OT: Buying a DSLR to film with

i c e wrote on 6/21/2014, 12:10 PM
Hello Everyone,

Long time no 'see'.. how have you all been? Lol. Greetings from Buenos Aires.

I have been toying with the idea of selling my Sony CX-12 Consumer Camcorder and getting a DSLR instead. I want to do more photography AND I don't like the way footage looks on the Sony CX-12 anyways.

So my question is, I want to buy a used DSLR for a few hundred dollars. I might be dreaming but I think I could actually get even better quality footage with a DSLR and then have a lot more options for photography. Am I totally wrong? Does anyone have any idea of what kind of DSLR I should look for? Is it possible to get a nice professional film look with a DSLR?

Any thoughts or chiming with opinions would be greatly appreciated. You guys are the only people I know on the web that actually know what they are talking about in this regards.



*On a side note, anyone got a nice tracking slide they want to sell? I about to purchase one of Amazon.


NCARalph wrote on 6/21/2014, 1:04 PM
I use a Panasonic GH2 with 14-140 zoom lens and am very impressed by the video quality.

Keep in mind that while the quality of the video in a DLSR is very high, the controls and handling is less video user friendly than a camcorder. For example, camcorder lenses typically do better in low light and have much smoother zooms.

If you're willing (or enthusiastic) about working with the more still photography optimized controls of a DLSR then I'd heartily recommend the GH2 etc. cameras.
i c e wrote on 6/21/2014, 1:39 PM
Thanks for getting Back NCARRalph!

While I would like to be able to film in low light as most the time in life, lighting is not ideal... but I guess I would rather film something at high quality than be able to film everything all the time and be able to use none of it, you know?

I am checking that one out. Do you have any video's you've made with it online anywhere?

Thanks so much
royfphoto wrote on 6/21/2014, 1:46 PM
This segment was shot with a GH3 and the MFX version will air on PBS next week. Pana/ Leica 25 & 45. Full 50mbs sent to production quality much better. Suggest viewing full screen HD.
dlion wrote on 6/21/2014, 2:04 PM
canon t5i user. love it. under $1k w/18-135.

CJB wrote on 6/21/2014, 2:33 PM
GH2 is best bet. Amazing footage for a camera that can be had used ~$400, especially when hacked. (see www.personal-view.com)

There are better cameras but meeting your qualifications of a few hundred dollars used......
NickHope wrote on 6/21/2014, 3:20 PM
Bear in mind that Canon APS-C dSLR video quality didn't change throughout numerous generations. As such, if you got a t2i/500D you'd basically be getting the same quality as a t3i, 7D, 60D etc.. Might be a wise choice if you're on a tight budget. Leaves money over for more lenses. Put Magic Lantern firmware on it to enhance the video functionality.

Panasonic GH series also worth considering as others have said.
ushere wrote on 6/21/2014, 6:36 PM
it really does depend on what you intend shooting....

i have both, (z5 and nikon 5200) and in all honesty for practical money making work (long / short form doco, trainers, etc) the z5 wins hands down. the 5200 takes gorgeous pics, but other than that is a ergonomic disaster area, plus, if i really want to bring it upto the level of the z5 it would probably cost the same as buying a new sony pmw160, which is what i'd much prefer to have.

no, i am not denying the quality that can be obtained from a dslr can be stunning, just that dof is not the holy grail of production, whereas efficiency is....
Serena Steuart wrote on 6/21/2014, 7:38 PM
Joshua, you can do great video with a DSLR but in many instances the bare camera isn't enough and you have to add bits of gear to get the results you want (as ushere said). Phil Bloom is a professional cinematographer who has many good pointers on his blog (http://philipbloom.net/category/dslrposts/dslr-shooting/Phil Bloom blog[/link]) and reading that might be useful. I've pointed you to "shooting" and you'll see another section on DSLR cameras.
i c e wrote on 6/21/2014, 8:58 PM
Thank so much everyone. (Nice to 'see' you all again. I forgot how kind and helpful everyone here is:)

This information is giving me a good place to start with the DSLR I will need. Fantastic!

Again, I know I'm dreaming, but I am looking to get as close to the quality of this video as I can: http://vimeo.com/22439234 (No kidding, right?). But I know this was filmed a good couple of years ago, so maybe I can find something like this used or old, right? Just have to figure out what it is. lol.

I really, really want to be able to basic get really good looking film on just every day stuff (like the vids from the gh3, wow! but mucho $$). And I want to be able to do some time elapsed stuff. I don't know if I am being realistic but this is what I hope I can find. All my stuff is going to the web, but I want it to be respectable. Like one of those videos that looks like a film, even on the web.

Thanks again, really appreciate information and help with this. You guys are great.


flyingski wrote on 6/21/2014, 9:47 PM
Joshua, I would second Nick's suggestion to look for a T2i. Canon sold a ton of them so finding a good used one shouldn't be difficult. Lots of lens and accessories for it as well. It's pretty rugged and I used one for three winters chasing skiers and boarders in snow and cold without a problem. It's not easy to do run & gun stuff with a DSLR but it can be done and for me the challenge made shooting ski videos fun again. I like to think the DSLR made me better at my craft. I'm shooting with a 70D now and the advances in auto focus have really narrowed the gap with camcorders. But, there are still times when I use camcorders so as with everything else, "it all depends..."
CJB wrote on 6/21/2014, 10:28 PM
Problem with APS-C is that glass can get expensive, that and a GH2 video mode will blow away anything a Canon DSLR can provide short of raw ala Magic Lantern. The GH2 can provide greater level of detail and higher datarates than the Canons with generally lower moire. However it is true that in low light the bigger sensor wins. Another benefit, the m43 mount (ala GH2) can use adapters to turn cheap (< $200) manual lenses to superb video glass.
flyingski wrote on 6/21/2014, 11:20 PM
A $10 M42 adapter opens up all the excellent vintage glass for the EOS Canons as well, and a $99 "nifty 50" retains all the auto functions with an f1.8 lens that works well in low light with the larger sensor. Tthere are several inexpensive ways to enter the DSLR video world and I hope Joshua has fun researching them all.
markymarkNY wrote on 6/22/2014, 8:19 AM
That vimeo video you linked is not a video capture, it is a time lapse most likely taken from RAW stills, hence the apparent excellent quality. You can get that same result with a "low end" prosumer photo camera - but it will be limiting for night photos without a large sensor and wide aperture.

