HDSLRs vs Camcorders: Some Basic Pros and Cons to Help You Choose
There are probably many of you who are confused about whether to purchase an HDSLR or a traditional camcorder. The choice can be confusing, but this posting will list many of the pros and cons of both, to help make the decision a bit easier. If you're interested, you can also browse through our entire HDSLR guide, featuring sections from industry-leading cinematographers.
- There are a wide range of interchangeable lenses for each camera system that can cater to your particular needs and wants.
- HDSLRs can be used to shoot both very-high-quality stills and video.
- They have larger sensors than camcorders do, which allows for a shallower depth of field. In plain English, that means that you'll be able to get a blurry background/foreground, with your subject sharply in focus. Think of that Hollywood look that you see in movie theatres. Take a look at some of the sensor sizes in the chart below.
- The autofocusing abilities are limited, so manually focusing is usually the best option.
- Image noise (grain) at high ISOs are more controlled than on camcorders. This is because of the powerful processing engines, and also because larger sensors have bigger pixels.
- HDSLRs give consumers the convenience of an all-in-one package for capturing stills and video—this is better for traveling and professional applications that require mostly still photos.
- These cameras tend to have a much sturdier build, with some having magnesium-alloy bodies designed to take lots of abuse.
- The dials and quick-access buttons on the bodies can greatly help with manual settings, such as aperture, white balance, etc.
- The depth and dynamic range of colors are much greater than on a traditional camcorder.
- The recording time is limited to the size of your memory card, or until the sensor overheats.
- There are usually less video-related ports. If you'd like to use an XLR microphone or headphones, then you'll usually need another device (adaper or audio monitor) to help control these settings.
- For those who edit their videos, the file formats can be tough to edit because some programs do not support them. Videos from these cameras usually have a larger file size, which means that you'll probably need an external hard drive if you tend to shoot lots of video.
- If you're not using a tripod, lenses with image stabilization may be required for best results. In that case, microphones may pick up the sound of the stabilization motors or the focusing.
- The bodies are typically bulkier and less compact than camcorders, with the exception of mirrorless camera bodies that record video.
- Zooming usually requires one hand to rotate the zoom ring and the other to hold the camera, when shooting hand-held.
- Cinema lenses, which are designed specifically for use with HDSLRs, are very expensive.
- You'll need to find a way to protect your lens from bumps, scratches, etc.
- HDSLRs can be heavier, due to their tougher body construction.
- Many of these cameras have CMOS sensors, which are prone to what is known as the "Jello Effect." This is because of the way that CMOS sensors record images. Micro Four Thirds cameras, which use a LiveMOS CCD sensor, do not suffer from this problem.
- Many of them cannot shoot interlaced video—which is best for playing back on your HDTV. Progressive video is best for the web.
- Users cannot make use of the viewfinder while recording, unless the camera has an electronic viewfinder.
- Consumer camcorders have a compact build, which means that you can throw it in your bag with ease.
- Camcorders have an ergonomical advantage—they can be held with one hand for a prolonged period of time.
- They have many ports that can be used for accessories like a microphone, headphones, video lights, etc.
- Almost all camcorders have a vari-angle LCD screen of some sort, which makes it easier to record at different angles.
- Zooming can usually be done with a finger pushing or pulling a tab of some sort.
- It is possible for camcorders to record video at many different frame rates, such as 1080i 24/30/60, 1080P 24/30, and 720P 24/30/60.
- Many camcorders have one-touch YouTube (and other sharing sites) upload functions, for easier sharing.
- Because of their construction, camcorders have an Internal zooming lens that is always protected from potential bumps and knocks.
- Many flash- and hard-drive-based camcorders have very large amounts of internal memory.
- Achieving accurate autofocus is much faster than with an HDSLR.
- Depth of field is very wide, so it is harder to single out particular people and objects.
- If you want to shoot wider or more telephoto than your lens allows, you'll need special adapters/converters.
- The LCD screens aren't as detailed as an HDSLR's.
- None of these shoot RAW still photos, just in case you'd like to have a more versatile editing option.
- Filters are not always able to be attached to the front of the lens.
- Using DSLR lenses with a camcorder can be acccomplished only with expensive adapters.
Was this helpful? Which one do you think is right for you? Share your thoughts and questions in the comments below.