I often see people on forums asking which camera they should get to shoot video with. I’ve also asked myself this question a few times and it’s quite difficult to say which camera is most suitable for someone starting out in HDSLR film-making. They are all great cameras and will do the job well, each with its own strengths and limitations.
HDSLR video is something I’m very excited about. If I hadn’t been interested in video and simply wanted to take pictures, the D7000 would have been the natural choice, seeing that I already own a couple of Nikon lenses. It sits between the 60D and 7D in terms of pretty much anything. It’s possibly even the better stills camera than the 7D if you’re not into sports/wildlife photography. I’m not. I mostly do portraits, plants/fungi, food, the odd landscape and am interested in getting into macro work as well. Obviously, general travel photography will be one of the main priorities as well.
If Nikon updated the firmware of the D7K to include 25p/30p@1080p and 50/60p@720p like the Canons then this would again be a no-brainer. Alas, I’m not too hopeful there. Also, pricing in Australia looks also fairly ridiculous at the moment (but those prices are expected to fall after the holidays). Although some of the test footage that I’ve seen looks very impressive, especially the low-light stuff, frame-rates other than 24p are pretty important. It does have AF, but from what I can gather, a lot of work is needed in the implementation there and that anyone who is serious about their shooting is doing it manually anyway.
Which brings me to the Canons.
The 550D, 60D and the 7D all essentially have the same sensor (18MP APS-C sensor, with some very minor differences) and pretty much the same settings when it comes to video: the same frame rates, resolutions and video quality. So why not just get the cheapest?
Well, I was pretty much set on the 550D until I actually picked one up in a shop. It felt really plasticky and toy-like, even though it is a serious camera, capable of producing amazing results. I was used to a Nikon D70, a nice, heavy camera that feels right in the hand and has a top LCD that always displays the settings you have dialled in. The 550D doesn’t have one, though, and also it lacks the important wheel at the back that lets you dial in exposure compensation and other useful goodies. These may seem like small complaints (weight, LCD and back dial) but they were crucial to me, YMMV.
The 7D has things all those things and more, like 8fps, a super-sturdy magnesium-alloy body and micro AF adjust which I doubt I’ll ever need, but it’s built like a tank and will probably suffer any kind of abuse I’d throw at it. It’s rather exxy though (A$1.4K grey, A$1.9K local), plus it doesn’t let you adjust the gain of the (abysmal) internal or even the external mic.
The 60D, on the other hand, does pretty much everything I need in a HDSLR (except FF, but that’s out of the question financially anyways) and appeals because of its still relatively low price (less than A$1K grey, and about A$1.4K local) and some nice video features like the swivel screen and adjustable audio gain. It also feels nice, although not as nice as the 7D and the D7K probably will feel.
So for all these reasons, I think that 60D is an excellent camera. It feels great in your hand and is nicely balanced with a slightly heavier lens (like the Sigma 30mm/f1.4), has some very nifty features, such as the swivel screen, top LCD, back dial and adjustable audio gain and it’s still affordable. Personally, I think you can’t go wrong with it.