Is the DSLR dead for Online Video? A World Press Photo Connected Learning discussion

Guest post by DJ Clark:

The schoolchildren check out the 550D

Is DSLR video a thing of the past?

In 2007, no one could have predicted the impact the Canon 5D mkII would have on online video journalism; not even Canon. But five years on, many multimedia journalists are questioning whether the DSLR is still the best tool.

In the second part of my Gear Guide for the World Press Photo Connected Learning Multimedia course, I host an online discussion with Dan Chung and Matt Ford to talk about the DSLR as a video tool. We debate the pros and cons of the three emerging camera types multimedia journalists are using for video – the DSLR, the dedicated large sensor video camera and the ever-impressive compact mirrorless cameras – and consider if the DSLR is still the best way forward for people just starting out in multimedia journalism.

“I honestly think we are beyond the DSLR now,” Dan argues, as dedicated large sensor video cameras and compact mirrorless alternatives have come in to replace the slightly awkward DSLR.

“If you are going for a well-paid TV job you are going to use a camera that is dedicated to that and then [for online multimedia work] the compact camera systems are arguably a better tool than the DSLR as they are cheaper, smaller, lighter and more likely to have the right video functions.”

Dan sees cameras such as the Panasonic GH3 or Sony A7 as being well-suited to students looking for a camera with both good stills and video capabilities on a modest budget.

Not everyone has given up on the DSLR for video. On a recent assignment for National Geographic Online in the south of Egypt, Matt Ford went with the Canon 5D mkIII for his video: “I go for the DSLR because if I am going on a shoot and I already have a lot of lenses and bodies that I am using for still photography, if my primary camera goes down, I still have a lot of backups.”

Matt is not alone. The majority of students I see attending multimedia courses still arrive equipped with Canon DSLR cameras and lenses and would be reluctant to change.

Do you think DSLR is dead as a multimedia tool? I would love to hear your views.

D J Clark is a Beijing-based multimedia journalist currently working with The Economist, and Assignment Asia, a new CCTV News short documentary program.



Posted on February 9th, 2014 by D J Clark | Category: DSLR video news, Journalism |

2 responses to "Is the DSLR dead for Online Video? A World Press Photo Connected Learning discussion"

  1. Andrew Horton Says:
    February 9th, 2014 at 9:58 am


    Interesting. I think DSLRs are on the way out as well, but I still use my Canon 60D for the primary reason that ‘it’s all I have’!

    I think Matt makes a good point, that he uses his 60D in protests etc. as it’s cheaper and not as expensive to replace. This is key. If you’re doing more ‘adventurous’ ENG and you’re using a C300 you’re gonna be wrapping it in cotton wool, aren’t you? Whereas the smaller A7, RX10, RX100s of this world aren’t as expensive to replace. + they’re more inconspicuous, which can be a key advantage in ENG.

    I would say for ENG the smaller, mirrorless cameras are the way forward.

    For studio/interview the c100, c300 etc are the way forward.

    Maybe DSLRs will go back to being the preserve solely of photographers…


  2. Matt Davis Says:
    February 10th, 2014 at 5:00 am

    DSLRs moved us onwards and upwards from half and two third inch sensors, and the discrete profile and transportability of DSLRs won many of us over too.

    But the dual system sound, the tricky white set and it has to be said: fragile pictures due to the codecs, moire and aliasing didn’t exactly endear them to the whole community. And the need for a long zoom range in fast moving action made it seem that events waited to happen only when you were changing lenses.

    There’s times and places for large sensor video cameras, of all sorts, but having tested out a fair range of Sony ‘prosumer’ cameras, it was the AX100 I reached for mostly – less faff and easier to deal with than the RX10. The DSLR body is designed for holding for short periods, usually at eye level. A Video camera’s ergonomics favour longer shooting periods from more vantage points (overhead, low angle). Try and stand a DSLR up and note how it loves to ‘fall on its nose’. A palmcorder can be stuffed in all sorts of places (in-car interviews, propped up on books, held overhead, etc). Just the joy of flipping the screen forward to reassure an interviewee or line up a shot…

    IMHO, DSLRs may now be returned to photographers. Sorry, Panasonic, the boat has, I think, already sailed.

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