A while back I asked the question, “Can a camcorder beat a camera at its own game?” Apparently Nikon and Canon feel that I should have asked the opposite question, as they have just bust open a collective can of whoop-ass on the camcorder world with two new Digital SLR cameras.
Nikon landed the first punch with the new D90 DSLR, which can shoot 720P (1280×720) HD video at 24 frames per second. The camera can also take 12.3 megapixel stills and has fun features such as Live View and ultrasonic sensor cleaning. The D90 is available now and costs around $1,050 for the body only.
Canon hopes to land the knockout blow with its soon to be released Canon EOS 5D Mark II, which will bring a jaw-dropping 21.1 megapixel full-frame sensor to the game. The camera will be the first DSLR capable of recording “full HD” 1080P (1920×1080) video. The EOS 5D Mark II will be considerably more expensive than the D90 with a body-only MSRP of $2,699. It hits the markets in November.
So how do these showoff DSLRs compare to their camcorder cousins? Amazingly well, if the clips I’ve found on Vimeo are any indication. Take a look at beer through the lens of the D90.
And here we have some various footage from the heavyweight 5D Mark II:
These two cameras are game-changers. Their still image performance is exceptional as always, but now they allow photographers to shoot professional-quality video. The cameras may seem expensive, but camcorders with interchangeable lenses cost megabucks. The ability to shoot video through the wonderful glass from Canon, Nikon, and others is dream come true for many videographers. The cameras will open up the world of video to the hugely popular prosumer photography market, making cinematography more appealing for photographers with thousands already invested in lenses and other camera gear.
Obviously these cameras are still a bit too pricey for anyone but professionals and loaded amateurs, but the features from flagship models always trickle down to more affordable underlings over time. With the kind of flexibility offered by these cameras, you’d have to make a pretty good case for investing in a top of the line camcorder right now. Sure, the cameras do have downsides. The D90 uses the less than optimal Motion JPEG format for video. (The 5D Mark II records H.264 MOV files.) Also, HD camcorders feature built-in optical image stabilization, whereas the cameras will have to do stabilization on a lens-by-lens basis. Stabilization is very important when shooting HD video, as minor shakes are very obvious in the final product. It’s unclear how well lenses designed for photography will perform for video, and how the cameras will deal with video accessories like microphones and video lights.
Let me assure you, generous reader, that I am more than willing to conduct a full test of both cameras for you. Just send me your donation and/or evaluation units and I’ll get right on it!1 comment
[...] in 2008 I wrote that DSLRs were starting to include video features and that these new cameras were set to be hugely popular with the movie-making crowd. Well, it [...]
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