Yes, you read correctly, I have bought myself a video capable DSLR. A Canon 60D no less. So, after all I have said about DSLRs how could I do this? Simple practical logic is the answer.
I have always said (and the records for this are in various forums) that I could see a use for DSLRs in situations where other cameras are simply too bulky, and that is exactly the reason why I have bought one. An EX3 (and even an EX1) is too bulky to fit into a kayak, and while it is possible to take an EX3 and 2/3" broadcast cameras into the mountains, it simply isn't a pleasurable experience at all. Especially if you need to take other gear with you.
Aside from that my trusty Pentax K10D has been giving me some issues recently. I would have liked to have replaced it with another Pentax as personally I think they make some of the best, and most underrated, cameras. I'll be keeping this work horse and if Pentax ever release a video capable DSLR that allows manual control over shutter etc I'll get one. So I won't be selling any of my beloved Pentax gear. Anyhoo, I thus needed another stills camera, and the 60D gives me a huge boost over my K10D in terms of high ISO performance. The K10D only has a maximum ISO of 1200, and pictures taken with this setting are almost unusable due to the noise. Not even Noise Ninja can save them. While the 60D, even at ISO3200 looks better than the K10D at 800!
I purchased the 60D along with a Tamron 17-50mm f2.8 VC lens, which had received great reviews. In terms of build quality the 60D is similar to the K10 (except that the K10 has full on weather sealing, doesn't have silly sport modes etc, and cost half the price. See, Pentax are where it's at if you really care about your money!), and the buttons seem fairly logical. I'm annoyed that it doesn't have dual wheel control though. Instead I have to hold down a button and turn the wheel in order to control the iris.
I have been out and played around with the video recording. The flip out screen is very useful If it wasn't for this feature along with the number of different recording modes I probably would have bought a Sony VG10 instead. Focus is relatively easy, as the screen quality is very high even if it doesn't have any peaking option. Zooming in to confirm focus is also straightforward. I haven't gone into this without knowing the limitations first. There is no way to point and shoot these things, and capturing spontaneous events will be very difficult to do well. This is quite ironic considering that this is the number one reason why DSLRs now have video anyway!
The 60D has audio levels adjustment although you cannot see these while recording. Makes no odds though as I will be using a Zoom H4N for sound. The camera audio is of no relevance or concern to me for how I will be using it.
So, video quality, how is it? Well, just as crappy as I've been saying all along to be honest. Okay, it is passable, and actually pretty good if I take into account that anything I shoot with it will be going onto the web. The aliasing is something I have to live with. The colour moire is something else, and is absolutely horrendous. It shows up somewhere in almost every single shot, so I am amazed so many people on forums say that it doesn't bother them. They must be trying to justify all the expense on extra Zacuto gear they have spent. That said there is a free FCP script that sorts this out in emergency circumstances. It needs to be dialled in to get the balance you are willing to live with, but works well even if it does kill some saturation and detail.
Speaking of which if you use the camera as it is set up out of the box the video quality really will look truly horrific. Over saturated to the point of looking weird, ridiculously contrasty, and aliasing so bad that you could cut your fingers on it. So I embarked on a crash course in picture style setup. After reading through much bollocks I eventually stumbled upon two useful things. Firstly the idea of using the Neutral picture style setting with the detail, contrast and saturation turned right down, and secondly the Marvels Film picture style. Specifically version 2.1.
Barry Green of DVX user is on record as saying that he can't see much extra dynamic range being captured by using such settings. I on the other hand can. Version 2.1 of the Marvels picture style most definitely captures much more in the highlights than a tweaked Neutral setting. I have also found that the Marvels settings work well in grading, and so this is the picture style I will be using from now on. The colours are natural, but it has to be graded. I found that the Neutral setting gave me some inaccurate reds even with the saturation down.
Turning the detail down to zero on these cameras really shows up just how soft they are. To be honest I'd be amazed if there was even SD resolution there! But once sharpened up a bit in post it works okay. I have been playing with the sharpness set to 1 just to put something there. Though I will be messing around with it set to zero in the next few days before I settle on which one I prefer.
In conclusion using video on this DSLR has every one of the issues I have spoken about before. I will need to work around them, but unlike many I am using DSLR video for a very specific purpose that a normal sized camera is impractical for. I cannot for the life of me understand how people could replace their EX cameras with these. The Shallow DOF look is achievable on cameras like the EX. You just have to know how to. For example using the minimal focal distance to your advantage by using the macro setting enables shallow DOF even when the lens is set wide. With a DSLR, unless you have lots of ND and a matte box (more bulk) if you are in bright sunshine you need to stop down anyway, thus killing any shallow DOF anyway. Learn how to use your tools people.