Pro video blog…Produced by Philip Johnston DoP/Editor

I have had a few emails recently all with the same message…DSLR stopped working ! Are we now seeing the major limitations of this cheaper video technology.

No one ever thought for one minute that we would see video work being produced by a stills camera especially at weddings, but quite a number of you have been putting the DSLR through it’s paces at least twice a week throughout the wedding season.

We are now on year 2-3 with the DSLR being used as a video tool, people like the “look”, “Shallow depth of field”, “”Compactness” but all this form factor is at a cost, not one DSLR manufacturer to date will compromise the photographic side of these cameras so for at least 90% of you that means moire and aliasing.

Sound is poor and in most cases uncontrollable so you are having to use an external sound source like a zoom etc.

Up until a week ago the only DSLR giving hassle free video was the Panasonic GH1 but one of my readers had the following…

” The GH1s not a whole lot better. I shot a wedding with 2 of them and a HMC151 recently. The 2 GH1s crashed during the ceremony. One was restarted by the operator, the other was locked off to the rear of the church so we didn’t know about it til after the ceremony.

DSLRs are fabulous filmmaking tools but not really sorted for live video work, yet.”

This chap was lucky he was also using a Panasonic HMC-151 camcorder so the instant 2 camera failure was a bad blow but the video camcorder saved his bacon.

This also happened to a company I blogged about recently using two Canon 60Ds and a Sony FS100 once again a two camera failure during the speeches and the Sony FS100 saving the day.

It seems obvious to me there is a short longevity with the DSLR using it in video mode, the overheating is never a good sign in any electrical equipment and I think it’s also causing irrepariable dammage, in other words temperature = camera problems.

If I take my straw pole of unsatisfied DSLR users to date it equals 70% not happy having had a major let down at a live event and out of that 70% only 30% had a video camcorder to fall back on.

My advice is obvious either take a video camcorder or a spare DSLR body to all your weddings and keep them at arms length…just in case !


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.

7 thoughts on “Is the DSLR finally showing it’s limitations ?

  1. I never see and use the DSLR as video cameras, for me are better suited as low budget filmaking digital tool. TV spots, short takes, some Documentary work, like was with cine cameras long time ago.

  2. It’s just another tool. It’s good at somethings and not others.

  3. The camera’s you mention in your post are consumer products, not even prosumer (like the Canon 5DMkII), that are being put through professional usage. No wonder they fail. They’re designed to be used by amateurs who love their craft and pull their camera out of the closet every couple of months to shoot some images or video.

    People who are making money with photography or videography, should invest equipment that can take the daily use that we professionals put our equipment through. I’ve had cameras and lenses fail on shoots, but there’s always been a back up that can get the job done and the equipment has been serviced to get it back to work asap.

  4. I started shooting video on a Nikon D3S but after few wedding jobs,I knew this was not the way. The DSLR always let me down at critical moments like “Exhanging of vows, daddy’s speech, etc”. My friends urged me to get 5DmkII but I opted for a Sony VG10 instead. Some think it is a stupid choice but I have been using it for 9 months without ever letting me down. At the times the Canon 60D stopped at the 12 min mark, the VG10 was the one that keep everything going. I have just invested in the FS100, which I believe is the way to go.

  5. DSLRs where never made to be used as pro video cameras, but they do a great job and produce some amazing footage for a reasonable price. There are problems with any new products it takes time to develop and iron out all of the issues, so no point saying they are useless. And its thanks to the DSLRs taking back some of the market that other companies have been forced to up there game and release better video cameras like the FS100 and the AF101. So I hope the DSLRs will keep getting better and giving us great footage for a small price.

  6. I think to be honest they already deliver amazing results at an incredible price. Moire and rolling shutter are such minor issues (I think i’ve seen the former twice almost 2 years of filming). They don’t overheat often (use them for filming 1hr events regularly, no problem). They are great for events, and to be honest miles better than more expensive cameras in the right hands.

    I think it’s a question of what you’re comfortable with, but you can’t knock the value or the quality because they are far better than any of the cheaper DSLR killers for image quality and price, the only area they are not as good is usability, but that can be overcome.

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