Should You Use a Camcorder or DSLR to Shoot Videos?

Video Production Oakville – The Captain’s Blog

Should You Use a Camcorder or DSLR to Shoot Videos?

Hello everyone, John at Groovy again. Today’s blog is all about Camcorders versus DSLR cameras.

Many of you may already own a digital SLR camera ( DSLR ) like a Nikon or Canon with interchangeable lenses. A question we sometimes get from our clients is, “Why are you shooting my video production using a film camera?”

Modern DSLR cameras are designed specifically to support both regular photography and video capture. We recommend you consider using a full frame digital SLR or one of the newer 4K capture cameras to provide the highest possible resolution for your HD videos.

Generally speaking, DSLR cameras, including several “mirrorless options”, are great for capturing the look of traditional film. Side note: many TV sitcoms are actually shot using FILM versus digital video to give that extra bit of quality. Traditional camcorders are easier to use and can be better for shooting news events and sports however they are bulkier and much heavier in most instances.

Let’s talk about some specific differences.


A camcorder is designed specifically for shooting video. Featuring built-in zoom lenses and tilt-and-swivel screens, most expensive pro camcorders have good built-in microphones and professional audio inputs ( XLR inputs ). Of course, these types of cameras would never be a good choice for doing any still photography. You can get a variety of lenses for the higher quality camcorders on the market however most of the most popular choices feature variable zoom lenses with high speed apertures for shooting in low light situations. Both Camcorders and DSLR cameras offer you many menu options to control white balance, colour temperature and heaps more.

DSLR Cameras

A DSLR (digital SLR) is usually your best choice for doing still photography however many professional videographers use them for a variety of video production challenges. It takes interchangeable lenses. By flipping up the mirror and “locking it into position, the videographer can see the live capture on the digital screen which is perfect to keep everything inside the frame. One of the challenges doing it this way however is that you need to focus the shot first, lock down the focus ( we sometimes will use tap on our lens barrels ) and then flip up the mirror. This is a very important consideration to ensure you keep everything if perfect focus.

Mirrorless Cameras

A mirrorless camera is similar to a SLR because you can swap lenses and view the composition on the live view screen. Generally speaking, focusing would be done using the live view screen or sometimes using the eye level view finder. Once again, it is important to check your focus carefully before shooting to ensure best possible results.

Size Matters

Whenever you are considering adding a DSLR to your kit bag, we would recommend you go with full frame capture with the largest sensor you can afford. You will end up getting results that look more “cinematic” rather than video. On most DSLR cameras, you can “pull focus” which changes the focus from foreground to background on the fly, a very popular shooting technique for big budget video production.

What, I Can’t Hear You?

One of the biggest drawbacks of using a DSLRs is the lack of audio capture ports and the possibility that “camera buzz” may be picked up in the background. Before you buy, make sure you test out all of the audio features very thoroughly. You may need to consider the purchase of a standalone audio recording device.

Some Final Thoughts

Trying to hold focus whilst capturing moving subjects can prove challenging.
DSLR cameras can be awkward to hold steady and to pan smoothly when following the action.
Sometimes, SLR video isn’t recorded from the entire capture sensor at one time causing “rolling shutter” distortion.
DSLR units vary in price however a good starting rig will set you back around $10,000 including half decent lenses.

I would encourage you to get out there and experiment. When you are looking for a professional video production however, look no further than the Team at Groovy Concepts.

We. Are. Video Production. Oakville.

#groovyconcepts #videoproductionoakville

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