“The camera can film my face but until it captures my soul, you don't have a movie.” - Al Pacino
Cinema is an art form that a lot of us love. Action films were the highest-grossing genre in the UK and ROI in 2017, followed by animation, sci-fi, drama, and then comedy. Whether it’s to laugh, cry, think, or gasp, there’s a film for every emotion.
Are you interested in shooting video?
Learn more about the different digital cameras you can use to shoot video.
What’s the Difference between Compact, Single Lens Reflex, Hybrid, and Bridge Cameras?
When starting with photography or film, you’ll need a camera. That said, with all the different cameras on the market, it can be tricky choosing the right one. There’s a big difference between reflex cameras and compacts for taking on holiday with you. However, the gap between the different types gets smaller every year.
Before you go choosing which will be best for video, you should understand the difference between these four main types of digital camera.
A digital SLR camera or DSLR camera is usually preferred by photographers for its superior image quality. DSLR cameras have a larger body and you can get accessories and interchangeable lenses to further improve their performance.
Wide-angle lenses, telephoto lenses, external batteries, there’s all sorts of stuff you can get for DSLRs. The most important thing about reflex cameras is the mirror. The mirror reflects the light from the lens onto the image sensor. This allows the user to see exactly what the sensor sees.
Hybrid cameras don’t have a mirror; the image is retransmitted to the sensor. The viewfinder only shows a representation of what the sensor is picking up. As they don’t have a mirror, the bodies of hybrid cameras tend to be smaller.
The biggest difference between reflex cameras and hybrid cameras is how they capture light and the image. However, much like with reflex cameras, you can change the lenses on hybrids, something you don’t get with bridge cameras.
Bridge cameras are falling out of favour due to the increasing performance of compacts. However, bridge cameras tend to have better lenses. In terms of ergonomics, bridge cameras are closer to reflex cameras. This type of device is usually chosen by amateur photographers and filmmakers.
Compact cameras are smaller than the other types we’ve covered and are great for sitting in your pocket during holidays. In recent years, they’ve become much more impressive and comparable to entry-level reflex cameras in some cases. It’s better to have to a good compact than a reflex with a bad lens!
Another notable difference between the different types of camera is the size of the sensor. The sensor is what picks up the light to create the photo. It’s the heart of the device.
Reflex cameras have the largest sensors. The larger the sensor, the easier it is for the sensor to capture the light, especially in low-light environments. That’s why the best DSLR cameras are generally known for being the best cameras.
Until recently, reflex cameras were the only cameras to have full-frame sensors. However, the hybrid Sony Alpha 7 also has a full-frame sensor.
Technological advancements continue to revolutionise the camera market.
Check out our tips for shooting video.
Using a Camera to Shoot Video
Whether or not you shoot video with a reflex camera depends on your objectives. You should know the pros and cons of using these types of camera.
Firstly, the sensor is one of the main reasons these cameras take such good photos and video. In addition to the sensor, you also need the right lenses. The lens will greatly affect quality.
There’s no point in investing in a telephoto lens unless you’re shooting a nature documentary. Big lenses are cumbersome and mightn’t be worth lugging around with you everywhere. You probably want lenses with variable focal lengths.
A 35-70mm lens will be useful for wide shots, portraits, and some light zooming if you want. However! If you want to do professional video, avoid zooming while filming.
Fixed lenses are also highly recommended. These are often great quality and allow you to focus on the framing rather than the zoom. Also, try to get lenses with an aperture between f/1.8 and f/2. While more expensive, these lenses will help you to shoot better video.
Also, pay attention to the weight of the cameras. The bodies can be quite heavy on their own. With a big lens attached, they can be even harder to wield. This can become a massive pain for holiday videos, for example. In this case, you might want to invest in a tripod. On the other hand, the heavier the camera, the easier it is to stabilise.
Filming with Hybrid Cameras
Hybrid cameras are a good alternative as they tend to be smaller and lighter than reflex cameras. In recent years, hybrid cameras have become more popular with professionals including Sony’s Alpha 7. Perfect for low-light conditions, this camera is great for amateurs and professionals alike.
Like with reflex cameras, you can change the lenses on hybrid cameras. This is pretty good given their small size. That said, you should also consider investing in a microphone since the built-in microphones aren’t great. Even though the video quality has greatly improved in recent years, sound quality is often overlooked. An external microphone can quickly make a light camera heavy.
Pay attention to stabilisation. Some devices come with built-in stabilisation but this isn’t always the case. It can be tricky fixing a shaky image in post. So make sure that the image is as stable as possible when filming.
While they’re lighter and often as powerful as reflex cameras, the ones that do great video tend to be expensive. You can expect to pay close to £2,000.
Filming with Compact or Bridge Cameras
Bridge cameras aren’t great for filming, you can’t change the lenses, and they’re still quite cumbersome.
Compacts, however, can be useful when it comes to filming videos. High-end compacts can shoot 4K video and include options like slow-motion. The big advantage is just how small they are.
In terms of stabilisation, they’re not great, but you can get accessories to help with that.
They also don’t cost as much as hybrid or reflex cameras and you can still get great quality images and footage.
Choosing the Right Cameras for Shooting Video
You need to choose a camera according to your budget as well as your objectives.
If you’re just after some nice holiday videos, compacts will do the job. If you’re wanting to make videos professionally, you’ll want to invest in a hybrid or reflex camera so you can play around with different lenses.
Next, it depends on your habits for taking photos. Some opt for a reflex because they already have several lenses while others go for the latest hybrids.
Take your level and value for money into account when buying cameras.
Important Vocabulary for Filming
Here’s a couple of terms that you may find useful.
Most cameras can now film in 4K. However, this isn’t the same 4K that’s used in cinema (4096 x 2160 pixels). These cameras are better than full HD but they keep the 16:9 ratio (3840 x 2160). This is 4K UHD.
Autofocus is when the camera takes care of focusing itself. In other words, it tries to work out what you’re focusing on and will try to keep this element sharp. That said, it can be annoying when shooting video. In this case, you should do it manually.
If you'd like to learn more about photography and film, there are plenty of private tutors on Superprof who can help you. There are different types of tutorials for different budgets and learning styles so it's up to you which one you go for.
Face-to-face tutorials are the most costly but are also the most cost-effective. With just you and the tutor, the tutorials can be tailored to you, what you want to learn, and your preferred learning style.
Online tutorials are similar but instead of the tutor being there in the room with you, they'll teach you remotely using video conferencing software. While this is fine for academic and theoretical subjects, it can be trickier for hands-on subjects that benefit from having a tutor there in the room with you.
Finally, there are group tutorials which tend to be the cheapest per student per hour. Since the cost of the tutor is shared amongst all the students in attendance, each student will be paying a smaller amount than they would in face-to-face or online tutorials.
The choice is yours!