Taking a high-quality still requires exceptional equipment, and when you’re shooting a series of these stills, the demand on your equipment grows exponentially. Everything in the image chain has to be streamlined, from camera to capture.
Cameras. Andrew Kornylak recommends at least 7 fps image capture. Most current DSLRs top off around the 5 fps mark, but there are a select group of cameras that go above and beyond. With Canon, you’re looking at either the EOS-1D Mark IV or EOS-1D Mark III, both with up to a 10 fps burst mode for up to 121 or 110 full-resolution JPEG images, respectively (or 28 or 30 RAW files). The Canon EOS 7D offers 8 fps continuous shooting for up to 126 JPEGs or 15 RAW images.
The Nikon D3S can rack up to 82 large JPEGs or 35 uncompressed 14-bit NEF RAW files in 9 fps at full FX resolution. It also can be set for faster shooting at 12-bits, with a DX crop mode that will amp burst rate up to a blazing 11 fps. Its predecessor, the Nikon D3, also offers 9 fps in FX mode and 11 fps in DX mode, with up to 130 continuous fine/medium JPEG frames, while the sub-full-frame DX-format D300S offers up to 7 fps.
Sony’s sub-full-frame Alpha DSLR-A550 camera includes up to 7 fps shooting when using the optical viewfinder in Speed Priority Mode.
Memory Cards. All of these cameras (except for the Canon EOS 7D) have dual memory card slots, and it’s a good thing because rapid-fire sequences fill up your cards very quickly. Today, top-of-the-line memory cards top off at the 64 GB mark, with plenty of affordable models at the 32 GB level. You need very fast cards with exceptional read and write capabilities to keep up with your camera’s buffer.
Current champs include the 100 MB/s transfer rate of Hoodman’s RAW 16 GB CF card and 90 MB/s with SanDisk’s Extreme Pro CF cards and Lexar’s Professional 32 GB series.