Am I missing something with DSLR video ?

Started Apr 1, 2012 | Discussions
d3xmeister
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Am I missing something with DSLR video ?
Apr 1, 2012

I used the Olympus E-5 for video and now I am using a Nikon D5100 and the Canon S100.

A close friend of mine has a Sony handycam CX something, that shoots AVCHD (MTS) at 1080 50i. It's a 2 year old $650 camera. We shot in the same conditions many times. We are watching the videos on a HP IPS calibrated monitor, 24 inch at 1920x1200 and a Samsung LED TV Full HD with USB and AllShare.

Every time we look at the footage we get, the videos from the handycam look so much better. Not only for movement, panning etc, but also in IQ in almost any light.

In good light my D5100 and S100 have some nasty oversharpened look with halos, even with Sharpness set to minimum. The Sony handycam look great.

In low indoors light, where I was expecting the DSLR to shine, the Sony cam still looks way better, with much less noise and better details. The D5100 gets super noisy at anything above ISO800, with chroma blotches everywhere. Surprisingly, shooting between base ISO and to about ISO 3200, the little Canon S100 have much less noise than the D5100. A little less detail, true, but overall the video look much better.

The only time the D5100 beat the S100 and the Sony handycam was at new year's party, when we needed ISO 12800 for a decent exposure, although still a little dark. In those crazy conditions, the D5100 looked better than the Sony.

I am shooting with the 35mm f/1.8 on the D5100.

So what am I missing with DSLR video ? Both my DSLR's were noisy as hell at anything above ISO 800, the Canon S100 a little better, and the dedicated handycam MUCH better, except at crazy ISO's over 12800. In good light the Sony has no artifacts, the footage look crystal clear and smooth, no jerkiness, the IS is fantastic.
No control over DOF seems the only downside, but I don't care about that anyway.

I keep reading that the DSLRs, with their big sensors are super high quality for video, but I fail to see that. Am I doing something wrong ?

Nikon D5100 Olympus E-5
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Sean Nelson
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Re: Am I missing something with DSLR video ?
In reply to d3xmeister, Apr 1, 2012

With most DSLRs the video feature is just tacked on in order to provide a bullet point for the specifications list. Good video is a lot more than just grabbing a bunch of still frames and squeezing them through a codec.

Camcorders are optimized for video, and the better ones do quite a good job. Their tiny sensors make it possible for the camera to include a very fast lens, and the 3CCD ones have three dedicated sensors for each of the primary colors - that eliminates the Bayer arrays, gives them larger pixels for their sensor sizes and helps to make them work very well in low light.

Only a few DSLR-style cameras are able to do video really well, and even they have a hard time competing with the better camcorders for clean low-light abilities. One of the biggest advantages of a DSLR for video is its ability to change lenses - so if low light video is your priority then you need to invest in a really fast lens.

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John Koch
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Re: Am I missing something with DSLR video ?
In reply to d3xmeister, Apr 1, 2012

Video shot with DSLRs is NOT guaranteed to be "better" than what one obtains with a $750 videocam. The low light sensitivity is non-existent, unless one invests in an f/1.5 lens or something. Even then, you can't turn bad light into good light, and low light often is precisely that: bad.

Half the "buzz" about DSLR video is the idea that narrow DOF is the end-all of any video. Well, it's not. Except under highly controlled situations, narrow DOF is more a problem than anything else. Although the D5100 is a nice still camera, it's video mode is NOT a strong point. Yes, if you can set up a scene, you can get good video, but it is not the tool of choice to capture video in any other situation.

For most casual video, you need good AF and fairly deep focus. With an HF G10 or TM900, you can get that and reasonably low light results for a fraction of the cost of system cameras and their lenses.

Yes, a 5d miii might shoot video at spectacularly high ISOs, but how often will you be able to have people stay in a fixed distance from your camera? What if the light is from sodium vapor lamps, which is almost immune from WB correction?

Gosh, not even the 5D miii offers a "peaking" tool to help set manual focus. Various lower cost videocams do.

Fast action? Which high-end DSLRs don't have such bad rolling shutter that this is not a problem?

