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Author Topic: The Convergence of Still Photography and Video  (Read 16117 times)
Steven Draper
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« on: May 06, 2008, 07:27:03 AM »
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I also think that not only is it about technology, it is about demand and market advantage. I think that more and more people are wanting "movement" as part of their "experience" of image work.

Not trying to detract from wonderful still photography, it still has an important place and always will, but for some applications the ability to present quality stills and film from, captured from the same camera will be brilliant.

Of course it will be down to vision of the person behind the camera, and how its edited, but I'm very excited about the future.

Thanks Michael for highlighting these products.
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Quentin
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« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2008, 08:18:35 AM »
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I only hope that there will still be room for the contemplative, careful photographer who spends time to take a single frame or a few frames.  In the right hands, I don't doubt the new convergent technology will be hugely useful.  It's the weekend equipment geek hosing down a scene at 100fps that fills me with dread

And will wedding photographers ever again have an excuse why they did not capture that "magic moment" that Aunt Mabel so clearly remembers but which nowhere appears in the wedding album???

Quentin
« Last Edit: May 06, 2008, 08:22:34 AM by Quentin » Logged

Quentin Bargate, ARPS, Author, photographer entrepreneur and senior partner of Bargate Murray, Law Firm of the Year 2013
chrisn
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« Reply #2 on: May 06, 2008, 10:27:27 AM »
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I am a sports photographer, so this is an issue I've been interested in for some time. Obviously my fear is that once the skill of timing an action photo is obsolete, then the market would be given over to anyone who can point a video camera's lens, and the subsequent footage would be mined for high-quality stills. As, of course, Michael suggests in this article.

However, as of now I still see two obstacles to that fear becoming reality:

1) Shooting at 100 fps, or even 30 fps, would produce an awful lot of high-res images to sort through. Even when I was shooting the 8 fps of the Nikon F5, I hardly ever did rapid-fire photography at sports events (I shoot mostly pro tennis). The reason was that that strategy produced mostly junk. I found that if I was selective about my shooting and skillful with my timing, I'd end the day with just as many good photos, but with much less work to do weeding through the bad stuff. (Not to mention that I felt better, as an artist.)

The analogy isn't exact, but it makes my point: If I spend a six-hour day shooting stills at a tennis tournament, I'll end up with about a thousand photos to sort through. Shooting video at just 30 fps, even selectively, I'd end up with tens, maybe hundreds, of thousands. Which batch would you rather sort through? On deadline, which batch would you rather HAVE to sort through quickly?

I understand that advancing technology will make that issue easier to deal with, and might even, someday, make that latter task somewhat palatable. But my second point is an even bigger hurdle.

2) Marketing restrictions. Major league sports events get a lot of their money from TV rights. And the TV networks that pay for those rights ban others from making video of the games. In fact, the restriction against shooting video is listed right in the terms of the credential applications.

I saw this in effect first-hand a couple years ago. I was shooting at the US Open tennis tournament, and the photographer in the pit next to me was asked to leave because he was using a still camera that had video capability. He wasn't shooting video -- he was just using a camera that looked like it could.

In that environment, it's impossible to imagine the pit filled with a hundred photographers aiming video cameras at the athletes. The TV network paying tens or hundreds of millions dollars is not going to allow scores of world media outlets to shoot video of those events.

This is an issue that might change as technology transforms the market; perhaps if every photographer one day shoots video to obtain stills, then maybe the TV networks will be forced to make a concession (surely with hefty legal penalties for misappropriation). But the financial interest on the networks' part will slow that change very dramatically. It would take a long, long time for them to let that happen.
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Steven Draper
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« Reply #3 on: May 06, 2008, 11:02:30 AM »
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I think stills that are captured as today, a single moment in time, are very different to moving images and will have a place in the future. Just as Black and white images and film still have an important place in the digital, colourful world of today.

To be noticed a still image needs to have a "lot more" than moving visuals do. (at the moment)  But I believe a still image offers a bigger window for the viewer to explore or experience elements and emotions that go beyond what can be seen. I always maintain, It's not what I can see in a "still image," its where the image takes my mind that differentiates the great from the good. Moving visuals can do it for me at the very very highest end, but not so often.

But there are times when having the ability to produce both simultaneously would be advantages, if you know what your doing, both in things like weddings, sport, wildlife etc and artistically.

