It wasn’t so very long ago that youwould have a camera for stills and a camcorder for video. Today’s typical digital camera is likely to be a very capable and highly featured video camera, too. If you haven’t explored video yet, now’s a great time to start…
THE CANON EOS 5DMark II came out over a decade ago and if you want a shining example of a groundbreaking camera, this was it. Yes, it was an impressive full-frame camera with a raft of great features, but what made this camera so popular – and not just among still photographers – was its video skills. You could record 12 minutes of Full HD 1080p movie footage via live view. Being able to shoot video on a full-frame sensor with Canon’s huge supporting lens system proved compelling, and it was cheap to the point of being disposable
in the context of commercial video. Its huge success is why almost every still camera since has come out with video capabilities. Of course, now, most recent cameras shoot 4K, and if you take the forthcoming Canon EOS R5 as a guide, 8K is around the corner. The convergence of still and video in cameras is such now that ‘hybrid’ is a word we are going to hear a lot. So, it is very likely you have a camera that can shoot video. It is also very likely you may have pushed the video record button a few times but haven’t really gotten much further,
because you weren’t impressed with the results. If still photography is your primary love, that’s no surprise – and you won’t be alone. Perhaps all you need is a guiding hand, so over the next three issues, we’ll be offering advice on how you can get more from your camera’s video mode and how it can mesh with your still shooting. We start this month with camera set-up, followed next issue by which accessories you need and then some core techniques you need to produce enjoyable and watchable videos.
ABOVE This is the rear monitor of the Sigma fp, the world's smallest full-frame camera, and a model that's well suited to the needs of experienced video shooters
Autofocus effectiveness, especially with live view and face/eye detection, is improving all the time and what the very latest cameras are capable of is remarkable, even compared with cameras that are a couple of years old. For stills, unless you’re shooting fast action, you’ll often depend on single-shot AF and single zone, where you place the focus spot on the subject and take the shot when focus is achieved. In video, continuous AF with all zones active (so a large portion of the image is covered) is a good way to go. If you have face/eye detect, it is worth trying and, if you have it, touch AF lets you control what the camera focuses on quickly and precisely. Staying sharp
Resolution matters Go into the video set-up menu and you’ll see a list of figures – and the higher spec the camera, the longer the list. Most current models have 4K or UHD (3840x2160 pixels) and virtually all of them will have the options of Full HD (1920x1080) and HD (1280x720) in 16:9 widescreen ratio, the aspect ratio of computer monitors and television. There is another 4K standard that a few stills cameras (ie FujifilmX-T4 and Olympus OM-D EM1 Mark III) also have and that is DCI 4K, also called Cinema 4K or C4K. This is 4096x2160 with a 19:10 aspect ratio, so wider than 4K. You’re just starting your video journey, so the 16:9 aspect ratio is the way to go, but whether you go UHD or Full HD is largely governed by your end goal and how hard you want to work. Full HD involves smaller files, has more shooting options, including slow motion, and still looks great That said, if you have 4K, use it, and this also gives more editing options – cropping for example. Of course, your final edited project can be exported into smaller versions if it’s destined for Full HD or web use.
Touch AF even lets you focus pull easily, where you alter focus from one part of the scene to another to change the centre of attention. If you don’t have touch AF, you can do the same manually with a bit of practice. ABOVE The latest mirrorless cameras have most of the image frame covered in autofocus points and features like face/eye (and even subject) detect and tracking tomake video shooting easier than ever. This is a view of the Canon EOS M6 Mark II's monitor
ABOVE Top-end cameras have pro video functions, such as you see here on the FujifilmX -T4, which has F-Log/HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma), which gives increased dynamic range
The more advanced the camera, the more video features on offer. That’s no surprise, of course, and while experienced and pro video makers will care about the difference between MOV and MP4, want F-Log or 4:2:2 as opposed to 4:2:0 and need a camera with a clean HDMI output, right now you’re learning, so you don’t need to. Formats and acronyms
This is the number of frames your camera records for every second of video footage, which, depending on the camera, includes 23.98p, 24p, 25p, 29.97p, 30p, 50p, 60p, 100p, 120p and 240p. Feature films use 24p, so use this if you prefer a cinematic look. In the UK, 25p gives a more natural motion, 30fps is smoother and less cinematic, and for action (like people walking) try 50p or 60p. For slowmotion, try
50p and play it back at 50% speed – one second of 50fps footage is two seconds played back at 25fps. For awesome slow-motion effects, switch to Full HD and use frame rates of 100p and above. The Canon Powershot G7XMark III has a top Full HD rate of 120fps, while the Panasonic Lumix S1 has a slomo rate of 180fps and that’s in full-frame. The Panasonic Lumix GH5S offers 240fps at Full HD.
ABOVE This is the menu from the new Fujifilm X-T4, the first in the X-T series with in-body image stabilisation and a new greater capacity battery. It boasts an impressive line-up of video features, including C4K, 4K and Full HD up to 240fps
ABOVE A typical camera with a decent set of video features will offer a range of frame rates. This is the menu of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III
16 Photography News | Issue 77
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