Filming with a DSLR
I’ve been filming professional corporate and commercial type videos for approximately 6 years now and love it! I first started filming with a pro SD camcorder then switched to an HD camcorder shortly after. I have to say, I much prefer filming with the newer DSLR cameras with HD video capability.
I’ve filmed mainly with a Canon 5D Mark II and Canon 5D Mark III and both produce incredible results!
There are a few reasons I love filming with a DSLR vs a camcorder. I love being able to switch between different lenses… can get some awesome results with lenses like wide-angle, macro, fisheye, or telephoto lenses.
Another HUGE benefit to filming with a dslr is the larger sensor sizes in these cameras. A large sensor doesn’t necessarily mean higher resolution (1080p, 720p, etc.) – this allows you to have a narrower depth of field for a more cinematic look (blur out the background or sharpen depending on your aperture settings) and cleaner results in lower-lighting situations. The combination of a larger sensor size and a great lens with an aperture of 1.2-2.8 helps immensely with filming in low-light situations and not having the noise issues with typical camcorders.
Here are a few examples of what I’m talking about with depth of field and shooting in low-light situations. These are some image clips from a video I shot using a Canon 7D (which is actually a cropped sensor, not full frame) and a 100mm 2.8 lens (below).
Of course, there are also some challenges with filming professional videos with a dslr. For the most part, everything is manual control. You have to focus and zoom manually which can take some time getting used to and can be an art in itself. With some experience and practice though, you’ll be able to produce some incredible footage. I actually prefer being able to manually zoom in and out and focus manually (just have to watch carefully to make sure I’m in focus completely).
There are a few things we don’t get with filming with DSLRs however – audio being one of them.
Just as important as it is to have a high image quality – audio is just as critical. You can have an incredible video but if your audio is terrible, the video can be ruined. Because these camera’s main function is photography, audio isn’t going to be a primary function (at least not now). To solve this issue, I film with a separate audio device and use the camera’s audio as “scratch audio”. What I mean by this is I only use the audio from the camera as reference for when I’m matching up the good audio in editing. The audio device I record on is the Zoom H4N.
The Zoom H4N allows up to 4 channels of audio recording, gives incredible results, is small, and handy. I use this in combination with a boom mic/pole, wireless audio, or even recording audio directly from the device – awesome!
The bottom line is the video capability of DSLRs is amazing! Am I saying camcorders can’t produce great results? Of course not. I’m merely saying that through my experience, I prefer the results I get with filming with a DSLR vs a camcorder.