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DSLR or Camcorder for Video

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Suley Suleman
DSLR or Camcorder for Video
on Jun 10, 2011 at 7:28:10 pm

Hey Guys, im really confused and lost with what i really need. Basically im not a pro but not an amamture. Basically i am part of a music website and we do video interviews usuallya round 15-20 mins in length for the one shot. Now uptill now we used a Samsung HMX h105 however it had some issues so with the microphone being inbuild picking up some internal noises so we have decided we need a new cam.

The issues we had with the old one was it was poor in low light conditions.

It was only 2 mega pixels in shooting for hd so didnt capture the best quality

Sound was poor as it was inbuilt and uses have complained about the poor audio on some of our interviews.

Now i was looking at getting something new. I have a budget of around £400 ish give or take and was recomended to look at some DSLR. Anyway long story shot they seem great and i was looking at the Sony SLT-A55 and the Canon 550D. Both of which are really nice however reading around have many issues with regards to my intended use ie poor stabalization and there seems to be some limit. Usually we shoot in HD for youtube so 720 x 1280 however im told the processors do heat up alot. I was also consideing camcorders however many dont have a mic port or have shoot at low mega pixels so usuallya round 3 megapixels. I was wondering what would you recomend for me as im now confused on what would be best.

Most interviews are shot either in an office or on the sets of a video shoot or in a cafe.

Thanks and look forward to your advise.

Thanks
Suley


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Peter J. DeCrescenzo
Re: DSLR or Camcorder for Video
on Jun 10, 2011 at 9:41:49 pm

If you're talking about buying gear new (not used), then £400 may not stretch far enough to cover what you hope to accomplish.

One advantage of shooting video with a DSLR is, when shooting with a fast lens (f2.8 or faster), they can produce nice-looking, low-noise video in relatively dim ambient light.

But the standard kit lens typically bundled with a DSLR usually isn't anywhere near that fast. If you shoot with a slow lens in low light, cranking-up the camera's ISO (gain) setting to compensate will often result in noisy video. Since there are so many variables at play (light levels, lenses, camera noise performance, etc.), your results will vary, too.

To get good sound recording, a mic should typically be positioned as close to the sound source as possible. Approx. 15-30 cm (about 6-12") is typical, but in a very quiet room a very good mic may produce usable results at a farther distance. But in most cases, especially in office/cafe environments, the mic must be within a few inches of the subject's mouth to get good sound, and even then the background noise or room echo can sometimes be problematic.

Most, but not all, DSLRs have mic input jacks.

None of the DSLR cams have headphone jacks to enable monitoring sound while you're recording, and most don't have on-screen audio level meters or audio recording level controls. As a result, you either have to hope for the best and record sound without monitoring (not reliable), or record to an external audio recorder (& use it's headphone jack) & sync-up the sound to the video during editing. Not too difficult, but inconvenient and one more thing to learn. Even an inexpensive external audio recorder can record sound with much better quality than most DSLRs can.

The free 3rd party software called "Magic Lantern" adds very useful audio features to certain Canon DSLR models, but I don't know if it's available for the 550D yet. You may wish to investigate that.

Most low-end "prosumer" video camcorders have mic & headphone jacks. However, most entry-level camcorders usually can't produce clean, low-noise video in dim ambient lighting conditions.

I hope this info is helpful.

---

http://www.peterdv.com


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Suley Suleman
Re: DSLR or Camcorder for Video
on Jun 10, 2011 at 10:26:51 pm

Thanks for your reply Peter. I should have said more around the £500 mark as the 550d costs around 560 with some basic lens kit. The external mic is something I was thinking. What confuses me about dslr's is all these lens and getting one that would be ok for general use. I'm in 2 minds weather to buy the kits new which will cost more or get a mix and match ie new cam and second hand lens or vice versa. Out of intrest what prosumer cam would you recomend? As most are low on pixels from what I see and dslr wise what would you recomend there also?

Thanks as always


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Peter J. DeCrescenzo
Re: DSLR or Camcorder for Video
on Jun 10, 2011 at 11:05:37 pm

If interlaced (50i or 60i) video is OK for your application, then the Sony NEX-VG10 camcorder might be worth a look: With its big APS-size sensor, it's supposedly very good in low light with a fast (extra cost) lens. Note it has a Sony DSLR lens mount. The NEX-VG10 has mic & headphone jacks.

The new Canon XA10 & Sony HVR-A1U camcorders are supposed to be pretty good in low light for 1/3" sensor camcorders.

