Tuesday, November 11, 2008
A Milestone In Time
Full HD video comes to digital SLRs
Wedding/Event Photographers. The combination of still photography and video is a staple of wedding and event photographers and videographers. Weddings generally have been dominated by still photographers, some of whom have made the transition to incorporating video, and others have chosen to focus on just still photography.
How much of an impact will it have? Some, but don’t expect the next wedding you attend to have three D-SLR video shooters. Most of the professional video we’ve seen for weddings typically is done to a soundtrack, so the lack of high-end audio usually isn’t an issue. Both cameras could be appealing as a backup with access to the existing arsenals of lenses and accessories event shooters already own. It certainly could provide a clear differentiation of services offered rather than relying on a separate videographer or none at all. (Note: The suggestion that one person could do a good job shooting stills and video simultaneously has been hotly contested. In reality, that’s not the ideal approach. A wedding shooter could use the video mode for the bridal party getting ready and move on to shoot the event in stills.) One of the roadblocks could be in lighting, where strobes are prevalent and continuous lighting used for shooting video isn’t part of the repertoire or standard gear. Then again, the great low-light performance may make artificial lighting a moot point altogether.
Photojournalists. This is where Canon sees its sweet spot with the EOS 5D Mark II. An overall excellent D-SLR with its combination of resolution, size and cost, the video capabilities have what it takes to deliver the kind of footage that network or news-gathering organizations crave: full 1080p footage and, perhaps just as important, a plug for external mics and 16-bit, 44 kHz audio recording.
How much of an impact will it have? This area seems to make the most sense of the lot. Photojournalists typically need to travel light and set up fast, so lots of equipment isn’t always an option. Canon sees the dual ability of still and HD video as possibly removing the need to carry an additional video camera. It’s unclear how Canon’s video division feels about this approach, but if we had to guess, probably not great. Photojournalists generally have some specific requirements for their primary D-SLRs (faster frame rates, in particular, come to mind), but these new cameras could serve as extremely versatile backup bodies and deliver the video portion of the assignment.
When this will really take off is less clear. Our request to a well-populated Nikon professional discussion list soliciting feedback from anyone shooting video and stills yielded no responses.
|See for yourself: Online Video Resources|
|Perhaps best known is the video “Reverie,” shot by New York Times photographer Vincent Laforet: http://blog.vincentlaforet.com |
The making of a video is available on Smugmug: http://vincentlaforet.smugmug.com/gallery/6021407_xEg87/1/#378608891_Jd2CT-A-LB
Chase Jarvis delivers an excellent Nikon D90 shoot and samples, along with behind-the-scenes footage and commentary:
An online clip from Brent Gudgel and Nate Smith from the Chronicle project shows identical scenes shot side by side with the $999 Nikon D90 and the $5,000 Panasonic AG-HVX200 for comparison: http://vimeo.com/1713382
Digital Cinema. The other area of hot buzz on video D-SLRs comes from digital cinema—filmmakers who use professional video cameras and 35mm lens adapters, such as Redrock Micro’s products, to mimic a film look. Video D-SLRs hold the promise to deliver full-frame 35mm HD video for less than a few thousand dollars. To put this in perspective, the RED ONE was considered a huge breakthrough just a few years ago for delivering a full-frame 35mm sensor in a camera body at around $17,500, with functional kits closer to $30,000 to $60,000! Suddenly, the Canon EOS 5D Mark II and Nikon D90 seem like incredible bargains.
How much of an impact will they have? Initial impact likely will be limited, and the current crop of pro and prosumer video cameras will still be preferred for video. Why? The video D-SLRs lack a number of manual controls in video mode, including shutter speed, exposure, frame rate and other elements critical to digital cinema.
“Full manual control over a variety of functions affecting how //images are captured is fundamental to professional motion-picture production,” says Los Angeles-based cinematographer Dan Coplan. “This includes accessories specifically designed for the industry. I like where Canon and Nikon are headed with their cameras by pushing the boundaries of technology, but I don’t see D-SLRs with built-in video replacing the current crop of dedicated digital cinema video cameras for professional production anytime soon.”
The Nikon D90’s lack of sound input means extra effort in running a second system for recording audio, but it’s the only camera with a 24p frame rate, a cinema standard. At the moment, digital cinema still may be best served by prosumer video cameras and 35mm adapters from companies like Redrock Micro. It’s exciting to think what second-generation video D-SLRs may bring to digital cinema.
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