DSLRs with video – Here’s why…

Sep 22, 2008 | Business, Wedding | 23 comments

Well Canon have the video technology and probably asked the question – Why not?  So that leaves us to come up with answers to the question – Why?

Just another way to use a chaise long

Simple use of verticals and horizontals combined with the human touch.

In the process of finding uses for the extra facilities that we never asked for I am busy developing ideas for the professional application of this new technology integration. Here are my first thoughts…

My first thought was if while we are shooting a wedding we could capture video at key moments like ‘the vows’ ‘walking down the isle’ the ‘confetti’ and ‘the speeches’ we could integrate it into a slideshow along with our stills that we present our clients. This would then be the best of both worlds and for some clients there would not be the need for a videographer and a greater budget can be secured for the stills photographer. The key element of the day that the video captures that we currently can not is the sound. Well the 5D Mk2 has a separate mic input so you can pop a radio mic on the groom and away you go. Good stills from video have been around for a while and there are no shortage of videographers who provide that service. It is obvious to me that the two disciplines are coming closer together all the time.

Another late afternoon shot taken with my camera atop my monopod.

Another late afternoon shot taken with my camera atop my monopod. I triggered the camera using the self timer set to 10 seconds.

With most slideshow making software packages being true multimedia entities integrating stills and movies has never been easier. The video clips from the 5D are already in a usable format saved on the CF card as .MOV (Apple Quicktime). It’s drag and drop into iMovie, Microsoft Expression Media, Fotomagico, Adobe Premiere, Pro Show Gold etc.

What remains to be seen is just how easy to use the DSLR video system is. How easy is it to set the audio level of an external mic? Does the autofocus work well enough or do we need to shoot the good old fashioned way using manual focus? Can the iris be manually controlled smoothly so that a continuous shot from within a church to outside the church be one take? Does exposure compensation work in the same way or is it menu driven? These are just some of the items I need to explore.

The shadows in this picture were created by my Arri 300w spotllight.

The shadows in this picture were created by my Arri 300w spotllight.

I will be evaluating all the possibilities over the coming months and if there is sufficient demand I’ll be organising some training towards a well structured end product.

Exciting times.


What uses can you think of for the video functionality? Leave a comment.


  1. Michael White

    Great site and blog! I don’t know how you find the time to do it all!

    Last Wednesday I used my two 5D MkII’s in a 3 camera music video shoot. The third camera was a Sony PMW-EX1. Audio was recorded on two additional devices. One audio recording device was an Edirol R4 Pro. The other audio recording setup was a Tascam USB Interface to a MacBook Pro.

    The Sony Camera, Edirol, and Tascam/MacBook Pro devices all synced sound perfectly over the full duration of the shoot (just over 20 minutes). To clarify – once the different sources are sync’d quickly and easily to the slate clap on the waveform at the beginning of the shoot they all stayed perfectly in sync for the rest of the video.

    Both Canon cameras audio and video sync’d perfectly to each other but drifted significantly from the other 3 devices even over a 3 minute segment. The is a very serious problem for me and one that introduces significant post-production trouble expense.

    This issue was so unexpected that I performed 3 subsequent tests to confirm that the 5D MkII’s run too fast. The results from the test show both of my 5D Mark II run about 14 frames too fast in 10 minutes. Audio that is 1 full frame out of sync is noticeable on sharp sounds causing an echo. Audio that is 2 or 3 frames out of sync looks odd in terms of lip sync.

    That the two Canon cameras audio sync’d OK to each other tells me that the cameras can be calibrated to a standard. Evidently they are just calibrated to an incorrect standard.

    Anybody else experience this? Does anybody really know if this is likely a chip issue or a firmware issue? Does anyone know an easy reliable way to get the clips to conform to the standard without time-consuming constant tweaking?

    Thanks for your help!

  2. juanita cummings

    Yes Damien

    Thanks for your answer i am thinking of buying the camera but i want to see the reviews on the video, its the video section on the camera that makes me say the camera is worth the price it is, if it didn’t have the video function i wouldn’t be willing to pay that much as my 5d cost £1200.


  3. Cris Matthews

    I am really excited about having video on my SLR. At the moment I carry a Panasonic SDHD video camera to capture any video I want at weddings etc…

    I have found that using a good mic is essential and well worth the investment, personally I use a Robe VideoMic see http://uk.rodemic.com/microphone.php?product=VideoMic

    It was quite well priced and fits into the hotshoe, just don’t forget to turn it on :)

    I have found people really like a bit of video mixed into a slideshow, and I really love the confetti idea, I may have to try that one!

    At the moment I am right at the bottom of the ladder when it comes to photography, so maybe the video doesn’t look too out of place, I think it would become difficult to maintain higher standards of video production in line with getting to be better photographer. I will be very interested to see what you do with the technology here.



  4. damien

    It’s not the disc you are selling. You are selling the content. If you want to posh it up a bit then put the finished production on an iPod Touch and present your clients with it :-)

  5. Jon

    I think that last point shows a lot of insight. Using all three mediums to our advantage would create a wonderful product, the immediate problem is how to present it? Maybe I’m just tied into ‘album’ ways of thinking, but how do we add value to ‘a disc’. When that’s what the likely presentation medium will be.

  6. damien

    I’ve been emailing a friend of mine that is already integrating stills and video in wedding productions he says “I believe that its really not about the technology but the fact that we tell stories – how you tell them can be via video, stills and audio in different combinations. There are moments that are perfect for just audio, other where video is king, then of course the perfect still shot capturing the perfect moment…. storytellers will need to use all of these -not just one or the other.”

