Welcome back to the latest DVT article series, where we’ve been exploring some of the best options for videographers upgrading from a DSLR. Last time, we looked at 4K camcorders, and the benefits they provide, but they’re far from the only option, especially if you’re willing to splash a little more cash in order to secure a top-tier, Super 35 camera that will serve you loyally for years to come.
DSLRs aren’t designed for filmmaking, so incorporating them into a rig means more steps are introduced into the process
Do I need to upgrade from my DSLR?
To summarise what we talked about last time, DSLRs are fantastic pieces of equipment. It is however, important to remember that DSLRs are designed for stills photography, and although they can be used to shoot video, the medium isn’t their natural environment. This presents issues around essential aspects of filmmaking such as recording audio, leading many to an upgrade once they’re doing enough video work to justify the purchase.
The downside of upgrading to a 4K Super 35 video camera is cost, with even the basic models costing far more than a typical DSLR. Camcorders provide a nice middle ground between affordability, dedicated video functionality and 4K recording, but they do lack some of the elements of a DSLR (such as interchangeable lenses) that a lot of cinematographers come to rely on for things like depth of field control.
Another big issue is ease of use. Because DSLRs aren’t designed for filmmaking, incorporating them into a rig means more steps are introduced into the process, slowing things down and adding complexity to even the simplest of shoots, especially if the camera department is a one-man-band.
“If you’re already doing the workload of ten people, why go through so many steps to make things even more difficult? You can simplify the process by using an actual video camera – one built to capture cinematic footage and quality audio at the same time,” explains Michael Maher of PremiumBeat.
A Super 35 video camera ticks all of these boxes, and if it can record in 4K then you’re really cooking with gas.
The 4K question: Does it matter?
In a word, yes. On the surface, it might seem that 4K video isn’t something most videographers need to worry about. After all, how many projects will end up being show on a 4K screen? However the benefits of 4K go far beyond better quality, and the format can be used as a creative tool to produce better 1080p video, and to provide different options in post.
Extra pixels give you far more cropping options in post.
Most HD video is shown in 1080p, and while shooting in 4K won’t change this, there is still a noticeable effect on video quality. Considering 4K frames contain roughly four times as many pixels as HD frames, you can also achieve better results by ‘down-sampling’ these images from 4096×2160 to 1920×1080, which cuts out grain and produces a sharper image. By the same token, extra pixels give you far more cropping options in post, making it possible to tighten up compositions without losing the amount of visual detail required for HD. The same goes for adding digital zooms or pans that will be infinitely smoother than if you were physically moving the camera or lens.
Of course, some DSLRs and camcorders can shoot in 4K just like Super 35 video cameras, but this often comes at a significant price leap, by which time you’re already in the region of some fantastic cameras like the Blackmagic Design URSA Mini 4K or a Canon EOS C200 4K compact digital cinema camera
4K camcorder versus 4K Super 35
So, what are some of the major differences between a 4K camcorder and a 4K Super 35 camera? By far the biggest factor at play when choosing between the two is lens use, with camcorders having a fixed lens compared to Super 35 cameras which can use a wide variety of different ones. Lenses are expensive, but arguably have the most impact on how good your footage looks, and how creative you can get with visual style.
DSLR users will be familiar with different lens types and when to use them, so in this regard the bridge to a video camera is far easier to traverse. Most Super 35 cameras offer a choice between EF and PL mounts, with many even making it possible to switch between the two. This provides an immense level of versatility that camcorders just can’t match, even though their fixed lenses do an amazing job of meeting most needs.
Camcorders are still the weapon of choice for ‘run-and-gun’ scenarios.
Camcorders are still the weapon of choice for ‘run-and-gun’ scenarios such as sports filming or documentaries, where there often isn’t time to mess around with different focal lengths. Ultimately, the choice between the two comes down to what you’re looking to achieve. If you want to work fast and work simple, the camcorder is for you. If you’re taking a cinematographer’s approach, using creative shots and unique perspectives to create beautiful images, then a Super 35 cinema camera should be your go-to.
4K Super 35 cameras: The major players
The Super 35 market is diverse, and if you’re not careful it’s easy to get pulled into the rabbit hole of Hollywood-level equipment costing tens of thousands of dollars. Don’t be fooled though, there are great Super 35 cameras out there at a more affordable level, with a some of the major players being Blackmagic Design, Canon, Panasonic and Sony.
Today I got to play with the new Canon C200 cinema camera. This camera is RAD! So pumped for an affordable 4K internal RAW recording. Way to go Canon!! You’ve brought me back. #canonc200 #c200 #canoncinema #cinemaeos #videographer #filmmaker #cinematography #capture4cubes #lumecube
A post shared by Robert Meeks (@robertlmeeks) on
Blackmagic is still pretty new on the scene, but has made some big splashes over the last couple of years with the URSA range, which now comes in 4K and 4.6K models, with a choice of EF or PL mount. Canon on the other hand, is best known for its DSLRs, but successfully expanded into the Super 35 market a few years ago. The company’s latest product is the Canon Cinema EOS C200, which bridges the gap between high-end DSLRs and the more top-tier C300 and C700.
These models are just the tip of the iceberg though, with all sorts of different Super 35 cameras available for cinematographers who won’t settle for anything less than the very latest. To find out more about all of the options, or to try them out yourself, give the DVT team a call today.
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