I was recently asked this question:
Hey Scott…I’m looking at DSLRs from the filmmaker’s point of view. Of course I want to take awesome photos but the world of DSLR filmmaking is exploding and since the video quality for quite a few DSLRs are so amazing it’s something I want to get in on. I’m looking at the Canon 550D right now. I can’t afford anything like the 5D, desp…ite how epic it would be.
Here is my response, which might help if you are just starting out and want a Canon DSLR for video:
Yeah, from the limited information I’ve read so far about Canon DSLRs, at the moment, Canon is the one putting the most video specific features into their cameras.
Although of course their flagship class 1D Mark IV has exclusive features like “rolling shutter correction,” but I think overall that they put a good amount of those video specific features into the lesser models. The expensive yet “cheaper” 1D Mark II I don’t think has that advanced feature, but it does have the physical benefit of a full-frame sensor (depth of field, lower noise) at least.
It looks like the lesser models still retain things like 60 FPS at 720P, manual video exposure/shutter control, and an a external microphone jack.
A quick check of reviews says that all Canon DSLR have a 4GB file limit on a single video file. So at 1080P you will get around 12 minutes of completely continuous video assuming the memory card you have is fast enough.
At the moment you probably want to compare the 7D, 60D, and 550D to see which one best suits your needs.
So of the cheaper ones, I think the newest (60D) would be the best buy as it has an articulating LCD screen, which would be the most useful setup for video. Although if you don’t want to pay extra for that, it looks like the video control and output are basically the same between the three models.