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Recommendation for a video camera

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Tony Connoly
Recommendation for a video camera
on May 2, 2011 at 3:10:30 am

Hi all--

I am a photographer who has dabbled in video, and would like to do it more seriously. I've used a Nikon D90, Olympus E-PL1 and Panasonic GF1. Of these, my favorite video quality was the D90, but I did not like the lack of manual control.

Currently I have a Nikon D700, which of course does not have video. I have many Nikon lenses.

I am operating on a tight budget, and would like a video camera that I can use for ENG and also for creative shoots with actors. I already have a mic and audio gear.

Is there any camera out there you would recommend for about $1,000 to $1,500?

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Richard Harrington
Re: Recommendation for a video camera
on May 2, 2011 at 10:36:16 am

THe nikon D7000 is your logical choice

Richard M. Harrington, PMP

Author: From Still to Motion, Video Made on a Mac, Photoshop for Video, Understanding Adobe Photoshop, Final Cut Studio On the Spot and Motion Graphics with Adobe Creative Suite 5 Studio Techniques

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Tony Connoly
Re: Recommendation for a video camera
on May 2, 2011 at 12:30:15 pm

I wanted to make sure there is nothing out there (whether or not DSLR) that matches the D7000 for the price.

Also, the D5100 has a swivel screen, but I was not sure whether it allows full manual control. Does anyone know anything about the D5100 yet?

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Rick Diamond
Re: Recommendation for a video camera
on May 2, 2011 at 11:24:05 pm

Go with Richard's recommendation. You already have the lenses. The Nikon D7000 is the way to go.

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Phil Balsdon
Re: Recommendation for a video camera
on May 2, 2011 at 1:23:27 pm

Canon 60D with Nikon adaptor?

The Canon has a better choice of video formats. You have Nikon lenses with an iris ring on the lens, much easier for video than Canons internal f stop system.

I have a couple of friends (professionals) that had Nikons for stills and bought Canon 5Ds for video work and find the combo is a best of both worlds benefit.

Cinematographer, Steadicam Operator, Final Cut Pro Post Production.

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Jason Jenkins
Re: Recommendation for a video camera
on May 2, 2011 at 2:05:40 pm

[Tony Connoly] "Is there any camera out there you would recommend for about $1,000 to $1,500?"

I shoot a Panasonic GH2 adapted to fit my Nikon lenses. It's a great combination that fits your budget.

Jason Jenkins
Flowmotion Media
Video production... with style!

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Brent Dunn
Re: Recommendation for a video camera
on May 2, 2011 at 2:40:59 pm

Do you want a video camera, or a DSLR that shoots video. When you say manual controls, then do you mean control over audio levels, video settings, etc.? If so, you will need to switch to a video camera.

Unfortunately, at that price, you'll run into issues in low light. You can find many cameras for that price, but most only have one sensor.

You can shoot great video with the canon 7d and buy and external recorder such as the zoom. Either way, you'll have to sacrafice something at that price level.

Go to B & H and start looking at cameras in your price range. The CMOS in the lower priced cameras get noisy in low light.

Brent Dunn
Owner / Director / Editor
DunnRight Films
Video Marketing

Sony EX-1,
Canon 5D Mark II
Canon 7D
Mac Pro Tower, Quad Core,
with Final Cut Studio

HP i7 Quad laptop
Adobe CS-5 Production Suite

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Tony Connoly
Re: Recommendation for a video camera
on May 2, 2011 at 3:12:20 pm

(1) I don't care whether or not it's a DSLR, but in my limited experience DSLRs at this price level gave better video results in terms of low light sensitivity and flexibility with lenses (to get some subject separation). Am I wrong about that?

(2) By manual control I mean setting the ISO, the shutter speed and the f-stop. This is probably only an issue with DSLRs because I imagine other video cams in this price range have slow lenses that you always shoot "wide open" and at a set shutter speed.

(3) I have a very nice Marantz audio recorder and a Rode NTG-2 for when the situation demands it, although by all means I would prefer it if the camera had XLR inputs and nice audio controls. But for under $1,500?

