Pro video blog…Produced by Philip Johnston DoP/Editor


Four new DSLRs two Canon and two Nikon all have better video capabilities…full size sensors, headphone outputs, better moire prevention, full signal HDMI output, 24 and 25p recording.

The cheapest of the 4 new DSLRs is the Nikon D800 at £2,399 (WEX) with the Canon 5D Mk111 at £2,999 (WEX). The Canon 5D Mk111 is good but at £1,341 dearer than the previous camera I can’t help thinking that someone in Canon marketing has lost the plot.

Now that the equilibrium has been restored with four large sensor video cameras professionals are turning away from the DSLR in favour of the Canon C300, Sony F3, Sony FS100 and the Panasonic AF101.

This leaves the DSLR video market to those who prefer that approach like photographers who’s market is photography with a smattering of video now and again.

Students can be rightfully aggrieved by Canon’s price hike as the 5D Mk111 is not £1,341 better than the 5D Mk11…personally after all the money Canon have made off the back of the 5D Mk11 and extra glass sales they have a cheek to charge ardent followers an extra £1.3K to keep up with the Joneses.

They would be better taking a chip off the Apple marketing block by updating the feature set and charging the same as last years model !

I have no doubt there will be Canon champions showing off the new video features and self professing gurus teaching you all about the new workflows but it’s no longer the choice of the majority of professionals and thats where the line gets drawn.

Take Canon’s own C300 the most sought after Super 35mm camera in the UK in fact I got a phone call last Friday asking me if I would hire mine for a music video as the “London” DP had requested the C300 but Progressive in Glasgow had a long term hire on their C300. I was only willing to “hire” out my C300 if I were there to look after it but the producer sourced a C300 from another hire company therefore solving my problem.

Just as an aside my C300 is not for hire, it’s my baby and comes with me operating it.

I think the bubble has burst big time, this marketplace has moved on and with a hard hitting recession sales of the new DSLRs are not going to be as easy with phase two, phase one was a roller-coaster, a learning curve, the new kid on the video block…that has all gone and so has the enthusiasm to spend £3,000 on a DSLR that on paper has not got £1,341 better features than the last camera.


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.

19 thoughts on “Has the DSLR video bubble finally burst ?

  1. ..”I think the bubble has burst big time” ..LOL, wishful thinking on your part. But your not alone. I know plenty of owner operator dp’s that have lost work with their dlr’s. This will continue.

  2. Totally and absolutely agree. I’ve been trying to justify upgrading my 5DMK2 with the MK3. However, for the material I shoot, the MK2 is absolutely great… and as you say, not 2000 GBP better. If I was investing in a large sensor broadcast camera, none of the DSLR’s would be on my list.

  3. Interesting article Phillip. Spent a week with the tech guy at the BBC in Glasgow on formats, bitrates – makes my mind shut-down just thinking about it !

    DSLR footage will only be approved for 25% of the full programme. All programmes have to be shot to minimum 50mbs, 2/3 chip-set. (although the Canon XF305 which qualifies by BBC standards andmeets the bitrate settings but not the chip-set??)

    So Phillip, my question to you – Why don’t the major companies like Sony, JVC, Panasonic, Canon not invest and meet these broadcast requirements?

    Cheers Ross

  4. I would just like to comment on the inaccurate Canon 5D mk.III price quoted in this post and the resulting tone you have created because of it.

    The rrp. Of the Canon 5D mk.III is £2999.99, almost £700 cheaper than what you reported.

    I also think it would have been fairer to note that at the time of it’s release the 5D mk.II was £2299.99. Now that’s still a hefty £700 difference between the two at launch, but it’s hardly the £2000 difference your stating.

    The new camera’s price will come down (as you are no doubt aware it will) in a few months once the retailers get plenty of stock and start competing.

    I am aware of your aversion to DSLR’s for video use and I fully agree with your argument that a dedicated video camera is a better tool for video work, my issue comes with your use of misinformation to support your views.

    DSLR video is here to stay due to many videographers (amateur and professional alike) getting results they are happy with at a price they are happy with. Debating about how big the “DSLR bubble” will get is certainly a valid discussion, but saying it has burst is rather short sighted and overly dramatic reporting in my opinion.


  5. In my enthusiasm I did not stop to check the 5D3 quoted was the kit price, you are indeed correct its £2999, but the current price of the 5D2 is £1659 (WEX pricing).

  6. Yes the BBC are quick to add the 1/3″ chip set to outsiders but have different rules for BBC employees using the same camera. The Canon C300 is fine because the Super 35mm chipset is actually far bigger that the BBC standard 2/3″ so no snaking out on that one.
    I hope Sony and Panasonic finally bite the bullet during NAB 2012 and bring us HD Broadcast spec camcorders and stop messing about with 1/3″ noisy cameras and fixed lenses.
    The EX-3 is a prime example with its 1/2″ chipset, better but at 35Mbs SxS…old hat and non broadcast out the box.

