Rumours of a consumer level digital SLR priced to replace the Nikon D80 with features borrowed from Nikon's professional D3 and D300 cameras have been floating around the internet for several weeks. Now the news is official and the part of the announcement I am most excited in is the inclusion of a 720P (high definition) 24FPS recording mode. Why the intrigue? When you think about it, for years, indie film makers have been making or buying tools to mount SLR lenses on their video cameras from manufacturers like Redrock Micro, Letus, and Canada's Cinevate whose Brevis 35 adapter I once owned for my Canon HV20 HDV camera to produce footage with a cinema-like look. By using an SLR lens to project an image onto a rotating or vibrating matte screen and then using the attached video camera to macro focus off of this matte screen, one could "borrow" the shallower depth of field associated with a lens with a longer focal length and wider aperture while not incurring the direct cropping effects that one would encounter by attempting to directly capture a part of the circle of illumination from an SLR lens using a relatively small sensor that would be found in almost all affordable video cameras. In addition, to have decent motion rendition captured to a non-tape recording medium, one would have to consider buying into a Panasonic P2 or XDCam solution at the lowest end of the price spectrum.
I am neither an expert in video and motion picture nor have I had hands on experience with the camera like this lucky bastard (:=D) but allow me to indulge in some speculation. Assuming that cameras like the D90 and those that may follow it with motion picture recording capability can:
capture true 24 or more progressive frames per second;
record uncompressed video or use compression has good motion reproduction that allow for easy editing with a variety of non-linear editors;
support an external audio source;
limit light hitting the sensor or being picked up by the sensor with the use of an internal neutral density filter or with some other method not involving changing shutter speeds or apertures;
we suddenly have an interchangeable lens video camera system with depth of field control near what one would achieve with a 35mm depth of field adapter for a video camera that records onto a solid state medium and will directly attach lenses in which there is a huge used market and many photographers already own that would easily satisfy most of the needs of many would-be film makers at 5-15% the cost of a video solution designed for this purpose. And as an added bonus, it's also a 12megapixel dSLR that shoots better-than-merely-usable ISO6400 shots.