Top 5 HDSLR ‘must have’ features moviemakers want in the next pro HDSLR

by planetmitch32 Comments

In a recent poll about HDSLRs, planet5D readers answered this question: “What are your top 3 needs for the next pro level HDSLR?” – we offered selections like 4k video, autofocus in video, reduced jello, HDMI out, RAW video and more. The poll recently closed, but I believe you'll be surprised at the results – we sure were!

Redrock Micro

HDSLR camera feature sets are always a topic of conversation amongst camera geeks and many might relate it to the battle between mac and PC – some times the fight is over brands, some times over which is better for shooting stills, JPEG or RAW. There's also a lot of hype over the ‘next great thing' or what will ‘kill the Canon 5D Mark II”. So we were really interested to see where the readers of the top HDSLR blog on the planet would really want the camera makers to go with HDSLRs.

For example, people are often comparing the 5D2 to the RED and there's always excitement generated when someone talks about 2k or 4k video. The RED fanatics are always touting 2k or 4k video output as the greatest thing since sliced bread… but do HDSLR shooters really want/need 4k?

That alone could be an entire post I believe. The reality at least for the foreseeable future is that most video production will be in 1080HD not in either 2k or even 4k. There's just not a major market for it. Now, the place where 2k and 4k will excel will be in full screen movies – you know, the one's showing on the large cinema screens – especially the theaters that go full digital. But those will still be pretty rare for a while. The vast majority of video production is for the web (which today doesn't usually mean 1080HD) or for television (which is stuck (at least in the USA) for a while at 1080 – while other countries are ahead going to higher resolutions).

But that's just one feature – there are many more that could be put into HDSLRs of the future (and some we may not even know about today).


The top 5

Ok, so just what are the top 5 things from the poll?

1) Raw Video

First, with almost 1/2 the voters picking it in their top 3 is RAW video. Everyone wants it, but only a few cameras have it today. The RED shines here – tho there are a couple of other video cameras that also have it. RED has had full RAW video since it launched – tho most don't put the RED in the HDSLR category – we mention it because it was the first ‘low end' professional digital movie camera under $30k and it set the world on fire.

And, we all know that the HDSLR line was mostly an add on feature to the DLSRs already on the market – they're way behind here compared to the RED (and obviously much less expensive). But will the HDSLRs have enough processing power and cooling to be able to put out RAW video? The RED was designed from scratch to be a video camera first and therefore it can produce some amazing stills, but that wasn't it's primary goal.

I expect that RAW will take some amazing processing output as well as a new chip. The existing chips sure weren't built with dumping out a 1080HD image without compressing it first. There will need to be more data going out and you sure won't get 12 minutes of video in a 4gb file like you do now on the Canon HDSLRs.

Will we get RAW video? My guess is not in the next round of HDSLRs. In fact, even the new Sony F3 and Panasonic AF100 don't have it. What makes us really think/wish that Canon (or anyone else) will be able to put RAW video in an HDLSR in the near future? Tho I would love to be surprised here!

2) Reduced Jello!

Those of us shooting with an HDSLR are familiar with the ‘jello affect' (also commonly called “rolling shutter”) – it comes from the design of the CMOS sensor and most cameras have this problem – some more than others. Often, jello is mentioned right along side with moire and surprisingly, ‘reduced moire' came in at #7 in the poll. I'm guessing that moviemakers are already used to dealing with this issue – they've been dealing with it for years with digital video cameras (tho many say the HDSLRs are worse) and it hasn't gone away completely – therefore would rather have some other features.

Will we get this? Likely we'll see some reduction in jello- tho it won't likely be eliminated.

3) Full HDMI output

Again, with the first line of HDSLRs, the camera makers didn't consider these cameras would be used in many of the ways they're being used – they were meant to be used by journalists wanting to do both video and stills so HDMI out wasn't a major consideration.

But moviemakers want/need HDMI out – to send to monitors for directors/follow focus pullers/etc as well as those who would rather send the video to an external data storage device instead of to the internal CF cards. This would open up possibilities of longer recording times as well.

I do expect this to be in the next major release – I know that Canon for example has heard this loudly enough – tho again I expect a processor upgrade is required – maybe the Digic V in the Canon line.

