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Shooting video & stills on the same dive with a single cam, does it work?

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#1 thani

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 09:19 AM

Hi there,

I have been contemplating to upgrade my video kit from Sony EX1 to a Full Frame DSLR such as Canon or Nikon.
I am tempted mainly for the opportunity to shoot both video and stills with the same cam on the same dive.

Given each art (video/Stills) has its own creative thinking, Does this really work in practice?
Your views are appreciated :)

I would like to thank Peter for encouraging me to start this thread as he says:

-Mindset: With a DSLR, there is a risk that you'll adopt a mindset of "I'll shoot some clips and then take some photos". Very tempting to exploit the versatility of both options while diving. Isn't this a good thing? Maybe / maybe not. Flipping between these modes could possibly take you out of the "story telling" mindset needed to get the footage to weave together a story back home in the editing suite. Your videos may become moving photos rather than a story. This might not be an issue for you but certainly something that I've heard others say.
Quote is from this topic: http://wetpixel.com/...showtopic=49391


Regards,
Thani

Edited by thani, 04 February 2013 - 09:27 AM.

Best Regards,
Thani

#2 RWBrooks

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 04:07 PM

Horses for course I think. Why are you going from an EX1 to an DSLR to shoot video?
Keep the video cam for video, if you want to shoot stills, use a stills camera. You can compromise both by trying to do both.
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#3 thani

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 09:04 PM

The EX1 renders colors beautifully with MWB and I really like the camera, but I have many reasons to change from EX1:
- I am stuck with a fixed lens and a huge Fathom port
- Macro is quite difficult and Super Macro is impossible,
- Although the Fathom allows zoom through but does not produce sharp details as good as dslr lenses,
- Huge size with the Fathom lens to handle especially topside,
- I like to shoot small creatures behaviors by using a tripod and disappairing from the site and it is quite difficult to do because of size.
- I miss shooting stills
No way I am dragging two cameras with me :)

So getting back to the topic, is it possible to challenge the creative paradigm and do both with a single cam? Any body does it?
Best Regards,
Thani

#4 Steve Williams

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 10:33 PM

Of course its possible to challenge the paradigm. If we didn't this would be no fun at all. The issue I have in switching back and forth is in throwing the mental switch from stills to video, I found I'm just not good at it. I'm a stills guy and it's very different shooting video for me. I found for me the best path was to dedicate the dive to one or the other. Some friends have decided to dedicate the whole trip to one skill set and frame of reference. I hope that you as a video guy you would have less of an issue.

I think the best video folks shoot their sequences for the transistions. By that I mean they shoot to be able to cut it together. A great example is the opening sequence of recent Howard Hall film. The opening shot is of blue water as the title frames roll. Then magically a beautiful whale shark swims into the frame from the bottom and swims out the top. A still shooter would have never even thought of that sequence. We'd have been tracking the whaleshark the whole time trying to get a cool composition and get him in the frame. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that macro video is probably easier than doing wide angle for still shooters who are just getting started in video but they still have to be thinking about shooting to the transitions and leaving room for the cuts. Here is a previous thread on the same subject;
http://wetpixel.com/...all#entry278119

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#5 peterbkk

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Posted 05 February 2013 - 05:56 AM

Hi there,

I have been contemplating to upgrade my video kit from Sony EX1 to a Full Frame DSLR such as Canon or Nikon.
I am tempted mainly for the opportunity to shoot both video and stills with the same cam on the same dive.

Given each art (video/Stills) has its own creative thinking, Does this really work in practice?

Regards,
Thani


I don't think that the equipment is all that relevant. Yes, still cameras are better at stills and video cameras are still better at video but that is not the biggest factor. Will they completely converge? Maybe. But, even then, I think that you'd still be better off doing a "story telling dive" (video) or a "artistic images" dive (stills). It is all about how you focus your mind and what you are therefore seeing.

When I dive with the video camera, I have a storyline in my head (sometimes on paper, too) and I am looking for footage that fits that storyline, including all the B-roll stuff that audiences need for context. Of course, I do look for subjects and backgrounds that are visually interesting but I also place a large emphasis on laying out the story. And, rather than always looking for a "moment in time", I am also looking for movement. I usually have a shot list so that I don't have transitional issues when I am editing.

When I dive with a stills camera, I am looking for one image, one snap-shot, some interesting critter or an alignment of shapes and colours that are visually interesting.

You could probably do both on one dive but I think that, in my case, if I were to switch modes mid-dive, I would stop seeing the other stuff.

Regards
Peter

#6 HDVdiver

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Posted 06 February 2013 - 09:22 AM

Once you get rid of your EX1/Fathom clunker and adapt to the different and flexible workflow possibilities that a good, compact VidDSLR system allows the possibilities are endless. Video image quality will also improve (if you use a firmware modified GH2/GH3 or Nikon D800...the Canons don't particularly impress me for video).

Also, depending on what end use you require for the still photos (web vs magazine/book) the DSLR's with high bit rate codecs (e.g. hacked GH2) provide very good quality stills from video files for web use.

Currently available high power LED video lights also negate the need to take strobes for still photography.

