Saturday, November 29, 2008

Solution Looking for a Problem?

That is the consensus of reviewers of a new product from Nikon--The D90.

The Nikon D90 is a Digital SLR still camera. It is a high-end model just below their professional cameras. Overall it is an outstanding performer as a digital camera with hardly any compliants from even the most thorough reviewers.

What makes this camera different, and the reason I'm bringing it to your attention, is the so-called "solution looking for a problem", the ability to shoot 720p HD video.

There appears to be a feeling among still photographer that adding video is a silly waste of resources, and the no real photographer would have any interest in it.

I don't have any friends in the Nikon marketing department, but I think I have a pretty good idea of why they added that feature, and further why it is very cool.

I suspect that many people, myself for example, never used a real film SLR camera. Instead we being products of our convenient environment have become accustomed to instant cameras, Polaroids and at the best point and shoot 35mm cameras. Once small digital cameras became sensible to own we became accustomed to what there were capable of, most notably, compact size excellent image quality and a great video feature that you weren't quite sure what to do with.

If point and shoot digital cameras have one annoying flaw it would have to be the annoying shutter lag that makes an capturing action shot more a game luck than skill. So that flaw created a market for the entry level DSLR. No more shutterlag. That new market introduces the the casual photogrpher to a whole new world of expensive lenses, depth of field, circular polerizers and the rest that goes woth the hobby. But up until now that new expensive camera lacked video. I have come to like the ability to capture videos without the need to also carry a camcorder.

I have yet to find a convergence product that does two things well. Cameras are no exception.

But the D90 does something very special.

It's not just some grainy, ugly video that would be considered better than nothing. Instead it is very high resolution 720x1280 at 24 frames per second. In a previous post I tried to define HD and this camera is not exactly what I would call HD, but the video is of reasonable quality.

Now consider the fact that you can use a myraid of very high quality lenses and that it shoots at 24fps you now have a consumer product for just over $1000 that actually can have a real film look! We can argure what cinstitutes "film look", but in this case I'll say it looks like film in two key ways: depth of field and motion blur.

This site has bunch of examples shot on the D90: vimeo (I have not viewed all of the video posted, view at your own risk!)

I'll post a few examples of how this camera can be used creatively.

Stream from Jeff Greer on Vimeo.

Central Park, November 25 from Alfonso Bui on Vimeo.

Transitions from Chris Beaumont on Vimeo.

Here's a brilliantly edited wedding video. It is a great example of the D90's beauty as well as it's flaws. The primary flaw being the rolling shutter affect caused by the CMOS.

Nikki . Noah from Go Speed Go on Vimeo.

Needless to say I hope to see this under the Christmas tree this year:)

This idea makes me wonder if Nikon or Canon or the others will develop dedicated video body for use with the collection of expensive DSLR lenses that the enthusiasts collect?

~Jay Morrissette

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