using a dSLR camera as a video camera

Discussion in 'Amateur Video Production' started by Brian, Jan 4, 2014.

  1. Brian

    Brian Guest

    Recently I tried using a dSLR as a video camera. I'm told that many dSLR
    camera users record movies with their camera but I've found some problems
    in doing this.

    Manual zoom can be unsteady when zooming in or out. a motorised zoom is
    more smoother.
    Trying to Hold the camera steady when zoomed into the subject is a problem
    even with a stabiliser.
    Limited depth of field.
    Limited zoom range with some lens.
    No pause control (but there doesn't seem to be any lag when using the
    start/stop button).
    A bigger and heavier camera to carry around.
    Focusing on moving objects can be a problem with some cameras
    Some cameras lack things such as a headphone jack and some only have a mono
    microphone on the camera.
    Motor noise when the camera is focusing.
    If you want to take a still photo in the middle of recording then it will
    interrupt the recording.
    The camera will stop recording after 30 minutes of continuous recording.
    Less battery life when recording for long periods (often no high capacity
    battery is available for the camera)

    The advantages is a better quality picture and less noise in low light due
    to a bigger sensor.
    Changeable lens.
    Being able to take good quality still photos without needing an extra
    camera.
    In some cases more control over the camera settings.

    If the camera not used when traveling around and is setup to take a subject
    at a set focus and zoom then there's no problems. I've seen people use a
    dSLR camera to make a short movie with actors with good results.

    I'd like to hear from others that use a dSLR camera as a video camera. Have
    you found ways around some of the disadvantages I listed?
     
    Brian, Jan 4, 2014
    #1
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  2. :

    I know I'm going to "sound like a broken record" (if
    anyone here remembers what "breakable records" were...;-),
    with another mention of, not a "dSLR", but a generally
    smaller and more "video-friendly" type of camera, the
    "mirrorless" camera, some makes and models of which do
    solve most of the following objections to using still
    cameras for shooting video... First, one brand of
    mirrorless cameras appears to be in the forefront in
    terms of both answering some of the problems mentioned
    below, and also in terms of providing superior video
    image quality compared with not only all other mirrorless
    cameras, but all other dSLRs (you know, the ones with
    "flipping mirrors" in them...;-), and also, many dedicated
    video cameras, even VERY high-priced ones! Some models
    of the small and light Panasonic MFT cameras really are
    that good!
    Panasonic (and Olympus) offer motorized zooming on a few
    lenses, and Panasonic offers two cameras that have zoom
    toggles on their bodies (the G5 and G6) that make zooming
    easier.
    Panasonic offers two power-zoom lens models (the ones that
    zoom using the G5 and G6 bodies), plus several other models
    that offer stabilization within the lenses that not only
    cover rapid "jiggling" movements, but also movements of
    much lower frequency rates. I've successfully hand-held
    (for stills) the 14-42mm PZ at 1/6th second, and the 45-175mm
    at 1/10th second (these are 35mm full-frame equivalents of
    28-84mm and 90-350mm lenses, and both are tiny).
    At a given equivalent angle of view, distance and aperture,
    MFT lenses have a two-stop advantage in DOF compared with
    FF lenses on FF sensors.
    The pair of lenses above cover a good range, and the Panasonic
    14-140mm covers almost as much range with a single lens.
    Response is generally quite fast with MFT cameras.
    The MFT cameras and lenses appear downright "miniature" and
    "feather-weight" compared with equivalent FF cameras and
    lenses, and also compared with many video cameras.
    Due to the different way AF works with mirrorless cameras
    compared with dSLRs, focus is very fast, and also it can
    be accomplished *anywhere* within the frame, not just in
    the multiple specific small locations (mostly near the
    center of the frame) that dSLRs permit.
    Two of Panasonic's bodies (plus some of other brand's
    models), provide external microphone inputs, at least one
    offers a headphone jack, and all have stereo camera mics.
    Panasonic (all but one of their lenses), Olympus (some),
    and 3rd-party makers offer "silent focus" lenses for video
    use. Camera handling noise is also a problem with not only
    shooting video with still cameras, but also with (too)
    many video camcorders - but the two Panasonics I have for
    video are surprisingly good in this respect.
    I think MFT can do this, but I've never tried it...;-)
    The higher-priced (but still relatively cheap) models can
    often record well beyond 30 minutes.
    This is often true, although I think the Panasonic GH3 offers
    a battery grip, plus several can be used on AC and therefore
    should be adaptable for use with larger external batteries.
    Yes, to all of those...;-)
    This is becoming more common for independent movies, or in
    locations where "pro" video cameras won't fit easily.
    Yes - by skipping dSLRs and going to mirrorless cameras - and
    then skipping most of those in favor of the ones that shoot the
    best video, which are several of the Panasonic offerings...;-)
    --DR
     
