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When it comes to producing high-quality video content, the need is widespread across all areas of industry and technology. From corporate giants to the owners of your favorite local coffee shop, from courtside basketball moms to budding Instagram influencers, we all want video footage that doesn’t just capture an experience or a sentiment: we want it captured in professional quality and style.
This is why video quality is such an important factor to consider when researching cameras, even if your primary interest is still photography. And it is rare to find a DSLR camera without video capabilities these days. Thus it is useful to know the ins and outs of video capabilities with a DSLR camera before you shop for one. We can offer a crash course before recommending the best DSLR video camera options for under $1,000.
What is DSLR?
Professional photographers and self-proclaimed tech nerds will drop “DSLR” in the conversation and assume the rest of us automatically know what it means. But in a world where many people now forego a nice camera and simply use their smartphones to record their memories, the high-tech “lingo” associated with photography can be lost on the average Joe or Jane.
DSLR stands for digital lens single reflex. And this still does not mean much to those who are not experienced in the camera world, so we will break it down. Digital refers to the use of computer technology or digital signals. Single-lens is (we hope) easy enough to understand it means the camera has one lens. Reflex is where it is perhaps trickiest to follow along. What do we mean by reflex in terms of a camera? Is it your Uncle Jim’s automatic reflex to break into an awkward fake smile in front of any camera lens?
Not quite. “Reflex” is how a camera is designed in terms of how light ultimately travels through it. In a DSLR camera, light travels through the camera lens, then hits an alternating mirror. That mirror will send the image to one of two places: to a prism, which then allows you to see your photo in the DSLR camera’s viewfinder, or the light goes to the image sensor (that is what happens when you actually click the button on the camera).
Difference Between a DSLR Camera and Mirrorless Camera
Now that you understand the mirror is a component in the digital single-lens reflex design, we will take a look at how the DSLR differs from a mirrorless camera. The mirrorless camera has no mirror. But to work, it still needs a “light path:” so in the case of the mirrorless camera, the light travels directly into the image sensor instead, and the user can see the image on the camera’s LCD monitor.
And in case you’ve always wondered but never wanted to ask the more tech-savvy folks around you: “LCD” stands for liquid crystal display. This is a way we can display numbers or images through liquid containing crystals, and you may already own a television that uses this technology.
A DSLR camera is often favored over a mirrorless camera for one main reason: speed. The two types of cameras differ in the way they focus. DSLR cameras use what is known as “phase-detection autofocus modules,” whereas mirrorless cameras are constructed with “sensor-based autofocus.”
A DSLR camera is faster when it comes to autofocus, and this increased speed tends to be important to all photographers, whether they are professionals or amateurs. That said, a mirrorless camera is typically smaller, lighter, and less expensive, so some photographers may be willing to sacrifice a little autofocus speed to use them.
Sometimes one’s budget overrules all other concerns, and most people do not have thousands of dollars to spend on photography equipment. But the good news is there ARE some great DSLR camera options for video under $1000, and we will get to those shortly.
Do All DSLR Cameras Have Video?
If for any reason, you are still not convinced you need or want video technology in your camera, the only DSLR camera options for you will likely be used/second-hand models. You would need to purchase an older model as virtually every new DSLR camera on the market will automatically have this component.
Most users are happy to take advantage of DSLR video camera capabilities, and for that reason, manufacturers continue to seek ways to improve the video quality in DSLR cameras. The current DSLR market boasts plenty of options that can produce 4k video and 6k video and track moving subjects with autofocus.
Since the DSLR video camera has emerged, we have also seen continuous improvements in recording good video quality footage even in low light conditions.
The primary challenge that remains – one that sees some buyers opting for a camcorder over a DSLR video camera – is the length of time you can record. If you’ve been tasked with recording your cousin’s wedding, and it’s a quickie 10-minute, no-frills ceremony, you can do it with a DSLR video camera. But if your cousin is taking the full Catholic mass route, you are definitely going to need a traditional camcorder.
What Is the Longest Video You Can Record on a DSLR Camera?
The maximum time you can record video on your DSLR camera is the roughly same as your favorite television sitcom (we know…it’s The Office): around 30 minutes. While the time limits on DSLRs were initially affected by things like large file sizes (4k video can take up some room!) and cameras overheating, those issues were quickly ironed out by video camera manufacturers.
So, why do we still have these limits? If the old adage is true that the only things certain in life are death and taxes, you can be certain this one has to do with taxes. Ultimately cameras are subject to a higher tax if considered they’re considered a “video camera.” Hence, the 30-minute cap, which means they are still classified as regular cameras and not video cameras.
