Canon just announced the release of the 550D, a game-changing video DSLR targeted to the consumer market. You can read about the new camera, that’s sure to revolutionize film making here. I say that it will revolutionize film making because that is what all the viral marketing hype is saying and I want to get in on the action. Make no mistake about it, the new camera is packed with features found on Canon’s higher-end V-DSLRs like the 5D MarkII and the 7D. With a price tag around $900, they will be flying off the shelves of the big box store as hundreds of aspiring cinematographers start making feature-length films with it.
I have almost no experience with video DSLRs. I handled a Canon 7D for the first time yesterday and while the image looked nice in my editor, I can’t for the life of me understand why people would want to make films with it. Yes, it’s cool that a stills camera can shoot very good-looking video. Yes, it’s cool that it comes in a smaller form factor than a pro-level video camera. But there are a lot of limitations that people overlook or willfully disregard in the name of keeping up with the fad created by viral marketing. I don’t want to be left out in the cold (and snow) on this one, so I’m going to join in with the others singing the praises of this camera that-to the best of my knowledge-no one has yet.
First of all, the price point for the feature set is outstanding. You’ll get all the frame rates of the more expensive 7D at a fraction of the cost. This thing will be a RED-killer, for sure. Why spend $30,000 on a RED package when you can get a bigger sensor and all those frame rates for only $900? 7D owners are, of course, thrilled with this development since they can now afford a good B camera that does most of the same stuff their expensive 7D does at a fraction of the cost. 7D owners are, of course, fantastically pissed with this new development since they could have obtained a similar tool at a fraction of the cost. That cost savings can be applied to a double system recorder because the audio will likely be crappy, a mattebox, follow focus, external monitor, shoulder grips and all the other d00-dads you’ll need to actually shoot a cinema-quality product. Don’t believe me, look at all the gear bolted onto the cameras used by the major evangelists of this style of shooting.
By the way, I’m not knocking anyBody here. I’m just saying there’s more to making good video with this type of tool than pulling it out of the box and pressing the record button. That seems to get lost in the marketing hype. Anyway, on with the review….
This camera is going to be great for anyone undecided about using a DSLR to capture video. Based on the blogs I read, that population includes me and about four other people. Everyone is shooting their own feature-length films with these little puppies, so you just have to get one. Really. You have to. Not interested in video, then you should be shooting time lapses with this camera. Really. Everyone is doing time lapse stuff and you should too and you need this camera to do it properly. Go to B&H (a company I actually patronize and like) and buy the camera. Or, if the idea of using a consumer camera bothers you, go to Abel (another company I like) and get the 7D.
Please don’t disappoint all the people (paid and unpaid) who evangelize these cameras. Go buy one and a bunch of accessories and make your own version of Avatar.