Adam Westbrook // ideas on digital storytelling and publishing

Why the DSLR is changing video journalism

Posted in Broadcasting and Media, Journalism by Adam Westbrook on March 15, 2010

Photo: Dan Chung

This isn’t the first time I’ve harped on about the need for video journalism to break away from the rules and conventions of TV news. Other, smarter, people have done it too.

Thing is, where are we seeing this happen? Video journalists working with traditional (albeit smaller) cameras are generally producing “TV” news, solo.

Flipcams, like the Kodak Zi8, are proving they can compete with the big boys in some instances…although still mimicking the old guard.

One camera is threatening to give the rules the rewriting they deserve.

A new range of digital SLR cameras are now capable of shooting HD video, through the most awesome quality photographic lenses. And it’s getting photographers and videographers very excited.

At the top of the pile is Canon’s 5D MkII which comes in at a hefty £2,5000. Cheaper, but still very high quality is the Canon 7D, roughly just over £1,000. And now Canon have brought out their cheapest one yet – the 550D. It shoots HD video at either 25 frames per second or up to 60 frames per second at a lower quality. It’s got an external microphone input, so you’ll get good quality sound, and you can attach any Canon lens onto it to get a wide range of gorgeous images…it’ll set you back £700.

In the right hands these cameras are bringing a cinematic feel to video journalism. There are no hands better than Beijing based photojournalist and VJ Dan Chung. Check out this film he shot for the Guardian. He trialled the 550D, and put it on some cheap movable rigs to add motion to the shots. Used subtly it doesn’t distract from the story, but adds a wonderful texture to it.

I am hoping to invest in the 550D in the very near future. I hope DSLRs, in whatever form or price inspire a real visual revolution. It’s about time.

8 Responses

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  1. Mirko Lorenz said, on March 16, 2010 at 8:59 am

    The DSLR opportunities are incredible. Though, estimated costs of a fully equipped DSLR that allows for professional video results might be closer to 5-6000 Euros. A lot of money, yet still relatively cheap compared to prices for just one TV-quality camera. And the DSLR pictures look much better, fresher.

    Here is a link to a German video podcast where they show how a DSLR can be equipped to become a small form factor videocamera.

    http://foto-podcast.de/ipod/blende8-11/

  2. Toby said, on March 16, 2010 at 10:31 am

    Hear hear, Adam. Some of the best stories I’ve seen lately have been shot on DSLRs. If my editing skills were anywhere near competent, I’d do the same. Must get on a course soon, methinks.

  3. marco said, on March 16, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    DSLR are undoubtedly good. I hope to have money to get one that shoots HD soon.
    But, as a photographer, I have to ask: who is going to shoot stills once the camera is set up like the one on the image? why don’t you just use a video camera? (ok, a DSLR is cheaper, I think). Still, I am sceptic about going that far. And I enjoy shooting video, really., but I don’t want to loose the freedom (of movement at least) that a photo camera offers.
    Does that makes sense?

  4. Max said, on March 23, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    You might want to sort out the £2,5000 typo, haha.

    I do agree though about the potential of DSLRs. I think it might encourage even more creativity in terms of how you decide to tell a story.

  5. […] Montage As Adam Westbrook, a freelance journalist, multimedia producer, and blogger, noted in a recent post, "in the right hands these cameras are bringing a cinematic feel to video journalism." And Adam is […]

  6. […] …and why the DSLR is changing video journalism […]

  7. markant said, on August 12, 2010 at 6:31 am

    I agree that DSLR’s maybe the way of the future, specially considering the 5Dmark2 is Full framed. (Means alot less noise, omongest other advantages.) Some limitiatiosn currenterly sournd at the moment sound, but these are being overcome. Still Like Mikro said the costs are more then what most people expect to get a profesional result.

    Lets take the 550D looking at around 1k AU body only, (Please not not full frame so looses alot of the DSLR advantages.) Then you would go with the 75 – 200 L IS2 for atleast 3k Then still have sound equipment and and a wider angle lens to purchase. It is an option though I believe that its realistically 1 or 2 generatiosn away from being practical. For photographers who have allready invested in equipment it expands there options for income. Papers that want to obtain video footage for websites, and aready have the lens adding the Mike equipment to your set up is well worth it. For people who want to get into video journalisum at least with the way things currenterly stand invest in a good semi-pro video rig.

  8. […] Source: DSLR News Shooter, Adam Westbrook […]


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