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Thread: Best video quality with a photocamera

  1. #1

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    Best video quality with a photocamera

    Hello everybody
    A dear friend of mine decided to buy a reflex to shoot videos in a big project between the university, a group of directors and photographers. He's gonna use it in sets with metrical refers and proper light positions, on a tripod or a steadycam, everything in controlled conditions.
    His budget is about 1200, and he has to buy lens also.
    I'm a nikon user, and i don't have a camera that shoots videos, and rarely used some models for holyday videos or so.
    So i went to see on some reviews and advices found in italy's nikon forum. A lot of people sudgested me the 4/3 Panasonic gh2 modified, because the gh3 is out of budget. i also looked to sony alpha77 and it seems to be only a little bit less good as the panasonic. About nikon, he only found a pair of models of d300s with those money, and it's only 720p. otherwise the D7100 seems to be as good as the alpha77, but i think it's too much expensive (even if he has three nikkor from '70s).
    The specs i've seen are a bit strange to me, because i do not really know anything about video and 4/3 systems. the problem is that i hardly believe that a 4/3 model has better quality than most of the DX DSLRs, even better, according to reviews, than some Fullframes as the old 5DmII.
    I hope some people here can help me understand how is possible that a 4/3 camera has better video quality than an advanced DSLR.
    And also, of course, i'm looking for advices about video quality in general, mostly about canon cameras that seem to be the most quality for money around.
    thanks everybody
    Lorenzo

  2. #2
    William W's Avatar
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    Re: Best video quality with a photocamera

    Based on what you write here:
    A dear friend of mine decided to buy a reflex to shoot videos in a big project between the university, a group of directors and photographers. He's gonna use it in sets with metrical refers and proper light positions, on a tripod or a steadycam, everything in controlled conditions.
    You friend has made the wrong choice.

    He should investigate a dedicated video camera.

    I used this one, a couple of weeks ago - for a "prosumer" model, it is very high quality in finish and quality, compact & light weight, fast lens and has many professional attributes

    WW
    Last edited by William W; 16th May 2013 at 02:12 AM.

  3. #3
    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Best video quality with a photocamera

    Hi Lorenzo – I agree with Bill’s assessment 110%.

    There are a lot of people out there that seem to think that they can save some money getting a DSLR and end up with a good video camera as well. I won’t say they are wrong, but I will say that they will have a tool that is difficult to use, especially for a beginner and especially someone trying to shoot straight out of the box.

    HD video cameras natively shoot either 1920 x 1080 pixels or 1280 x 720 pixels; i.e. in the range of 1MP to 2MP; this can be higher if you are looking at pro cameras aimed at the feature film market, but these start at about 20x your friend’s budget. This is the native resolution that high quality video is played at if you look at Blu-Ray specs. Modern still cameras shoot in the range of 12MP to 36MP, so as you can see, video shot on a still camera means that the image has to be down sampled; i.e. most of the data is thrown away. An mFT sensor is about 80% the size of the APS-C sensor, so the quality difference is not as large as you think.

    Compared to a dedicated video camera, a DSLR is much more difficult to focus, has no power zoom, has poor audio capture capabilities, does not have a parfocal lens, etc. The balance is all wrong for hand holding a shot, and most people that I know that shoot a DSLR for video have equipped them with an external viewfinder magnifier (Zacuto is the most common one I see) and often get a set of rails and install a proper follow-focus device. If you look at the cost of adding these accessories, you are really spending more money than for a low end pro camera.

    If you look at why people migrated to DSLRs in the past, it was because of the large sensors that they had versus the small sensors on dedicated video cameras. The one (and only) advantage that used to exist was that the large sensor allowed shallow depth of field shots, just like on the still cameras. In the meantime, large sensor dedicated video cameras have hit the market; Panasonic, Sony and Canon have all introduced interesting dedicated cameras.

    So, can you get great video out of a DSLR (or a fixed mirror camera like the new Sony units or a mirrorless camera like the Panasonics you list; absolutely yes, especially under studio lighting conditions; BUT, they are a lot harder to work with. This is my personal experience; own both a Nikon D90 and a Nikon D800 and I have shot video with both. I also own a couple of pro video cameras (Panasonic DVX100a (non-HD) and an interchangeable lens mFT Panasonic AF100). I will choose the dedicated video camera every time. They are a pleasure to shoot with and I get good, consistent results. I can also get good results out of the Nikons, but it takes a lot more work, and is more difficult to use under non-ideal shooting conditions.

