Nikon D90 + Canon 5D + RED: Converging Technologies

As the earliest photographer to get his hands on the Nikon D90, I confess that a recent post on Engadget caught my attention. It called for feedback on the D90.

(Another reason I love Engadget: they know that the manufactures are listening – and this got me excited).

Regarding the D90, I’m of the humble opinion that this camera has very broad appeal. Not because of any brand loyalty or because I shot the campaign, or for any other reason really. (I’m a D3 user.) I’m talking simply conceptually here on the D90… So, for that matter, these ideas obviously apply to the the new Canon 5D –or any other dSLR that does or will soon shoot video — as well. Why do I think they have broad appeal? My personal experience tells me they do. When I look around, I’m watching advanced amateurs take photos, then shoot video and then shoot some more photos with the same device, and that is just plain cool. Dare I say it fits your “modern media/gadget lifestyle”? Sure I just barfed in my mouth when I wrote that, but we’ve honestly got to address this point: we’re ready for these devices in a prosumer, or even professional level. Hell, the iPod serves up audio (music, books, etc), photos, and videos in one device, so what’s wrong with…[click the ‘continue reading’ link below …]

…a single device that captures the same multitude of stuff?

FWIW, I don’t think these specific lines of cameras that capture stills, video, and audio were meant to “replace” anything just yet, no more than your 6 megapixel point and shoot + video camera was 2 years ago. The manufacturers are smarter than that. I know for certain that the D90 is intended primarily to have broad appeal, and I surmise that it’s secondary function is to begin reshaping how we think about pictures. I imagine the same for Canon’s angle. Consider this: aren’t these camera types really just a rally cry to address the booming dDSLR market and then they simply add value with video because it was easy to do so and because the consumers have said (through their buying habits, point and shoots, ipods, and other devices that unite previously disparate functions…) that they usually like such added values? Honestly I think these new iterations of cameras are game changers – perhaps not in their current incarnations, but certainly they are conceptually.

The D90 and it’s peer cameras have helped bring the general public to light on what cutting edge professional image makers have known for a good while: still cameras and video cameras are converging. Make no mistake. Video cams like the RED camera are able to extract 10mp still images – a respectable size image for printing. And my Nikon D3 still camera shoots 12mp images at 8-10 frames per second – approaching the speed of video. Catch my drift? This is pro quality stuff that’s converging…

I typically resist predictions, but in this case I’m gonna overstate the simple fact that one day not far from here the two camera types will be indistinguishable, save perhaps their “primary” functions at the highest end of the spectrum (video or stills, respectively). They’ll all be just something like “cameras” or “capture devices”–or as the RED camera peeps are calling it, a DSMC (digital still & motion camera)–and we’ll all know that they can record whatever is going on in front of their lens. And I think that’s pretty cool.

Thus, for now, I think giving feedback to the manufactures of these devices is the best thing the market can do – one of the reasons I’m a fan of the Engadget post. Let’s give it to them constructively. Resist posting only claims about what certain cameras are or aren’t, can or can’t, will or won’t do, and start focusing on what you want in a camera. For it’s when manufacturers get THAT kind of feedback, that we all win.

38 Responses to Nikon D90 + Canon 5D + RED: Converging Technologies

  1. ilya October 21, 2008 at 1:53 am #

    Very interesting opinion, I think same.

    Stuff like Letus already show the way which pro will choose. It is very useful to have same lenses for video and photo capture, but same device will be coolest.

  2. Scallywagger Alex October 21, 2008 at 3:05 am #

    Being in/an around this industry, I think its a great point made. A given amount of people want to travel light an go home big. That being said if the user can carry one camera with a few lenses an shoot decent quality work its a great win/win situation. A new direction to take things would be to say okay now u have started giving the user a lil more edge to the product, lets talk along more lines of feasibility. Lets think how hard would it be to weatherproof these DSLR's/DSMC's. Pentax has done it to a certain degree, some small lil Point & Shoots thru Olympus has gone as far as drop proof/water proof to "X" amount of feet. I think an area that deserves to be looked at all over again is the rainy day shooter, that doesn't wanna wrap his/her gear in plastic bags/case; that wants to just go out shoot an enjoy the elements. Come home download an say I got that shots I couldn't have gotten last year, without compromising how much gear I had to take with me.

