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DSLR or Dedicated Video Cam? (please read circumstances)

by airfork / May 31, 2013 4:55 PM PDT

So I see many, many different articles and posts pertaining to this question, though just about every single one of them was answered according to a few variables of the question poster. I have a very, very unique situation in which I won't have the luxury of a "do-over".

I'd first like to point out that I'm not experienced at all. I'm a salty 32 y/o paratrooper veteran who has spent my life in either the army, the hospital as a disabled vet or the academia environment, trying to set a positive role model to my children. The only familiarity I have with photo/video, was from a film-making lab that I took back in college.

Unfortunately, I received some pretty bad news not too long ago; I'm sick and dying. I'm sure that I at least have a few years to go and this whole dying thing wouldn't be so bad if it just solely affected me. However, it won't just affect me, as I have a small little boy to whom I have been both mother and father to. We are attached at the hip and have easily become best friends. From the moment he came out of his mother's womb, I fed him, clothed him, rocked him to sleep and bathed him. I was literally both his mom and his dad. The only parent that this sweet and affectionate blonde-haired and blue-eyed little boy has ever known, will soon be gone. I'm going to try to shield my precious little son from as much hurt and emotional turmoil as possible. I don't want my passing to negatively affect his life.

So, I was to document my life through photos and video. I first had noticed that the only photos of me, were taken when I was in the army, dirty and deployed with weapons in my hand -and of course, that steely eye'd look that war eventually gives to anyone. It's hardly the photos that I want my son to remember me by.

However, my big plan was to document my life from beginning to end through video. Maybe give a bunch of interviews, where it would be like I'm talking to my son.I can tell him who I am and where I came from in ways that he can better understand as he gets old. In addition to telling him who I am, maybe I can give him advice that any normal dad would be able to give, for a whole range of different potential issues. I was also thinking about maybe reading a few children's books, so his children and my grandchildren may still get some benefit out of me yet, even after I'm long gone. I just think that this is the best way to break up our attachment when it comes time for me to pass.

However, I'm completely dumbfounded as to whether I should go with something like a DSLR (60d or Rebel T5i) or a dedicated video camera. I was leaning more towards the dedicated video camera, but they seem to be more expensive comparatively speaking (where I simply do not have the budge to get a good quality one) and being able to take good snapshots might come in handy. So I guess that there are trade offs for both and this is kind of where I'm stumped. I'm working on a limited budget and need to get this right. What would you guys recommend for a situation like this? DSLR or dedicated video camera? Also, I'm a pretty fast learner, especially with such a big motivation to get this done. Any and all help would be greatly appreciated.

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All Answers

Best Answer chosen by airfork

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re: DSLR or Dedicated Video Cam?
by MarkatNite / June 1, 2013 8:36 PM PDT

Assuming both you and the camera will be stationary -- e.g. camera on tripod, you seated -- you can get away with almost any camera, assuming you also buy some decent lights and audio gear and use them properly.

It's only when motion is introduced (of the camera and/or the subject) and/or when you cannot setup ahead of time or do multiple takes (e.g. "live" events.) that certain camera features come in handy.

Of the cameras you mentioned, there's no need to spend as much money on a 60D or T5i. A T4i will do just fine. Heck, you could probably even shoot something like this on an iPhone, although post wouldn't be very convenient. In any case, spend the extra money on (LED panel) lights with umbrellas or diffusers and a lavalier mic (and maybe a TASCAM D40).

Full disclosure: I own a T4i - Mark

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Also be aware of Canon's 30 minute per take limit.
by MarkatNite / June 1, 2013 8:47 PM PDT

And 4GB file size limit (which is roughly 22 minutes of Full HD video) just in case you weren't already.

If you anticipate either limit being an issue, you might consider one of Panasonic's micro 4/3 cameras instead. Or a dedicated video camera.

