Why I Love My DSLR Camera When Shooting My Own Attorney Videos

 

Canon 60D dSLR; Gerry’s preferred video camera of choice with a 50mm prime lens attached.

It’s does double duty.

It’s versatile.

It’s easy to set up…once you know how.

One of the really cool things about using a DSLR to shoot attorney video is that when I’m not using it for video, I am using it to take great pictures. With multiple lenses, it does remarkable things for all different purposes. I have a few different telephoto zoom lenses of different quality. I have multiple fixed lenses, also known as prime lenses for when I shoot my personal attorney videos.

A prime lens is a fascinating way to achieve a remarkable look. What I particularly like about it is that it creates something known as a “shallow depth of field.”

That means it allows me the ability to stay in sharp focus while the background is slightly blurry. Doing this allows the viewer to focus directly on me while ignoring the rest of the image behind me.

If you are shooting in front of a wall or some other fixed background, then a prime lens will not really help you very much. A prime lens is great if you have a lot of “throw” behind you. What this means is if you have a lot of distance between you and your background, a prime lens is great for that.

There is a downside to using a digital SLR to shoot video.

The major downside is that it is not a true video camera. It was not designed to be a true video camera. Instead, it was designed to take still photographs. What that means is that you can only shoot 10-12 minutes of continuous video before the camera actually overheats and automatically shuts down. There is actually a heat sensor in the camera with a temperature gauge and when that happens, just like when an engine overheats the red warning light goes on and the camera shuts off.

When that happens, you have no choice but to wait for it to cool down before restarting.

Another drawback to using this type of camera when shooting video is that if you’re using it to shoot sports activities, it usually does not have an automatic focus feature so as you move to follow the action, the focus stays clear. There are some cameras, recently on the market, that have this follow focus feature. However, it is still not yet mainstream for most dSLR cameras.

If you are a novice just learning how to create video on your own, I strongly recommend not using digital SLR to shoot your video. Instead, a camcorder would be a much better idea. You don’t need all the bells and whistles, since you need to understand and learn the basics first before upgrading.

By the way, when I shoot attorney video for my Lawyers Video Studio clients, I use a professional grade video camera that also allows me the flexibility to interchange lenses and achieve full manual control for optimal results.

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6 Responses to Why I Love My DSLR Camera When Shooting My Own Attorney Videos

  • Great article, Gerry. I seriously did not know they overheated and shut down. What video camera would you recommend?

  • That depth of field is so important. It adds so much to the aesthetic of the video. Most people probably wouldn’t know “why” a shallow depth is so appealing, they just recognize that it looks great.

    Great post. Thank you!

  • You’re welcome David. I agree with you.

  • Hi Nina,
    There are 2 things to consider when giving you an answer. (How’s that coming from an attorney!)
    First is your budget. Second is your desire to learn how to use all the features of the camera. Some people just want a simple camera w/o learning all the bells and whistles. Others want to learn how to use depth of field and how changing the lens aperature can accomplish the same thing.

    If you’re starting out and want a great video camera then I highly recommend the Canon Vixia line of video cameras. Get one that fits your budget. Also, forget all the bells and whistles. You don’t need it. Instead, learn how to master the basics and then upgrade when you need to.

    Also, there’s nothing wrong w/ buying used equipment. You’ll save a bundle and upgrading is easier when buying used.

  • David Brauns says:

    I have a great DSLR that I have been thinking about using to shoot my own videos. The thing I can’t figure out is how to manage the sound. The DSLR does not have a mic input so that means I would have to record sound separately. Is it hard to synch up the sound and video in post-production? I know I can synch at the start with by using a loud clapping sound, but what about when I want to edit out stuff later in the video.

    Thanks Gerry! I have been wanting to start DIY’ing my own videos but have analysis paralysis with the sound issue.

  • Hi David. I’m glad to hear that you are a do-it-yourselfer like I am.

    6 1/2 years ago when I started creating video there was no one around to teach me anything. They were certainly no lawyers teaching other attorneys how to do this. At that time, I knew nothing about lights, camera or audio. I had to learn all this stuff from scratch.

    Most recent DSLR’s have microphone inputs that will allow you to attach wireless microphones or wired microphones. The older DSLR’s, as you mentioned, do not have an audio input. In that instance you have no other choice but to create audio from a separate audio capture device. There are many of them out there. The problem as you correctly pointed out is how to sync up your sound to your video.

    The key is learning how to do this properly and correctly. It takes quite a bit of trial and error to match up the soundtrack with the video track. When you edit things out, that’s when the trouble begins.

    Personally, I never use a separate audio capture device since my cameras always have microphone inputs so I never have to deal with this issue.
    If you’d like to learn more about how to create great educational video from start to finish (except for the one question you are asking) I highly recommend my online video tutorial program called “Everything I know about video marketing for attorneys.” Click here to learn more.

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I just read Gerry Oginski's book this weekend, Secrets of Lawyer Video Marketing in the Age of YouTube. You wont find better "front to back" advice on using video to market your law firm anywhere.

Ben Glass
Founder of Great Legal Marketing and a practicing personal injury trial attorney in Fairfax, VA