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Will DSLR filming be an upgrade?

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Matthew Engelson
Will DSLR filming be an upgrade?
on Jul 24, 2014 at 6:24:31 pm
Last Edited By Matthew Engelson on Jul 24, 2014 at 6:25:02 pm

I have a Sony HDR CX260 camcorder. I do some amateur filmmaking, and I am looking into getting a DSLR, probably a Canon Rebel T3i or a 5D. Is that a good decision from a filmmaking standpoint? I know there will be a learning curve, but will the end result be a better film? Thanks for your help!


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Steve Crow
Re: Will DSLR filming be an upgrade?
on Jul 24, 2014 at 9:05:16 pm

Just to be upfront about it, a good film can be made with any camera able to capture a video image (or stills if your project is stop animation)...what's far more important is who is operating that camera.

That said, yes, a DSLR like the Rebel or, especially so, the 5D will allow you to record gorgeous images BUT it does take much more work than you are used to with a camcorder. For myself, I've found the extra effort to be well worth it. So I would encourage you moving into this direction.

Steve Crow


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Matthew Engelson
Re: Will DSLR filming be an upgrade?
on Jul 24, 2014 at 9:24:12 pm

What if what I was looking at was only the Rebel T3i/something at a comparable price range?


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Steve Crow
Re: Will DSLR filming be an upgrade?
on Jul 24, 2014 at 9:28:54 pm

Well frankly there isn't hardly any difference between the Rebel T*i modelsn in so far as the final look of the video - I've even talked to Dave Dugdale about this issue and he told me that I probably wouldn't notice much difference at all between my Canon T2i and the 7D.

If you can spring for it, look at their entry level full frame model the Canon 6D - so you are still getting the benefits that full frame gives you with the 5D but at a much reduced price.

Steve Crow


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Matthew Engelson
Re: Will DSLR filming be an upgrade?
on Jul 24, 2014 at 10:00:36 pm

So if I already own a Sony HRD-CX260V, getting a Canon T3i would not be much of an upgrade?


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Steve Crow
Re: Will DSLR filming be an upgrade?
on Jul 24, 2014 at 10:06:55 pm

Actually I am saying nearly the opposite. I'm saying whatever Canon DSLR you are likely to purchase it will produce far better images than your Sony Camcorder - even the T2i.

Go to Vimeo and type T2i in as a search term and see all the wonderful short films that have been shot on that camera - there's a new documentary out that was shot entirely by one person using two Canon T2i's - it's about how people have overcome difficult situations by using Batman as their inspiration - sorry can't remember the name - but there are many many other examples out there

Steve Crow


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Matthew Engelson
Re: Will DSLR filming be an upgrade?
on Jul 24, 2014 at 10:25:50 pm

Oh ok. Thank you very much for your help!


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Matthew Rueger
Re: Will DSLR filming be an upgrade?
on Jul 25, 2014 at 6:01:33 am

Agree with Steve Crow on this one. The Canon DSLR was definitely a worthy investment, and a major upgrade from what I had previously.


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Steve Crow
Re: Will DSLR filming be an upgrade?
on Jul 29, 2014 at 1:52:15 am

I realized the Batman documentary is Legends of the Knight and you can watch a trailer for it at:
wearebatman.com

Cheers!

Steve Crow


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Bill Bruner
Re: Will DSLR filming be an upgrade?
on Jul 25, 2014 at 12:24:03 pm
Last Edited By Bill Bruner on Jul 25, 2014 at 12:27:02 pm

Matthew - I came from camcorders to DSLs, started out with a T2i and was very disappointed. Before you make your decision, you should be aware that the T3i is missing some of the standard features you're accustomed to from your CX260:

- it has no video autofocus
- it shuts down and has to be restarted after 12 minutes of continuous recording - where your camcorder can record for hours without interruption
- it has no 1080/60p recording for easy in-camera slow motion
- it has no compatibility with power zooms

For people coming from camcorders, I usually recommend large sensor, interchangeable lens cameras with "camcorder-like" features such as the $697.99 (with kit lens) Panasonic G6. This camera has:

- fast video autofocus
- hours of continuous recording instead of minutes
- 1080/60p recording
- compatibility with power zooms like this one and this one

Here is what this camera can do:

Music Video:





Narrative:





Documentary:









Slow Motion/Sport:



Travel Video:



(shot with a power zoom lens)

Compared to the $3000 Canon 5D Mark III:



This camera is far superior to the T3i for just a little more money. Even Dave Dugdale is selling his Canon DSLRs for a higher end Panasonic.

