Camcorder or Camera

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by keith_plechaty, Nov 16, 2011.

  1. I'm getting a puppy and want to start taking video of her! I'm just up in the air about what I should buy. Keep in mind I mostly just like to take stills, but a little video would be fun as well! Below are the options I was thinking:
    1. EOS 5D MK II
    2. Canon Vixia and wait for the MK III to come out or get a less expensive MK II because the MK III is out.
    3. Kodak Playsport and wait for the MK III to come out or get a less expensive MK II because the MK III is out.
    4. Canon Vixia or Playsport and just use the EOS 30D that I already own.
    Thanks for the help and advice.
  2. Getting a newer used rebel (one w/ video of course) sounds like a more rational course, as you'd get used to using the system (for video), and how it works and feels (important in video so I hear!) to get consistent (video) work out of it.
    Of course by the time you get a mk2 (BTW, the best reason yet I've heard for waiting, as there aren't very many good reasons!), it won't be a puppy any longer! Since now they've announced for the new year, and a mk3 isn't on the list, apparently we won't be seeing one till at the earliest(!) June (though who really knows!).
  3. Have you ever shot video with a DSLR before? It does not operate anything like a camcorder.
  4. No I have never used a DSLR for video. Do you think it's not practical to use it for puppy shots and vacation too?
  5. Make sure whatever you buy auto focuses in video mode. I love my T1i (500D) but no AF in video mode greatly restricts its usefulness for video. Most of the time, I get better video from my wife's Lumix DMC ZS7. I am no great videographer, but if you want to follow a puppy around with the camera, that's one thing I'd consider essential. By the way, the video in some of the P&S cameras these days is not too shoddy. Some examples straight out of the camera:
    Border Collie with DMC ZS7
    Fish Larvae with T1i and 100macro
    240G Fish Tank with DMC ZS7
    240G Fish Tank with T1i and 17-85IS
    Obviously the results could be greatly improved by cutting the videos, but as I said, I am no great videographer and have never taken the time.
  6. I never considered the fact that there is no autofocus! A dog moves around a lot, so I think I would need something that focus automatically!
  7. A camcorder is probably best.
    However, here is a bit more info regarding DSLR video. Let's say you want a DSLR and also want to record your puppy. You know going into it that DSLR focusing during video is a waste of time. But you can steal from the P&S crowd. How? Because many of the P&S cameras have such deep depth of field that video will have a better chance of being in focus. So the trick becomes depth of field.
    Now, lets say that you buy a 7D and then pick up a ultra-wide angle lens (something that can go as wide as 12mm or even wider). When you run the depth of field calculation with 7D set to a focal length of 12mm @ f8 focused at 3 feet away - everything from ~2ft ...60ft should be in decent focus! So you won't even have to worry about focus unless the puppy comes in really close. Of course the pup will look really, really far away when they run out a distance but it will still be in focus. And if the lens isn't level youl might have some funky distortion too.
    The example above has many limitations. First, I used f8. But when outdoors to retain a shutter speed of 1/30 or 1/50 or 1/60 you will be stopping down your lens anyways so f8 might be a bit dark but add back a little ISO and you should be fine. Indoors, good luck finding 60ft to play with so you will need to open the aperture but maybe you can still find a wide angle / aperture setting that keeps puppy in focus between 2ft and say 10ft.
    I should note that I picked the 7D (in this example) for a few reasons. First, a great focusing system for stills. So if your puppy will be really active you may prefer the 7D's focusing system over the 5d2, etc. More importantly, UWA lenses for the 1.6x crop bodies tend to smaller and cheaper than for full frame. Finally, on full frame using an equivalent focal length (say ~20mm) you'll only get about 5ft of depth of field! Or to match the dof of the 7D + 12mm @ f8, you would need the 5D2 + 20mm @ f/14 (or even smaller). That is such a small aperture that you will be starving the sensor for light given that video shutter speed can not be less than 1/30 (and you wouldn't want it to be or it would all be a blur).
    I don't sense from your post that cost is a major issue however, a 7D and one decent UWA (like the Tokina 11-17 f2.8) will cost around the same as a new 5D2 body only. Adding a decent Full Frame UWA could set you back another $700-$2000+). With the exception of the stills focusing system, you can do all of this with a T2i / T3i and save yourself another $700 or so.
    Even with the focusing dilema "worked around" the ergonomics of holding the DSLR steady will be a PITA (read: get a tripod or monopod while all the camcorders have great IS). Also, judging proper exposure and seeing the live image are not easy on DSLR's (but the 60D and T3i should be better with flip out LCD's).
  8. Thanks so much for such a detailed response. Judging from all the responses, it looks like there is no definite answer! But from all the info, it sounds like it would be easiest to film a moving target like a puppy with a dedicated camcorder. The camcorder would autofocus and auto adjust the exposure. It seems like the DSLR video route requires a little more planning before you actual shoot the video. Please correct me if I am wrong!
  9. You are not wrong at all. Video with a DSLR is not a drop-in-replacement for video with a camcorder. There are fundamental differences (for now). I would recommend you stick with your 30D and add a video camera.
