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DSLR vs Video cameras: Part 1

What is the camera of choice for the modern videographer? Is everybody using new DSLRs like the Canon 7D or are they using dedicated video cameras? Or both? Anybody still using a Super 8?

In part one of this feature we ask a selection of videographers who shoot for the internet and DVD what set up they like to film with, DSLR or video camera and also what platform they edit with.

John Lawlor

My current set up is:

Camera: Sony PMW EX1.

Microphone: Sony ECM 674 Shotgun.

Battery: 2x BP-U60 (4 hours life) 1x BP-U30 (2 hours life)

Lens: Century Optics HD Fisheye Adapter .55x.

I started using this camera at the start of the 2009 season primarily because of its solid state recording abilities. It makes life just a little bit easier when you don’t have to deal with tapes and dirty heads and moving parts. Having said that, the camera is sometimes temperamental and tends to shit itself the odd time, but overall it’s a sick camera and I love using it. I’ve not had a chance to get my hands on a DSLR camera yet as I have my hands full with the EX1. I definitely think that the DSLR cameras are here to stay as the footage from them is truly amazing.

During the race season I shoot for the web with team videos being edited after each World Cup race. Now in the off season I’m working with Clay Porter on our film project ‘3 MINUTE GAPS’. The film will be available on both DVD and Blu Ray at the end of April 2011.

I do all my editing on a Mac, using Final Cut Pro. I first got a Mac at the start of 2006 when I started my ‘Last Chance” films. I was using iMovie then, so I guess the next progression was to move onto FCP as I was already on a Mac.

Stu Thomson-MTBCut

I shoot on a Sony EX1r, a Canon 5D mkII and a bit of GoPro action too.  I’ve had the EX1r for a while and other Sony video cameras before that and they certainly out-perform a DSLR for shooting downhill riding, the combination of the zoom and the fact that the eyepiece allows 3 points of contact when operating freehand makes for a much tighter shot and a lot more variation in types of shot.

DSLR’s don’t allow for the variety or close up shots when shooting a rider at speed; however I do love my 5d and its big sensor!  It is the perfect secondary camera for shooting downhill and for scenic shots, interviews and for timelapse-it can produce stunning images!

I also shoot a lot of non DH work these days, both in other sports, xc/Enduro riding and also recently some tourism promo’s, the 5d is perfect for capturing those big backdrops.

I shoot far more projects for web, although a lot of the videos are also put on to DVD by clients and I edit on a Mac in Final Cut Pro. The software is great and is known as the industry leader, however to be honest I’ve always edited on a Mac so don’t know anything different other than a dabble in iMovie.

Jacob Gibbins

My current set up is: Nikon D300s and Nikon D90 and soon to be GoPro as well

The D300 takes amazing still shots which is important as I’m also a photographer, and the Nikon gives the whole DLSR look to the footage which I like. It’s also small, light and easy to take around etc.

I edit on a PC using Sony Vegas as I haven’t saved up for a Mac yet.

Vegas has a very easy to use interface which can do everything I need plus it’s quite a small program so it runs nice and fast on my really slow laptop.

Tom Grundy

I use a Panasonic HMC-151, It’s a much needed recent upgrade from a little Sony I used to use, it’s lightweight for a big camera, and records AVCHD straight to SD card, so its quick and painless to get the shots into the editing system and SD cards are cheap and easy to come by.

I shoot for the internet mainly, Web series and Webisodes are my speciality, I wouldn’t mind getting into DVD, but I would want to spend a few years making the film and come up with an original idea before doing so.

I edit on a PC and Vegas 9.0 Pro. I know how to use Final Cut and Premiere, but Vegas is so much faster to edit with. I can shoot a BDS national downhill weekend, and have an edit online later that night. That’s not saying I wouldn’t like a fully spec’d Mac and Final Cut.

Andy Yoong

I use a Canon 7D.  There are a few different options in terms of DSLR cameras.  I choose the 7d over others because of its superior weather proofing and stills capability.  Other cameras like the 550d and 60d will shoot video just as well.  The 5D mk2 would have been nice but it was out of my budget at the time.

My whole reasoning behind shooting on one of these types of cameras is to get the ‘film look’.  It’s definitely a different style of shooting and requires more skill than with a traditional video camera set-up, but in my opinion it offers better results.  I’m using Canon stills lenses and it’s quite difficult to focus with them.  There are other lenses out there more suited to video but again it’s all extra money.

I edit on a Mac using Final Cut Pro.  I’ve been using FCP since its earlier versions so I am used to it, and can cut quickly with it when I need to.  It’s definitely due a big overhaul, but from what I’ve heard other people say it’s still better than Premier/Vegas etc.  I think Premier can edit H.264 files that many of the cameras shoot on today.  With FCP you have to convert the files first.  Most of the people i know use FCP as well so it’s handy to be able to swap project files if I need to hand the job over to someone else.

Scott Marshal-Speed Kings

This Season I’ve been shooting with a Sony V1e. I’ve used Sony cameras on a lot of projects. Ergonomically I always like the way the cameras felt. They come equipped with clear, sharp viewfinders and a fast acting auto-focus which all helps capture that important shot when you’re scrambling down a mountainside!

Shooting with a DSLR is something I do want to do. It’s purely down to cost I haven’t got round to it. SLR’s are brilliant for interviews, portraits and scenic shots but when it comes to shooting action you can’t beat a proper video camera. I wanted to capture really good riding shots over the season so I opted to go for my Sony Camera instead.

For editing I work on a Mac using Final cut. I made the switch from PC a couple of years ago. The Mac and Final Cut combo is a really efficient platform to work on. With final cut now a massive industry standard it made sense to be working and learning the software most major production companies are now using.

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