I hear this question raised quite a bit among my friends and colleagues who shoot wedding and event videos: Which is a better camera, a DSLR or a video camera? The answer really depends on what application you are using that camera for. As someone who shoots a wide variety of things from wedding videos, bar mitzvah videos, corporate videos, video depositions and news stories in South Florida (Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Key West) and along Florida’s Southwest Coast in Naples…I will tell you I choose to shoot with the “right tool for the right job.” There is no one camera fits all size for every job. There are pros and cons to shooting both DSLRs and video cameras for wedding and event videos. Let’s start with the pros of each. For starters, DSLRs, with their larger frame sensors, give that “shallow depth of field” look so desired by wedding cinematographers. DSLRs also allow for the use of interchangeable lenses, are light in weight, easier to use with cinematic tools such as camera sliders or “flying” devices like Glidecams and Steadicams. DSLRs, because of their very large sensors are also superb low light cameras. Anyone who shoots wedding videos will tell you the biggest challenge of shooting events is having enough light to shoot with! DSLRs are also relatively less expensive than comparable HD video cameras. HD video camcorders, on the other hand, have professional features that DSLRs lack. Broadcast and prosumer camcorders alike, have professional XLR audio inputs, zebras and peaking functions that help achieve more accurate iris and focusing control. Some higher end video cameras include SDI outputs (used to send signals for live television broadcast), allow for longer recording times (whether shooting on tape or tapeless media like CF cards and SD cards.) DSLRs lack the professional audio capabilities of camcorders. At most, they include a mini jack input to plug in a microphone (not a professional connection like XLR) and many don’t have a dedicated headphone jack to monitor the audio. So, if shooting exlusively on DSLR video for weddings and events, the user must record audio separately through the use of external audio recorders such as the zoom h4n.
All of our events are filmed with multiple cameras. I personally use a combination of DSLR and HD video camcorders on my events. I love the cinematic look that the DSLR cameras (along with the right lenses) can achieve. And even though, we mic up several sources with a combination of wireless microphones and digital audio recorders, I also like to have that “piece of mind” that my Sony EX1 camcorders can capture longer clip durations, the dual XLR audio connections can capture two discreet channels of audio and can be monitored via a headphone jack. So, in the end when it comes down to the decision of DSLR vs. HD video camcorders… In my case, my Sony EX1 video cameras shoot right alongside my Canon DSLR cameras, giving me the assurance that none of my video or audio is compromised. In the end, it all comes down to choosing the right tool(s) for a particular job.