The Rookie: Purchasing a camera

This Jeremy second post where he explains how he moved from HDV video camera to embrace HDSLR. While I bet a lot of you already prefer HDSLRs over video camera, I am sure a lot of readers could tell the same story, hence the reason I wanted to repeat it.

When I was looking at getting into the video production field, I decided to go with what I knew at the time. In college (I graduated in 2005) everything was tape based, so the thought of going strictly digital was un-nerving, so I went with what I knew. After digging around and knowing my budget I went with the Sony HDV-A1U. I thought I was in 7th heaven when my camera arrived. The quality of video was great, the size of the camera fit my needs for shooting in tight spots and traveling; but the thing that bugged me most about the purchase was the lack of depth of field. I knew what shots I wanted to get, and the only way to make it work was taking the camera out an extra 10 or 20 feet from the subject I was shooting and zooming in to sort of macro/mock up the d.o.f. I was aiming for.

A friend of mine who owns his own production company pointed me to the 7D and 5D, a better alternative in his mind than buying a Letus35. Don’t get me wrong, the Letus35 is a great tool, and who’s to say that some day down the road I won’t purchase one; but my thought process was in the order that I know that having a 2nd camera as a backup, and a second angle during shoots was a positive for what I could offer my clients, that solidified my decision to get the ball rolling. So through many freelance jobs and my nose to the wheel I was able to purchase the 7D and it was like something just clicked in my video production ability. The reason my shots were better is that I was very familiar with the EOS and the way it ran. I had been working with a Canon 4D for almost 2 years, and with literally a turn of a dial I was able to get the shots I had wanted since my re-emergence into video.

For any people who are on the fence or are just starting out in the video field, I am telling you that the HDSLR’s are the best way to go. With your choice of lenses, the ability to take photographs along side video and the ability to shoot at 24, 30 and 60 frames per second… you will not regret it. Just be aware that your shooting time is limited because of over heating issues. Shooting long interviews or long wedding ceremonies will be limited.

Comments from Alain, the admin

Jeremy highlighted an important point: HDSLRs clip durations are capped. While this is not an issue for most people who are shooting weddings or video clips, it is problematic for shooting interviews or performances. While you can always try to work around the limitation by timing your questions, the only real work around is to work with two cameras and start/stop them before the time limit in interval and fix the missing parts in the edit room.

Because there are no ways to start/stop movie recording with a cable remote (it only works with the IR remotes RC1) and you can’t use an IR remote to control a specific camera (it would start/stop both camera at the same time), you have to press the SET button manual to manage the recording which could be a pain if the two cameras are far apart.

Using two cameras is also a good protection versus camera over heating or malfunctions. While I know most people do not have the budget for a second 5DMrkII, a good solution is to use one of the cheaper Rebel models (ex: Rebel T1i) with a 50mm for a close up shot on the subject face and keep the 5D for the wide shot.

About Shane Brown-Daniels

I'm a freelance writer and event photographer who is always up for an adventure. From capturing the beauty of a woman, the strength of a man, onto the adrenaline-pumped action scene, you'll find me aiming for the shot.

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