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Digital Video Forum Discuss camcorders, HD video, HD DSLRs, video editing, DV software, and video techniques. Your DV forum moderator is Skyman.
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  1. #1
    Nature/Wildlife Forum Co-Moderator Loupey's Avatar
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    General Observation/Question

    My first post in the video forum.

    We shot a commercial this week and I was surprised that the camera being used was a Canon 5DmkII dSLR. The set was no different than any other I've been involved with (which used high-end digital video cameras, one even used film). Granted this particular shoot was MOS but still, a dSLR? They did use Zeiss lenses (50mm and 100mm Makro-Planars).

    I have the 5DmkII but didn't even think about using it for video.

    I'm not even an amateur videographer since I haven't shot any, so here's my question: what advantage does a high end video camera offer that a full-frame dSLR shooting HD can't provide? Does the future hold a place for dedicated video systems? Or will the convergence of video and still continue to move forward - at a much faster pace?
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  2. #2
    drg
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    Re: General Observation/Question

    Maybe the question should be what advantage does the dSLR have over a dedicated video camera? Cost is one consideration in purchase v. rental/lease.

    If the 'camera' is a RED, the day lease for one plus appropriate support lens and all the 'nifty' pieces is going to be a couple grand ($2k) north of the purchase price of a 5d and at least one or the other if not both of the Zeiss lens models you note. Plus the operators are supposed to go to a school for a day or two before getting their hands on all the 'best' stuff'. Not unlike the Panavision cameras of yore.

    There's also a novelty factor still with using a camera like a 5d MkII for many production companies to be 'leading edge'. For television only, it really doesn't make a lot of difference if you have all the right editing equipment and software in place to get the proper framing rates and syncs. I've been told that time coding can be a bit of a problem, but Canon has made available all that information to plug in to Avid or whatever you desire.

    The 'RED' system has dramatically altered how video/still is differentiated. The Red links to PR articles about this camera system and the first article in the link at the moment, also talks about the video firmware updates for the Canon 5D MkII as well.

    Professional film/video has always been about the lenses available though usually talked about as 'the camera'. Now that a lot of high end lens models can be plugged on to lower cost bodies of many many types, the discussion has taken a new direction.

    An elephant in every room is now, 'Beyond the Web or even a Gamer audience, do we have a primary consideration?' Unless you're making features (major motion pictures) how much camera do you need or want to have? Long term this is going to be a problem perhaps, but 16mm film looked just fine when shot with quality cameras and the kinescoped. Within reason of course.

    Good questions arise in this discussion!
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  3. #3
    Nature/Wildlife Forum Co-Moderator Loupey's Avatar
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    Re: General Observation/Question

    In watching how wildlife documentaries are shot, I've wondered why they don't use dSLR systems since there are already so many supertelephotos made for the system. I suppose the dSLRs, for the time being, can't shoot at high enough frame rate for slow motion capture?

    Even with a 500mm/600mm/800mm lens attached, it still seems lighter than what the video people have to lug around.

    I doubt that videographers and photographers travel together but for those who do both, I imagine that being able to use the same lenses would be extremely advantageous.
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  4. #4
    Moderator Skyman's Avatar
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    Re: General Observation/Question

    Basically it is a watch this space technology. I would be comfortable shooting a short film with a dslr, in fact I bought a 550d for my work for exactly that purpose although I did spend about another $1,000 odd on Audio adapters so that the sound quality matched that of its dedicated video counterparts. The trade of for me is that I couldn't justify the $5,000 + of a prosumer video camera and didn't quite get the quality from a consumer camera. I also take a fair amount of still for my job and again couldn't quite justify the expense of a dslr but combining the budgets for both and still coming in at less than the prosumer video camera the choice was simple.

    Having said that there are a couple of things that make the 550d a little trickier to use than a video camera. Exposure on the fly is basically limited to exposure compensation. Focus is effectively restriced to pre focus or manual which can proove tricky depending on the lens you are using, and if you are using the built in mic or one mounted on the hotshoe, any pressing of buttons or twiddling lenses etc will be picked up by the built in mic.you are limited to 12minutes if you record in HD and heat from prolonged use (40 minutes is the edge) will cause it to shut down. And forget about multi camera shoots (3ccd still has its uses) and anything with a live broadcast component. Ergonomics also play their part. I love the 550d but for video everything is in the wrong spot and you can pretty well forget about handholding. Shoulder mount works for video.... Even using the shoulder adapter of the modo steady it is awkward. In fact it is too heavy to work with the modo steady which means forking out big $$ for a conventional steadicam or using a tripod and dolly (which leads to tracks and then means big $$) Sure a handheld shot is always going to look handheld, but holding the camera out in front of you isn't the ideal way to do it.

    So whilst there are plenty of times I would happily use a DSLR for a video shoot, there are just as many where I would be reaching for a dedicated video camera. I know that this will change soon enough, but for the moment unless your needs fall in a very narrow band it is a watch this space technology. Having said all of that. Many short film makers love them and films shot with DSLRs are winning film competitiions all the time!
    Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum videtur


  5. #5
    Nature/Wildlife Forum Co-Moderator Loupey's Avatar
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    Re: General Observation/Question

    Skyman, thank you for the thoughtful response - a lot of that makes sense (and some didn't because I don't yet understand video )

    On this last shoot, I know the focusing was one of the main hurdles. They had the Zeiss lenses mounted in a rack-and-pinion focusing system and had to whip it so that they could control the focus while rolling the dolly down the track. With two operators, they still had a hard time getting everything in sync. In other shots, the focus points had to be marked with a pen so that they could hit the focus points during a scene.

    Is it customary to use such high resolution lenses (Zeiss) for video? Even for HD video, it still seems overkill to me. Or is it for the bokeh that such lenses are used for video?
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  6. #6
    Moderator Skyman's Avatar
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    Re: General Observation/Question

    Depends on the level, but since it was for an add, I am not suprised at the lenses they used. I am no optics expert, but in the motion picture world high end lenses typically have excellent resolution. Part of this is because if you are filming something that is moving it will look more natural if resolved "correctly" however if there is even a slight variation caused by the lens it is much more easily noticed than in a still image. I know Canon produces some oil lenses specifically for television cameras, which is interesting since the canon interchangable lens video cameras don't even take those lenses without adapters!
    Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum videtur


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