Tag Archives: Camera

HD Video: is it the new megapixel?

video_camera Previously it was megapixels that marketing materials used to influence the less well informed into thinking one camera was better than another. Now it seems to me that the megapixel war is over, or has at least been forgotten for the moment. It’s HD video capability that is the latest feature used to market cameras and camera-equipped mobile phones.

Not that I’m denying that these HD video claims refer to valid, useful features. The point is that the marketing claims lead the less experienced buyer to assume they will be able to produce professional looking videos all by themselves, using just their shiny new camera. This is clearly not the case.

I don’t yet own an HD video capable camera nor have I any experience of making videos beyond quick, jerky clips grabbed with my non-HD compact camera or cell phone. But listening to podcasts like TWIP I have come to realise that just because we hear that some TV show episode was shot with an HD-capable digital SLR camera, we can’t make the assumption that they used just the camera. After listening to these podcasts I’ve come to realise that many accessories, often very expensive accessories are used as well. Professional quality external audio recording equipment, a variety of rigs to steady the camera or move it smoothly and devices to allow a focus puller to focus the camera are just some I have heard mentioned. Learning this has made me realise that just buying a new DSLR that shoots HD is not going to let me produce anything approaching decent videos; not without learning a lot about how movies are made and buying more equipment any way.

This was brought home to me on Monday when I came across a blog post highlighting Apple of My Eye, one of the first HD videos to be shot with the new iPhone 4. The movie is short and deceptively simple and the blog post says “Shot and edited entirely on the iPhone 4 / iMovie App (in 48 hours)”. This doesn’t mean that some guy just grabbed his phone and fired off a quick video though. At the end of the movie is additional footage showing how the movie was made. This makes if abundantly clear that without specific knowledge and extra equipment, you are not going to be producing quality video.

So, go ahead and buy yourself a new, HD capable camera; but realise that you will have to go through a steep learning curve, invest in buying or renting more equipment, and enlist the help of friends before you will be able to produce that hit movie you dream of.

Creative Commons licensed image courtesy of Damon Duncan.

New Toys From Old

Martex Rangefinder (by Steve Crane)I am fascinated by old cameras but don’t have the money to be a collector, as such. No fancy old Leica’s for me, but occasionally I manage to look in the right place to find something interesting, if not valuable. On Saturday I popped into Cash Crusaders to see if they had an interesting old cameras there. They had two SLRs, a Pracktica and a Zenit, but the Praktica was in much worse shape than the one I already have and was also rather pricey. The Zenit was quite cheap but also looked pretty battered. What really caught my eye was this Martex rangefinder. I’ve long had a hankering for a rangefinder and at only R145 there was no way it wasn’t coming home with me, even if I found it didn’t work. It was Sunday before I got round to buying a roll of film to try it out. After cleaning the camera, loading the film and figuring out what appeared to be the right way to use the light meter, which seemed to be working, I headed off down to the beach, my favourite haunt. It was near sunset when I got there and being winter there weren’t too many people about. I strolled around and shot off my roll of film before heading home again. As I was very keen to get it developed and see the results I popped the film into the Kodak minilab in the mall next door to our offices, rather than making the trip into town to the more professional (so I’ve been told) lab I would normally use. I picked up the prints at lunch time and was pleased to find that the camera works perfectly. The photographs were pretty much (it will take a little practice to get spot on) correctly exposed and accurately focused. I was worried about the focus as I’d never used a rangefinder before. The only disappointment was that I was offered, and accepted digital copies of the photos on a CD, and the quality of these was terrible. they were horribly grainy and as the prints themselves were fine I can only assume that the scanning process was not all it could be. In the end I made my own scans of the better shots from the prints. Here is a selection of the photos I took, not too bad for a forty or fifty year old camera. These photographs have not been digitally enhanced in any way.

Bench (by Steve Crane) Last Holdout (by Steve Crane)
Strand Beach (by Steve Crane) Pink Sunset (by Steve Crane)
Pink & Orange (by Steve Crane) Curvy Building (by Steve Crane)
99 on Beach (by Steve Crane) Strand Pavillion and the Old Jetty (by Steve Crane)
Monte Carlo (by Steve Crane)  

Happy Birthday To Me

Happy Birthday To Me

As I’ve mentioned my faithful old 300D is broken.

Today Mela and I went off to Orms and she bought me a 30D as an early birthday gift (my birthday is on 19 May). I haven’t really used it yet because we were out most of the day but the few shots I took amazed me with the sheer speed of the 30D, compared to the 300D.