#7 Drew

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 02:42 AM

Well, it really depends on what you want, no? A still shot or a video? Most moving picture shooters are/were also still shooters, so having the best of both worlds isn't a bad thing. I think it's a matter of discipline and management. You can go on a dive with shots planned in your mind, shoot them and if you see a nice shot for a still, take that too!
Like Pete says, the confusion comes when it's about deciding which to use in decisive moments! If I were shooting with my DSLR like my 5D3 or 1DX, and 2 Seine whales are charging a small bait ball, so it'll be over in a gulp! Do I shoot a video clip in relatively low resolution (700 lines or less) or a 22/18mp sequence @ 6/12fps? All that while fiddling with the camera exposure/focus to get ready for the shot, deciding on composure etc etc. It's no secret why there are professionals like Didier Noirot, who make shots out of nothing, and then there are the rest of us!
Of course, with current camera technology moving towards RAW capture like the Red Epic, where you can have 120fps of 14mp shots to choose from. :)
I'll add a caution to using video lights on certain subjects. I've found that some subjects reacting badly to constant light but don't much mind 1/10k per second strobe flashes. I had to strangle my dive buddy for shining his 20k lumen lights, which spooked tuna and sharks from a bait ball. Light off, they came back in to eat.
Questions like these don't have a right or wrong answer. Some people manage both with ease and others struggle. To paraphrase Harry Callahan "Good people always know their limitations!" Having the flexibility of choice is wonderful, but can also be problematic.

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#8 Ammar

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Posted 28 April 2014 - 07:14 AM

Hi Thani.. I wonder if you had good results in using the video lights for stills?

 

Basically I ordered 2 FIX Aquavolt 3500 lumen video lights to use them with my Canon 5D MRK II. I plan to shoot both stills and videos, the latter mainly with GoPro 3+, and I do not want to mount 2 strobes and 2 video lights to the arms as I used to do previsouly.

 

I have a trip to the Red Sea on May 7, and I'm still confused as to whether I can count on the vid lights alone for stills as well, as I will not have the time to test them underwater before traveling.

 

Would appreciate your update about this matter.

 

Regards.

Ammar



#9 thani

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Posted 28 April 2014 - 08:17 AM

Hi Ammar,

unfortunately I did not travel the rout of doing both video & stills. I am still hanging on video.

Hi Thani.. I wonder if you had good results in using the video lights for stills?
 
Basically I ordered 2 FIX Aquavolt 3500 lumen video lights to use them with my Canon 5D MRK II. I plan to shoot both stills and videos, the latter mainly with GoPro 3+, and I do not want to mount 2 strobes and 2 video lights to the arms as I used to do previsouly.
 
I have a trip to the Red Sea on May 7, and I'm still confused as to whether I can count on the vid lights alone for stills as well, as I will not have the time to test them underwater before traveling.
 
Would appreciate your update about this matter.
 
Regards.
Ammar

I am sure some of the guys on this forum have done or tried both type of shooting. And they would participate to help you answer your inquiry.
One way doing both from a technical perspective, is to use strobes/flash for photography and to use the ambient light for video. Your camera should have good light sensitivity and does not need artificial lights in most the cases.
Best Regards,
Thani

#10 Ammar

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Posted 28 April 2014 - 08:20 AM

Thank you. Well, I'll open a new thread about the issue.



#11 ehanauer

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Posted 28 April 2014 - 08:24 AM

I'll echo what Steve Williams said. The equipment can do it, your brain can't. At least my brain can't. I usually decide ahead of time to concentrate on video or stills on a trip. I might devote a day or two to the other, but stay on target the rest of the time.
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#12 Ammar

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Posted 28 April 2014 - 08:59 AM

You are right ehanauer. I did try both stills and videos in the same dive with my DSLR and it was confusing.

 

This is why I purchased GoPro 3+ to mount it on the housing for shooting video only. I understand that the quality will not be the same as that of a full frame DSLR camera, but it will free my mind to concentrate on stills only.



#13 Interceptor121

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Posted 29 April 2014 - 06:25 AM

I think is near to impossible for an SLR or interchangeable lens shooter to do video and stills in the same dive as the optics requirement differ.

 

If you are happy with a fisheye lens for your close focus wide angle you may not find this pleasing or practical when you shoot video, when you go onto a macro dive with your 60/100mm you will find that having only super close shots in video is boring like hell and you can't actually even do a wider scene with that lens.

 

In theory with a compact camera and wet lenses this is more of a possibility provided you have strobes and video light on your rig. But mentally this is confusing as your dive style between photos and video does change.

 

A Gopro on top of your rig is good to give you a bit of an impression of what the dive felt like but it comes nowhere near what you can achieve with a device where you can actually frame the shots


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#14 Stuart Keasley

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Posted 29 April 2014 - 12:20 PM

Fish eye would look ugly in video, however wide angle and macro lens choices would be very similar, so no real issue there...

 

However the head set would be a struggle. Video, you need to be thinking about the getting the detail, ins and outs, cut aways, GVs, what you've done and what you need to do build the sequence and tell the story. Trying to mix stills into the middle, if you're as feather brained as me, you'll forget where you are with the video, and won't have sufficient time to concentrate on the stills to get good results there either.

 

The lighten requirements are also very different, as are the settings on the camera... so the more you swap between the two, the more time you'd waste resetting and settling in.

 

So, I'd say keep it simple. If you're doing a video dive, focus on that, stills then think of stills... and even more than that, dedicate each dive to video wide or video macro, stills wide or stills macro. 


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#15 Interceptor121

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Posted 29 April 2014 - 12:45 PM

I think the above post from Stuart summarizes why in my opinion videos shot with a camcorder or even with a compact camera with wet lenses are always more interesting than your average DSLR video

 

It takes  a lot of effort with interchangeable lens to go in the water and shoot wide and then do another dive with another port to do the close up part of hopefully the same fish

 

A lot of people that shoot stills think video is just pressing record and keeping a fixed exposure as if they were taking pictures but it is not at all like that and the video that come out are usually a collection of critters or a bunch of panoramic shot that look pretty but are not engaging


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