I'll concede that a FF sensor might offer interesting video results, but they are worth the cost, or ancillary handicaps, only in cases where people are doing commercial work with lots of controls.

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d3xmeister
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Re: Am I missing something with DSLR video ?
In reply to John Koch, Apr 2, 2012

To be honest I can handle shallow DOF and manual focus better than I thought, shooting at f/1.8. I have problems with hand holding though. But even shooting from a tripod I am not pleased with the IQ at low or high ISOs.

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BeautifulEarth18
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Re: Am I missing something with DSLR video ?
In reply to d3xmeister, Apr 2, 2012

This is just my opinion, but I think the biggest appeal is a '2 in 1 system'. I brought my DSLR to take good quality photo's. After a while I realized that it had a good potential to shoot quality video footage too. I accept that the video footage from my DSLR may not be as good as the footage from a video camera. To me it's more about being able to take good photo's and video without needing 2 separate devices.

And the reverse can not be done as far as I am aware since I'm pretty sure there isn't a video camera under £2k that can take photo's at the same quality as a DSLR (not to mention they don't have the same functions available that make taking photo's with a DSLR very easy).

That's all there is to it with me and probably for some other people as well.

The only other thing to be said is it all depends on your audience. I make no money from my video's so I don't have to impress anyone with a great technical knowledge or large demands. Most friends and family who see my video's think that the footage is 'really good' because to them it's just HD, clear and that's all they really see. A person should not worry too much about obtaining the very best quality if there is no call for it.

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Cy Cheze
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On the other hand
In reply to BeautifulEarth18, Apr 2, 2012

BeautifulEarth18 wrote:

...I'm pretty sure there isn't a video camera under £2k that can take photo's at the same quality as a DSLR (not to mention they don't have the same functions available that make taking photo's with a DSLR very easy).

On the other hand, there are $350 P&S cameras that shoot very good video, have better AF in video than DSLRs, better OIS, and also take decent still photos in good light. Some have a hand-held low-light mode that you'd need a fast lens to surpass with a DSLR. Well, some might quibble that, but cost and pockeability kind of settle the issue.

I'd like to think that the OM-D E-M5 offers a breaktrough in-body stabilization, but it doesn't come cheap, and hands-on reviews are still shy on lab tests of low light sensitivity or color skew with video.

Two years ago, a side-by-side comparison of the GH2 and TM700 by a Japanese group suggested nearly identical performance, except that the GH2 could offer narrower DOF. The Zacuto or Bloom comparisons compare FF or APS-C cameras to large sensor pro videocams, but not to "pauper" fare like the D5100, NEX-5n, HF G10, or even the maligned and under-reviewed VG-20.

It may be that one needs a FF sensor before the better DR stands out, but FF owners end up using a panoply of filters or post-effects (= money, work, and time). P. Bloom considers the 5D Mark 3 landscape video blurry unless one adds sharpening in Premier.

BeautifulEarth is right, though, that many viewers won't notic or care about advanced effects. Those that do care will judge your work by an almost impossible hurdle: Hollywood or some high-end music video. Anyone who works with video seroiusly can admire or envy the results, but the humbling fact is that camerawork is "invisible" to lay viewers, most of whom sense only plot, music, romance, violence, humor, and "stars."

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d3xmeister
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Re: Am I missing something with DSLR video ?
In reply to BeautifulEarth18, Apr 2, 2012

The main reason I shoot videos with my still cameras is convenience. A dedicated camcorder will be another camera to carry and take care of. I think I found why the D5100 have so poor video compared even with the Canon S100 and the Olympus E-5 too, it records at about 18Mbps while the S100 and E-5 record at 35Mbps, that will explain the artifacts that haunt even low ISO footage. Also the noise at high ISO is worse with the D5100 compared to even the S100, wich is weird because in photos the D5100 is outstanding at high ISOs. The Nikon video is sharper though than the S100.

I am starting to like the S100 for video after some tweaks, it's acceptable.

