One of the recent developments in the video production world has been the capacity of Digital Stills Cameras or Digital SLR’s like the Canon 7d to record stunning video as well do their day job of taking photographs.
Without going in to technical explanations that I dont understand, high end professional Digital SLR cameras, (and I am talking £800 for just the camera body and no lens) come with a full frame sensor which are the same size as the image area of 35mm film and as such can achieve high quality “film like” video acquisition for a fraction of the cost of an equivalent full frame sensor video camera.
The combination of this large sensor and being able to use interchangeable, lenses gives us control of how much of the image is in focus. The technical term for this is depth of field but use the images below to see how a shallow depth of field results in only a small area of the image to be in focus. This is nigh on impossible to achieve with a HD video camcorder of the same price range. They simply dont have the same size of sensor and you cant change the lens to something more suitable for the job.
This shallow depth of field is widely used to great effect in high end TV productions and in particular cinema films so that your eye is less easily distracted by irrelevant detail. Conversely it helps draw your attention to the important elements in the scene.
Next time you sit and watch the TV and / or a film, see how many times this is used to good effect.
Up until the last year or so this just wasn’t something you would see in budget conscious corporate video productions because the video cameras simply couldn’t achieve it. When vidoegraphers started to realise what full sensor stills cameras could achieve then things started to become more exciting and that is why we are telling you about it now.
Of course, it would be too good to be true. Well, actually it is true but it isn’t the full picture, if you will excuse the pun. At the end of the day the digital SLR is only a stills camera. It isn’t configured to act like a full video production camera so there are some important compromises we have to take in to consideration.
For a start, there is the issue of recording audio. For a lot of video productions audio is absolutely critical to get right, especially interviews, but this an area of real shortcomings with a stills camera like the Canon 7D. Sure it does do audio but it doesn’t do managed, professional audio. It has a small onboard microphone and a 1/8-inch microphone input which simply isnt good enough for professional interviews.
Sous Productions approach is to use an independent audio recording device. Either a dedicated audio recorder or possibly a 2nd video camera that handles professional audio and then sync the audio and video together at the edit stage. A bit of a faff but personally I think it’s worth it for the end results.
After audio we get down to what are mostly just inconveniences that we accept and find a way around. Remember, a digital stills camera is not a professional video camera and we shouldn’t expect it to perform entirely like one.
What we do get though is stunning video and that “film like” picture quality we long for. The results, if used in the right hands can add incredible video production values to what might otherwise look pretty unspectacular for that price bracket. The alternative is to invest in some very expensive video cameras that are not cost effective for a lot of the current swell in SME companies looking for an inexpensive video production.
My conclusion is that for a lot of jobs the Digital SLR is a very useful addition to the corporate video tool kit. You have to appreciate it’s limitations but must also sell it’s virtues. We love the results we can achieve for our clients and we would hope you love them too.
If you would like to know more about how we can incorporate the benefits of a camera like the Canon 7D Digital SLR in to your business video production then please get in touch.
As always, we look forward to being able to help you.