Canon 7D, the saga continues (with a stutter)…

Canon 7D, Martin Beek

Canon 7D, Martin Beek

UPDATE: this article is outdated, please read this blog from the top. ISSUES OUTLINED IN THIS ARTICLE MAY NO LONGER BE ISSUES AT ALL..!

Hi all.

I’d like to update you on the whole 7D issue.

We took a few days to evaluate the 7D after it arrived on thursday, october 1. Bottom line is: Canon, give us new firmware; your production model is useless for professional film making. Period.

Problem: the Liveview / Filmmode freezes frames for a two-frame period on a regular basis, resulting in a noticeable stutter. It looks like the processor can’t cope with differences in the image (contrast-rich patches), both in live view and while recording. It is card-independent, it is recording-independent, it is FPS independent, it is independent of ANY setting – all experiments with settings and configuration on the whole were not successful in solving the problem.

The 7D’s imageprocessor seems to be busy with things that get in the way of the 25fps timing.

What bothers / surprises me though, is that this artifact doesn’t show up in any of the wellknown 7D movies you find on the internet (eg. by Phil Bloom). Why? I think i know why… They were all made with pre-production models with special and/or beta firmware, maybe even tuned towards better videorecording. Call me suspicious, but that has happened with the 5D before as well. UPDATE: Phil Bloom stated that all his 7D movies are made with a production model. UPDATE 2: Canon Development states that Phil Bloom’s films ARE made with a specially equipped 7D !!! 

I have found more posts on the subject, so it’s not a problem of the specific camera i have.

I have spent a nice sum on the camera, the lens, the shoulder support, the CF cards, the matte box – et cetera. But i am not seeing myself using the thing in the near future.
So it’s a total waste of money so far.

I am getting grumpy mails from some of you. All very nice of those, to support Canon. Don’t understand me wrong. It is probably a monster of a DSLR photo camera. It is also a very nice affordable videocamera if you make little movies that are intended to feature on Youtube. But the problem lies here in, that the camera is marketed as a full HD professional camera that can cope with even the Scarlet. A hype is created by e.g. Philip Bloom, and i have been affected with this disease -> seeing is believing! Ofcourse, i understand now that you can’t get such a camera for 2000 euro’s, but Canon and their apostles like Phil and others are doing a good job in trying to make us believe this.

I’d like to see Canon or any of the Canon filmmakers to comment on this.

A collegue contacted Canon (Netherlands) on friday. Their exotic response: “we are not in the position to comment on this”. Huh?! Are we politicians here?! I am a customer with a problem!

I think Canon has to change it’s attitude (at least Canon Netherlands) and come up with a solution QUICK.

I won’t repeat the bottom-line. You are free to suggest new solutions, but please read all previous posts and comments first.

Grumpy Martin.


19 Responses to “Canon 7D, the saga continues (with a stutter)…”

  1. 1 Sonic
    October 11, 2009 at 12:29 am

    This test also had a stutter on export…http://vimeo.com/6978786
    let’s wait for nikons answer!

  2. 2 nyvz
    October 13, 2009 at 10:14 pm

    have you tried non-canon lenses? I’ve seen plenty of stuttering on the 5d Mark ii if it tries to communicate with the lens while shooting video. thats one of the big problems with these cameras for video, that the lenses and lens communication isnt made for video. in non-manual mode i know the 5dmk2 stutters if you zoom or if your zoom is a little loose or between focal length values. that was because the camera tried to change shutter based on focal length and had to process new focal lengths etc. ive had it happen on non-eos primes as well though. it stopped happening, though, it might have been that the lens mount adapter was hitting the 5dmk2 lens mount contacts for communicating with the lens.

  3. 3 marvelsfilm
    October 13, 2009 at 10:16 pm

    Mmmm… you might have a point there Noah..! I am using a Tamron lens and will try another Tokina next week. I’ll include a Canon lens test then too!
    Good thinking that man!


