Stage 32 DSLR Webinar

In this webinar I examine both the benefits of shooting on DSLR’s and I also take a look at some of the challenges they often throw up for the filmmaker. Shooting a movie on a DSLR often requires different additional accessories and lenses to turn it from a stills camera into a camera capable of consistently recording high quality moving images. I take a look at some well-known movies where a DSLR has been used, and examine how they have been used there.

DSLR’s don’t work exactly like a moving picture camera. It is a stills camera that happens to have a feature to record a sequence of video. As a stills camera they work really well and make great images, yet when it comes to shooting anything more than a few movie clips they all have flaws in operation. While these limitations are not impossible to overcome, they can become significant tiresome issues when shooting for extended periods. I examine the ergonomics and functions of DSLR cameras and how they can often hinder the smooth operation and camera movement possibilities for the filmmaker.

It’s better to know and examine this now than before you get on set shooting.

The webinar was on 29th April 2014. Replays are available on subscription.


There are cameras available now that are less expensive and do a much better job of helping filmmakers, they still have the large sensor cinema “look,” yet have better ergonomics, monitoring, lens choice, better dynamic range and resolution, and have more functions to support filmmakers.  We’ll explore that as well.

Canon 5D mk 3

What This Webinar Will Cover:

  • Why use a DSLR?
  • What are you going to do with the camera?
  • Is it the right tool for the job, or just what you have available?
  • Is it a commercial, documentary or a movie cinema projection?
  • Benefits –
    • Cost, size, availability,
    • Good low light performance ISO 100-25,600
    • Large range of low priced and good quality lenses.
    • Large sensor, low noise
    • Low d.o.f – cinematic “look” and feel.
    • Can blend with a crowd- doesn’t draw attention.
    • Has grid overlay if needed, and electronic level.
    • Small for use with sliders-camera movement.
    • Compression 4:2:2 only with HDMI-needs external recorder.ilce-7s_front-1200-970x646-c

DSLR’s have been used on many movies and TV:

  • I take a look at how they were used on some major movies :
    • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
    • Matrix – Bullet time
    • 127 Hours
    • Slumdog Millionaire
    • Captain America
    • House
  • Is it the right tool for the job, or is there better out there now?
  • Let’s take a look

Canon 5D Mark III has become synonymous with independent film makers, now C300, C500 and Now 4K Canon EOS-1D C with Log gamma, Panasonic GH4, and more

Factors to be aware of when shooting on a DSLR. Some areas need to be looked at closely and taken into consideration.

  • Cine is about movement and seamless transitions to lead the viewer to the next scene – consistency in many different areas. Color consistency (Matrix example), Pull aperture, T stops and click stops, lens focus markings.
  • Lenses – Cine lenses are made to a different standard and have different features – as they need to be able to do different things.
  • Focusing- A lens needs to Smooth zoom and keep focus when zooming – tells the cinema audience where to look as a technique. Stills lenses not capable of this.
  • If a lens shows its flaws in focusing and zooming it isn’t seamless and the viewer will notice the technique, and by then they have lost the story.
  • Normal stills lenses – Auto focus doesn’t work- manual defaults in live view.
  • Using prime lenses

Monitoring and operating

  • DSLR Mirror flaps up when shooting video and disables the eyepiece,
  • Have to monitor another way
  • Eyepiece – is it accurate?
  • You are viewing the scene and the movie through that, how accurate it the scene you are seeing? 100% of frame? Consistency.


  • Not really designed for extended use and using eyepiece.
  • Harder to hand hold as the weight is on the front, so have to add lots of gear and weight.
  • Add a rig with follow focus etc
  • Flash cards
  • Battery
  • Lens changing

Sound and data recording

  • Sound Inputs not pro XLR –
  • Sound recording best off camera.
  • Need a box on base or external recorder.
  • Synchronising

Rolling shutter potential in CMOS sensors

Rolling shutetr CMOS effect

Rolling shutter effect

  • Why does it happen?
  • How to eliminate it
  • Needs Magic Lantern to make it work like a film camera.

Data rates

  • Massive so Flash cards-can be limiting
  • Ideally an external recorder.

At the end if the webinar you will be able to:

  1. Know why a cine lens differs to a stills lens, and if it will affect your production
  2. The best way to record sound with your DSLR-It may not be what you think
  3. How to control your focus and depth of focus
  4. How to monitor your output for consistent results
  5. Know many of the benefits and potential pitfalls to avoid of shooting with a DSLR.

Who should attend?

  • Cinematographers
  • Directors
  • Producers
  • Editors
  • Other crew
  • All DIY Filmmakers
  • Any creative interested in moving behind the camera

About John Keedwell GBCT

John Keedwell has been a film maker for over 30 years, who has worked in over 65 countries and had a wide range of different experiences. In that time he has crossed the Sahara desert twice, worked in temperatures between -35C (-31F) and +50C (122F), worked with royalty, politicians, been on extensive tours with rock bands, interviewed many huge musicians and celebrities,  and has shot on multiple formats from Super 8 film, 16mm , 35mm, digital stills and video, to highly specialist digital high speed cameras.

With a very wide ranging knowledge of the trends for cinema, he has been writing for over 10 years for the British Cinematographer magazine, covering International movie making techniques, and has been advising trade bodies on standards for photography and video.

He is the author of the award winning book Get The Message Now?!? – a look at how video can best communicate to your audience, and how changing only a few small factors when recording can massively increase the deliverability of your video message. Praise and testimonial in his book has come from Chris Menges. BSC

He is also the founder of the Epics Academy, teaching film makers, photographers and corporations the many skills and techniques for conveying your message using cinematography and film making techniques.

He is a Board member of the GBCT, the Guild of British Camera Technicians and a voting member for BAFTA.


How the webinar works

You do not need to be available at the time of broadcast to view the webinar!

Registering for any Stage 32 Next Level Webinar gives you access to the material for one year. You can watch whenever and how often you’d like.