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In addition to stills your camera can shoot video. Digital SLR's are actually extremely capable video cameras, but there are a few things to know about how they differ from dedicated video cameras and from point and shoot digital cameras. You should already have a comfortable understanding of depth of field, if you don't check out Foundations of Photography: Exposure. One of the factors that controls Depth of Field in an image is sensor size. When you have a bigger sensor it's possible to shoot much shallower depth of field. Now your SLR has a much bigger sensor than what you'll find in almost any video or point and shoot camera, which means you have the capability to shoot video with very shallow depth of field when you use your SLR.
This affords you far more creative options and lets you shoot video that can have a much more film like look than what you'll shoot with a dedicated video camera or point and shoot camera. Of course, your SLR also scores over a dedicated video camera, thanks to its removable lenses, which let you choose lens features and quality that are better suited to your particular project. On the downside, when you're shooting video with your SLR you won't have any auto focus. So if you move the camera closer or farther from your subject during a shot or if your subject moves closer or farther there's a chance that your focus will go off.
In this regard shooting with a point and shoot camera is much easier, because your camera will auto-focus for you as you move around. However, most point and shoot cameras lack the ability to zoom while shooting video, something that's not a problem with an SLR. To shoot videos I first need to put the camera into Video mode that's the little movie camera over here on the very end of the mode Dial. When I do that the mirror pops up, my live view screen activates and I'm ready to start. Before we do that, let's look at some options. If I open my menu you can see that in Video mode things have changed, I now have these four video shooting menus that have a whole lot of options in them.
I want to look specifically at Movie Recording Size and you can see by default I'm at 1920x1080 at 30 frames per second. If I open this up I see that I have some other options and I can cycle through them by using the wheel up here. I can do 1920x1080 at 24 frames per second. I can go down here and do 1280x720 at 60 frames per second, or I can go down to 640x480 at 30 frames per second. Notice here my remaining time on the card for shooting videos has jumped way up on then, about half an hour as opposed to 11 minutes.
If I am just shooting something for the Web and I'm not overly concerned about image quality, this is going to buy me a lot more shooting time. 24 frames per second, here it's going to give you a little more of a film style motion as opposed to 30 which is to look more like the normal video that you're used to seeing on TV. Obviously, the amount of time that I have available to shoot is going to depend on the size of the card that I have in the camera. The speed of the card is also fairly critical for video shooting. You need a card that's at least class six or higher to be shooting video.
If your card is slower then you may see an indicator flashing that lets you know that your buffer is filling up and that you're possibly going to have a stall in video recording. So let's go back to our Live View display. When I'm ready to start shooting, all I do is press the Live View button and I get this little red dot here that indicates that I'm now recording video and I can see video being written out to the card. While I'm shooting video I can also take stills. If I half press my Shutter button and then push it all the way down to take a picture, I capture a still that gets written out to my card and that same image gets written to the video for one second.
So I don't see an interruption of my video. Just everything freezes for one second. So I can't shoot stills and have a constant capture of motion at the same time. Pressing the Live View button again stops recording. As with Live View mode I can cycle through my various Info displays. I don't get a Histogram here, but I can get my Status displays and a view of the rest of my settings. Most of the rest of these controls work exactly the same as they do in Live View mode, so you should already be comfortable with those.
Note that when you are recording video, Image Stabilization if your lens has it is turned on and left on through your whole video shoot. That's great for stabilizing your footage, but it also means your battery is going to drain faster. If you're working from a tripod turn Image Stabilization off, you won't need it then and it will buy you some extra battery time. Also note that the built-in microphone on the camera is going to pick up any camera handling noise, all your hand bumping into the camera, pushing buttons that kind of thing. So while you're recording video you want to be very careful about how you hold the camera and how you move around with the camera so that you don't pick up a bunch of bumps and little rumbling sounds from your hands.
The critical watchword when shooting video with your SLR is care. You have to take great care to ensure that your images are in focus and this typically means that you can't do the type of run and gun shooting that you're used to doing with a video camera or point and shoot camera. If you're shooting a documentary or candid footage of rapidly changing subject matter then your SLR may not be the best choice for shooting video. If image quality and creative control are paramount though, then it's hard to beat the results that you'll get from your SLR.
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