DSLR vs. Prosumer camcorder

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    • #48802

      Hello, I’m rather new to videography as a business and am currently saving up from some gear via photography and renting video equipment.. I just recently found a group of film makers who use only dslr as video cameras which is a nice option because it’s multi use and you get the nice DoF..

      So here is my question, I mainly do wedding and party videography and was wondering if the traditional 3ccd prosumer is the best option or would a dslr rig be any good for weddings?

      I mean does it really just come down topreference or are there some strong advantages for not using a dslr for this type of shooting?

    • #200032

      This question keeps popping up.

      it raises two more questions for me…

      Do you know your business? and do you know your equipment? Which raises one more question for me….if the answer is no to either…. should you be learning by trial and error with other peoples once in a lifetime memories?

      the search function in this site will lead to many answers.

      here are two questions a person with more Wedding and Camera experience might ask…

      The speeches at a wedding reception typically last (how long??? you should know this)…. will a dslr record the whole event or will it overheat, shut itself off and kill it’s battery? (you should know this).

      lecture over.

      Truth is you need both cams and you need to know how to use each to it’s full capacities…

      You are up against guys that have done this for years. You are asking about which camera you should buy… I have six, three video three d-slr, and guys out there with one camera and a cheap price tag are killing the industry and creating a whole generation of Brides that think $300.00 is the going rate then walk around claiming all photogs are rip off artists, because a monkey with a camera could have done a better job at HER wedding….

      Unless you have enough d-slrs and an assistant to trade off cameras to cool off sensors,and swap batteries between speakers….. don’t try it with a d-slr.

      Good luck to you.

    • #200033

      “… Guys out there with one camera and a cheap price tag are killing the
      industry and creating a whole generation of Brides that think $300.00 is
      the going rate then walk around claiming all photogs are rip off artists, because a monkey with a camera could have done a better job….”

      Sic’em D0n!

      And I thought I was the ‘Drill Instructor’ around here!


      D0n’s brought up some pertinent points. DSLR’s are great cameras, but I agree that unless you are an experienced videographer, I wouldn’t recommend one as your ‘frontline rig’ until you built your chops up. Those other filmmakers probably have been doing this stuff for a while. Keep in mind that a DSLR is a Still Camera that also shoots Video. There is a much higher learning curve with a DSLR than a traditional video camera. There are also more extensive and expensive accessory requirements as well.

      With a video cam you can get away with one lens and use inexpensive lens adapters to get required imagery. With a DSLR you need to buy full lenses. You also can’t get away with getting zoom lenses with a DSLR for shooting video vice stills. You need fixed lenses for that. Also, you’ll need time and experience to become proficient with using manual focus lenses (no autofocus on DSLR video). Don’t forget camera support and transport like tripods and cases. Then there’s the whole audio ‘gorilla’ that will have to be contended with. You’ll need mic adapters, a portable recorder, microphones and headphones.

      If you’re just getting started, stick with a traditional video camera. I’ve been a photographer since ’90 and a videographer since ’96. I can shoot still and video on the fly because I’ve done it successfully for a good while in both practice and when it counted. I do not recommend anyone starting out to try and do that. I teach my students to first learn one and then the other. So my suggestion is to pick one. You sound like you’re leaning more towards video. Despite what the YouTube weenies may imply, learning to shoot proper and ultimately professional video ain’t easy. You want your tools to be as simple but effective as possible starting out. A DSLR is very effective, but far from simple.

    • #200034

      I’ll try to refrain from posting when I got my first cup of coffee in one hand, and a dead hard drive in the other…

      but the d-slr is great for short shots, b-roll, artistic stuff to compliment your bread and butter long shots….

      the reason they can do a tv series on dslrs…… watch how long each shot is on a tv show then remember they got a crew filming each shot from multiple angles, with multiple cameras, for multiple takes… you can’t do that at a Wedding.

    • #200035

      I have years of filmexperience with film cameras, very little using dslr as a video device, I did not think about the overheating issue that would come up from using a dslr…

      “…guys out there with one camera and a cheap price tag are killing the industry and creating a whole generation of Brides that think $300.00 isthe going ratethen walk around claiming all photogs are rip off artists, because a monkey with a camera could have done a better job atHERwedding….”

      LoL this is very true and personally I’m trying to stay away from these tactics… cause I really hate being restricted to one camera and I always advise clients against single camera shoots unless they are desperate to get their wedding filmed and just don’t have the $$…

      and composite1: I agree with you that it takes years to learn to shoot proper and professional video… and I’m leaning toward video and for me it’s either photography or videography at weddings.. not both πŸ™‚ thats what partners are for…

      Thanks for the advice from both of you btw.. I shall stick with myoriginalplan of video cameras and keep the dslr for photo/quick shoots..

