Very recently, a series of hybrid cameras have hit the market that allow both the benefits of an SLR still camera and a professional HD video camera. These cameras are technically an SLR camera, but will allow the mirror to stay open in order for the camera to capture video. As of writing this tutorial, both Canon and Nikon had several models out that allow for both video and photo capture. We have tested a couple of these models and have found that the quality of video capture to be exceptional, but the device falls short in many areas such as the ability to autofocus, audio capture and other features typically found only in traditional video cameras.
- Video recording using traditional camera controls and lenses
- Record directly to a memory card in standard format, no logging required in video editing software
- Maximum control over aperture and exposure
- Great color saturation
- No built-in microphone input on some of the cameras
- Manual focus only
- Missing many features found on professional video cameras
- Limited audio recording capabilities (multiple channels, etc)
|Models and approximate prices (as of March 2009)|
|Canon EOS 5D Mark II ~ $3,500Canon EOS Rebel T1i ~ $900||Nikon D90 ~ $900|
Nikon also makes several cameras that do "live view" meaning you can see the image on the back of the camera much like a point-and-shoot camera would. Although these cameras don't capture video directly, some of them contain an HDMI video out connector that would allow a person to plug into a computer or video recording system. At this time, such a setup would be rather bulky and complex and we do not recommend it.
See a sample video from the Canon 5d by New York Times photographer Vince LaForet: http://www.usa.canon.com/dlc/controller?act=GetArticleAct&articleID=2326
Our take: These cameras are emblematic of the direction the industry is going. Soon, there will be a single device of truly capturing high quality HD video while maintaining the benefits of still digital SLR cameras. But for now, using one of these video SLR cameras requires lots of effort and sacrifices. Until the industry produces a quality product that caters to both video and still photo professionals (and we believe it's coming soon) our recommendation is to wait for the next iteration of these devices.