television news photographer, I always manually focus lenses on my video cameras. Just the thought of horrible focus hunting and motor noise gives me nightmares. So how does Canon's Hybrid AF system stack up? Watch my 1080p video above shot with the Canon EOS Rebel T4i/650D and the EF 40mm f/2.8 STM lens.



My Canon Hybrid AF conclusion? The Servo AF only works well with subjects and people moving at a toddler's pace. Anything faster than crawling, the Hybrid AF does not keep up with fast moving people or objects. My 15 month old baby daughter just started to walk recently and the Canon T4i/650D paired with the EF 40mm f/2.8 STM pancake lens kept her in focus most of the time. Before the test, my expectations were not too high for this T4i or any HD DSLR. Disappointed with focus tracking of normal everyday people or object movements, I was quite surprised at the quiet and smooth focus of the new STM or stepper motor. Say goodbye to noisy, ratchety and jarring focus movement of previous EF USM and non USM lenses. Canon's next step is to match the AF system of conventional camcorders out in the digital video market. Patience is a virtue!



While we are on the topic of DSLR video, the Canon Rebel T4i/650D replaces the 16 month old Canon Rebel T3i/600D with added and removed DSLR video functions. The Canon Rebel T4i/650D most notably does not have 1080p 3x to 10x Digital Zoom video capture and the "AF Quick" mode for video focusing. What happened? My only guess is Canon's marketing division got hold of the R&D department. The Canon Rebel lineup is marketed to the entry level and novice DSLR demographic, most notably soccer mom's. I can't blame Canon for this because all I see at theme parks and zoos during travels with my own family are inexpensive DSLR's strapped around parental necks. New parents mean "green" full auto mode on the control dial 24/7! This includes auto focus with shooting video, as well.



Let us take a break about video and focus on the great Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM lens image quality. This pancake lens is an amazing and must have for your camera bag. It is affordable, portable and super sharp for crop and full frame sensors. The color rendition of this lens is just about "L" glass quality. The above image was shot with the "shorty forty" and the Canon EOS 5D Mark III at ISO 3200. Focus was dead on and the image quality was outstanding for $199. This "shorty forty" is a no brainer!



I will have more video tests with the pancake lens paired with the Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 1D Mark IV shortly. I am working diligently capturing, transcoding and editing video footage to share the knowledge.



Stay updated with my upcoming Canon EOS Rebel T4i/650D Verdict and Video Review by Becoming a Fan on my Facebook Fan Page and following me on Twitter!








***Major Update***


I just posted my Canon EOS Rebel T4i/650D Verdict and Video Test here.

23 comments:

  1. Here's a question for you. Can I use manual focus on the t4i and then just override the manual focus by tapping the screen on the desired focus point? Further, can I do this and have the focus point STAY where I tap it until I want to change it again? In other words, I wouldn't want the focus to track (seems to look terrible - very iphonish). I wouldn't mind just using the touchscreen for rack focus though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ggg, Yes, you can disable the automatic Servo AF during video recording and just select the focus point on the touch screen. You can also manually focus as well during this process. This method for easier rack focusing sounds ideal but focus will still hunt in subjects with low light and poor contrast. Although, this method is more accurate than "Face Detect" but not perfect. I suggest stick with manually focusing instead. Good Luck!

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    2. I went to play with a t4i today and when I set it to video mode, you could easily disable the Servo AF but then when you tap the screen, it does not auto-focus. You have to press the shutter button halfway (or whatever button you have assigned for focus). I was hoping you could just tap the screen and have it focus on what you wanted servo AF was disabled. Apparently this is not the case unless I'm missing something. Do you have any input on this?

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    3. ggg, I stand corrected. In my haste for a quick response to my readers, I overlooked the fact focus is achieved with Servo AF disabled and the assigned focus button pressed. A tap on the touchscreen does not achieve focus. Thank you for correcting this mistake. I am busy writing the full T4i review and shooting another test video, so I apologize for the oversight. My only suggestion now for your desired rack focus is to manually adjust the lens.

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  2. Do you think I should get the 40mm or the 18-135mm STM for the T4i??

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Max, I personally think you should get both lenses. These STM lenses compliment each other and make a great combo. If your budget does not allow this, I suggest the new 18-135 STM lens because it gives you a versatile walk around lens. The pancake lens gives you a single practical focal length with fast glass and a blurred background for portraits. Either way, these new STM lenses will not disappoint.

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    2. another reason for getting both lenses is that they have completely different focus motors. The 18-135 will be faster and quieter. http://www.usa.canon.com/cusa/consumer/standard_display/Lens_Advantage_Perf#usm

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  3. Are you bascially saying the automatic focus is a waste of time? If so, then what is the unique advantage of the two STM lenses?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Canon's Hybrid AF system to continuously track subject's focus is a nice try but no cigar. Of course, I could set the lens aperture to f/8 or f/16 to make focus easier but I could manually focus at that point.The other upgrades of the T4i such as the faster fps, longer video record time and more accurate 9 point focus points like the Canon 60D make up for the shortcomings. The STM lenses make the focusing quieter, smoother and less step like (ratchet) than USM and non USM lenses. STM will be the new standard soon.

