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In this movie, we'll be looking deeper at the DSLR as gear that records video, including information about sensors and how they affect video recording. One thing in a DSLR that can affect your video is the sensor size, such as Full Frame, APS-C, and Four Thirds. We have those cameras here. Full Frame in this Canon 5D, APS-C in this Canon 60D, and Four Thirds in this Panasonic GH2. Sensor size, however, is not an arbitrary quality issue.
In fact, if you are shooting video in normal conditions at low to moderate ISO settings, you're not going to see any difference in quality between video that was shot with different sensor sizes. There are two things that sensor size really does affect. First, noise. Larger sensors have less noise but this is not a simple issue so I will talk more about it in the next movie. Second, sensor size affects how the camera perceives the world with a given focal length. This has advantages and disadvantages for the photographer.
The larger the sensor size, the larger the lens you will need to work with it. If you want a small, highly compact DSLR with video plus a complete set of lenses that weigh less and take up less space, look at an APS-C or a Four Third Sensor. The size does not matter then you can consider other factors. It is important to understand that these are formats, not cropped sensors as so many people like to call them. A cropped sensor implies that a so called Full Frame sensor is both optimum and the parent sensor. It is not.
It is simply a larger format. There are larger formats still, such as 645 and 4x5. So in a sense, the Full Frame format is cropped too. Thinking in terms of "crop" will get you into trouble and prevent you from truly seeing what a format can or cannot do for you. How a focal length acts on the angle of view seen by the camera is affected by sensor size or format. A 100 mm lens, for example, does not act the same for different sensors. Consider that lens on a Full Frame format.
That same focal length on an APS-C type camera will act like a 150 mm lens would have acted on the Full Frame. And with a Four Thirds camera, it acts like a 200 mm lens would act on the Full Frame. Now, another way of looking at this is that a 50 mm lens on a Four Thirds format camera will act like a 100 mm lens on a 35 mm format and a 70 mm lens for APS-C camera.
Lot of photographers like this effect because the actual or real focal length gives a distinctive look for what is in and out of focus in your scene. If you use different focal lengths that gave a consistent angle of view on different formats, you would see changes in depth of field, even though framing would not be the same. The larger formats would actually give you less depth of field. So you can definitely get a stronger selective focus effect with a larger format, for example. On the other hand using a smaller sensor gives you more a telephoto effect with any given focal length so that you gain telephotos in smaller, lighter lenses.
In fact smaller sensors mean smaller and lighter lenses overall. So if you want to travel light while shooting video, look into that smaller sensor. Smaller equipment packages can also be easier to use when you're shooting video handheld. In addition, equal quality lenses of equivalent focal length will generally be less expensive for smaller sensors too. In the past, a lot of photographers felt they needed a full frame sensor in order to make the most of wide-angle lenses. While you do have a few more wide-angle focal length options with the larger sensors, today all camera and lens manufacturers have a full range of focal lengths available for all sensor sizes.
All DSLRs offer a greater range of wide-angle focal lengths than anything camcorders have ever had. And traditionally DSLRs have a special dedicated sensor that is made specifically for autofocus that sits up in the viewfinder area. When a DSLR shoots video, that autofocus sensor is no longer available. The only sensor that is available to help you with autofocus is the same sensor that is recording video. That causes some distinct technical challenges for cameras and manufacturers.
Cameras certainly will be able to do better and better autofocus when shooting video as new models come out. But for now, many cameras are limited to manual focus for video or autofocus that is slow. For some of the same reasons, many cameras are limited as to what you can do to adjust exposure. You may find that the only really good solution for adjusting exposure on your camera is to use manual exposure. The important thing is not to feel that you have to have one way of exposure or another, but simply to recognize what your camera is capable of or not capable of.
Understanding what your camera can and cannot do will help you get the most from your camera. Every camera has its strengths and weaknesses and you can use that information to your advantage.
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