I use both SLRs and video cameras. Got into HD as soon as an affordable, useful HDV camera came out and got an SLR as soon as Canon made one and I could get my hands on it. SLRs are astonishingly good at a lot of things, and quite poor at others: they are very good digital "movie" cameras, and fairly crappy camcorders- but if you want to put in the work and your subject matter and shooting styles are appropriate, they will probably astonish you. I've recommended the T2i and T3i to a number of filmmaking friends and they have no complaints.
I'm going out tomorrow to shoot a band playing the 50th anniversary of a wilderness research station and doing some kind of doc about it. I'm taking an HDV camcorder and two video SLRs and my partner is bringing a Panasonic TM 900 (or something) and a DV camcorder. It's all about having the right tool for the job...
I strongly suggest you take a look at cinema5d.com . I think it may be all around the most useful of the video SLR sites- but there are tons of resources out there. (7D pro is also good.) Have fun!
I just popped over to cinema5d: coincidentally, they have a video comparison between the 5DMrkII and the T2i on the News page, by Dave from learningdslrvideo.com .
He doesn't think the 5D's advantages justify its price over the T2i, and I partially agree with him: you do need a certain level of work/expertise to get the best out of a 5D, the price difference is signifcant and the quality difference is usually minor. That said, I usually recommend the T2i/T3i to new DSL videographers- unless they are already pros (or close to it) either in stills or video.
The reason: if you are so serious that you quickly outgrow a T2i, then it's a "who cares?" situation, because you are serious enough that it can live in the bag as a second body, or you'll sell it and upgrade and consider the cost a small price to pay for the experience.
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I second Pauncho1
But working with DSLRs could be very tricky, mostly if you are used to a pro-camcorder...
Of course, stabilization is one of the main issues.
If you intend to use it handheld, you should invest at least in a IS lens (image stabilization) .
For the T2i or 7D (Crop sensors) , i strongly suggest the Canon 17-55 2.8 IS. It may look a bit expensive, but will cover most of your needed focal lengths, is fast and stabilized. For the 5D, go for the 24-105 4L IS (BFTB)
If you want to record sound through the DSLR, you NEED a external mic, like a Rode VideoMic. If you record from an external device (like Zoom or Tascam) the Sync is dead easy with CS5.5.
For more specific needs, lenses, rigs or DIY advices, the websites Pauncho1 recommended are very good, i would add PhilipBloom and CheesyCam.
Overall, working with Canon DSLR files in CS5.5 is extremely smooth and easy because everything is native.
I have a 3 DSLRs (T2i x2 /T3i) multicam setup i use intensively, i must say that CS5.5 is a real joy to work with !
Thanks for your advice, guys. That is really, really useful.
If I may ask a couple of follow-up questions. You mentioned I should look at investing in an IS lens. A quick search and the costs look almost half as much as the camera. If I go for the T2i; would I need that for straight forward handheld shooting and basic pan shots? I'm not looking to do lots of zoom/ close-ups. Also, I'm still in CS5; are there potential issues because of dvelopments not in CS5?
Following on from my last post, I wonder how unsteady is the T2i without an IS lens? Can I get away with some basic shooting without a tripod?
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I think that an IS lens is necessary for handheld, for most people, for most uses. If you are using a camera support system of some kind or a tripod, maybe not so much.
The lenses that Rishaar mentions are very, very good but there are many less expensive options: even the newer kit lenses offer pretty good stabilization if you are smooth. That said- if you can afford it, you can't go wrong with great glass.
The 17-55/2.8 EFS (which I sometimes use but do not own) is fairly expensive but it is an astonishingly good lens, optically. It is very well made, but it is not built to quite the same standards as the Canon L-Series "professional" lenses.
The 24-105/4 L is a real workhorse, but doesn't offer that much on the wide end if it's your only lens on a T2i or other small-sensor camera. I don't think that, on average, the 24-105 is quite as sharp a 17-55/2.8 but in the real world the difference is at the "who cares?" level- and even more so for video. (Unless you think that spending way too much time doing lens tests or winning pointless internet arguments are more important than real life results.)
Editing on CS5 is a snap. I've pretty much abandoned FCP and Vegas and use CS for almost everything now. I don't have 5.5 and I'm not going to upgrade yet (I think) but there are a few functions that CS5 lacks that are quite nice in CS5.5. In your shoes, I would worry more about getting used to working with the software I have than about the new features in 5.5. Let me re-phrase that: I worry more about learning to get the best I can out of the software I have than about the new features. (But 5.5 does look pretty sweet!)
Last weekend was the first "real" shoot I've done using such a mix of formats: we took a tape-based HDV camcorder, a DV camcorder, a solid state HD camcorder and SLRs and used them all in various combinations. It was fun and educational but I'm glad I'm not editing it (I hope I'm not editing it).
Courses for horses, and SLRs are not camcorders: they work differently than camcorders and have different limitations and strengths, but they can be used together very successfully.
Sorry, I saw your question to Rishaar after my last reply. If I may chime in, you can find lots of examples on youtube or vimeo of IS vs non-IS shooting. Some video posters have an agenda of course, so YMMV.
Pauncho1 just answered to your questions better than i would have ! Very good advices indeed.
I would say just buy a body+lens kit for starter because it really is a good deal and it may be perfect for your needs.
If you feel you need more stabilization or a better glass, you'll know where to start.
Brilliant. Thanks again, guys, for your additional advice. That's really helped me and I'm sure anyone else in my position. following this thread
As it turns out the package includes an 18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens, so I guess that would give me a start for stable movie capture without a tripod.
In response to the earlier comment about DSLR's being crappy camcorders, is that for most of them? Or, is it the old "you get what you pay for"? I saw some videos on Youtube with the Nikon D90, and they looked great. Not arguing with you, because many others have said the same thing, just wondering if there are some specifically that don't look very nice.
i think Pauncho1 put it right in an earlier post:
"Courses for horses, and SLRs are not camcorders: they work differently than camcorders and have different limitations and strengths, but they can be used together very successfully."
Reading the last exchanges I thought I'd let you know the outcome. As I said I wanted something to compliment my Sony Z1 so that I coiuld carry it around on my travels. In the end I went DSLR with a Canon 550D as that gave me a good cost/ performance ratio for my budget and I can plug in an external mic. It is very close in performance to their 7d.
I had a culture problem (hence the thread) as, for me, SLRs were only for stills not video but I've been very impressed by the results so far. DSLRs are being used more and more in production as they offer a lot of flexibility. On the 550d, the images are smooth and the colour balance is good when imported into Pr. Having said that, I've only really had it on automatic so I'm still learning the various manual facilities so I hope it'll get even better. My biggest practical problem is seeing the LCD screen outdoors on a bright day but I'll be buying a loupe.