Saturday, 6 October 2012

Canon 600 DSLR and Lenses

After using DSLRs to shoot University assignments last year, I decided to get one in the summer. Many filmmakers are aware of the DSLR video revolution and a lot of them are actually using them now instead of video cameras. Basically, with a DSLR you can shoot full 1920 x 1080 HD video at 24 and 25 frames per second. The large sensor records an amazing amount of detail and the fact that you can use Canon lenses provides a filmmaker with far more options than those using a dedicated video camera.

Canon appear to have taken film making into consideration when they released the 600. This camera has a flip out LCD screen (typically found in a video camera) and an external mic port. There are also many accessories out there which can "turn" your DSLR into a dedicated movie camera. I got mine with the kit lens which doesn't really go down well with most people. Other students and lecturers advised me to get the body only and then buy a separate lens. I ignored them because I wanted to be able to use my camera straight away. 

The kit lens does feel cheap sometimes and the aperture doesn't open up that wide. In daylight this doesn't matter but shooting inside without adequate indoor lighting will force you to up the ISO. A greater ISO in turn will make your video more grainy so it's not a good idea to rely on it. The kit lens does zoom, a little bit. I've used it and I like it most of the time but sometimes it does feel limited. It has to be better than making a pinhole "lens" though?

So, with all that said I am currently shopping around for a new lens to add to my collection. I want to purchase a prime lens (that's a fixed focal length, no zoom) and more specifically I'm looking at Canon 50mm 1.4 and 1.8 primes. The numbers refer to the aperture stops and the lower the number the better the lens. The Canon 1.4 costs around 
£229 new while the 1.8 is about  £90 new. Having just spent £400 to get my car back on the road, I'm leaning more towards the cheaper 1.8 now. 

A low f-stop will give you that nice blurry background and it will also let more light into the camera. However, focusing your camera at that kind of level will require great skill and patience. It would be almost impossible to focus correctly with just the camera's LCD screen alone and you'd probably have to use an external monitor to keep things nice and sharp. With the 1.8, you lose that extra 0.4 but chances are you won't need it if your scene is lit correctly.

My advice would be to get a 1.8 prime lens if you're new to DSLR filmmaking. However, if you're rich and can justify spending more than £200 then go for the 1.4.