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kopmann
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Re: Am I missing something with DSLR video ?
In reply to d3xmeister, Apr 2, 2012

d3xmeister wrote:

I am starting to like the S100 for video after some tweaks, it's acceptable.

I am in the same boat with you.
What I have seen on youtube and vimeo, the S100 delivers outstanding results.

Sure, it lacks 50p, but what counts are results. Even with my S95 i had better results than the most do have with their DSLR's.
I sold it and bought a HX9V. Just fabulous.
Now i will get a S100 in addition; and for sure a S105 that features (?) 50p.

-- hide signature --

Regards, Christian

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Arlene
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Avchd video samples compared to mov.
In reply to d3xmeister, Apr 7, 2012

I like the AVCHD format. I have a Panasonic GH2 and when I compare it to the exact same footage taken by my Canon T2i, the GH2 always looks better. Sharper, more tonality. It also has auto focus. I shoot at 1080 24p with both cameras.

This Youtube video was shot at the very beginning with CanonT2i and then after the first fade, the rest is with the GH2 shot at ISO 1600. The stage lighting is magenta and I have have not corrected it yet.
http://youtu.be/mF_oByY7Z5g

These YouTube videos were shot with the GH2
http://youtu.be/FaMERjpTBWM
http://youtu.be/jAcYavnpBpY

d3xmeister wrote:

I used the Olympus E-5 for video and now I am using a Nikon D5100 and the Canon S100.

A close friend of mine has a Sony handycam CX something, that shoots AVCHD (MTS) at 1080 50i. It's a 2 year old $650 camera. We shot in the same conditions many times. We are watching the videos on a HP IPS calibrated monitor, 24 inch at 1920x1200 and a Samsung LED TV Full HD with USB and AllShare.

Every time we look at the footage we get, the videos from the handycam look so much better. Not only for movement, panning etc, but also in IQ in almost any light.

In good light my D5100 and S100 have some nasty oversharpened look with halos, even with Sharpness set to minimum. The Sony handycam look great.

In low indoors light, where I was expecting the DSLR to shine, the Sony cam still looks way better, with much less noise and better details. The D5100 gets super noisy at anything above ISO800, with chroma blotches everywhere. Surprisingly, shooting between base ISO and to about ISO 3200, the little Canon S100 have much less noise than the D5100. A little less detail, true, but overall the video look much better.

The only time the D5100 beat the S100 and the Sony handycam was at new year's party, when we needed ISO 12800 for a decent exposure, although still a little dark. In those crazy conditions, the D5100 looked better than the Sony.

I am shooting with the 35mm f/1.8 on the D5100.

So what am I missing with DSLR video ? Both my DSLR's were noisy as hell at anything above ISO 800, the Canon S100 a little better, and the dedicated handycam MUCH better, except at crazy ISO's over 12800. In good light the Sony has no artifacts, the footage look crystal clear and smooth, no jerkiness, the IS is fantastic.
No control over DOF seems the only downside, but I don't care about that anyway.

I keep reading that the DSLRs, with their big sensors are super high quality for video, but I fail to see that. Am I doing something wrong ?

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harrygilbert
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Re: Am I missing something with DSLR video ?
In reply to d3xmeister, Apr 8, 2012

My relatives asked me to video a 90th birthday party using their Canon HV20 camcorder. I was impressed with the ease of use and quality of output (HD video) compared to my Canon 1D4 DSLR.

The camcorder offers:

  • light, easy to hold

  • up to 1 hour recording on a small tape

  • optical image stabilization

  • large zoom range

  • auto focus, even during zoom from wide to telephoto

  • very good sound pick up (stereo)

  • viewfinder plus flip out, adjustable LCD screen

If I'm out with the DSLR and come across a video opportunity (bird mating behavior), I can use it. But if I plan to do video, I'll use a dedicated video recorder.

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Arlene
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Biggest problem with DSLR video is lack of Auto focus
In reply to harrygilbert, Apr 8, 2012

Hi,

The biggest problem with DSLR video is lack of Auto focus. And not as crucial but still important is auto zoom. The auto focus problem is solved on the GH2, but it still lack auto zoom. --arlene

harrygilbert wrote:

My relatives asked me to video a 90th birthday party using their Canon HV20 camcorder. I was impressed with the ease of use and quality of output (HD video) compared to my Canon 1D4 DSLR.

