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Newest Digital SLR Cameras: Shoot 1080p HD Video

March 2, 2013 by  
Filed under Digital SLR

SLR with 1080p video

Digital SLRs with HD Video: Movie and Video modes have been on smaller digital cameras since around 2002 but have been absent on SLRs until now. Recent SLR cameras have finally incorporated an HD movie mode. The latest versions of this compare favorably with some of the best HD video camcorders in terms of resolution and video quality. Canon offers some great Digital SLRs for HD.

The Canon 70D for 2013 has introduced Dual Pixel technology, giving us the best autofocus system for video of any DSLR ever produced. It can pull focus automatically, or you can just touch a subject on the screen for a nice smooth focus pull. Truly a revolutionary technology in video autofocus.

Other Canon SLRs with HD are the Canon 7D, the Canon 60D, the full frame Canon 5D Mark III, the Canon Rebel T3i all have a 1080p HD video mode capable of 24p and 30p (24 and 30 progressive frames per second). 24p is the same framerate as motion picture film, so many indie filmmakers like to see this capability in either camcorders or these new digital SLR cameras. All of these Canon SLRs provide video at a 1080p or 720p video resolution, all have built in microphone jacks for best sound.

RAW Video with Magic Lantern: Magic Lantern has added substantial additional functionality to Canon DSLRs for the past few years. Recently they have added the ability to shoot RAW video (uncompressed) in camera and to the memory card in the camera. The big limitation is the memory card controller. One DSLR, the Canon 5D Mark III has a super fast controller (100mbps write speed), which allows it to be the only camera (via Magic Lantern firmware) to be able to store Full HD 1080p 1920×1080 raw video (at 24fps). RAW video is stunning. The video is sharper, has more dynamic range, and better colors. The next best thing to 4K. You will need a superfast 1000x 64GB CF Card (this will hold only 12 minutes of RAW footage). It will also require a fast computer and software to turn it into useable footage, but we think it is worth it for filmmakers.

Full 1080p Video: will give you HD at 1920×1080 and 24fps or 30fps (blu-ray quality). 720p video is the same video quality as regular HD on cable TV. Nikon 1080p DSLRs include the entry level Nikon D3200. The D3200 now includes an external mic jack, and full time autofocus for video with stereo sound. Other Nikon entries to 1080p video are the Nikon D7100 (2013), the Nikon D800, Nikon D7000 and Nikon D5200 (2013), Nikon D7000 and Nikon D5100 which both have 1080p and shoot at 24fps (the D5100 can do 30fps as well), and both include a built-in microphone jack.

Advantages of Movie Mode: The major advantage of having an onboard movie mode is the convenience of having the ability to take exceptional photos and videos in one compact package. There is less equipment to carry. The main disadvantage to an SLR being used as a camcorder is that there are less dedicated buttons and features for camcorder use, and the ergonomics are different (how you hold a camcorder versus an SLR). SLRs usually are held close to your face to see through the viewfinder, while consumer camcorders are held in your hand away from your face and you view the video thru the LCD screen. (Most newer camcorders have done away with viewfinders). With a Digital SLR you will not use the viewfinder, but will use the LCD screen for video recording.

The video from these latest digital SLRs was good enough to be used for HD production on several TV shows. The best example was a season finale of the TV show “House” on the Fox network. The producers shot the entire episode using the Canon EOS 5D Mark II Digital SLR. The primary reason for using this camera was that one of the key scenes was shot in a cramped space under a collapsed building that regular pro video equipment would not be able to fit. The smaller size of this Canon SLR provided the perfect solution, and its video was comparable to other episodes shot with regular pro equipment. Canon SLRs were also used to film part of a recent episode of Numb3rs, driving scenes on the show 24, and the tonight show opening shot.

DSLR w/External Mic

If you are buying an SLR for video, it is most important to make sure that the SLR has a microphone jack. Smart Review lists which DSLRs have a microphone jack and which ones don’t. If you have a microphone jack, there are a lot of choices of mics that will give you much better sound than the mic that is built into the camera body. An external mic can mount on the flash shoe on the top of the camera which is a perfect spot for better sound quality. You can also get wireless microphones and stereo microphones.

Headphone Jack: A few DSLR models have headphone jacks. These can be important for monitoring audio levels when using the camera to record sound. Usually its the higher end cameras that have this feature.

In the future these SLRs will include even better features, and more use of these cameras in TV show production as well as for home use. provides reviews and buying guides on Digital SLRS, Lenses, and other popular electronics.

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