4) Fast autofocus in video recording

Now this one surprised me – with all of the chatter we always hear from about how movie makers do everything manually and would never trust autofocus (there aren't any autofocus cinema lenses are there?). So why did this make it so high on the list? Well, of course not everyone voting was a ‘moviemaker' – there are lots of uses for the video recording and some of them are as basic as using the HDSLR to record children and families (replacing the camcorder – we sure don't use one of those around my house any more!) to a one man crew that won't have a focus puller available.

Of course, there are many of us who use the Canon 5D Mark II that would also love to have faster (and more accurate) autofocus in stills mode as well.

Will we see it next? I'm leaning towards saying we'll get improved autofocus, but at the same time, I'm wondering if the cinema folks that have had Canon's ear haven't swayed them into thinking they'd live with manual focus if they could have other improvements first… the shorter answer is improved, but not fully functioning like a camcorder. Tho it is interesting to realize that companies like Canon have the technology in their camcorder lines. I'm guessing tho that it is much easier to accomplish in a fixed lens system than in a system with interchangeable lenses not designed for camcorder style autofocus.

5) Full Frame Sensor

Now here's something that usually gets a lot of discussion – sensor size. And this time, the full frame wins hands down. The other choices of micro 4/3 and crop were close to the bottom. The new Sony F3 and Panasonic AF100 are both (oops, the F3 is an ‘S35' size sensor) ‘micro 4/3rds' sensors and that's making a lot of news. The 5D2 is the only full frame HDSLR sensor on the market and it is selling still like hotcakes. So it is interesting that people put full frame in the top 5.

Video on the Canon EOS 5D Mark II doesn't take full advantage of the full frame sensor tho – because the 1080 HD output is much smaller than the total resolution of the sensor, lots of lines of data are simply thrown out to scale down to the 1080 size.

So, while most of the next round of HDSLRs won't have it, everyone expects the 5D3 to continue down the full frame sensor and that's one main reason the Canon EOS 5D Mark II is still the best selling HDSLR on the market!

What's not in the top 5

Several things I bet you thought might be in the top 5 are low on the list. Things like 4k video, articulating screens, audio level display and more didn't come close to the top 5.

One of the things that I sure thought would be much higher (but probably not in the top 5) was ‘camcorder body shape' – and maybe that's because of my wording there? I read a lot of complaints about how the HDSLRs were not designed for filming – their shape has been customized over the decades for shooting stills. And therefore, when I put this on the list I was thinking that people would want to have more of a video camera body shape due to this complaint (tho I used a word that maybe implies consumer camcorder instead of pro level video camera shape – sorry about that!).

You can scan the list below to see what else was not in the top 5… might surprise many of you.

The full results:

Poll results planet5D-Canon HDSLR news

References and other posts

EOSHD's Andrew posted this recently: “Revealed – Canon master plan?


Well, as I said, several things surprised me in the results… I'm sure it wasn't a totally scientific study, but interesting results. I'm sure if you posted a similar question on a RED blog, you might get different answers.

So… what do you think? Feel free to sound off below in the comments or on the planet5D forum thread about this post.

And yes, I'm forwarding this story to our friends at Canon.

(Photo credit: snap from Canon)

Zeiss Cinema Lenses


  1. Yea, raw video has got to win hands down. Selfishly (as a 60D shooter using a crop-sensor camera), I kinda hope raw is incorporated with full-frame and APS-C sensor cameras (I like my lenses!)

  2. RAW video on top, that’s just crazy. It’s already a pain to edit full 1080p video out of a Canon 5DMII, I can’t imagine RAW. 566 votes? What kind of machine do you all have?

  3. Some cool ideas some stupid and some not going to happen yet.
    Modular camera sounds cool and would cover more bases for more people. Mirrorless solves a few problems.

    Camcorder body shape? That’s just a camcorder, so buy a camcorder. XLR inputs is a good idea but without turning it into a camcorder it’s going to be tricky fitting them in.

    RAW just not going to happen so why vote for it.

    One thing that everyone has seemed to miss is lenses that are more usable for film work. New lenses is what I’d vote for.

  4. That’s true, you would need a pretty huge piece of machine to edit RAW video, (kind of what happens with RED) you need a Data manager and stuff. I think that just fixing the rolling shutter issue could help a lot.

