Like most that have used a point and shoot camera in the past couple of years, I have played with the built in video functions that are common in these types of cameras. I never really thought I would see this function invade the sanctity of he SLR world until the release of the Nikon D90. Looking back, I guess it was a natural progression but one that I don’t fully embrace. Right on the heels of the D90 came the Canon 5D Mark II and the beautifully produced hi-def video from Vincent Laforet. I have to admit that after I saw his beautifully produced video made with the Mark II I was excited to get some hands-on time with the D90.
The big advantages to having the video is that you get both high definition video along with the interchangeable lenses of the dSLR camera. Here’s the big problem for me and that is that the camera has no auto-focus capability while in video mode. This wouldn’t be so bad except that you have to use the rear LCD screen to not only compose the shot but also to focus. Although there is a nice large LCD on the back of the camera, it is still difficult to focus. Also, there is no way to take advantage of the great variability in depth of field that I was expecting to get with a still camera lens. After going back to look at the Laforet video, it’s apparent that much of the footage was shot using tripods and possibly even a steadycam rig. This helps immensely when doing pans and zooms but is probably not how the average customer will use the camera. So here’s my likes and dislikes from my first outting with the camera.
- Great looking hi-def video
- Flexibility of interchangeable lenses
- Surprisingly good built-in mic
- Ready-to-use AVI format
- I had very little time to actually use the camera but it was very simple and intuitive to use the simple video controls.
- No auto-focus.
- No flexibility in aperture selection.
- Camera must be held out from body to use the rear LCD for focusing and general videotaping.
- Video recording has to be reactivated if you decide to take a still frame during video capture.
My little review wouldn’t be complete without some sample video so here is a clip from this past weekend at the National Museum of the American Indian during a Dios de los Muertos celebration.