    David Ruether, Jan 4, 2014
    #2
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  3. Brian

    GaryT Guest

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "Brian" <>
    Newsgroups: rec.video.desktop
    Sent: Friday, January 03, 2014 4:53 PM
    Subject: using a dSLR camera as a video camera

    Actually, the limited depth of field is exactly why some are using a dSLR. I
    have seen some sample clips from a Canon 5D Mark III shot at night where the
    background lights have that creamy out of focus bokeh that we love so much
    in still images. Whether it is a flaw or a feature all depends on whether a
    shallow DOF is part of the creative vision or not.
     
    GaryT, Jan 4, 2014
    #3
  4. Brian

    Brian Guest

    Yes it can be useful to have a limited DOF for distracting backgrounds when
    recording people or to make an close object more three dimensional. The
    problem happens when you want to record a group of people in a room with
    low lighting and have them in focus with the people at different distances
    to the camera. But wide angle lens can help.
     
    Brian, Jan 4, 2014
    #4
  5. Brian

    Brian Guest

    Talking of death-of-field. I took a zoomed in to take a photo of a young
    duckling between two adult ducks. I framed the photo to include the adult
    ducks, The duckling was approx 1 foot further back from the adult ducks
    which was enough to put the duckling slightly out of focus. I was using a
    zoom of 81mm at f5.6. In the future I'll be using a single auto focusing
    point.


    Regards Brian
     
    Brian, Jan 4, 2014
    #5
  6. I know there are cameras that advertise that they can take a still
    without interrupting video recording, but I can't at the moment recall
    which ones.

    I looked at at a couple of PDF manuals I have:

    1. The Nikon 2 J3 can to this (page 29 of the PDF)

    2. The Sony DSC-HX9, a fairly decent P&S, will do this (this manual is
    an HTML web page that I saved; it doesn't show page numbers)

    3. Manuals for two ILCs from Sony, NEX-5N and 6, don't say anything
    about this, but I don't have detailed manuals for them.
     
    Gene E. Bloch, Jan 4, 2014
    #6
  7. The Panasonic G6 can shoot 12-megapixel stills while shooting
    video without interrupting the video, and other Panasonic models
    may also be able to do this...
    --DR
     
    David Ruether, Jan 4, 2014
    #7
  8. Brian

    Brian Guest

    These are mirror-less cameras so its not a problem.
     
    Brian, Jan 4, 2014
    #8
  9. Brian

    Brian Guest

    It mainly applies to dSLR cameras.
    Far as I know the mirror has to flip back into position blocking the video
    recording to take a reading then flip out of the way to take the photo.

    Some dSLR cameras will stop recording video when you take a photo, others
    will record a still image of what the camera is looking at on the video
    recording for about 2 seconds while the photo is being taken then continue
    with the video recording.
     
    Brian, Jan 4, 2014
    #9
  10. Thanks for the clarification. It makes sense...

