HDSLR, part 2: Gearing Up


I did not choose the Nikon D7000 for its digital still photography features, no, I solely based my purchase on its HD video capabilities.

This morning I ran out to shoot a few shots of a couple of vehicles I am reviewing this week and the D7000 had the lens on it that is my new workhorse, the 16-85 VRII. Wow, what a nice still camera.

The shutter is quieter than my D300 and built-in drive is faster and smoother. Image size is larger too with the new processor (16.2MP vs. 12.3MP on D300). And I believe the camera works in commander flash mode to remotely sync with my TTL flash slave.

Since my initial purchase I have ordered a few accessories for the D7000 – a second memory card to occupy the second built-in slot and an aftermarket angle back accessory so I can more easily frame low-angle shots due to the fixed monitor of the Nikon. (Breaking News: New D5100 coming soon from Nikon will feature a variable-angle LCD monitor, and it has external mic input and follow autofocus as well!)

For those seeking additional knowledge in the new realm of video from your DSLR (now dubbed HDSLR video) I found very good reference sources right on the websites I used to purchase some of my equipment. Both Adorama.com and BHPhotoVideo.com have “how-to” video shorts available to the public on their respective websites along with links to related topics and, of course, the products themselves.

This is a great place to begin and get many of your questions answered as well as discovering the big differences in the way the new crop of DSLR cameras shoot and record video compared to traditional digital video cameras. Plus the experts hired to host the segments add personal insight through their own experiences with the equipment and the digital media.

Apparently quite a few producers are using the new DSLRs for cinematic productions due to the “film-like” quality of the video. I have seen images of the shooting rigs created around the Canon and Nikon cameras that have them ending up almost looking like something from a Hollywood set.

I do not have cinematic credits dancing around in my head. This platform was chosen because of the flexibility offered in being able to produce high-quality stills and high definition video at the same time while also capturing the best audio possible.

Currently I am shooting at 720p/30fps (that translates to 720 lines resolution in progressive mode at 30 frames per second). I am capturing similar shots on multiple devices to compare usable quality from the Nikon, my Canon point and shoot and my iPhone4.

One initial discovery is that the iPhone4 will capture HD video in vertical (portrait) mode. Now, that may be something I rarely (if ever) would use but the option is there. The other two cameras always shoot wide (landscape) format.

I almost forgot. Another “goodie” box came from New York and in it was the HD Hero digital video/still camera in the motorsports kit for capturing those cool vehicle exterior shots. Captures video in HD 1080 or 720 with a choice of frame rate settings. Great for those outtake and unusual angle/effect clips. (Don’t forget to order the tripod mount accessory with it.)

Now, on to music for my projects. You guys ever heard of this thing called GarageBand?

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