Generally, HDSLR cameras regard audio as an added feature with very little importance. This is a little short-sighted as audio is an important part of any production. However, some of the new camera models from Nikon and Canon are now incorporating a 3.5 mini jack for an external microphone. The Panasonic GH1 does have a built in stereo microphone which is located on the camera’s prism and it also has a mini plug for an external microphone. Other cameras use a small mono microphone which is located on the camera body itself, which annoyingly can pick up all your handling noises.
Editing Video files
If you thought image editing software was complicated then take a look at video editing applications. They are like putting Photoshop on steroids. However, as with anything once you get the hang of how the application works then dropping clips sequentially onto a timeline becomes very easy. You can apply more or less the same colour correction tools, such as colour balance, Hue Saturation, curves etc., to a whole clip. Add in a music track and then export the entire production to a DVD or YouTube. Popular start up applications include; iMovie (Mac), Adobe Premiere Elements, Corel Video Studio X3, Movie Edit Pro amongst others. For professional editing then there is Final Cut Pro (Mac), Adobe Premiere Pro CS5, Avid, Adobe After Effects CS5 etc. For the high end applications there is a steep learning curve, many of the popular consumer applications offer easy to follow wizards.
For the user who doesn’t want to become involved with video editing, then you can simply link up the camera to a domestic TV set via the HDMI output and watch your movie clips from an armchair. However, as with stills photographs the manipulations and editing are key to producing first class pictures or movies.Like stills images, JPEG, TIFF, PSD, GIF etc., video can also be delivered in several different formats, these are called “Wrappers”. A movie file is wrapped in a format that can be read by a player, this can be a MOV file for QuickTime, WMF for Windows Media player, FLV for Flash players etc. The output file can be decided after you have finished editing the movie and are ready to export it. You will also be offered an endless list of output codecs, these will define how the movie is compressed etc., but that’s for another day.
The technical bits
In Europe and the UK we use the PAL TV standard (Phase Alternating Line), which plays at 25 frames per second. In North America they use the NTSC standard (National Television System Committee) which plays at 29.97 frames per second. You can play NTSC DVDs on most PAL TV sets, but you can’t play PAL DVDs on NTSC TVs.
If you want to produce high quality movies, then there really isn’t any substitute for the right tools. The Sony PMW-EX3 (£6000) will capture full HD – 1920×1080 or HDV – 1440×1080, or 1280×720, you can select to shoot in PAL or NTSC. Sony uses SXS solid state memory cards which are expensive (£488 for a 16gb card). However, you can use Class 6 or 10 SD cards with a Card adaptor, this will reduce the cost down to £25 per SD card and £15 for the adaptor. With some video camera models (Sony & Canon) you can use your still camera lenses. The Adaptimax adaptor enables you to fit Nikon lenses on the EX3, this modestly priced adaptor (£119) increases the focal length of any lens by a factor of x 5.4 which is great for long distance shots. The adaptor is available from www.cameraadaptors.com
The popular Canon XH A1 (£3000) camera which uses mini DV tape, offers both HDV – (1440×1080) and SD (720×576) shooting and also has the ability to capture still images to a memory card, albeit only a 2 megabyte file. Canon’s latest cameras the XF 300/305 series uses CF memory cards and can record at 50 mbps. Another camera worth looking at is the JVC EVERIO X, this is a full HD camera that also shoots a 9 megapixel still image, or can simultaneously capture 5 megapixel images whilst shooting in movie mode.
This article is just an introduction to HDSLR cameras, we will be expanding and going into greater detail on the various sections over the next few months. Use our forums to ask any questions.
photo-i has published “a guide to HDSLR video” full details can be found here