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video limits
by airfork / June 5, 2013 7:29 PM PDT

Thanks everyone for your valuable insights. So the Cannon DSLR limits your videos to either 4GB or 30 minutes? Even if I had a 64GB class 10 SD card, my vids would still be limited to 30 minutes? Is that some arbitrary limit that Cannon pulled out of their hat to spur sales in their video cameras? Or, is there a practical reason for this, like the censor over-heating?

Also, I want the absolute best video quality available and I need a particular format to put it into my Adobe editing software to polish it up a bit (trying to make it less boring). I have a webcam, it's a logitech c920 and I'm told it is one of the best ones on the market. However, I'm not impressed with the video quality at all. I want to make these videos appear to professional or professional like so that my son will have more incentive to watch them. I'm also hoping that these videos will be hanging around a while (m-disc and 20+ year lease on a web server). I could only imagine the tech that will be out by the time my son is a young man. I can't help but to think of video quality only 15 years ago and to me, that stuff is even hard to watch now that we are used to high definition streaming. I guess that what I'm getting at, is that I want as high quality video as possible because I want these videos to stay relevant for as long as possible.

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Not at all arbitrary. 2 causes.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / June 6, 2013 3:03 AM PDT
In reply to: video limits

1. That tax some countries put on devices with over 30 minute recording times.
2. The way things turned out with FILE SYSTEMS and 2 or 4GB per file limitations.

Nothing really new here but there are reasons for all this. There are folk that get uppity about how this all turned out.

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re: video limits and "best" quality video
by MarkatNite / June 7, 2013 1:04 PM PDT
In reply to: video limits

Yes, there's a limit of 30 minutes per take and 4GB file size, which ever is reached first. As Bob noted, the 30 minute limit is due to Canon not wanting to pay higher taxes in the EU and not wanting to produce different models for the EU and the US (like Panasonic does, for example). And the 4GB limit is due to Canon not implementing file chaining (again, like Panasonic does) on most of their DSLRs.

Having said that, keep in mind that, when recording is stopped due to either of the above limits being reached, you can just start recording again (so neither limit will prevent sensor overheating, which is another limit that can shutdown the camera, but you will not be able to immediately start recording again). (Note: Canon's 7D is particularly susceptible to overheating due to the combination of weather sealing and two DIGIC processors.)

As for "best quality video available" -- how much money do you have? There are professional cameras like the Arri Alexa or Red Epic. Or prosumer cameras like the Sony FS700 or Black Magic Production 4K camera. Or the folks at Magic Lantern have recently hacked the Canon 5DIII (and 50D) to output RAW video. Or there's Black Magic's Pocket Cinema Camera which also does RAW video. Or you can buy a Panasonic GH3.

Of course, as a general rule, the more sophisticated the camera, the more involved post production gets. (e.g. Red Code requires it's own workflow. And processing 4K video is extremely resource intensive. Even RAW video from a hacked 5DIII has some quirks.) So you'll need to increase your budget here, as well.

But, as I said previously, for what you plan to do, I think a T4i will be fine, as long as you light the scene properly and capture good quality audio (and don't mind dealing with Canon's take limits).


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Panasonic G6
by PistonCupChampion / June 7, 2013 1:57 PM PDT
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DSLR or Camcorder
by snapshot2 Forum moderator / June 1, 2013 1:13 AM PDT

The DSLR camera is first and foremost made to take quality, large size still pictures.
It was very inexpensive to make it take videos too.
But the video has been more of an afterthought.
They use a very inexpensive microphone and sound circuit.
They don't have the features you find on a camcorder.
Focus when using video can be troublesome.
The video is OK and is about equal to an inexpensive camcorder.

The Camcorder is first and foremost made to take video.
It can produce still pictures but since the image sensor is so small, you can not produce a large & quality still picture.
If you are only going to produce 4 x 6 inch prints, it is OK.

People want to find a camera that does both things well.
A few cameras can accomplish that, but they are very expensive.
I believe the Canon C100 is the lowest priced and it sells for $8,000.

Which is more important to you - video or still pictures?

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