This post was inspired by a question I received from Mark Bringedahl. He said he didn’t understand why anyone interested in pursuing professional video wouldn’t buy a professional video camera.
It’s a valid question and one that I have asked myself. In some ways, the professional video cameras trump the DSLRs. The pro vid cams have many of the features you’d have to add onto the DSLR. But the really professional models cost a great deal more than even a top line DSLR like the Canon 1D MK IV. If you look at the video you can produce with a $1600 Canon 7D, it becomes painfully obvious that price is a big factor given that the pro vid cams start in the $4000 and WAY up range.
I think a big drawback for the grunge/indie filmmakers is the lack of stealth and portability in the pro vid cams. They tend to be large and bulky.
Their biggest drawback is that they can’t deliver that smooth, creamy, filmic look that everyone seems to be going for these days without an expensive adapter. The pro vid cams also can’t natively work with a wide variety of lenses. Their focal range is usually limited both on the ultra wide and super telephoto side. While this may not be a problem for everyone, it is a problem for someone like me who shoots wildlife.
I have spoken with some filmmakers who I admire and respect who still think the dedicated pro vid cams are the way to go. So that is a valid choice. But the flexibility, portability and low cost of the hybrid DSLRs make them a popular pick among folks who are just getting into serious video.