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I want to buy a DSLR for shooting videos (semi professional video blogging).
What I should look for in a DSLR if I am mainly focused on video shooting.

I know this question overlaps with What features should I look for in a DSLR to shoot live bands? but it's more general, usually I have control over lighting, not very dynamic (moving) environment, sound recording is easier for this situation, can be tethered most of the time, more limited budget...

As I understand it, the flexibility that an SLR gives you in terms of optics (you can use a variety of lenses that are not available on video cameras), and image quality (sensor quality and pixel count) and other controls (exposure controls ...) makes SLRs very good options for semi-pro video production.

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migrated from Jan 13 '12 at 20:46

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If you want it mainly for shooting videos, then why not get a video camera rather than a DSLR..? – Freed Jan 13 '12 at 19:26
As I understand it, the flexibility that an SLR gives you in terms of optics (you can use a variety of lenses that are not available on video cameras), and image quality (sensor quality and pixel count) and other controls (exposure controls ...) makes SLRs very good options for semi-pro video production. – Ali Jan 13 '12 at 19:34
up vote 5 down vote accepted

You will hear many responses, but let me make one point very clear. If you are using an HDSLR for video, your primary concern will be your ability to focus or autofocus. If we are using a true SLR - i.e. a camera with a reflex mirror, you will either need a loupe attachment or an attached LCD.

Here's the kicker - the 5DII, darling of the indie movie crowd, with the largest, highest res sensor in this class, only provides SD video output while recording. Dear Lord, let me tell you, nailing focus on a 105mm at f/2 at 4 feet with a slide will drive you nuts. I had a marking wheel. I had Magic Lantern and peaking. I had an external HD LCD. I could not see what I was doing. I did not have what I needed there: a 2nd pair of hands.

Oh, you saw House M.D. with really cool close up focus tricks? That was done with a marking wheel and consistent focusing cinema primes, and a 2nd AC whose job it is just to hit the marks on cue. Alternatively, it was a locked down shot with a lot of lighting, a decent f/stop for depth of field, and little or no focus adjustment or movement. In this respect, the added DOF of a 7D and its ability to output HD video makes it a much easier camera to control.

SO: Much of this will depend on the style or intent of the video. Autofocus may be acceptable for ENG or documentary work. It probably will not be for dramatic work. You need to be clearer about what you want to do.

You may be better off with a mirrorless camera - I love shooting with my GH1, far more than my 5DII - except for the crop factor. We all love the output of the 5DII, its 1080p with full frame, but it handles like a schoolbus at Nürburgring. Additionally, these cameras are typically better for video auto focus, but that is changing. Still, the NEX series is a real price performance killer for many video and photo uses.

Most other issues are of less consequence. If the video quality matches your expectations, don't worry. Go to Vimeo to find some raw footage samples. Don't expect to edit video like your photos though. Footage from these things is more like medium quality low res JPG than full RAW.

One thing I would tell you to completely ignore is audio. Many make a big deal about manual audio levels and recording fidelity. If sound matters at all, use 2nd system audio; on board sound should be used for video+audio sync and nothing more. Seriously - a $200 recorder will do better than any camera not using XLR jack input. If you're doing drama, you need to mic the actors and/or have booms anyway - and you don't run those lines into the camera.

If you refine the question, I might be able to point out a specific issue to watch out for or recommend a camera.

Finally - no matter what you do, learn how to light (and gel) for consistent color grading. I cannot stress that enough.

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Thanks, I'd be doing technical video blogging (mostly indoor/studio + macro ...). I didn't get what you meant by "Don't expect to edit video like ...". Here you are talking about what video? – Ali Jan 14 '12 at 2:38
In high quality photos, RAW capture gives you a lot of dynamic range to recover shadows and highlights without banding. However, the video they produce is preceptually/lossy compressed - there is little you can do after the fact if your exposure isn't good. Add the fact that you don't have a need for dramatic wide shots, I think a m4/3rds camera, like the GH* series is appropriate. They are very capable cameras and I think the reasons people put money into 5DIIs would be not just wasted, but a hinderance. Do spend money on lighting (and stands/backdrop) and certainly on appropriate lenses. – user8086 Jan 14 '12 at 3:10
In fact, I would go so far as to say that you should do your set lighting, camera support, and lens choice first. The wonderful thing about lighting is that you take it with you through camera upgrades. The bad thing is that while cinematic video camera technology has dropped orders of magnitude in pricing, lighting has not. – user8086 Jan 14 '12 at 3:16

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