In the future, will photographers just record video and pull out individual frames?

With the new HDSLR cameras, the technical quality of the frames the camera captures when shooting video is incredible. It looks like it is just a matter of time before HDSLR cameras can record RAW format moving images with no loss in quality compared to still images.

Photo: Andrew E. Larsen

So the question is: In the future will photographers just record video and pull out frames from the video? That doesn’t really sound likely. But why? What is the difference between shooting stills and video? There was a good discussion of this on a recent episode of This Week in Photography with Frederick Van Johnson, Alex Lindsay, and Catherine Hall

Here is the gist of the discussion:

90% of the rules are the same for stills and video. But there is a different way of thinking to the two.
With stills you are chasing that decisive moment. You are trying to grab the perfect moment in time where everything is perfect, everything comes together. You are getting ready for it, you are waiting for it to happen.

That thought process doesn’t happen in video.
With video you are setting up the frame and you allow things to happen within the frame. You can’t move the camera around as fast as people are moving around. The viewer will get seasick.
You capture the action moving through the frame.

As a photographer you are going to follow, constantly framing your subject. As a videographer you are going to allow things to occur within the frame. A very different way of shooting and a different way of thinking.

12 Responses to “In the future, will photographers just record video and pull out individual frames?”

  1. I guess it has a lot to do with the mindset… If you think of your camera as a still camera that is on constant burst mode, with super high frame rate, how will that affect your photography? One thing I can say is that soon you won’t have to worry about the recycle time for you lights (hint, hint) 🙂

    Canon actually showed a concept for such a camera at Shanghai World Expo a couple of weeks ago called the Canon Wonder Camera.

  2. [Haven’t taken the time to listen to the TWiB,] I would say NO.

    A photographic eye is different from a filmographic eye.

    At least for landscape, portrait, architecture. Other rules might apply for sports photography. Luck/ skill of shooting trigger happy actually might turn out to be inferior than post-shoot selecting stills from a video.

  3. Yes, very interesting discussion. Makes sense doesn’t it, that to cherry pick from the many thousands of frames a single still that captures the essence of moment, a moment intertwined with dynamic movement and expression. Rather than rely on the luck/skill of a trigger happy photographer hoping that they are lucky or skilled enough to capture that moment, why not be sure that the moment is captured and you just have to find it, select it and hone it in pre-production.

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