HDSLRs for Video: Beyond the Hype

Creative Cow by Marco Solorio

HDSLRs for Video

HDSLR,” “VDSLR” or whatever else you call them - the interest in “still” cameras that can also shoot HD video is growing fast...and so is their potential. I liken it to the DV revolution that began with the Sony DCR-VX1000, and again with affordable 24p production using the Panasonic AG-DVX100. Both were truly groundbreaking cameras that, at the time, were unparalleled in quality for the price. We are seeing the same revolution begin with HD video coming from these HDSLRs.

Amidst all of the interest in these cameras for HD shooting, it shouldn't be forgotten that these are DSLR cameras first, with still photography capabilities that are nothing short of amazing. The full-frame sensor and its 14-bit, 21 megapixel resolution is a recipe for breathtaking results in skilled hands. Having both tools in one unit is still mind boggling to me, even after over a year of using it.

The fact is that these HDSLR cameras should NOT be shooting beautiful video at all. Their compression rates are high, their chrominance sub-sampling is high, their re-sizing from full-frame to 1080 isn’t smooth, they’re 8-bit at the compression level, and choosing a bad quality lens just compounds all of that. Yet the HD video can still look breathtaking!

I have owned a Canon 5D Mk II for over a year now, and love it. It shoots 1080p, and boasts the only full-frame, 35mm sensor on the market — larger than the RED ONE’s sensor or super-35mm motion picture film, and about the same size as VistaVision. These full-frame sensors are HUGE, and suck up so much light that even a room lit with a single candle can produce beautiful results. I’ve shot 1080p video in such extreme low-light conditions that any other HD camera, including a Sony F900 or a RED ONE, would have quickly degraded to noise and artifacts. read more...

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