Video From a Digital SLR Camera

An article by David Brooks on September 25, 2009


I’ve had a few conversations about cameras this week, in all of them I’ve alluded to the fact that I’m sold on the concept of video from a digital SLR camera.

As consumers we’ve been using these video cameras that limit us. They typically have a built in lens that may or may not actually zoom to a useful distance. (Usually they do…) But you’re stuck with the thing, and its limited range. If you want to shoot multi-purpose… good luck.

Considering that some of the newer, reasonably priced DSLRs come with 720p High Definition video options it’s worth looking into. Mainly because with those you have the option to change the lens. Maybe you need to shoot birds in a tree, a person up close or ants at a macro level — all of those will likely require a different lens. It’s much easier and cheaper to buy a DSLR and some lenses than to buy three different specialized video cameras (which are likely very expensive) or to buy one that has the ability to change lenses… which is also really expensive and adding a number of specialty video lenses will kill the budget.

For me, the Nikon D90 seems like the obvious choice for non-professional photographers and videographers. With a suggested price of $999.95 it’s at least comparable with most average quality HD video cameras. On a budget there’s also the newer D5000, while the more professional photographer could use the D300S.

Price aside, consider how a film camera focuses on a subject. In video cameras, you often have this button that zooms in or out, and sometimes it just doesn’t really zoom smoothly. It can jump back and forth, ruining a shot (especially if you’re not used to that particular zoom control, or if it wears out a bit). On a DSLR camera, you can spin the focal and zoom rings slower, faster, however you want, and it will respond better. (High-end, overly expensive, Hollywood cameras aside of course.)

The only drawback I can see is that shooting time is limited on some cameras — most often for memory reasons. And probably as DSLRs get better and memory cards get bigger this won’t be a continual issue. If you’re shooting a full length movie with a lot of lengthy scenes this might deter you from moving to a DSLR. On the other hand, it’s the type of thing that would help me keep my shots shorter and plan everything ahead of time. In my case, and maybe only my case, that’s a perk.

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About David Brooks

David Brooks is the owner of the small creative studio, Northward Compass, based out of Orlando, Florida. He writes electronic and ambient music as Light The Deep, and fantasy stories about a place called Elerien.

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