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How to shoot beautiful video: get a stills camera The HD-DSLR revolution

OK, to those in the know, this is not news, as the revolution started around September 2008 when Nikon released the D90 – but my clients, when I explain the following, are as amazed as I was when I got my Canon EOS 550d a month ago.

If you read my post on using 35mm adapters and prime lenses, you’ll know that creating a shallow depth of field is key to achieving the gorgeous film-like look that professional videographers desire.

The HD video camera / adapter / prime lens combination’s main disadvantage is that it’s quite cumbersome.

So, for some situations, like solo shooting, a lightweight, compact alternative would be welcome – enter DSLR cameras that shoot full HD video, aka HD-DSLRs, or Video DSLRs.

Because they have full frame or near-full frame 35mm sensors their image quality is stunning, and as they use 35mm lenses they automatically have a shallower depth of field – the “film look”. And the video is recorded to memory cards, so there’s easy integration into the tapeless workflow that most pro videographers now employ.

There are some disadvantages:

– the sound quality is poor and HD-DSLRs are not manufactured to accept professional xlr microphones… although adapters are now available

– the record time is usually limited (eg 12 minutes)… but you just need to hit record again

– the LCD is fixed, so high and low angle shots are difficult to monitor

– the LCD is hard to see in sunlight, making focus difficult

But now that HD-DSLR shooting has been embraced by the professional video community, we’ll surely see the 2010-11 release of new video cameras that combine the sensor and lens mount of a DSLR camera with the audio and monitoring capabilities of medium sized video cameras. In fact Panasonic announced the first just a few days ago – the AG-AF100

It’s an exciting time! For me, the best thing about the Canon EOS 550d is that because the camera is a lightweight “prosumer” stills cam it has become part of my daily life – much more easily than a high end video camera; immediately there is a normalness of form that makes it very relaxing to use.

revolutions from Mark Slocombe on Vimeo.

Canon EOS 550d

18-135 mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens

Handheld

music: Swan Lake

by Yuri Goldfuss / Asimbonanga



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