filming with a reflex camera: the pros and cons.
Previously dedicated to conventional photography, DSLR cameras today offer almost all video options. However, it’s not enough to simply release the camera body and let it shoot, as full control of the DSLR requires solid photographic and video skills. Our photo/video studio Lakeprod helps you to see more clearly.
choose the right equipment
First of all, what is a Reflex?
An SLR camera is characterized by a sighting system that includes a mirror that redirects the light to a piece of frosted glass. Traditionally, it may have one or two lenses. Originally used with photographic film of varying sizes, today’s SLR is essentially digital.
the flagship device
There are of course Reflex models and ranges for every budget. For small studios and freelance videographers, however, it is unthinkable to get equipment at an inordinately high price. Fortunately, there are quality Reflex models available at relatively affordable prices.
The Canon 5D, the iconic SLR camera, is the best example of this. Used by many professionals, this model quickly became a reference in the field for professionals. It includes a “full-frame” sensor as well as a wide choice of lenses and a plethora of accessories. Count at least 2000 euros to get it.
If they don’t have the necessary funds, freelance or independent videographers can invest in hybrid, smaller or even smaller sensor devices – but still suitable for video. The Panasonic PH range, available from 1000 euros, is a perfect example of this type of alternative solution to the premium Reflex.
the main video advantages of the DSLR
Although originally designed for photography, Reflex cameras have initiated a small revolution with the democratization of their video tools.
Thanks to its lens aperture, an SLR camera allows the videographer to film his shots in mixed light conditions, or even in uncomfortable conditions: it is indeed possible to make quality shots in very low light. In the same price range, it is difficult to obtain this result with a simple camera. In addition, images shot with an SLR camera naturally show a high degree of brilliance.
Another advantage of this type of housing is the almost photographic handling of moving images. This feature allows the user to play with the depth of field and style of his videos. However, it requires some precautions, which will be detailed in the following section.
The depth of field, moreover, is the subject of a rather great freedom with an SLR camera. It can be very wide, especially if you use short focal lengths and if you play skillfully with the aperture, or on the contrary very short with a large aperture if you are looking for a bokeh effect.
some reflex subtleties
As with any video tool, the choice of parameters is of paramount importance in rendering. These include shutter speed and the number of frames per second. The image should be carefully calibrated, and color and white balance settings should be strategically adjusted.
In addition, it is important not to neglect the management of the aperture: even though the SLR can work relatively well in low light conditions, there is a risk of overexposure in normal light conditions. However, it is possible to purchase corrective filters to remedy this problem: between 50 and 80 euros can be spent on a high-quality filter, such as an ND filter.
apprehension of moving video
Without the know-how of a professional cameraman, the handling of moving shots can be extremely complicated. Many cameras don’t have auto-focus: on these cameras, a small focusing wheel is used to adjust the focus. This can lead to poor results if the movement is too abrupt or unprepared.
Reflex is not a condemnation to fixed shots. However, it’s better to avoid risky or “freestyle” shots, for example with the camera resting on the shoulder. Note: many extensions available in stores allow, for a variable budget, to correct this imperfection.
Most SLR cameras have mini jack sockets where a microphone can be connected. However, be careful not to put too much faith in this facility: the sound of this function is more akin to a news report sound than a cinema sound. For a short film or video of very high quality, a separate recording of the sound is much more suitable.
A very practical solution in contemporary photography and video, the SLR camera still has gaps in video. Nevertheless, it is still highly prized for its originality, not to mention that a host of accessories – some of them rather expensive – have been designed to remedy these shortcomings.