It will impact with things like stop motion filming, a lot of which is carried out with still cameras and also stitched images which may become easier. (not saying that makes them better!)
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James R Russell
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« Reply #4 on: May 06, 2008, 11:20:45 AM »
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I am a sports photographer, so this is an issue I've been interested in for some time. Obviously my fear is that once the skill of timing an action photo is obsolete, then the market would be given over to anyone who can point a video camera's lens, and the subsequent footage would be mined for high-quality stills. As, of course, Michael suggests in this article.

However, as of now I still see two obstacles to that fear becoming reality:

1) Shooting at 100 fps, or even 30 fps, would produce an awful lot of high-res images to sort through. Even when I was shooting the 8 fps of the Nikon F5, I hardly ever did rapid-fire photography at sports events (I shoot mostly pro tennis). The reason was that that strategy produced mostly junk. I found that if I was selective about my shooting and skillful with my timing, I'd end the day with just as many good photos, but with much less work to do weeding through the bad stuff. (Not to mention that I felt better, as an artist.)

The analogy isn't exact, but it makes my point: If I spend a six-hour day shooting stills at a tennis tournament, I'll end up with about a thousand photos to sort through. Shooting video at just 30 fps, even selectively, I'd end up with tens, maybe hundreds, of thousands. Which batch would you rather sort through? On deadline, which batch would you rather HAVE to sort through quickly?

I understand that advancing technology will make that issue easier to deal with, and might even, someday, make that latter task somewhat palatable. But my second point is an even bigger hurdle.

2) Marketing restrictions. Major league sports events get a lot of their money from TV rights. And the TV networks that pay for those rights ban others from making video of the games. In fact, the restriction against shooting video is listed right in the terms of the credential applications.

I saw this in effect first-hand a couple years ago. I was shooting at the US Open tennis tournament, and the photographer in the pit next to me was asked to leave because he was using a still camera that had video capability. He wasn't shooting video -- he was just using a camera that looked like it could.

In that environment, it's impossible to imagine the pit filled with a hundred photographers aiming video cameras at the athletes. The TV network paying tens or hundreds of millions dollars is not going to allow scores of world media outlets to shoot video of those events.

This is an issue that might change as technology transforms the market; perhaps if every photographer one day shoots video to obtain stills, then maybe the TV networks will be forced to make a concession (surely with hefty legal penalties for misappropriation). But the financial interest on the networks' part will slow that change very dramatically. It would take a long, long time for them to let that happen.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=193833\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


This is a very sensitive subject and both sides of the isle are going to be very passionate in their responses.

Personally, my heart and soul and a major part of my life investment is in still photography and I'd be quite happy if every lcd and crt screen in the world just blanked out, like some M. Night Shyamalan movie.

It would improve my standing and my bottom line and I'd bet at that point print editorial would pay a hell of a lot more money.

The thing is that's not going to happen.  Steve Jobs is not going to roll up I tunes and make it music only, You tube will only expand and don't think for a moment people aren't in board rooms all over Hollywood and NY trying to find a way to make a buck off of all the new content that will be coming down the tube, or trying to find ways to protect their current income streams.

Yes, you are right, if you go into an NFL game or the Osaka Track and Field Event with a shoulder mount eng, the guards will snap it up and put it in storage, though they can't and won't stop the 75,000 people in the stands from running their still and video cell phones and casios and putting the content online 2 hours after the event.

That may not be legal, but it would take all of the lawyers in hell (a lot of lawyers) to track it down and and get it removed and once on the web, it seems nothing is ever removed.

Right now we are in the early stages of this and there are still a lot of obstacles keeping still and motion production apart, but if your a professional photographer it won't be long until your estimates have a section called moving imagery and whether you produce and shoot it or not is really not relative because it will be part of the process.

The trick to all of this is to find a way to make creative content that merges the two disciplines and as Michael points out, that ain't easy.  Just a small chipped 16x9 frame looks a hell of a lot different than a 645 medium format vertical and even if the two frame formats were identical, (which I guess it will all be horizontal someday), you still have to have a different mindset about moving vs. still.

Both are very compelling, but both require a different thought and though at the very high end Hollywood theatrical level the two will probably be separate for some time, in the advertising and editorial world they will merge faster than any of us think possible.

In the end someone, probably some high school kid is going to surprise all of us and shoot something that is beyond the traditional restraints of still or moving and once he/she appears on 12 dozen morning shows and gets a 40 million dollar deal with Warner Bros., then everybody is going to start buying a Casio or a Red.

Regardless of whether any of this comes to pass I do know one absolute truth.  My largest monthly hardware expense is not in paper, ink, cameras, lenses or lights.