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    Re: Best video quality with a photocamera

    Thank you Bill and Manfred for your advices.
    as you say, a proper video camera would be the best coice, is the same advice i gave to my friend from the beginning of the research, but he really wants a camera to shoot pictures as well. Even if the problems linked to all the aspects that change between a camera and a video camera are too huge for me, it's not my chice, he asked me about a photocamera and he wants one to shoot pictures.
    I understand his problem: a very good video camera he could buy is for example a canon legria hf g25, around 1000€, full of helpful functions, but the sensor is less than 3Mpxs so if he'd like to take pictures (according to the possibility of the camera, i do not even know if the model allows to shot pictures) i'd have a very bad quality compared to a dslr.
    I also would like to thank Manfred for explaining why a four thirds sensor can shoot as good as a DX, if not beter.
    So, staying on photo cameras, and according to what Manfred says, i still have some doubts about 4/3 systems. I mean: i've no problems in understanding the image size thing, but i wonder if there are other aspects influenced by the sensor size: as digital noise, colours quality, fine details, etc etc.
    The problem is that i do not really know enough about it to say to my friend "buy a panasonc gh insetad of a dslr canon".

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    Re: Best video quality with a photocamera

    Quote Originally Posted by William W View Post
    Hello William
    I've no doubts that model is a very good camera but is really too much out of my friend's budget

  6. #6
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    Re: Best video quality with a photocamera

    I also agree that a DSLR camera is not necessarily the best combination for video production although some photographers love the effect you can get using a DSLR camera/lens in video work...

    The Canon noted above is one of the cameras I would choose if I had the budget.

    However, I use a Panasonic HDC-TM900 for my video shooting (although my 7D cameras are capable of video). I chose this camera because I wanted a small dedicated video camera which I could carry on trips and which would produce quality high definition video. In fact, it is light enough (13.9 oz or 394 grams) that my wife has volunteered to carry it during our European vacation. She wanted to have a video record of our trip...

    I selected this camera because it included an eye level viewing option and the price was not out of reach. Eye level viewing is easier for me than using an LCD viewer in the bright sun; even though I have a shield for the LCD which helps a bit. Panasonic also offers cameras in this quality range which don't include eye level viewing and are less expensive.

    I would not necessarily recommend this camera because I don't like the positioning of the zoom and the shoot contols. They are not comfortable for me to use...

    http://reviews.cnet.com/digital-camc...-34507007.html

    My rescue dogs are the main reason for my getting a video camera. I post videos on Internet rescue sites. Run and gun shooting is IMO a lot easier with a dedicated video camera than shooting video with a DSLR. Following fast moving dogs is certainly my definition of "run and gun". This is the rig that I use for my dog work. Note: I will shoot most of my dog video hand-held simply because it is easier to follow the quick moving dogs. I use a video "cage" which incorporates several "cold shoes" for mounting lights and which could be used for microphone and mixer if I chose to do so.

    Best video quality with a photocamera

    This cage also helps with camera shake but, I can mount the entire rig on a tripod or a monopod if I wish. I have an Arca Compatible plate on the bottom of the cage which will mesh with the A/C clamps on my tripods and monpod. I have solved the problem of poor positioning of the zoom and shoot controls when I use the camera on the cage. I attach the camera's remote control to the right upright of the cage with velcro and operate the zoom and shoot that way...

    IMO, I don't need "pro" quality video to show off my rescue dogs on various Internet rescue sites. If I did need "pro" quality video, I would most certainly shoot the majority of my video tripod mounted.

    Also, if I were needing to produce professonal quality videos and had a low budget, I would opt for a more "professional-like" video camera such as: (note: I have not used this camera so I cannot recommend it - but, if I needed a relatively inexpensive camera, I would investigate this one)

    http://www.adorama.com/PCAGAC7PJ.htm..._source=pgrabl

    Don't forget when you are budgeting for video, you will need lighting, a good video tripod, possibly a motion dampening device (steadicam, etc) and microphone(s) with a mixer as minimum equipment. That could easily eat up your budget without even considering the camera/lens.

    A tripod is the second most important piece of gear for video production (second only after the camera/lens). IMO, you CANNOT produce professional looking video hand-held, despite the motion dampening capabilities of modern cameras. IMO, a tripod with a good video oriented head is the logical choice for video production. A fluid dampened pan head is probably the best choice. A small fluid head is not all that expensive. I use a Manfrotto http://www.manfrotto.com/pro-fluid-video-mini-head

    Not the best head out there but, I don't do video production and I got the head for $50 USD on eBay. BTW: This head also works great for following action with a DSLR and a long lens....

