Pitfalls of filming digital cameras

Nowadays, when fountain pens that can shoot HD video plow store shelves, the camcorder has long evolved from luxury to necessity. But just starting a separate device solely for shooting video may seem uncomfortable to many. Can a modern camera replace a camcorder?

Cameras vs camcorders

Let's agree: we will only compare devices that are close in price and not oriented to professional use.

If you have already tried to compare the video shot with a camera and a video camera of about the same price category, you probably noticed an amazing feature: the camera shoots video much better.

From the technical point of view, everything is simple: the main parameter that affects the quality of the image is the size of the sensor. And digital cameras have a much larger sensor than camcorders.

Does this mean that the choice is obvious? Not. In addition to picture quality, there are many pitfalls that you should remember before buying.

Image quality.With this item we are almost sorted out. Video cameras are inferior in quality to cameras. This is especially noticeable in low light conditions, such as indoors. The vast majority of soap dishes have a matrix with a diagonal of 1 / 2.3 ". The sensors of entry-level cameras are much more modest: from 1/6" to 1/3 ".

Ergonomics.Everything is more complicated here. You have to hold the camera with both hands in front of you, and the video camera with one hand bent at the elbow. Contrary to popular belief, this does not reduce shaking, but it allows you to shoot much longer, as your hands get tired less. Using a tripod eliminates this difference. In addition, almost all camcorders are equipped with a rotary display, which greatly simplifies shooting from non-standard angles. Immediately mention should be made of additional buttons that allow more flexible control over the video recording process. Cameras also have buttons for quick access to the basic functions, but they are focused (surprise!) On photography.

SettingsCamcorders boast a large number of settings: from bit rate and aspect ratio to sound quality. Soap dishes most often allow you to choose only the frame size, sometimes - bitrate. But DSLRs and mirrorless ones offer wider possibilities of picture control: almost the same as those used for photography.

Sound. Typically, camcorders are equipped with better and more functional microphones, sometimes even with the ability to record five-channel sound. More expensive models of video and cameras have a jack for connecting an external microphone, which equalizes their capabilities.

ZoomWhen compared with cameras, all video cameras can be classified as ultrasounds. At the same time, the zoom control is much more flexible, the zoom speed depends on the force of pressing the lever, the sound of the drive is almost never heard on the recording. Cameras cannot boast of such amenities. If the drive is electric, the zoom sound is often discernible on the recording. Apparently, therefore, some cameras do not allow you to use it during movie shooting. And if the zoom is mechanical, then using it when recording is most often impossible at all: it is very difficult to smoothly rotate the ring and it is completely impossible to do this continuously. The situation is fundamentally changing with the acquisition of a special lens for video shooting, which, however, costs a fortune.

Stabilization.When shooting handheld, stabilization is vital, unless the goal is to get a blurry and jumping image. Most cheap cameras are equipped with electronic stabilization, which eliminates jitter, but does not save from blur. In more expensive models, optical stabilization.

Recording time.Cameras have an unpleasant limitation: the video recording time in HD mode does not exceed 30 minutes, so as not to overlap with the class of cameras and avoid additional taxation. For some cameras, there are hacker firmware that removes this limitation. Still, all kinds of cameras suffer from the maximum file size limit in FAT32. But if most cameras simply stop recording when the file size reaches 4 GB, then camcorders create a new file without interrupting recording. A large sensor can serve as an additional source of problems: during long-term video recording, it overheats and recording stops. This problem is observed in most DSLRs and mirrorless cameras (but not in soap dishes), for example, in the entire Sony Nex model range.

Equipment.Most camcorders are equipped with an adapter for network operation, which is very useful for long-term video recording. You have to buy it separately for the camera.

File format. Cameras and camcorders can use different codecs to compress footage. The processor power is very important here: with the same bitrate, the video may have different quality depending on the applied codec and compression algorithms. Often in cheap cameras, the lack of processor power is compensated for by a huge bitrate.

What to choose?

If you choose a device for shooting video, then you probably already imagine how you will use it.

Video recording can be divided into two main types.

  1. Reporting. Weddings, feasts, matinees, concerts, reports - in a word, everything that cannot be repeated. Usually it does not require too high quality, the continuity and ease of shooting are more important here. Often takes place in rooms with poor lighting.
  2. Staged or artistic. Scripted shooting in previously known or prepared conditions. This is how commercials, clips, and author films are made. Since the conditions and plot of the shooting are determined by the operator, it can be repeated until everything works out in the best way. For this, high quality and the ability to manually configure anything and everything are important. Continuous shooting time usually does not exceed several minutes.

For reportage shooting, camcorders and soap cameras are best suited (if you are satisfied with the thirty-minute limit on the shooting time). Cameras have better picture quality, and camcorders are more convenient. But both are poorly filmed in dim lighting. Therefore, if the budget allows, you can take a closer look at mirrorless cameras that shoot video with the quality of DSLRs, but at the same time they are close to soap dishes in terms of ease of use. Panasonic mirrorless cameras generally behave like video cameras: they do not have all the restrictions on the time of continuous shooting, and if there are any, they are easily removed by hacker firmware.

