Just buy a video camera. (RANT)

Started Sep 6, 2013 | Discussions thread
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Just buy a video camera. (RANT)
Sep 6, 2013

"Just buy a video camera."

I'm getting really tired of reading this from the people who don't shoot video, telling the people who do use video functionality why they're wrong. Can I get some co-defenders of hybrid photo/video work?

Why did DSLR video take off across industries (huge budget film, indie film, wedding shooters, etc)? Was everyone just too lazy to buy a dedicated video camera? That must be it, everyone was too lazy or poor to use a real video camera, so we grabbed Alphas or GH2s or MarkIIs like fools to do video work. It couldn't be because those are better cameras than the dedicated consumer video cameras, particularly when this craze started a couple years back.

Let's review non-DSLR video options quickly.

  • Basic small chip camcorders: Canon XA10/20 and its smaller siblings, Panasonic x920, Sony Handycams. GoPro/action cams. Very good video cameras, but very deep depth of field and varying (in)ability to handle low light. Almost universally fixed lens.
  • Film industry cameras: RED, Alexa, Sony F series, etc. Budget $20k+ for one of these with suitable lenses, plus rigs etc. Good luck running some of them alone.
  • Large sensor dedicated video: Sony VG/F3, Panasonic AF101, EOS Cinema. More recently BlackMagic.

The problems with the first two are fairly clear. The last category is actually pretty good but... notice anything? That's right, those cameras are repurposed photographic cameras in new bodies (BMCC notwithstanding). Sony VG are NEX cameras and have the same video output in most respects. The AF101 is essentially a GH1. The EOS Cinema are derived from the Mark III and 1D. And to be honest, a lot of the advantages of those bodies are handling related and don't affect capture quality.

So whether we're talking about the E-M1, or the GH series, or the NEX or Alpha SLT series, or the new Canons, you know what? Video matters. Prosumer photographic equipment is not just for still photography anymore. That world is dead. We're knocking on the door of video resolutions high enough to replace stills in several print mediums, while still using large sensors, shallow DOF, and interchangeable lenses. Video recording isn't a makeshift feature to fill out the bullet points, not anymore.

And then there's the usability aspect of it. I switch between photo and video often on my A77. I'm making the decision about what medium to capture as I go, just like I'm deciding how to frame shots. Two cameras would mean a risk of missing THAT photo. Or THAT video. I've tasted cameras that can do both well, and it's the way forward.

I'll close out with this, via Kirk Tuck: http://kellymooneyminutes.wordpress.com/2013/02/14/how-motion-is-changing-the-future-of-photography/

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