I've seen a few people asking here and there about whether they should buy this camera or that camera. Some of them are also considering buying a camera because it has the extra feature of capturing videos.
Therefore I am writing this thread to explain the reasons why you should consider avoiding getting a camera for it's video function or plan your budget carefully to spend a whole load on several accessories you need if you plan to make videos with a DSLR.
I know a few issues back DP/DCE had an article that discussed whether having a video feature in a DSLR was useful or not, but I don't recall that it went too much detail into whether it was worth it or what type of user would better benefit from having this feature. That article focused more on telling about the experiences of professionals who use the video feature as part of their work.
1) Benefits of an HDSLR over camcorders or other video recording equipment that costs under $10,000 (or GBP, EURO or even CHF)
i> Large sensor (Full Frame or APS-H/C) compared to those that come in other video recording equipment under $10,000. With a larger sensor you get the benefits of shallower DOF, better image quality, etc all the benefits of photography in video.
ii> Ability to use stills photography lenses you already own (natively or with an adapter), though there are some sub-$10,000 video recorders by Canon or Sony that allows interchangeable lenses and support photo lenses (but still their sensors are smaller than APS-C).
iii> ability to make manual settings (ISO, Shutter, Aperture, etc) that doesn't always come with every video recording equipment (especially in cheaper camcorders or pocket video recorders)
2) Disadvantages of HDSLR over other video recording equipment (once again of those under $10,000 in price)
i> Everything is manual focus, even if a camera allows autofocus as some newer models do that autofocus is outclassed by autofocus of dedicated video equipment. But then Hollywood doesn't really use autofocus, they have spent a lot of time and money and personnel on equipment that gets the shot they need with manual focus.
ii> recording formats + filesizes, unlike camcorders that record to a simple format which is designed to be played back on any computer or TV easily by the common user, the recording formats of HDSLRs need editing and re-encoding to be shared easily. They also use up a lot of memory space, 12 minutes of recording at 1080p can take up as much as 4gbs of memory (the maximum allowed by Fat32 file format on a single file). And playing back that 1080p 4gb/12min video on a slow computer can be very taxing.
iii) built in microphones are very tiny and very rudimentary, even cheap camcorders capture better sound. Built in mics even capture the sound of internal camera mechanics or button presses. External mics reduce picking up those extra noises.
iv) HDSLRs are meant to be photography first, videography second. So unlike dedicated video recording devices they are less robust. You need to be careful using them, their sensors can overheat more than a video camera reducing lifespan.
So understanding the above, if you still plan to buy a camera for the video feature, expect to invest in the following accessories.
1) A LCD screen loupe like the Z-Finder by Zacuto or Hoodman loupe or others that are out there: can cost you around $100 for the cheapest to $400 for the Zacuto
2) An external microphone or sound recording device such as the Rode Video Mic, Rode Stereo Mic, Rode Video Mic Pro, Zoom H1 recorder, Zoom H4n recorder, Tascam DR-100, Sony PCM-D50, Seneheiser Lav mics, shotgun mics, etc: will cost you around $100-$700 or a lot more
3) Maybe a Follow Focus, such as ones made by Redrock Micro or Zacuto or other companies: can cost you from $700-a few thousand
These are just the basic items you will most likely need. Already you are looking at an investment that can probably get you a brand new high-end lens or camera like a 5DmkII/D700 or two. Of course there are a lot of other accessories you can get and end up spending the cost of a few Nikon D3x's. All up to you.
Then you need to learn how to use software such as Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe After Effects, Sony Vegas Studio, etc. Sure you can do basic editing with iMovie or Windows Movie Maker but those are nothing compared to the other tools.
So at this stage you are probably having second thoughts and strongly considering buying a $200-400 (or a slightly more expensive model) Full HD camcorder by Sony, Panosonic, JVC, etc instead for your home videos. Believe me, HDSLRs are not suitable for making general home/family videos, they are more trouble than they're worth.
Now if you still want to buy a HDSLR for videography:
1> consider hiring at least 1 assistant
2> steady sturdy tripod, fluid head and/or steadicam rig
3> monitor headsets like the Sony MDR 7506
4> Variable ND filter(s)
5> Fotodiox or Novoflex Nikon F to Canon EOS adapter (if you buy a Canon HDSLR), other adapters as applicable
6> look for good quality Nikon used lenses which have the aperture ring (AF-D or older series)
7> a few spare batteries (at least 4), and loads of spare memory cards
8> LED Litepanels or other LED continuous lighting
9> Field monitors
10> many other accessories out there
Some resources to look at:http://5dfilmmaking.com/index.htm
(especially this video http://5dfilmmaking.com/tut_shutter.htm
but this is not a rule or a law, it is only a guideline)http://philipbloom.net/2011/03/17/whichdslr/http://magiclantern.wikia.com/wiki/Magi ... mware_Wikihttp://chdk.wikia.com/wiki/CHDKhttp://www.learndslrvideostore.com/?ref ... 88a7f7a2e5http://vimeo.com/videoschool
Canon/Nikon probably started putting video features in their DSLRs to sell more products but it has become a feature that many professionals use for commercial purposes. I do not disagree with having this feature in a DSLR, I only think that it is not a feature that everyone can use, especially without further investment of time & money and going through a learning curve. Even more so with the current implementation of the feature, however things may change in a decade or more and make this feature easier for anyone to use.
*I may have forgotten to mention a few things so I will update/edit later when I recall what was missed.
*I write this thread as someone who went and bought a 5DmkII to make videos before considering all of the above and ended up investing somewhat in several follow-up accessories. And still pretty much I haven't used the video feature often, my 5DmkII stays home more often than not. I want to help my experience assist others in making a wise decision.
*I mentioned example prices of some items, I have always believed in the fact that the cost of something is not always an indicator of value or quality.
* If you do decide to get a HDSLR for videography and plan to accessorize, first look on the web for cheap alternatives, DIY solutions and ways to adapt your existing photography gear for making videos. This may save you from having to sell an arm or leg or some other organ.