    Chase you and your team take/set-up grand scale shots, I would imagine the less gear you need to bring with you the faster/ more efficient things get done. To simplify a process down to the basics an say we don't have to worry about weather conditions, just bring a few micro fiber cloths, lets go would be such an improvement. Maybe I am just too much of a get-up an go photographer.

    I will not be constrained by the resources around me. I will go out an shoot photos/videos an make more than whats there. But to many times have I felt tied to shooting only when the weather permits a break in the rain/storm. Weatherproofing will cut these ties that bind. Canon / Nikon have both made subtle movements towards this process, but I don't think they have had enough feedback yet in that area. New 5d supposedly will let u get it a little bit wet. I think I heard 2-3 mins of rain or 10 mml (my stats maybe off). I think they could push this harder. I think its time the industry made the effort to say go shoot whenever, here is a great camera that can take care of itself.

  3. October 21, 2008 at 4:51 am #

    The facility I work at (Bigfoot Entertainment) shoots on the Red both on land and underwater. I’m with scallywagger alex on equipment reduction. If the Red Camera was more in the range of size of the D90, what a pleasure it would be to use! Surely, audio/video connections (and using a 35mm sensor) mean there will always be a minimum size. Perhaps what is needed are more wireless transfer capabilities so that the cameras can remain compact even when the peripherals may still be roomy – now we’re talking macbook air style.
    In a perfect world (ala “The Final Cut” w/Robin Williams but not nightmarish), our own eyes plus our imagination could create the stills and motion pictures of the stories we wish to tell – in 52-megapixel digital glory and ready to send to art dealers an festivals in a matter of hours :-)

  4. Vincent Laforet October 21, 2008 at 6:46 am #

    Chase – agree wholeheartedly – I second your opinion – Vince L

  5. Anonymous October 21, 2008 at 9:31 am #

    I sort of think you guys are nuts. I think camera manufactures want us to buy as many separate things from them as possible.

  6. Jason Wallis October 21, 2008 at 9:39 am #

    It is a convergence that will probably make a more concerted effort to capitalize on what 35mm motion picture didn’t. Motion Picture 35 has always had the capability to print high quality images from the motion picture footage, and taking that as inspiration we can see what did and didn’t work then, and see what the infinite possibilities are in the future.

  7. Shelby White October 21, 2008 at 10:23 am #

    When the D90 first announced, I think it made me take a step back. Just the thought of having Video on a DSLR was strange and I felt like it would take away from photography in itself–it really doesn’t.

    Now that you put it that way, the thought of a video/photo dslr is much more welcoming than before. I’d like to see RED come out with a camera that combines their high end video with a high Megapixel Dslr.

  8. Zak.Shelhamer October 21, 2008 at 12:12 pm #

    I think there is going to be some sweet video coming from these little bodies just because of the lens options. curious to see whats going to happen.

  9. Jared Froiland October 21, 2008 at 4:28 pm #

    Good points! I can see DSMC sticking really well, but who knows. Right?

    I think it could be beneficial to have video on semi-professional or pro body. Having video readily available from your DSLR would be great for recording any technical information you need about a shoot! (I.e. shoot number, who its for, date and time, etc). I also think, under water still photographers would totally go for a pro DSLR w/ video. I’d like to have it available on the mountains!

  10. Alvaro MAM October 21, 2008 at 7:38 pm #

    No doubt the convergence game is on and it is going to be the future, but my doubt right now is how long and well this convergence is going to settle.

  11. Serge October 22, 2008 at 1:26 am #

    It’s definitely a really interesting evolution which I will follow closely. I already had the chance of filming with the 5D and the results are amazing!

