Is The DSLR Revolution Over? Maybe
To switch, or not to switch.
That is the question.
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous obsolescence
or to incur debt against a sea of new toys
And thus by joining, surrender.
With apologies to the bard. Last week the world of the “real” video camera took a new turn when Canon announced the (relatively) inexpensive C100, whose list price is supposed to be $8,000 (USD). Not inexpensive by DSLR standards but half the price of the C300 or the Sony F3, and about the same price as Sony’s FS700.
The fallout over Canon’s announcement is interesting because the Sony FS100 has been available for a year and has pretty much the same specs as the C100. On top of that, the FS100 is selling for $4200 (USD without a lens) until the end of 2012. But the C100 is CANON. It uses Canon lenses. So does the FS100 if you buy the Metabones adapter. For $400 the Metabones turns the FS100 into an EOS camera, giving you full functionality of your Canon lenses, which have no aperture rings.
So the big chip low priced “real” video camera has been here for some time, but the firestorm of interest in switching wasn’t really ignited until Canon’s C100 announcement. I think that’s mainly due to three things:
A. It’s a Canon, with Canon processing and the Canon look
B. It looks just like the $16K C300, but smaller, and you wouldn’t believe how many people are already seduced by that
C. It has the EOS mount and built-in ND filters
All those things make Canon fanboys lust after the big red C. I have to admit that I like it too, I seriously like it. What I don’t like is the price. But, thanks to Sony, we now have some very good choices for less money. Before the spring of 2011 if we wanted a big chip at a low price we had to go DSLR. Now we have:
- The FS100 for $4200
- The EA50 for about $5K for a complete package, servo zoom lens included
- The FS700 for about $8K, which does great slomo up to 240fps at full resolution and can be upgraded with future firmware and external recorder to produce 4K
- The Canon C100, supposedly for about $8K.
When I think about the technological progress in our world, I’m continually amazed. The 5DII was introduced at the end of 2008. Within 6 months people all over the world were shooting high quality video with it. And only about two and a half years later, Sony introduced the FS100 with the S35 (APS-C) chip. And a year later we have four cameras with that size sensor. We’ve gone from zero choices in affordable “real” video cameras with big chips, to four.
So the answer to the switch question is, as usual, not clear. My answer is: it depends. I might switch,not because I can make more money with a “real” video camera, but because I have some things I want to shoot that would be easier and better with one of the new cameras. If I didn’t already own a 5DII and lots of lenses and accessories, would I buy a DSLR today for video? I can safely answer that as no. Even though the price of the FS100 is double that of the 5DII, by the time the 5DII is accessorized the way it really needs to be for serious video shooting, the cost is gong to be about the same.
On the other hand, for the work that I do in my day job the 5DII remains a better choice because I shoot so many stills from the same setup as the video shots. There are times when almost every video shot needs a still shot as well for print publication. For this situation, I prefer the 5DII. The extra shallow DOF you get with that giant sensor is often beneficial as well because I can blur out things in the background the client doesn’t want to see.
Again, the camera choice depends on the work you do. I’m looking ahead toward some serious documentary projects where the 5DII is not the best choice, and now I have a choice.
For more discussion on the C100 and FS100, join Bill in our Camera Forum.
Tags: Canon C100, DSLR vs video camera, new big chip video cameras, Sony FS100