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Part 6 - Which DSLR Camera is Best for Filmmaking

Without the best camera for film, you have no movie. Think about it. If you strip away the camera but keep the script, the crew and cast, what do you have? 

A Broadway show.

At its core, filmmaking involves the shooting of moving images via a video camera and then taking those images, cutting them up with software and piecing it all together into a cohesive narrative. 

Here's something we can all agree on:

Yes, you need a good script, a good cast, and a good director to make movie magic. But you'll also need the right camera(s) to capture it!

Take for example our wedding films at 2Bridges. We use multiple cameras and take various shots of the events and the "characters" (i.e. the bride, the groom, the family, etc.). Without the camera, we wouldn't be able to create this (shot with A7Sii and an A6500):

That wedding took 2 cameras and 2 videographers - a floater and one behind the "sticks" (i.e. tripod). 

Shooting films are expensive. We know.

It takes many gigs and many shoots before anyone can afford a full camera rig, unless of course you're Roger Deakins son or long lost cousin.

So here's how we at 2Bridges got started (not so long ago):

We found that the best cameras for beginner filmmakers are the DSLR cameras (or similar models in the same price range). For commercial gigs (i.e. weddings, birthday events) that require running-and-gunning, it's much better to use these type of cameras.

They're much more compact and economical than the cinema beasts that are the FS7, the RED cameras and the Alexa line. So if you're a beginner filmmaker, an aspiring video production company or want to dabble in films, we definitely suggest going with the DSLR camera.

Below is a list of leading DSLRs (or similar cameras that get the job done):

CANON 5D MARK III

Great for Corporate films (see video)

A feature packed full frame DSLR definitely makes a great choice. It is one of the few models that kick started the trend of shooting a video in DSLR. This model has brought the full-frame digital photography within the range of photography enthusiasts. 

Canon 5D mark III is a completely new model with too many features. All the major systems of the model are upgraded and updated. The updated model provides ample space for creativity when comes to post production.

A beast in its range, canon 5D mark iii suits them who know what they are doing. The camera will surely elevate the qualities of your work in a noticeable manner. The quality, operations and handling of the camera suits your requirements and type of work.

Check out price and availability HERE.

Check out the DETAILED REVIEW on the Canon 5D.

Key Specifications:

  • Canon 5D Mark III is loaded with 22.3 megapixels full frame CMOS processor.
  • Based on EOS 7D design, the camera has a 61-point AF system.
  • The camera is certified on the range ISO 100-25600 standard that can be extended up to 50-102, 800.
  • It offers you 6 fps continuous shooting.
  • It has a nice 3.2” 1.04M-Dot LCD monitor (Clear View ll)
  • The camera is best to use in darker areas because of is low light sensitivity. It is a major plus point.
  • It can also work on HDR and multiple exposure modes.
  • Canon 5D Mark iii offers 1080p 30 video recording, stereo sound via external mic.
  • It includes 63 zone iFCL metering system.
  • You can avail 100% viewfinder coverage with this camera.
  • It includes dual card slots for CF and SD.
  • The shutter of the camera can be rated to 150,000 frames. It works quietly as well.  
  • The new sensor of the Canon 3D Mark iii camera is coupled with latest DIGIC 5+ processor. 
  • The hard glass cover and its body protects against scratching.

This model is a successor to many improved capabilities. It includes higher All l and IPB inter frame compression. It can record multiple exposures and gets auto bracketing options too. It allows you to compare images slide by slide and let you see a number of views.

SONY ALPHA A7SII

our go-to camera for everything film

Sony Apha A7Sii deserves a good position in the list. When it comes to mirror less video technology, Sony cameras have all the right intentions and they are leading the pack.

The specifications and performance of the Sony cameras have made them special. The massive achievement of this camera has made it popular among countless filmmakers.