(4) I've been to B&H. What category of cameras should I look at?

(5) I would hate to start down the road of comparing the obvious DSLR choices to death--D7000, GH2, D5100 and 60D. I wish there was something drastically different about them. I suppose the GH2 is out because it's not available anywhere, the D5100 probably doesn't have the manual controls I'd like to have. Nikon D7000 vs. Canon 60D is a close call: the D7000 is the better still camera but how much of that translates to video? I suppose the D7000 is probably better in low light? The 60D has the flip-out screen but would require an adapter to use my Nikon lenses, and I would not have AF if I wanted to use it as a still camera. Thoughts?

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Isaac Brillant
Re: Recommendation for a video camera
on May 16, 2011 at 3:48:32 pm

I have a follow up question on this thread, now that that Nikon D5100 has come out...

Especially for video use, does the Nikon D5100 lack anything important that the Canon 60D has, or have anything important that the Canon lacks?

I came up with these results. I selected the ones that I think are the most relevent. I'd love to hear the experts input on which features really make a difference in practice, and get some clarification on what some of the specs mean in a real world setting. My comments and questions are in italics.

ADVANTAGES OF CANON 60D (according to Snapsort):

60D has a built-in focus motor; D5100 does not.
Q: What does this mean? What is the alternative?

60D has a Pentaprism viewfinder; D5100 has a Pentamirror
Q: I know that on the 60D you can't use the viewfinder in movie mode because the mirror is locked up. Is it the same for D5100?

60D has 9 cross-type focus points; D5100 has 1.
Q: But below, it also says that the D5100 has 11 focus points, vs the 60D's 9 points

60D has 10% higher resolution screen of 1,040k dots vs the D5100's 920k dots
Q: Is this enough of a difference to make a difference in seeing focus when pulling focus manually?

ADVANTAGES OF NIKON D5100 (according to Snapsort):

D5100 has "significantly better image quality" 80.0 vs 66.0, more than 20% better image quality.
Q: I dont know what the #'s 80.0 vs 66.0 refer to, or what aspect of the "image quality" those refer to.

D5100 has much more dynamic range: 13.6 EV (Exposure Value) vs 11.5 EV
Q: This sounds important for movie shooting. But is the different of 2 significant, and can't the 60D be set to have as wide a range?

D5100 has 2.1 f-stops more dynamic range
Q: So now the dynamic range is being measured in f-stops? On which end of the spectrum? And is this only relevant if you use a lens of a certain speed? Or does it just mean that for any photo or video, the image will have levels on each end of the brightness spectrum that are 1 stop brighter and 1 stop darker than the same image would be on a 60D?

D5100 has Video autofocus that uses Contrast detection. The 60D does not.

Q: BUT, I think that what snapsort means is that the 60D doesn't have CONTINUOUS autofocus in movie mode, while the D5100 does. On the 60D, I think you can still trigger AF in movie mode by pressing the shutter (which sounds better to me anyway because there's more control.)

My question is, does the 60D use a different method of AF than it uses when taking stills? Is the 60D's AF as fast or as useful as the D5100's AF? (Also, if someone could point me to a link that would explain the hierarchy of the various methods of autofocusing - contrast detection, phase detection etc etc - that would be useful)

I know that professionals prefer to use manual, as do I, but sometimes in run & gun situations, it's useful to have AF, especially if you're already at a higher f-stop with more DOF

The D5100 has in-camera HDR (high dynamic range).
Q: But I think that the 60D also has HDR, and calls it AEB or Auto Exposure Bracketing. Is the difference that the D5100 processes the 3 exposures from the same shot, and processes the final image in-camera, thus "In Camera HDR" whereas the 60D needs to take 3 seperate shots in quick succession and you have to process them in post?

D5100 has Significantly better color depth, of 23.5 bits vs the 60D's 22.2 bits, and distinguishes around 2.5x more colors.
Q: Really? that sounds like a big advantage. Is it true in a practical sense?

