Let a pro tell you how to get the most out of your HDSLR.
Q. Any other limitations?
A. DSLRs don't like bright highlights—detail disappears. But unless it's critically important to you, this is no big deal.
Q. What about other camera settings?
A. Turn sharpening entirely off. Go into the menus—in Canons, it's in the Picture Styles menu, and the Standard is the flattest. Choose this and turn the sharpening to zero. This will make it look more like film and less like video. Turn contrast down one notch (-1) and saturation down -1. Outside at night, with a high ISO, I'll bring those down -2. Some people turn these all the way down, but then the image is super flat.
Q. What else must I buy?
A. The solution for your readers is: Buy less crap! Keep it really simple.
Q. Yeah, but there's some stuff you can't do without, right?
A. You need a magnifier—it helps you see better and also helps you brace the camera. A stabilized lens helps a lot.
Q. Any filters?
A. You need neutral-density filters—they give you the control over your aperture, since your shutter speed is fixed. I have a set of glass ND filters in 2- and 3-stop increments. A good ND filter is $100, so it gets expensive if you have a few of these. But with cheaper filters, the color is not consistent. It's fine for stills, because when you're shooting RAW it's easy to fix the color, but it's a real pain for video. You can also get a variable ND filter-two polarizers that cross each other; Singh-Ray makes a very good one.
Q. And memory cards?
A. Make sure you use a fast UDMA card and a fast reader. I standardize my cards—Lexar Professional 600x CF cards, all 16GB. You need about 250 megabytes a minute for video. But don't put in a massive card. If you run the camera for 10 or 11 minutes without stopping, it'll overheat. I've never had my 5D overheat, but my 7D did. I took the battery and card out, and let it ventilate and cool down for a few minutes. If you're going to run a 20-minute take, use a video camera.
Q. A fast computer, too?
A. One of the things that surprised me was that a lot of the editing software runs off the video card, so you'll need the fastest one possible. I'd covered RAM and processing speed, but I had to buy a new 512MB video card for my Mac tower. Also, you're going to run into storage issues right away. That's a big thing to prepare for.
Q. It's all so intimidating.
A. Just go make movies! It's really simple. Point your camera and hit the button.