Why the Canon 550d/T2i will be my first documentary filmmaking DSLR

Big news from Canon earlier this week: They announced a new DSLR that is a bold step forward where it matters to me most: price. I’d been holding off on taking the plunge into DSLR filmmaking, because the field is moving so rapidly and I didn’t want to plunk down a couple thousand bucks on something that would be outdated in a few months. But at a retail price of just $800, Canon just removed that concern with the Canon 550d/T2i.

This new camera, which is rumored to begin shipping any day, features virtually the same video capabilities as the 7d, complete with selectable cinema framerates and a fat APS-C sensor. The result, when paired with good lenses, is dreamy shallow depth of field in a handheld camera.

Another big factor for me: This camera uses SD cards! This might not seem like a big deal, but I absolutely HATE having to plunk down the big bucks for different types of media. I already have invested in 3 SD cards that I use in my JVC HM-100, and absolutely LOVE them: they’re tiny, and hold nearly an hour of 1080p HD video per 16gb card. Sweet.

This camera allows me to join what I expect will be legions of videographers who want to take the visual quality of their work to a whole ‘nother level – without breaking the bank. This camera will allow me to put my money where it belongs – on buying great lenses.

This camera doesn’t address the issues that have kept me out of the dslr filmmaker fold previously – it still is a 35mm stills camera with video bolted on. No articulating screen, no good audio features, etc. But at this price, it doesn’t matter. A camera will come along before too long that will fix that, and let me use the glass that I’ll begin buying. I already have two very fast 35mm Nikon lenses that, with a $10 adapter I bought on Ebay, will work fantastically on this new Canon. Thanks Canon for making a game-changing product that allows me to join the DSLR filmmaking revolution.

3 thoughts on “Why the Canon 550d/T2i will be my first documentary filmmaking DSLR

    1. Dan

      You’re absolutely correct, Brad: autofocus simply doesn’t work on movie cameras. Most video cameras have a featured called “focus assist” which sort of works, but it’s very slow and often gets it wrong. So professional videographers rarely use it.

      I was a professional photojournalist when autofocus began coming out on 35mm cameras, and it was horrible for many years before the technology reached a point where it was ready for prime time. I hope autofocus can one day work as well on film cameras as is does today on still cameras, because my eyes aren’t getting any younger.

  1. sethdocmaker

    Hello, the Canon T2I is a fantastic camera for documentary film work. Focus is an issue but for run and gun you can shoot with a wide lens stopped down to obtain a longer depth of field. Sound is another issue of course. The camera’s audio sucks. I use a zoom h4n and a sennheiser me66 shotgun to capture audio. Check out my latest documentary short shot entirely on a T2I. http://vimeo.com/18181300


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