Shooting video with a DSLR (part of the popular series “Things I never thought I’d do”)

After grinning into my lens and standing still for about 10 seconds, the girls I was standing in front of with my camera lately at a friend’s wedding were asking themselves when I would finally take that picture. What they didn’t know until I told them: I was in the middle of taking a lot of pics and they were allowed and even supposed to move – I shot a video and this wasn’t the first time that people didn’t get it. One year ago I would have done the same.

A DSLR is known as a device to take single high quality pictures. And not videos. And that’s actually what I bought it for. Now, my DSLR is my all-in-one device for photo- and videography. Not only for private use, but also for my work as a  journalist.

I treat myself with a Canon EOS 550D last year as I wanted to learn more about photography and shoot nicer pictures than I could achieve with my point-and-shoot. I took it to the wedding of a friend, planning to take pictures with it while as well shooting a video with my HD camcorder (using my Canon only as a video backup/2nd camera for the wedding ceremony.) I went into the church, set everything up, switched on my camcorder and realized I was in trouble. Way too dark. I knew this was not to be storied as the wedding video with the best picture quality….

However, I switched on my DSLR and it felt like the chorus started singing “Hallelujah” in the background. It was great and no – I didn’t expect it.

Since this day, my camcorder is suffering the life of an abandoned device. Sorry, mate.

Now, it wouldn’t even come to my mind to take my camcorder instead (only as a backup/2nd cam). My camcorder only has autofocus (one of the most annoying things if you can’t switch to manual…), not a lot of settings and you’ve got less picture quality. Which is obvious. It’s a camcorder I bought for about 200 Euros a few years ago. Still, when I got my Canon I was convinced that, if I wanted to have a really professional camera for videography, I would have to spend a few thousand euros. Which I couldn’t.

I was dreaming of the ones I worked with during my trainee, like this one. I would have never thought about shooting videos with a DSLR.

Yes, I had no idea indeed.

After that and especially during my MA studies in Online Journalism I developed more and more enthusiasm for shooting videos with my DSLR. I practiced a lot, explored possibilities, did some research, learnt more about the technical side etc. And that more and more people are working with the same device to produce their videos, Dan Chung is a popular example for that.

I’m still impressed by what you can achieve with a DSLR and I’m not grieving for the Panasonics from my trainee anymore – not at all (although I still like them). One reason for that is that I love how handy, small and light the camera is, I can easily carry it around, including the equipment I need. One thing I don’t like is the sound quality, which is why I’m always recording interviews separately, using an audio recorder and synchronizing it later. But that doesn’t really bother me.

My Canon is now my all-in-one device for private and professional use, which is why I decided to upgrade my equipment. After my 20€ worth tripod finally fell into pieces, I decided to get a proper Manfrotto tripod, including a video head. I also decided to get a tele lens, as I often missed that possibility when I was filming with my 18-55mm one. In addition to the macro lens I got last year and the KATA backpack I purchased to have a safe and handy bag for everything, I’ve got quite a nice equipment now – still a lot of space to upgrade, but as I haven’t won the student lottery, yet, this is it for now.

But I’m truly in love with it.

After finishing my studies in September, I will go on a longer trip to New Zealand and Australia. And instead of thinking which clothes I will take etc., the most important thing for me is to pack my new video backpack and be ready to film over there.

I can’t wait.

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2 thoughts on “Shooting video with a DSLR (part of the popular series “Things I never thought I’d do”)

  1. Cindy says:

    It is good that you are happy to do things differently. You are finding ways to create the same effect without using the ‘usual’ devices. You will go far. It is like an artist who creates art in different, not necessarily compatible mediums. Well done, for having an open and receptive mind for these things.

  2. Many thanks for this, Cindy!

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