Best DSLR Camera For Documentary Filmmaking
(Bergen op Zoom, The Netherlands)
I am an aspiring documentary film maker from the Netherlands, and just started my own production company. I want to purchase my own gear, but my budget is not very large yet. I want to get started now and start filming and practicing!!
I have been thinking of purchasing a video camera for years, but I can not figure out what camera to buy. I have finally decided that a DSLR will be my choice, but now I need to decided which one is the best. At first I was considering the Nikon D7100 or a Canon comparable camera, but now a salesman has pointed out that Sony has a very good technology and more possibilities for filmmakers. I am really lost and cannot make a decision!
My budget is 1.000 to 2.000 Euros. I hope someone out there can help me!
Thanks in advance.
Desktop Documentaries | Answer
This is a very common question! Deciding what camera to buy is an important decision because all of the other equipment you buy is directly connected to what camera you choose.
Here are a sampling of similar questions which have been posted to this site which may be helpful to you in your decision.What's the best camcorder for documentary filmmaking?Which handheld camcorder is best for very amateur filmmakers? Canon XF305 vs Canon 5D MK3
Keep in mind that although buying a DSLR is less expensive than buying a comparable video camera, there will be “extras” you'll need to get to go with a DSLR such as an external audio recorder and lenses which add to the price. When you buy a video camera, it's an “all-in-one” audio/video package.
I personally own the Canon 60D
DSLR and can highly recommend it for both photography and video. I do not have experience with all the various DSLR cameras on the market, including Sony, therefore cannot make any specific recommendations.
What I can tell you is that in the end, all the DSLRs on the market today provide excellent results and you can't go wrong in your choice. In the end, it's the STORYTELLING that matters in documentary filmmaking. Even an iPhone (with a good external audio recorder) can be used to create a compelling documentary.
I will say this - since you are just starting to build your gear list and you've determined that a DSLR is the way to go, I would get an entry-level DLSR with video made by either Nikon (Nikon D3200
) or Canon (Canon Rebel T3i
). This will cost you under $600 (even less if you get a camera that is a year or two old). For another $800-$1,200 you can purchase a separate lens. The reason DLSRs are so attractive for video is because they are able to use the incredible lenses that used to only be available to photographers.
Here are two great general purpose lenses from Nikon and Canon:Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S DX Nikkor Zoom LensCanon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens
If you are not using a great (not good) GREAT lens with your DSLR you are missing the point of the DSLR. In time, you can upgrade to a camera with a full-frame sensor. Starting out with good glass will give you better results which will only encourage you to go out and shoot more.
Audio is a challenge with DSLR cameras. An external mic recorder like the Zoom ZH4N
($300) is handy and can do a fantastic job of recording audio. But you will need to sync the audio and video in post. You can run audio directly into a DSLR, but it is done with a mini-jack (the same size as your headphones). This is not the ideal way to capture audio and audio is very very important. The best way to bring in audio is through professional XLR cables (which the Zoom H4 supports). Seinnheiser makes good wireless lavalier microphones such as the Sennheiser EW 112P
. Having at least one wireless lav will help you in almost any interview setting. These entry-level mics can cost about $600.
Focusing on moving subjects is also challenging with a DLSR camera (no matter how awesome the lens). For interviews a DSLR is great. If you are trying to follow the action of a football game with a DSLR it will be hard to keep your subject in focus. Zooming is also more awkward with a DSLR.
If you think you are going to be shooting more video than taking pictures with your DSLR, you may want to consider a video camera like the Canon XA10
or Sony HXR-NX30U
. Additional Helpful Links:How To Choose A CamcorderLow-Budget Filmmakers Equipment List Video Production Equipment Check-ListDSLR Gear List for Filming SportsHow To Shoot DSLR Video (Video Tutorial)
Anyone else have ideas or suggestions for Louise?