    I have a DSLR, but it's too old to make movies, Canon Eos Rebel XT.
    It's even too old to have a number after the XT :)
     
    Gene E. Bloch, Jan 4, 2014
    #10
  11. Yet another reason for liking mirrorless cameras over the
    "flappy-mirror" kind - although I must admit that I'm
    unlikely to take advantage of this particular advantage,
    unlike most of the others...;-)
    --DR
     
    David Ruether, Jan 5, 2014
    #11
  12. Brian

    Brian Guest

    Out of interest are full frame mirrorless cameras available?

    The main advantage with the mirror camera use to be what you see is what
    you get but these days with high ISO settings the recorded image could look
    different.
     
    Brian, Jan 5, 2014
    #12
  13. Brian

    Brian Guest

    That was the Canon EOS 350D (Rebel XT) which came out after the popular
    Canon EOS 300D (may have been called Rebel Kiss). I also own a Canon EOS
    300D. It was being sold about the year 2003 It was a good camera in its
    time and got very good ratings in photographic magazines but it lacked many
    things that are now standard features on todays cameras.
     
    Brian, Jan 5, 2014
    #13
  14. Actually (and I just went over this with a friend,
    who had the same impression...;-), with a dSLR,
    what you see in the VF is NOT what you get, since
    it's framing is likely at least a bit in error,
    even if "100% coverage" is claimed, and that is
    claimed fairly rarely (the viewing image is usually
    cropped some). The DOF you see in the VF is not
    what you get, since the VF magnification is likely
    different from print viewing distances, and most
    optical finders are so poor that the screen image
    is not very sharp (guess why they put in focus-
    indicator lights, which, BTW, aren't very accurate,
    either!). If you are "picky about focus, most AF
    lenses and most bodies of the "flappy-mirror" type
    require careful AF calibration *for each lens*,
    and only the top (expensive) camera bodies provide
    this function. The optical finder gives essentially
    NO indication of the color balance of the taken
    photo, no idea of the taken contrast and "dropped"
    tone values, etc. In other words, there is little
    real feedback about the taken photograph when using
    optical VFs.

    On the other side, since (with calibration of the
    VFs with the sensor output, not easy... [I'm going
    through this process now with a new camera] with
    a mirrorless camera (with high-quality and
    calibrated] electronic finders), the view is 100%
    of the sensor's output, does show color-balance
    and tonal information, and also VERY precise
    focus info (with image magnification engaged, an
    easy thing to do with some cameras). No lens
    calibration is need to accomplish this. Also,
    equally good focus can be made *ANYWHERE* in the
    frame, unlike with cameras that have optical VFs,
    and good focus can be had anywhere in the frame
    with some by simply touching the rear screen
    anywhere you want.

    I'd call mirrorless viewing a BIG improvement
    over optical-finder viewing (*IF* the electronic
    screens are high-resolution ones with good color
    and tone response - and the best are...), and with
    these you really can have a good idea if "what you
    see is what you are getting". It's still not
    perfect, but it is better than with optical finders.
    --DR
     
    David Ruether, Jan 5, 2014
    #14
  15. lan32$aes$

    [I wrote the above too early in the morning, and
    in a rush to get out to breakfast, so here is the
    rewrite, with some attempt to make corrections and
    additions...;-]

    Actually (and I just went over this with a friend,
    who had the same impression...;-), with a dSLR,
    what you see in the VF is NOT what you get,
    since it's framing is likely at least a bit in error,
    even if "100% coverage" is claimed, and even that
    is claimed fairly rarely (the viewing image is usually
    cropped some). The DOF you see in the VF is not
    what you get, since the VF magnification is likely
    different from print viewing distances, and most
    optical finders are so poor that the screen image
    is not very sharp (guess why they put in focus-
    indicator lights, which, BTW, aren't very accurate,
    either!). It also requires that you have (and use)
    the DOF preview, which isn't available on cheaper
    cameras - and with dSLRs (unlike with mirrorless
    cameras), when you do this, the VF image darkens.
    If you are "picky about focus", most AF lenses and
    most bodies of the "flappy-mirror" type require
    careful AF calibration *for each lens*, and only
    the more expensive dSLR camera bodies provide
    this function. The optical finder gives essentially
    NO indication of the color balance of the taken
    photo, and no idea of the taken contrast and
    "dropped" tone values, etc. In other words, there
    is little real feedback about the taken photograph
    when using optical VFs.

