They don't look all that different from the still cameras of yesteryear, but recent DSLRs from Canon, Nikon and Panasonic do more than shoot still photos: they shoot a bunch of still photos in rapid succession and string them together into fantastic movies. Sure, compact point-and-shoot cameras also have a movie mode these days, but the large sensors inside DSLRs make them capable of producing eye-popping movies for mind-blowingly cheap... provided they're in the right hands. Here are ten sets of the right hands.
Solitude by Robin Risser
Nocturne by Vincent Laforet
The first video shot on the new 1D Mark IV, with no lighting other than street lights and the nighttime glow of LA. Shot on a Canon 1D Mark IV:
Hecq Vs Exillion - Spheres Of Fury by Tim.Chris.Film
A wonderfully low-contrast, bleached seventies aesthetic, along with great editing and titling. Shot on a Canon 7D:
Re-enacting the making of Mao's China by Dan Chung
Video is no longer available: vimeo.com/6804984
Year in my backpack by Guy Jackson
Guy traveled with a DSLR in his backpack for a year. Nuff said: you can't do that with full-size video camera. Shot on a Canon 5D Mark II:
The Second Vision by Martin Lang
Another very nice low-contrast look, via a custom curve. Classic hairstyling near the end. Shot on a Nikon D90:
Near Sighted by Renaud Duval
A solid collection of macro shots taking full advantage of the DSLR's large sensor size. Shot on a Panasonic Lumix GH1:
Egypt / Lebanon Montage by Khalid Mohtaseb
Video is no longer available: vimeo.com/7058755
Perya by Bob Nicolas
Very nice short doc on carnival workers in the Philippines; makes good use of DSLRs low-light capabilities. Shot on a Canon 7D:
Video is no longer available: vimeo.com/6501875
Satuday Night Live intro by DP Alex Buono
Typically NBC uses broadcast HD cams that cost six figures, but for the intro sequence of Satruday Night Live DP Alex Buono went with two cameras costing less than $3k each. Yes, DSLRs have arrived.
And there you have it! Ten examples of great DSLR cinematography; expect millions more to follow, until we all grow tired of shallow depth-of-field videos and 1/3" sensors start being employed for creative differentiation ala the deep focus of Citizen Kane.
To see more DSLR videos, check out the DSLR Cinema group on vimeo. Or, if you know of some great videos that I didn't spotlight here, please share them in the comments! And if you want to get started with DSLR cinematography, check out The DSLR Cinematography Guide.