Of course, these cams are far more expensive than the budget range you mention.

A Canon 550D DSLR cam with a fast, possibly used, 50mm lens, plus an inexpensive external audio recorder, lavalier mic & headphones might be a good kit for your application, and more affordable.

FYI: In general, when comparing image sensors of similar dimensions, a sensor with a relatively low total pixel count is usually good for video quality. It may provide good low-light sensitivity, good dynamic range, and fewer moire/alias artifacts. The relatively high resolution sensors in DSLRs are useful for producing still images, but can be detrimental to producing quality motion video. Video camcorders typically have sensors with many fewer pixels than DSLRs do, which is good for video, but not for hi-res stills. There is no free lunch. :-)

---

http://www.peterdv.com


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Suley Suleman
Re: DSLR or Camcorder for Video
on Jun 11, 2011 at 10:11:58 am

Thanks Peter for your reply. I have been looking into the models you sugested, The Canon looks really great and footage on youtube is shows some good shots however it seems over my budget if i were able to wait till the end of the year then it would be ideal but im going to need something in the next few weeks as we have a few big interviews planned again. I did manage to get hold of a 550d for testing from an artist i was supposed to interview but cancelled on as our cam was in for repair. The footage is seen here http://bit.ly/m2YCms on youtube (not footage is not live yet, you can see the samsung shot stuff on the rest of the account) i didnt have an audio kit but just placed it on a tripod. It does look nice but the background seems to have some waves or something, im not sure if that was because it was standard lens or what. I was also looking at some Panasonic HDC-SD900 or the Panasonic HDC-MDH1 (which is more bulky to carry and shoot in outdoor locations) both of which are around the same range. Im now confused as to get a dslr or the camcorder option. Camcorder would have stabliser and shoot without stopping above 29 mins where as dslr have better lens and are in some cases better at handling light.

Peter i would apreciate your input and thanks all


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Peter J. DeCrescenzo
Re: DSLR or Camcorder for Video
on Jun 11, 2011 at 5:28:19 pm

[Suley Suleman] "... the background seems to have some waves or something ..."

I believe that results from a mismatch between the camera's shutter speed and the electrical frequency of the lights. For example, if the electrical frequency is 50 Hz, and the camera's video shutter is set (manually or automatically) to something other than 1/50th of a second, the video will strobe as seen in your video, especially if the lights are fluorescent. Further, some cameras feature a switch to enable recording in either the PAL (50i) or NTSC (60i) broadcast video formats.

The solution is to manually set the video shutter speed to the same value, or slower, as the electrical frequency. (Or avoid shooting under flo lights.) Also, you usually record using the video broadcast format that matches your location, but there can be exceptions to this.

Concerning image stabilization: Most DSLRs feature image stabilization, either built-into certain lenses, or built-into the camera body itself.

In general, for tax/tariff reasons DSLRs sold in countries that use the PAL TV standard are limited to recording video for 30-min. or less. Some DSLRs are limited further to approx. 15-min. or less, regardless of worldwide location. For most productions this isn't too much of a problem, but for certain applications (such as live events) using a camcorder that doesn't have such limitations instead can be more appropriate. For interviews it's OK to start & stop recording frequently between questions, but this isn't always appropriate.

Again, the main difference between DSLRs and camcorders is that, when fitted with a fast lens, a DSLR usually performs better in dim light (and has more flexible depth of field control) compared to a similarly-priced camcorder. However, usually camcorders support audio recording control & live headphone monitoring -- both critical for reliably recording good sound. And, as you step up to better (& more expensive) camcorders, their low-light performance usually improves, too.

Personally, I currently use a Panasonic DMC-GH2 "DSLR" for my personal work because I think it offers a good balance of the best features of a DSLR and a camcorder for video production. Unfortunately it doesn't support live headphone monitoring while recording, although it does feature live on-screen audio level meters. There are examples of my work using the GH2 on my website, such as:


As I said, there's no free lunch, and there's no "perfect" camera. With practice you can sometimes work-around limitations of a particular camera, but in general you get what you pay for. Nothing new there! Good luck with your research.

---

http://www.peterdv.com


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Dave LaRonde
Re: DSLR or Camcorder for Video
on Jun 16, 2011 at 10:46:51 pm

I see that the OP shoots interviews of 15 minutes or more in one take. I'm aware that the D5MII has an overheating problem at approximately the 12-minute mark. Does the 550D also suffer from that same problem?