Known as the best video shooting stills camera, Sony Alpha A7Sii is a compelling option for videographers. When it was launched, it had this unique feature of internal recording of 4K footage. Though this feature has been matched by many other rivals, the modest pixel count of the camera splits it from its rivals. The dynamic range of the camera at higher sensitive mode is also very high and better from its rivals. It works silently when most of the cameras create noise with more populated chips.    

Sony Alpha A7Sii used whole sensor width to record videos. While outputting videos on HDMI recorder, it has the ability to store it on the memory card. The auto focus of the camera is sharp and in image stabilization is a bonus.

In this model, Sony has crammed as many features and specifications that are possible. The results delivered by this camera are more than amazing. It always takes a heavy lifting in regard of colors. 

Apart from its achievements, the camera has a few shortcomings too. As most of the Sony cameras it lacks color science too. The very poor color science of the camera has made it a major deal breaker. 

Though it is right that no camera is gonna meet the list of your requirements ever yet it is the one which can satisfy you in many aspects.

Check out price and availability HERE.

If you want more details, check out the full review.

Here is one of our earlier films shot with a Sony Alpha A7Sii (fun times indeed):

Key Specifications:

  • The mirror less camera has 12.2 MP cameras with full-frame CMOS.
  •  The Sony E mount lens monitors 3.0- inch tilting display with 1,228, 800 dots.
  • The EVF viewfinder has maximum continuous shooting speed of 5 fps.
  •  Working on this camera includes useful log options.
  • The maximum resolution of this camera is 3840 x 2160 (UHD).
  • The camera work excellent in low light.
  • The camera offers excellent features in terms of appearance.

SONY A6500

An upgrade from the similar looking a6300 in Sony’s line up, Sony Alpha 6500 is a top-tier APS-C mirror less model. The most amazing feature is a 24 MP still and video camera with image stabilization. The rear screen of the camera is touch sensitive. It can be used for two purposes: firstly positioning the focus or triggering focus and shatter as touch screen and secondly as a touch when you can hold camera near your eyes. The touch screen cannot be used to set menu options, swipping through zoom or pinching the images to zoom.

It has been added with processing oomph which has established this model as a responsive camera. It promises immediate image review even after shooting bursts of images. The model has been added with color-code system.    

The camera is slightly bigger but impressively compact. You can fit in into the large pocket of your jacket if you are using a pancake or small lens. It looks slightly unbalanced on the E mount because of its small size.

The viewfinder of this camera offers a bright and clear view of the front scenes. When you move the camera around you do not notice any lag of time. 

Sony Alpha 6500 features this “sunny screen” setting option which enables you to shoot outdoor in bright sunny light. While shooting outside if you maximize the light of the camera, it may drain your battery and you may need to replace it quickly.

Auto focus of this camera lens is very sharp in all shooting scenarios. The ergonomic design of the camera offers a slightly deeper grip. 

The recording of the images and videos produced by this camera is down sampled to 4K for the benefit of quality. It also uses efficient XAVC X codec that has a rate of 100 MBPS. It has an enhanced zebra patterning so that there is always an eye towards exposure.

Check out price and availability HERE.

Key Features:

  • The 24 MP CMOS sensor is loaded with 425 phase detection points.
  • It includes 5-axis image stabilization, a fast processor and a good buffer.
  • 2.36 M-dot OLED EVF.
  • 11 fps continuous shooting for up to 300 JPEGs / 100 Raws.
  • 1/4000 sec maximum shutter speed. 
  • The camera includes S-log Gama settings.

CANON 80D

An enthusiast level DSLR, Canon 80D is a successor to 70D. Unveiled by the company on the 18th of February, 2016, it was fronted as an upgrade of its predecessor i.e. the Canon EOS 70d.

It maintains the MSRP body-only approach of the latter and comes imbued with a range of new functionalities. These include an autofocus system of the cross-type 45-point variety, 7fps continuous shooting capability, a 100% intelligent viewfinder, 27 f/8 compatible AF points and a 7,560-pixel RGB+IR metering sensor that traverses visible light and infrared as well.

