Selling video camera and using DSLR instead?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by upsguy27, Jul 14, 2010.

  1. upsguy27 macrumors 65816

    upsguy27

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    #1
    So, right now, I have a Canon VIXIA HF20. It's great, it works perfectly, but unfortunately I have no DSLR. The HF20 only takes 3 megapixel photos. I don't have enough money to buy a DSLR, but if I sold my HF20 I could get a Canon EOS Rebel T2i or a Nikon D90. Both have HD video recording capabilities; but are they a viable replacement for a dedicated video camera? It would be great to have a DSLR and an HD video camera in one. Or, does anyone have another DSLR to recommend?

    By the way, I'd be using it for making short films for my film class. No home videos.
     
  2. tersono macrumors 68000

    tersono

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    #2
    I don't know the Canon, but whilst the D90 is a great stills camera, the movie mode is pretty miserable - largely because the autofocus is disabled in movie mode (God knows why, but there it is...). If anything moves, you're screwed.

    Have a look at the movies section of Ken Rockwell's review - it's quite revealing.

    http://www.kenrockwell.com/nikon/d90.htm#hd
     
  3. handsome pete macrumors 68000

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    #3
    You have to ask yourself what you need out of a video camera first. The DSLR for video craze has really taken off. But while there are advantages to using a DSLR for video, there are also many tradeoffs over a dedicated video camera.

    I have a Canon 7D. The t2i that is within you budget takes virtually the same quality video. Most of the advantages the 7D has over the t2i is build quality, better still capabilities, better placement of buttons for video stuff, and more iso settings and custom color temperature. But given its price, the t2i is a great deal.

    The tradeoffs you have to deal with when using a DSLR like the t2i for video include the following:

    12 minute recording limit
    Poor on board audio (really just not useable for most applications)
    Form factor not really suitable for handheld work
    No autofocus or motorized zoom
    Video issues like moire and aliasing
    Add on support gear that most find necessary (viewfinder, camera support, audio, etc.)
    Codec not suitable for editing (should be transcoded)
    Added cost of lenses

    Of course there are many great things these cameras can do. But you really have to answer the first question I posed first.
     
  4. handsome pete macrumors 68000

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    #4
    Autofocus on a still camera works a lot differently than in video cameras and is just not optimized for video performance. Besides the technical differences, if you left autofocus on for video mode, the motor would be loud and it could be a pretty big drain on the battery.

    Also, video professionals rarely (if ever) use autofocus. I'm sure if you polled video people what type of improvements or features they'd like in the next updates to current DSLRs, autofocus would be far down the list.
     
  5. jwheeler macrumors regular

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    #5
  6. pmasters macrumors member

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    Aug 15, 2009
    #6
    I am actually moving to DSLR with the 7D and I am abandoning my cam. I have an HMC40 with extra long battery, a Nikon D70 with two lenses, and Master Collection CS4 full retail that I am trying to sell as a package to pick me up a 7D or maybe 60D if it gets announced soon enough.

    Go ahead and make the move my friend, I am right there behind you.
     
  7. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #7
    How much is your budget? Does selling your HF20 get you just enough cash to buy the T2i or does it get you enough cash to buy the T2i plus everything else you'll need to make it a more viable video camera replacement?


    Lethal
     
  8. upsguy27 thread starter macrumors 65816

    upsguy27

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    #8
    What would make it a viable video camera replacement?
     
  9. handsome pete macrumors 68000

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    Aug 15, 2008
    #9
    Read my post again.

    The SLR form factor is not very good for video use out of the box. Many people need support gear (shoulder support, rods, a cage, etc.) to get good shots and avoid jittery video and other issues. Check out companies like RedRock Micro and Zacuto to see examples of what I'm talking about. I just use these 2 companies as an example and there are cheaper alternatives, but this stuff can easily cost more than your camera.

    You will also probably want some sort of lcd magnifier or small portable monitor, as the back display on the Canons is small and can be difficult to see in daylight (This is one advantage the GH1 definitely has). Focus is much more difficult to achieve with SLRs, which brings me to my next point.

    Follow focus. Most people regard this as a necessary piece of equipment. It allows you to pull focus much easier and fluidly than by turning the focus ring on the barrel with your hand. Doing so manually can lead to more jitters, which are much more apparent in DSLR video.

    Audio. As I mentioned before, the camera's audio flat out sucks. You will need either an external recorder or some sort of preamp and microphone solution.

