WHY A DSLR SHOULD NOT BE YOUR PRIMARY VIDEO CAMERA

It’s hard to ignore the proliferation of DSLRs being used as primary cameras for corporate video production.   I have lived and worked through the emergence of DSLRs as video cameras.  While I do not use DSLRs as a primary camera these days I have plenty of experience with them and something to say about their use. 

Let me get this out the way first.  You shouldn’t judge the talent of a person by the gear they use.  I know professionals who do outstanding work using gear that a well funded tourist could put to shame.  A pro camera is a camera that a pro uses. Period.  This post is about how functionally appropriate a DSLR is as a primary video camera for corporate video production.

DSLRs can shoot stunning visuals.  Full size sensors, interchangeable lenses and manual control of exposure, shutter speed and white balance open up a wide spectrum of creative potential.  DSLRs are fully capable of shooting great visuals. 

Here is a promotional video I shot with a Canon 6D Mark II in 2018.

The problem is there’s more to video production than great visuals.  Here are 5 ways DSLRs fall short as a primary camera for corporate video production.

SOUND

Recording pro-grade audio simply isn’t possible with a DSLR out the box.  You have to rig it using external third party tools.  Since good audio is as important as the visual DSLRs fall short here.

RECORD TIME

DSLRs suck at recording long format content.  DSLRs typically only have a single SD Card slot, and battery life is low.  Want to record a two-hour workshop with a DSLR?  Good luck!

HANDLEABILITY

DSLRs are ergonomically designed for photographers.  This is why you’ll frequently see people that shoot video with DSLRs using elaborate third party rigs – they’re necessary to make up for the deficit.

FLEXIBILITY

DSLRs take time to setup.  This can mean that by the time you are ready to start recording the shot has gone.  Additionally, the small LCD screen on most DSLRs make for a poor preview monitor and next to impossible to use in full daylight.

FOCUS ADJUSTMENTS

One of the reasons DSLRs are popular is the shallow depth of field they can achieve.  Since the shallow depth of field makes what is in focus and what is out of focus so obvious, it’s critical to have full control over focus.  Unfortunately the autofocus on DSLRs are not up to the task and manual focus adjustments require you physically handle the lens – a real problem if you are shooting off a tripod. 

DSLRs are capable of shooting beautiful visuals however, if that’s your goal consider a mirrorless camera from Sony or Panasonic instead.  A mirrorless camera costs less and they deliver more video picture quality than DSLRs.  If you want to shoot a wider spectrum of corporate video content consider a pro-grade camcorder.  Pro-Grade Camcorders give you everything you need out-the-box and they can actually cost less than a DSLR kitted out to a matching spec.

I am not knocking DSLRs.  They are more than acceptable as a second or third string camera capturing visuals only.  I just wouldn’t recommend using a DSLR as your primary tool for producing corporate video.  Save yourself the headaches and unexpected costs and get a pro-grade camcorder instead.