The camcorder offers:

  • light, easy to hold

  • up to 1 hour recording on a small tape

  • optical image stabilization

  • large zoom range

  • auto focus, even during zoom from wide to telephoto

  • very good sound pick up (stereo)

  • viewfinder plus flip out, adjustable LCD screen

If I'm out with the DSLR and come across a video opportunity (bird mating behavior), I can use it. But if I plan to do video, I'll use a dedicated video recorder.

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Sean Nelson
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Re: Biggest problem with DSLR video is lack of Auto focus
In reply to Arlene, Apr 9, 2012

Arlene wrote:

The auto focus problem is solved on the GH2, but it still lack auto zoom. --arlene

If by "auto zoom" you mean power zoom (push a button to have a motor zoom the lens instead of having to twist the lens barrel manually) then this is addressed by some of the new Panasonic "X" lenses.

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Arlene
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Re: Biggest problem with DSLR video is lack of Auto focus
In reply to Sean Nelson, Apr 9, 2012

I thought there was only one X lens. --arlene

Sean Nelson wrote:

Arlene wrote:

The auto focus problem is solved on the GH2, but it still lack auto zoom. --arlene

If by "auto zoom" you mean power zoom (push a button to have a motor zoom the lens instead of having to twist the lens barrel manually) then this is addressed by some of the new Panasonic "X" lenses.

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Sean Nelson
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Re: Biggest problem with DSLR video is lack of Auto focus
In reply to Arlene, Apr 9, 2012

Arlene wrote:

The auto focus problem is solved on the GH2, but it still lack auto zoom.

Sean Nelson wrote:

If by "auto zoom" you mean power zoom (push a button to have a motor zoom the lens instead of having to twist the lens barrel manually) then this is addressed by some of the new Panasonic "X" lenses.

Arlene wrote:

I thought there was only one X lens. --arlene

There are two so far, the 14-42 collapsible zoom and a 45-175mm zoom.
See: http://www.four-thirds.org/en/microft/lense.html

There are also two more "bright" X zooms coming with (reportedly) constant maximum apertures of f/2.8: a 12-35mm and a 35-100mm. These are said to be watersealed and the first one (the 12-35mm) is rumoured to be released in June.

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Arlene
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Re: Biggest problem with DSLR video is lack of Auto focus
In reply to Sean Nelson, Apr 10, 2012

Sean Nelson wrote:

Arlene wrote:

The auto focus problem is solved on the GH2, but it still lack auto zoom.

Sean Nelson wrote:

If by "auto zoom" you mean power zoom (push a button to have a motor zoom the lens instead of having to twist the lens barrel manually) then this is addressed by some of the new Panasonic "X" lenses.

Arlene wrote:

I thought there was only one X lens. --arlene

There are two so far, the 14-42 collapsible zoom and a 45-175mm zoom.
See: http://www.four-thirds.org/en/microft/lense.html

There are also two more "bright" X zooms coming with (reportedly) constant maximum apertures of f/2.8: a 12-35mm and a 35-100mm. These are said to be watersealed and the first one (the 12-35mm) is rumoured to be released in June.

Great. But most important - how's the auto focus on those lenses - very important. Wish they'd update the 14-140 to a motor zoom

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acdtech
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Re: Biggest problem with DSLR video is lack of Auto focus
In reply to Arlene, Apr 10, 2012

All the Sony SLT's support autofocus. IE: A35,A55,A65,A77

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Boomanbb
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Biggest problem with DSLR video is unrealistic expectations
In reply to acdtech, Apr 10, 2012

I am still amazed at the number of individuals who think a DSLR comparable to cameras used in movie production should auto focus. Auto focus is the second fastest way to ruin a shot behind poor lighting. I guess it can be blamed on the manufacturers for not giving consumers the reality, pro tools should be used in pro situations.

