My experience in DSLR video starts from Nikon D90. It was one of the first DSLR camera that allow you to shoot video. 720p HD at that time. First thing what I did when I took camera in my hands, I started to play with focus. It was like real cinema camera. Quality and Depth of Field was so incredible. I fell like with this camera I will shoot real movies… and I did shoot my first music video.
Since that days everything changed in the world of cinematography. Canon 5d Mark II, 7D, T2i and so on. Now for $1000+ you can get great camera and shoot movies, like recently action feature film Act of Valor (shot on Canon 5D Mr II).
Recently We shipped Canon T3i kit to Herat, Afghanistan. I know that soon we will see amazing stuff from them.
I would like to share some tips How to get best out of Dslr:
Depth of field of your picture depends on aperture settings. Play with it, but remember lower F-stop (f1.4 or f2.8) you have - more objects will be out of focus. Higher f-stop (f8 or f11 …) will give you most objects in the focus.
2. Shutter speed
Most Dslr cameras has shutter speed range from 30' to 1/8000.
But for video mode I recommend to stick with 1/60 (if you shooting 30fps) or 1/50 (if you shooting 25p).
If you have fluorescent light on your set, use 1/120 or 1/100.
The higher ISO you have the more noise will appear on your image. Try keep it no more than 1600.
4. White balance
Make sure that the color white is always white. Don't forget to adjust white balance before you start shooting. There are some pre-sets as well as auto.
The biggest issue with Dslr is that you can't record good quality sound. So why not record sound from external sound recording device like Zoom H4n. If you shooting an interview or you need good quality sound always use Zoom H4n. And always monitor thru headphones what you record.
The most important part in cinematography is your creativity. Try different angles, closeups, wide shots, deep DoF, shallow DoF…