Pro video blog…Produced by Philip Johnston DoP/Editor

Is VDSLR really about to extinct? I think so.

As an answer on my last article VDSLR – R.I.P. Phillip Bloom wrote an interesting response:

I cannot disagree more and I am someone who will most likely buy the new Panny.
I have written a long blog about this called Future of DSLRs
There will always be a market. The price point won’t compare. He Canon most likely won’t be cheap either. There is room for both. I guarantee it.

Since Philip is THE GO TO guy when it comes down to VDSLRs – and there is probably no one out there, who knows more about shooting video on still cameras – I looked at my article again and at his commend, to see if I was on the wrong track.
I also checked Philip´s article “The future of video DSLRs” again.

Is VDSLR really about to extinct? I still think so.
Not for the mass market but for the filmmakers.

Philip, nobody preached the gospel of VDSLR more than you and god knows, I really love, admire and respect your work. But – as I said – I believe it was only the beginning, like the beginning of the revolution was the DVX. Sure it´s still around, but who would buy a new one today (if you can find one) when you get a much better tool for the same price.

As some guy on Stu´s Prolost blog said:

“The problem we feel: Canon doesn’t seem to target film/video makers (like Us) with its stills camera, nor listen to Our expectations (i trully share the frustration)… but why should they listen? People easily forget that the video mode of the DSLR is just an option. Canon is not selling 5Ds saying: “The camera you need for your pro-video work”…Instead, they’d better come up with a real pro-video-camera…..via their well established video/broadcast department dedicated to TV & video professionals.”

Of course there will be more HD VDSLRs in the future. (The new GH2 is a good example) In 5 years probably every still camera will be able to do what the 5D does today. But they will not be used by filmmakers. Why should they?

Moire will still be a problem because of OLP Filters made for stills. Same goes to aliasing (thou maybe they can fix that with faster processing and real downscaling in the future). But at the same time there will be tons of real video cameras, with the same or even better imagers, better quality (Panasonic is only the first) and with all the bells and whistles you have to ether add (like extra boxes for decent sound,) or have to work around on DSLRs.

Barry Green is not working with the DVX anymore and so will Shane Hurlbut not be working with a 5D (or the next, better DSLR mouse trap) n 5 years.

The AF-100 is officially listed at $4,995. In a year from now you can get it for a street price of $4500 or even less. This is way cheaper as the original DVX or HVX200 was.
For that you get a camera with XLR, phantom power, ND-Filters, SDI, full HD HDMI out for monitoring (while recording), Zebras, viewfinder, andwhatnot.

So $1500 for a 5D body
+BeachTek DXA SLR $400
+three ND filters $300
+Black Magic HDMI to SDI converter $500
+Viewfinder/Loupe $300
+Full HD HDMI out (priceless)

Almost $3000 – and you come not close to the features of a AF-100

Focus in red Assist – while recording
Line/Mic selectable
Variable frame rates in 20 steps,
P2/AVCCAM Metadata
Two card slots
Professional image controls
Filmlike Cinegamma gamma curves
Color-matched with other Panasonic professional cameras, such as the VariCams
Continuous recording capacity of over 12 hours in economy mode, and continuous recording of six hours in best-quality mode on a single card
Complete freedom from overheating
Colored Focus Assist that can be used while recording
Face-detection autofocus that can track focus on a moving face
Peaking/EVF DTL
Waveform Monitor
aspect ratio markings – 16:9, 4:3, 14:9, 1.85:1 and 2.35:1
Film-style variable shutter angles from 1 to 360 degrees, which track automatically with the variable frame rates to always provide consistent motion blur
SMPTE color bar generator
A much more robust recording format (AVCCAM PH mode) which is more resilient and better than the h.264 on the DSLRs
Greatly improved rolling shutter performance
Ability to take any PL-mount lens
Ability to take c-mount cinema lenses
Remote iris/focus/start/stop controller sockets
manual black balance

And this is only the AF-100 – others will follow.

