Are DSLRs still relevant?

Announced in September 2008, the Canon 5D Mark II is widely acknowledged to have launched the DSLR video revolution. Primarily a stills camera, the video functionality was an extra feature. What drew filmmakers to it was the fact that it was the first full-frame DSLR to allow 1080p video recording. The sensor size allowed users to create a shallow depth of field, which is traditionally associated with a ‘film look’. As a video capturing device it wasn’t without its restrictions. A 4GB maximum file size, moiré and initially a lack of cinematic 24p meant are just some of the issues it had.

A lot has changed since the release of the 5D Mark II. The question today is, are DSLRs still relevant in the indie/low budget filmmaking industry?

Price

You can find a canon 700D with an 18-55mm lens going on amazon for under £400 and even a 5D Mark II sells at £800 second hand. This means that DSLR’s are the best way to be able to utilise full manual control on a device that can offer videos that have a shallow depth of field.

Depth of Field

DSLRs have some of the biggest sensor sizes usually ranging from APS-C sized and all the way to full frame. Couple this with a fast lens and shallow depth of field is yours to use (or misuse!).

Functionality

Compared to consumer camcorders offer full manual controls, which are vital to any serious filmmaker. However, because DSLRs are designed primarily as still cameras, they do not offer the same functionality that prosumer camcorders provide. Third party hacks such as Magic Lantern for Canon cameras proves that the phrase ‘life does indeed find a way. 4K, more dynamic range, a higher bitrate, raw capability, the list goes on and yes DSLRs don’t offer them but, even today as we approach 2016 nothing beats a DSLR for the value that it has.

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