    What I've listed here are just the basics. There are many other things that people feel as though are necessary for shooting DSLR video. So all of a sudden your $1000 dollar camera becomes a modular camera system costing upwards of $5000.

    And again, you my be able to get away without some or all of this stuff. But a large majority out there who already own these cameras would say differently.
     
  10. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #10
    I would say the very least in terms of accessories would be a magnifier that turns the LCD into more of a viewfinder, a stabilization solution, and an audio solution.

    Something else to keep in mind as well is that the still lens you'll be using aren't made the same way video lenses are so doing fluid zoom, focus, and/or iris adjustments will be much more difficult than with a video camera.


    Lethal
     
  11. JesterJJZ macrumors 68020

    JesterJJZ

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    #11
    DSLRs are NOT video cameras. They are digital still cameras that have a video recording option as a key selling point. Canon and Nikon are trying to follow what RED is doing with half assed results.

    I've worked with 5D and 7D and I'll admit the footage looks amazing at first glance, I myself was almost convinced to buy one. But one I started working on post I realized what a mess of a camera these things are. The footage, while sharp and great in low light, was very jiggly. This jello effect is due to a CMOS sensor as opposed to CCDs as well as a rolling shutter that has a slow refresh rate. Also, anytime you shoot something with a lot of flashes like a photoshoot, you will get half frames of the flash recorded. Also, applying effects to the footage can reveal major compression artifacts. I personally also hate the form factor for video work.

    Panasonic and Sony are developing actual video cameras out of these technologies and will no doubt improve on them. Look up the AF-100 for reference.

    Until then, I'll shoot with my HVX and lens adapter over one of these DSLRs any day. Although my next camera will be RED. :D
     
  12. gødspeed macrumors regular

    gødspeed

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    #12
    The 5D mark II's explosion onto the filmmaking scene surprised Canon as much as anyone, and it definitely was not an attempt to follow RED's lead... what gives you that idea? Nor were the results half-assed. Their ongoing popularity at the highest levels of production is a testament to this. In many ways the 1D / 5D / 7D perform on par with the REDs, and in some ways, like low-light, they outperform them... and at a fraction of the cost.

    That said, there are important drawbacks to be aware of -- like rolling shutter, overheating, compression artifacts, and limited HDMI output.

    I am confused though on how the form factor of a DSLR is any worse than a RED. In both cases, you absolutely need to buy additional support equipment. The DSLR's have the advantage of a burgeoning 3rd party / DIY scene, meaning that effective rigs can be put together for much less than it would cost for a similarly featured RED rig.

    There's a growing trend of bokeh cinematography, with entire productions being shot in the shallowest depths of field. For this kind of work, the DSLRs are unrivaled. And in more mainstream work as well, DSLRs make great special effect cameras for that intimate shallow focus look. They should not be the only cameras on a typical production, but I think they do have a place in most every DP's kit.
     
  13. ppc_michael Guest

    ppc_michael

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    #13
    Jester is on the ball with this. I was hired to do some shoots with the 7D. At first the video looks great, but the rolling shutter is noticeable, and post work REALLY suffers from the H.264 compression.

    And as others have mentioned, the audio is basically not useable. For my stuff we were shooting dual system anyway, so that wasn't a problem.

    So I guess it's good for little focus rolls and music video things to put on Vimeo, but I don't think it's ready for most professional applications.
     
  14. WeeShoo macrumors regular

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    #15
    You do realize that the RED camera's also use CMOS sensors, and all the problems that you have described for the Canon DSLR's also occur with the RED cameras that are on the market now, specifically the rolling shutter.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rolling_shutter
     
  15. 2ms macrumors 6502

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    Nov 22, 2002
    #16
    DSLRs are nothing at all like a substitute for a real videocamera. I know because I have one. Everything is out of focus if you move around. The mic is poor. Video KILLS the small batteries. And video KILLS the few GB on your SD card. SD cards with more than 16GB start to get insanely expensive. Especially for ones that are the right speed for video.

    I almost like my P&S more for video.
     
  16. kuaiyouming, Jul 17, 2010
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2013
  17. JesterJJZ macrumors 68020

    JesterJJZ

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    #18
    Yes I do but RED was designed up from the ground as a cinema camera. The issues inherent with CMOS technology are present, but greatly minimized. Film has many similar issues but again greatly minimized and we're all used to them.
     
  18. TheStrudel macrumors 65816

    TheStrudel

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    #19
    The key thing to realize here is the inherent compromises to either approach. What one must do is realize the flaws with DSLRs - technology and design goals are very different between still cameras and video cameras.

