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HD Video DSLR Round-Up
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Mason Resnick is the editor of the Adorama Learning Center and a lifetime photography enthusiast.

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HD Video DSLR Round-Up

The best HDSLRS...so far (UPDATED FOR HOLIDAYS 2012)

Ready to join the video revolution and shoot Hi-Resolution Videos with a DSLR? Here’s a look at key cameras in this fast-growing and rapidly-evolving category.


HD Video is the buzzword of the day. Nearly every DSLR introduced since 2010 has it, but the image quality, resolution, compression scheme and other factors vary greatly from brand to brand, and even from camera to camera within a brand. Let’s take a look at top models as well as up-and-coming new HD-enabled cameras and see which ones make sense for you.

Before reading this article, check out Michael J. McNamara’s article, Video DSLR Basics for Photographers, written exclusively for the
Adorama Learning Center, so you will be familiar with the terms used and to help understand the video specs provided.

Why go with a DSLR rather than a smaller camera? First, you get access to the vast array of lenses available for each brand's system (MILC lens selection is typically relatively small, although it is expanding) and if you already own a stills-only DSLR, upgrading to a video-capable model makes sense. Most MILCs are not compatible with DSLR lenses without an adapter.

But an aspiring DSLR videographer does not live by camera alone...you will also need certain accessories that will help you hold the camera steady, focus, and light scenes. Be sure to read the Adorama Learning Center guide to 25 Must-Have HDSLR Video Accessories so you're properly equipped to go head to head with Hollywood!

Please note that in all cases the price listed with each camera is for the body only—lenses are sold separate although if you browse Adorama’s DSLR department you may find many kit options—and that the prices are approximate and accurate as of Novemer 18, 2012.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III



Canon EOS 5D Mark III
Adorama price: $3,299.

The Skinny:  The latest and greatest EOS DSLR from Canon dominates low-light shooting and is Canon's first SLR capable of in-camera High Dynamic Range. The EOS 5D Mark III builds on the performance of the EOS 5D Mark II, by incorporating features of the EOS-1D X, offering improved speed, greater resolution, enhanced processing power and extended creative options.

Still Skills: 22.3MP CMOS full-frame sensor, 61 user selectable AF points, with up to 41 cross-type points, 3.2-inch LCD monitor with 1.04 million dot resolution, 6fps burst rate, Live View, Face Detection AF, 63-zone iFCL metering, ISO range 200-25600, expandable to 102,800, shutter speed up to 1/8000 sec, X-sync 1/200 sec. Dual card slots for CF and SD.

Video Specs
Video Resolution: 1920x1080 pixels
Frames per Second: 30fps
Aspect Ratio: 9:16
Video compression: Intraframe (All-I) video compression
Video container: H.264

External Mic Input: Stereo external mic
Approx. 2-stop improvement in low-light performance

 

View Adorama's exclusive Canon EOS-5D Mark III vs. 5D Mark II Video Test.

 


Canon EOS 5D Mark II

Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Adorama price: $1,799

The Skinny: If the Nikon D90 was the pioneer of HD Video, the Canon EOS 5D Mark II is the refinement that brought DSLR Video recognition as a serious tool for pro video production work. The first DSLR to offer full 1080p resolution, the 5DMII has been embraced by more videographers than any other DSLR. And with a 21.1MP CMOS full-frame sensor, it’s not too shabby when it comes to incredibly high-resolution still photography.

Still Skills: 21.1MP CMOS full-frame sensor, 9 user selectable AF points, plus 6 vertical and horizontal AF assist points, 3-inch LCD monitor with 920k pixel resolution, 3.9fps burst rate, Live View, Face Detection AF, 35-zone TTL metering, ISO range 200-1600, expandable to 6400, shutter speed up to 1/8000 sec, X-sync 1/200 sec.