It's in hard drives and server fees.

JR
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dalethorn
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« Reply #5 on: May 06, 2008, 12:54:50 PM »
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At the moment I'm shooting as many short videos as still pics, but I only edit the stills. I save the best video clips and file them by subject etc. Someday there may be a reason to work with some of the videos, but in any case, they make a handy reference library for certain things not covered by stills (particularly because of the add'l property of sound). My only gripe is I wish there were two shutter buttons for still and video, instead of a "mode" dial. With two shutter buttons, the operation would be nearly seamless.
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wolfnowl
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« Reply #6 on: May 06, 2008, 02:25:43 PM »
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I only hope that there will still be room for the contemplative, careful photographer who spends time to take a single frame or a few frames.  In the right hands, I don't doubt the new convergent technology will be hugely useful.  It's the weekend equipment geek hosing down a scene at 100fps that fills me with dread

Quote
Personally, my heart and soul and a major part of my life investment is in still photography and I'd be quite happy if every lcd and crt screen in the world just blanked out, like some M. Night Shyamalan movie.

The thing is that's not going to happen. Steve Jobs is not going to roll up I tunes and make it music only, You tube will only expand and don't think for a moment people aren't in board rooms all over Hollywood and NY trying to find a way to make a buck off of all the new content that will be coming down the tube, or trying to find ways to protect their current income streams.

Both very valid points.  I remember watching a movie some years ago with Martin Sheen and Richard Dreyfuss... 'The American President' IIRC.  In the movie there was an election going on and Richard Dreyfuss played a senator who was launching a barrage of personal attacks against the president (Martin Sheen), who said nothing in return.  I don't want to sidetrack this thread into a political debate, but there was a line in the movie where one of the president's aides told him that the people of the country were so thirsty for a message from the president that in the vacuum they would 'drink the sand'.  And Martin Sheen's response was that the people would drink the sand because they didn't know the difference.

To Quentin, I'd like to think that people will always appreciate a quality image, no matter how it's captured or presented.  Since I don't make money from my images, photography to me is very different from those who do so professionally.  Shooting landscapes for me takes on a meditative aspect, it becomes a holistic experience that goes far beyond clicking the shutter.

As James pointed out, with YouTube and other streams we've become so inundated with content, much of it mediocre or worse, that we've come to expect this lack of quality as a new standard.  "Yes it's lousy, but it's all there is."  I don't believe that's true, but like a gold panner working a mined out claim, one has to sort through a lot of sand to find the few traces of gold hiding in there.  One thing for sure, this new technology is not going to go away.  We may welcome it or abhor it, but it's here to stay.  Our choice may be simply how to deal with it.  My stepson works in the movie industry, mostly doing rigging and lighting, but he's also done camera work for some independent films and is working his way to be a director of photography some day.  He has several hundred feet of 16mm film but is thinking of selling his camera and lenses because there's so little demand for it anymore.

Mike.
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TaoMaas
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« Reply #7 on: May 06, 2008, 04:39:16 PM »
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However, as of now I still see two obstacles to that fear becoming reality:

1) Shooting at 100 fps, or even 30 fps, would produce an awful lot of high-res images to sort through. [a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=193833\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


I suspect it'll be easier than it might seem because you won't be looking at each and every one of those frames.  For sports, you'll scroll through until you find the part of the action you want, then step through just those frames where the peak of the action is captured.
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James R Russell
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« Reply #8 on: May 06, 2008, 04:49:40 PM »
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I suspect it'll be easier than it might seem because you won't be looking at each and every one of those frames.  For sports, you'll scroll through until you find the part of the action you want, then step through just those frames where the peak of the action is captured.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=193948\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


For a learning experience only, I've taken a few 1 minute high def video clips and scrolled through them as if I was editing a still session and it's alot easier than any web browser, dam system, or post processor I've used for editing.

In fact it's so bloody easy it's silly and though I don't know if I'll ever be a fan of handing over 120 fps to a client, I'll bet you anything the client will like it.

Now once again, don't take this as I've tossed away my still cameras and am now ready to shoot only video.

That's just not an option for what I do and what my clients expect, but if there were 100 fps still cameras and the "take" was in one singular scrollable clip like a quick time movie, man or man would the editing be easy.