    • #200036

      “I’ll try to refrain from posting when I got my first cup of coffee in one hand, and a dead hard drive in the other…”


      Been there, done that, hated it. Of course there’s always Decaf and SSD’s….


      Your experience with film cameras will be of great help when learning to shoot video. Poor Framing and Composition are the two biggest killers of great video. Having a grip on those two things in addition to understanding focus and exposure you already are familiar with four of the pillars of shooting video. Where the hard part comes in is; motion, screen direction, manipulation of white balance and color temperature controls, audio and many other things. I remember after 6 years working as a professional photographer the initial transition to video had me thinking “$#@! this is complicated, but it’s fun!”

      Photography is wonderful but so is video. When working with one format I find myself thinking, “how would this look on the other?” I’ve also shot both simultaneously (not easy to do.) The learning curve for professional video production via traditional Video Camera or DSLR can get plenty steep (we haven’t mentioned that whole ‘editing’ thing yet.) However, learning it will even improve your Still shooting. If you can handle the learning process and all the gear you’re going to need to get started, I think you’ll enjoy it.

      Lastly, I think your plan of 1 video cam/1 DSLR to augment is a solid one. Now, you get to figure out what you’re going to get….

    • #200037

      well as far as ssd’s are concerned, we don’t go to war with the army we wish we had… we go with the army we got..

      at least everything was backed up… just a scratch disc rendering a project…. reload the project from the original, put a new drive in the scratch disc, re-render….. cost me a couple hours is all….

      as for coffee, please smack yourself for using the “D” word… what’s wrong with you?


    • #200038

      “…We don’t go to war with the army we wish we had… we go with the army we got.”


      Truer words have never been spoken. At least everything was backed up. The ‘fun part’ is when just as you’re preparing to back everything up the drive dies…. I will also endeavor to refrain from blaspheming before the ‘Coffee Gods!’

    • #200039

      “I will also endeavor to refrain from blaspheming before the ‘Coffee Gods!'”

      The Red Cross won’t let me donate blood anymore. They said it was making people hyper and twitchy.

    • #200040

      Decaf is of the devil…

      “Now, you get to figure out what you’re going to get….”

      I’ve been doing tons of research haven’t even started to narrow things down… there are a lot of good cameras out there right now.. and a ton of bad ones..

    • #200041


      Your equipment selections will boil down to ‘what is it you’re trying to do with them’. Your budget will also be a major factor as well. If you’re a hobbyist, it’s basically your ‘spending money’ to get stuff you want to play with. If you’re a professional who’s trying to make a living, you’re trying to choose a tool to suit the needs of your projected workflow. Now squeeze that into ‘what are your trying to do?’

      I’ve found it’s a matter of ‘averaging’ the things I work on and the things I need to do that work. So whether it’s a DSLR or a traditional camera you’ll be best served by ‘averaging’ things like; versatility, durability and reviews by owners of the gear along with Brand Name and Price. As a pro, every piece of gear you buy has to ‘pay for itself’ through making your job easier. Knowing what your projected work flow and goals are will be a big help in figuring out what kind of gear you need.

    • #200042

      I also need some advice. I have been taking photos of my kids sports (lacrosse and soccer) for several years and now need to take video of my son for recruiting for college. I currently have a Canon 30D DSLR and my main lens is a Canon EF 100-400 f/4.5-5.6L. I also own a older Canon Optura 60 camcorder which uses mini DV tape. I was thinking about just upgrading my camcorder for the Canon VIXIA HF S21 Camcorder but then thought about possibly just upgrading my Canon 30D to the 7D which does DSLR-video. I am just a dad and photography has just been a hobby but not having shot any video with a DSLR-video, I can’t tell if it will work for sporting events. Need help – Your thoughts please.

    • #200043

      “The speeches at a wedding reception typically last (how long???)

      What is typical? Last week was 3 minutes and 3 weeks ago was 56 minutes.

      You never know what you are going to get!

    • #200044

      <guys out there with one camera and a cheap price tag are killing the industry and creating a whole generation of Brides that think $300.00 is the going rate then walk around claiming all photogs are rip off artists, because a monkey with a camera could have done a better job at HER wedding….>

      Well D0n nothing has changed. It has been that way for the more than fifty years that I have been in the business. The only thing that has changed is that when I started $300 was a good price πŸ™‚


    • #200045

      Wow! reading all these posts was a wake up call for me! I used my Canon Rebel T1i dSLR and a Hitachi camcorder to shoot a friends music gig. The Rebel overheated and shut down (was using it for the main wide shot footage) talk about learning the hard way. Roamed around with the Hitachi for different angle shots, close-ups etc. Sound on the Hitachi was way better than the Rebel.