The D5100's boost ISO is 1 f-stop better. Better boost ISO 25,600 ISO vs 12,800 ISO
Q: Not sure what this means. And when would you use this fast an ISO?

D5100 has a 10% larger sensor. APS-C 23.6x15.6mm vs the 60D's APS-C 22.3x14.9mm.
Q: So a little shallower DOF, and the ability to get a little wider shot than the 60D with the same lens?

D5100 has 11 focus points. 60D has 9.
Q: But what kind of focus points? Above, it says that the 60D has 9 cross-type focus points and the D5100 has 1.

Nothing is mentioned about audio.
Does the D5100 have manual controls? Can you monitor and adjust sound on it during recording (which you can't do on the 60D without Magic Lantern)

Lastly, is there an equivalent of Magic Lantern for Nikons? I heard that ML is not out yet for the 60D but it sounds like it will be out soon.

Thanks in advance for your feedback.

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Tony Connoly
Re: Recommendation for a video camera
on May 16, 2011 at 4:21:37 pm

Isaac- I now have the D5100 so I can answer some of your question follow.

(1) There are two types of Nikon Auto Focus lenses: AF (which lack their own motor) and AF-S (which have an onboard auto focus motor). The D5100 will autofocus only with AF-S lenses. Not a big issue for video. All newer Nikons (inlcuding the very cheap ones) are AF-S.

(2) A pentamirror is lighter and possibly not as bright as a pentaprism (which is a solid piece of glass). Not an issue for video, since you will be using the LCD.

(3) AF points don't come into play while shooting video. They're only important for fast action photography (phase detection). If you use AF during video, it will be contrast detection. With the D5100, you can move the focus area where ever you want even while recoding. I don't know about the Canon.

(4) Pulling focus manually during video will be very demanding, and 100k pixels probably would not make a difference. You need an external LCD to do this properly, although a loupe works if you have the type that can be attached easily to the camera. I prefocus before I start shooting, and during shooting depending on the situation and the lens, I will either MF with a loupe or AF.

(5) The image quality advantages of the D5100 are significant when taking pictures: the D5100 has a slightly larger, more modern sensor with better high ISO prformance and better dynamic range at base ISO and high ISO. How much of this translates to video depends on factors such as the video codec and so on, and needs to be tested.

(6) You are mistaken in your assumption about the D5100 auto focus during video. You can trigger it any time you want by pressing the shutter half-way. It may have "continuous" AF but I have not (and never would) enable it. I do not not know whether the Canon can auto focus during video.

(7) You are correct that the AF during video is most useful during ENG or gun and run situations. It is a little disruptive to the flow of the video, so it often needs to be edited out later, but it sure beats having to turn off video, focus, and turn it on again.

(8) High dynamic range is a photo-only feature. The D5100 can take two pictures at different exposures and merge them. It's very nice for landscape photography.

(9) Color depth, dynamic range and high ISO sensitivity are things I would care about, but I have not tested the Canon so I cannot say how it compares.

(10) The D5100 has audio settings that you can set beforehand (Auto, low, medium and high I think). I have not tested that yet, but I will soon. When I want REALLY good audio, I use a Marantz audio recorder.

You asked another question about auto-focus. 30,000 foot view:

Phase detection: standard on all SLRs and DSLRs; works when the mirror is down, can be very, very fast on high-end cameras.

Contrast detection: used by consumer digicams; much slower but potentially very accurate because it analyzes the actual image. This is the only mode that can be used when the mirror is up and live view engaged or video is being recorded.

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Isaac Brillant
Re: Recommendation for a video camera
on May 18, 2011 at 2:54:16 am

Thanks so much for your comments. I'm going to go over them again tomorrow morning, because I have a few questions...

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Isaac Brillant
Re: Recommendation for a video camera
on Sep 4, 2011 at 7:36:23 pm

Just wanted to thank you again for your comprehensive answers to my Q's. They were very useful. Thanks!

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