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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.

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