      Thought I was hooked on the dSLR and wasn’t going to pursue hunting down a new HD camcorder for myself but after reading the posts I’m back in the market. Any suggestions for what I should get would be greatly appreciated. It’s a mind-boggling task! Leaning toward memory cards. Sony, Panasonic,??? Something under $2000. Help! I’m an amateur.

    • #200046

      @chedr-you can take this for what its worth,and from a beginner,it may not be worth much,I have a Canon GL2 (SD) camcorder ($800.00/Ebay) Great camera,and a Panasonic AG-HMC40 (HD) camcorder($1900.00/B&H Photo),another great camera,both have alot of features,and for a beginner,they both give great (check for videos tagged “the great dismal swamp” on youtube by “niteliter”)results,cant wait to see what I get when I have the time to study the books………….



    • #200047


      From what I’m seeing from other’s work flows it’s looking like a combination of a traditional video camera and DSLR’s seem to be a good option when working with multiple cameras. As you found out, using a DSLR as your ‘main cam’ wasn’t such a good idea due to the CMOS overheating issue. Then there’s ‘rolling shutter’ and the ‘wet noodle effect’ that can really make rapidly moving objects look ‘weird’ at best.

      Much as I love the DSLR’s and their capabilities, I plan on keeping my 3CCD chip cameras to work along side them.

    • #200048

      Thank you niteliter (Joe) and composite 1 for your feedback!!

      The Panasonic AG-HMC40 was (and may now be again) at the top of my list when I did my last research on which camcorder to buy. What stopped me was it uses the AVCHD codec and it may be a problem when I go to do my editing using Premier Pro CS4. Probably will be going to CS5 in the near future and it sounds like AVCHD editing will be easier to do with that. Any thoughts on that?

      Thanks again,


    • #200049

      Hey … Hey.

      I am here to learn on this one. I have gone over this and I have not come to a definite conclusion on to add a DSLR, or wait and save for a prosumer camcorder.

      I am one of those monkeys that has only one camera. One guitar … etc. Get it.

      My AVCHD experience has not been that bad (going on 18 months now). My little Canon has done well for me and paid for itself a few times over.

      I have always been a Nikon shooter, but my transition to “filmmaker” from “Photographer” has been a little rough … at least for me. Digital workflow and NLE has been the saving grace.

      I am trying to get sponsored to go to the Stan to report and blog on the efforts there … from an Airborne soldiers point of view. As I served many years ago for a short time in the Army’s 1st Ranger Bn, I feel pretty comfortable around and/or with Military units, and I would think be more likely to be invited on tactical ops (non-sensitive ones of course) than others as I have probably crashed in, as will as parachuted out of more military aircraft than most civilian only reporters have flown in. So efficiency, size and weight are all a huge consideration. Actually being able and ready to parachute in with my gear (very unlikely, but just in case ya know) is also concern.

      I am now somewhere between the Nikon D7000, which has AF in video mode and full 1080p at 24, with say a AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR II Zoom Lens lens. Or for about the same price,a GY-HM100U ProHD Camcorder . Both record in H.264, and with both I can shoot and edit short reports with on the fly quickly, or even upload short static video reports if the situation warrants.

      A short video report

      Like I said, I am pretty happy with my little Canon HF10 (sample below), especially where my skill level is at and for the you-tubish meaningless stuff I am doing now, but I am definitive ready to upgrade.

      If I do manage to get a good sponsor, and get into some of the hot areas, I would like to choose on the fly, or in the tent for a mission specific kit.

      But as I said, I am here to learn and see what everyone has to say.

      Kuemmet … out.

      Kuemmet … Stupid Youtubish

    • #200050

      “I have gone over this and I have not come to a definite conclusion….”


      It’s a tough choice as with a ‘one instrument’ band you’ll have to decide what the bulk of it is you’ll be shooting. As a former Combat Cameraman I used to carry both a video and still rig. When I could, I put the video rig on sticks and hit ‘record’ while I worked the still rig. Having a DSLR in the field like that would have been a big help. However, as we’ve discussed in this thread there’s just some things a ‘traditional’ video camera can do better than a DSLR. Primarily, shooting video without sweating how long your clips are or your imaging chip overheating and so on. DSLR’s are really great if you’re going for the ‘Cinematic’ look. But if you’re doing long-form interviews or shooting sustained video you’re in for some problems.

      As a both an experienced still & video shooter the biggest advantage with a DSLR is being able to shoot either or on the fly. I’ve been experimenting with the little PnS (point and shoot) video capable still cameras. Being able to flip the switch from still to video and back really works for me. But then again, I’ve been doing this for a while.

      Were I you, I’d take a serious look at the new Canon 60D as it looks to be far more ‘video friendly’ and still can take great photos. The JVC you mentioned is also a solid choice particularly for taking into the field as you mentioned. Just look out for some ‘Lens Adapters’ to give you some versatility in shooting with it as you won’t have the same depth of lens choices that a DSLR has.

