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In Video for Photographers: Shooting with a DSLR, photographer and videographer Rob Sheppard provides the essential foundation that photographers need to make the leap from still pictures to moving ones. From technical considerations, such as audio and frame rates, to aesthetic issues, such as composition and story development, this course presents concepts and techniques photographers need to get the best results from their gear and learn the art of video-based storytelling. Exercise files are included with the course.
If you look at the advantages of a smaller sensor, it might seem that the smaller sensor has a distinct edge over the large sensor for video. After all, you can get more for your money in a smaller, lighter package, and with equal image quality. In fact, there is an important factor to consider with sensor size that may affect your choice of camera and how you shoot with it. That's noise. Noise is that granular pattern that occurs across the image. It looks like someone threw sand on your photo.
Just about every DSLR today does very well controlling noise at ISO settings of 400 or less and many do well above that. However, as you go above ISO 400, noise will generally become more visible. Larger sensors have less noise. There is no doubt about that. This means that you can shoot your video at higher ISO settings or in lower light levels with a Full Frame sensor compared to an APS-C size sensor or an APS-C size sensor compared to a Four Thirds sensor.
A qualification to that is that as new sensor technologies come onto the market, you may find that a new small sensor does better with noise than an older large sensor. Noise in a still photo is static, obviously, because the photo is not moving. Noise is more active in video, because it is moving and can become much more obvious. While noise is directly related to sensor size and ISO setting, it is also related to exposure, which means that the dark parts of a scene can have more noise than bright parts.
That can make the noise pattern change as you shoot. To be honest, that noise difference might not matter to your video shooting if you mainly shoot in bright light. We're talking here about conditions that require significantly higher ISO settings than what you might use in average conditions, settings that could be 800 or above. However, if you want or need to shoot in very low light conditions, such as shooting at night without adding light that might be distracting to your subject, then that large sensor size can be a big deal.
Ultimately, the benefits and disadvantages of small versus large formats comes down to three main points. One, small sensors need smaller lenses. So their systems will travel lighter and with less bulk. Two, larger sensors have much less noise at high ISO settings. Three, sensor size affects the focal length you can use for a given image area, which will affect the look of the shot.
So what should you do? That is something you have to decide for yourself. If you already have a camera, then these ideas may help you decide what your camera can or cannot do. If you decide to buy a new camera, perhaps this will assist you in that purchase.
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