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Old June 1st, 2009, 11:12 PM   #1
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Video for people vs. an SLR

Asking this on a digital video forum is bound to receive a lot of biased responses. But I was curious if there were any long-time SLR photographers here who have opted for video instead of stills for capturing people and events?

I am in the middle of deciding whether I want to capture girls high school basketball (our daughter plays) in the next two summers and school years with a video camera instead of an SLR. I've tried the SLR route in a handful of basketball games, but I find myself too engrossed with the play to try and single out action to capture. With a video camera, it would appear that I could just follow the action from the stands and capture most of it, with the option to try and isolate some of the play.

I thought about this over the weekend after attempting to capture some of my nephew's high school graduation ceremony and post-ceremony "mingling" with my SLR. Some of the photos are okay, but I feel like I missed part of the action and hence part of the ceremony while trying to determine when to take a photo.

There are times where I would want my SLR, like when capturing coastal landscapes or informal portraits. But for people at public and private events, I am finding as I get older that video is starting to have more of an appeal than stills. I was curious if I was in the minority on this.
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Old June 2nd, 2009, 12:18 AM   #2
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Hi Michael.................

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Mohrmann View Post
Asking this on a digital video forum is bound to receive a lot of biased responses.
Not necessarilly true. Many, many DVinfo'ers have arrived here after long associations with the still camera. I'm one of them. If both my eyes and Nikon D80 weren't such a load of c%^p I'd probably do a lot more of it than I do.

Quote:
But I was curious if there were any long-time SLR photographers here who have opted for video instead of stills for capturing people and events?
See previous response.

Quote:
but I find myself too engrossed with the play to try and single out action to capture.
A video camera doesn't make this any easier. The Networks spend a great deal of time and money to ensure that they have a camera on the action no matter where it's happening, making the entire process look effortless. It ain't.

Quote:
With a video camera, it would appear that I could just follow the action from the stands and capture most of it, with the option to try and isolate some of the play.
Sounds like a great theory. Shame it's so hard to do in practice.


Quote:
There are times where I would want my SLR, like when capturing coastal landscapes or informal portraits.
You are not alone.

Quote:
I was curious if I was in the minority on this.
See previous response.


I, too, thought that the progression from SLR to Video would be a walkover and I would be able to pull off some of the stunning stuff that crossed my TV screen daily living in the UK.

The more I got into it the more I realised that to get results like the Pro's, you need to do it like the Pro's (I'm not suggesting that's what you're asking, so don't take offence).

As a result I've gone from a couple of SLR's and a bag full of lenses and a single tripod(heavy, but do - able) to the veritable station wagon full of gear I regularly haul around now.

I shan't bore you to sobs with the full list of gear, but when you throw in camera's (plural), support (plural including jib), audio (plural and sodding expensive) and all the incidentals, it's a truck load and no mistake.

The video? Superb, but at a cost.

There is no such thing as "whip out the camera and fire off a few quick shots". Just doesn't happen, which I really miss. So much so that on occasions I deliberately do not take the video gear and go out "snapping" with just the SLR. I have never been able to marry the two disciplines together in one shoot.

I'm either shooting stills or I'm shooting video, can't do both.

As for you dipping your toe into Video, why not. Just don't expect to rival (insert sports network name here) any time in the first 12 months and watch out for the dreaded "video mission creep", if that takes hold you'll bankrupt yourself!


CS
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Old June 2nd, 2009, 06:07 AM   #3
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Yeah I agree with Chris, video takes a lot more pre and post production than photography even on the simplest level.

First you have to by all the gear, which is expensive if you want it the manual controls your used to on an SLR. Then on the day you have to work out where your going to film, take tripod, audio equipment etc. and get permission as for some reason video always seems to have to have more than photography.

And finally even if you manage not to miss the action (although I find that when filming your not really watching the event as your constantly working out framing, exposure, focus etc. and where the subject is going next) you still have to edit it when your done to make it interesting to watch in the future, which takes twice as long as the actual filming of it.

In the end its hard to say, I'm personally a video guy who sometimes uses an SLR when I cant be bothered to do all thoughs things, just grab the camera snap what I can and make a few adjustments after to the ones I want to keep. The problem with this is I also sometimes think, damn I wish I brought my camcorder as this would be good to watch back.

Sorry if this isn't very help full, I think the only thing we can establish that whether its video or photography it is hard to get good results unless your 100% concentrating on it and there for missing the event. The other problem we have is we wouldn't dare create a bad video or poor photos as our standards are too high but I think thats the only way you can truly watch the event at the same time.
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Old June 2nd, 2009, 05:03 PM   #4
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I have always seen photographs as works of art, I don't like taking photos at parties or family gatherings because they never look any good. I use to be a photographer then migrated to video, both worlds have their place and in effect every videographer is a photographer vice-versa. For events video is a must and captures more emotion and allows you to relive the event while photographs is a trigger that reminds us and we relive through memories. I like my photographs displayed in frames on the wall like art, I love that I can freeze an emotion, even though it's my passion to shoot videos I rarely watch videos or go through old albums. I really don't think you should compare video & photos as both are fundamentally the same thing.
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Old June 2nd, 2009, 10:59 PM   #5
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Let's start by saying I've done both worlds: still and video.

The jump from one world to the other isn't all that large. Everything you learned in still photography (composition, backgrounds, depth of field, proper exposure, etc) still applies. If you can compose a good still picture, then you can do the same for video.

What is different about video is that you now have audio to deal with, plus dealing with the issues of camera motion. Still photography is inherently self-editing -- you're lifting instants of time out of life. With video, you're recording a stream of action. Panning and zooming wildly to "follow the ball" will cause motion sickness in your viewers. One of the things I tell people who ask me for video advice is "forget about the zoom when recording: use it to set your view, but once you hit record, don't change it." The next thing is "wide angle is better: the less you move the camera around to keep the action in frame, the better." The last piece of advice for still-people going to video is "NO SHOTS SHORTER THAN TEN SECONDS. PERIOD. ABSOLUTELY."

Unlike still photography, video requires an almost full-time involvement during the event. Operator fatigue becomes a real issue (I've done 14-hour stints where the tripod was holding ME up along with the camera). It's hard to hold a camera steady when you're tired, and it will show in the finished video. For still, all you have to manage is for a fraction of a second.

The other thing to consider is that photos can be printed and enjoyed on their own. Video requires a playback setup. If you want something to share casually, then photos might be the best way to go.

Regards;
Martin
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Old June 3rd, 2009, 05:10 PM   #6
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As cameras are evolving, the distinction is becoming a bit harder to define. Small handycam type cameras that also shoot pretty good stills are becoming viable, and of course DSLR's and other cameras that can shoot video are becoming common.

ANY shooting requires a certain degree of concentration to get the shot, that won't change just because you're shooting 30 frames a second instead of 10 in burst mode... but as noted, with video, you're ALWAYS trying to frame the shot, which is easier said than done. Camera stabilization becomes a far greater issue with video, particularly if you're shooting HD, with the intent of pulling frame grabs for stills.

I'm not sure you can really decide that one over the other is "better" - they each have a place. Live events often are better served by having both audio and video to serve as a narrative, but it takes more effort to capture a cohesive and usable string of frames...
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