    • #200051

      Cool …thanks.

      A friend is also experimenting with the little PNS’s. I was shocked when I saw some “footage” from the Canon G12. Carry one as a spare in one of the mag pouches.

    • #200052

      excellent points…

      there is a new Nikon p7000 (I think) that rivals the canon g11 but shoots higher def video…..


    • #200053

      Ah … I remember now. The Nikon has external audio (IE wireless mic), to it could be used for more than just B shots. I am just used to the standard Nikon control layout too. So using a d7000 will be intuitive for me. But that is me.

      My friend Tony (<span>http://youtube.com/nextwav</span><span class=”word_break”></span>eg) uses a Canon DSLR for a lot of his stuff, but that is studio stuff, not out in the rough. Although I was thinking a Nikon may deal with the rigors of infantry use better than a camcorder.

      His Gear.

      He does a lot of stuff just on this subject.



    • #200054


      One thing you should seriously consider before going on an imbed run is going out with just one camera is a bad idea. When I was doing that kind of thing for the service, often I went out with a full-sized video rig and a backup ‘crashcam’ in the form of a Sony Handycam. Unless I was on a remote shoot, I could always put in a call for a backup rig if my main went down. In the field, when your rig goes down, you better be able to whip out a back up or your just “Teats on a Bull”. Luckily, despite the economic difficulties, usable imagery can be gotten from a variety of inexpensive gear. If I were you I’d have a Video cam / DSLR rig as my main, one or two PnS with video capacity (HD 720p minimum), and a sports rig like a GoPro (also HD) as a all-weather crashcam. That way if anything happens to one rig, you’ve got fall backs and can keep working. Not to mention being able to slap a camera outside the Humvee in motion is a ‘must get shot’ and you sure as hell aren’t going to do that with your main rig!

    • #200055

      That sounds close. Oh, the Canon EOS 60D DSLR Camera does external audio input

      Two camera set upI will always keep my little HF10 in an M16 mag pouch … fit’s perfectly. That’s on the new vests and Molle pouches. They have to hold 7.62X51 mags now as the new Scar Rifle has that upgrade option. I also always carry (although I don’t use) a quick mount, here set up for both cameras on one tripod (Oh … I lied on the one camera monkey thing).[DSCN0380_3307 for online use[5].jpg]

      Two camera tripod set up with quick mount

    • #200056

      Hi, I had Gh1 then waited for the red sub 2k price tag camera, which failed to emerge. With that said i moved to the Canon 550d. This gave me the shots that were perfect for B Roll stuff, but i always had some kind of back up camera to get the full shot on a tripod.

      I must say its a very deep dark hole which has a steep learning curve for beginners. Also the extras you need to bring with you ie: lights, sound, and all the rest. I think thats one of my issues with the prosumer camera kits, you need to have a army with you. I try to reduce in every way my kit or rigs, this create a less intrusive and intimidating environment for the subject who is being filmed.

      In terms of the hate towards youtube uploader’s, well I think they are destroying the industry but at the same time created a bigger industry online with lower overhead global present and cost effective. The playing ground is almost even, which means quality and production time and cost will reduce at first and then creativity will rise. Oh i don’t do wedding’s, nice events but its not the way i’m going.

      Oh here’s one i shot with the 550D.

    • #210122

      Great discussion guys.I use a VG20 which seems to cross the dslr/videocamera guide pretty adequately for my purposes. Lots of lenses to choose from. I just added a Tascam DR60 for its XLR inputs but I  have to say the RODE videomic does the job most of the time or I use an ENG wireless mic when needed.. The rolling shutter issue doesn't cause me much problem but Premiere Pro  CS6 can adjust for it. ( I'm guessing Final Cut too?). If you're interested in more depth on this camera check out Craig Marshall's comments elsewhere.

    • #210124

      D0n what's your video experience?  Did you start with one camera?  DId you go to wedding videography school?  You sure were harsh on djnproduction.  Lighten up dude

    • #210144
      Aviv Vana

      Lots of useful stuff here! Without going through it all thoroughly I can 2 main points:


      1) DSLR's are the best for quality vs price BUT they come with headaches. BUT if you learn them, and it's not that difficult(!) you will have insanely good footage and can compete with very expensive cameras!


      2) Smaller chip HD cameras are still great if you are shooting events that do not need to be cinematic, need long recording times, everything needs to be in focus, and you want a simply audio connection. So school dances and soccer games etc. But if you want to shoot those events and make an ubelievably cinematic edit (i.e. you are not recording the entire event) then I would go with the DSLR's and capture some amazing footage for your edit.


      Hope this helps somebody.


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