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  4. Focus noise of the 40mm STM lens is HORRID in this review that I just found:

    http://dancarrphotography.com/blog/2012/06/23/canon-40mm-f2-8-stm-pancake-review/

    But I don't hear those terrible noises in your video. Can you comment on this? Also, does the lens make the noise even when manually focusing? Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ggg, In my first and second Canon T4i video tests, I use a rubber mounted shotgun microphone to isolate any IS mechanism and AF noise. The STM focus motor has a geared like sound when in AF and manual operation. USM lenses are just about silent in both modes. Non-USM lenses are the loudest of Canon lenses in both modes as well. Although the STM lenses are not silent, they are smoother in operation during Servo AF when compared to their non STM counterparts. So in a nutshell, I suggest using an external microphone all the time.

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  5. Hi Chad, I wanted to know if you could recommend a good shotgun mic to go with the 4ti canon.

    thanks
    malones

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The best shotgun mic value is the RODE VideoMic for around $150. Although, rather large to fit in a camera bag, the RODE VideoMic sounds great and has a pretty good pickup as for distance. If you want something smaller but sounds a bit "tinny", the AZDEN ECZ 990 for around $70 is a good choice for travel. I also have the Senneheiser MKE400. It is just a tad bit smaller than the AZDEN but the sound quality sounds the same IMHO. That retails for $199. I hope this helps. Good Luck!
      Sincerely, Chad Soriano

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  6. hola señor veo que su apellido es hispano entonces supongo que habla español, me gustaria hacerle la siguente pregunta,, antes que nada yo soy videografo profesional de eso vivo, pero jaj lamentablemente no cuento con el dinero suficiente para una 5d markIII, solo cuanto con presupuesto para alguna de las siguietnes 3: canon t4i, t3i, nikon d3100, canon 7d (may be), cual me suguiere, de vez en cuando tomo fotos pero mi especialidad es el video, el audio no me preocupa ya que grabo por separado en un h4n saludos desde mexico y gracias

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Para el camarógrafo en un presupuesto, me volvería a ir con la Canon T3i. Tiene todas las características de video excluidos del T4i excepto el tiempo de grabación prolongado de 29mín.de y 59 segundos. Usted puede ahorrar dinero con la T3i y compra el mejor cristal. Si va a grabar capturas de vídeo largos en un tiempo, yo iría con el tiempo de grabación de vídeo ampliada de la T4i. La 7D es incluso una mejor cámara de 3 años de edad con el nuevo firmware acaba de lanzar, pero pronto serán reemplazados. Yo elegiría la Canon 60D sobre la 7D cuando se trata de vídeo. Espero que esto ayude. ¡Buena suerte!
      Sinceramente, Chad Soriano

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  7. Hi Chad,

    Great reviews and excellent videos! Thanks for sharing your insight. Does the T4i offer a manual ear-jack to monitor sound?

    Mark

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Mark,

      Unfortunately, the T4i does not have headphone jack to monitor audio. It has only an input for an external microphone. The only Canon DSLR with a built in headphone jack to monitor audio is the Canon 5D Mark III. The $12,000 Canon 1D Cinema 4K DSLR has a headphone jack as well but that is way out of budget for most people.

      Thanks for the compliments!

      Sincerely, Chad Soriano

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    2. what does that mean one should do if wanting external audio? is it better to have a seperate unit and try to put the sound and video together later or take a risk flying blind with the shotgun mic?

      Delete
    3. Arjana,

      In most cases, recording audio on a separate audio device is a very wise and safe choice for good sound. In my opinion, this method is not very practical for a one person mobile video production. Shooting with separate audio means more time in post production. Not very convenient, for some. I personally shoot with a DSLR audio adapter/mixer with audio monitoring called a Beachtek DXA-DSLR Pro Active Audio Adapter. This $400 plus unit allows me to adapt XLR audio microphones with monitored audio to my DSLR. It also negates the AGC of the audio input of most DSLRS. TASCAM DR60 is the newly announced DSLR audio adapter plus audio recorder built into one unit. This amazing brand new device is even cheaper at $349. I am currently waiting for a sample for a quick audio review soon to be announced...For external audio for DSLR's, you have many choices. I would just buy equipment according to your budget at this point...

      Sincerely, chad soriano

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  8. Is there way to remove the autofocus noise in post production? I have final cut 6.0.6 academic. I recorded a video where I'm speaking and you hear each time it autofocuses, very annoying I didn't expect it to be that loud

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Jacoya C,

      You cannot remove the autofocus noise entirely but you can minimize the bass trembling with the High Pass Filter in the audio folder FCP Effects. It is definitely a 100% fix for your audio troubles but it is a start. Check out the audio tutorials by FinalCutKing on Youtube for more FCP advice.

      Sincerely, chad soriano

      Delete
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