DSLR vs Mirrorless for Premium Video – Which One is Better?

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In the video above, MC Contributor and Hybrid Photography Pioneer Will Crockett answers a reader question that was posted by a gentleman named Trace on our sister site, DiscoverMirrorless.com.


“We do video work and for some clients, and we need to achieve a little more of an “artisan” look than I can get from a Canon XF100 (in particular shallow depth of field). We are about to invest in a new camera system. We do want to shoot some still work, but 90% of the decision is based on video performance.

We edit primarily on FCPX. Most of our shoots are indoors, and sometimes not the brightest environments. Much of what we do is shooting interviews (head shots) and then close-ups of equipment or processes (like shaping wood in a shop). Can we get the bokeh look, enough light, and a very professional look with the Panasonic GH3? What one or two lens would you recommend meet those requirements and get huge bang for the buck. Or… should we go conservative and invest in a 5DMIII, or even a deal on a 5DMII? What will we be sacrificing, and at the end of the day, which will cost us more? I like the idea of mirrorless, but if I can’t “wow” the client right now, it just won’t work for us.”

Watch the video above for Will’s Answer…

My 2 Cents

I personally come from a TV studio production background and I’ve been involved in all facets of creating both long and short form TV ads – including interview style infomercials and projects much like Trace describes above.

Will is spot on when he says that mirrorless is the way to go.  Yes, the Canons do produce wonderful video and I have personally used a Canon 5D mk II and 5Canon D mk III, but IMO neither holds a candle to the mirrorless cameras I’ve used – including the Panasonic GH2, and that’s the older model.  The mirrorless cameras are just made to crank out superb video, and they do it much more easily than a DSLR.

Another big reasons why you want to go with one of the Panasonics in particular over the Canons, especially if you’re doing interviews – The Canons have an artificial 29 minute video recording limit.  In other words, you can only shoot 29 minutes (and 59 seconds) of video before you have to stop rolling, and then start over again.  Not so with the Panasonics (at least those sold outside of the EU), and this is a big deal when you’re in the middle of an interview and someone’s on a roll.

You’ll find that the micro 4/3 cameras and lenses will easily give you all those cool “artisan” effects that you’re looking for (i.e. “bokeh”, or background blur, etc.).

Now for the lenses.  For TV production you probably want some good zoom lenses, and Panasonic just released two killer Pro Spec Zoom lenses last year.  A 12-35 2.8 and 35-100 2.8.

The distance between your camera and subject will determine which one of these will work better for you, but I’m thinking that the 12-35 will be just fine.

Why these lenses?

  1. Their image quality is outstanding.
  2. Lightning fast autofocus.
  3. With an f/2.8 constant aperture, they’re bright and fast.
  4. They are “parfocal” lenses, meaning that they’ll remain in focus throughout the zoom range vs having to re-focus every time you zoom in or out.  This is key for interview style production and it allows you to do those cool pro looking “Presidential Zooms”.

The Prime lenses that Will recommends are also outstanding, but just be aware that you won’t be able to zoom with them unless you add that effect in post.

Buy the Panasonic Lumix GH3, Panasonic Lumix GH2 and Panasonic 12-35mm 2.8 and 35-100mm 2.8 Pro Spec Zoom Lenses Here


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