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Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...

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Old April 9th, 2012, 12:48 PM   #1
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DSLR vs. Video Camera

While I'm still a big supporter of the video camera over the DSLR video movement, I can't help but notice that DSLRs seem to be the "norm" (searching multiple forums, it seems as though no one is buying the traditional video cameras anymore...not unless it's hugely discounted any way). This seems especially big with wedding videos.

Take, for example, Still Motion. Now I know we can't all be like them, but I notice that they primarily use DSLRs in weddings even though they have a RED Epic, Sony F3, etc. Is there a reason as to why DSLRs are so popular for these videos, despite their shortcomings as a video camera?
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Old April 9th, 2012, 01:28 PM   #2
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Re: DSLR vs. Video Camera

The biggest reason for me is the Lenses. The biggest shortcoming of the average Video Camera - one lens. If I had to go back to a video camera world I would be so bored, stuck with that one lens.

And look at the results ...well done DSLR shoots are visually more on par with good photography.
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Old April 9th, 2012, 01:34 PM   #3
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Re: DSLR vs. Video Camera

So something like an AF100 wouldn't provide enough of a boost for its price? I've seen some go as low as $3000 used lately...
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Old April 9th, 2012, 01:51 PM   #4
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Re: DSLR vs. Video Camera

I'm personally a dSLR shooter and would hardly see myself switching to camcorders anytime soon.

I mainly love the unobtrusive size and weight of a dSLR and the variety of lenses I can use with them, which gives me great quality for its price.
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Old April 9th, 2012, 02:09 PM   #5
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Re: DSLR vs. Video Camera

Same with long, its the form factor. One of our companies selling points is the unobtrusiveness. On consults we ask the couple if they would rather have a big video camera with a bright light on their faces, or another photographer following them around, without any lights. People are more comfortable around the dslr's so you get more authentic emotions from people.

Now if the new 4k dslr comes with professional video features, that might be something worth looking into. You need to be fast with weddings, and small light and mobil is the way to go.
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Old April 9th, 2012, 04:01 PM   #6
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Re: DSLR vs. Video Camera

Yes, the AF100 is a competitor in many ways..

Because of the 2x cropped sensor, you're challenged to go to a very wide lens.
You won't get the insane narrow depth of field as with a DSLR (but that might be a good thing).

But besides that, it's a win win for those of us looking to stay with video cameras. People like Oleg Kalyan on Vimeo are proof...

I'm looking to get one for next year.

But as far as mentioning people like Still Motion etc.....Video cameras with large sensors weren't available at the time, and the DSLR was fantastic with narrow DOF, and low light.
But there's a whole new crop of video cameras with the Super 35mm sensors that emulate film cameras, which is good enough for me...
Great under low light, and DOF can be narrow with a decent lens..

The AF100 is the only camera that i can think of (for the price range) that can get you these advantages.
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Old April 9th, 2012, 09:45 PM   #7
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Re: DSLR vs. Video Camera

An experienced and talented cameraman can make imagery from a DSLR and video camera look the same. For continuous handheld use I would put ergonomics as one of the top criteria for camera selection.
Get the Free Comprehensive Guide to Rigging ANY Camera - one guide to rig them all - DSLRs to the Arri Alexa.
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Old April 9th, 2012, 11:28 PM   #8
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Re: DSLR vs. Video Camera

The AF100/FS100 don't offer the same amount of flexibility as the DSLR's, despite the fact they are specifically designed for video.

With DSLR's at weddings, my main lens is a 70-200 f/2.8. It's a moderatley sized piece of glass and needs to be supported to avoid putting strain on the lens mount. With an AF100 oor FS100 and this lens (ok, for compatability's sake we'll say it's a Nikon 80-200, which will work with any of these cameras) you need to use rails and a lens support, because both the lens and the body are too heavy to be left dangling on the lens mount unaided. So that means that if you want to switch lenses, it's going to take a few minutes to dissasemble everything. With a DSLR, you just attach the lens collar to the tripod and leave the diminuitive body attached to the lens with no other support. Wanna change lenses? Just push a button and twist, and you're ready to attach the new lens within seconds. With matching plates on all support gear (slider, tripod, monopod, stabiliser, shoulder mount, etc) it never takes me more than 15 seconds to change my setup with a DSLR, assuming I have prepared everything properly.