    On the other side, since (with calibration of the
    VFs with the sensor output, not easy... [I'm going
    through this process now with a new camera])
    with a mirrorless camera (with high-quality [and
    calibrated] electronic finders), the view is 100%
    of the sensor's output, does show color-balance
    and tonal information, and also VERY precise
    focus info (with image magnification engaged, an
    easy thing to do with some cameras). No lens
    calibration is need to accomplish this since the AF
    system includes the sensor image, and is not a
    separate part of an optical AF system, as it is in
    most dSLRs. Also, equally good focus can be had
    *ANYWHERE* in the frame, unlike with cameras
    that have optical VFs, and good focus can be
    had anywhere in the frame (with some) by simply
    touching the rear screen anywhere you want,
    which is also useful for shifting focus point while
    shooting video.

    I'd call (good) mirrorless viewing a BIG improvement
    over optical-finder viewing (*IF* the electronic
    screens are high-resolution ones with good color
    and tone response - and the best are..., and *IF*
    you bother to calibrate the white-balance presets
    for shooting, and also the different WB settings for
    the two electronic viewfinders (which you can do,
    at least with Panasonics), and if you do, you really
    can have a good feeling that "what you see is what
    you are getting"... It's still not perfect, but it is
    much better than what you get with optical finders.

    --DR
     
    David Ruether, Jan 5, 2014
    #15
  16. I agree. And as a result, nowadays my camera sits in its bag mourning
    its happier days...

    I had totally forgotten about the different model numbers in non-US
    markets - thanks for the reminder.
     
    Gene E. Bloch, Jan 5, 2014
    #16
  17. But the optical viewfinders don''t flicker...

    So far, however, I *can* live with the flicker.
     
    Gene E. Bloch, Jan 5, 2014
    #17
  18. Brian

    Brian Guest

    I sometimes have that problem if I post messages at late night on
    newsgroups.

    Lets compare a dSLR camera with what you have said.
    In this case I'm comparing the Canon EOS 70D which is a recent camera on
    the market.
    I have added comments between your text below.
    The Canon 70D camera offer 95% of what the camera sees. Which is usually
    not a problem. Some only offer 95%

    The DOF you see in the VF is not.
    Most dSLR cameras come with focus points which are very accurate.
    A experienced photographer generally knows what will be in focus and on the
    Canon D70 there are 15 focus points that show the photographer what objects
    will be in focus. In most cases you can take a photo and check it on the
    LCD screen to find out if any adjustment is needed.

    most AF lenses and
    The Canon D70 is not as expensive as the more professional Canon cameras
    and it does have lens calibration.
    I have not had the need to use this but its good to have this feature if
    needed.

    The optical finder gives essentially
    Its easy to take the shot and play it back on the LCD screen then make
    adjustments.
    There is also an option that lets you see what the picture will look like
    when using some of the special features on the Canon D70 such as a grainy
    black and white photo before you take the shot.
    If using manual focus you can magnify the image on the screen before you
    take the shop to get accurate focus. You can also magnify the image after
    the photo is taken to check the result. This is also useful to check the
    amount of noise in the photo when using high ISO settings.
    No lens
    When using live view the camera uses the CMOS sensor to focus just like it
    does in movie mode.

