DSLR means Digital Single Lens Reflex camera.
The DSLR camera was originally invented as a stills camera, the video feature was added to the camera as an ‘extra’ and it has now become the equipment of choice for many filmmakers.
The advantages of using a DSLR for Filmmaking:
- The cost to quality ratio is superb. The cameras we looked at (the Canon 550 and the Canon 5D) both recorded in full HD (1920×1080)
- The cameras are more adaptable, the lenses can be changed.
- They are smaller and more manoeuvrable, this also makes them good for guerrilla filmmaking because you can pass as a tourist taking photographs and are relatively inconspicuous.
- You can get a ‘pro’ feel from using the camera. Very cinematic films can be shot on a DSLR.
The disadvantages of using a DSLR for Filmmaking:
- The DSLRs are less forgiving, shake is detected more easily and it can ruin your shots.
- They can be a bit too technical for casual users, you really have to master using it to produce great quality shots.
- The lens prices, the lens can cost almost the same, if not more than the actual body of the camera.
- There is a stigma attached to using a DSLR, people don’t think its a ‘real’ camera and expect to see a great big z1. However the BBC are currently experimenting to see if it would be possible to broadcast footage shot on a DSLR camera. In my opinion if filmmakers such as Gareth Edwards are able to shoot features on a DSLR surely they can air a programme shot on a smaller camera.
- The sound quality you get with the onboard mic of a DSLR camera is very poor. Chris who ran the course recommended getting an external mic such as a Roland Sound Recorder with a road mic.
- The main problem with the DSLR cameras is that there is no way to monitor sound on them with out using a special hack.
We then had the chance to use the Canon 5D to film a few short clips and experiment with the depth of field and different lenses. I was blown away by how easy it was to create beautiful looking shots.
Using a DSLR checklist:
- Check what size memory card you have (16GB is about 30 mins worth of filming)
- Check the settings you have your video at (1920×1080? 24frames?)
- Set your ISO (The higher the number the more grain but it becomes brighter)
- Set your Aperture / F Stop level (the lower the number the more light)
- Set the shutter (50 standard)
- Set the zoom and the focus (the zoom button can help this)
- Press record and each shot shouldn’t be longer than 4/5 minutes
- Clapperbord/clap to sync sound
- Record your masterpiece 🙂