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Q&A on D90's video mode

sorin

RO
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sorin Registered since 06th Sep 2007
Fri 29-Aug-08 09:02 AM | edited Fri 29-Aug-08 09:06 AM by sorin

video will get lots of attention in the near future. here's a small list for beginners to get started. i expect endless threads.
feel free to ask. if i know i'll answer (no expert here but i'll help)

- is this a gadget or a useful thing?
- it depends on who you are. if you record your birthday or your vacation it's a gadget. keep your handycam near. if you are looking for a way to record video with shallow dof, low light and professional lenses you'll be happy. just keep in mind that if you don't like d90 there are 2 strange optios: first is to build or buy a 35mm adaptor to mount on your camcorder (which will affect video quality and sensor size is stil tiny tiny) or buy a Red One $18k body.

- how about that 5min limit? why 24 fps? just mono?
- 24fps is film frame rate. 24fps with dof and lenses is as hollywood as possible. 5 min limit could be an issue with long events but amateur film makers won't do takes longer than that. mono sound or no sound at all won't matter. even if you are a reporter you can record sound like it's supposed to be recorded, externally. so get your mp3 player, minidisc recorder, portable recorder, you name it and use a good mic.

- it won't AF on video. isn't this bad?
- it is for you birthday but at a semi-pro or pro level AF isn't used. do you see movies with the AF jumping up and down? even more you get the best focus ring possible, not the tiny ring or the little wheel camcorders have.

- d90's video function seems more limited than on my camcorder. why?
- not exactly apple to apple here. it's not a replacement for your camcorder. you can use it as you use your p&s movie mode but you can also use it like a $18-25k equipment.

- what other limitations it may have? what should i know?
- we'll have to see in a few days after release but in general cmos sensors are better today than ccd sensors yet if you check which camcorders use cmos you'll see that other than Red One no other pro-level camcorder uses cmos. sony canon use cmos for consumer or prosumer camcorders, ccd for pro level. why? cmos has a current limitation when you shoot fast moving camera scenes. it saves data from top to bottom, on multiple channels but not as a whole image instantly like ccd does. if you shake it, run with it, or anything fast you may notice a jelly-like effect. technical term is rolling shutter effect. it's not just that sometimes you can see it but it also doesn't allow special effects like 3d tracking. nikon had to use a cmos since d90 is a dslr not a video camera. photo camera first, the rest later.

- so all cmos video has this?
- all. from the $500-700 camcorder up to the $18k body Red One. google this: "HV20 rolling shutter" or "HV20 wobble". lots of movies available as samples on youtube. you can see wobble on Red's sample movies too. check the war movie on their website. when it shakes it does the jelly.

- can it be removed?
- no. there is no way of doing that at the present time. there are plans for a "global shutter" but it wasn't implemented yet on a camera.

- can it be reduced?
- sure. try a VR lens if you need to move the camera a lot. for static scenes keep it on a tripod, a monopod or build or buy a cheap steadicam. better google for "diy steadicam". anything that would reduce vibration will help. you may have noticed that not all hollywood movies are shot "black hawk down"-style so it won't be a problem. Red One has less of this effect but you start to understand where the $20k goes. and it also doesn't use a 12mp sensor.

- i can see this on my hd canon hv20/30 or hd sony handycam but it seems less visible. why?
- it may be less visible. if you record progressive mode 25p on hv20 it'll be very visible. if you do interlaced it'll be less. interlaced means you don't have full frame after full frame after full frame. you get a frame made of odd lines and next is even lines. so you save faster the cmos at 50i or 60i fps. also your hv20 doesn't have a 12mp sensor to save 24 times a second.

- how about movie size? mjpeg does huge movies.
- the bigger they are the better. mjpeg is the best option. if you want mpeg2 or avchd you're asking the wrong thing. you won't be able to do color correction, keying or any post-production work as good as with a less compressed video like mjpeg. it'll also add cost for an encoding chip.

- so d90's video is limited or advanced?
- 100% advanced. as d90 isn't an entry-level camera its video mode isn't p&s/handycam style. the more you know about cinematography the more you'll like the dof and the lens option. i expect great pro-level home made movies in the near future with d90 (or with other similar dslr with video mode that may appear, nikon or not). this is a new type of movie never seen before in a $1k device.

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