This camera is almost everything a camera should have. It is a powerful, versatile and responsive camera that let you explore your creativity. 

The Canon EOS 80d features an extensive EOS system that consists of an assortment of EFL lenses and auxiliaries and is built for creative videography. The latter functionality is achieved through its powerful AF, a dual pixel CMOS, that enables seamless focus transitions and precise focus tracking. The pricing stands at around $1,100 just for the body with the kit sold separately for $1,800+ (price varies - check Amazon).

Canon 80D DSLR let you excel and achieve ultimate results in sports, portraiture, landscape, street and travel. The innovative technology works well even in low light photography and serious movie making. 

Pros:

  • Works perfectly in any kind of light thanks to its advanced and state of the art AF system coupled with a flicker detection system that compensates for flickering light conditions synonymous with artificial lighting.
  • Provides a simple and easy linking platform to shoot, connect and share movies and images coupled with an array of file format options which allows for easy editing.
  • It has a highly responsive camera that enables you to get the best out of fast-moving targets or scenes at large.

Cons:

  • While it’s not that pricey; compared to its competitors, the overall cost of the entire package is relatively expensive as it totals up to a sum a little over $ 3,000.
  • While the 1080 HD video quality gets the job done just as fine, the absence of the 4k feature synonymous with almost all image-capturing gadgets of the present age is also a bit of a let down by Canon.
  • Conspicuously absent from the kit is a lens hood which is to be bought separately for at least $ 30.

A perfect gadget for creative videography reacts almost instinctively to the moment you want to catch the fast moving sports or wildlife action with ease. All the credit goes to the high performance AF system. It endorses 7 fps continuous shooting rate and customizable control.

The camera is loaded with 45 all cross type point AF system. It is capable of capturing split seconds sports action with super sharp images even under the presence of flood light.

The Auto focus system of the gadget is responsive and accurate which lets you work comfortably under down lightning conditions.

The pairing of the DIGIC 6 image processor allows 80D to shoot from ISO 100-16,000 to expandable range 25,600. It is more like 1-stop sensitivity gain over 70D.

Check out price and availablity HERE.

Key Features:

  • This DSLR includes newly developed 24.2 MP (APS C) CMOS sensor.
  • The viewfinder of this camera is intelligent and provides approximately 100% viewfinder coverage. 
  • It includes new 45-point all cross-type AF system.
  • For enhanced image quality, the camera possesses DIGIC 6 image processors.
  • The dual pixel CMOS of this model is improved. The Autofocus is smooth, fast and accurate with both videos and stills.
  • Canon 80D cameras have built in Wi-Fi and NFC capability that eases the transfer of images and mobiles to compatible mobile devices.
  •  The Flicker mode of the camera helps in adjusting shutter release timing to avoid flickering light issues. The flickering technology coincides with peak brightness of light source and effect consistent problem.
  • 1080/60p Full HD video can capture better results in MP4 format.
  • The screen size of this DSLR is 3 inch and is vari-angle touch screen. With 1 million dots and Clear View LCD ll monitor enables flexible positioning. It also helps in clear your outdoor view.

BLACK MAGIC CAMERA WITH EF MOUNT

The Black Magic design camera is perfect for multiple filming types. This fabulous camera is decent sized and provides a clear image. It has 35 super sensors which gives you familiar framing. It gives you the similar behavior as your own lenses can provide. The sensor of the camera features a global shutter that gives you perfect panning. With this global shutter you get perfect width and you need not to do much image cropping.

The lens mount of black magic design production camera is EF compatible. With this you can choose high quality optics that is specially designed to take the advantage from 35 super sensors with minimal cropping. This leading lens crafter is generated from World’s most amazing optics.

Black magic design production camera easily captures 4k ProRes. It has an in built SSD that helps in capturing 4K and compressed Cinema DG files.

Black magic production design camera is ergonomically designed. It is build with portability and durability in mind. It endorses all the standard connections and has an in-build battery. It is a beautiful gadget build from aluminum.

