A Short Course Book
Displaying & Sharing
Your Digital Photos

Shooting Movies

Movies can be played back on a computer equipped with the right software.
The almost universally recognized movie mode icon.
Click to see a movie captured with a still camera's movie mode.
Professional quality video is 30 fps but many cameras capture fewer than that.

Many digital cameras can capture short video clips that are of surprisingly good quality. Although most SLR cameras can't capture them, there are exceptions. The problem is that SLR cameras don't create an image on the sensor until the shutter is open so there is no stream of images from which to make frames in a movie. To overcome this problem, one company (Olympus) uses a second sensor in the viewfinder to continually feed images to the monitor, and to capture movies.

In most cases, image sizes are reduced from those used to capture still images so the camera can process the video as it's being captured and so file sizes are as small as possible. Sizes normally include very small 160 x 120, TV quality 640 x 480 (VGA) and 1280 x 720 HD.

Most digital cameras use AVI, MOV, or MPEG video formats so you can view or share your clips in a number of ways. (If your video isn't in the "right" format, you can find programs that convert it by Googling "video conversion").

  • Your computer can play back movies as long as it's equipped with the appropriate software. This software comes with your camera, usually on a CD, but most new computer systems already have it installed.
  • TV movies have to be in the MPEG format and on a Video CD or DVD disc. However, you can play back any format when you use a cable to connect your camera to the TV or VCR and use the camera as the playback device.
  • E-mail is a great way to distribute short video clips but anything longer than a few seconds may be too large to send. The recipient also has to have the necessary playback software installed to view the video.
  • Web sites, such as YouTube.com, that let you share movies with friends and strangers are popping up all over. You just upload your clip and send friends its address so they can view it.
  • iPods and other portable devices play video clips in the formats they support—usually MPEG-4.
  • Printing individual frames from a video clip is possible on some cameras when printing directly from the camera to an attached printer. You can also print frames from a video editing program.
Just playing back a video isn't all you can do with it. There are programs you can use to edit it or you can incorporate it into other, larger projects. For example, you can insert movies into slide shows or even play them as wallpaper or screen savers on your desktop. It's amazing how stringing together a series of very short clips can tell an interesting story.

Some cameras let you do basic editing in the camera. For example, you can remove beginning and ending sections to isolate the most important section.

Although digital zoom is a useless feature for still images, it does add something to movies which can't be cropped after they have been shot. The same can be said for special effects such as sepia tones and black and white modes.
A wind filter built into a camera digitally reduces the noise caused by wind blowing across the microphone.

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