DSLR cameras with a focus on video don’t get enough respect. Often regarded as a less-than-serious tool by professionals, and perhaps too complicated for photographers, they occupy an interesting but important middle-ground for content creators. So which brand is doing this genre right?
Caleb Pike from DSLR Video Shooter takes a look at several brands’ offerings in this segment. Canon, Nikon, Sony, Panasonic, Fujifilm, Z Cam, Blackmagic Design, and Sigma (I almost forgot about that FP camera, as do most people, I think) all square off in this video that ranks each brand as a whole when it comes to video features packed into SLR-style cameras.
As Pike explains, none of the camera brands are perfect, but some are far less perfect than others. While Sigma falls to the bottom, it faced a similar criticism that other brands without a dedicated cinema unit did, and that’s that these companies (Nikon, Sigma, and Fujifilm) have no reason not to build a “balls to the wall” cinema camera since they won’t be cannibalizing any other product line.
It’s a worry I frequently heard when I worked at Canon, and one that Pike repeats in this video. Making a DSLR awesome at video had the serious potential to take away from the cinema line. To that end, while Canon’s mirrorless R models shoot awesome video, there’s always overheating to contend with, and then there’s that 30-minute time limit for clips, which make shooting things such as long events a non-starter.
While that might be the case for a very small segment of the professional video market, it’s largely baloney. As Pike points out, form-factor is everything. It’s what holds down Blackmagic, in his opinion, and it’s also why a Canon DSLR or mirrorless, even if it had the same image quality a dedicated cinema camera, wouldn’t be playing in the same space. Anyone who’s spent a minute with even the most basic of Cinema EOS cameras, such as the C100 Mark II, can attest that the controls are much better placed on that camera for shooting video than something like the EOS R5, and that likewise, a cinema camera’s going to have much better audio capabilities than a single miniplug connection that’s often found on SLR-style bodies.
One interesting point that Pike makes is about Panasonic, in that the only thing holding that company back is autofocus. I’ve often found myself feeling like the video quality out of my $700 Lumix G85 beats my more expensive cameras from other brands, but even my GH-series cameras always had terrible autofocus when it came to video. The contrast-based system would “flutter” until it locked focus on something, and then wouldn’t track very well at that. And that was years ago. Pike’s still talking about this on the current Panasonic camera.
Where do your favorite camera brands fall on the list? Do you agree or disagree with Pike’s rankings? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.