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Filming in the surf - DSLR vs camcorder

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#1 tunafish


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Posted 01 May 2012 - 01:43 AM

What about using DSLR's for filming in the water? Are they valid?

What about auto focus & tracking? When shooting with a wideangle / fisheye I guess using the right hyperfocal distance shouldn't give you a problem, right?
What about the famous DSLR rolling shutter plague when panning? Is that something to consider?
And how do you stabilize the DSLR for filming in the water? Holding it up with the pistol grip would give you very shaky footage..
One should at least use some kind of fig rig I guess.

I am eyeballing the new Sony PJ740 (other models are PJ760V, CX760V, PJ710V (US) and PJ740VE, CX740VE, CX730V (EUR)) In the Pro line there is the HXR-NX30.
All these videocamera's share the new BALANCED Optical Steady Shot, which mechanically compensates the whole camera block for vibrations.
https://www.google.i...ical steadyshot
I've seen footage filmed from an RC helicopter and the vibrations the cam eliminates is truly impressive. No more Lock 'n Load rendering in post production.
I hear the stabilizer is phenomenal and I think that this technology would be very useful filming in the surf or sports in general.

Than there is the AVCHD 2.0 codec which shoots full 1080p videos at 50/60fps, which is good for 50% slow motion, but also a good base for retiming (FCPX optical flow or plugins like Twixtor)

So these 2 features (stabilizer & high framerates) has to be giving up when considering a DSLR for filming.
But a DSLR means also less gear because you can share stills with video: lenses, housing etc.

For the camcorder another concern is the housing..
There is Sony's Sportpack, very cheap, $300. I hear mixed experiences though.
Some guy claims to use it in big surf in Hawaii without problems, another says they are terrible.
I found 2 more "budget housings":

# Aquatix Aquacam - $600
12mm thick plastic shell and two 0.5-inch thick optical-grade cast acrylic ports
electronic control with a penetration-free magnetic switching: start/stop, zoom wide/telephoto, and power on/off trough Sony's LANC port
# Equinox Recon - $200
Just an acrylic tube with only a mechanical start/stop button. Equinox makes quality diving housing though and this is their budget model

Using a DSLR for filming would beat 2 flies at once and at least in a real surf housing (SPL or Luiquid Eye)
I am a Nikon guy with the D300 - no video, but it looks like an upgrade D400 will come soon with 720p60fps video.
At least that's what the just released D3200 does and that's the cheapest model of them all.

So I would appreciate any tips/ thoughts/ concerns/ experiences using a DSLR camera for shooting surf.

Edited by tunafish, 01 May 2012 - 01:45 AM.