For art or production shooting, the quality of soap dishes is clearly not enough, and serious video cameras are prohibitively expensive. Therefore, the best option would be a mirror or mirrorless. The difference between DSLRs and mirrorless ones in terms of video shooting is practically absent, so you should choose based on your budget and functional needs.


Let's see how shooting video looks on the example of several specific camera models.

The Canon SX130 IS is a very functional and affordable soap camera. Captures video in HD 720p: 1280x720, 30 frames per second, H.264 codec. It has twelvex zoom and an optical stabilizer - it would seem that everything that might be needed to shoot video.

But this is if you read the characteristics. In practice, everything is not so rosy. Due to the weak processor, which cannot provide high compression with acceptable picture quality, the bitrate is excessively inflated - up to 25 megabits per second. This leads to the fact that after 15 minutes the file size reaches 4 GB and shooting stops.

In addition, writing to a memory card a large amount of data consumes a lot of energy, and since the camera is powered by two finger batteries, they last for a very short time.

Autofocus is very annoying. The camera often refocuses even when it is not required at all.

The pluses include good stabilizer performance, decent sound quality, twelvex zoom and pocket sizes.

Sony DSC-HX1 is a pretty weighty and expensive ultra-soap dish. Shoots video in HDV 1080p format: 1440x1080, 30 frames per second, H.264 codec. Twentyfold zoom, optical stabilizer, folding display (can be rotated up and down). Of course, I would like to be able to twist it in all directions, but this is already very good.

The camera pleases with high quality of everything and everything (within reasonable limits, of course). It shoots videos perfectly, rarely misses with autofocus, the quality and detail of the picture in good light pleases the eye. When shooting indoors, noise in dark areas is clearly distinguishable. A powerful processor compresses video to 8 or 12 megabits per second to choose from. Moreover, the picture quality even with a lower bitrate is much higher than that of the Canon SX130 IS and is quite acceptable for viewing, but it may not be enough for editing. The microphone quality is a little disappointing: the lower part of the sound range is almost completely cut off.

If the continuous recording time in this camera were not limited to thirty minutes, it could be called the best choice for reportage shooting, when the quality requirements are not too high.

Panasonic Lumix GF2- mirrorless with a 4/3 "matrix size and a touch screen. Captures video in Full-HD 1080i format: 1920x1080, 50/60 frames per second, H.264 codec. Zoom and stabilization are determined by the lens used. Kit 14-42 provides optical stabilization and three-time zoom.

Use zoom during video recording is virtually impossible, and this function is needed during sequential shooting. camera zoom ring is difficult during the rotation to keep still, and the sound will be too sharp. Special lenses for shooting videos give much more POSSIBILITY but cost several times more than the camera itself.

But the video quality in low light is much better than that of the above models The camera also allows you to control most shooting settings:. ISO, shutter speed, aperture, etc.

There is also a fully automatic mode in which controlling the camera is almost as easy as a soap box. But still mirrorless requires more skill and attention from the user. For example, due to the shallower depth of field, autofocus misses (and they are not uncommon, even if the tracking autofocus is on) are much more noticeable, therefore, in many cases it is more efficient to use manual focus.

The camera records stereo sound of quite acceptable quality. But it is very noisy in the wind. If necessary, you can use an external microphone.

For this camera, as for most models of this line, there is an unofficial patch that removes many restrictions. For example, with its help, you can remove the thirty-minute limit for continuous recording or set the desired video bitrate.

Nikon D5100- SLR camera with a matrix of 23.6 x 15.6 mm and a rotatable display. It shoots video in Full-HD 1080p format: 1920x1080, 25/30 frames per second, H.264 codec.

The sensitivity of the matrix of this camera is enough even for evening shooting with decent quality. But the sound is not its strongest side, which, however, is easily compensated by an external microphone.

The camera has tracking autofocus, but its quality also leaves much to be desired. If shooting conditions allow, manual focus is preferred. In addition, the focus sound is often heard in the recording.

The device is unlikely to be suitable for sequential shooting because of the twenty-minute limit on continuous shooting. In rare cases, shooting may be stopped earlier due to overheating of the sensor.

But the camera can be used for artistic shooting. Here are just the maximum video bitrate is only 18 megabits per second, which for many may seem a little for editing.

Useful Tips

  • Try to choose a camera that supports recording video with a frame rate of a multiple of the frequency of the alternating current in the mains. Simply put, cameras that shoot video at 25 or 50 frames per second are better suited for shooting in Russia or Ukraine.
  • If the budget does not allow you to purchase the desired model of the camera or lens, look for them on the sites of free classified ads. It is amazing how much cheaper cameras are, having lost touch of novelty.
  • The tripod not only solves the problem of shaking, but also allows you to not notice the many flaws of the camera: inconvenient ergonomics, large mass, noisy stabilizer or its absence.
  • The larger the zoom, the less light gets into the lens. In low light, try to shoot at a minimum zoom, this will reduce the noise level of the picture.
  • If the video is shot mainly “for the story” and its editing is not expected, choose a camera that records video with a low bit rate. Otherwise, you will also have to spend money on a new hard drive.

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