Video Specs
Video Resolution: 1920x1080 pixels
Frames per Second: 30fps
Aspect Ratio: 9:16
Video compression: Quicktime MOV
Video container: H.264
External Mic Input: Stereo external mic

Coming soon: Canon EOS 6D: Full-frame 20MP CMOS sensor, ISO range 100-25600, and a full range of video recording options, plus built-in Wi-Fi for quick uploads, useful for Electronic News Gathering in Internet time. Available for $2,099 in early December, you can pre-order it now.

Canon EOS 7D

Canon EOS 7D
Adorama price: $1,499. 

The Skinny: A camera designed to appeal to both professionals and serious amateurs, the 7D is a full-featured DSLR for under two grand. Full HD at 30 frames per second combined with a rugged body and super-fast frame rate make this a great sports and photojournalism camera for both still and video newsgathering.

Still Skills: 18MP APS-C CMOS sensor, ISO range 100-3200, extendable to 12,800, top shutter speed 1/8000 sec, x-sync at 1/250 sec, 63-zone TTL metering, 19-point all cross-type AF, 8fps burst rate, durable shutter, 100% viewfinder coverage, magnesium weather-resistant body.

Video Specs
Video Resolution: 1920x1080, 1280x720 pixels
Frames per Second: 30 (29.97), 24 (23.976) or 25p at 1080p, 60 (59.94), 50 fps at 720p
Aspect Ratio: 9:16
Video compression: MOV
Video container: H.264
External Mic Input: Stereo mini jack

Canon EOS 60D

Canon EOS 60D
Adorama price: $899

The Skinny: The big news here is manual focus control during video recording and full 1080p HD video in a camera, with a very high resolution articulating LCD making life easier for videographers. It’s a solid contender for the hearts and minds of photo enthusiasts looking to add motion.
 
Still Skills: 18MP APS CMOS sensor, ISO range 100-6400, expandable to 12,800, 5.3fps, 1.040k dot monitor, 62-zone metering, 9-point AF system, SD card, top shutter speed 1/8000 sec, X-sync 1/250 sec,

Video Specs
Video Resolution: 1920x1080 pixels, 1280x720 pixels
Frames per Second: 30, 25 and 24 fps at 1080p, 50 and 60fps in 720p
Aspect Ratio: 9:16
Video compression: MOV
Video container? H.264
External Mic Input Yes, stereo

 

Canon EOS Rebel T3i

 

Canon EOS Rebel T3i
Adorama Price: $599

The Skinny: Its predecessor, the T2i (an aoutstanding camera that is still available) was called a "transformative" camera for its abilities to produce outstanding stills and true 1080p videos; the T3i adds a flip-out LCD monitor, native wireless control of off-camera flash, different aspect ratios, an in-camera guide that walks beginners through different settings, and an image-driven database.

Still Skills:
18MP CMOS APS sensor, 3.7fps burst rate, 63-zone metering system, 9-poit AF, live view, ISO range 100-6400, 3-inch 1.04 million dot resolution LCD, top shutter speed 1/4000 sec, X-sync 1/200 sec.

Video Specs
Video Resolution: 1920x1080 pixels, 1280x720 pixels
Frames per Second: 30, 25 and 24 fps at 1080p, 50 and 60fps in 720p
Aspect Ratio: 9:16
Video compression: MOV
Video container: H.264
External Mic Input: Yes, Stereo

 

Nikon D600

Nikon D600
Adorama price: $1,996.95

The Skinny: Dubbed the smallest, least expensive full frame Nikon DSLR yet, the D600 crams many of the features of the more expensive D800 into a distinctly D7000-style body. Wi-Fi connectivity with the optional WU-1b Wireless Mobile Adapter allows you to share images easily - anytime, anywhere.

Still Skills: 24.3MP FX-format CMOS sensor, 5.5fps burst rate, 39-poit AF, live view, ISO range 100-6400 and up to 25600 for extreme situations, 3.2-inch 921K dot LCD screen, top shutter speed 1/4000 sec, X-sync 1/200 sec.

