A few days ago I watched Chris Nolan's Following and thought to myself "I can do something like this".

I have found out that Nolan used Bolex for the film. He still uses film cameras and is against digital cameras.

I would like to create shots that are reminiscent of La Haine , Following and the older films like Death on the Nile etc.

I found Canon 600D for about 550-600 dollars ( and various versions with different lenses) .

Is it good for a filmmaking beginner? I want to create old-film style setups. Maybe some car interior shots. Timelapses. 4:3 videos.

Which lens should I use for old film looks? Do you recommend cheap tripod and external mics? I'm open to any help.

Also: Whats the difference between IS and DC lens. DS is much cheaper.


2 Answers 2


Yes, DSLRs are a good starting point for doing movie type projects. The use of interchangeable lenses and the shallower depth of field offered by larger sensors than found in most consumer video cameras allows for far more artistic options. This is why DSLRs are very popular with the amateur film making community.

It should be noted, however, that they are not without their drawbacks. All but the most recent DSLRs (including the 600d) lack auto-focus while shooting video, so you will have to either focus before shots or manually adjust your focus during the shot. (If you move up to the 650d instead and use STM lenses, it IS able to auto focus when shooting video.) Focus peaking can help with this by providing highlighting of the most in-focus points in the image, but it requires the use of custom firmware software like Magic Lantern. (I've personally used ML, but it isn't without some small degree of risk to your camera.)

Additionally, DSLRs suffer from something known as a rolling shutter. On a high end video camera, the entire image for each frame is captured at the same time, thus quick pans look crisp. On a DSLR however, the sensor is scanned line by line when shooting video, so fast pans result in a "jello" effect (which is well documented with numerous videos demonstrating the problem on Youtube).

It is also worth noting that you do still get what you pay for in quality. A near bottom of the line consumer DSLR, particularly with a dirt cheap kit lens that comes with it is going to have much more marginal quality than anything professional. Even a higher end entry level model like a t4i (650d) or better yet, a mid-range model like a 70d will have far superior quality. Similarly, replacing the kit lens with something like a 50mm f/1.8 prime or other better quality lens will result in a substantial improvement in video quality.

It still won't be anything near Hollywood level though. About the closest you can get to Hollywood quality for under $7,000 is a 5D Mark iii running ML and shooting RAW footage on high end L optics, but even at $3,500 for the camera body and $1,500 to $2,500 for the lens, the quality still ends up being noticeably lower (to the professional eye) than a professional video camera like an ARRI Alexa (which costs $50,000+), but it is close enough to raise eyebrows in the professional community.

That all said though, DSLRs (even the basic models) still offer more bang for the buck in terms of artistic control than almost any consumer level camera, just so long as you also realize they are harder to use for video than a consumer camera, which can handle more for you, but gives you less options.


The question reads like: how I get the best quality out of a given setup/financial scale. just keep in mind, that you get what you pay for - so don't expect fancy 4K-movies out of this ;)

The first two things I would suggest to buy are microphone and tripod. Why? If you want to do a silent film, you can use the internal mic - otherwise I would strongly suggest to use an external one, because the internal one might catch too much noise during quality and characteristics.

holding the camera with your bare hands can always cause movements within the movie, so a cheap tripod is better than none. if you buy one, just keep in mind that you might move it during the shot, so it should be moved smoothly. also don't forget that Autofocus (as used in a DSLR) might not work during filming, so you've to pull the focus.

I would strongly oppose to use a certain lens for a certain style of picture - just try to get the best quality out of the setup and add the "style" in post processing. if you have motivation, passion or the faith not to change something of the style in post processing, than you might buy a lens/filter to archive this.

if you consider buying a Canon EOS, you might have a look at magic lantern for an alternative firmware with an movie making aspect.

  • How about a monopod? Will it be more comfortable and flexible? I want to shoot a car interior scene. Camera will be placed in back seat in the middle. I would like the at least half of both front seats to be visible . Do I need a higher lens for that?
    – user6353
    Aug 17, 2014 at 18:46
  • a monopod impies that you have to hold the camera all the time, just adding some stability. I would place and secure a tripod at the floor of the car and hope that the picture stabilization of lens might do it. for the lens I think that the default one might be enough - but this depends on the distances
    – jwacalex
    Aug 17, 2014 at 18:59

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