Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Camcorder Travel Made Easy
Learn how to effectively capture both still and video
Many still cameras don't even capture a full-resolution or full-motion television image. Often, you'll only get a 240x320-pixel image, or only 10 to 15 fps. Although you're starting with a high-resolution sensor, the camera doesn't include the processing and buffering power, necessary resolution and frame rate to render full-resolution video frames. The video output will be good enough to produce thumbnail-sized QuickTime video, but it will look worse than a black-and-white rerun if you play it on your entertainment center.
Don't forget that video requires a lot of memory, even though each frame is only a 0.3-megapixel image. A 256 MB memory card will hold only three or four minutes of full-frame video. Of course, the more still images you put on your camera's memory card, the less room you'll have for video. You'd need a pocket full of memory chips to match the storage capacity of one miniDV tape.
Making A Decision
So, still or motion? Which camera should you bring on your next trip? What do you enjoy shooting? If you like taking still photos, don't start shooting videos just because your cousin is always showing off his travelogues, or vice versa.
Luckily, today's still and video cameras are incredibly compact, allowing you to carry both without burdensome weight and bulk. The greater challenge arises in the midst of a special moment—deciding whether to capture it with still, video, or both.
If you're hiking in the mountains, most likely you'll have plenty of time to stop and compose every beautiful scenic still frame, and carefully plan each video scene and camera move. If you're in the middle of the crowd at Carnevale and shooting a parade, you've got to be quick. You need to anticipate what's coming next and how you want to shoot it. In the five seconds it takes to put down one camera and pick up the other, the whole scene can change.
Let's say you hear a band coming around the corner. It would be ideal to capture the action on video and use the music for the soundtrack when you edit your video. But next there are some revelers in colorful costumes that would make a memorable still image. Get ready to switch cameras.
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