September 25, 2008

VIDEO / MOVIE Feature in Future DSLRs - Updated

Video / Movie mode is going to be a necessary feature in most upcoming DSLRs, as it is Live View today.

The future of DSLRs is going to change dramatically, getting into a world that lot of “Professional” Photographers are still afraid of, or don’t even care about (yet).

The market segments of Professional Movie Cameras and DSLRs are going to change.

The potential of the DSLR to be used as a PROFESSIONAL VIDEO Recording Tool is HUGE.

But of course, Designers and Manufacturers have to IMPROVE it, and IMPLEMENT it in a PROFESSIONAL manner, as they do with Still image capturing.

Making DSLRs in the right way means new potential uses for it, and that means new and more customers, thus more sales...

To be PROFESSIONAL, Movie/Video mode Requires:

- FULL MANUAL CONTROLS: VIDEO/MOVIE mode MUST allow the Photographer, Videographer and Movie Maker to ADJUST EVERY ASPECT OF the VIDEO CAPTURING MANUALLY (as in still image), with the option of assistance (or Auto mode) IF desired. That applies to ISO, Aperture (iris), Shutter speed, Color settings, Exposure compensation, White Balance (wich in case of "Auto" mode it should shift smoothly), etc...

It also Must allow to Change these settings WHILE RECORDING.

VIDEO QUALITY: Video quality itself must be Good enough, avoiding as much as possible “Rolling shutter” issues (pan and objects bend, etc.), "choppy" appearance, etc. This requires a FAST READOUT system of the sensor data.

- VIDEO RESOLUTION: should go from VGA (still useful for many situations) to Full 1080p HD resolution.An Optional 720p at faster frame rate would be a smar feature to include.

. Must be Optimized for HD VIDEO that keeps good Image Quality and performance. Motion JPG is obsolete and inefficient.
. Should give the option to choose from Different Video Compression Levels/Qualities to choose from when recording
. Uncompressed or Low compression option is a Pro feature that will atract Professional Videographers and Movie makers, indeed.

- BIT RATE: should be Fast enough to provide Smooth Video.
A smart feature would be to include more than one Speed/Quality to let choose for Best Quality or "Long Play" mode.

FRAME RATES: should allow to set from 24 to 30 fps (or even 60fps), for smooth video, in the Standard rates for further easy editing with other video clips or footage. Only one option (24p or 30p) is not enough versatility.

- SOUND: Besides the built-in Microphone, the camera MUST also have a MIC-IN STEREO (or even 5.1 input) Jack, with Sampling Rate of 44 and/or 48KHz. It must also allow to set the recording audio gain -Mic level- (Auto or Manual options).

- AUTO FOCUS: Another IMPORTANT and USEFUL feature that many customers will appreciate is autofocus. That includes a wide range of AF methods and assistances (Flexi-Zone, Manual Zone, Face Detection, Manual Focus with Focus indicators, etc..).
Sometimes is hard (or even impossible) for only one person to frame the scene, track focus of a moving subjec, and zoom at the same time. This task is usually done by more than one person, so this feature can be very useful. And it will be improved without any doubt in upcoming cameras.

To focus track an object all over the screen is very possible (since it relies on Live View feature).
It may require, though, a special CPU to achieve this in proper manner, but it's well worth.

- FOCUS ASSISTANCE: AT LEAST the camera MUST include FOCUS ASSISTANCE System while RECORDING, because a small LCD display is not large enough to see if perfect or good focus is achieved. Specially when using narrow Depth-of-Fields, wich means critical focusing range. The focusing mistakes may become visible in full HD displays...

ALL THESE aspects will turn the DSLR into a PROFESSIONAL HD VIDEO Recording Tool that could even overcome highly expensive Pro Video Cameras.

Several traditionalist photographers may think they don’t need or want these features, many already said the same in the past about Live View, and now many of them use it...

Maybe some of them will not use it, while many others will.

Photographers in general, Photojournalists, Videographers, Amateurs and even Pro Movie Makers, will realize (lot already have realized) the potential of recording HD Video with the FLEXIBILITY of a DSLR, its Big Low Noise Sensor, and its Full range of lenses...

Pablo Vazquez
Artist & Technical Engineer