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Steve Crow
Re: DSLR or Camcorder for Video
on Jun 17, 2011 at 3:32:26 am

The 12 minute issue has to do with a file size limitation, not overheating

All you need to do is while you are asking a quesion quickly hit stop and start record to initiate a new clip and another 12 minute countdown if you will

Overheating can indeed occur but it is relatively rare

That said, HD DSLRs are not great choices for capturing long speeches since every 12 minutes you have to start a new video clip


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Steve Crow
Re: DSLR or Camcorder for Video
on Jun 11, 2011 at 11:11:53 pm

Why not just connect an external mic to your existing camcorder which would be a much, much cheaper and more sensible solution. I love filming with DSLRs but your budget does not allow for it...besides the camera you will STILL need external mics to get good sound so why not just buy the mic?


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Suley Suleman
Re: DSLR or Camcorder for Video
on Jun 12, 2011 at 8:29:10 am

Thanks Steve I did consider that however my current cam does not have a mic port, its hd but only at 2mb so some low light scene's are less desireable (I planned to use sme external light). I did look into adding a mic port but could not find anyone who wanted to do it. That lead me to decide sell the old and probably get sme dslr as all the camcorders looked the same no mic port. If u know smeone who can add then its a lot cheaper. The alternative is use an external audio system but I'm not sure how much time it would take in editing etc


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Steve Crow
Re: DSLR or Camcorder for Video
on Jun 12, 2011 at 3:33:40 pm

Oh, I thought it had a mic import, okay in the case I'd still suggest an external mic PLUS now an external digital recorder...The Zoom H4N is the usual suggestion but take a look at it's baby brother which might quite well for you too (sorry don't know the model name)

Syncing the two audio sources isn't too difficult at all and there are tools like PluralEyes that can do it automatically for you but usually it's just a matter of matching waveforms up so not a huge pain. Later, you can use the same mic and external recorder with your DSLR camera but this will get you going. I always use wireless lavalier mics but you may be able to get away just fine with a shotgun style mic placed on something like a c-stand just out of frame. I think you mentioned you may be recording several members at once so you might try and find a mic that has a wide enough pickup pattern to support that, you definitely wouldn't want a tight, tight, pickup pattern because then you would only record the person closest to your mic.


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Suley Suleman
Re: DSLR or Camcorder for Video
on Jun 14, 2011 at 9:19:39 pm

Ok Guys, ive had my camara back from Samsung and they think nothing is wrong with it even thoguth audio has a hissing noise, taking into account picture quality is not the best in low light i think its time for the DSLR. Ive worked out i have gathered £600 so far and will will be getting anouther hundread or two possibly. Ok now to the options im confused as to get the Sony SLT-A55 which has a HDR which i have no idea what it is and seems to have a good auto focus and stabilisation for video or should i get the Canon 550D which has more lens etc but seems to heva better colour depth and review wise it seems to be better. Also im considering getting the DSLR base only and the lens seperate. I was told by some canon sales guy the basic with the 550d is not great and recomended the Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS. I was wondering what you guys think is a good lens for video it would be mainly low light and interviews it would be used for the cam. Im not sure if you can use other brands with the 550d if i do go that way. Cany anyone advise a good lens please, hopeing to buy something this week if all goes to plan :)


Thanks
Suley


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Steve Crow
Re: DSLR or Camcorder for Video
on Jun 14, 2011 at 9:35:46 pm

550D but for the shallow depth of field look upgrade to the 50mm 1.8 or even better the 50mm 1.4 lens if you can afford it. Just remember with DSLRs the basic camera and lens is just the start, in fact it's not that usable yet with just these two items, for instance the audio is going to be worse than on your Samsung! Solving that means additional mics and other gear.


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Suley Suleman
Re: DSLR or Camcorder for Video
on Jun 15, 2011 at 12:51:19 pm

Thanks Guys, i did consider what you say and thought in the long term i need something reliable in low light hence DSLR, i could get a lamp and the audio system you suggested however eventually im going to get the same issue with the video quality looking poor on certain shots and saying that at times were interviewing celebs i think it would be better if we invested. My plan is to get a DSLR and a decent lens and a microphone for now that would jack in to the cam and in a few months get the actual audio system. As for a jig for the cam at the min im thinking use the tripod we have as most are shots still at an angle. I was looking into the lens you suggested and read some good reviews which is great but it does not have any image stabilisation http://photography.shop.ebay.co.uk/Lenses-Filters-/78997/i.html?LH_BIN=1&_n... Any chance you can recommend any other model. Also im presuming a nicon lens wont fit on the canon or would i need to get an adapter?

Thanks

Suley


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