Someone else mentioned camcorders are better in low light - not sure what was meant by this, but camcorder sensors are almost always [much] smaller than DSLR; and camcorder lenses are not as good as fast interchangeable lenses so that statement makes no sense unless it was meant to say that at a low budget the camcorder > DSLR???
monoparadox wrote on 6/22/2014, 9:00 AM
I've left the DSLR world and now play in the world of mirrorless. I would suggest taking a good look at a Sony NEX6 or the new Alpha 6000 if you want everything a DSLR will deliver at a decent price and is extremely lightweight and portable. I've been on the bigger/smaller kick over 45 years and now I'm back to smaller and lightweight. I'm blown away at the quality of video and pictures in a camera I can still fit in a pocket (rather large one, yes). You still can't beat portability and lightweight if you're really interested in your photography/videography.

Oh, did I say lightweight? My Nikon feels like a brick.

MTuggy wrote on 6/22/2014, 9:00 AM
You might look at the Panasonic FZ1000 - coming out in July. It has a 25-400 lens, shoots 4K and high speed HD (1080p at 120 fps). I do a lot of backcountry video work and for a DSLR with no need for a pile of lenses to lug around, it is going to be my camera of choice.

i c e wrote on 6/22/2014, 11:54 AM
Wow. So much information here it's fantastic... and yes will be fun to learn a new world though a bit over my head at the time being. Thanks so much everyone for your contributions.

MarkymarkNY, could you expound on what you meant about that video being taken from raw stills, I don't understand how that's possible considering it's a video.. how could any camera take that many stills in a fast enough frame rate to create video. Obviously there is something I have no idea about but am excited to learn if you could expound.

Thanks so very much.

john_dennis wrote on 6/22/2014, 12:50 PM
"[I]could you expound on what you meant about that video being taken from raw stills,[/I]"

Timelapse videos are often made from a series of still photos shot by still cameras seconds, minutes, hours or days apart. In Vegas Pro, the photos are imported as a still image sequence at the project frame rate, then time compressed from there.

The exposure of each shot could be quite long, seconds or minutes, making low light scenes easier or possible.
i c e wrote on 6/22/2014, 2:46 PM
Hi John, thanks so much. I never imagined that could be done, but seems like a such a better process (for a poor man) to get high end time elapsed footage.

So is there a setting on DSLR's (the GH2 per say) that you could tell it to take such many shots over such and such time with such exposure? Or how would you do that on a slider/track? Is that an add on you would have to buy?
john_dennis wrote on 6/22/2014, 4:11 PM
Search for intervalometer. Some cameras have the function built in. Some respond to external input devices. There are also software program that triggers the camera, as well as collect and store the files.

For my efforts, I went the software route which runs on laptops. I had access to throwaway laptops which didn't cost me anything and I didn't mind having them in a hostile environment.
fldave wrote on 6/22/2014, 5:57 PM
Also love my GH2. Get fast SD cards (I use Sandisk Extreme, Extreme Pros are top of the line), a couple of extra batteries, the M4/3 lens adapters so you can use cheap, used Canon and Nikon glass. I can record about 8 hours of video with 3 cards and 3 batteries.
richard-amirault wrote on 6/22/2014, 7:07 PM
Or how would you do that on a slider/track?

To do time lapse with a slider you really need to have it motorized .. so that it automatically crawls along at a *very* slow rate.
i c e wrote on 6/22/2014, 7:15 PM
You guys are fantastic! I can't believe how much I am learning in such a short time. Sincere thanks for all the inputs here.

Yeah, I am building a motorized slider/track as a DIY project but it's gonna be great.

The GH2 looks fantastic. Seems the best for the money, the video coming off it seems top notch.

I principally NEVER buy used electronics for obvious reasons, but I don't think I could afford a new DSLR. What do you guys think about buying a used camera from Amazon or ebay?
john_dennis wrote on 6/22/2014, 7:52 PM
I bought a used Canon G2 and a Canon G5 on ebay and both were as described by the seller. My livelihood didn't depend on the transactions.
Mark_e wrote on 6/23/2014, 4:23 AM
Here's a low light test I shot a while back with the GH3, even tho the full frame sensors do better if you are careful you can still get to ISO 1600/2000 with a bit of clean up and it looks ok.

If you are looking at the GH range on a budget the GH2 I think is a good call but it is getting a little long in the tooth with battery's etc. tho, it might be worth looking out for a second hand GH3 there should be plenty about now the GH4 has come out. The GH4 is really nice and takes it to a whole new level but it's a bit pricey but shares the same form factor and battery, accessories as the GH3 so if you got the GH3 you know you will have at least one later generation of camera to go with. I have GH3 + 4 and really only shoot video with them and love them both.

Both edited with vegas pro to keep it a little on topic for forum :)

low light

and some GH3 daylight footage I shot.