    I like using a monopod for some video shooting. My Calumet carbon fiber monopod is equipped with a Kirk MPA-1 Tilt-Head which incorporates an Arca Compatible clamp. All my DSLR cameras and lenses are set up with L-brackets or A/C brackets. I also have an A/C bracket on my Panasonic TM-900. I have a hunch that this switching around capability will be useful on my trip to Europe.

    You will also need editing software and a computer with enough power to edit your videos. That right there could also eat up your budget.

    If your friend is dead set on using a DSLR for video work, I'd recommend a camera like the Canon T4i with the 18-135mm STM lens...
    http://www.usa.canon.com/cusa/consum...s_stm_lens_kit

    The t4i setup is also reasonably priced (in the USA):
    http://www.amazon.com/Canon-Rebel-Di...ords=canon+t4i
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 16th May 2013 at 04:41 PM.

  7. #7
    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Best video quality with a photocamera

    Hi Lorenzo – I’m not saying that mFT is better than APS-C (DX) sensors, I just wanted you to understand that they are both considered crop sensors; mFT has a crop factor of 2.0, whereas Canon APS-C has a crop factor or 1.6 and Nikon a crop factor of 1.5. In any case, these are large sensors that compare favourably with traditional 35mm film size. Remember that a traditional 35mm frame is actually a double frame, when looking at the size of a motion picture frame.

    The main advantage I see with mirrorless cameras or fixed mirror camera is that they are designed to work without a movable mirror, and that has some significant advantages when it comes to shooting video. This means that there is an electronic viewfinder, so one is not restricted to using the Live View screen with composing and shooting. As well mFT cameras are a lot more compact than DSLRs, just because they do not need the physical space for the mirror chamber and the whole mirror activation / return mechanism. I did have a hard look at mFT, but opted for a DSLR, purely because of the professional features, rather than the more amateur layout in the mFT line. A smaller body means that certain design trade-offs have to be made.

    I rather thought that that your friend was trying to go cheap and achieve both goals with the same piece of equipment. If he is primarily a still shooter and only wants to shoot video occasionally, this is probably not a bad plan, so long as he understands the drawbacks of his decision. It is certainly something I thought about when I upgraded my video camera. Fortunately I already owned a HD video capable DSLR to work with, and that convinced me that a dedicated high end video camera was the appropriate choice for the type of shooting that I do.

    When shooting video, you do need a stable platform to eliminate camera shake; a tripod is the most commonly used device. Your friend should remember to budget for something there. A video tripod is considerably different than a still camera tripod. They are a lot more rigid than a still camera tripod and have a fluid head to allow smooth tilt and pan.

    The other part of video shooting is that while post production can be considered optional in still work (although I would not say that is the case for any serious shooter); non-linear editing software is absolutely mandatory for video work. Again this needs to be budgeted for. Video rendering is very resource intensive, so a moderately fast computer is required to run the editor.

  8. #8
    William W's Avatar
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    Re: Best video quality with a photocamera

    Quote Originally Posted by lorenzobix View Post
    Hello William
    I've no doubts that model is a very good camera but is really too much out of my friend's budget
    I was not clear enough in my explanation.
    That is only one example and it happened to be a camera I recently used - just three weeks ago.

    There are many others Video Cameras which are less expensive and in that Canon Range.

    ***

    I understand from your new post that your friend ALSO wants a camera to make still pictures.
    That is a different situation.

    My advice regarding the UNIVERSITY PROJECT, however remains the same:

    In my opinion one CANNOT make "videos in a big project between the university, a group of directors and photographers. He's gonna use it in sets with metrical refers and proper light positions, on a tripod or a steadycam, everything in controlled conditions." . . .
    using a DSLR or Mirrorless still camera: there are just too many compromises

    If this is indeed a "big project" and "controlled conditions" and "metrical refers" and "proper light positions" and "on a tripod or a steadycam" . . . then your friend has to choose whether: quality and ease of shooting and production and functionality is important - or if it is not important.

    Basically your friend has to choose how important this video shoot and the result of it is to him.

    My advice is that choosing a DSLR or a Mirror-less still camera for such an important job is a poor choice.

    ***

    I think your friend should look at more lateral solutions: perhaps hiring a Video Camera is one idea.

    Also - I expect that mostly ALL Universities in Italy would have quite a few reasonable Video Cameras in many Faculties' stores: I suggest your friend look into borrowing one.

    WW

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