Good luck with your decision!

Bill
Hybrid Camera Revolution


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Jonathan Ziegler
Re: Will DSLR filming be an upgrade?
on Jul 25, 2014 at 4:04:31 pm

Honestly, check out the Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera at B&H. I think the sensor is far better than most DSLRs and it's under $500 for about the next month (a $500 price drip which is actually more than 50% off the usual price of $995) AND it uses off-the-shelf mft lenses (I would prefer EF, but that's the 4K model). I'm getting one next week to supplement my existing DSLRs (I use T2is and T3is with Magic Lantern installed on both).

Using a DSLR is gonna be quite the change from using a camcorder like the one you've listed. They're not quite as point and shoot as even a video camera. Check out http://nofilmschool.com/dslr/ for a great guide if you've never used a DSLR before. All the manual settings in DSLRs can be cumbersome and counterintuitive for newbies. For me, it was like doing 16mm film again: checking exposure, fiddling with shutter speed and f-stop, but that's not for everyone.

My advice: rent one or 2 for a weekend before you buy (don't forget lenses, memory, and batteries).

Save early. Save often.

Jonathan Ziegler

http://www.electrictiger.com
520-360-8293


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Mark Anderson
Re: Will DSLR filming be an upgrade?
on Aug 1, 2014 at 6:36:35 am

Hi Mathew,

I have shot professionally for 15 plus years using all kinds of camcorders. I wanted that cinematic look and DSLR definitely brings you up a huge notch when it comes to soft DOF. I was actually stunned how much better the images look. For me the biggest difference was soft DOF -- which gives you that cinematic look due to the larger sensor in DSLR.

However, it was a massive learning curve for me to learn new muscle memory getting used to shooting in manual mode while keeping an eye on ISO, shutter and aperture. Shooting with a camcorder is in my opinion so much easier to use, but you typically will not create the soft DOF that so many of us desire.

Also, be warned that when using DSLR, you really have to keep an eye on focus. The reason is because of the soft DOF. While soft DOF is pretty, it's a challenge to keep a sharp focus. You may need an external HD monitor to help you zone in on the focus. On the Rebels, there is not a focus peaking feature -- but that can be added with Magic Lantern for the T2i and T3i. I am not 100% sure on the T2i, but I know you can add it to the T3i.

The biggest challenge as you have likely learned by reading reviews online is audio. It's just not nearly as simple as the camcorder. You will need an external audio recorder or a device like JuicedLink if using DLSR. Or, if you go the route of Panasonic GH3 or GH4 you can record audio directly into the camera without an external device as these types of cameras do not record the annoying hiss that a DSLR records. Plus, they have a headset jack to monitor audio, which is huge.

My first DSLR was a T4i and it was a solid camera. I am currently using the 70D but am seriously looking at the GH4. A friend of mine still shoots video on a T3i and it's also very solid -- however be aware of the audio limitations.

If I have an intense shoot where I will be trucking with my feet, documentary style, I will still grab my video camcorder. Camcorders still have their place, especially shooting events where you need to zoom and move quickly and record long periods at a time. I would keep the camcorder in the lineup.


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Jonathan Ziegler
Re: Will DSLR filming be an upgrade?
on Aug 1, 2014 at 2:15:30 pm

Just a quick note: both the t2i and t3i take Magic Lantern and both provide focus peaking which is practically a godsend on those tiny little screens (also vector scopes, live histograms, audio levels, etc. for only a tiny bit more battery power - maybe 5-10% more). The audio is absolutely terrible - I use a zoom h4n and feed it back to the camera via the jack on the side as well as record from the camera then use FCPX to sync it all up so it's fairly painless. I do not have a camcorder, but I'm getting one as my shooting has changes from doing a few short clips to needing longer shots, and a camcorder is a bit more portable (with handles and such). I only wish DSLRS were 4k, but I'm sure that's not far off.

Save early. Save often.

Jonathan Ziegler

http://www.electrictiger.com
520-360-8293


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Steve Crow
Re: Will DSLR filming be an upgrade?
on Aug 1, 2014 at 2:26:26 pm

" I only wish DSLRS were 4k, but I'm sure that's not far off."

Good news, that is already starting to happen with cameras like the GH4, Sony A7S and the Canon 1DC which all achieve this but I am very sure more such cameras are coming soon as 4K seems to be all the rage, perhaps even more so than RAW.

Steve Crow


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