Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Camcorder Travel Made Easy
Learn how to effectively capture both still and video
Still From Video
Let's start with still shots from a video camera. In the simplest form, even with old analog videotape, you can grab one image from the motion stream, a "still frame" or "freeze frame."
A frame of video is made up of two fields. In standard American television (some new high-definition systems are different), half of the image is drawn first, on alternating lines—this is one field; then the other half of the lines are filled in—the second field. Each field, then, is 1/60 sec. When the camera or the subject is moving, fields 1 and 2 will be slightly different images. For video, this is ideal, as it smooths out the transition from image to image for your eye, reducing the chance of seeing a strobing effect. In a still frame, however, the two different fields reduce image resolution, creating a blurred image.
The still frame also is limited to television's resolution. While a 720x480-pixel video frame looks fine on today's big-screen TVs filled with image-processing circuitry, it looks terrible in even a 3x5-inch print.
Shooting in Photo mode on a video camera helps this to a degree. In this mode, the camera will grab one still frame from the camera's sensor and record several seconds of it onto the tape. This reduces some of the blur between fields inherent in a regular still frame, improving image quality, but it's only a 0.3 megapixel-sized picture. If you want a high-quality still image, you need a still camera.
There are new digital video cameras that include 1- to even 3-megapixel sensors, which promise to produce images that can result in decent 4x6- to 8x10-inch prints. However, you'll likely find that prints made from comparable-resolution still cameras will deliver better results.
Video From Still
What about shooting video with a still camera? Many digital still cameras have a Movie or Video mode. The still camera has a much larger sensor to work with, so you might think the video image would be great. Alas, the Video mode on a still camera has limitations, as well.
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