Rylee's First Blog; a case study of the antiquated hopefulness in Digital Single Lens Reflex cameras and their use for video production
Hello my constituents, today I am here to discuss the pros and cons of DSLR's for film and video production. While the title may appear to be long winded and convoluted, I assure you that was my goal. However, that is not what I intend to continue doing.
With my theatrics out of the way, lets break down what may inspire you to pick up a DSLR. The most obvious use for these cameras is their ability to take photographs. Until 2008, this was essentially the only function of these cameras. While some have recorded video before, Cannon was the first camera manufacturer that embraced video in their system. The 5D mkII was a true pioneer of a camera, and many shooters still live by its strength. For the past 10 years, DSLR film making has become a respectable and common trend among internet video creators. Their versatility, ease of use, approachable form factor, and relatively inexpensive cost have pushed them to the front of the consumer industry for years. In 2016, 2017, and early 2018 we see not only an increase in options, but an increase of focus on video, in systems like the GH5S, A7S, and 5D mkIV. These are fantastic systems that regularly impress consumers with their abilities.
I am here today to warn you about these cameras.
I too, am a DSLR video shooter. While I did inherit my 5DmkIII, I would choose it again as my primary camera, unless I decided to opt for the newer 5dmkIV. In addition to the videos I make, I regularly take photographs, for work, hobby, and school. I need versatility, just as many others do, because my work covers a wide array of topics and media. While I would recommend DSLR's without any hesitation to friends who ask about photography, I am wary of those who wish to begin film making and freelance videography. While a DSLR is FAR cheaper than a cinema camera, and is not a tool for beginners, I would like to suggest some of their appeal.
As I get older, people have become far less impressed with me. As a beginner in high school, my age contrasted with my professionalism was the only strength I had as a freelance videographer, apart from possibly my dirt cheap prices of the time. However as I am now officially an adult, I must actually be able to back up my credibility. As I stated above, a DSLR is hardly an imposing camera. While in the beginning, any camera that wasn't a handicam or a silver point and shoot could give off a professional impression. While many would like to tell you, "It's what you're able to make with a camera, not the camera itself!" I am here to remind you that to a client, appearance DOES matter; even if just a little bit. A client is always looking for a way to save money, or justify their spending. In 2014 someone with a DSLR and a professional attitude could sell their product without question. Today however, everyone is relatively comfortable with DSLR cameras, and sees my professional system that I have built from the ground up to suit my shooting needs, as the same type of camera their aunt or brother in law has to shoot photos of their kids. This assumption is 100% true, they are the same form factor, but not quite the same system. This leads me, to a possibly preferable alternative; the low budget cinema camera.
I'll preface this section with a warning; these cameras are expensive, and difficult to use, and generally not recommended for beginners, or even medium level shooters. But lets say you're like me or similar, where you have used the same camera system for 4 or 5 years, and are slowly realizing your need for an upgrade. While these newer DSLRs may appeal with their claims of 4K, 4:2:2 compression, full frame cameras with high frame rates, they still suffer from the inherent flaw that these cameras were first developed for photography, and added video as a feature. This is perfectly reasonable for college students, who like me, need to shoot photos and videos equally. However if you never plan to use your still photo function, or think you may need better video performance but are satisfied with your cameras photo quality, I turn you to cameras like Canon's C200, Blackmagic's Ursa mini, and Sony's FS7. While each of these cameras boast amazing image quality and varried shooting features, they each serve a rather specific market. I wont break down the pros and cons of each of these systems (at least not today) however I will suggest them as an alternative to a high end DSLR.
These cameras solve many of the problems people in my situation face, a need for a more professional appearing camera, and a camera that is dedicated to high quality video, and nothing else. Features like RAW recording, XLR inputs, built in ND filters, and professional battery solutions (at least in the Ursa mini's case). These are the cameras I recommend to someone who understands their needs, and understands professional video shooting, who own a DSLR, or who have the money to invest in a strong camera system from the beginning. If you are a beginner and you only intend to shoot video, there are still low budget cinema options for you. Canon's C100 costs similar to MY 5D mkIII with a new body costing around $2000.
There are truly options for everyone, and there is no end all be all of cameras, only the correct solution to your individual problems. While the equipment doesn't have to be the best quality for every shoot, and there is no shame in iPhone filmmaking ( I have also participated in this craze). Telling your story should be your first concern. However if you are confident in your storytelling, and have built up the experience you feel you need, the equipment does make a difference, as long as you know what difference you need to make.
Thank you for suffering through my writing, if you made it this far I'm proud I've held your attention. While right now I don't plan on writing about cameras in every blog, I will likely write about film making and cinema in some facet every time I write. My name is Rylee McNemar, and thank you for reading my first blog post in a VERY long time.