5 Reasons Why DSLRs Are Bad For Video

Affordable Cinema Cameras Push DSLRs out of Marketshare

In October of 2005, Canon revolutionzied the video world when they introduced the worlds’s first video-capable dslr camera, the Canon EOS 5D Mark II. The EOS 5D Mark II was the first full frame dslr to have a movie record feature, and became widely popular, used in television, documentary, and indie productions. However, DSLRs like the EOS 5D Mark II, have shortcomings when it comes to video and cinema production as explained below.

Related: Why the BMPCC 6K is Blackmagic Design’s Best Cinema Camera, Yet!

Disadvantages

  • Rolling Shutter

  • Video Codec/Recording Limitis

  • Dynamic Range

  • Audio Fidelity

  • Battery life

Rolling Shutter

The effects of rolling shutter are most evident in recordings that camera movement such as panning or unstable movement, resulting in a shot that shows skewing to the image. DSLR sensors use a rolling shutter mechanism to record videos, which distort straight lines with their slow readout speeds. Most cinema cameras with rolling shutter overcome skewing with fast sensor data readouts, and some cinema cameras even have a global shutter, which records the whole image at once, with no skewing.

Codec/Recording Limits

 

 

Image Credit: B&H Photo Video, https://bhpho.to/3t5WaZ8
Image Credit: B&H Photo Video, https://bhpho.to/3t5WaZ8

Image Credit: B&H Photo Video, https://bhpho.to/3t5WaZ8

 

DSLRs such as the EOS 5D Mark II use a highly compressed 8 bit H.264 video codec, which is not good for color grading or VFX. When recording in a lower quality codec, the raw image loses detail and valuable information. Computers struggle to decompress H.264 files created by DSLRs as compared to native recording formats like Apple ProRes or Avid DNxHD. More recently, cinema cameras are overcoming these data restrictions with 12-bit RAW and 10-bit video codecs, such as BRaw from Blackmagic Design and the new Apple ProRes Raw. Additionally, most DSLRs and mirrorless cameras have a 30-minute recording limit, which is simply a software cap placed by camera companies to avoid additional taxes on import fees.

Dynamic Range

 

 

Image Credit: B&H Photo Video, https://bhpho.to/3t5WaZ8
Image Credit: B&H Photo Video, https://bhpho.to/3t5WaZ8

Image Credit: B&H Photo Video, https://bhpho.to/3t5WaZ8

The dynamic range of video files from DSLRs range from five to seven stops of lattitude, as compared to upwards of fifteen plus stops of dynamic range in professional cinema cameras. Using flat or log color profiles has been the way DSLR users attempt to gain more dynamic range with their videos, but this technique has a huge problem — log profiles are recorded using compressed codecs, and when color-graded, began to fall apart and lose detail. Emulating the dyanmic range of film was once the goal, but now cinema cameras are even surpassing those limits with extreme light-sensitive sensors.

Audio

 

 

Image Credit: KAL VISUALS, https://bit.ly/3adGbPI
Image Credit: KAL VISUALS, https://bit.ly/3adGbPI

Image Credit: KAL VISUALS, https://bit.ly/3adGbPI

Most people do not realize the importance of quality audio, and DSLRs definitely fall short in this regard. DSLRs tend to record 16-bit audio, which is a low resoultion bitrate as compared to more broadcast standard 24 and 32-bit formats. The 3.5mm microphone connections on DSLRs are not professional-quality, and do not provide not a balanced signal, which is why professionals used XLR interfaces. Pre-amplifiers used in DSLRs are notoriuosly noisy and low-powered, creating muddy and compressed audio signals.

Battery Life

 

 

Image Credit: B&H Photo Video, https://bhpho.to/3iX2HjV
Image Credit: B&H Photo Video, https://bhpho.to/3iX2HjV

Image Credit: B&H Photo Video, https://bhpho.to/3iX2HjV

Lastly, battery life on DSLRs is very poor, ranging from 45 minutes to an hour of continued use. When recording a video, you might miss the action if you have to switch out the batteries constantly throughout the day. Long-form productions requiring all-day power are not good suitable for DSLR’s limited battery life and video recording limits.

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