    The easiest way to answer this question is to simply rent the gear and play around with it for a day, and then you'll see what everybody's talking about.

    The more difficult way is to research this for a long time until you understand the tech and design issues at the heart of this and match up your goals with your options.
     
  19. 2ms macrumors 6502

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    Nov 22, 2002
    #20
    Get a Pentax K-X you can find them for as little as $500 and their image quality in low light is amazing. Check out the reviews. Additionally, they aren't burdened by in-lens stabilization like Canon and Nikon are (due to those two needing to support their old lenses from film days where all stabilization had to be in lens) so when you want different lenses they are much less expensive. It even has HDR which won't find in any other camera nearly same price.

    Just thought I'd make sure you didn't miss what many will tell you is easily the best entry-level DSLR. I have theory that Pentax loses money on the K-X to create "Pentax people".
     
  20. Pressure macrumors 68040

    Pressure

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    #21
    I like how you put properly the most important things in the tradeoff section.

    Seriously, a good lens is one of the most important aspects.

    It's a good thing you have interchangeable lenses compared to those poor video cameras with a fixed one.

    You work around most of these "tradeoff" and the quality you get easily surpasses what other cameras can achieve with their crappy sensors.

    I have sometimes used my 5D Mark II as a B-cam for important shots and the last job I did we used a rental Panasonic HPX-3000 (retails for $38,000) with an expensive lens. In the large majority of shots the 5D looked much better and sharper.

    These DSLRs are very nice because they resemble VistaVision with their large sensors.
     
  21. CaptainChunk macrumors 68020

    CaptainChunk

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    #22
    While these are all valid points, also consider that Canon never originally marketed the 5D Mk2 as a video camera replacement in the first place. In the beginning, it was a still DSLR that happened to shoot good 1080p video. Up until recently (without hacked 3rd-party firmware), it shot in 30 fps only and in two frame sizes (1080p and 720p). It was the indie filmmakers who started noticing its potential, which bred an entire industry of accessory gear to make the camera behave more like a traditional video counterpart. It was only then the DSLR companies started marketing their products as video camera alternatives. In fact, Canon was rather resistant to the whole idea initially - because they knew that it would put their DSLR division in direct competition with their suffering video camera division. It took a year before Canon released an official firmware update that would enable more video-friendly features on the 5D Mk2. Before then, people were using 3rd-party firmware to accomplish the same thing.

    And just to set the record straight, the RED One (and the new EPIC) both use bayer-pattern CMOS sensors as well (not CCDs) and thus also suffer from potential rolling shutter artifacts, although not as bad. The most critical drawbacks of DSLR video up to this point have been lens control and video codecs. While the lens control issue has been somewhat (but not entirely) eliminated through 3rd-party accessories, 4:2:0 H.264 really hampers what can actually be done in post with color timing, compositing, etc.

    But despite these drawbacks, there's a lot of good professional filmmakers using these cameras with very good results. You just have to know the limitations of what you're shooting with and kit up appropriately.
     
  22. wonderspark macrumors 68030

    wonderspark

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    #23
    Considering that the OP said he wants to make student films, I think a DSLR video option is good for now. It would work fine until running up against today's limitations, and if he decides to get more serious, he will have more experience to help decide on a more professional system.

    Film school (for me, anyway) was all about taking it as far as I could with as little as possibe. Creating maximum production value from what was available. A DSLR and an M-Audio Microtrack II could be really fun to work on without breaking the bank for now, and maybe it would leave enough cash for a light kit, etc.
     
  23. xStep macrumors 68000

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    #24
    Have any of you pros got any comments on Zacuto's "The Great Camera Shootout 2010"? For those who don't know, a team did some tests to compare film to DSLRs. They also had some audiences review the results. The results were very interesting.

    RE what ppc_michael said: "and post work REALLY suffers from the H.264 compression". In that shootout they say it is best to convert the camera video to Pro Res, or some other modern editing codec. That conversation is in part 3 from 18:40 to 20:50.
     
  24. handsome pete macrumors 68000

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    #25
    Yeah, the conversion to Prores is pretty standard for most people shooting on DSLRs (even though some systems can handle editing h264 natively it's definitely not recommended).

    There are still drawbacks to 4:2:0 h264 though. Just converting to Prores doesn't magically add color/video information that wasn't captured. However it does allow you to push your footage more when dealing with VFX and grading.
     

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