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Dig SLR/Camcorder

by lorraine Palumbo / August 20, 2009 10:52 PM PDT

Is it possible to find a digital SLR with good enough video capability to replace buying a new video camera too?

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by snapshot2 Forum moderator / August 20, 2009 11:59 PM PDT
In reply to: Dig SLR/Camcorder

Most DSLR video is handicapped by not being able to change focus, once you start a video record.

If you tried to video someone walking toward or away from the camera, they would not stay in focus.

Audio is still a problem on digital cameras.
The microphone is inexpensive and there is no way to use a good microphone.
The audio circuits are simple and easily overdriven by loud noises.

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Not quite
by hjfok / August 21, 2009 6:17 AM PDT
In reply to: Dig SLR/Camcorder

Agree with snapshot2. D-SLR video is only a first generation effort. Audio and autofocusing are still handicapped. It is however a nice addition to the D-SLR for some short clips or for someone into making movies with shallow depth of field.

If you think about getting one now, then you should consider one that allows you to use an external audio input because the built-in mic records a lot of noise. An external mic costs less than $200 and is worth the extra expenditure.

Zooming in/out is a problem with D-SLR video. It causes jerky movement while you turn the lens zoom, and then you have to refocus manually (the automatic contrast AF is too slow for most D-SLRs except maybe for the Panasonic GH1). The Panasonic GH1 has the best video implementation but it is still not comparable to a dedicated HD camcorder. The problem with Pansonic GH1 however is its slow performance as a D-SLR camera, not measuring up to the entry level Canon or Nikon.

For longer and more serious footage, you should still stick with the HD camcorders. The D-SLR video will need a couple of years to refine and improve to a more user-friendly product.

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Just to add
by kalel33-20416052469708587370302374692233 / August 21, 2009 6:58 AM PDT
In reply to: Not quite
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Nice article
by hjfok / August 21, 2009 11:11 AM PDT
In reply to: Just to add

Certainly the filmmakers find this new "combocam" an interesting gadget. There are on-line non-Canon firmware updates that can upgrade the Canon 5D Mark II firmware to include the zebras and other filmmaker features. It has been in the market for a while and has a number of accessories that can beef up its features.
But the D-SLR video can also be a nice addition for a regular amateur like myself. I bought a second Canon 5D Mark II recently (first one got trashed in a scuba diving accident within a week of ownership). It is good for short clips. I can just carry the Canon 5D Mark II with the 24-105mm lens for casual family outings and day trips, instead of carrying the old gears which usually include a D-SLR, with a 17-55mm lens and a 70-200mm lens, a HD camcorder and a PS camera. Switching gears can look a little clumpsy. It really lightens up the load and the video is excellent for casual short clips of spontaneous moments. This is way better than my old PS cameras movie clips. I added a Litepanels micro for lighting indoor and will add a Rode microphone for better audio. But for longer footage, I will still use the old HD camcorder with miniDV tapes. The miniDV has less compression and I don't have to worry about how much memory it can take up in my card or harddrive at home. But the downside of miniDV is that I usually don't have time to sit down and edit the footage. So for practical reasons, I will start doing more short clips with the D-SLR video and upload to the computer. I used to hate the PS camera movie clips with poor footage (but like its convenience), and the D-SLR video has changed how I feel about these short clips.

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by LucJs / August 27, 2009 6:12 PM PDT
In reply to: Dig SLR/Camcorder

I recently bought a Panasonic DMC G1, very satisfied by the way.

The successor, the GH1, has "real" video too. I considered it, but price was too high in my opinion. But you might check it out.

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by kalel33-20416052469708587370302374692233 / August 28, 2009 8:58 AM PDT
In reply to: Panasonic?

The Panasonic is not a DSLR. The GH1 is a very good camera for many things, including video, but it's not a DSLR.

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by hjfok / September 6, 2009 7:57 PM PDT
In reply to: Dig SLR/Camcorder

After using my Canon 5D Mark II with an external Rode stereo mic for a while, I can say that it works really well with great video and sound quality. It has its shortcomings but overall does 90% of what I usually do with my Sony HD camcorder. The firware upgrade allows manual adjustment of ISO, aperture and shutter speed, even during shooting. Recently I used it to shoot photos and videos for my son's birthday pirate party. Lighting is challenging since they go in and out during treasure hunting, and the manual adjustment works very well in low light. Its low light performance is better than my Sony HD camcorder.
Its price is very reasonable. The camera body is $2700. My old Sony HD camcorder cost $1400 and my old Canon 30D cost about $1300 for body only. This is a full frame camera with better performance than my old D-SLR, so definitely worth the money. But you need to use an external mic, and the Rode stereo videomic works really well with the 5D Mark II.

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So simple it's fun!
by Chet Peterman / September 18, 2009 12:23 PM PDT
In reply to: Dig SLR/Camcorder

I have a D-SLR and a HD camcorder and I have to tell you that I find myself taking my Sony HDR-SR11 camcorder with me more often because it's really the same size as a camera and having the capability of shooting HD video or 10.2MP stills is invaluable. Plus, when you get home and download the video and begin the fun of editting you can stop the video anywhere along the way and capture a 7.2MP still which is wonderful and enjoyable. I shoot alot of sporting and racing events and the photos are awesome. Not to mention the video is even better. Hope this helps!

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Depends on what you shoot and what you want
by hjfok / September 22, 2009 5:27 AM PDT
In reply to: So simple it's fun!

There is no one single device that can do both photo and video perfectly, or fit all situations. There is always a flaw for these wanna-be hybrid devices. If you are not too picky, then you can certainly survive with one device (they do give decent quality performance, good enough for most casual use).

I have a couple of D-SLRs, a couple of HD digital camcorders, and a few PS cameras. They are all for different purposes and uses.

My HD camcorders get excellent videos, and they are superior to my D-SLR or PS cameras for sports and motion videos. But its photo ability is somewhat limited/basic and there is no control over the depth of field (due to the small sensor). You can certainly get digital stills from camcorders (either use the dual mode function or extract a frame from the clips), but its photo image quality still lags behind my D-SLR (they have similar quality to my PS cameras instead).

My D-SLRs get excellent photos, and the HD video on the Canon 5D Mark II is excellent. But its shallow depth of field makes it not a good sports video device at close range. It is however adequate for most daily casual clips.

Here are a few photos with shallower depth of field that HD camcorders cannot easily get:

Yes, there are softwares like Alien Skin and Photoshop to isolate and blur the background to create the Bokeh effect, but it takes some effort and computer skill to make it look natural and believeable.

For my son's sports games, I carry both D-SLR and HD camcorders. But for most other family shots/vidoes, I can just carry the Canon 5D Mark II. However, when I go to formal events and galas, the PS camera is way more cool and light to carry than either the D-SLR or camcorders (at least to avoid being mistaken as the event photographers). And for casual day trips, scuba diving and rock climbing, I usually use the Canon G10 to minimize the bulk and weight.

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