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Old February 15th, 2012, 02:47 PM   #1
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Have you changed your mind about DSLR's

I had surgery not long ago and have spent a lot of time contemplating gear, but unfortunately not shooting. I had initially planned (before the earthquake) to purchase the newest Canon shoulder mount, that was long ago and I have had to alter my plans due to health. Canon never arrived with a new shoulder mount camcorder and I have had to warm up to camcorders that I originally did not like, the xf300 series for example. I didn't originally look at the DSLR thing because of the record time limitiations, heat problems focus problems etc. But now that I have had to sit back and watch for a while, the possibilities of future DSLR's have me waiting with growing anticipation. I love still photography (but not the business), the thought of a 30+ megapixel still camera with stunning video and the limitations of old DSLR's removed has me re-thinking my next camera, and I never thought that I would say that. The old bones would sure enjoy a lighter camera and the smaller size would fit my next project. Is it possible the new DSLR's video will be every bit as good as broadcast cameras ??

Is anyone else at this crossroads, I am interested to hear your perception of where the industry is and where you think it is going. As far as I know , it was unlike Canon to announce a 4k camera so far in advance, the 1DX also, announced way in advance of availability.

Thanks

Last edited by Don Parrish; February 15th, 2012 at 05:16 PM.
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Old February 15th, 2012, 04:26 PM   #2
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Re: Have you changed your mind about DSLR's

If I was dedication $ 5000 to $ 6000 to set up, I would probably go with the Sony FS-1OO at this point. That assumes you are looking for the benefits of large sensor cameras, providing for a more film like shallower depth of field, and providing better low light response. If that means nothing to you, then XF-300 line from Canon seems to be the way because of its codec. If you are going plus $10k market, I would go with the new Canon EOS cinema offering.

In the lower end shooting, again choice is between big chip needs. Typically, the video shots (as opposed to stills) with the Canon DSLRs have less resolution than most lower end dedicated video cameras. I understand that Panosonic shooter say their resolution, expecially with some post market techinical adjustments, is better than the Canon shots. However, the Canon material has been used in film out regularly now, so may be we techies are just too touchy about this stuff.

Most recently, having the Canon 5D Mark II, and the T2i, I bought the Sony VG20, thinking it may be the little sister of the FS-100. The specs listed by Sony indicated that it might be an ideal "tweener". When I got the camera, though, I discovered that contrary to Sony advertizing, there were no scene settings that allowed you to adjust saturation, contrast, or sharpness. Shooting these at lower setting is important to me in order to assure getting a better product to submit to editing.

The image in the VG20 is quite good, however. I believe its resolution surpasses the Canon DSLR, while it still maintains the sought after shallower depth of field and low light goals. I will take a bit more work to shoot in contrasty situation, but will still render some terrific results, in my opinion.
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Old February 15th, 2012, 04:42 PM   #3
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Re: Have you changed your mind about DSLR's

The 1DX isn't the lightest DSLR, but it is likely the best one announced - for now. The D4 has the advantage of clean HDMI (but you need a recorder to use it) as well as 1080 native, 1.6x and FF crop modes. My understanding is that the 1DX is fast enough to read out all the data and properly filter the HD output. That with the improved codec should make it the best for internal recording.

The problems with DSLRs are clearly aliasing and rolling shutter. I took a ruler to some frames of the Zacuto Shootout 2011, Episode 3 and got these results for rolling shutter latency at 24 fps...

* Alexa: 18%
* 1D4: 33%
* RED ONE-MX: 42%
* 7D: 43%
* 5D2: 56%

Assuming that the 1DX is even faster (could it get into Alexa territory?), and given that the 24/2.8 IS and 28/2.8 IS lenses were recently announced, that could enable some very stable, lightweight shooting.

The other option for high quality is the 5D2 with the VAF-5D2 anti aliasing filter. We ordered one in December and are still waiting for it to ship. :( It doesn't do well on wide lenses. :( But it's certainly cheaper than a 1DX and the 5D2 is available today. The VAF should be here within a month.) This does nothing for rolling shutter and the images might be slightly soft, but getting rid of aliasing would be a huge improvement.

From an ergonomics standpoint, I really like DSLRs. It's not like the early days of the 5D2 when we had to trick the camera to get it to lock the desired exposure. It pretty much falls to hand.

The limited duration thing never bothered me. The only place I want to see more than 12 minutes without a cut is on security cams and Hitchcock's Rope. ;)
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Old February 15th, 2012, 04:44 PM   #4
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Re: Have you changed your mind about DSLR's

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Originally Posted by Don Parrish View Post
Is it possible the new DSLR's video will be every bit as good as broadcast cameras ??
In short - no!

Longer answer involves asking by how far it falls short, and there's a variation between true broadcast cameras anyway. As yet, no DSLR video comes close to a true broadcast video camera - but that is certainly not to say it's therefore bad. They also tend to be more difficult to use ergonomically, inbuilt codecs aren't really up to it (certainly not for broadcast), and they may have connectivity issues - on the positive side, they're cheap.

