There have been tremendous changes in recent years with regards to video in DSLRs. As a photography-aware consumer you have three major paths to video nirvana. All have advantages and disadvantages, and all have a place in your life. We’ll consider each separately a bit down the page. Regardless of the road you choose to shoot movies, there are a few commonalities that span hardware platforms. Understanding them is critical to making the right decision.
In the video world, resolution specifications are packaged and labeled using nomenclature like “1080p” and “HD,” whereas in the realm of digital still cameras we tend to identify the various plateaus using raw numbers only. The danger inherent in using labels is that sooner or later the marketing guys run out of superlatives and the names get longer as technology progresses. We expect to see “Super Duper Extra High Definition” on the horizon soon, to be followed, no doubt, by SDEHD Mark II shortly thereafter.
In any case, video resolution has at least two tags: the vertical pixel count and alpha label. 1080p, for example, is also known as Full HD and has a vertical resolution of 1080 pixels. The “p” signifies “Progressive” scan and means that each image is captured as a full frame of video, the alternative to “i” or “Interlaced” video in which two consecutive fields are captured and reassembled into one full frame. Think of it as the difference between a pull-down window shade and horizontal window blinds. For photographers, the advantage of the Progressive scan system, clearly, is that each frame is complete and can be independently edited.