Why You Should Not Use a dSLR to Shoot Your Attorney Video

Canon T2i dSLR camera

If you’ve been following my blog posts, you know I use a Canon Vixia HF S10 to shoot my own videos. Great camera, excellent quality and it does everything it’s supposed to do.

I recently sold my Sony digital camera to a great trial attorney in Virginia (thanks Sandra!) and needed to upgrade. I took the plunge and bought a Canon T2i dSLR. It takes 18 megapixel photos, has a 3″ viewing screen and also takes hi-definition video. I justified my purchase by convincing myself that I could use it to shoot my videos that I make to market my own practice. Oy, what a production.

You may have also seen a recent blog post I did while I was on vacation, testing out my new camera. Yes, I took 938 photos and 35 videos. It was awesome. (Just try color correcting and cropping 938 photos- it’s enough to make you bleary eyed for weeks). Anyway, I recently shot 2 videos about medical malpractice. The videos were about 4 minutes long.

I spent a really long time playing with the settings. Why? Because this is not a ‘point-and-shoot’ camera. It’s not a ‘press the red record button’ and start talking.

First, it has no flip out monitor. That means you can’t tell exactly whether you’re in the frame or not when shooting your own video. That means you have to repeatedly go back and forth to see if where you were standing is good. I could have hooked up a separate TV monitor, but didn’t want to go that route. I wanted to see how easy/difficult it would be without it. Also, the camera doesn’t come with a remote control to press record or stop. Aggh. That means I press record, then walk to where I’ll be taping.

Wait…there’s more. Remember how cool your autofocus function is on your video camera? No matter where you stand, your camera will automatically bring you into focus? Not so with my shiny new dSLR. Why not? Because it’s not a point and shoot camera. You must pre-focus, either manually or by autofocus and press the shutter down half-way.

“But wait!” you scream. “How can I focus on myself, if I have to pre-focus the camera and stand next to the camera to do that?” you ask. A great question! One that perplexed me for some time; especially since I was shooting the video on my own and there was nobody to stand behind the camera and press the shutter half-way. Needless to say, that required a creative solution that I’ll save for my video coaching group (which you are invited to join).

When I played back the videos I was stunned. Amazed. In awe. The quality was magnificent. The depth of field was wild to see on a consumer level video camera. Depth of field is where one object is in focus and everything behind it is blurred. You can often tell the difference between a soap opera, where everything is in focus compared to a feature film where people are often in focus but the background is blurred.

Stay tuned for the herculean effort needed to now get those videos off the camera and into my non-linear video editing software; also known as Final Cut Express.

Final point. If the technical stuff bores you, as I’m sure this will for some attorneys reading this, why trouble yourself figuring out how to do this stuff yourself? Stop wasting your time struggling with getting the video off your camera. Stop trying to get those edits and transitions just right. Don’t worry about how to do lower third graphics with fly-in effects. Have you really gotten those compression settings just right? Do your videos look anamorphic?

Take a breather and pick up the phone to schedule a phone conference with me. 516-487-8207. Go back to doing what you do best; practicing law. Let me take the burden off you. I make creating video fun, simple and easy. Stop struggling and wasting hours of your day. Give me a call. I guarantee it will be eye-opening and refreshing when you realize you don’t need to do this yourself.

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2 Responses to Why You Should Not Use a dSLR to Shoot Your Attorney Video

  • Joseph Dang says:

    Interesting. I have a 5d Mark II (upgraded from a T1i) and plan on using it for videos. I am perfectly aware of the technical difficulties in using such a camera for video recording. But like you said, the video quality WOW!

    Yes it is more technical than a standard video camera but the quality will blow you away. If you have a laptop you can tether it via Canon software so you can see yourself. You can buy a remote control (Weird the T1i came with one) RC-6. It’s $25 bucks and works with most Canon DSLRs.

    About the focusing, yes probably the hardest part for self video taping. One thing to keep in mind is you can mess with manual settings for video so that the DOF is large enough for wherever you plan on walking around (I don’t …. for now) you’ll be in focus.

    Yes, more technicalities so your readers should go ahead and give you a call!

    One last note. What do you use to process your photos? Lightroom speeds it up mightily. And if you have time, carry a little gray card around and set a custom white balance for each spot you go to. Takes 10 seconds. Saves you a ton of time later in front of your computer.

  • I use iPhoto on my Mac to process my pictures. Works flawlessly. I will look into the remote for the camera. Thanks Joseph!

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What I appreciate about what Gerry does is that he doesn’t waste a whole lot of my time. He gets right to it and helps me focus on improving the video and focusing on delivering the message quickly and effectively. I really appreciate that. You need a coach. Somebody that can independently objectively look at what you’re doing and give you advice to make sure you do it right.

Eric Engel
Engel Law Group, P. S.