The new DSLR’s — digital still cameras with interchangable lenses — have recently been getting the attention of a lot of video (and film) producers because of their amazing ability to create video which is on par with the most expensive HD cameras. Case in point: the season finale of “House” was shot entirely on the Canon EOS 5D Mark II DSLR. Click below for a sample of what the footage looks like.
Even with my own small budget productions, I’m feeling a bit of buyer’s remorse at having spent $6000 a couple years ago for the most affordable professional HD video camera I could buy whereas today, my $2000 DSLR totally kicks its butt as far as achieving that “film look.” Pretty amazing that a prosumer DSLR can achieve nearly comparable results as 35mm film cameras such as the Panavision, which have been a staple in Hollywood since the 1950’s and could cost as much as $2000/day to rent.
Be advised though! Using DSLR’s for video have a few quirks that may need some workarounds and which might motivate you to hold off on buying one and rent in the meantime. If you do plan on buying a DSLR, here’s a quick list of PRO’s and CON’s you should be aware of.
- Works well in low light, making it possible to record sunsets, stars in the night sky, and rock concerts — all with minimal light;
- Interchangable lenses provide more flexibilty to achieve super tricked out shots with the most wide angle or telephoto lenses you need for the shot you need to capture;
- A shallow depth of field makes the video able to achieve that film look that you’d see in the most artsy films at the film festivals.
- There’s a 12-minute recording limit for video clips;
- You may need separate audio gear like the Zoom H2 to record your audio, which will require syncing to picture later with a slate or software such as PluralEyes for $149;
- Requires a decent understand of still photography principles such as aperture, ISO and shutter speed to take full advantage of all the manual settings;
- There’s a funky workflow needed to bring the footage into an editing program (unless you’re using Premiere Pro CS5 to edit your DSLR footage).
To help with CON #4, check back with us next time for a tutorial on the best way to import DSLR footage into Final Cut Pro.