    Btw, nice poll

    Cheers from mexico

    Alex 7d

  5. C’mon – realistically audio bars in the window and direct audio monitoring out of the camera have GOT to be on the top of the list. Doesn’t anyone else here shoot sound? Double system went out with the buffalos. Am I the only guy in a continual state of terror from audio clipping (AFTER you set your levels – and the nervous talent begins to get shrill) or a bad connector wire??
    I love the articulating viewfinder in my 60d (backup).
    How else is a guy going to get those worms-eye shots.
    And auto-focus?
    Sure there are not auto focus 35mm lenses – that’s what ASSISTANTS are made for. But the whole client base has forgotten about 15 man crews. Today you do it all by yourself and everyone has long ago gotten used to sharp shots – the first time.

  6. I have a feeling that the reason we don’t have RAW recording is that there doesn’t seem to be a realisation that RAW for a still image is 6-8 times larger than the RAW we need for motion imaging. In my perfect world, the DIGICV processor would permit 720P at 50/60 perfectly sized, 1080P at 24/25/30 and THEN give us our full frame/APS-C sized images in RAW. I mean, right now, average RAW frame coming out of my 500D is about 17-19 MB, I guess. I sure don’t need that frame size and neither should I expect that size at 25 fps. But, I would guess that a 3-5MB frame might just be manageable with the new high speed SD and CF cards that have been announced this year. I’m thinking this is the strategy that would be the easiest to adopt.

    @ Victor – dual system sound is still how 96% of motion picture media is shot, so while Buffalos don’t roam like they used to, sound recordists still record to separate media. You don’t like it, then go back to camcorders. Or buy an outboard device like the Juice or BeachTek interfaces. I anything, having someone to focus in audio leaves you to be much more free to focus on what you’re shooting.

  7. Raw video? Really?

    My vote would go to ISO sensitivity. I want my DSLR to see what I can in the dark, or better. With no noise.

    Then full frame sensor

    Then pull focus and zoom gadgets where we set in and out points, it takes care of the rest.

  8. RAW ? really just going to 10bit would be way more then good enough. there are a couple cameras shooting 10bit h264 with rates that would work with current cards. 10bit would be VERY doable.

    one thing that was completely left out – Better SCALING ! better scaling will get rid of those moire and aliasing problems. then I might have a reason to buy L or Zeiss glass.

    I wouldn’t want XLR’s on the body, but I would take TA-3’s which would work great.

    I’d also like to see the artificial 12min recording time go away.

    Audio meters is almost a given, but its not glamourous is it ?

  9. While a wish list is exactly that – ‘a wish list’ – it’s refreshing that some people are more grounded than others.
    Long term, most of the issues mentioned in the poll make absolute sense but SHORT term – Getting rid of the jello/moire effect and having 1080 output should have been top of everyone’s list just like the poll results suggests (Raw!?).
    Everyone that is serious about their film making with these cameras and need to address their immediate problems know exactly what I’m talking about. The rolling shutter is an absolute nightmare and outputing video to an external recording device on the fly, solves the 12 minute issue.
    Kudos for the poll and the opportunity to share 🙂

  10. RAW is not quite impossible. Take the Swedish company Ikonoscope, they produce a small sensor camera that produces RAW images. The trick they used is to take all the processing out of the camera and just record the files in CineDNG format. That means a storage card they had to develop themselves with 240 Mbps write speed and a capacity of 160 Gb. Let the computers in post do all the processing is their philosophy and how right they are. It does not need to be in camera. When asked they said the card has enough headroom to go for a larger sensor. My guess is that Canon is still milking their DSLR cash cow. But they are rapidly getting behind if they do not get the right thing out soon. Anyone that only publishes on the web just stick to your DSLR. Clean HDMI would be nice so you can record a better signal to a Ninja or even beter a KiPro mini seems a step forward but not announced. But right now and not a proper DSLR is the GH2 is giving a lot what the DSLR crowd wants. The Sony NXCAM HD large sensor is available in 5-6 months at a rice point close to 5DMkII. Canon are you awake and listening or are you still deaf from that scraping sound of all the money you are making?