  12. Christian October 22, 2008 at 4:49 am #

    I recently met up with some friends here to see how raw footage of the RED one camera gets captured, converted, etc.
    It was amazing to see the quality of this camera! The screengrabs are great and with the color correction options inside the raw converter you can easliy print from that for most purposes.

    I consider the video capeabilities of DSLR as a “feature” at the moment. Even if it gets better, high end users or pros will go for the tools they need to get the work done. This will not be a SLR, at least for a long time.
    The same goes for still photography. You won’t just film and grab one frame.

    Tools change and distribution changes so with that the demands changes as well. BUT there is more demand. That’s the great part about it.

  13. Eduardo Fuentes October 22, 2008 at 11:05 am #

    Definitely, i think everybody thought the same thing when these two came out. It is the future i guess, the choice to either shoot video or photo, even both at the same time.

  14. Taylor Davidson October 22, 2008 at 12:32 pm #

    Perhaps the most important point: “Honestly I think these new iterations of cameras are game changers – perhaps not in their current incarnations, but certainly they are conceptually”

    Right now the video in DSLRs is a feature that the manufacturers have had to include to compete and to give customers what they (think) they want.

    The real fun comes when we start seeing more convergence and start seeing new ways to use the video / still combination. Build the capabilities and we’ll find new ways to use them.

    I’m scared what this means to photographers, but I like what Vincent is doing with the video / multimedia workshops to educate photographers about how to adapt, build skills and position themselves to take full advantage of the new technologies.

  15. Gary Gardiner October 22, 2008 at 6:48 pm #

    Canon has already dropped prices and is offering rebates on the low-end pro video cameras. XL2 with interchangeable lens is going away. The XHA1 has a hefty rebate at Amazon. Certainly looks like FX size sensors are on the way to replace old technology. Time to sell more lenses.

  16. Jeff Bach October 23, 2008 at 8:10 am #

    The addition of video to a DSLR body (any of several manufacturers) also serves to strengthen one more trend here that no one has mentioned…..democratization.

    Bigger better faster stronger and EASIER – the D90 makes all this true for the common person. The Bigfoot – Chase Jarvis – Hollywood cabal (always wanted to use that word) will soon be competing with that “common person” (generic term no offense intended) if this convergence thing comes to its logical conclusion :)

    “If it was easy everyone would be doing it” comes to mind here. The D90 certainly aids this.

    On the other hand, when everyone has the same tools, the art will become more important, because one thing most common people lack is that elusive “artistic thing”. So I think it will all work out, pretty much like techie convergence trends have already been doing for the last decade or so.

  17. Jason October 23, 2008 at 11:09 am #

    I travel. I blog. Features like this are incredibly useful for me. I don’t see myself making movies with the 5D MkII like Vincent Laforet or anything but still, it beats the hell out of toting around another camera (and bag and charger and battery) for different type of medium.

    Even if I felt like I didn’t have a use for it. It’s kinda like guns and condoms… Better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

  18. Anonymous October 23, 2008 at 6:52 pm #

    watching you use the D90, even just testing it, gave the rest of us confidence in our ability to take pictures and make videos with that camera. it inspirational and was a breath of fresh air. hopefully we don’t have to get tech speak from camera manufactures any more. hopefully they have learned that we don’t care about their many many dorky functions. we just want to take pictures. and now that there’s video in there……we want that too. thanks chase.

  19. Anonymous October 24, 2008 at 6:37 am #

    Jason said:
    “Even if I felt like I didn’t have a use for it. It’s kinda like guns and condoms… Better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.”

    What the hell? You shouldn’t have a gun and you should never use a gun. And fucking hell: you must use condoms

  20. Rockhopper October 24, 2008 at 8:57 am #

    I am buying one due to me being fired very shortly, anyone looking for a photographer give us a shout…

    Saving for a d90 now…

  21. jeremy earl mayhew October 24, 2008 at 1:48 pm #

    ok, call me coockcoo, but if manafacurers combine video and stills into one camera, arent’ they shooting them selves in the foot? becuase now instead of selling 2 products they are sellign one and cutting their revenue down. consumers will not buy dv tapes, or video camera bags, or books on using video cameras or video camera accessories?