  4. 4 Jeff Gibbs
    October 15, 2009 at 9:39 am

    I just got my 7d and went outside to do some test shooting and was horrified to find that in several clips the video stuttered or more precisely for me choked like someone put their finger on a sprocket of rolling film.
    I am using the stock lens that comes with the 7d. I am also using a Sandisk extreme 16g card. Hard to believe that a card faster than spec would cause problems. Likewise, spent a bundle on the fastest cards, seemed like the right thing to do.
    I was filming outdoors moving subjects with autofocus and not in manual mode I don’t believe. It might when the camera tries to autofocus and or try to match a change in light it chokes up.
    Shot where the camera is not following action seemingly do not have this problem so far. However if I can’t follow action and move through fast changes in light the camera wont be that useful to me.
    So far the GH1 has been far more video friendly.
    Hopefully a solution will quickly emerge.
    Jeff Gibbs

  5. 5 Jeff Gibbs
    October 15, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    PS I am going to try disabling auto white balance and using manual mode and see if that helps. Maybe reformatting my card. Then lower rated card trick. The 7d appears to have a more robust raw image than the GH1 but is less out of the box friendly so far for anyone shooting real world chaos.

  6. 6 Bill Dempsey
    October 15, 2009 at 8:05 pm

    On top of unpredictable focus issues and flaky metering, I’ve run into another problem with my 7D which is very annoying.

    My 32GB RiData 233X CF cards, which work fine in my 2+ year old 40D, are not recognized by the 7D. So, I bought a brand new PhotoFast 64GB CF card to use in the 7D. That brand new card has problems, too. It re-partitions and formats the PhotoFast as an 8GB card with 56GB not partitioned. If I partition and format the card using Swissnife.exe on my PC, the 7D sees the whole 64GB until I format it in the camera. Then it fixes it at 8GB again.

    I’ve complained to Canon support about it and I’m waiting for their reply. The bottom line? We need an emergency firmware update for the 7D to address all of the bugs in the production unit.

  7. 7 doglatin
    October 22, 2009 at 2:04 am

    Just spent 2 hours with the Canon rep and another tech at Pictureline in SLC trying to solve the stutter problem. Then we got on the phone with Canon tech through the rep. Best evidence points to the computer processor. Macs need to be Intel based. I have an Quad Core G5 and the video stutters on that in Quicktime and in Final Cut exactly as stated above. But it doesn’t stutter on their Intel-based iMac. I saw the same clip side-by-side with a my PC laptop stuttering. It’s not processing power because you only need a Core 2 Duo 2.6Ghz but it needs to be Intel based. As for PC – I tested video on my brand new Sony Viao with Intel Core 2 Duo CPU a 2.00 GHz and the stutter was terrible. I’ve yet to see it work on a PC. The 7D Box states Core 2 Duo 2.6GHz for Vista or XP (it’s not in the user manual). It seems to be a software issue with the processor. The Canon Rep said the file has a Quicktime (.mov) “wrapper” with H264 codec and the processor has to decode it, and it’s not a file size issue. File sizes much bigger play on both systems. Hope this helps because it’s been a pain.

  8. 8 James Benet
    October 30, 2009 at 7:25 pm

    Ok here is something that might work:

    I have found in AMD chipped computers that AVCHD, HDV and other codecs that the frames repeat 2 at a time at unspecified times. Once I tried the same codecs on INTEL Core 2 and i7 the problems went away completely. And I could use the footage on productions.

    Now have you tried transcoding into another intermediate codec and checked the video? It might only be a problem with direct H264 playback. Hope I’m wrong!

  9. 9 timters
    November 15, 2009 at 5:02 pm

    This is very disappointing. I am PC based. Don’t want to start over with a Mac. My computer, according to the minimum specs, is fast enough, but I get incredible stutter in Quicktime. I can smoothly play back using Windows Media Player but the sound cuts out after about 15 secs. I can’t even figure out how to edit the .mov files. I tried to convert the .mov files to mp4 and dvi but there is a tremendous loss in quality. As you can see I don’t know what I am doing. Where should I go to figure all of this out and get up and running without spending a fortunate??
    I am searching on Bing with the words ‘working with 7d .mov files’ and not much comes up. What the heck is everybody else (all of those 100s of people who have bought a 5d2 and 7d) doing with their .mov files.

