Book review: DSLR Cinema

I have been reading the DSLR Cinema book for about a week now and I think it is now time to write something about it.

The short version

For those who do not want to read the whole review: this is the best book/training material about HDSLR video I have seen so far. Get it!

The long version

What I like

The first part of the book is all about how to set the camera/lights to ‘get good clips’. It is quite technical and built on the knowledge published over the years on various HDSLR popular sites/forums/shooters. To my knowledge, it is the only book to cover the, so important, how to expose your image so thoughtfully. Actually, I have been in the process of writing a small eBook on the subject for quite a while now and looking at the book content, there is not much else to say!

While the first part dealt with camera setup, the second part shows how various elements can be used to create the film look and uses case studies to illustrate them. This was my favorite part of the book because it is not too often that get have access to this kind of information from other shooters.

The third part is about gear. Good for people who are green to the field but near useless to everyone else who knows about the various parts/rigs available.

Dont dont skip over the numerous appendix, lots of technicalities about HDSLR there. Actually, I think it would have been better to skip over the gear listing of part three and replace it with an expanded version of the appendix.

What I did not like

First of, the biggest flaw of this book, as it was with the book From Still to Motion, is the lack of reference to this site! How could they?

Also, the title should have been HDSLR Cinema and not DSLR Cinema… You can’t shoot a movie with a DSLR!

Seriously, this book has very few flaws. The one thing I did not like was the tutorials on some applications like the H.264 import plugins, how to use PluralEye, Magic Bullet Looks, etc… To me, this type of content should be either be left in the hands of the software developer or distributed electronically. Reading software how-to does not work for me.

Of course, as mentioned before, the whole part 3 of the book could have been removed.

Who is this book for

This book if for people who want to shoot movies with their HDSLR. As the title implies: DSLR Cinema: crafting the film look with video, all the book content is around cinema/film look. People thinking about getting the book to improve their wedding video skill are only going to enjoy part of the book content.


As I said at the beginning, this is a great book. It summarize of all the information available on the net about HDSLR on top of which Kurt has added interesting case studies and behind the scene tips from other shooters.  Buy it on Amazon!

About Tommy

Photography allows me to be what I want to be, to be where I want to be, and to do what I want to do ... I'm not professional photographer and I don't need a title, I love to take photographs and that is what I do, I love to learn and I always try to do it better ...

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  • Barry

    Would you say this book adds anything that is not included in From Still to Motion? I just ordered the latter and am wondering if I should get this book as well. Thanks!

    • admin

      They are different and touch the subject from totally different perspective. From Still to Motion targets photographers while DSLR Cinema wants to teach how to shoot movies. DSLR Cinema is also more technical (about the camera), publishing various test charts that are already available on the net.

      I found DSLR Cinema to be more interesting (for me) since it included a lot of interviews but FSTM is better at carrying you from the very start of a project until its end.

      Hope I did not confuse you more ;-)

  • Barry

    Thanks for the response! I decided to take a quick look inside DSLR Cinema on Amazon and discovered that the author discusses in it the production of the short film The Last 3 Minutes. I just watched this film last night and loved it! Of course, I immediately had to buy the book then. What a small world. I also picked up a copy of The Photographer’s Eye and Master Shots after reading your reviews. These all look like really great books.

    By the way, I was wondering if you could write an article on cheap lighting gear that you are familiar with or personally use. This is the one thing that I don’t find talked about much around the web, and am personally a bit confused about. Thanks very much, if you do. Love this website!

  • admin

    Thanks Barry.

    I have a pending article about ‘cheap’ lighting but it is far from ready since I havent had the time to go & buy the LED lights I want to talk about. If you really need to get a light asap, check my article about the 200$ shoulder rig kit (link in the sidebar). There are links for very cheap LED lights.

    These lights have some flaws (not perfectly balanced and change color temp when dimmed) but for the price, they are awesome. They are an incredible deal compared to their alternatives.