    I am going to go out on a limb and say that video and stills will for the most part always be closy snuggly but distantantly seperate cousines.

    oh, and of course CJ rocks, duH!

  22. Bryan Soderlind October 26, 2008 at 7:57 pm #

    Very cool, a great way to freeze action even if your camera doesn’t sync as fast as that nice 1/800 that the H2 does. Now put a bitube on two of the new Broncolor packs and let’s freeze some china stars!

  23. Bryan October 26, 2008 at 7:58 pm #

    Oops that was meant for the high speed photography post, man i feel stupid.

  24. Stewart October 26, 2008 at 11:32 pm #

    Interestingly I have been writing about the same thing over the past month… And I think you are right on the ball!

    My personal opinion is that these new hybrid devices, capable of extremely high quality output at both still and ‘movie’ level are the very beginning of a very serious game changer.

    Here’s my thoughts…

    Any input appreciated.—what-on-earth-is-the-point.html—let-the-revolution-begin.html

  25. JFM October 27, 2008 at 2:44 am #

    Quality of DSLR video footage?

    The ability to shoot moving images in HQ with a DSLR is absolutely great. With all possible lens configurations there are almost no borders in setting up the right look.

    But what about the compression? How much depth is available for post production.Like color correction, or keying for example.
    It would be useless for almost all semi-pro/ pro puroses until this is possible.

    Unfortunately I did not have the chance to try that until now. Maybe Chase, Vincent or somebody else has already collected information.

    Thanks for this blog!

  26. Steve ten Have October 27, 2008 at 5:58 am #

    I do agree that the convergence is an obvious one but I think it’s early days before people start to use a DSLRs video capability as a major deciding factor when purchasing.

    Until they also look at the audio capabilities and also the comfort of the hardware form factor when it comes to shooting film the DSLR will remain a still frame tool with the video as secondary.

    There is a reason why SLR cameras are shaped the way they are and why video cameras are shaped differently. A good part of it has to do with the evolution of the hardware, i.e. an SLR had the film aligned with the Lens and the video cameras because of the historical use of tapes. For the convergence to really take hold as an all rounder the shape evolution will have to be pretty drastic.

    By the way – love your blog and photography.

  27. admin October 27, 2008 at 1:36 pm #

    The D90 makes documenting behind the scenes really easy and lightweight. No more carrying around a separate video camera and still dSLR. It’s an all-in-one deal now. I love it. I’ve just started to document my shoots, in a much similar way that Chase does, but not the same.

  28. Chris Clark October 27, 2008 at 4:14 pm #

    I am thinking I would rather see manufacturers spend that time and money improving low-light and dynamic range issues. Maybe even (gasp!) morph the physical shape of a dslr camera to one more comfortable to use (it gets old wiping nose oil off the lcd every few minutes since your nose is smashed against the back).
    Heck, what about a better sensor that goes beyond the Bayer/Foveon standards?

  29. Daniel Regueira October 28, 2008 at 2:48 pm #

    You’re right chris still, those advancements are great but at the same time compressing many technologies into one item is a huge accomplishment as well. The important thing is for us to embrace this as not just photographers but as artists. Yes sensor quality, low light quality and other little tech specs can be improved upon, no doubt, and we love that stuff, but at the same time it’s changes like these that can sometimes really change and maybe even revolutionize a whole art and industry.

  30. Anonymous November 4, 2008 at 10:53 pm #

    Bring on the convergence. We could all use some more toys!

  31. Tech News November 6, 2008 at 6:10 am #

    canon is the best…..

  32. PAUL TREACY November 21, 2008 at 4:05 pm #

    Wireless. That’s it. A little bluetooth capability so that we can add on some stereo field recording capability with a bluetooth shotgun mic. That would be well cool.

    I plan on getting the D90 early in the new year. The Canon is just a little expensive. Besides I already have a pro Nikon system. I would need to add good audio using an Olympus mounted on a small bracket and a mic in the hotshoe and try to trip the play buttons at the same time or smack my hands together in front to synch in post. All rather complicated.