Another factor is the cost. Sure, the AF100/FS100 cost the same as what most videographers are used to paying for camcorders such as the HMC150 or NX5, but with interchangeable lenses it helps to have 2-3 bodies so you are able to switch setups and be ready quicker. So (lenses aside) $3-5000 for 3xDSLR 's is a lot more realistic for most wedding shooters than $15000 for 3 FS100's.

The AF100/FS100/C300/F3 all have their place, but for weddings, which require fast setup and flexibility, the DSLR's still offer the most attractive features.
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Old April 10th, 2012, 02:11 AM   #9
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Re: DSLR vs. Video Camera

I will join others and go with the reason is bang for the buck.

But I will also go with bang for the buck and the recipient couldn't discern DSLR quality from that of a RED.

I do think we are hitting a stage where capture is exceeding the ability to deliver at the same quality output. I also think most people can't see the difference between a well shot $1000 DSLR footage and footage from the AF100 or maybe even a RED. How much better is a RED over a $1000 DSLR when the TV the footage is watched on isn't even calibrated for colors?

I think for some, it may also come down to a comfort level, what the shooter feels most comfortable and confidant shooting. That comfort and confidence may just result in as sweet of footage, as the options any camera may give.
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Old April 10th, 2012, 06:14 AM   #10
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Re: DSLR vs. Video Camera

It's a very tough call for some people, including me. I just ordered a second videocamera, but I'm confused nevertheless, as I'm editing a wedding shot with a combination of DSLR and video. The DSLR footage is so bright and detailed, but the videocamera has a zoom that I cannot live without. I'm truly torn between the two.

I want to get back to focusing on the story, not the tools, and the DSLR cameras are so time consuming and fidgety! It just take time and experience.
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Old April 10th, 2012, 07:21 AM   #11
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Re: DSLR vs. Video Camera

Maybe the USA is different, but over here brides have honking great 60"+++ flat screen TV's BUT connected to it is a standard $29.00 discount store DVD player!!

With the new AC-130's the resolution is absolutely awesome so I have stayed away from DSLR's but nevertheless I STILL am forced to render everything to SD...even if one bride in a hundred has the facility to play HD, she still wants a DVD copy for Mum and even Grandad and you can be quite assured that Grandad isn't going to own any HD gear either!!

I know it's great to see hi res footage but most brides (from a survey I did on our local forum) said that they really couldn't see what all the fuss was about..one said "It all looks the same to me, but hubby says it's better" As long as you are in focus and sharp (SD sharp anyway) the brides will love you...I think Don Bloom is proof of that as he still shoots in SD!!!

DSLR's are way to fiddly for me but others love them..I guess that's why some people drive Fords and other drive GM's ...it's really a matter of what suits your style and what you feel comfortable with.

It's actually nice to see that the threads here have become more civil lately without the "in-fighting" between DSLR users and video users!! We all have a job to do and choose the tools that we need.

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Old April 10th, 2012, 10:12 AM   #12
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Re: DSLR vs. Video Camera

DSLR is nice, it has its looks, but on the other hand I prefer using a video camera, I own both actually, but I don't use DSLR for wedding or event,

Brides are blown away when they see video highlights that has the cinematic look aka shallow depth of field, but after getting the final DVD results in desperation and complaint that why some of the shots were out of focus, audio out of sync, and most of all why is their video short.

A bride came to me asking me if I could fix the blurry background that was taken during their first dance by another filmmaker , all the backgrounds were too shallow that she couldn't recognize the people or her guest behind it, she's comparing her video after watching her friends video which I happen to shoot using the Z7u.

A while back I tried filming weddings using the 5D MK 2, but after 3 attempts, I gave up and went back with my old HD camcorder. besides using a DSLR for wedding requires at list 2 or 3 personnel for great results which cost more, way more!

Since I shoot solo on most of my weddings, my production work around is so efficient, that I could deliver 90 minutes DVD video to my brides within a week, and to me it all comes to like what other says... "Comfortability Level".

