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HD Video DSLRs -- A Different Kind of Camera

Still or motion? Camera or camcorder? Technology is converging -- as even consumer digital cameras shoot HD video, and video camcorders shoot multi-megapixel photos. And the trend has continued into professional Digital SLR cameras, which have evolved to add the ability to shoot HD video, starting with the Nikon D90 (see previous post).

Sometimes called a "Video" or "HD" or "Hybrid" DSLR, this idea was originally conceived as a way to help photojournalists expand their repertoire, and has grown quickly to become attractive to videographers as well.

With a video DSLR, you can carry one camera for shooting both photos and video, and shoot video unobtrusively and in difficult environments. The big bonus, however, is the glass -- the ability to use the extensive collection of photographic lenses available for DSLR cameras, giving you amazing flexibility in controlling the focal length and depth of field. Combined with high ISO ranges from image sensors much larger than typical camcorders, the result is great flexibility in shooting in low light situations.

However, these cameras are still primarily designed for still photography, and not for studio or event use, so they typically don't have features like built-in stereo microphones, and they typically shoot only short clips, around five to ten minutes. In addition, the video modes do not provide the full capabilities of the traditional photographic modes, with limited manual control and/or limited auto focus or exposure options.

But over the past year, companies including Canon, Panasonic, and Nikon have responded to growing interest in video DSLRs by introducing a range of products, from enthusiast models around $900, to more rugged workhorse models for pros like journalists and wedding photographers around $2000, to high-end models around $5000.

Especially for photographers, stepping up to a HD DSLR can expand your repertoire, so you can shoot video and audio with familiar equipment, instead of having to lug around additional gear.

See my full article in Videomaker magazine, HD Video DSLRs - A Different Kind of Camcorder, with the experiences of professional photographers and videographers who have begun using HD DSLR cameras.

See my Digital Cameras Gallery for more on DSLRs, the D90 and other cameras.

    Find Nikon D90 on Amazon.com

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