How to buy a camera: DSLR video options
Until recently, the ability to capture video in what was primarily a stills camera was the preserve of digital compact cameras. The advent of Live View, which enables you to compose shots using the camera’s LCD rather than the viewfinder, means that more and more DSLRs boast high-definition (HD) video-shooting capabilities
The first DSLRs to feature video capture were quite high-end affairs, such as the Canon EOS 5D Mark II, but HD video has rapidly filtered down to more affordable models, such as the entry-level Nikon D3200 and Canon EOS 650D.
Considering its rich video-capture heritage, Sony was comparatively slow off the mark, but models such as the A580 and SLT A55, which have since been superseded by the likes of the SLT A65 and A77, have brought it back up to speed.
DSLR video capture has kept pace with popular consumer television specifications, so cameras launched a year or two ago typically offered a maximum high-definition resolution of 720p, dividing the screen image into 720 horizontal lines and using progressive capture technology, which refreshes the picture every frame.
By comparison, 720i (interlaced) only refreshes alternating lines with successive frames. The latest cameras typically offer full HD video recording, which is 1080p.
A range of frame rates, including 24, 25, 30 and 50fps (frames per second), enables conformity to basic and high-end video production, television and film standards around the world.
This is becoming particularly important because DSLRs are increasingly being used to shoot professional video for TV adverts and dramas – especially as the increased image sensor size of DSLRs enables greater blurring of the background, with a tighter depth of field for that filmic look.
Keep it sharp
One area that most DSLRs struggle with is autofocus during video capture. The Canon EOS 650D leads the way here, being the first entry-level DSLR to offer fast autofocus while shooting movies.
PAGE 1: Overview of how to buy a camera
PAGE 2: Body design and new DSLR features
PAGE 3: How many megapixels do you need?
PAGE 4: DSLR video options
PAGE 5: What you want in a viewfinder
PAGE 6: How fast should your new DSLR be?