Digital Cameras with Video is the Next Big Thing?
Yes, I know, digital cameras have had video for a while. But I’m serious, people in various corners of the photography-oriented blogommunity (read: ‘blogosphere’, but I’m developing an allergy to that word), are getting excited about video on cameras being the next serious thing. This is because video is just about to break on DSLRs.
There are two advantages that DSLRs have over compact digital cameras, when it comes to video. One is obvious, the other less so.
1. Image quality. Obviously, DSLRs record higher quality images. So a DSLR recording video looks something like professional video, where a compact camera’s video output is more like home camcorders. And it seems the video makers held back putting video capability into their DSLRs until they were ready for real-media-standard 24fps 720p HD. But that’s what you’ll get now.
2. Lenses. There’s a universe of fisheye, long-zoom and every kind of glass in between that you can tack onto a digital camera. The result is creative video, apparently more creative than a lot of what gets shot on conventional movie cameras. Why don’t conventional movie cameras have as wide an availability of creative lenses as still cameras? I don’t know. Maybe they do, but they’re more expensive or something.
The result may be a new day for video in the same sense that ‘fine art’ photography has been either degraded or enhanced by the flood of non-professionals that cheap, easy digital cameras has brought in. Degraded or enhanced depending on who you ask, my money by the way, is squarely on enhanced. If you own a half-serious camera in the near future, you are a semi-pro video crew. Although I expect the skill-gap between a professional and amatuer videographer is even larger than between pro and amatuer photographers.
The most immediate production model video-enabled DSLRs are the medium-medium priced Nikon D90 and the medium-expensive, full-frame Canon 5D MK II. Here’s a slightly dated essay from Luminous Landscape on the topic, here’s some sample footage from the D90 (apparently shot by Chase Jarvis), and here’s some insufferable famous fellow on the 5D2. But for god sake don’t copy his images, or he might come after me.