The image quality of the camera is incredibly sharp and great with small grains. It is not small and handy as DSLRs but it is pretty much compact. You can shoot 4K or 1080p videos or still.

The Global shutter of the camera is amazing. The images do not show any kind of frame bending. The camera is loaded with lots of settings and outputs and can be used in utter professional environment.

The build of the camera is exceptionally good.

Check out price and availability HERE.

Key Features:

  • The camera re-heats fast wherever you keep it so do not put it in direct sunlight ever.
  • You cannot work in low light conditions with this camera. There should be ample of light if you want proper pictures.
  • The battery of this DSLR is not much reliable. In outdoor usage, consider having a spare battery.
  • The touch of the camera screen is quite easy to use, even if there is lots of glare.
  • The phenomenal quality of the camera takes it to the whole mew level of professionalism and quality.
  • The camera is available at an amazing price we must say. 
  • It does not include an audio accessory.

NIKON D850

The Nikon D850 takes the mantle from the N810 with its arrival officially announced on the century mark celebration of the company’s existence on July 25, 2017. The launch was flagged off a month later with the first batch of shipment sent out on September 8th of the same year.

This full frame DSLR camera comes equipped with a top-notch CMOS sensor that is backside-illuminated and has a magnificent resolution of 46MP. Its specifications include an easy-to-navigate touchscreen interface, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities and an incomparable viewfinder.

Other key features of the Nikon D850 include an Ultra HD video capture of 4k quality, 1840 shots worth of battery life, improved levels of detail and sharpness in the 4k and 8k movies and 9 fps continuous shooting capability that is effected without a drop in AF performance or resolution. 

Pros

  • Unrivalled low light performance as a result of the strategic placing of the BSI sensor which gives better exposure to high incidence angles that, in the long run, leads to peripheral image quality of a very high order. 
  • The aforementioned feature coupled with its ground-breaking ISO 64 rating which improves bright light tolerance work hand in hand to provide an extremely high-resolution prowess.
  • The camera boasts an impressive speed as it incorporates core attributes of the company’s D5 model i.e. a dedicated AF processor, a metering sensor and a combination of effective configuration selections.

Cons

  • The hit rate is comparatively low taking into the success rates of its D810 counterpart and competitors which necessitates a number of retakes. The problem is particularly prevalent with moving targets.
  • The D850 is sensitive to blur with the autofocus also tending to slow down occasionally.
  • That the pair of card slots is of the SD variety proves inconvenient as XQD has grown outdated with even the manufactures themselves, i.e. Sony, also abandoning it.

Check out price and availability HERE.

Sony Alpha 77 II

The Sony Alpha 77 II follows on the heels of its namesake predecessor i.e. the Sony Alpha 77 which it replaced on the market in June 2014. The camera was built with the armature photographer in mind and is of the interchangeable-lens variety.

This model borrows and betters a number of attributes of the one before it such as the electronic viewfinder, and of course, the SLT transparent mirror.

Essential features of the Alpha 77 II include a 24MP CMOS sensor, 1/8000th shutter speed, an in-built dark red AF illuminator, an automatic ISO feature with adjustable upper and lower limits, 12 fps continuous shooting and 1080p60 movies both with autofocus, and a 2.4M dot OLED viewfinder.

Other specifications include an inbuilt GPS, external mic socket and stereo microphone, AF micro adjust, a dust shake sensor cleaning functionality and a weather sealed body. 

Pros

  • It has a rigid and solid architecture that protects the camera against the elements while boosting longevity at large. What’s more, the tough exterior is made of lightweight material that enhances portability.
  • The camera has commendable image quality at large and particularly top-notch quality at low ISOs. It is also able to get the best images out of conditions of low light.
  • The construction encompasses a large, bright EVF and an unbelievably fast burst mode as highlighted above (i.e. 12 fps continuous shooting capability)

Cons

  • The Sony Alpha 77 II develops a number of complications particularly at high ISO and the absence of a headphone jack is also quite wanting.
  • Relative to its traditional counterparts of the optical DSLR category, its battery life is quite below average thereby minimizing working hours available before a recharge.
  • Balancing the auto white at conditions of incandescent light proves quite hard and problematic. The AF also struggles with fast-paced scenes or targets.