  10. 10 marvelsfilm
    November 16, 2009 at 9:26 am

    Please follow my workflow for the 7D, which inludes converting all camera .mov files to prores mov files, using the free program MPEG Streamclip. Also available for PC. It makes your mov files play like a charm!


  11. 11 Robert_Leblanc
    November 18, 2009 at 5:09 am

    I just saw your most recent post “…follow my workflow for the 7D…” which sounded like a good read but I can’t find that article on your blog. Could you please direct me to it (link)…


  12. 13 Mstac
    July 13, 2010 at 10:57 am

    Hi, I just picked up a 550D and noticed the exact same problem, around 3 frames stutter everytime screen brightness changes enough to cause aperature adjustment. I was wondering if you have any resolve to this problem? Is this significantly less of a problem with your 7D replacement body? I don’t know if it is worthwhile to try get my 550d replaced. I am surprised there are not more users complaining of this problem!

  13. 14 marvelsfilm
    July 13, 2010 at 11:19 am


    The problem only occurs with Canon lenses. Even if you switch off all automatic adjustments – so to FULLY manual – the Canon body keeps adjusting the aperture of the lens, and this is bizarre! If you zoom in moderately and pan from a normally lit scene to a bright patch – such as a white paper or window filling a quarter of the screen – you’ll hear the lens motor respond. Check this again by mounting a non-canon lens and the problem will be mysteriously gone.
    During the adjustment the recording can stutter by recording two identical frames. Sometimes this can be solved in post by deleting one frame (whole sequence is there) and sometimes this will not help much since the correct frame at that point has not been recorded at all.

    In my case, this was not solved by swapping the camera, but by swapping the lens for a Zeiss manual (prime) lens.

    This clearly demonstrates that these cameras are still in essence photo cameras and lack almost all features of a “real” video camera. Focussing problems, both electronically and ergonomically, will absolutely be addressed soon – in the next generation canon video DSLR;s – no doubt. But that does not help us much now.

    I’ve kept the 7D, although i don’t use it commercially anymore. I am planning to use it as a B camera on a next shoot. But it works stutter-less with the Zeiss lens.


  14. 15 Mstac
    July 13, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    Unfortunately I only have Canon glass, tried it on a 24-85, 50 1.4, and the kit 18-55 lens with the same stuttering. However with my 550D using manual exposure is fine so far (no stutter as aperature is not adjusted). Oddly changing the aperature manually or by zooming (variable aperature zoom) does not cause any stuttering, only when the camera is automatically adjusting it to compensate for brightness.
    I’m very surprised there is not more mention of this problem in all the reviews/forums especially if this issue spans the 7D, 550D, and maybe even other Canon bodies (5D?). I found it very apparent when panning and would have thought even the more casual user would notice. Local Canon dealer advised they weren’t aware of such problem… trying to point me to memory card, but this problem is apparent in Live View mode without recording.

    I tried out another 550d body at the store today and the results seemed the same. Thanks for the tips I will try to see if I can get my hands on a non-Canon lens. Maybe Canon does have an issue communicating with its own lenses?!

  15. 16 David
    August 9, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    Same issue here and I am hearing a lot more of this

    What’s going to happen and it is happening, we are getting to “camcorders” with interchangeable lenses

    In the next 3 years we will not be using cameras like the 7D for video work, we will be using camcorders with interchangeable lenses all at a reasonable cost

  16. August 24, 2010 at 11:56 am

    Hi, I would like to agree with you but the truth is that my canon 7D has changed my life and more than paid for itself 10 fold. I have had so much more work because of the quality of video I can supply to my clients. Eg, prime lenses, dolly track, slo motion = very high end looking video.

    I would say that to get the best results you do have to make sure the settings on the camera are perfect. It takes a while to get them perfect but once you do and always use a prime lense, so no zooming im afraid, it can get amamzing results. You do always have to keep your work flow in quicktimwe h.264, even when editing and exporting in final cut. other wise it does create strange stutters in the footage which I cant quite work out.

    I would never use this for anything like an important conference or wedding as it does sometimes just stop recording on you. Which is only acceptable when you have a moment to let it sort out.


    Martin J Pickering

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