JR
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Peter McLennan
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« Reply #9 on: May 06, 2008, 10:26:01 PM »
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My stepson works in the movie industry, mostly doing rigging and lighting, but he's also done camera work for some independent films and is working his way to be a director of photography some day.  He has several hundred feet of 16mm film but is thinking of selling his camera and lenses because there's so little demand for it anymore.

Mike.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=193898\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
I'm a former film DP.  I worked for several decades on features and TV out of Vancouver.  If your stepson can still sell the camera, I'd advise him to do so.  Just as in still photography, in the motion media world, film has a limited future.

The singular advantage film has over digital media is it's accessibility over time.  Big budget producers still prefer film due to it's capability as an archival storage medium.  Who knows if some reader technology will be available to decipher current codecs in 2050?  I'm sure many of us have Zip disks, Bernoulli disks and Syquest tape carts that are useless now.
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John Camp
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« Reply #10 on: May 06, 2008, 11:42:28 PM »
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Convergence cameras are obviously on the way, but I think they'll mostly be used for amateur shoots and in a very limited way for professional stuff; in other words, they won't be that big a deal.

If you look at a movie while it's being made, you'll notice that there's a lot more machinery around than cameras -- it's not there because the cameraman or director likes machinery, it's there because they need it. They need dollies, lights, incredibly high-quality zooms that can costs tens of thousands of dollars, and on and on.

Without it, you get a film that might look something like the Blair Witch Project, which was big in its time, but that hasn't been often replicated (I know about Cloverfield) because people generally like steady horizons, consistent lighting, high-quality sound, etc. You perhaps could plug a generalist machine like a DSLR into that, and somebody probably will, but machines become specialized for a reason -- specialized machines are usually better for a specialized job.

Take weight. Weight doesn't mean as much in a movie camera as it does in a still camera, because a movie camera is almost always going to be mounted on a dolly, to smooth out or lift or twist the shot; that won't change because the camera is a DSLR -- you'll still have to make those moves. But because you *can* have the weight, then you can build in all kinds of other stuff into the camera -- electronic enhancements that you wouldn't have room for, or a weight allowance for, in a DSLR. Even armor, to protect the memory and lenses.

So, convergence will probably mean most to amateurs who want one camera instead of two, and people like wedding photographers and fashion people who need a quick cut of a runway presentation, where the lighting is fixed and the point of view is narrow and unmoving. They'll also be good (if the frame quality can be maintained) for people who are shooting action, but just want to clip a frame (sports photographers, wildlife guys.)

But serious movie/video cameras will remain as specialized machines.

There are some objections to convergence cameras that I really don't think are that serious as problems -- quantity of footage being one of them. If you shoot a sports event or a wedding and you're looking for a sequence or even a single frame, I suspect you'll just look at a computer screen, with the film running at (say) two or three times normal speed, and when you need to pick a sequence, you'll just click it with a hand clicker made for the purpose, to mark the sequence. You will also be able to mark sequences as you shoot them. That kind of thing will be worked out quickly, I think.



JC
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #11 on: May 07, 2008, 12:19:55 AM »
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Think of Ansel Adams,

Extreme quality is still appreciated! But extreme quality is not for everyday pictures.

On the other hand, how many really large prints do we do that are intended for critical viewing? I'm not a pro, having photo just as a hobby, but I have quite a few stitched panoramas, like 20kx4k, they are very hard to show. I have a few pictures printed in 70x100 cm from 67 Velvia, they look gorgeous. I have place for about 5 of those in my living room...

I still think that motion and still photography are different. Sometimes obviously not much different.  Lets say sports, you can capture the action at it's peak with a well made still photo. If you can shoot 30 or 60 FPS at high res I guess that you are guaranteed to have both peak action and fluent motion. So here the technologies converge.

If you are photographing a vista you would probaby do some zooming in and panning in video, while when shooting still the aim would be a single well composed picture telling the whole story.

One issue, I have shot a lot of "semi panoramics" recently. I really enjoy doing this, but it's more like engineering than art.

You find your motiv, that's art.

- Mount pano head
- Set level
- Find correct exposure
- Shoot a lot of pictures with overlap

There is not a lot of art in this, it's more craftmanship.

The panoroma is then merged, tonally corrected and cropped. Still more craftmanship than art.

Finally we present it, the best way I have found is to present it as a movie, with zooms in and out and panning across. Much like it would have been done with movie equipment.

Erik


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I only hope that there will still be room for the contemplative, careful photographer who spends time to take a single frame or a few frames.  In the right hands, I don't doubt the new convergent technology will be hugely useful.  It's the weekend equipment geek hosing down a scene at 100fps that fills me with dread

And will wedding photographers ever again have an excuse why they did not capture that "magic moment" that Aunt Mabel so clearly remembers but which nowhere appears in the wedding album???

