Getting 4:4:4 video from the HDMI output of a 7D

I while ago I came across Syndicate 7D tool but for some obscure reason, it did not catch my attention. Now in this article (twittered by Dan), we have more details about how the software works.

Maybe I am getting a bit ahead of myself here. Lets start from the beginning. What is 4:4:4? 4:4:4 is a video encoding format (like H.264) which preserves much more information, than let say, ProRes 4:2:2. I dont want to rewrite the excellent article on Wikipedia so if you are interested in that technical stuff, go and take a look. The important thing to understand is that being able to get a feed directly from the HDMI output of the camera that has not yet been encoded has a much higher image quality than what you can get from the H.264 file.

Feeding of a uncompressed video output is nothing new. As described by Philip Bloom article (in the section about the NanoFlash), people have been doing this for years with EX1 or 3 and KiPro. This is a very cost effective way to get high quality edit ready files right off the camera. So far, the main obstacle for achieving this with the HDSLR is the lack of a full HD video out from the camera.

That is where Syndicate 7D Tool comes into the picture. According to them, the output they are able to capture from the 7D(1620 x 910) is the same video crop that is recorded on the CF card by the camera before its resolution is increased to full HD. Their software capture this feed, process it to increase its resolution and smooth the image and saves it as a 4:4:4 file. This is not a true 4:4:4 capture of the HD feed since it ‘creates’ pixels, but should provide a higher quality file than what is generated by the camera since it is not encoded in H.264.

As some people have commented, instead of up sampling the resolution to 1080p, the software should give us the original weird resolution file. We could then use these as oversampling for 720p which is currently the preferred delivery format anyways.

I have yet to hear about anyone using this tool so it still smells like vaporware to me, especially the weird 1620 x 910 resolution. If it proves to be true, it would have a lot of implications for 7D owners.

Now I hear you thinking: when can we get something similar for the 5DMrII? Actually, the answer to this question will probably come from the Magic Lantern firmware hack. Trammel has a video showing full HD out from the HDMI, we just need all the GUI elements out while recording, plug a KiPro and that is it!

As you can understand from this post, a true HDMI out from the 5/7D would have a much bigger impact on the end result than a 24p/60p firmware update, at least for the people shooting films. Unfortunately, this is not something we can expect Canon to give us, if they did so it would really be the end of their ‘real’ camera line. Solutions will have to come from third parties and it seems we are not that far from it!

About Tommy

Photography allows me to be what I want to be, to be where I want to be, and to do what I want to do ... I'm not professional photographer and I don't need a title, I love to take photographs and that is what I do, I love to learn and I always try to do it better ...
  • Mike

    “According to them, the output they are able to capture from the 7D(1620 x 910) is the same video crop that is recorded on the CF card by the camera before its resolution is increased to full HD.”

    Wrong. Nowhere do Syndicate claim that the camera records 1620 x 910. “The same crop” simply means the 1620 x 910 preview image does not show less (nor more) than the 1920×1080 image that is recorded.

    It would make absolutely no sense for the camera to scale down to 1620 x 910 and then back up to 1920×1080, that would double the amount of work its scaler has to do, lowering quality, reducing battery life, etc.. Please don’t spread misinformation.

    • admin

      I agree with you, it would make no sense, but look at the sentence after : …meaning that after upscaling, there is no resolution loss compared to what would have been recorded in the camera. And if you look at the end of my post, I clearly say that I dont put too much trust in the 1620×910 resolution thing, even more so since we have not heard any similar report since.

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