The DSLR Video Revolution: Why You Should Care
There’s a revolution underway in the world of video production, and it’s changing what companies expect from their video vendors. The reason is the new DSLR (digital single lens reflex) cameras that, besides shooting stills, also shoot video. The image quality delivered by a DSLR is significantly higher than what most video production companies have been able to deliver up to now. Take a look at this video, which was shot in the Fells Reservation in Medford, Massachusetts. Notice the cinematic, out-of-focus backgrounds in many of the shots, and the extraordinary image quality. (Here's a link to another DSLR interview video.)
Why does it look so good?
DSLRs provide superior image quality for two reasons. First, they work with interchangeable lenses. Regular video cameras don’t, and instead have a “one size fits all” lens, so that all shots tend to have both foreground and background in focus. There are exceptions, and good shooters can sometimes achieve out-of-focus backgrounds or foregrounds, but generally, video to date has been characterized by everything in the shot being in focus.
Using different lenses allows a DSLR shooter to decide how much focus will be in the shot. He can choose a very shallow depth-of-field, which will leave only the subject in focus, or a longer depth-of-field, which will bring more of the shot into focus. And, he can use different lenses to achieve different shots on the same shoot, which will provide a variety of looks for your video, instead of the same look for all your shots.
The second reason for a DSLR’s great image quality is the size of its image sensor, which is just bigger than the sensor found in most video cameras. And in this case, size does matter: a bigger sensor means better image quality. And, if this is relevant to you, it also means better image quality in lower light.
These two factors together make DSLR video look so film-like, so cinematic, that some DSLR shooters (especially wedding videographers) are changing the names of their companies from XYZ Video to XYZ Films.
What are the limitations?
DSLRs do have limitations, and are not appropriate for every video shoot. That great big image sensor has issues with motion, so quickly moving the camera (panning) can cause problems (a wiggly distortion). And shooting against a green screen is also tough.
Also, a DSLR’s body wasn’t designed for video shoots, and as a result it can be tricky to shoot well with. Experience is a definite requirement.
What’s the bottom line?
For many video projects, shooting with a DSLR will give you a fantastic, high-end look that will engage and enchant your viewers to a much higher degree than video shot with a traditional video camera.
A DSLR video will also work to elevate your brand, as its great image quality will make a very positive statement about your company.
So when you’re talking to production companies about your video project, be sure to ask if DSLR is appropriate for your shoot, and whether they have the ability and expertise to shoot with DSLRs.