Choosing the Right Camera for Video Shooting

There are a wide variety of digital cameras available than can shoot video.  In this section, we’ll primarily explore the options available when shooting DSLR video.  However the core technology discussed is also relevant to most video cameras being produced today.  Which type of camera will work best for you? It depends to a great extent on the type of work you do.

Choosing the Right Camera for Video Shooting

Digital still cameras have recently gained a new feature: the ability to shoot high definition video. Still photographers are finding that clients are increasingly interested in having video to supplement stills since the Internet supports still and video media almost seamlessly. Having one tool that can shoot both is becoming a compelling feature. Dedicated filmmakers are interested in video capable DSLR cameras because they feature relatively large sensors compared to standard video cameras. This lends a large format look (with shallow depth of field), and their interchangeable lenses provide a wide range of focal lengths. These cameras also have the benefit of better lowlight performance and more options for lenses when shooting.

The goal when shooting video is very similar to digital photography: capture and achieve the best translation of the scene (from your vision) to a high-quality image. With video capture, there are several challenges to achieving a visually compelling and technically superior image.  In the professional photography realm, this requires understanding all the choices and making appropriate decisions to the best match of image quality to workflow needs.

As you start to look at the video features of a DSLR camera, it is very easy to succumb to marketing speak confusion created by camera manufacturers. You may feel pressure to purchase the latest and greatest when it comes to video DSLRs. But the camera won’t be of much use if it doesn’t feel right in your hands or the sensor crop factor frames your subject in a way that’s objectionable to you. You can’t do much with the footage if the camera doesn’t shoot the frame rate or resolution that your project requires. Which video-enabled DSLR you choose is largely a matter of personal preference, but there are several factors to consider.

Cost

Ergonomics

Sensor resolution and size

Crop factor

Available frame rates and frame sizes

On-camera LCDCost

Cost is always a consideration and it certainly factors into camera choice. The video quality captured on most entry-level DSLR cameras closely matches the top of the line cameras.  Where these cameras truly differ tends to be in still image performance. There are of course subtle differences, with the more expensive camera models often providing a grater level of manual controls over camera settings.

It is highly recommended that you balance your needs for video acquisition with still image quality.  Many photographers have found that they can add a lower cost DSLR video camera while continuing to shoot on their existing camera for still work.  Additionally, many photographers will add lower cost camera models for additional angles of coverage when shooting video.  Extra, affordable, camera bodies let them leverage their investment in lenses.

Ergonomics

When shooting video, you are no longer freezing motion (but capturing it continuously).  As such, vibrations or unwanted movement can dramatically impact the usability of your footage.  How the camera handles and its physical feeling is an important part of choosing a video-enabled DSLR.

If the camera doesn’t feel right, you’ll probably be thinking about how hard the camera is to operate rather than focusing on the important tasks like capturing great video. As when evaluating a camera body for use as a still camera, you want the camera to meet specific criteria.

Sensor resolution and size

When comparing cameras for shooting stills, it seems like the megapixel wars will never end. The use of megapixels is often used as an easy to understand “measuring stick” for image quality. While an 8-megapixel camera was considered high end just a few year’s ago, you can find that resolution in a smartphone.When it comes to sensor resolution and video, don’t let the megapixel count influence your choice of camera body. For most, the DSLR camera will be used to shoot both stills and video.  You will want to choose a camera body that meets the megapixel requirements of your still images and don’t worry about sensor resolution for video. Why you ask?When shooting video on a DSLR camera, you’ll be using only a fraction of the available pixels on the sensor. Take for example the 21.1-megapixel Canon 5D MKII, which has a max resolution of 5616 x 3744 when taking still photos. When shooting video at 1920 x 1080, your effective megapixel count is only 2.1 megapixels!The area to be more concerned with is the size of the sensor.  If a manufacturer tries to push the megapixel count to high on a camera sensor it can cause problems.  As you increase the number of pixels on a sensor….

Source: Choosing the Right Camera for Video Shooting

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