Consumer camcorder vs DSLR

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by jamestsandoval, Mar 5, 2013.

  1. jamestsandoval macrumors newbie

    Mar 5, 2013
    I'm an aspiring movie director/editor and have been trying to start making short films to get into the game.
    I've always been against using SLRs to shoot video because I always liked the look of shooting with video cameras but after using an SLR to shoot a music video, I was very impressed.

    My question:
    As an amateur professional, is it really worth getting a $1,300 video camera, or should I get a good $600 slr?

    Taking into consideration camera handling, midshot focusing, frame rate, adjustable functions and settings, and the lot.

    Thank you for your time and answers!
  2. simsaladimbamba

    Nov 28, 2010
    It depends on what 1,300 USD camcorder you are talking about.
    With a 600 USD DSLR you need to invest in additional lenses (primes or zooms) and external handling devices like a shoulder mounting rig and so on.
  3. mattdewolf macrumors newbie

    Mar 5, 2013
    May be worth checking out the Panasonic GH3 ... or you can get a GH2 probably for cheap at the moment. Good combination DSLR, with strong video performance.

    Keep in mind with DSLR you'll want dedicated audio record as well (so a Zoom H4N or similar).

    Agreed, you'll have to consider all the additional gear as well (follow focus would likely come in handy).

    If you're going for the more filmic look in your video, you'll want to have the flexibility of swapping out your glass. To that end, a 1,300 video camera isn't going to get you where you'll ultimately want to be.

    As with all production however, there's a lot more to it than just the camera. Decent lights/lighting and good audio will carry you.
  4. Menneisyys2 macrumors 603

    Jun 7, 2011
    Basically, go for a decent DSLR or mirrorless camera with a fast (bright) (around f/1.4), semi-long lens (over 50mm equiv) if you need shallow DoF.

    Note that most DSLRs / large-sensor mirrorless cameras use line skipping resulting in VERY bad more effects (a well-known known example is the Canon G1X - it's really worth checking out the video at (linked from ) so that you can see how bad it can be). In this, they, generally, deliver worse results (in this regard) than even upper-end consumer camcorders. This is why you'll want to prefer the above-recommended Panasonic GH2 (if you don't need 50p/60p) / GH3 (if 50p/60p is a must).
  5. arjen92 macrumors 65816


    Sep 9, 2008
    Below sea level
    I don't think that only applies to DSLR but also to consumer camcorders and prosumer camcorders.

    I'm only just discovering how light works, but it's so significant for the look of your video.
  6. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    Skip the DSLR. They are limited in what they can do. There are many who can do marvelous videos with DSLR but if you are truly interested in video work, start with a camera designed for that kind of work. If you do get into it later in a more serious way, you'll probably get a better video camera and keep the one you buy now as a back up or go two camera setup per some types of shots.

    I have worked with DSLR, video cameras and also film counterparts for each. They all have their place but DSLR movie making is not nearly as practical as a far more flexible video camera. - Obviously many may disagree but that's my two cents.
  7. Menneisyys2 macrumors 603

    Jun 7, 2011
    Exactly. Unless you need really shadow DoF, a consumer, quality camcorder (for example, the HF G10 and its successors with big pixels - see ) will do better - at least as good low-light performance, no moire as there's no line-skipping etc.

    Their only problem is, in addition to the lack of shadow DoF, is that they generally start at 40mm equiv, which means you either go for a quality(!!!) lens converter or pay more for a semi-professional model starting at 28mm (or wider).
  8. jhall1jax macrumors newbie

    Sep 2, 2006
    I've got a top-end DSLR (Canon 1D X with lots of lenses) and a medium/high-end camcorder (XA10 - very similar to the HF G10 mentioned above).

    I have done a couple video projects with the 1D and Zoom H4N, and dozens with the camcorder. The 1D produces fantastic video and is flexible (with a good collection of lenses), but I'm more of a run-and-gun kind of shooter. I need mobility, getting from point A to point B to get different shots, and I like the camcorder's form factor much better for my usage. So now, the 1D gets 100% usage in photo projects, and the XA10 100% usage in video projects (well, almost 100%, I also have a small Sony camcorder for B-roll footage when I need it).

    If I did studio/controlled/static video shoots, I'd probably use the SLR more.
  9. Policar macrumors 6502a

    Nov 21, 2004
    I love dSLRs for video in theory, but they're a pain to use. Audio's bad. Focusing is hard. Etc.

    If you're interested in DPing, get a dSLR since it's closer to a higher end digital camera in terms of how it operates, sensor size, ISO, lens selection, etc. Also much better (with fast glass) for low light. And if you get a higher end camera (C300, Scarlet, BMC) you can move up with your glass, which quickly gets expensive.

    If you're interested in directing and editing, as you state you are a video camera will get you what you need faster and easier. All you need to add is a boom mic and lights. But some lack manual control, which can be difficult if you want complete control over the image.

    If you're working commercially, get what your clients ask for. Or whatever produces a similar look to their sample videos.

    I just switched from a dSLR (still my b cam) to a video camera and I have to admit, having real video functions is GREAT. But a lot of major ads (even national spots with huge budgets) were shot on dSLRs for a while. So for the "film look" and traditional high end workflow, dSLRs are closer. But the look is also a bit cliched. We all know it when we see it, same as Red.
  10. Borntorun macrumors member

    Nov 15, 2011
    Perth, Australia
    I have said it on another thread, unless you are highly experienced in operating a dslr, AND have the mounting kit and focus rings etc, it is VERY difficult to control things such as focus on a dslr. Especially shooting at wide apertures.

    Also worth noting is that virtually all consumer grade dslr's use 4:2:0 chroma subsampling, whereas entry level prosumer video cameras (such as Canons XF100), uses the much better 4:2:2 chroma subsampling - which becomes an issue if you want to create footage for certain commercial stations.

    My advice to you is to start off with a good prosumer video camera, I use the XF100 mentioned above and can certainly recommend it. It has its drawbacks (autofocus is pretty ordinary), but it will outshoot any dslr by far.
  11. Policar macrumors 6502a

    Nov 21, 2004
    It's a lot easier if you hire an AC!

    But for videography dSLRs can be rough. For dramatic video where you can put down focus marks it's not much worse than the Red/Alexa/F3 or whatnot and certainly a lot easier than film.

    Otherwise, I agree. The "look" is more "cinematic" with a dSLR, but that doesn't translate into better video as you need a bigger/more experienced crew to support shooting with one.

    You can always watch sample videos and see which look you prefer, keeping in mind how much easier a true video camera is to shoot with. (AVCHD really isn't that bad, either, on the lower end models. I have a Canon camera that shoots AVCHD and it's a decent code! Obviously the XF codec is significantly better.)

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