    Anyway, if all the required peripherals could be bluetoothed together it would be well smooth.

    I plan to make some films for a new “Photohumourist In Motion” section at my website.

    Exciting times, I guess.

  33. Camera Chargers December 3, 2008 at 5:19 am #

    Great stuff,very informative!

  34. Fantastic job done!

  35. Michael January 26, 2009 at 11:45 am #

    Last Wednesday I used my two 5D MkII’s in a 3 camera music video shoot. The third camera was a Sony PMW-EX1. Audio was recorded on two additional devices. One audio recording device was an Edirol R4 Pro. The other audio recording setup was a Tascam USB Interface to a MacBook Pro.

    The Sony Camera, Edirol, and Tascam/MacBook Pro devices all synced sound perfectly over the full duration of the shoot (just over 20 minutes). To clarify – once the different sources are sync’d quickly and easily to the slate clap on the waveform at the beginning of the shoot they all stayed perfectly in sync for the rest of the video.

    Both Canon cameras audio and video sync’d perfectly to each other but drifted significantly from the other 3 devices even over a 3 minute segment. That is a very serious problem for me and one that introduces significant post-production trouble and expense.

    This issue was so unexpected (I haven’t run into this in years of working with a range of equipment) that I performed 3 subsequent tests to confirm that the 5D MkII’s run too fast. The results from the tests show both of my 5D Mark II run about 14 frames too fast in 10 minutes. Audio that is 1 full frame out of sync is noticeable on sharp sounds causing an echo. Audio that is 2 or 3 frames out of sync causes echo on any sound and looks odd in terms of lip sync.

    That the two Canon cameras audio sync’d OK to each other tells me that the cameras can be calibrated to a standard. Evidently they are just calibrated to an incorrect standard.

    Anybody else experience this? Does anybody really know if this is likely a chip issue or a firmware issue? Does anyone know an easy, reliable way to get the clips to conform to the standard without time-consuming constant tweaking?

    I contacted Canon tech support and the girl there wasn’t too concerned. She said: There is no fix and that the 5d isn’t really a video camera so what did I expect?

  36. cell phone dealers March 28, 2011 at 6:01 am #

    The Nikon D90 is a handsome looking camera coming in a black design. it has essentially the same size as its predecessor, the Nikon D80. Dimensions wise, the Nikon D90 measures 4.1 by 5.2 by 3 inches (HWD) and has a large, high resolution 2.5-inch, 920,000 pixels LCD screen.

  37. dallas cell phone repair April 5, 2011 at 4:25 am #

    To be honest, the huge range of controls on the Nikon D90 is definitely overwhelming for the newbie. If you’re new to Nikon DSLR, it will make good sense to read the manual a couple of times to make yourself familiar with the camera.

  38. Dr. Elliot McGucken June 25, 2011 at 9:13 am #

    Yes, but a Canon-based 9shooter system (with the Canon 5D Mark ii & HFS200) costs less than 1/10 cost of the RED EPIC and can be hand-held, as it is far lighter and smaller. The 9shooter also carries the advantages of redundancy and both dedicated stabilization for stills and dynamic stabilization for video, and one can use standard Canon lenses. In a showdown, the <$5,000 9shooter system would beat the $58,000+ EPIC RED hands down. And just you wait until the 9shooter with a Canon 5D Mark III & Mark IV!

    In a showdown, the 9shooter beats the EPIC RED hands down.

    Canon will eat into Red's market share far faster than Red will eat into Canon's market share.

    The 5d Mark III & IV, sdhx cards, USB3 hard drives–all these things will erode the Red Market share.

    Think about it–are google and facebook and amazon built from IBM mainframes? Or from off-the-shelf components designed for the masses? What happened to Sun Microsystems? RED is the Sun Microsystems. Canon is the Microsoft/Dell/Apple in this case. Today's $299 laptop from Fry's electronics beats the $20,000 Sun Ultra Spark Station from ten years ago.

    Moore's law tends to favor companies reaching up far more than companies reaching down.

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