Monday, 6 May 2019

Canon's DSLR video capabilities will never be more than an afterthought

The Canon 5D mk2 was a ground breaking camera when it was introduced in 2008. Video capabilities seem to have been added as an afterthought, or at the last minute anyway. But that opened up a floodgate of DSLR’s afterwards that continued to have some video capabilities.
In all the years since, not once has any DSLR had video capabilities even close to Canon’s video products that were sold primarily for shooting video. This makes total sense, and yet every single photography magazine and online blog reviewing DSLR’s has said something along the lines of “why doesn’t this camera have this video capability”…
The fact that every camera I own has some form of HD video capability is nice. Pity that they’re not that great an implementation and not particularly suited use for any professional use anyway. I thought it was great that my 5Dmk2 was a perfect fit for recording my kids orchestra concerts during high school, but the camera had a 12 minute limit per clip which made it awkward to use.
I’ve come to the point where I need a video camera, and I’ve spent a bunch of time looking at reviews for various gear and come across an interesting point. For years we’ve become accustomed to the idea that to do “good” video with a DSLR, then we need to build a “franken-cage”. I shouldn’t need to explain what this means! The simple fact is that the form factor of every DSLR (and this includes Canon’s M10 and M15) is suited for taking still images and was never suited for movement. The way around was always to build a cage to put the camera in, add bars, a top handle, side handles, bolt on cold-shoe’s, and then you have something that looks… let’s admit it…. like absolute crap.
The camcorder with a handle on top is a format that isn’t going to change, because it’s designed to do the job of taking video. I find it ironic that most of these will also take photos, which is honestly nothing more than a stupid gimmick.
What’s also interesting is that the megapixel race in photo cameras has always run counter to the actual needs of video. A 4K image needs approximately a 8 megapixel sensor (and 1080p needs half that). Anything larger than this would require interpolation to happen in real time (merging pixels together), which then often makes the image softer or adds more video quality issues.
The simple fact is, we’ve been sold a feature that’s never been more than a marketing solution to sell a feature that’s meant to do little more than sell the idea that consumers of one kind of camera should also buy the other. Yes, a relatively recent photo-camera would usually make a decent b-camera for video, but makes for crappy outcomes as anything more.
I’m writing this, waiting for my first 4K video camera – realising that so many of us have been hoping for Canon to add 4K capabilities to a DSLR. What has been added is, and always will be, half baked. Waiting for good 4K DSLR without the issues of logs, bit depth and the rest is pointless.
We need to ignore the marketing noise and realise that one format is good for video and another is good for photo and never both. A jack-of-all-trades camera will never be built.

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