2007 was a big year for me. Not only was I starting college, but I had decided to make a big investment and purchase my own professional video camera. Nearly $4,000 later I was the proud owner of a Canon XH A1 camcorder. At that time it was a great camcorder, especially for those who were serious about video production. That camera truly served me well and helped me book some of my first freelance jobs, including one in Africa to film an event with the President of Rwanda. Fast-forward to 2010, I remember browsing Vimeo and stumbling across a video by Vincent Laforet, called “The Cabbie.” That three and a half minute video would completely change my view on camcorders, and eventually lead me to post my beloved XH A1 on Craigslist for sale.

The video by Vincent Laforet was part of a contest by Canon to promote their new line of high definition cameras, but it was not the kind of camera I would have ever expected. Vincent had created that video using a Digital SLR camera, the camera that had long been claimed by photographers. Fast-forward again to present day and you’ll see that DSLRs have completely changed the video production world, and even Hollywood has seen a few full-feature films come out which were exclusively shot on DSLRs. Individuals can now own a camera that records better video than my old XH A1 for well under $1,000! By no means are these cameras perfect. You will have to sacrifice some features if you choose to go with a DSLR versus a traditional camcorder, but in my opinion it is well worth it.

Here are some pros and cons I have come across in my 5 years of shooting with DSLRs:

Pros:

  • Cost Effective
  • Interchangeable Lenses
  • Multi-Purpose (Photo/Video)
  • Compact, Lightweight and Discreet
  • Image Quality
  • Tons of Add-On Gear and Rigs

Cons:

  • Auto-Focus (Current DSLRs with auto-focus still aren’t as good as camcorders)
  • Recording Length (Most DSLRs have a 30-minute recording maximum limit for one clip, which makes it hard for events)
  • Audio Quality (My first blog was on audio, and though you shouldn’t rely on the onboard microphone, it is still worse than the most onboard microphones of camcorders)
  • No Viewfinder

To this day I am still a huge fan of DSLRs for video production. Almost every year we have seen some incredible advances in their technology, especially for video. I am always asked what camera I would recommend to someone who is getting into video production or wants to create better videos, and I always recommend DSLR cameras because of their lower cost and exceptional video quality. If you have any questions, feel free to comment below or shoot me an email.


This blog is part of an ongoing series that will give you short tips and tricks to help take your videos to the next level. This series is intended for beginners and enthusiasts, so I will try my best to explain topics clearly, without getting deep into technical details. If you have any questions, feel free to shoot me an email at sam@activelamp.com and I will gladly help answer any questions you may have!