Last edited by Rickey Brillantes; April 11th, 2012 at 05:19 AM.
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Old April 10th, 2012, 02:33 PM   #13
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Re: DSLR vs. Video Camera

@Rickey - good thing I wasn't drinking anything, woulda had to clean off the screen! Funny how if you shoot for one "look", they'll want another!

I've just added a couple SLTA65's to the mix, primarily for stills, but the video tests so far looked quite nice, give me some reasonable manual control, and I hope will "double" as video cameras as needed. Still want to shoot more tests, see how the footage combines with my other "video acquisition devices", but I think the Sony "looks" are pretty close between their various cameras and should work out fine.

I like the "SLR look" for SOME things, but don't see it as a "one size fits all" solution, in the end, it's a good excuse to have another camera! There are some things where a video camera, even just a fixed one on a tripod will give you the "backup" for when you miss the shot for focal or other reasons!
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Old April 11th, 2012, 01:32 AM   #14
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Re: DSLR vs. Video Camera

Here's notes from a low-end wedding videographer - sub $1000 work.

1. Autofocus
+ Video camcorder, esp. Canon's line with Instant AF.
Won't matter even if you can't see the bride - Instant AF, using IR light, will snap that baby into focus fast! Most have face detection and subject tracking, too. Not only that, won't matter at all if you can't SEE the screen. Just point it at someone and it will almost always achieve focus (at least the Canon's with Instant AF do for me).
- DSLR. Pray if you don't have an external monitor. Achieving focus in low-light with a moving bride will be hell. (and out of focus brides = hell)

1b. Autoexposure.
+ camcorder. Along with face detection, nothing like having good autoexposure when the camcorder has locked onto a face. Doesn't matter all the white the bride wears, she'll still look good because the camcorder sees her face.
- DSLR. Pray you've got even lighting or you'll be adjusting f/stops, ISO, etc. all the time. And when ISO's jump, this is more clearly seen vs. a camcorder.

2. Battery
+ Video camcorder. Just attach an extended battery pack, OEM, and you can simply press the record button and go for 4+ hours non-stop. Almost always, it's attached to the rear, and you can swap in under 5 seconds. Critical for times when things can't stop midway. With care and planning, you can get the entire ~3 hour wedding with one battery, then the ~3 hour reception with another. 2 packs and you're done.
- DSLR. You're gonna have to carry tons of battery packs and/or external pack.

3. Zoom range.
+ Video camcorder. No issues here with most of them. Even if you're forced to stand in the very back of a LARGE cathedral, you can get nice closeups of the couple up front.
- DSLR. Pray you bought a long zoom with you. It's a toss up - either a short zoom/prime with wide, max f/stop, or a long-zoom with so-so f/stop, or a really expensive, heavy tele with wide f/stop.

4. Max/widest f/stop = better light gathering in low-light situations.
+ Video camcorder. Most of the them give you f/1.x right from the box.
- DSLR. Unless you're buying prime lenses or really expensive short zooms, don't even expect to see f/1.x.

5. Sensor sensitivity & noise
- Video camcorder. It's bitsy 1/2" or smaller sensor. More noise in low-light situations.
+ DSLR - Huge, in comparison, APS to 35mm sensor. Better in low-light situations.

6. 4+ hour non-stop recording.
+ Video camcorder. It's designed for this, and if you've got the battery pack and memory card space, feel free to keep recording forever.
- DSLR - Sensor overheating issues. Maximum recording time limits. etc. etc. Just wait until you're in the middle of a Catholic mass wedding and you'll regret it when your DSLR stops.

7. Compactness.
Same. Consumer level HD camcorders, even prosumer models, have dropped to the ~1lbs weight and size of DSLRs.

8. Optical stabliziation.
+ Video camcorder. Cannot say how many times that camcorders rule when it comes to moving about with a stedicam nowadays. The stabilization in modern consumer level camcorders have improved significantly and now have 4000+ corrections per second around all 6 axis. When walking carefully, the latest really do replace mini-stabilizers!
- DSLR. Pray you've got the money left for a stabilizer kit/gear/vest because you will need it! Walk and you'll see motion like crazy.

9. Sensor damage.
+ Video camcorder. Sorry, sealed. No way to damage it in normal use.
- DSLR. Everytime you take off a lens is asking for it.