  11. well even film cameras can jello cam under fast shutter and fast pans / moves. RED certainly jello cams as well. to fix it means reading the sensor out faster making for more power draw and heat.

    instead of fighting it, learn to exploit it for creative purposes like I did here

    better scaling I think is something they can easily do…that and TA-3’s 🙂

  12. And about the time limit issue? I think that is very important issue for documentaries, for example… don’t you think?

    The other big issue is the rolling shutter effect… would be great to have this solved.

    Full sensor is indispensable!

    1. Author

      I have asked about the time limit issue from Canon and I don’t have any answers… wish we knew for sure they would change it 🙂

  13. And about the time limit issue? I think that is very important issue for documentaries, for example… don’t you think? The other big issue is the rolling shutter effect… would be great to have this solved. Full sensor is indispensable!

  14. This is a terrible list and shows lack of thought.

    Video RAW- really? Have you thought about the cost of just the storage???

    Let alone the components need to make such camera?
    What are you going to do, store a SAN in your backpack?

    1. Author

      Video RAW isn’t the same as stills RAW in terms of size. And if you’ll check on the RED and Alexa cameras, they currently have video RAW outputs – not needing a SAN in your backpack – they use CF cards. Please do a little research and then come back and we’ll discuss. (Hint:

      By the way, this idea isn’t something I just plucked out of the air. Obviously lots of people want it to happen.

      1. Arriraw – requires T-Link NOT CF card. You are limited to ProRes and such with the CF/SxS recorder
        For example is one of the products that can do ARRIRAW.

        REDCODE RAW – not actual RAW. It is not even lossless codec. It is a lossy wavelet codec. That is why you can record it in CF card.

        If you calculate the requirement for RAW 2K video, you would notice it would require roughly 300 MB/s @ 24 fps.

        CF card is not cutting it.

  15. Yeah Arri requires a T-Link capable recorder via DUAL 3Gb HD-SDI.
    Second RED RAW is NOT RAW. It is a lossy codec.

    yes – I have done my research. I actually use the cameras.

  16. Video RAW isn’t the same as stills RAW in terms of size. And if you’ll check on the RED and Alexa cameras, they currently have video RAW outputs – not needing a SAN in your backpack – they use CF cards. Please do a little research and then come back and we’ll discuss. (Hint: By the way, this idea isn’t something I just plucked out of the air. Obviously lots of people want it to happen.

  17. Hmmm…
    ya know the bulk of my career was shooting 35mm film; generally with about a 25 man crew.
    So I totally understand double system sound; it’s advantages and disadvantages (hey… sound – are you ready… yet?)

    But in my new life down here in Florida, they have perfected the one man director/camera/lighting/grip/sound crew. And when you’re on your own, you NEED to know that your sound is perfect -right?
    I’m using a Sony wireless rig so I can at least monitor what’s going INTO the camera (wind noise – rustle, etc)
    But I’d still KILL for a camera monitor and viewfinder audio levels.
    Hey Magic Lantern had it right over a year and a half ago. It sort of aggravates me that Canon locked them out.
    If your sound sucks, I don’t care how pretty it is – you either reshoot, redub or have crap.

  18. And about the time limit issue? I think that is very important issue for documentaries, for example… don’t you think? The other big issue is the rolling shutter effect… would be great to have this solved. Full sensor is indispensable!

  19. I totally agree with Victor. A headphone jack is at the top of my list. I want to be able to hear exactly what the camera’s recording. After 15 years of shooting video using headphones, it just doesn’t seem right to shoot with no way of monitoring the audio. How hard can it be for Canon, etc., to add a headphone jack? I’ve used the 5D and 7D, but I haven’t bought any DSLR for myself yet, mainly because of the lack of a headphone jack.

  20. Rolling shutter is the biggest downer of these camera. It would be nice to have raw images, also a device to use the motors in the lens to manual focus.

  21. I think that getting 10 bit out, better scaling to fix moire and to fix rolling shutter should be at the top along with fixing the overheating and dead pixel problems. As for the time limit issue I did some tests with the 7D one night and recorded 4 clips in less than 1 hr time the first clip was 12min the second 14min the 3rd clip was 19min 45sec and the 4th was 14min. The only one of those recordings that was stopped by the camera was the last 14min clip. It was 30 degrees outside so that may have had something to do with it not overheating as well. But I don’t think it is a true clip time limit. I shot 1080p24 for all clips.