Depends what you want to use it for, and how much money you've got, but the DSLRs are designed to take very high quality stills - very high pixel counts should be seen as a DISADVANTAGE when you talk about video. Have you looked at the C300?
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Old February 15th, 2012, 05:53 PM   #5
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Re: Have you changed your mind about DSLR's

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Have you looked at the C300?

I think everyone would love to own a C300 myself included, but by the time the neccessary accessories are purchased and the project made the cost is up there. Also, my project is inside vehicles, cars trucks van ets and the mobility of a DSLR I am hoping would fit well. A wide prime, a new series II 24-70L and 70-200L II would have to fit financially. I will also have to build my own i7 2600k or 3930k. The ability to add still shots from the same camera is a big plus. A pipe dream would be a DSLR with a little brother ( t2i etc) that could be a second camera that would edit smoothly into the project and be available for more risky shots. Also a little worried about 2 man shoot with a C300 or F3 rig. I would love for those cameras to have crisp clear monitors and fully capable internal recorders, I thought we would see that last year but so far the manufactures won't go there. All the stuff to make the perfect camera is in there reach, they just won't put it all together. Anyway by the time I pay for the everything it's looking like 20k out of pocket.

As far as codecs go (and I am terribly lacking in knowledge of there strengths and weaknesses) , I am hoping the next generation will have some surprises for us.


Chris, depth of field is a must, can't live without it.
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Old February 15th, 2012, 06:09 PM   #6
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Re: Have you changed your mind about DSLR's

Note that the 1DX has two codec options. We will see if this will also be true for the 5D3/5DX.

A nice way to roll is to have a 24/1.4L II and a 50/1.2L, a 5D2, and a T2i. With two lenses, you get 24, 38.4, 50, and 80mm views. Add a 100L and you get 100 and 160 with IS in a lighter, smaller, cheaper, stealthier package than the 70-200. Of course, with the current 5D2 and T2i, you're still in AliasedJelloLand with the current codec. You'd need the 1DX and/or some next gen hardware to really make this fly.
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Old February 15th, 2012, 06:17 PM   #7
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Re: Have you changed your mind about DSLR's

""AliasedJelloLand"" ha ha !!

The C300 was awesome in the promo with the bicycle.
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Old February 15th, 2012, 10:16 PM   #8
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Re: Have you changed your mind about DSLR's

While DSLRs produce very pretty video when used correctly, they don't really work well in a broadcast news or TV production standpoint. I'll admit, they make great little cameras for shooting Guerra style or if you're working on a low budget short film. In the long run, it's actually a pretty crappy video camera. The BBC wont accept video shot on it because of the moire and aliasing, most of my editors hate it because you can barely do any colour correction on it before it falls apart and you have to convert it to ProRes to get it to play nice with anything, and my visual effects guys hate it because you can't motion track to it well because of the jello.

While there is a point where content is more important than quality(see, Youtube) I'm a DP, not a Director. I'm going to tell you that there's nothing magical about the 5D.

Also, it's pretty bad business wise. My favorite camera rental house closed down because no one was renting any of their cameras. They all bought 5Ds because they thought it would be better in the long run.
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Old February 16th, 2012, 12:41 AM   #9
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Re: Have you changed your mind about DSLR's

David, you're right in my area. My last few shoots have been either in Rosslyn or most recently the National Press club.

Which rental house closed down?

Back to the thread topic. Personally I've swayed back and forth quite a bit on the DSLR issue, I dislike the form factor, and the obvious codec and image issues. But having full manual controls, having the ability to use interchangeable lenses, and a large sensor for less than $1000 is very tempting. Especially when you have a limited budget like me.

I've pretty much decided on getting the GH2 to compliment my HV30, both will have strengths and weaknesses. But I'll have plenty of use for the GH2 even with the codec issues. From what I've seen it seems to be the strongest of the SLR's for video. Especially with the hack.
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Old February 16th, 2012, 07:37 AM   #10
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Re: Have you changed your mind about DSLR's

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Originally Posted by Chris Barcellos View Post
If I was dedication $ 5000 to $ 6000 to set up, I would probably go with the Sony FS-1OO at this point.
me too, but I would also consider GH2, with good glass and hacked firmware - it produces stunning image, to my eye much better than many camcorders and any DSLR
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Old February 16th, 2012, 08:35 AM   #11
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Re: Have you changed your mind about DSLR's

I have a Sony HVR-Z7 and a Nikon D5100 DSLR. While I agree with all the complaints about DSLRs voiced so far, I almost always use the Nikon instead of the Sony because of the large sensor and what that does in terms of low light and depth of field.

I find myself shooting without extra lights in places that I would have had to bring lights with the Z7. That is such a time saver. When I shoot an interview, with the DSLR I can get away with two little battery powered Z96s. I have the two light stands in a tripod bag and the two Z96s in the side pocket where you normally keep the mounting plate. My whole interview light kit is one tiny package that weighs less than ten pounds!

