The Canon EOS 7D is a video producer's best friend

Make your video look like film with Canon EOS

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.

PROS

  1. Works well in low light, making it possible to record sunsets, stars in the night sky, and rock concerts — all with minimal light;
  2. 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;
  3. 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.

CONS

  1. There’s a 12-minute recording limit for video clips;
  2. 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;
  3. Requires a decent understand of still photography principles such as aperture, ISO and shutter speed to take full advantage of all the manual settings;
  4. 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.