Even with their time limits on video recording, DSLR cameras are still great tools for practicing traditional still photography and recording short videos. Now that you know a little more about DSLR cameras and how they work, we will share our favorite picks for the best DSLR for video under $1000.
Canon EOS REBEL SL3
While we don’t understand why Canon would christen this camera as a “Rebel” when it’s such a safe bet, we do know that it is without a doubt one of the best DSLR cameras for video under $1000. And not just that: it’s a great all-around camera at a fantastic price point. You will get a lot of bang for your buck with a Canon EOS.
Novices need not be intimidated by the Canon EOS Rebel, either. This is a user-friendly camera built with ease of operation in mind. Almost every feature can be accessed through the optical viewfinder. If you have figured out how to use a smartphone, you can easily figure out how to use this camera.
The Canon EOS REBEL is small and lightweight, but it is big on features. Here are some of the reasons you will want to put this at the top of your list of DSLRs to consider:
- A 24.1 Megapixel CMOS (APS-C) Sensor. In layman’s terms, this means you are going to capture photos and 4k UHD video in stunning, crisp detail.
- Eye Detection Auto Focus. When you photograph people, the Canon EOS REBEL utilizes eye detection autofocus, meaning it bases the focus on your subject’s eyes. Whether you need to help your niece with headshots for her aspiring film career or capture a beautiful shot of your mother for framing, this camera delivers.
- Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Capability. This digital camera’s connective capabilities mean you can upload images and videos quickly to other devices or the web.
There are also a wide variety of accessories from Canon that are compatible with this camera, like kit lens options, tripods, extra memory, and more.
Nikon D 3500
Nikon is one of the most trusted names in photography, and for good reason. Nikon products are used by everyone from professionals to novices, and another great choice for DSLR for video under $1000 is the Nikon D 3500.
In the battle to remind consumers there is more to photography than what you do with your smartphone, Nikon has this selling point on its side: its image sensor is 15 times larger than those typically found in smartphones. That means clearer, sharper images and videos than anything your phone will produce.
For those who are nervous or overwhelmed by this camera’s features, you can start with “auto mode” and let the DSLR do the work for you. A quick flip of the live view lever can take you into video recording mode, so it is easy to transition between images and video.
The Nikon D 3500 is one of the best options for DSLR for video under $1000 thanks to these features:
- 1080 hp full HD videos. This means crisp, clear results in the final product (1080 being a reference to the pixels displayed, and you have probably heard this in relation to your television screen).
- Easy Connection to Your Smartphone. The Nikon D 3500 works with the snap bridge app to connect to your tablet or smartphone.
- Shooting Modes for Every Occasion. This DSLR comes with a wide range of modes, from super vivid to silhouette, to sports or night portrait.
Pentax KP 24.32
Pentax is a company with technology built on more than 100 years of experience, and their DSLR camera is a compact device with big capabilities. Plus, it’s yet another great choice for DSLR with video for under $1000.
Among the many features, Pentax rightfully boasts about this camera is its 5-Axis shake reduction system. While that sounds like a feature you might look for in an all-terrain vehicle, the 5-axis shake reduction system is actually a mechanism built into this DSLR to compensate for camera shake. This is a brilliant example of how far we have come with camera technology, and the Pentax has many other smart features as well.
A 24 megapixel CMOS sensor makes the Pentax a great camera for shooting in low light, and this camera is also as rugged as they come. The body is weather-sealed so that the camera will function in temperatures as low as 14 degrees Fahrenheit. For those who favor snow skiing over surfing, this may be the best DSLR camera for you!
The Pentax is as compact as they come. Its designers and developers knew that travel photographers especially placed a premium on size, and this DSLR was created with dynamic range and the adventurous spirit in mind. Built-in Wi-Fi and a video resolution of 1080p make the Pentax KP a smart and easy choice for anyone shopping for a DSLR for video for under $1000.
Bonus Tips: Accessories
Once you find the perfect DSLR for video for under $1000, give yourself time to get familiar with the camera before you go overboard with accessories. Using it in various settings will give you a better idea of what your needs are. You can then set a budget for additional pieces of equipment and accessories to go along with your camera.
A camera bag and strap will simply make life a little easier while also protecting your investment. Those should probably be the first items you purchase, and they will be the least expensive among possible accessories for your DSLR.
If you really get serious about using your new camera, you will inevitably want to invest in a tripod. These run the gamut from affordable to expensive, and a great starter is AmazonBasics 60 inch Lightweight Tripod.
With time and experience, you will learn just how important the camera’s flash is. You may opt to purchase an external flash to attach to your DSLR, which will increase your camera’s capabilities in low light conditions.