Check out price and availability HERE .

So that's an exhaustive list of camera options for you to research and pick for your budget.

You're probably asking yourself ---

Which is the Top DSLR Camera for Making Films?

DSLRs (digital-single lens reflex) are probably the most popular type of cameras. After the release of camcorders like the Canon C300 or FS100 it was thought that the trend of DSLR will die with time. The new camcorders always had better ergonomics then DSLR cameras. But the market changed in a strange way and DSLRs are equally relevant as ever before.

Basically, DSLRs are also referred as mirror less cameras. Considered as traditional cameras, DSLRs still hold a special place for filmmakers and content creators. Their benefits cannot be ignored.

The best part of using DSLRs is that they are literally everywhere. The pictures and videos shoot from DSLR literally blend into their backgrounds.  Shooting with a DSLR is quite related to its usability as well. It is loaded with many accessories and easier to travel with. The convenience and accessibility of the camera is unmatchable. Take a look at one of our wedding camera kits.

You might not believe it, but in the upper left hand corner is the Sony A6500. It's smaller than the actual lenses! It's smaller than the Rode mic!

That's why at 2Bridges we love our DSLR camera kits. It's perfect for run-and-gun shoots, and almost all of them shoot 4K.

In recent times, many new models have been launched and the latest technology is available in a budgeted way. It is probably the most impressive development in the line of DSLRs. These days one can easily afford a camera with on board technology.

There is one this one thing that we should learn, almost similar looking models or same budgeted models may differ in their sensors and methods of capture. The two possibilities may coincide differently and can result in different outcomes.

How to choose the best DSLR for video?

DSLRs use a special reflex design which sets them apart from regular digital cameras. In DSLRs, the light passes through the lens and a mirror and sends image to build as in image sensor. Normally, these cameras last for many years. That is why you should choose one of the products from the market. These points may help you.

  • Budget: Most of the times, your budget decides what to buy. There is this simple advice to follow the norm. Do not fall for anything of or below 300$. You will find a wide range of cameras between 300$ -1000 $. This budget index will steer you in the right direction.
  • Lenses: Most of the DSLR video cameras are loaded with same quality of lenses. A few professional photographers order this “Body only Package” and show their concern towards fancy and techy lenses. Grab a high rated budget friendly lens that can help you to shoot your 1080p videos merely.
  • Extra features: Make sure the model you are looking for should include this 1080 HD shooting. Look for your desired features in terms of taste, filters and continuous shooting modes.
  • Video quality: an ideal DSLR should claim at least 30 fps for long run. If you want more advanced quality videos, start looking for models that include DIGIC processor compression.  
  • Additional accessories: One needs some popular accessories like tripods, straps, bags etc to make your usage more interesting and convenient.
  • Nikon vs. Canon: Basically, these two popular brands lead the market. Do not go for the brand but for the particular model you like.

Which DSLR camera works best for your video?

It all depends on you. DSLR cameras can't compete with the high end cinema cameras that can produce raw footage. However, it is perfect for Youtube videos and small indie productions. Year after year, many small independent filmmakers get featured on Sundance or Toronto, using these cameras. It's a cost efficient and effective way to break into the film business.

I hope the above DSLR reviews will help you to choose the best product of your choice. Take a look at following points before finalizing your DSLR:

  1. Keep a sharp eye on the budget of the camera. The cost of the DSLR should be satisfying for its specifications.
  2. Compare all the pros and cons of the camera properly. We know that no product is perfect but pros should outweigh the cons of the product.

There are options of taking rented cameras before you actually buy one for you. This way you get to know about the specifications of the product accurately and check if it suits you. You can't make a movie without a camera so make sure you only choose which DSLR camera will work best for your filmmaking needs.