  7. damien

    There was no restriction on me at all. However I was there to present the new features of the camera to the press and retailers and I was working for Canon. I had literally taken just 5 pictures with the camera the night before and I was not demonstrating the camera any further than I my familiarity would allow. If I had had a couple of days with the camera I could have shot some really cool video. There was no user manual and the video facilities are so well embedded in camera that you would not notice them at all without them being pointed out. I thought that I’d sit down with my camera when it arrives and learn the features and limits thoroughly. I spent 12 years at the BBC as a cameraman and a lighting director so I should be able to find my way around the features when I get a chance.

    The output of the camera was on the HD plasma screen live whilst I shot the ‘bride’ pictures. The HDMI output will be useful for training purposes too. I hope this helps.


  8. juanita cummings

    I was wondering why Canon would not let you test the video format at the launch of the new canon 5 D mark II


  9. Adrian Pillinger

    I have been thinking the same thing. We were lucky to have a pro video our wedding because we were good friends. Had we not known him we would only have our photos, which are absolutely fantastic, but there is something special about having the video. Especially for recording the vows and speeches.

    I’m definitely thinking of getting the new 5D for my wedding shots – it will certainly be an extra service that I can provide.

  10. Johannes

    I know what you mean Damien.. this camera is gonna open up a hole new world to play in.. thanks for all your input on this.. ;-)

  11. damien

    With HD video you get 1920 pixels by 1080 pixels and at 175 ppi that equates to 10″ x 6″ print.

    I thought that with the confetti you’d shoot video then at the peak of the action take a couple of stills and then let the video kick in again a second or so later. When edited together I’d expect to have a bit of slow motion video running at 50% speed cut to a still shot via ‘peak white flash’ transition, hold on the still for 2 seconds before returning to video footage at 50% speed. I think it would be a really good look.

    For the vows I’d have the 5D mk2 running all the time on video whilst I shot stills from the second body :-)

  12. martin

    Yep I understood that too and really that would kill the movie element since you’d surely go for the still at the peak of the moment. I’m curious whether you could get a frame grab from the movie footage good enough for say a 3×2 print.

    I can see clients being reluctant to have no stills of say the vows or ring exchange but if you can say “look I can make you a page of stills from the movie footage” then you have quite a compelling proposition.

  13. damien

    I understand that you get a 1 second break in the video recording when you take a full resolution (21mp) still. I’ve not had the chance to try it though.

  14. martin

    Any idea whether you would be able to get a still from the video footage good enough to print and put into the album? I could see that working, especially if you printed say a sequence of small frame grabs and filled up a 16×12 double album spread with them. Could be v.cool.

  15. damien

    Lighting on picture 1 is just natural light. The couple are in a curved bay window with two other windows just out of shot.

  16. Johannes

    This is a well thought out product that is heading in the right direction of our ever growing evolution and excellence as a human race. Canon has focused on the right market, it might not make sense to most, but – our present teenage and 20 somethings, are a very multimedia focused age and movement. Its all about the combination of photos, video and music for these individuals.. They love to document and publish their lives to Facebook or Bibo.. some even have dedicated blogs where they document their every day.. it might all in all sound a bit mad, but this is the youth of today and their needs in a product of the future. If we can recognize this future need and identify our own edgy, fun and creative products now, we would hit the market from both ends. Young and the more traditional.
    I can just imagine the possibilities – a wedding album that folds open with a build in display on the outer hard cover to display the visual show produced by the new edgy photographer.

    All and all… I personally think this is a very exciting new direction for photography.. It is gonna Rock….!!

  17. Chris

    Oh my goodness thats pretty impressive. This is the sort of thing I was alluding to in my earlier post. Short slick editing makes it very appealing and very watchable. I have only ever seen one outstanding videography company and they grasped the point that couples are keen to have a movie, and keen to show their family and friends but not at the risk of boring them to death. This new canon tool is a useful tool which gives us the possibility to produce some exciting
    stuff for a client and maybe have it output to an i pod etc.
    Trouble is how do you shoot movie and stills at the same time if you only have one camera or a one man operation?

  18. Photonews

    Great images, Damien !
    What kind of lightning for #1 ?

  19. Kjell

    The possibilities of a delivered product are certainly beyond my imagination at the moment. It would, at first thought, be difficult to concentrate on two jobs.

    Video seems to introduce more gear: an external microphone, a tripod (or at least a monopod) to avoid camera motion, etc. How is flash going to look?

  20. damien

    Thanks Chris, Your points are well thought through and I agree with the second fiddle comment. Although there are many different formats for recording video it has stayed PAL or NTSC for many decades without change. The great thing is that at full HD 1080p the playback facility is assured and like CD (26 years old and still going strong) it will be able to be used for many years to come. I agree an album of prints is a tangible and very special thing. I’ve built my career around delivering prints for the generations to come to enjoy. I do see a greater uptake of digital only delivery of wedding pictures and it may be that the album does take a back seat for a few years untill it is back in Vogue. However, video is in our lives now in many ways and people share photographs and videos using the same devices – phones, laptops, blogs etc. I think you are right that quality clips well edited are the best way of using the medium.

    Cheers, Damien.

  21. Chris

    Speeches and the first dance come to mind in the first instance. An area where the movie clip might conceivably be the most popular format.
    I think small amounts of movie are nice to have and in my experience most couples opt for quite funky slick edited movies of their wedding. I see no reason for a beautiful well designed album / book to ever play second fiddle to a movie. I also think that there is a degree of uncertatinty about the longevity of the medium its output to. Super 8mm, video beta max, video VHS, quicktime, mpg, avi ?
    What does the future hold for being able to view these movies in the future? Hopefully we’ll have prints, albums and books forever to enjoy the sheer beauty of professional stills photography.


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