Quentin
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« Reply #12 on: May 07, 2008, 05:46:19 AM »
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Convergence cameras are obviously on the way, but I think they'll mostly be used for amateur shoots and in a very limited way for professional stuff; in other words, they won't be that big a deal.

[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=194027\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

John, I understand what you are saying, however, the example given is too narrow a definition of professional in the convergence market.

There is plenty of scope for a converged camera within a professional environment. Consider markets such as online sales (e-bay, amazon, etc...) where a short 30 second film of an object/demonstration conveys so much more information than a still image every can. Is the person making this no less professional (or in need of lighting, composition and directing skills) than a feature film director?

An often quoted example in the convergence space is journalism - whether that is citizen journalism where everyday people capture events on their cellphone camera (still or moving), or 'professional' photographers making syndicated still and moving images for newspaper/print, web, broadcast news, blogs and online newsclips.

The success of a convergence camera will depend less on its fine art capabilities and more on its ability to meet real world needs in communication.
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #13 on: May 07, 2008, 06:15:25 AM »
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The success of a convergence camera will depend less on its fine art capabilities and more on its ability to meet real world needs in communication.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=194091\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I think that it will also depend heavily on the availability of light and easy to use viscous tripod heads enabling simple 2 axis smooth paning while retaining a form factor close to what photographers are willing to carry around alone.

Cheers,
Bernard
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dalethorn
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« Reply #14 on: May 07, 2008, 07:48:53 AM »
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What's missing in these estimations of limits with amateur cameras for the future is items like stabilization.  Stabilization was not available in the old days and so amateurs with handhelds got unprofessional-looking video. In the future, amateur cameras will be able to pan, zoom, and so on much as if they were on a professional film platform.
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« Reply #15 on: May 07, 2008, 09:39:01 AM »
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Good morning:

Received a link to the following:

http://download334.mediafire.com/gfmxjjojt.../SDredvs.35.mov

from my son this morning - warning, it's a 39MB download.  The audio doesn't seem to work, but it's a comparison between the RED camera and 35mm film.  More than that I can't tell you.  Here's Chris' comment:

"interesting that film has over 5 stops and the red has under three.
also on a 64:1 lens the red has HUGE depth of field, everything is in focus!!"

Mike.

P.S.  I wasn't sure whether to post this on this thread or the one on the RED camera, so I'll add it to both...
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« Reply #16 on: May 07, 2008, 05:04:45 PM »
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That link comes up w/ an error for me.
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #17 on: May 07, 2008, 07:13:16 PM »
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What's missing in these estimations of limits with amateur cameras for the future is items like stabilization.  Stabilization was not available in the old days and so amateurs with handhelds got unprofessional-looking video. In the future, amateur cameras will be able to pan, zoom, and so on much as if they were on a professional film platform.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=194103\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Well, maybe, but my view is that pro looking paning and zooming is next to impossible done handheld. I have tried extensively with various levels of full HD video cams recently, and it is really hard. All these cameras (Canon and Sony) did of course feature the latest VR technology , but it only helps to a certain extend.

The only thing that really helps are inertial devices, but these work thanks to their... weight...

In my view good tripod heads are the only option, but anyone having used a video tripod + viscous head knows that these devices can currently not realistically be carried in the field by a single person. This becomes a team work.

Regards,
Bernard
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« Reply #18 on: May 07, 2008, 11:38:14 PM »
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That link comes up w/ an error for me.
[{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Try this one: [a href=\"http://www.mediafire.com/?cymm9gneepj]http://www.mediafire.com/?cymm9gneepj[/url]  You can click on the link to the .mov file from there.

Mike.
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« Reply #19 on: May 08, 2008, 04:53:06 AM »
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In my view good tripod heads are the only option, but anyone having used a video tripod + viscous head knows that these devices can currently not realistically be carried in the field by a single person. This becomes a team work.

[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=194269\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Not sure where you are coming from on this one Bernard. I have a tilt pan video tripod with viscous resistance to give smooth movements as you describe. It is marginally heavier than my photo tripods and a bit bulkier (principly because it is designed to carry a much heavier load) but not so heavy/bulky that it isn't transportable (with camera) by one person.

If the market for convergence cameras takes off then the market for supports and accessories will develop as a matter of course.
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