  7. Fit for purpose…I can’t stress that often enough. Though Canon may slam RED with their 4K “C” DSLR at NAB 2012.

  8. The one advantage adding video to a DSLR brings is gaining access at a reasonable (but not cheap) cost to a large sensor and range of high quality interchangeable glass. Everything else about the DSLR form factor really works against it for video rather than stills work and the ungainly and expensive scaffolding of rails, matte box, audio recorders, external flash drives, shoulder mounts points to that.

    I think what it has done is point towards the fact there is a demand for high grade modular camera systems built to exploit the (relative to broadcast) cheap consumer led optics and sensors in DSLRs. But I think the future belongs to things like the C300 who’s form factor is built for this rather than a press photographer. I also think you will see a rolling off in capability of true DSLR form factors to prevent canabalising of this market and the full broadcast market, except possibly from Nikon who have no irons in that fire.

    I do run a high end Nikon DSLR too from just before the video wave. One day I will upgrade that and it will be great to have video on it for when I only have one camera with me or to do some of the low DoF shots, but I’m always going to reach for the NX70 (or whatever I replace it with) when I know I’m going to shoot video.

    What might very well disappear is the sub broadcast but good quality market that the NX70 sits in; that could become dominated by “good enough” prosumer DSLRs that do video and stills.

  9. Canon or nikon dslrs will be runing cicrcles around cameras like c300. At last i can really use my full frame Zeiss primes with latest Dslr technology. These cameras are not for eng work but for more creative work. Thanks to latest Processors and technology we will see major improvement in moire and aliasing ….
    And then Canon DSLR 4k will nuke it all. Pictures out of Canon 5d markiii will be better then c300 if it will have 4:2:2 out in new firmware upgrade.

  10. Then why did I not save myself £9,000 knowing Canon & Nikon were bringing out these DSLRs…lets get it in perspective, FIT FOR PURPOSE ! Its simple…The DSLR has a place in history kick starting the shallow depth of field video look…you turn up to a professional job these days with a DSLR RIG when we now have video cameras like the Sony F3, FS100, Panasonic AF101 and the Canon C300, you will be sent packing.

    I have no doubt Canon will bring out the 4K “C” DSLR but if they have any sense it won’t be at a price most people using £3K DSLRs can afford, the C300 is whipping the ass off the competition so Canon are not going to bring out a 4K DSLR that will kill off their own very profitable C300.

    And while we are here who do you know that has a 4K compatible monitor let alone a TV…I don’t know one person or company in Glasgow with 4K…so whats all the beef about.

  11. I think u saved more then £9,000 ;-/
    Regarding canon c4K dslr. It could be futureproofing if there is such a thing. I am sure it will do 2K video too.
    I did buy af100 when it arrived and sold it week later. Not good enough for me. F3 was crippled from day ONE. c300 is nice camera even if Canon Log is not as good as Sony S Log. Cant wait for 5d vs c300 vs c4K shootout!

  12. You really do hate DSLRs for video don’t you:-) While many of us who work professionally can afford & justify the price of a C300 there are an awful lot of people who cannot. You can buy four 5D3s for the price of a C300 & you get a superb stills camera. If people will put up with all the difficulties & idiosyncrasies of the 5D2 in order to get lovely images at a low price point then they are certainly going to use the 5D3 with its vastly improved video.

    There is also something about shooting with the lightweight DSLR form factor that is very liberating particularly for those who haven’t grown up with shoulder mount broadcast cameras so don’t assume that those are the natural order of things. Canon got the ergonomics right with the C300 as it feels like using a DSLR in your hands. They could have put it in a big box but didn’t as it allows a whole new way of shooting. If you are an old stick in the mud or just like all the boys toys then by all means rig it up with rails, shoulder mount & massive matte box.

  13. Have you had a chance to work with a Hacked Panasonic GH2 as low as only $600 body only?

    It still has best resolution compared to even Canon and Nikon’s new full-frame DSLR so far, and no need for external recorder unlike Panasonic AF100.

    Many say it’s the best image short of only the C300 and F3 at 15 times it’s cost!

    If not tried, I encourage you to find someone who has worked the latest Hack version and tell me your thoughts…

    I keep a GH2 in my bag with a Red Scarlet, until Canon releases a 4K Cinema DSLR or better DSLR to replace the GH2.

    Thanks for your insightful blog!

  14. I don’t hate DSLRs, I don’t like it when people make them out to be fit for purpose when they are clearly not…DSLRs in a professional environment are a frig, they were made for news outlets wanting a “buy one (Pictures) get one free (Video)” and they are readily used for web interviews by news papers.
    They can produce great footage as David Chalmers of BBC Scotland will tell you but they are not allowed to be used for more that 25% of any BBC HD program and are a pig to work with in post.

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