This market is changing faster than we are able to save money for our gear. In 5 years there will be a new generation of cameras at Scarlet form factor – something between a DSLR and a HVX. Fast and light wight like a DSLR, but without all the workarounds and limitations. So why on earth should someone still use a limited DSLR (besides of money or stealth reasons)?

One doesn´t need a crystal ball to see that coming.

Having said that – I´m gonna shooting a commercial tomorrow – with a 5D.

Frank Glencairn


Having been working in the video business since 1988 I have amassed a great amount of knowledge of both the kit and production values over the last 30 years.

8 thoughts on “Frank Glencairn talks about the demise of the VDSLR

  1. Hey there,

    i have a 5D here and only use it for video “as a play” it´s like yous said, becouse the AF-100 (or equal) would fit more to what i am doing. I scratch my desktop every time when i read about the AF100… can´t wait to get my hands on…

    Great Artikle, keep up the good work!

  2. Hi Philip,

    Do you think that Cell Phones will ultimately force manufacturers to actually make good 1080p prosumer gear? I think most people would rather carry 1 high cost mobile phone which they replace on contract every 2 years in the US than a mediocre phone and mediocre camcorder/DSLR.

    Now at CEATEC 2010 Panasonic has announced a Lumix phone and “Sony has announced the world’s first 1/2.8″ 16MP Exmor-R back illuminated sensor for mobile phones. Offering the smallest unit pixel size of 1.12μm, it will also be incorporated into what is claimed to be the smallest and thinnest mobile phone lens module. The sensor is capable of recording full HD 1080p30 videos and offers continuous shooting speed of 15fps.”

    No interchangeable lens phone though, yet…

  3. Philip.

    I agree with some of what you say when applied to crop format sensor cameras but the 5D and it’s successors are going to be around for a good while yet.

    The Canon 5D has a full frame 35mm sensor – nothing else on the market, at an affordable price, has FF35. It gives a unique combination of FOV, DOF and low light performance.

    It’s also smaller and lighter than a pro camcorder – regardless of format. It also attracts very little attention when not pimped.

    If a manufacturer brought out a ‘proper’ video camera with the above features at the same (or even double) price point, then the 5D and its ilk would go away – but they won’t. It would be 10 times as expensive. Pro video cameras with a FF35mm camera will always be top-end.

    Further down the sensor size 7D, GH2 etc. they might have competition but I think the 5D is here to stay – despite it’s shortcomings.

  4. Dear hd warrior,

    What make the success of the 5D is not on the New Panasonic,

    Cheap, Small, Can use tons of lenses, Huge sensor, And also amazing still camera.
    What will make the succes of the panasonic is not on the 5DII..

    Panasonic will sell tons of their new toys, but not at the same people. All the GH1/7D/5DII users prefers spend more time on handy work than most of the filmmakers. This is a another use.


  5. I couldn’t disagree more with this article. Seriously. The Canon Dslrs are fantastic tools. They get what I need when I need it. At a pricepoint I can burn through them.

  6. I think both the 5D mII and 7D are excellent video DSLRs and they are most certainly here to stay. I don’t understand your narrow mindedness, simply because you have a lot of money to throw away on pro video cameras you think others should do the same. VDSLRs are still new ground and it’s about being creative with the new equipment, in the future DSLRs will be made that correct the aliasing issues and the pan issues. It’s early days in the VDSLR world and so far things are looking great for people without huge bugets who are creative and want to have a go. Stop talking bad about something you simply don’t like and don’t fully understand.

  7. Narrow mindedness? LOL!

    I wrote that article in September, now – 3 months later – a lot of guys I know already sold their DSLRs and switched to the AF100. And that will go on with Scarlet, the F3 and every new camera with a bigger sensor.

    I also said, that DSLRs will be for people with low budgets or have to shoot under stealth conditions like the subway scenes in Black Swan.

    Looks like I was right.

    And yeah, thanks Philip for mention me.


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