Tuesday, July 7, 2009
HD D-SLRs For Nature Photographers
For outdoor photographers, the latest high-tech cameras offer the ability to capture images and tell a story in incredible new ways
Sometimes lost in the hype over the video capability (and HD video, no less!) is the fact that the D-SLRs that have it are, first and foremost, excellent still-photo devices. All five current video-capable D-SLRs (six, if you include the D-SLR-like Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1, which we will here) offer at least 12-megapixel resolution. All offer their manufacturers’ latest, most powerful image processors (needed to produce the HD video, among other features). All offer excellent metering and autofocusing systems, plus a host of still-photo features. Even if they couldn’t shoot video, these cameras would be good choices for the demanding outdoor photographer.
But they do shoot video, and that provides outdoor photographers with a chance to add new dimensions to their image-making: the motions and sounds of nature. Excellent outdoor subjects for video D-SLRs include action at a bird’s nest or watering hole, sunrises and sunsets, insects visiting a flower, steaming waterfalls, amber waves of grain blowing in the wind and anything else that has motion and doesn’t require a focus change during shooting. (Only one of these D-SLRs provides continuous autofocusing during video shooting.)
Video capability in D-SLRs brings additional benefits besides simply being able to shoot video with your D-SLR, among them:
• D-SLRs have much larger image sensors than compact digital cameras and camcorders, so the pixels are much larger, and that means much better high-ISO and low-light image quality.
• The much larger sensors also mean the D-SLRs can produce pro-cinema-like shallow depth of field, handy for selective-focus effects and a general “movie-like” look not possible with the small-sensor camcorders and their inherent great depth of field.
• D-SLRs accept a wide range of high-quality interchangeable lenses, which gives them a huge advantage over compact digital cameras in the framing department and an edge over HD camcorders, too.
• You can record an excellent still image at any time while shooting a video simply by pressing the shutter button (the video will contain a brief still image at that point). The recorded still image will be at whatever resolution and other settings you selected before starting the video and will be stored as a separate file. All of the video-capable D-SLRs provide much better still-image quality than compact digital cameras or camcorders.
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