  22. Let me start off by saying I have been a professional photographer for many years.In the old days the pro press photographers used mainly Canon’s and Nikon’s, fast forward to today, like Sony and Panasonic have jumped into the battle for your buck, as a former Nikon owner, I feel its a real pity that Nikon who has the least to loose by building a super DSLR, that would address everything on that list, is busy playing catch up. .Last year I bought a T2I, I could have bought a 7 or a 5 but the T2i it had more video features, I was going to buy a follow focus setup, but I am glad I waited now, because for the price of a decent follow focus set up I can buy the new Panasonic DMC GH2 will address two of your top 5 list, full time super fast auto focus, and full time, full rez HDMI out.also it addresses a couple other things on your full list,plus I get touch screen follow focus and a couple other amazing things it will do,So let the DSLR battles rage on, the winners will be us.

  23. Pingback: NLESystems Blog » 24 Top 5 HDSLR ‘must have’ features moviemakers want in the next pro HDSLR

  24. Pingback: Shooting video with digital SLRs | Max yoUR Photos

  25. HA! My choices didn’t even make the list. I just want to be able to turn the darn thang off and on with a switch that can be mounted on the pan head handle. And on the STILL SIDE… how about FRAME STORE (PICTURE CACHE)?…. Oh well… maybe in a parallel universe……

  26. Let me start off by saying I am a huge Canon fan, and actually purchased the 5D3 because it is a great improvement over the 5D2 – so please don’t bite my head off.

    Canon missed the mark with the 5D3. In fact their entire line of cameras needs work. Nikon’s D800 with 36MP makes our 22MP look wimpy- even though it isn’t. But no one, not a single one of us would have been disappointed with a 36MP or larger sensor (as long as there were options for shooting at smaller file sizes)

    Canon is still not treating the Audio department the way they should. Rather than selling us a camera, then watch their customers run around buying third party components, they should offer those components themselves. It is a huge pain in the rear. It would be too expensive to put all the goodies in the box – no one wants to see a 10,000 dollar 5D3, but just as there is are both body and kits being sold, there could be a videographer package, or at least sell add ons that have been tailor made for the 5D3.

    At the moment I have 17 inventions on paper, all around the 5D3. Canon should try to dominate this market as well. Add on sales are a great way to make a LOT of extra money for the company. There is just not enough room in the camera body to put everything we need for video, but there should be a well thought out handful of upgrades, with the canon label on them- so that a video rig was less of a fabrication effort. The ignorance of Canon to think that the same person who purchased their 3500 dollar body is going to rely on onboard audio is staggering. They have mic’s for their camcorders, why not for their DSLR’s?

    Same thing goes for the rig itself. Rather than choosing from a long list of third party offerings, why not have a canon offering as well. Everything from the handle, the counter weight, the shoulder mount, the camera mount, the audio recorder, the follow focus, the matte box, the grips, the extra batteries, the tripod mount, the wiring, etc etc. Just think how much better it would be if we didn’t have wires all over the place, and that there was a hub that attaches to the bottom in much the same way the grip attaches.

    What do I want from Canon? I want them to decide. If they really want the 5D movement to continue they need to help it flourish. The C300 (100 and 500 as well) should be in the 5D line. How fantastic would it be to see how the landscape changes when the vast majority of us have that level of technology at our disposal? Maybe we don’t need it, maybe I don’t need the new lenses either. But I still buy them.

    The 5D2 was a huge paradigm shift, and they are going to destroy it by trying to make more money than they really should be making. They can make 1500 units of the C300 at 15,000 or they can sell 500,000 5D3’s with the same tech. If they sold it for 4k rather than 3400 they would make such a killing it would break records. Just think how Nikon would fare against a powerhouse like that?

    The 5D2 had so much buzz, so much excitement it nearly started a purchasing phenomenon like the Iphone or Ipod. If they had kept it up it could have turned into one of those things people purchased every freaking year or two. Just like everyone all of a sudden needed a portable music device, everyone would need a DSLR with 4k video! Canon can still pull it off, but its going to be hard now that the excitement has been lost with the not-so-groundbreaking 5D3. I still purchased one, but it by no means was as amazing as the 5D2 was. I hope they realize what they have done.

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