The 10 Best DSLRs For Video

Updated November 09, 2017 by Daniel Imperiale

10 Best DSLRs For Video
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 40 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top selections for this wiki. It'd be a challenge to find a high-quality DSLR on the market that doesn't shoot video in at least 1080p. Not all sensors and processors are alike, however, and 4K video from an entry-level APS-C camera is going to look amateurish next to the stunning quality provided by the more professional cameras on our list. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best dslr for video on Amazon.

10. Nikon D610

The release of the Nikon D610 put to bed the oil and dust issues that had plagued the company's original entry-level full-frame option, the D600. Few such models provide this combination of features and specifications at this low of a price.
  • 39 cross-type af points
  • multiple compression settings
  • slow motion at 720p only
Brand Nikon
Model 1540
Weight 4.6 pounds
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

9. Panasonic Lumix GH4 D-SLM

The Panasonic Lumix GH4 D-SLM is a go-to choice for many videographers thanks to its high-quality 4K capture abilities, as well as its effective slow-motion frame rate. It's also relatively lightweight, and compatible with a good slew of lenses.
  • pivoting lcd screen
  • great still shots
  • not a full-frame sensor
Brand Panasonic
Weight 2.8 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

8. Nikon D750

The Nikon D750 exists in a perfect middle ground between the company's entry level and top-of-the-line full-frame options. It offers 24.3MP resolution for its still shots, as well as recording in 1080p at up to 60 frames per second.
  • settings adjustable while filming
  • vari-angle lcd monitor
  • no built-in wi-fi
Brand Nikon
Model 1543
Weight 3.9 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

7. Sony a7R II

The Sony a7R II can create movies that might rival the a7S series if it weren't for the way its 42.4 million pixels were packed onto its sensor. This is truly a model for still shooters, but its video still outperforms most of the market.
  • xga oled tru-finder
  • incredibly high-resolution raws
  • poor warranty service
Brand Sony
Model ILCE7RM2/B
Weight 2 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

6. Pentax K-1

The Pentax K-1 has had its anti-aliasing filter removed, which makes for much sharper images, but can also pick up drastic levels of moire coming off of man-made patterns in clothing and architecture. It's compatible with a wide selection of older lenses.
  • convenient focus peaking
  • 5-axis on-sensor stabilization
  • only shoots interlaced at 60 frames
Brand Pentax
Model K-1 body kit
Weight 3.7 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

5. Nikon D810

While it may not be capable of capturing 4K video, the Nikon D810 still boasts one of the highest megapixel counts on the market, so when it's time to create a poster for the film you've just shot, you can use the same gear.
  • records up to 60fps
  • expeed 4 image processor
  • stills file sizes are too large
Brand Nikon
Model 1542
Weight 4.2 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

4. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

The Canon EOS 5D Mark IV is the long-anticipated upgrade to the company's lauded Mark III unit that was the prized possession of videographers around the world. This model improves upon its previous incarnation with better resolution and focusing, among other things.
  • responsive touchscreen monitor
  • dual-pixel autofocus
  • built-in wi-fi and nfc
Brand Canon
Model 1483C002
Weight 4.6 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

3. Sony a7S II

With its incredibly flexible S-Log3 cinematic picture profile, as well as a light-thirsty 12MP full-frame sensor, the Sony a7S II provides movie-quality images in a small, mirrorless package. Its compact design makes it ideal for guerrilla filmmaking.
  • writes in 4k to sdxc cards
  • crystal clear oled viewfinder
  • excellent low-light performance
Brand Sony
Model ILCE7SM2/B
Weight 2.7 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

2. Nikon D5

The Nikon D5 boasts a 3.28 million extended ISO range that combines with the unit's 20.8 MP full-frame sensor to deliver incredible low-light performance. Its Expeed 5 image processor helps the model fire off 200 frames within its buffer rate.
  • 4k video at 30fps
  • dual compact flash card slots
  • two backlit led panels
Brand Nikon
Model 1558
Weight 6.6 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

1. Canon EOS-1Dx Mk II

The Canon EOS-1Dx Mk II represents the top of the company's lineup, with the ability to record 4K video at frame rates of up to 60fps, great for high-resolution slow motion capture. It can also grab 8.8 MP stills out of its movie feed.
  • 61-point autofocus
  • 170 raw shot burst
  • incredible lens selection
Brand Canon
Model 0931C002
Weight 7.2 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

Gaining An Edge In Video Quality

By now, the sight of a DSLR isn’t such a surprise, even at the most low-key family gatherings. They’ve become a lot more affordable at the every level, and, for the most part, they can provide the least talented or experienced photographer with images that far surpass the quality of smaller point-and-shoot cameras.

Video, however, is another animal. Those entry-level DSLRs all shoot video nowadays. Many of them even shoot at resolutions up to 4K. That doesn’t mean the quality’s any good. The sensors you’re liable to see on less expensive DSLRs are not only too small to get the job done, their signal to noise ratios are abysmal–at least by comparison to the cameras that made our cut.

