You thought it was just for taking photos, but what happens if you take one of the most popular cameras from 2012 and use it to shoot video?
It wasn’t that long ago that we had to spend lots of money on things that seemed very similar, yet did different things. I’m talking about photos and videos and the respective cameras which shoot them.
You probably went out and bought one of each but gradually over the last few years, the still camera development teams have been teaching the ‘old dogs’ of digital photography some new tricks. It wasn’t much to write home about at first. Limited video resolutions and frame rates just about scraped up to mobile phone handset quality but then, as often is the case, technology made a giant leap for the good of all camera toting humankind.
Micro four thirds and video
When Olympus and Panasonic got together to work on the M4/3ds format they had a few things on their minds. One was easy to use interchangeable lens cameras, another was fast autofocus (while still having to use ‘contrast detection’ technology), another was video.
Cameras used to pipe video from the sensor to a 2-3 inch LCD by way of allowing the user to preview the photos before capture but that was just about all they were useful for. M4/3 cameras turned all that on its head by introducing technology which could pipe lots of data very quickly from the sensor to a storage card without taking too much power or causing too much heat distress to the sensor, so if you’re in the market for a camera that can do both photo and video, it’s good to know that the M4/3 standard was made with exactly that in mind.
The Olympus OM-D EM5 as a movie camera
Let me state this straight away, just like in Steve Huff’s excellent review of the OM-D EM5, I too have found that the quality of the video footage is very good indeed. There are cameras that can do better (Canon 5D mk3, Nikon D800), but they are far more expensive and may not give you better results unless you’re using some extra bits and pieces (like a tripod). Have a look at this video from the EM5:
Admittedly the may be one or two focusing and tracking issues which pro-movie makers may pick up on but this footage was shot on the EM5 without any extra accessories whatsoever. In my book, that makes this camera a game changer!
Most video cameras (especially the ones you hold in front of your face) are pretty much useless without a tripod. Without one the footage is shaky and amateurish yet here we have a handheld camera which can produce some wonderfully smooth, shake free footage which makes video so much better to watch.
Steady as she goes….
Most pro video makers who I have met always seem to give the same advice to those who want to learn quickly. They will talk about white balance, exposure and focus but they will always mention tripods in the list too. You see, when video is shaky and jittery, its hard to watch and thats why the EM5 is such good news for everyday users when it comes to making movies.
Without some kind of stabilisation, your footage just won’t look good and if you want smooth footage while moving, then your options suddenly become very limited (and very expensive). Professional anti-shake gizmos cost thousands and would probably raise more than an odd eyebrow or two if you turned up with one to film your family holiday but the EM5 features five axis anti-shake which will make a big difference (within reason) while you are shooting with the EM5.
With the EM5 you will be able to:
- Hold the camera steady for longer
- Pan more smoothly
- Walk slowly on a relatively even surface without affecting your footage
- experiment with new shooting angles by holding the camera at waist height with the flip out screen
- Set your focus to manual, autofocus can be a bit of a pain when the image shifts in and out of focus during recording
- Don’t zoom in and out too much. It’s known as ‘tromboning’ and always helps contribute to that ‘amateur video feel’
- Plan your shot before you take it. Not always possible but when it is, then try practicing your camera movements first
- Longer than 3, shorter than 20… Seconds for each shot
- Tell a story through your camera. Think ‘how will this shot fit in with the rest?’ how will your footage tell a story?
- Remember to stay quiet if your camera records sounds, this may include fidgeting, clothes rustle or even breathing noises