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When Should You use a Traditional Video Camera Instead of a DSLR?

While DSLR video cameras are very capable, there are some times when it’s going to be better to use a traditional video camera. There are a number of functions that are either missing on DSLRs or are not well-suited to the form factor.  Here are some considerations that would make a traditional video camera a better choice.

  • Autofocus – Many DSLR cameras simply can’t autofocus when they are in video shooting mode. And the ones that do autofocus may do it with too much “searching.” Consumer video cameras often feature autofocus options.  However truly professional video cameras rely on the operator to focus by hand as well.  You can add a follow focus dial to your DSLR to make focus movement smoother.
  • Embedded high-quality Audio – A traditional video camera often handles audio in a more professional way.  This includes the option for professional audio inputs like XLR as well as easy to access control knobs for adjusting volume.  Many DSLR cameras bury their audio controls in menus, in fact some can’t be adjusted once you start recording.  Additionally, monitoring audio on a DSLR can be impossible as most do not output audio while they are recording.
  • Faster Custom White Balance in changing light – Professional video cameras often have a dedicated button to set the white balance for the camera.  Conversely this option is often buried for a DSLR and typically involves shooting a still photo first the loading it for reference.
  • Avoiding rolling shutter – A traditional video camera that uses a CCD sensor approach for capturing video is less prone to rolling shutter.  This allows for faster panning and camera movement without seeing optical distortion in the frame.  However many video cameras also use CMOS chips, so these are just as prone as DSLR cameras to rolling shutter.

I originally wrote this article originally for DPBestflow.

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