We all love big sensors, affordable glass, and cheap camera bodies, but is DSLR videography a dying breed? If so, what are the alternatives that we should be looking at?
I’ll be honest. I love the Sigma Art series, even if my 18-35mm is made for cropped sensors. It’s absolutely perfect for my cheap Canon T3i. In fact, I own two sets of them for interviews in order to avoid color-correcting cameras in post.
But my new favorite camera, the Sony FS5, takes my Sigma glass with a Metabones adaptor. It also takes SD cards, so there’s no fooling around with expensive media. Is it time to move on from the DSLR revolution? What are the benefits of buying another 5D? We’re at a point now in which the only thing holding us back is the camera body.
There are three categories for DSLR shooters to consider jumping to, should the time come. We’ll put aside cost for the most part and just dream, especially since the rental prices of these lower budget cameras aren’t too far apart.
Just as I can put my Canon lenses on an FS5, I can put them on a Sony A7s or a Panasonic GH4. In fact, the classic Canon 24-70mm f/4L is a workhorse on an A7s. It’s no secret that DSLR expats are moving over to Mirrorless, and it’s especially aided by the fact that they can still use all of their great lenses. My beloved 18-35mm even worked perfectly on the A7s II when I had cropped mode enabled.
Now that we’ve got the obvious out of the way, here’s where it gets more interesting. When the DSLR revolution hit us with the Canon 5D Mark II, not many people could afford the time or money to shoot on a cinema camera. For small sets, the list jumped from DSLR to renting an Arri Alexa, without very much to offer in between that. Today, that list is ever growing, and prices have begun to plummet. The Canon C100 is now the same price as the 5D Mark III. Then there are offerings from Blackmagic, where you can find cameras for under $1,000 or the new URSA Mini. Their original cinema camera is selling for less than a 5D Mark III right now.
What’s the difference between cinema and broadcast these days? You’d likely define that by what a broadcast camera isn’t. You might not consider a Digital Bolex or the Blackmagic Cinema Camera to be broadcast cameras. They lack a run and gun attitude.
The Sony FS5 and FS7 fit perfectly here. Their batteries run for days, they don’t need very much extra rigging, and they come with a built-in EVF for when it’s too bright out for an LCD display. Like I mentioned with the FS5, it’s an easy switch from a Canon setup, and it’s usually pretty cheap to rent. I’d normally prefer the FS5 in this case, because it’s not as bulky and doesn’t shoot on XQD cards, but I can still get 4K and slow motion out of it, just not at the same time.
With regards to other brands, you may struggle to get that film look we know and love from DSLRs out of camcorders with small sensors. Panasonic and JVC are pumping out brilliant 4K camcorders, but you’re not getting your old lenses onto those anytime soon.
So, there we have it! Through all the hype surrounding the 5D Mark IV, there are still so many options for people looking for that DSLR look in their videos. It doesn’t even need to be terribly expensive either.