    Also, equally good focus can be had
    You can also do this on the Canon dSLR 70D camera.
    The Canon D70 has White Balance shift settings if there are White Balance
    problems. Also a RAW photo can be taken and white balance adjustments can
    be set after the RAW photo has been taken.
    The camera can be setup to take several shots at different exposures and
    different white balance settings when the shutter is pressed. This is a
    bracket feature.

    and if you do, you really
    What does make a big difference is the size of the sensor. On my
    mirror-less camera, the Sony HX200, due to the smaller sensor size it was
    suffering from noise when the camera increased the ISO setting due to low
    lighting conditions. For example I was taking photos inside a museum of
    small objects on display behind glass it caused the camera to increase the
    ISO to at least 3200. When viewing the photo at 100% the noise in the
    picture caused a degraded photo.

    However yesterday I took the same photos in the same museum with my Canon
    EOS 70D camera and there was a big reduction in noise due to a larger
    sensor in the camera (its not a full frame sensor). In some cases the
    camera increased the IOS to around 3200 (6400 in a few cases) but the
    photos were a lot cleaner than my Sony HX200 camera. I had the Canon EOS
    D70 setup to take photos no slower than 1/30 second with the lens
    stabiliser turned on and a ISO limit of 100 to 6400. In most cases I could
    read the text next to objects in the museum. This was useful as I could
    photograph a complete display of objects behind the glass and at home on
    the computer I could zoom in on the objects to study them more and read the
    text next to the objects.

    I prefer viewfinders compared to using the LCD screen when taking photos on
    a bright day as it can be difficult to see the LCD screen on a bright sunny
    day. Also the viewfinder cuts out distractions and allows me to concentrate
    on the subject. I'm also getting a optical view in the viewfinder and not a
    digital view. The Canon 70D has a high resolution view finder. If there was
    a problem in not clearly seeing a object using the view finder then it
    would be because I had not set up the focusing of the view finder for my
    eyesight.

    One useful feature on the Canon D70 is for low lighting conditions when
    hand holding the camera. It will take 4 shots in rapid session at a speed
    suitable to avoid camera shake. It then lines up the recorded photos and
    merges them together to produce a brighter picture with no camera shake.
    The only disadvantage is more wear on the mirror mechanism.
    This is useful for lens that don't have a stabiliser.
    See my reply between your text above
     
    Brian, Jan 6, 2014
    #18
  19. [...]
    It looks like you are pleased with your camera, and that
    is good! I used SLRs for many years for work and fun, and
    I switched to the smaller/lighter/but-still-very-able
    Panasonic gear I now use, and I'm happier using that (and
    I've been selling off my big/heavy/more-expensive/less-able
    gear while I still can...!;-). I prefer what I'm using now,
    and that is good!;-) "Diff'rent strokes for diff'rent folks",
    although there are other reasons for liking what I have,
    like being able to use an electronic shutter for silent and
    shake-free shooting (even at VERY slow shutter speeds), the
    ability to shoot with ridiculously long teles hand-held that
    are also relatively very small and light (and very affordable),
    to be able to shoot photos easily with universal DOF, to be
    able to shoot the about the sharpest video possible within
    the HD format (and to do it on a budget and easily and with
    all functions working for video that are available for stills),
    and also to be able to use all the other features that both
    you and I mentioned earlier (they are all on the little
    Panasonics...;-). So, during the last year, I've had a LOT
    of fun shooting 30,000+ photos with my new small gear! 8^)
    Have fun with yours, too!;-)
    --DR
     
    David Ruether, Jan 6, 2014
    #19
  20. Brian

    Brian Guest

    Flip mirror cameras have been around for a long time and I suspect they
    will eventually disappear from the market with more advanced electronic
    cameras appearing. I seem to be going in the opposite direction in going
    from mirrorless cameras to mirrored cameras. But like you say as long as we
    are happy with our cameras thats the important thing.

    Maybe in the future we will have a camera mounted in a hat that sits on top
    of the head and can record in 360 degrees using several lens. Then when we
    play back the results we can switch to several different angles of view or
    wear special glasses and by turning our head we get a different view. Kind
    of like virtual reality.
     
    Brian, Jan 6, 2014
    #20
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