Video Specs
Video Resolution: 1920x1080 pixels, 1280x720 pixels
Frames per Second: 30, 25 and 24 fps at 1080p or 60, 50, 30 fps in 720p HD
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Video compression: MOV
Video container: H.264
External Mic Input: Yes, Stereo

Nikon D7000

 

Nikon D7000
Adorama price: $996.95

The Skinny: With the introduction of the D7000, Nikon has shown that it is getting even more serious about video. The first Nikon with full 1080p movie capture and a more generous 20 minute continuous shot limit, the D7000 offers a solid feature set for both video and still photography and although it’s priced for enthusiasts, we can expect some pros will employ it as a main video camera and backup still body.

Still Skills: 16.2MP APS-sized CMOS sensor, ISO range 100-6400, expandable to 25,600, 2,016-pixel RGB matrix sensor, customizable 39-point AF system, bright glass pentaprism finder with 100% frame coverage, twin SD card slots, 3-inch, 921k dot LCD monitor, fully compatible with Nikon i-TTL wireless flash system, D-lighting.

Video Specs
Video Resolution: 1,920x1080, 1,280x720
Frames per Second: 24 fps at 1080p, 24 or 30fps at 720p
Aspect Ratio: 9:16
Video compression: MPEG-4
Video container: MOV, H.264
External Mic Input: Stereo Mic Jack

 

Nikon D5100

 

 

Nikon D5100
Adorama price: $446.95

The Skinny: Designed for enthusiasts, the Nikon D5100 offers sophisticated metering and a fast 11-point autofocus system with virtually no lag time. It supports Nikon's full range of i-TTL flash system, and offers a range of special effects for still photos. The 16MP sensor delviers excellent image quality, even when shooting at higher ISOs in low light, and the high-resolution LCD flip-out monitor make it easier to view your stills and videos in progress.

Still Skills: 16MP DX-format CMOS sensor, 3-inch 921k dot reslution finder. Effects mode isolates color within a scene, exposes for high-key and low-key images, miniature effects and more. ISO range 100-6400. In-camera HDR, 11-point AF system, 420-pixel RGB 3D Color Matrix Metering II, 16 exposure scenes, D-Lighting, automatic sensor dust cleaning.

Video Specs
Video Resolution: up to 1920x30p
Frames per Second: 24 or 30fps
Video format MOV
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Video compression: H.264/MPEG-4 Advanced Video Coding
External Mic Input: Yes; stereo
Max. recording time: 20 minutes.

 

Nikon D3100

Nikon D3100
Adorama price $476.95

The Skinny: Nikon's starter DSLR was upgraded earlier this year to a 14MP CMOS sensor and an overhauled navigation system. Its biggest strength? Easy-to-navigate, explanatory menu system (thanks to the new Guide Mode), intuitive controls and lots of hand-holding. It's a great camera for anyone who is stepping up from the point-and-shoot world.

Still Skills: 14MP CMOS sensor, 6 auto exposure modes (Portrait, Landscape, Child, Sports, Close-Up or Night Portrait), ISO range 100-3200, can be expanded to 12,800. 11-point autofocus, 3-inch LCD monitor. Face and scene recognition, D-Lighting expands dynamic range, in-camera image editing possible. Compatible with all Nikon flashes, extensive lens system.

Video Specs:
Video Resolution: 1Up to 1920x1080 at 24 fps or 1280x720 at 30 fps
Frames per Second: 24, 25 or 30fps
Movie File Format: MOV
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Video compression: QuickTime Motion JPEG

Other: Maximum movie recording time 10 minutes, Mono microphone.



Nikon D90

 

Nikon D90
Adorama price: $782.99

The Skinny:
This is where the HD Video DSLR revolution began, and even though it’s been around for over four years, the D90's low pixel density has earned it high praise for image quality in lower light. 5-minute limit on video clip length might limit some users.

