Tag Archives: video

Sony a99 II: No C-AF in manual video?

15 Feb

Here’s the relevant section of Kai Man Wong’s review of the a99 II, discussing its video capabilities, the f/3.5 caveat, and the missing option to have continuous autofocus when video exposure is set manually:

 

I take my hat off to Kai for delivering a more thorough review of this camera, and in a shorter space of time, than other frequented outlets.

Panoramic video is a thing now

4 Aug
The V.360 panoramic video camera

The V.360 panoramic video camera

I recently mentioned the Giroptic 360 degree camera which also does video. There are two new cameras to now add to that list. Most similar to the Giroptic is the VSN Mobil V.360 which is shock-proof, water-proof to 1m, dust-proof and vibration-proof and can be mounted on anything GoPro compatible. Its 16 megapixel sensor outputs 6.5k by 1080 video. It seems these dimensions were chosen to ensure smooth streaming or download to an Android or iOS device. It’s speculated to go for 500 USD when it becomes available (officially October).

The CENTR panoramic video camera

The CENTR panoramic video camera

The CENTR might have been a rather different beast if it had reached its Kickstarter funding goal. It’s donut-shaped, and the idea is to stick your thumb up through the hole and press on the ring to activate. Again compatible with tripod and GoPro mounts, and with a waterproof casing planned as an add-on, it captures 20 megapixel photos or 7.5k by 1080 video. Based on the samples provided, I wouldn’t get too excited about the image quality in this one, though. The team is supposedly composed of ex-Apple guys, and the fact that they seem to be using their own definition of what 4k video is seems to fit that idea. I would have guessed Kickstarter patrons would be partial towards Apple, but maybe name-checking wasn’t enough this time. The team wrote on May 29th that they would soldier on, but they haven’t surfaced since. Overconfidence might have been a factor.

Affordable DSLR that works great with video – or rather something else?

5 May

Someone recently asked about buying their first DSLR when their main interest is sports photography and video, at the entry level price-wise. The question also included Canon and Nikon as examples. I’ll try and answer that question here.

First things first – currently, all entry level DSLRs are capable of “professional” quality output. There may be specific applications where these cameras will not be competitive, but image quality is not typically a major problem.

Having said that, Canon is currently lagging behind in sensor technology, with higher noise levels and lower dynamic range. This will also limit the amount of light you need to take “reasonable” photographs, regardless of what personal criteria you may set for considering your output “reasonable”.

However, Canon is also generally held to be the better choice for video. The major challenges for video in a DSLR camera are continuous autofocus and noiseless operation (in terms of auditory noise). Panasonic is generally regarded as having the best video features, but they don’t currently sell any true SLR cameras, but rather opt for the mirrorless format, where your preview is indirect through the rear display or an electronic viewfinder (EVF). This may mean that your view of the scene is delayed, so it’s worth checking out reviews that have tested for this.

Principally, the characteristics of photographic output will feature again when recording video, so a camera with good dynamic range (DR) in still image output will also usually have high DR in video. This would be a considerable benefit from using a relatively affordable pro camera such as a Pentax K-5 or K-5 II. Remember that all DSLR cameras currently in production include HD video as an output option at upwards of 24 frames per second, so you won’t need to worry about that too much.

I will, however, add two more points for consideration. You should look not only at frame rates and resolutions when judging video, but also at the compression used. This will tell you how much you’ll spend on memory cards and hard disks to accommodate the length of filming you’re interested in, and it will also tell you whether there are situations where artefacts will show up in your movies. My experience comparing H.264 vs. Motion JPEG suggests that artefacts will occur with fast movement or sudden changes of lighting in the H.264 format, but will be absent from Motion JPEG. However, Motion JPEG will generate huge files by comparison which you should factor into your budget.

In terms of features, you should consider whether you’ll want to do time lapse or high speed video – for high speed in particular, there are no viable workarounds, so you’ll need a camera that can already do this. For time lapse capture, clunky external features may be required on various cameras including current Canon models.

Remember also that there are affordable video devices such as the GoPro Hero set of cameras that in a lot of ways, may be more flexible and fun than a big SLR setup, as well as all-in-one solutions such as Panasonic’s rather affordable FZ200, a superzoom bridge with plenty of video features. What a DSLR camera gives you is the ability to swap lenses, but each new lens will cost as much or more as a new or fairly new compact or bridge camera. If you think you have the discipline to stick with one camera and get really good at using it, then try leaning towards a DSLR, but if you think you’ll always want to keep up with the latest imaging technology, you’ll be far better off cost-wise looking at superzooms.

Eventually, only you can know whether your interest in video is strong enough to merit a choice of Panasonic over Canon, or whether even Pentax or Nikon might be viable choices due to the higher photo output quality, or whether you’ll want to pursue an alternate adventure with a GoPro-type camera or a compact/superzoom.