D-SLR VS Video Camera – Which to use for my travel videos? ( @nikoncanada )

Filming the scenery of the Australian Outback while on the Ghan train in Australia with the Nikon D5100

Before my latest trip to Australia I was excited to get a Nikon D5100 camera from Nikon Canada for review while on my trip. I was excited and nervous all at once. Not only was this the first time that I was going to do a lot of filming in Australia and I had a crazy busy schedule lined up but also it would be my first time shooting video with a Digital Single Lens Reflex camera (D-SLR).

Even though I learned at the age of 11 how to develop black and white film and photographs and have been taking photography courses most of my life along with majoring in film in University the new technology of a Digital SLR that shot video scared me. In University before consumer priced D-SLRs were shooting video I bought a Nikon D50, so I was use to all of the functions of a Nikon DSLR except of course for the video features.

Previous to getting the Nikon D5100 I had been shooting all of my videos on a Sanyo Xactic HD1010 camera. It is a great little hand held video camera that shoots in HD, has an audio input jack to add an external microphone (bonus), its light weight and its small size and not intimidating.

Me, filming with my Sanyo Xacti camera in Iceland

With the Sanyo however its a video camera, it looks like one and people know it. Whether you are filming a public street scene or interviewing someone they freeze up as soon as they see a video camera. That blinking red light almost tells them “start acting funny and be awkward”. Also its harder to film different places, people see a camera they are fine with it, people see a video camera they start waving their hands in your face saying “no video, no video”. Also the Sanyo has a smaller chip inside which records the information, creating the quality to be not as great as what a D-SLR can capture with a bigger chip inside.

Filming these past couple of months with the Nikon D5100 although I know I am still learning how to use the camera to its full potential has been quite satisfying. I am constantly being blown away with not only the quality of the photographs (obviously) but with the video. Comparing my footage together from the Nikon and the Sanyo… well there is no comparing. It makes me wonder why I hadn’t jumped on the DSLR video train sooner. I believe the 17mm-55m f2.8 Nikon lens that I have been using with the camera helps out a fair bit as well.

I also enjoy that I can quickly go from photo to video and people are non-the-wiser, people see a photo camera and are fine with it and I get to be sneaky and capture video without people being awkward or telling me to stop filming.

Using the Nikon D5100 to film myself going down Katherine Gorge in Australia on a boat.

However there are some downsides to the Nikon like the weight of the camera and lens combined, it is probably 5 times as heavy as the Sanyo, but yes this is expected with a DSLR and I doubt lenses will be getting lighter any time soon. I love the Nikon D5100 specifically as it is one of few DSLRs that has a screen that flips out, perfect for someone like me who often films themselves. However I do wish that the mic input wasn’t right where the screen is when it flips out. It literally blocks part of the screen which can be frustrating but thinking about it there isn’t really another spot for the mic input jack, on the other side it would be in the way of your hand when holding the camera, on the back it would hit your face on the bottom in the way of the tripod mount, perhaps it could come out of the top or on the front. The quality makes up for though, I can live with it.

So D-SLR VS Video Camera – Which to use for my travel videos? I think I am now sold on the Nikon D5100 however I know there will be those moments where I don’t want to lug around an expensive camera and I think I’ll keep my Sanyo around for those moments.

Check out two videos shot with the D5100 here: 

Sydney, Australia in a Minute 

The Australian Outback as seen from the Ghan train

And there are a lot more videos from Australia, Mexico and more to come.

What do you prefer? Have you used a DSLR for video yet? Let me know your thoughts! :)

Thanks again to Nikon for letting me use the  Nikon D5100 and their 17mm – 55mm f2.8  lens.

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20 Comments

  • Reply
    Mike Corey
    July 17, 2012 at 7:48 pm

    Ohhhh yeahhh
    DSLR club! I thought I’d never join either.. then I realized it was the best decision ever.
    Sure you trade reliable autofocus and anti-shake for IQ and low light performance, but if your sights are set for the stars it’s really the only affordable choice for a high tier travel videographer who operates as a one man show.