Then there's the shallow depth of field you can get with the large sensor. What a difference that makes! A cluttered desk looks a world different when it is blurred out with a fast 35 or 50mm prime.

The moiré is pretty horrible on the Nikon (which is about the same as any of the Canon DSLRs). I get around this mainly by softening my focus ever so slightly on wide shots. My usual method for getting rid of brick and shingle moiré is to put the camera in manual, focus to infinity and set the f-stop to f-11. That gives me just enough blur to get rid the problem yet still look nicely focused.

I also have a Caprock 1.0 anti-moiré filter that is good for focal lenghts between 18 and about 40mm and a 2.8 that should take me between 40 to 100mm. The caprocks aren't perfect. The 1.0 gets rid of all the moiré at 35mm, reduces but doesn't eliminate it at 18mm, and starts to blur the image as you zoom past 35mm. It will get you past a herringbone jacket in an interview though.

If I had to do it again, I think I would buy the Panasonic GH2 which is relatively free from downsizing artifacts.

Is the DSLR a bit of a pain? Yes. Is it worth putting up with this? Yes. My Nikon D5100 was $850. I get an absolutely stunning image that looks every bit as good as what I see coming from any camera. I do a lot of commercials that play in movie theater preshows and even blown up to movie theater size, the footage from this camera looks just stunning.

The difference between a DSLR and a large sensor camera isn't so much the end quality of your work. It's more the ease of shooting and what you can shoot. A large sensor camcorder can shoot fast action with shallow depth of field. A DSLR has to shoot fast action with deep depth of field. A large sensor camcorder can shoot an interview with tight patterns on the clothes. I have to use a Caprock filter to do this and need to stick to certain focal lenghts when I do. A large sensor camcorder can shoot a brick building with a shingle roof wide in tight focus. A DSLR needs to do this with slightly soft focus. A camcorder can shoot in varying light with the iris auto adjusting. My DSLR iris jumps in steps rather than smoothly so I always have to lock it down. Footage from a large sensor camcorder can be graded heavily without breaking down. With a DSLR you only have so much latitude so you need to be close. Not all the way there, but close.

What I'm saying is that at this point in time, the difference between an $850 DSLR and a $6000 large sensor camcorder isn't so much the quality of the end result. Both look stunning. The difference is how easy it is to get there. With a DSLR it's a little harder. You get a system down though, and it really isn't that bad when you are doing it.

One absolutely HUGE advantage of the DSLR is that while you're shooting video, you're also shooting stills. I never did much still work before I got into DSLRs to do video, but now I shoot stills all the time, and they work their way into videos way more than I ever expected. All sorts of stuff like signs, windows, security cameras, etc. I end up just taking stills of things that don't move and animating them slightly. Very fast and it looks great for all sorts of insets.

At this point, I'm a convert. I'm not looking at large sensor camcorders at all anymore. I'm looking more at things like the new Nikon D4 and D800 which take both video and stills to a high level.
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Old February 16th, 2012, 10:52 AM   #12
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Re: Have you changed your mind about DSLR's

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Originally Posted by Don Parrish View Post
I think everyone would love to own a C300 myself included, but by the time the neccessary accessories are purchased and the project made the cost is up there.
I won't argue with that, but the cost of lenses is the same whether you put them on a DSLR, a cheap camera like the FS100 or AF101, or a decent one like the F3 or C300. The difference is only in the cost of the body - and arguably a C300 may need less spending on it to get a workable package than a DSLR, which may lessen the pain a bit.
Quote:
Also, my project is inside vehicles, cars trucks van ets and the mobility of a DSLR I am hoping would fit well.
I saw a C300 in the flesh for the first time recently, and it's worth noting that it can strip down pretty small, to roughly the size of a DSLR. Yes, you then loose the XLRs amongst a few other things, but can use a small mic inputting via 3.5mm - I'd say in terms of use within confined spaces it would be similar to a DSLR. (The biggest single factor would be the size of lens - and same with it or DSLR.)

Also worth bearing in mind that light sensitivity and/or highlight handling will be far better than a DSLR (or FS100/AF101 for that matter). That may mean the difference between having to use some sort of lighting or not.......

But yes, it's more expensive...... you get what you pay for.
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Old February 16th, 2012, 03:03 PM   #13
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Re: Have you changed your mind about DSLR's

Your right David, it will take homework to make the final decision but the DSLR side of me wants big stills. Yet I will probably not buy a camera unless it is broadcast accepted. When cameras produce images like the C300 produces it somehow makes the others less desirable. I am not saying I am to good for the other gear, I am not, it is just that we have dreamed for so long for such gorgeous footage it is hard look the other way now that it is here and easy to hope DSLR's will catch up. Canon did announce a 4k DSLR cinema camera, What kind of image quality could it have ???

I apparently also suffer a lack of DSLR video knowledge, getting schooled here, thanks everyone.

Last edited by Don Parrish; February 16th, 2012 at 03:37 PM.
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