Introduction: Why Should You Use a DSLR For Filmmaking?
DSLR cameras are a great choice for filmmaking. For the average user, they provide a cheap and accessible option for filmmaking. And they can produce comparable results to a professional video camera. The final episode of “House” was filmed entirely using a Canon 5D Mark II, and Philip Bloom is a famous film-maker/cinematographer who is renowned for working with DSLRs. If a DSLR camera is good enough to use in professional productions, there’s no reason it won’t work for your next filmmaking project.
The sensor inside of a DSLR is actually bigger than the sensor in most video cameras, which means you are able to get better picture quality and less noise at higher ISO levels. You are also able to get more creative with a DSLR camera since you have a wider selection of lenses and the gear allows for more control through the settings. Playing with the depth of field opens up a lot of ideas for your filmmaking.
DSLR cameras are becoming much better at video recording and they could serve you well on your next filmmaking project.
What Features To Look For
In recent years DSLRs have become much more adept at recording video. But, some DSLRs contain additional features and options which can make a huge impact on what is possible with filmmaking. The most important specification to check for considering a DSLR for filmmaking is the resolution and fps (frames per second) it is able to output.
The current standard for high definition video is 1080p running at 24fps. Most modern DSLR cameras should be able to record 1080p video at 24fps, but you should always double check the specifications to be sure! However, one of the new trends in filmmaking and video recording is 1080p at 60fps. There is also the new 4K video trend which is not supported by many DSLRs at the moment.
For your traditional filmmaking needs, most DSLRs will offer the ability to record video at 1080p at 24fps. But if you want to get experimental with different formats then you will need to purchase a camera that supports different video recording options.
For the users that aren’t afraid to customize their gear, there is a third-party software known as Magic Lantern that provides additional options for Canon cameras. Please be aware that using Magic Lantern does void the warranty and we take no responsibility for any harm that occurs to your software or hardware. However, if that doesn’t worry you, there are many advantages to using Magic Lantern and it opens up a lot of options with Canon cameras and video recording.
Top 3 Best DSLR For Filmmaking
Our list of the top 3 best DSLR cameras for filmmaking will be broken down into three different categories. We are going to name the best DSLR for filmmaking for the categories of entry-level, prosumer and professional level users.
Entry Level: Canon EOS Rebel T5i with 18-55mm STM Lens
The Canon T5i is a strong choice as an entry level DSLR for photography and video recording. Canon has been working on the video recording capabilities of their cameras and it shows in the Canon T5i. This kit also includes the 18-55mm STM lens which makes this package a great straight out-of-the-box solution for entry level film-makers.
Capable of capturing full HD 1080p video using its 18 MP sensor, the Canon T5i produces picture quality at an entry level price. The tilt-screen gives easy access for self-filming and viewing at tight angles. Touchscreen contextual menus allow users easy access to different options and settings.
The auto-focus in live view mode can be slow sometimes and it has a hard time focusing in low light areas. You may have to resort to manual focusing during video recording as the Canon T5i will have trouble keeping up with moving subjects while shooting video.
- Performs very well capturing both video and photo stills
- Great value for money
- Easy-to-use and works great for video recording straight out-of-the-box
- Sluggish auto-focus in live view mode
Prosumer: Canon EOS 70D with 18-135mm STM Lens
The Canon 70D is the best DSLR for filmmaking within the prosumer budget. It outclasses other models within the price range with its 20.2 MP sensor and “Full HD Movie” video shooting mode. The auto-focus is much faster and accurate than the entry level Canon T5i, making it a worthy pick-up for more serious film-makers.
Other features include a tilt-screen, ability to record full HD 1080p video at 24fps and 720p at 60fps. The included 18-135mm kit lens covers the full range of angles you will ever need for filmmaking.
- Fast and accurate auto-focusing
- Excellent image quality
- Can’t record 1080p video at 60fps
Professional: Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GH4K
The Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GH4K prioritises video capturing ability over still photography. Features such as the ability to shoot 4K video and the extended range of frame rate options will turn the heads of serious film-makers. Added Wi-Fi connectivity makes shooting and sharing much easier since it can connect to other devices.
Panasonic improves upon the GH4K’s predecessor by adding more focus points for a total of 49 auto-focus points. This guarantees fast and accurate auto-focusing when filming video. The Panasonic GH4K can be combined with the Lumix DMW-YAGH grip to extend its functionality. This camera can easily produce results comparable to professional 4K cameras well over its own price range.
The main drawback of the Panasonic GH4K is the fact that it is using a crop sensor and not a full-frame sensor. When compared alongside other professional-grade DSLRs, the video does contain a bit more noise at higher ISO levels and has a lower dynamic range. However, the sharpness and image quality are almost identical.
- Great range of frame rate and resolution settings
- Relatively cheap considering what it offers
- Wi-Fi capability
- Incredible picture quality
- Uses a crop sensor
- Slightly lower dynamic range compared to full-frame cameras