Saturday, August 31, 2013

Battle Of The DSLRs

By The Editors Published in Cameras
Battle Of The DSLRs

Motion Capture & Hybrid Cameras

At their core, even the very best HDSLRs are still cameras that have a motion feature. What about true motion cameras that can shoot stills?

The RED SCARLET and RED EPIC are the best examples of motion cameras that can take high-quality stills. RED's DSMC (Digital Still & Motion Camera) concept is centered on the notion of having top-level image quality and high resolution whether you're shooting a full-motion feature or a highline fashion ad. Most DSLRs have significant limitations in terms of shooting duration, dynamic range and video compression primarily because they're built around a core mission of still photography. The RED cameras don't have the same limitations. And using their REDCODE file format, you retain the ability to pull high-resolution still frames from the video footage.

So does that mean that RED cameras are the perfect do-it-all hybrid cameras? It depends on how you shoot. The RED SCARLET and the EPIC are larger and less ergonomic than the typical DSLR. They're well suited to a studio environment or similar shooting situations. Cutting-edge photographers like Mark Seliger, Markus + Indrani, Greg Williams and Inez + Vinoodh have produced covers for Vogue, Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone and other leading magazines.

RED's new DRAGON sensor can deliver 6K images. That translates to over 19 megapixels, which, of course, is ample for many situations. RED cameras with the DRAGON sensor can shoot up to 100 fps at 6K and much higher at other resolutions, and as long as you have the appropriate storage attached, the buffer is almost unlimited.

There's a lot of chatter about photographers being replaced by video shooters who can simply shoot constantly and then pull the still frames from the motion stream. It's not quite that simple. Yes, you can pull any still frame from a RED camera's motion stream, and if you're shooting with a DRAGON sensor, it will be a 19-megapixel still. However, just because it's high resolution, that doesn't mean it's going to be sharp without pairing that with proper camera technique.

For motion projects, filmmakers typically select a shutter angle (analogous to shutter speed) that will give a little softness to the footage. Slight blurs from frame to frame give the viewer a sense of fluid motion. You can pull a 19-megapixel still frame from such a stream, and it will have a slight motion blur, which may not be acceptable. If you want sharp, high-res still images, you need to shoot the motion footage like you're working with a regular still camera and set your shutter accordingly. The trade-off is that the footage may not look right as a motion clip. A RED camera can give you the best of both worlds as long as you have it set up properly.

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