DSLR for shooting video?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by mscriv, Jul 5, 2012.

  1. mscriv macrumors 601


    Aug 14, 2008
    Dallas, Texas
    Hey Everyone,

    I've noticed a lot more professionals at some recent events I attended shooting video with their DSLR's. What are your impressions of this and do you think the tech is up to snuff? From what I've read the main problem with DSLR video is that the autofocus is lousy and thus makes getting quality video much more difficult. Obviously, a DSLR is not going to give you the quality of a high end stand alone HD video camera from Canon or Sony, but are they worth using for family videos or something like that?

    I enjoy reading Ken Rockwell's reviews and he says that he still prefers to shoot video on his iPod Touch as opposed to relying on a DSLR.

    Anyone have any thoughts or input?
  2. twiggy0 macrumors 6502

    Oct 8, 2009
    I personally love filming with a DSLR.

    I use a 5DII, which could be one of the reasons why I like it so much. (full frame sensor makes a world of difference compared to a low end camera) For your uses you would probably not buy a camera like that, but rather a Canon T2i or something along those lines. It's still a very good camera however.

    It is true that it is manual focusing, but that can be taken care of with a follow focus and external monitor setup. (Which does cost around $300 for a basic setup) Once you have that you can make some great videos.

    Also have a 2.8 aperture lenses, or even wider, lets you get that creamy bokeh which makes videos pop out that much more.

    So to sum it up, if you've got the right equipment, there's a lot of possibilities that can tie in close to dedicated videography equipment!
  3. Luis Ortega macrumors 6502a

    May 10, 2007
    Fetcham Surrey UK
    I also love that you can film using full manual controls.
    Most camcorders that claim manual exposure are not true manual control.
    You'd pay more for a true manual video camera than you would for a good dslr with video recording.
  4. Prodo123 macrumors 68020


    Nov 18, 2010
    As long as you have a good grip on exposure control and with decent manual focus skills, DSLRs are great for video. Canon has a custom add-on called Magic Lantern which greatly helps with manual focus with tools like focus peak and magic zoom.
    And as the others have said, a large aperture is crucial and is one of the reasons that videographers like to use DSLRs (aside from the economic aspect).

    But the key thing is that you must be able to manual focus. If you can, then go for an entry-level DSLR like the 550D, 600D or even the new 650D. If not then stick to SLT cameras like the Sony alpha series with translucent mirrors.
  5. puckhead193 macrumors G3


    May 25, 2004
    I think it has its purpose but for me it's still to new/not practical. I could see if your using it for a sit-down interview but for run and gun situations I don't think the ergonomics are there.
  6. Policar macrumors 6502a

    Nov 21, 2004
    As a replacement for a camcorder dSLRs are very, very poor (essentially no autofocus, low resolution for wide shots, poor ergonomics, megazooms are slow and enormous relative to camcorder lenses, they exhibit terrible aliasing, they have no useful focus aids in general despite very shallow focus, they have serious problems with sound).

    As a replacement for "cinema" cameras (Alexa, Red, F3, C300, film, various camcorders with lens adapters) they're enormously problematic (all the problems above, plus much worse image quality and codecs), but dSLRs with good lenses can produce great images with a cinematic look. They are very popular cameras for shooting difficult angles and b roll for even very high budget films and some national commercials and music videos are shot (very beautifully) with them. They are VERY good for low light and a talented operator can use one to record a wedding or an event that benefits from a soft, dramatic look and wide angles...but for videography in general they can be problematic even relative to a consumer camcorder (hvx, etc.) that should have much worse image quality. And if you have a budget to rent better, rent better (but hang on to your dSLRs for b angles).

    If you're considering one instead of a camcorder, don't. If you're looking to get into home movies or music videos or cinematic videography and can afford some lights and lenses (and, ideally, a small crew), they're a good investment. If you're looking to hire a videographer or cinematographer, judge by reel rather than camera.
  7. avro707 macrumors 6502a

    Dec 13, 2010
    We use the 5D Mk.II at 70-200mm F/2.8L for video, mainly for talking head style video with a big lighting setup and it gives superb results. You can use a Cineroid EVF with them as well, which we do sometimes.

    But by this time, you are going to be getting very expensive. A camcorder might be better.

    Some DSLRs will let you do RAW HDMI output which you can record with another device. Some of the newer ones will also autofocus while recording too.

    If I'm honest, our 5D.II with L glass gives us nicer looking video than the enormous Sony HD video camera we have. But it's for controlled situations.
  8. Artful Dodger macrumors 68020

    Artful Dodger

    May 28, 2004
    In a false sense of reality...My Mind!
    I remember from watching House on TV that for all the later seasons, they used this setup in all the bathroom shots and close quarters shots/angles and those seemed to have a very nice look to them fwiw.

    Also as you mentioned the D800 can auto focus through zooming and I'm not sure about the 5D III as I haven't read up on that one much. They have come a long way in a short time and the only issue I have with any would be the time limit(s) for recording video. I'm sure this will improve greatly in the next year or so as well.
  9. handsome pete macrumors 68000

    Aug 15, 2008
    Just my 2 cents, but it really depends on your intended use and how comfortable you are with full manual controls. I've been using the 7D and 5DII a lot over the past year or so.

    The lack of auto focus seems to be a non-issue. In the past 15 years I'm not sure I've ever used auto-focus on any shoot so why would I need it now? You can always grab focus quicker and more accurately manually. Auto is really a consumer geared function.

    Ergonomics are an issue as these cameras are still primarily designed for quick bursts of single frames, not extended use. There are various support configurations you can buy but keep in mind that will add cost to your setup.

    On board audio is still very much limited. Depending on the camera you'll want to look into some kind of pre-amp or just capture sound on another device and sync in post.

    A lot of these cameras also use highly compressed codecs to capture footage. They're not necessarily edit friendly. So while new software and hardware will allow you to edit in real time, it's often suggested to transcode first.

    Lenses can get very pricey. There are a lot of good affordable lenses out there, especially in the used prime market. But if you're looking for a good constant aperture zoom, then be prepared to spend a few bucks.

    Monitoring may or may not be an issue with you depending on your eyesight. The LCDs alone can be deceiving on whether or not your subject is truly in focus. Many opt for an external portable monitor or a screen magnifier for the LCD.

    Those are just some of the issues out there. These cameras are getting better and will continue to do so over time. I highly recommend some working knowledge of still photography or film cinematography before diving head first into the video DSLR arena.

    There's really no "one camera fits all" solution out there, so I would just weigh the pros and cons of them all and see which one stacks up best for your needs and budget.
  10. Hillskill macrumors member

    Jul 12, 2010
    I built my production company on DSLRs. I recently ditched the 7d in favour of 5d.ii although I kept my 60d as I have found it holds it's own alongside a 5d.ii in many cases.
    We shoot weddings, events, corporates and timelapses on our cameras. All potentially very intense shoots as they are often uncontrolled. Initially it was an incredibly steep learning curve but we have a formula for events and our shooters can think on their feet.
    Post production wise I was converting everything to pro res and editing in FCP7. I have recently switched to premiere pro (on a PC) and been able to work in the original files from the 5ds. The job I finished today had media from canon DSLRs and canon c300s and didn't miss a beat. I will continue to use FCP but I have been really impressed by CS6.
    Video on DSLRs is very hard but incredibly fulfilling when you get it right. The look really can't be beat for the money but they are only a tool. You still have to work hard to find the great shots, give good coverage (atleast in events you do) and have good craft and creativity in the edit.
    There are loads of examples of my stuff here: www.atmotion.co.uk if you fancy a look.

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