There are hundreds of great video cameras out there that auto focus well. MOST people should be using one of them. A DSLR is not the best choice when you just need it in focus. A DSLR is when you want to employ CREATIVE focus.

Where a DSLR is not the best choice:

You want to take great video of your children playing in the back yard. They are running around, stop and go, typical kid stuff.

Where an auto focus camera is not the best choice:

You are shooting a presenter standing behind a podium. The presenters sometimes moves from side to side, sometimes looks left and right and sometimes moves in front of the podium.

The rule of thirds kicks in here. When the presenter is looking left, you have to place the presenter to the right of frame. Likewise when looking right, you have to give space to the right. Auto focus might pick up the podium, might pick up the empty space when your subject is in the right side frame, etc.

A DSLR gives you the luxury of CREATIVE focus. Use a regular video camera when just need something in focus.

Ben

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Sean Nelson
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Re: Biggest problem with DSLR video is unrealistic expectations
In reply to Boomanbb, Apr 10, 2012

Boomanbb wrote:

I am still amazed at the number of individuals who think a DSLR comparable to cameras used in movie production should auto focus.

I agree with everything you say - and I'd add that zooming during video is much the same.

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d3xmeister
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Re: Biggest problem with DSLR video is unrealistic expectations
In reply to Boomanbb, Apr 13, 2012

Boomanbb wrote:

Where an auto focus camera is not the best choice:

You are shooting a presenter standing behind a podium. The presenters sometimes moves from side to side, sometimes looks left and right and sometimes moves in front of the podium.

The rule of thirds kicks in here. When the presenter is looking left, you have to place the presenter to the right of frame. Likewise when looking right, you have to give space to the right. Auto focus might pick up the podium, might pick up the empty space when your subject is in the right side frame, etc.
Ben

Actually the Sony HDR-CX560VE I picked up last week can handle that situation very easy. It has AF, and the ability to touch the subject on the screen, and it will track that subject. I was testing this and works amazingly well, no hunting. This camera also has manual focus which you can switch to on the fly during recording, just by pressing a button. This can also be used as a ,,lock focus,, button and ,,return to AF,, button while recording.

So the situation you are mentioning above is very, very easy to shoot with the CX560.

You can also get fairly decent subject separation trough DOF, but not complete isolation, cinematic look, due to the 1/2.88 sensor. For me, it's perfect as it is.

Probably the biggest advantage is the image stabilisation, which is optimized for video. If your shooting handheld, which you probably are as a normal user, no still camera can match the IS of a dedicated camcorder.

Don't forget we are talking about using a still camera as a camcorder replacement, for normal people, not pro or enthusiast creative video. For me the answer is only one, a camcorder is MUCH better.

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MaxIso
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Re: Biggest problem with DSLR video is unrealistic expectations
In reply to d3xmeister, Apr 23, 2012

two things. nearly every article i read discussing sensor size speaks of operator skill over camera specs, when thats never in question in the first place. most intelligent people understand the limitations of their skills, or lack thereof. the importance of knowledge goes without saying, but the importance of good tech does not. this is evident by the massive amounts of capital invested in R&D by many brands. if camera specs were not important, we would be seeing amazing movies shot by camera phones, the matrix or gladiator?. i have posed many questions concerning dslr video IQ and specs, none suggesting technique isnt important. sometimes these threads get sidetracked by people who seem to be bent on reasserting the idea that most of us already agree with.

the second thing is there seems to be an apparent disdain for narrow depth of field. bokeh is an artistic tool, and although i dont prefer a narrow dof in my videos, i havent done any artistic video. the thing is, large sensors allow u to have a choice, with shallow or deep dof. dont want narrow? stop down and u have a camcorder look. but small sensor models cannot allow that choice anywhere near the level of apsc or FF, heck even mft. also for the person who was mentioning stills being taken with a camcorder, i dont know of any camcorder that has a 16mp sensor, which is required to match the rez on something like the d7000. in time i expect dslrs to match, in all areas, video specific camcorders simply due to the massive sensors. when that happens, camcorders will become obsolete, with exception maybe to the highest end hollywood video only designs.

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