Still Skills: 12MP APS-sized CMOS sensor, 4.5 fps burst rate, ISO range 200-3200, 3-inch 920k LCD monitor, 11-point AF, live-view, 3D Color Matrix Metering II with scene recognition, in-camera image editing, geo-tagging unit available. Shutter speeds up to 1/4000 sec.

Video Specs
Video Resolution: 1280x720 pixels
Frames per Second: 24 fps
Aspect Ratio: 9:16
Video compression: Motion JPEG,
Video container: AVI
External Mic Input: No; internal mono mic

 

Olympus E-5

Olympus E-5
Adorama price: $1,699 

The Skinny: The only high-end DSLR built around the 17.3x13mm APS sensor, the 12MP E-5 is a rugged camera designed for heavy-duty pro use. Successor to the popular E-3, the E-5 adds creative "Art Filters" so you can apply special effects in camera. A durable shutter, high-resolution flip-out LCD monitor, digital leveler, wireless flash control system, multiple exposure, a field-tested dust reduction system, in-camera image-stabilization, and what Olympus claims is the world's fastest autofocus complete the picture.

Still Skills: Thixomold magnesium-alloy construction, splash and dust protection, shutter mechanism tested to 150,000 cycles, image stabilization claimed to compensate up to 5 shutter speeds, 100% high-eyepoint optical viewfinder and pentaprism, 3-inch, 920k dot swivel LCD, CF and SD card ports, 11-point fully twin cross AF system, 10 built-in Art Filters, multiple aspect ratios, wireless control with FL-36R and FL-50R flash units. IS range 200-6400, EV compensation + or - 5 stops, shutter speeds 60-1/8000 sec, 5 fps burst rate.

Video Specs
Video Resolution: 1280x720p
Frames per Second: 30 fps
Aspect Ratio: 9:16, 4:3
Video compression: M-JPEG, 1/12 (HD); Max. recording time 7 min
Video container: AVI
External Mic Input: Stereo mic available


Pentax K-5
Pentax K-5
Adorama price: $798

The Skinny: The successor to the wildly popular K-7, this is a lightweight, ruggedized camera with a 16MP APS-C sensor, a 3-inch, 921k pixel resolution finder, built-in shake reduction, HDR and lots of features found on cameras costing considerably more.

Still Skills: 11-point AF, ISO up to 51,200, shake reduction claimed to shoot at 2.5-4 shutter speeds slower, claimed improved digital noise, usable in temps down to 14 degrees F, 7fps burst rate, 77-segment metering, pentaprism finder with 100% field of view, shutter speed to 1/8000 sec, improved in-camera HDR, in-camera special effects, customizable RAW capture.

Video Specs
Video Resolution:920x1080, 1280x720
Frames per Second: 25fps at 1080p, 30 or 25fps at 720p
Aspect Ratio: 9:16
Video compression: Motion JPEG
Video container: AVI
External Mic Input: 3.5mm Stereo Microphone Jack

Sony Alpha SLT-A99V


Sony Alpha SLT-A99V
Adorama price: $2,798

The Skinny:
The Sony Alpha SLT-A99V is the first full-frame Sony DSLR with video. This is the world's first full-frame camera with continuous AF in all modes. You may miss not having an optical viewfinder, but the A99V's 2359K-dot XGA OLED electronic viewfinder is clear and accurate.

Still Skills: 24.3MP CMOS sensor, 19 user selectable AF points, plus 11 vertical and horizontal AF assist points (plus an additional 102 points if you need them), 3-inch vari-angle, 912K-dot LCD monitor, 10fps burst rate, ISO range 100-12,800 up to 25,000, shutter speed up to 1/8000 sec, X-sync 1/200 sec.

Video Specs
Video Resolution: 1920x1080 pixels
at 24p, 60p and 60i frame-rates.
Frames per Second: 30fps
Aspect Ratio: 3:2
Video compression: Uncompressed HDMI Output
Video container: H.264
External Mic Input: Built-in stereo microphone

 

Learn More at the Adorama Learning Center:

 

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