Hey! You got video in my DSLR!

Personally, I’m really excited about the Nikon D90, not only because it looks like a great camera and a nice upgrade to my trusty old original D70 (I must like odd numbers), but because it’s got this great high-def video feature. I’ve always liked video but I’ve always hated video cameras. I have a Panasonic DV camera around here somewhere… probably on the floor gathering dust. Too big. Transferring video from tapes. It’s a chore. But video in my DSLR? That can be recorded without the use of disposable media? At 720p? In a device I have with me everywhere already that can also record 12 megapixel stills? Heaven!

Of course, Canon announced video capability in their new Canon 5D Mark II. They’ll undoubtedly include it the next generation of their Rebel line as well. The Mark II is also a very nice camera and does 1080p. It’s just a bit pricier, though.

I can think of a bunch of fun things to do with a video camera with interchangeable lenses. I almost bought one today on impulse, the kit with the new 18-105 VR, but I had to stop and remind myself about the tax check I recently sent to the IRS and pesky details like my health insurance bill and my mortgage payment… Soon…

So what’s your take on this whole DSLR with video shenanigans? For or against? Excited or grumpy?

By John Watson

John Watson is the original founder of Photodoto. If you're interested in what John has been up to, you can browse his personal blog.


  1. Definitely for it. I use a DSLR for photos, and a little point and shoot for video because I hate carrying a DV camera around. Having both capabilities in a single package is great. And although I am a Nikonian, the 5D Mark II really looks spectacular.

  2. At first I thought it was a don’t-care for me; I have a HDD-based video camera (~$300) that makes DVDs in half the time than it takes to watch them, and I don’t care to burn through DSLR batteries and flash cards to record video. Then I thought of some of the photo gigs I’ve done recently, and that little snips of video here and there would be a good thing. It’s simply a different kind of tool than a traditional camcorder, and I don’t see the two converging just yet.

  3. It’s a nice addition, but all camera-based video I’ve seen so far lacks the sound quality to go with the video. It also sounds like the implementation is a little 1.0, which is understandable.

    Faraz – My guess is that it’s a result of the VR lens used, rather than the video mode itself. My Minolta DSLR has VR built in so it’s not visible when framing, so I’ve always found the ‘floatiness’ you get from VR lenses rather odd, and it looks much like the clip you posted.

  4. With the D90 I was rather excited. It was new then. I’m mostly ambivalent now. It’s a cool thing to have, I suppose, but I don’t really need it. If I wanted to take videos, well, I’d get a video camera. Of course, this isn’t the popular sentiment these days. I can’t help but thinking I’d be paying a little extra for the video feature that I neither want nor need.

  5. The “jello effect” that Faraz mentions is not related to VR – it happens with non-VR lenses. It’s a rolling shutter effect present on most video recording devices; the video frame is recorded from top to bottom (or vice versa) rather than all at once and when you pan rapidly, each part of the sensor outputs its data during a slightly different part of the pan, making buildings look as if they’re tilting hugely. The same thing happens on a small mobile camera that records video if you pan fast enough.

    That said, video done right on the D90 looks beautiful. The addition of video doesn’t hinder the camera in any way. Live View was going to be present anyway, as in the D300, regardless of video and offers noticeably more accurate (though much slower) focusing that would be useful in studio work to eliminate calibration errors in the setup of a DSLR. When using Live View, you’re using the real sensor to focus, not the second CCD at the bottom of the camera, as with the D70, D80, etc. Image quality appears to be excellent, noise levels are low, the camera is fast and responsive and a fair bit smaller than your existing D70. If you get one, we’ll get to see the results of a D90 used well. Do it!

  6. Above, I should have said “most CMOS video recording devices” – CCD devices have their own problems but the rolling shutter effect isn’t one of them.

  7. Canon 5D Mark II has a microphone jack so you can probably use a wireless mic with it. I am still waiting to see how Canon tackled the rolling shutter video problem in their SLR

  8. I have a Canon S5IS. It is not a DSLR but a high end point and shoot. I am wondering if Paul has used this camera. I think Canon nailed the sound quality on this camera. I recently took the camera on safari in Kenya and the camera was able to pick up the SOUND of a leopard CRUNCHING on an impala’s bones. The leopard was way up in an acacia tree probably 60-80′ away, and you could hear the bones over the diesel van engines. Plus, you can smoothly zoom in and out on video mode. I am seriously considering upgrading to a DSLR, but don’t want to give up this awesome video feature!

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