Fixed one thing, broke another

On Friday I blogged about the autofocus on my camera packing up. I fixed it last night and the autofocus now works perfectly again. Unfortunately there is another problem now; the LCD display on the back and in the viewfinder is not working. Everything else is functional but I can no longer see what settings I am using and don’t have any visible light meter. This may be due to the latch of the ribbon cable connector on the back breaking when I opened it, or it could be something else. Luckily I work with a bunch of electronic engineers so I’ll ask one of them to take a look at it. I’ll also keep hoping that somebody gives me a new camera body for my birthday, which is only three weeks off.


Well my camera is anyway. I was fiddling with it last night and discovered that it will no longer autofocus. The cause is a pin that raises and lowers the sub-mirror assembly that casts light on the autofocus sensors having broken. For some reason Canon made this small pin from plastic and its failure is a common fault on the Digital Rebel range. Fortunately it seems quite an easy repair to do. I have found a nicely documented series of photographs that lead you through the procedure. It will simply take time and patience for me to repair it myself.

Camera Tossing

Over the weekend I came across the idea of camera tossing and gave it a try. It produces pleasing abstract images suitable for use as wallpapers, backgrounds or in some cases even good to frame as modern art prints.

The image below, the very first one I took, was blogged on the camera toss blog.


It’s Here

My Digital Rebel was delivered this afternoon but unfortunately we had plans to go out for supper and it was almost 9pm before we got home.  Then I watched a DVD that my kids rented today.  It has to go back in the morning so I had to watch it tonight if I didn’t want to pay for twice the rental.  It was The Girl Next Door, not bad but not that great either.

With all that I never got a chance to play with the camera but have charged the batteries and tomorrow afternoon (a full morning is planned) I will sit down and read just enough of the manual to get me out, shooting some pics.

More New Stuff

I had some money in the bank that was intended to settle a residual on the lease of my old car. But with the purchase of my new one, the settlement was handled in such a way that I didn’t need to pay the residual, it being paid from the trade-in of my old car.

This left me with the ability to scratch my itch for a digital SLR camera, which I have been wanting for ages. So yesterday I placed an order with B&H for a Canon Digital Rebel (known as a 300D outside the US) and some lenses and other accessories. Although the Canon 20D and Nikon D70 were tempting I decided to restrain myself and go for the cheaper 300D. I will start building up a collection of lenses that I will be able to use later with a more advanced camera body.

I also bought Mela a full set (48 colours) of Trichem fabric paints. She has used Trichem and Hobbytex paints for years and was badly in need of some new ones as many of her old tubes were empty or the rollerball tips had packed up.

I think I will visit the new Incredible Connection in Somerset Mall to buy a new Palm as my Palm V is five years old and besides only having 1MB of memory, is starting to misbehave a bit. I was checking their website and they have the Zire 31 and the other models are too expensive.

While I’m there I will see what they have in the way of MP3 players as Christopher has said that he wants one for Christmas. I’m sure he would love an iPod or a 20GB Samsung Yepp but they are rather pricey. I’ll probably get him something with 256MB in a USB thumb drive format. Consumer electronics are unfortunately not as affordable for us here in ZA as they are in the rest of the world.

It’s official…

…I’m a moron.  I was up at 03h30 this morning and out of the house just after 04h30, all in a quest to photograph the lunar eclipse.  I headed off towards work and stopped along the way where there weren’t too many lights around and I had a good view of the moon, which was looking great.  I set up my camera and tripod, dialled in my settings and took about 40 photos with different exposures and zoom settings.  I was using manual focus with a trick to get my camera to focus to infinity, and was less than impressed when I got to work, downloaded the photos and found them all to be out of focus.  At that point I realised that I had left out one step in the focus to infinity trick.  I would have to do this when I can’t just go back to shoot again.  Oh well, there’s another eclipse in 2007.  Perhaps I will be less clueless with my camera by then.

Summer’s Here

Well, it looks as though summer has arrived.  It was a fairly hot day today and I went for a ride on my bike this morning (let’s pretend that I’m writing this before midnight).  There was only a light breeze so cycling wasn’t the unpleasant chore it can be when the wind is really blowing, as it so often does here.

The really cool thing about summers here is the long evenings when it’s time to walk on the beach.  Went walking there this evening and there were quite a few people out.  I was really pleased with the performance of my camera.  The old one did not cope well with low light, having only 100 ISO, but as the new one has a minimum ISO of 200 and can do 400, or 800 at lower resolution, I am able to shoot more on these walks.  I love taking photos of people just to see the interesting outfits and expressions that can be captured.  Here is one from this evening’s walk.