Equipment/Gear

Hybrid DSLRs started a cinematic revolution four years ago.

Thousands of filmmakers, journalists, event videographers, and film students have utilized them beyond what the original designers at first conceived. Many purchased the camera and found the ergonomics a tad difficult to wield. Shooting outdoors, the LCD screen is nearly impossible to see, and since you can't look through the viewfinder in live view (except for the Panasonic Lumix GH I, because it's a 4/3 system and not an SLR camera), you would need to throw a jacket over your head to see.

Video cameras don't have such issues. You can go out and buy a video camĀ­ era, and in most situations, that's all you need (aside from spare batteries and a tripod). Prosumer models have built in neutral density filters (electronic), many of the higher end cameras have XLR connectors with manual control of audio-and most have fixed lenses.

DSLRs are of a different breed. They're stills cameras and if you want it to have the ergonomics and capabilities of a video camera (such as manual control of audio), you may need additional gear to make it work for you. Dozens of companies have sprung up to meet the need of filmmakers wanting better ergonomics. From Redrock Micro to Zakuto creating handheld and shoulder mounted rigs, from BeachTek to juicedLink building XLR audio adapters with a microphone preamp and manual gain control, and Zeiss designing prime lenses specifically for the DSLR market, companies understand the needs and wants of DSLR shooters.

Indeed, because of the popularity of DSLRs being used as cinema cameras, the video camera industry has taken notice. Both Sony and Panasonic have released video cameras that not only include interchangeable lenses, but also Super 35 mm sensors. They've taken notice and stepped up to help make video more cinematic. Canon put the gloves down with the C-300 in fall of 2011, followed by their 4K cinema cameras, the C-500 and the HDSLR, EOS-1D C.

But they're expensive for independent filmmakers, video journalists, and students-pushing past $15,000.

DSLR shooters share a secret. The Canon 7D, 60D, 5D Mark II, and even the $600 Rebel T2i (550D) shoots much better images than old-style video cameras costing thousands more. Can they compete in a 4 K world? If you tell a good story, these cameras will provide a cinematic image on a low budget.

Professionals may buy these new video cameras, and other companies will come out with video cameras with larger sensors and interchangeable lensesĀ­but they likely won't be of the same quality when compared to the much lower price point of DSLRs.

DSLRs are not going away. As Philip Bloom noted when talking about these new video cameras coming down the pike, DSLRs are not just a fad:

Is this fad over? No Chance. Video DSLRs will be with us for a hell of a long time to come. Students, indie filmmakers, event videographers and so many more simply won't be able to afford these new cameras. The tech will improve and some of the issues will go away. Some will be here for a long time to come though. But of course we are working with these limitations right now and incredible work is being done by so many despite them. This will continue for many years. Also, take this job I am on now. I am shooting lots of timelapses as well as video. I can easily put 3 or 4 bodies in my carryon luggage and it takes up no space and is less that the cost of, probably, one of these new video cameras with large sensors. The small size is a massive plus for me. I can also see the day soon when I travel with a new large sensor video camera and still bring a couple of DSLRs with me, second and third angles etc.-it simply makes sense.

So when you hear people say, "is this the end of that DSLR fad then?", tell them no. This "fad" is only just beginning. It's just going to get better and better. Yes, I cannot see "House" or other

Getting the major players choosing to shoot on DSLRs if affordable ($10K is affordable to pro companies) cameras are out there that do the job much better. But for the rest of us, DSLRs will be our main cameras for many years to come."

Technologies evolve with demand. What was the hot ticket last year will be subsumed by new models coming out in 2013. Ikonoskop, Black Magic Design, and Digital Bolex are releasing cameras that shoot 16mm cinema RAW in Adobe's standardized DNG format. BMD and Bolex are pricing their cameras around $3000, but require a lot more space and postproduction color correction, and are not suitable for run-and-gun shooters. But DSLRs are here to stay and what follows is a minimal list of some of the gear priced for students, video journalists, and low-budget indie filmmakers.


 

 

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