10. Out of box, good to go-ness.
+ Video camcorder. Snap in battery and memory card, and run! Most are designed to be run & gun.
- DSLR. Read manual. Yes, Don't forget to read manual because it will bite you when you can't figure out something very important, esp. since nothing's been standardized on DSLR operation between makes and models yet. (lol. just finding the RECORD button can be tricky! Not like camcorders where it's always under your thumb.)

11. Hand holding
+ Video camcorder. Designed for this. You can get away with holding it up for extended periods of time.
- DSLR. Was only designed to be held up to focus and shoot, or tripod use. Body grip and design wasn't targeted for extended periods of holding, which is why almost everyone buys frames etc. for them.

12. Shotgun mic, wireless.
Toss up, but latest camcorders have options like Sony's Bluetooth wireless mic kit, shotgun mics, etc. from the OEM. DSLRs don't have them by default from the OEM, so you'll have to buy from 3rd party vendors and test to make sure everything works.

That said, default mic is way way better on video camcorders vs. DSLRs for stereo, 5.1, high pressure/volume and zoom recordings.

13. Depth of Field
DSLR wins with a prime lens. Good luck however focusing while the bride is in motion at f/1.8!

And for the most part, she wants to see EVERYONE because she couldn't as the bride. No point blurring out aunt-this, uncle-that, etc. for her. The photographer's job is to have blurred backgrounds with shallow DOF. Brides will be looking over their flower selection (while you're working on the person standing far in front of them), their dresses, their shoes, table settings ... pretty much everything you'd never think of, they'll want to see. It's pretty much a given they'll be asking questions and be asked questions about this or that forever, and they'll want to know it's visible and clear in their video.

Yes. There's the high end, movie like, high budget wedding, but unless you've got $$$$ in equipment, men, lighting, mics, etc., it won't feel like a MOVIE until you've got everything in there like one. (Yes, you'll be thinking, I should ADR all of the lines... lol....)

So for my target market, they don't care about DOF and would rather have infinite DOF.

14. Zoom smoothness.
Nothing like a good camcorder rocker. You can practice zooming slowly on a DSLR lens, but it had better be one with a nice zoom ring and pray it doesn't shake while you're at it. Camcorders even have wireless and wired remote controllers do operate this.

15. Backup video light.
Most good camcorders have one built-in. No need to worry about yet-another-thing-to-carry.

16. Rotating LCD display.
Most camcorders have them, most DSLRs don't. Can be tough shooting what you can't easily see on screen for framing, etc.

17. Standard 1080 60i default.
Camcorder wins here for out-of-box simplicity. DSLRs, pray they're set to this from the start.

Yes, there's 24, 30p, 60p, etc. at 720, 1080, 2k+, etc., but really now? What will most brides have? A DVD or Bluray player hooked up to a 1080 60i HDTV. It's not a 24p, 30p, etc. monitor, so why cause her grief with pullups/downs/resolution converstions, etc.?

1080 60i is pretty much the 'best' you can do for now, and the 'default' that'll look the best on most HDTV sets for what the bride has. Will drive you nuts to explain why she's stuttering or blurred at 24p/etc.

One can say 60p is better for motion, but as we've all seen for football, soccer, baseball, basketball, etc. games on broadcast 1080 60i, it's good enough for the majority. Plus, she's not likely to have a 60p HDTV.

18. Easy One button/one option, on-scene, burn to AVCHD compatible disc.
+Camcorder. If the couple has a recent Bluray player, it's a piece of cake to toss them the raw footage right there if that's what they want, or even for yourself for safety, with an external recorder that some camcorders have as an option. And it really is just one selection to burn it all (eg. Plug Sony into Sony burner, select burn recordings, and it will burn each and every one to disc).
- DSLR. Sorry. Gotta have the external media tank or laptop with you. And pray YOU don't forget which files to burn because it won't automate all this for you.

19. 100% compatibility with modern editing software.
+Camcorder. Sorry, MPEG-2 and AVCHD wins.
+DSLR. Raw, red, etc. etc. etc.
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Old April 11th, 2012, 01:03 PM   #15
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Re: DSLR vs. Video Camera

Wow, thanks everyone! There was definitely a lot of things I didn't consider in this area of videography...
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