You may notice that some of the DSLRs that are most popular for video don’t really earn the R in DSLR. That R stands for Reflex, and it refers the movement of an angled mirror that lives behind the lens.

In order for you to see through the viewfinder on a traditional DLSR (or SLR for you film shooters), light travels in through the lens, bounces off of that mirror and up through what’s called a pentaprism to reflect the image right-side up in your viewfinder. When you take a picture, that mirror jumps out of the way so that the sensor (or the film cell) can see the light.

Videos generally shoot at 24 frames per second. That would be a lot of movement in the mirror, which would create a ton of unnecessary vibration and very quickly wear out its mechanism. Instead, a DSLR’s mirror stays completely out of the way, and the camera’s sensor is out in the open, absorbing light and giving you a real-time digital image on your back display.

Unfortunately, that means that the mirror is stuck in the up position, so it can’t send light through your viewfinder. On a sunny day, this makes it very difficult to shoot, given all the glare that interferes with those back screens.

The cameras that do away with the R completely do so by doing away with the mirror. These are often referred to as mirrorless cameras or DSLMs. A lot of people just call them mirrorless DSLRs, and we’ll go along with that for simplicity’s sake.

Mirrorless DSLRs tend to be a little smaller than their traditional counterparts. Without a mirror, their viewfinders rely on the same technology that sends your video image to the back screen of a DSLR; they have digital screens where DSLRs have glass viewfinders, so glare is never an issue.

Fewer Pixels, Better Picture

If you’re looking simply to make the highest-quality family movies you can, then it might be smart to opt for the smallest, lightest, least expensive options on our list. Chances are they’ll have slightly smaller sensors, a weaker selection of lenses, and a shorter dynamic range (that’s the amount of detail a camera can pull out of the darkest and brightest parts of an image).

But that’s okay. Those are comparatively small sacrifices to make to ensure you’ll have enough room in your carry-on to take this thing on vacation.

When it comes to more professional filmmaking and videography, however, you shouldn’t let size be too much of a factor. After all, once you’ve added on your cinema lens, rail system, gearbox, follow focus, matte box, neutral density filters, shoulder mount, and monitor, you’ll likely have lost any perspective on how big the camera body itself actually is.

Instead, you want to make sure you get a camera with a full-frame sensor. You also want to make sure you don’t get lured in by a high megapixel count. Big megapixel counts are great for high-resolution still images that you intend to blow up. But it’s not quite that simple for video.

Let’s say you want to shoot in 4K. That’s 3840x2160 pixels. That makes for 8.3 million pixels, which is another way of saying 8.3 megapixels. That’s all you need to shoot in 4K.

Now think about two cameras with the same full-frame sensor. One has 12 megapixels, the other has 36. The 12MP camera actually has bigger pixels because the 36MP model had to make them three times as small to fit them on the same size sensor. That means a 12MP sensor uses that much more of its area when collecting light, improving clarity, quality, and low-light noise reduction.

As for the debate between mirrorless and traditional DSLRs, the former will eventually eclipse the latter. For the moment, it’s a pretty even playing field. If you’re planning on getting started by shooting with less expensive lenses and without all that extra gear listed above, going with a mirrorless model will keep your footprint as small as possible. That’s a big benefit if you find yourself shooting something in public without a permit.

A Brief History Of DLSR Videography

When digital photography began to really take off in the late 1990s and early 2000s, it didn’t seem like the hardware was good match for video. The film industry still ran on film, despite efforts by directors like Win Wenders and Michael Mann. Even those pioneers didn’t use DSLRs to capture their video, mainly because no such camera had come out yet. These filmmakers relied on more conventional, camcorder-style video capture.

The first DSLR capable of shooting video was the Nikon D90, released in 2008. The camera was a workhorse on a number of fronts, and is still used by a lot of stills shooters.

Unfortunately for Nikon, Canon released their 5D MkII not long after the D90 hit the market. Even today, Canon holds a tiny edge in video quality over Nikon. Some say the difference is imperceptible, but more people believe they can see it.

Canon’s followup to the 5D MkII was the 5D MkIII, which was one of the first DSLRs used on professional sets to capture video. This was in part because a third party created a hack for the camera’s software that allowed its users to write uncompressed HD video directly to the camera’s memory cards.

Filmmakers and TV showrunners that needed to shoot very quickly or in tight spaces found that they could use a 5D MkIII and grade the footage in post to look just like what they’d captured on film or with much bigger, high-end digital cameras.

Both the film industry and the camera industry took notice, and now almost every DSLR in production can shoot video, most in 4K. The advent of these cinema DSLRs has given small-time filmmakers with little money a chance to be seen and heard that they may otherwise never have had.

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Last updated on November 09, 2017 by Daniel Imperiale

Daniel is a writer, actor, and director living in Los Angeles, CA. He spent a large portion of his 20s roaming the country in search of new experiences, taking on odd jobs in the strangest places, studying at incredible schools, and making art with empathy and curiosity.

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