  10. Keith,
    For what it's worth, now days a high end smart phone does pretty decent video and stills and you are a lot more likely to have that with you when something worth recording happens. not to mention that you are getting a lot more than a camera with that purchase. I personally would have a bit of trouble justifying the cost of a decent new camera if my primary reason was to get pics/vids of the puppy. I would find it easier to justify a phone upgrade since the improvements would likely cost the same or less and the benefits would be manifold.
    Just my two cents worth.
  11. My initial reason for getting a video camera is the puppy, however I would definitely make good use of it on vacation as well. However, I know how annoying it can be to fumble around with 2 cameras. Isn't having just 1, like the MK II so much easier?
  12. At first a single solution (DSLR) might seem easier, but with something like a 5D2 it will be heavy. You will probably carry at least one lens in addition to the one on the camera. If you want video you really like, you'll probably want a tripod / monopod or at a minimum a lens with really, really great IS. But a lens with IS will be noisy and get picked up by the on-camera mic. And if it's sunny outside you'll be struggling to monitor the LCD without some type of loupe placed over the LCD so you can check focus and keep sunlight off the display. Plus if it's sunny you'll probably need a ND filter.
    If you are really intent on video, a dedicated camcorder or a higher end P&S might be a much better starting option. Here's one thing to think about. The ratio of people who are drawn to video vs those who actually follow through (dump clips, edit, render, upload / burn disc, etc) is probably pretty high. Put more bluntly - will you really do anything with all the video other than to just know you have it?
    Maybe another thing to think about is if you are for sure planning on upgrading DSLR's - then it most likely will have video. I guess you can then decide "for free" if it is acceptable or not and decide from there. However, if your 30D is working great for you, it won't cost that much to add a dedicated camcorder or P&S or GoPro.
    A few more strikes against DSLR video. The DSLR's (unless you have some big $$$) will produce video that you may not care for if you are panning around very quickly. Example: your puppy runs by you from left to right at a good pace. You follow with the camera panning from left to right. Then during replay you notice all the fence posts / trees in the background all look slanted - welcome to the rolling shutter effect. And another interesting quirk is filming anything with fast strobes / flashes - you will see banding. I was filming a lightening storm. The 5D2 produced this wonderful after dark imagery with clouds lighting up blue and orange, stars in the background. But several of the lightening flashes are so fast that there are dark bands in frames of the video. I'm not sure but I believe many camcorders are immune from a lot of these quirks.
    So you might be seeing a trend - the ability to capture this wonderful looking video - but lots and lots of workarounds, constraints, tricks, gadgets, etc. Not quite enough to make you give up but always enough to be a pita.
    All that being said, some of my favorite clips are of my daughter just playing or talking or reading or coloring (notice - some time to setup). The DSLR is always around. Put on a 35mm or 50mm or 85mm, blur the background abit, 10x focus on eyes and roll. There is just something awesome about those moments + that look. NOTE: Proud father's much biased opinion here!
  13. I have done video with a Canon T1i. I have done stills with a Sanyo camcorder. I have done stills and video with a Sony P&S. The DSLRs I looked at that do video, do high quality manual video. A professional videographer can do wonders with such a DSLR. Most people will find the lack of automatic features such as autofocus to be a major limitation. Similarly still photos from a camcorder is second best to a DSLR or even a good P&S in quality.
    What I now do is a DSLR/P&S camcorder (e.g. Kodak Flip) combination as I am mainly a still photographer. For casual photography I carry a P&S that does good still and video. If I were mainly a videographer I would carry a full function camcorder and a small P&S. You can get P&S camcorders and still cameras that fit easily in a shirt pocket or a side pocket of a camera bag.
    As for the original question, my experience with puppies, kittens and small kids is they all move around a lot. A video camera is better than a still camera for capturing the early years.
    Danny Low
  14. I shoot video with a 5d2 and would only recommend that if you are trying to make reall movies. Many video cameras
    are F1.8 apertures and 17-200 mm (10x zoom). To get this same range in a 5d2 you will need several lenses. 16-35
    f2.8, 28 1.8, 50 1.8, 85 1.8, 100 f2.8 or 70-200 f2.8. That is already several thousand in lenses and the video camera
    will still handle low light situations better because it is f1.8 at all apertures. At f1.8 the 5d2 is extremely hard to focus
    because the sensor is so much larger than a video camera the DOF is actually almost too narrow for many practical
    low light situations. This is why many prefer the 7d for video. At wide apertures the DOF is greater allowing for easier
    focusing. Most who use a 5d2 and fast primes always use manual focus otherwise you probably won't have what you
    want in focus. Video taping a moving dog you will have to increase shutter speed causing a larger aperture and
    smaller dof where the face of dog may be in focus but hind legs may not. Also many modern day HD camcorders can
    also take still shots equal or better than the 30D.

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