When I started shooting I had an entry level DSLR that at the time (2007) shot video, but it wasn’t great and the sound quality was horrible. Now 5 years later, even entry level DSLR cameras shoot HD video and can record incredible sound with an external mic.
Because my DSLR couldn’t be used for video I had to also bring an HD video camera. I looked kind of silly, I shot stills with my DSLR and built a bracket that would hold my HD video camera on it. I was a one man show so I had to improvise. This set up worked because I could shoot the still shot then continue panning for the video. The only draw back was when it was quiet you could sometimes hear the shutter in the video.
Eventually both those cameras stopped working, I shoot Off-road racing and cameras hate dust. I upgraded my DSLR and my video camera, but now I use a different approach. The video camera is on a tripod pointed one direction and the DSLR is hand held so I can pan.
So you might be asking why the 2 different cameras to shoot video? Each camera has their own unique strengths, let’s look at their differences.
We will start with a conventional HD video camera. The biggest advantage is you can zoom in and out while recording. This is helpful for me if I am on top of a plateau and I can see the racers from a distance. I can zoom far in and follow them towards me as they get closer. These types of cameras have continuous focus to make this possible. Also camcorders can shoot for longer times in one shot than DSLRs can. DSLRs tend to heat up lowering the quality of your video as time goes on.
Now for their pitfalls, no interchangeable lens and hard to achieve a shallow depth of field.
This is why you need a DSLR to shoot video. You might not be able to zoom while recording but the quality of the video is well worth overcoming this tiny obstacle.
First think about all the lens you already have for shooting stills. They can be used for shooting video too. If you have a good 50mm lens you can achieve a very shallow depth of field in your video, giving it that filmic look.
You know how well your DSLR shoots in low light, the same holds true with video. You can have a lot less light with your DSLR than you can with a conventional HD video camera.
Another great advantage that seems so obvious is you can still shoot still images. Yes my HD video camera can shoot stills, but remember HD resolution is only 1920×1080. Your cell phone can take better pictures. This idea is what Photojournalists love about DSLR cameras. They can get a hi-rez image for print and grab video for online use.
Shooting video with your DSLR should be an easy transition if you are already a photographer. Think about how many doors this could open for you. Now you can offer photography and videography services to your clients.
Up until just recently to shoot video with a DSLR you had to buy a Canon camera, but Nikon finally caught up and now offers HD video on their DSLRs, so you can still be a Nikon lover and shoot video.
As you might be able to tell I am a little biased towards DSLR video, and for good reason. When you compare the video you capture with each camera, you’ll see why.
So if you’re in the market for a new DSLR camera make sure it will shoot HD video as well. Once you upload your first video you’re going to wonder why you waited so long. I know I did.