For dSLRs this ability was truly revolutionary. The mirrored construction of dSLRs does not allow for the long exposure on the image sensor needed to shoot video, plus for video the camera also needs vast processing power to deal with the amount of data coming from a 12 megapixel sensor. As with most limitations placed on technology it was always only a question of time before a breakthrough was made.
The D90 did it in style. True, it could not autofocus when shooting video, and the video was recorded in 720p, not full HD, but the market loved it. Canon followed and one-upped Nikon with their EOS 5D Mk II that included the ability to record full 1080p video at 30fps. The floodgates opened and now you’ll even find HD video capabilities on entry level models such as the Canon EOS 500D and compact cameras.
For film-makers HD video on dSLR brought with it a revolution in the way movies could be shot. No more expensive hiring of a myriad of video cameras with different types of lenses – just buy a dSLR with HD shooting capabilities, and change from wide-angle to zoom lens on the fly (see our interview with movie producer James Carroll on p37).
Another recent development in dSLR technology has caused a lot of excitement. On their D3S Nikon upped the ISO range to a massive 102,400 (the standard having been about 3200). This means the ability to shoot in extremely low levels of ambient light, which from a cost perspective benefits film makers even more since no expensive lighting rigs need be hired.
It didn’t take long for the usefulness of this technology to become apparent. Just search for HD video on Flickr.com and browse through the thousands of results. There is also more professional content out there. Documentary film maker Danfung Dennis shot his Afghanistan documentary, Battle for Hearts and Minds
(http://battleforheartsandminds.com/), on an HD dSLR, while the honour of the first complete feature film shot on HD dSLR belongs to Searching for Sonny
(http://searchingforsonny.com). The work of Pulitzer Prize winning photographer Vincent Laforet is also a must, just to see how good these dSLR really are. His commercial shorts for the Canon EOS 5D Mark II (http://tinyurl.com/n5njvz) and his recent effort on the EOS 1D Mark IV (http://tinyurl.com/yh7ssfo) are astounding. [MJ]