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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Brave New World

Two new cameras bring HD video capability to the D-SLR and create a new way for nature photographers to see and share the world through imagery

Labels: CamerasVideo

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Nikon D90
Sensor: 12.3-megapixel CMOS
Still Resolution: 4288x2848 pixels
HD Video Resolution: 1280x720p
Still Recording Format: JPEG, RAW
Video Recording Format: .AVI, Motion JPEG
Storage Media: SD, SDHC
Dimensions: 5.2x4.1x3.0 inches
Weight: 21.9 ounces
Estimated Street Price: $999
Contact: Nikon, (800) NIKON-US, www.nikonusa.com
Nikon D90
The D90 can shoot HD video at 1280x720 resolution, or standard video at 640x424 or 320x216 pixels, all at a natural “cinematic” 24 fps. Videos are in .AVI format with Motion-JPEG compression and mono sound (or without sound, if you prefer). HD video has a wide-screen 16:9 aspect ratio, while standard video has a 3:2 aspect ratio.

Nikon has made it easy to shoot video with the D90. Just choose your resolution and sound option (On or Off) from the Movie Settings submenu in the Shooting menu, press the Lv button next to the LCD screen to activate Live View mode, press the shutter button halfway to focus, and press the OK button in the middle of the Multi Selector to start recording. To end recording, press the OK button again.

You can shoot video in P, S, A or M mode; metering is Matrix. Note that autofocusing doesn’t occur during Live View shooting: Either set up the shot so the initial focusing point works for the entire clip or focus manually during shooting like the pro moviemakers do.

You can shoot up to 2 GB of video at a clip, 5 minutes maximum in HD and 20 minutes max at lesser resolutions. Picture Control settings can be used to adjust saturation and contrast, create an old-time sepia look or even produce black-and-white video. High-ISO performance is excellent.

Computer Requirements For Video
Playing videos on your computer requires an up-to-date computer system due to the large amounts of data involved. If you have an older system, it’s probably best to play the video directly from the camera on an HDTV set using the camera’s built-in HDMI interface.

If you just want video clips of nature’s moments, raw footage straight from the camera is fine. But if you want to produce finished videos, you’ll need to edit your footage. That requires video-editing software and a computer with sufficient power and storage to handle the job.

HD Video Resolutions
Digital still images consist of tiny square picture elements or “pixels.” Digital video images are continuously scanned onto the screen as horizontal lines. Thus, video resolutions are given in lines: A standard SD digital video image consists of 480 horizontal lines from top to bottom. An HD video image consists of either 720 or 1080 horizontal lines.

Because digital video images have a specific aspect ratio (width to height)—16:9 for HD, 4:3 for SD—each video line resolution is accompanied by a corresponding number of horizontal pixels: A standard SD digital video frame (image) consists of 480 horizontal lines, each 720 pixels wide; a 720-line HD video image consists of 720 lines, each 1280 pixels wide; and a 1080-line HD video image consists of 1080 lines, each 1920 pixels wide.

You’ll see a small “p” or “i” after the video line-resolution figure. These indicate the way the images are drawn on the screen. The “p” means progressive. Progressive images are quickly drawn across the screen one line at a time, from top to bottom—line 1, followed by line 2, followed by line 3, etc. The “i” means interlaced. Interlaced images are drawn in two fields, the first, consisting of the odd-numbered lines, followed quickly by the second, consisting of the even-numbered lines.

Progressive scanning produces smoother action and slow-motion effects. Generally, 1920x1080 HD video is interlaced (1920x1080i) while 1280x720 HD video is progressive-scan (1280x720p), but both the D90 (1280x720p) and EOS 5D Mark II (1920x1080p) use progressive scanning for their HD videos. The Mark II automatically adjusts output to match the resolution of the display device being used (for example, the HDMI port outputs a 1080i signal).


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