    Bet that constant f/2.8 is nice! :)

    • Reply
      Cailin
      July 18, 2012 at 7:26 pm

      Mike you are one of the ones that helped me make the decision! Best decision yet! :)
      And yes the 17mm-55mm is quite lovely!!
      Which camera have you been using?

  • Reply
    Rease
    July 17, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    You definitely snuck in some video without me knowing it in Mexico, so you’re definitely right about the stealth factor!

    • Reply
      Cailin
      July 17, 2012 at 4:52 pm

      haha Oh Rease I snuck a bunch of video of you! Stay tuned :)

  • Reply
    Laurence
    July 17, 2012 at 11:38 am

    I think video is the main reason I would upgrade my DSLR body – it’s a bit old to support such funky new technology :D Good thoughts on the pros and cons. For me – I’d be carrying the SLR anyway, so it wouldn’t be much of a stretch :D

    • Reply
      Cailin
      July 17, 2012 at 4:53 pm

      If you are carrying an SLR any way I definitely suggest you upgrade! You never know when you might want to film something awesome :)

  • Reply
    Deb
    July 17, 2012 at 9:50 am

    Wow! sounds like a great camera for shooting video. I’ve always loved your stuff and it’s great to see them taken to a whole new level of professional quality with the DSLR. I checked out the train trip video and it looks like a lot of fun. I’ve always wanted to do a multi day train trip, it seems like such a romantic way to travel. And in the Outback! who could ask for more! Great work and looking forward to seeing more of your videos. PS. t

    • Reply
      Cailin
      July 18, 2012 at 7:24 pm

      Thanks guys! It really is a great camera! :) What have you been filming your videos with so far?

  • Reply
    Anthony @ Positive World Travel
    July 16, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    We loved your Sydney video too! We love shooting with DSLR too but it does take some practice to get used to it.

    • Reply
      Cailin
      July 16, 2012 at 11:53 pm

      Thanks Ant and Elise! :)
      It definitely takes some getting use to especially focusing yourself with this camera but honestly I like the learning aspect, I feel like a professional focus puller ;)

  • Reply
    Candice
    July 16, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    I could kick myself in the butt now for not buying a DSLR with video capabilities. Bah!

    • Reply
      Cailin
      July 16, 2012 at 11:54 pm

      Hmmm yes that does seem to be unfortunate… haha now sell that one and buy a fancy new Nikon! :)

  • Reply
    Tawny- Captain and Clark
    July 16, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    DSLRs for the win! We absolutely love filming with one. We agree that they’re sneaky since most people don’t think you’re taking video. We might have to get our hands on a Nikon soon.

    • Reply
      Cailin
      July 16, 2012 at 11:55 pm

      I do like the sneakiness :) You two definitely need to get your hands on a Nikon!

  • Reply
    Ayngelina
    July 16, 2012 at 11:51 am

    The videos you have taken lately have been incredible, it may be heavy but it’s great that you can find a fantastic camera and video all in one.

    • Reply
      Cailin
      July 16, 2012 at 11:56 pm

      Thanks Ayngelina! Its true the awesomeness out weighs the weight ;)

  • Reply
    Dalene
    July 16, 2012 at 11:13 am

    I’m no expert like you Miss O’Neill, but I really like the video we have shot on our SLR. Amazing quality (at least compared to the only other camera we use (GoPro!)

    LOVE your Sydney video!

    • Reply
      Cailin
      July 16, 2012 at 11:58 pm

      Thanks Dalene! I haven’t used a GoPro yet but its incredible the quality that the DSLR has so I don’t think I need the GoPro with this camera in tow unless of course I want to do some underwater filming or action stuff where I wouldn’t feel safe dragging around my fancy camera. :)

    • Reply
      Riki
      July 18, 2012 at 7:14 pm

      I have been debating a GoPro! versus hd camera or SLR with Video. I take it SLR wins every round? what about GoPro! versus another handheld video camera?

      • Reply
        Cailin
        July 18, 2012 at 7:33 pm

        A HD-SLR beats out a GoPro every time! I honestly think a GoPro should only be used as a secondary camera and never has a main camera – but different people have different opinions about them :)

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