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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Video DSLRs For Nature Shooters

The excitement of having HD video in a DSLR has taken the photography world by storm. We help you wind your way through the technology and the range of camera models that have HD video built in.

Labels: CamerasD-SLRs

This Article Features Photo Zoom

Nikon D300S
Nikon’s D300S adds HD video and quicker operation to the popular D300. The 12.3-megapixel camera can shoot excellent full-res images at up to 7 fps; it provides excellent AF performance on fast-moving subjects like birds in flight and quick access to AF modes and areas via switches. There’s a 3.0-inch, 920,000-dot LCD monitor with live view (and a handy live-view button for easy access), effective Active D-Lighting to tame high-contrast scenes, a sensor-dust remover and more.

The D300S can shoot 1280x720p HD video, plus 640x424p and 320x216p video, all at 24 fps. In Handheld mode, you can prefocus (using phase-detection AF) before recording and the camera sets the aperture; in Tripod mode, you can autofocus (via contrast AF) during recording and also can select the aperture. Note that the built-in microphone will pick up the sounds of the AF and aperture motors—as with all video DSLRs, it’s best not to use AF or change apertures during a clip when using the built-in microphone. You can record up to 2 GB of video in a single clip (5 minutes of 1280x720p, 20 minutes of 640x424p or 320x216p video).

Sound recording is in mono via the built-in microphone, or you can connect a 3.5mm external stereo mic for stereo sound. Videos are recorded in AVI format with Motion JPEG compression.

Nikon D90
The first video DSLR, the Nikon D90 features a 12.3-megapixel CMOS sensor similar to the one in the D300S, but a couple of generations earlier and with less processing power. Still, it produces excellent image quality (DxO Labs’ DxOMark sensor-rating website, www.dxomark.com, rates its still images tops among APS-C-sensor DSLRs, in fact) and has a simpler AF system that still can handle birds in flight surprisingly well.

The D90 can shoot 1280x720p HD video, plus 640x424p and 320x216p video, all at 24 fps. You can lock in the aperture before beginning recording and establish focus via contrast-based AF before, but not during, recording.

A built-in microphone records mono sound, and there’s no jack for an external stereo mic. The D90 can record clips of up to 5 minutes in HD and 20 minutes in SD, but no clip can exceed 2 GB. Video is recorded in AVI format, with Motion JPEG compression.

Economy Video DSLRs

Canon, Nikon and Pentax offer entry-level DSLRs with video capability at very good prices. Canon’s 15.1-megapixel EOS Rebel T1i can shoot 1920x1080p full HD video (albeit at a slowish 20 fps), plus 1280x720p HD and 640x480p SD video at 30 fps. Nikon’s 12.3-megapixel D5000 offers the same video features as the D90 (1280x720p HD, 640x424p SD and 320x216p, all at 24 fps, mono sound via a built-in microphone, no AF during recording) and features a tilting/rotating LCD monitor. The 12.4-megapixel Pentax K-x can shoot 1280x720p HD and 640x416p SD video at 30 fps, with mono sound via a built-in mic.


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