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Serious point - why is video driving our camera designs?

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by pdk42, Jan 18, 2016.

  1. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team Subscribing Member

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    Prompted by some wholly disproportionate angst on my part about flippy screens (see Will I have to leave u43?), I've been thinking about video a bit. It's clear that the flippy screen design is driven to a large degree by video use but I'm really struggling to understand why people want video at all in our class of cameras. Now that may be a strange thing to say, but here's where my thinking is:

    - I can make still images that have aspirations to artistic value with just me, my camera, a lens and some PP. If I do the job right I can get it published in National Geographic :)  and be famous amongst my peers with just a modest amount of kit (I can dream).

    - People can see my images easily and quickly. I can print then and hang then, I can embed them into forums like this etc very easily. Viewers can see my work without burning bandwidth and taking time to appreciate it fully. I personally never view members' videos here - simply because of the time it would take on my part to appreciate them.

    - With video though, to make a decent work, I need to script it, film it in several scenes/takes, take care with recording audio, make sure the camera platform is steady, worry about pans and focus pulls etc etc. All this requires a bunch of additional kit (specialist audio gear, camera mounts/slides, ...) and maybe one or more helpers. Then I'll need to spend hours upon hours of time editing it and then finally I might get a few minutes of something of value for that effort. Bottom line - to make a work with artistic value I'm into a lot of kit and effort.

    - Now I realise that I can make a video with just a basic camera setup, but it's unlikely to be good enough to qualify as artistically significant. The level of production quality I need to make people view it as more than "home video" is pretty high.

    - So, I'm left with the view that if I'm really serious about video then I'm probably looking at dedicated video gear. So, why are cameras like the OMDs and Pens being driven into 4K, flippy screens and all when in truth for most people they'll only ever use their cameras for casual home video.

    I'm really not trying to troll or be contentious for contention sake here - I'd be very interested from videographers how they see things!
    • Agree Agree x 3
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  2. riverr02

    riverr02 Mu-43 Veteran

    May 2, 2011
    New York
    My two cents, as someone who is not a professional photographer or videographer. This is a hobby for me, one that I enjoy immensely- both for the artistic output and the technology behind it. I use my cameras to document my family, my girls growing up, our family vacations, and so on- and I like to do that via both photographs and video. Before, I'd have to carry around a camera and a camcorder and would end up preferentially using one over the other. Now I no longer have to do so, and I'm grateful to be able to capture great photographs and video with one device.
    • Agree Agree x 4
  3. dornblaser

    dornblaser Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 13, 2012
    David Dornblaser
    Because the market demands it. I, too, shoot both stills and video but look beyond this board and you will see people shooting video with their phones everywhere. Video is now mainstream. It sells. DSLR and m4/3 video is also becoming very sophisticated, just look at numerous indie films shot with DSLR and m4/3 cameras. You can make some really good video now without investing in "dedicated video gear".
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2016
    • Agree Agree x 1
  4. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Legend

    Mar 21, 2014
    I shoot video every once in a blue moon (going on once a year, in general), and selfies perhaps only slightly more often, the two usual arguments for the fully articulated screen.

    But I still badly want a fully articulated screen, as it's a design decision that I want for pure photography purposes. And that's taking portrait orientation shots from low, high, or outstretched angles.

    My M4/3 cameras are light enough that they let me shoot with a single outstretched arm at perspectives that I can't do with an old SLR (or god forbid my medium format rangefinder). I prefer to embrace that and take advantage of the creative freedom. The tilt screen is highly limiting for this (one could say "pointless"), and while an articulated screen is admittedly cumbersome for some applications, it has clear and distinct advantages in a number of purely still photographic contexts.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  5. dixeyk

    dixeyk Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 9, 2010
    It's hard to say exactly. The addition of high video is seen as an important feature addition. I get where you are coming from but cameras companies make their decision based on what they think will sell more cameras. In Olympus' case it could be as simple as having feature parity with their m43 counterpart Panasonic that has long been video centric or perhaps influence from Sony that invested a good deal of money in Olympus a few years back.

    Also, video from DSLRs has been going on for the past several years. The smaller size of the cameras makes them ideal for a lot of uses. I'll see if I can find it, there is an interview with the cinematographer from the movie Secretariat that used Olympus m43 bodies to get a number of shots of the house racing from the rider and horse perspective. I think manufacturers are simply looking to grow the appeal of their products.
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2016
    • Agree Agree x 2
  6. John M Flores

    John M Flores Super Moderator

    Jan 7, 2011
    Agreed. And it's a bit of a hyperbole to say that video is driving camera designs. Most cameras are still 95% oriented towards photography; at most you'll find a couple of video-centric buttons and a single menu dedicated to video while the rest of the features and menus are decidedly stills-oriented. Even the mighty GH4 needs a large accessory to become more video centric.
    • Like Like x 1
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  7. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    I think it is because people want to make videos, not good videos. Like snapshot videos. So no complex gear, lights, etc.

    But you could say the same for a cell phone: to make a good picture you need a lot of suff, different depending on the subject: lights, tripod, filters, lenses, etc. So why are they placing a camera into a telephone? Because it works fine enough.
    Why do you have Art filters when you "need" a real PP software?

    Then you have photographers who are just considering video, maybe they'll get a dedicated camera eventually, maybe it is not worth it. A m43 camera used properly can give you, I suppose, 90% of what a real video camera can, at a much smaller price. Then videographers on a budget.
    • Agree Agree x 2
  8. Nathanael

    Nathanael Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 12, 2015
    A lot of people do photography to record and remember important or meaningful events and places. Sometimes a video better captures the moment. You can have a hundred artistically composed and technically excellent pictures of your 1 year old but a video of her first words adds something that no additional MP or dynamic range on your stills is going to add.

    I think this is being a bit melodramatic. Or I guess it's not really because based on your post I feel like you do photography with the goal of creating objectively "good" work that might be featured in NatGeo or get lots of +1 when posted to forums. And if you decided to take up videography you'd aspire to the same. (this is not meant to be a dig by an means) I think the silent majority of photographers, m43 and otherwise, do with much more personal aspirations and so there's no need to "make a work with artistic value" when it comes to video. I say 'silent' because I think this demographic has comparatively little interest in trawling online forums.

    So for occasional home video I think it makes perfect sense to favor cameras with better performance, even if you can argue into perpetuity whether you need 4k. Just like you can argue that 8MP stills should be fine for web viewing or whatever. It's clearly not in the manufacturers interest to try to down sell their customers so I don't think that's a useful argument.
  9. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman Subscribing Member

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    I think the idea that video is driving camera design is erroneous. The trend to floppy screens is probably driven as much by the 'selfie' market as it is the video market.

    Ergonomically, still camera form factors are actually pretty crap for video work in terms of stability, control and connectivity compared to dedicated video cameras.

    I recognise that producing compelling video is way more skill/labour/technology intensive than a still image, but I am happy to have that facility for when that mood takes me

    The manufacturers attempt to make a product that will sell the market they are targeting. If that market is asking for video - regardless of whether they are ever going to use it - then video will be part of the feature set. The truth is that there are a lot of people creating video of all levels of competency - see You tube or other social media.

    If you were asking me to get on a high horse about things I feel are a waste of space on current cameras I would get rid of Art filters, exposure bracketing and HDR :) 

  10. dixeyk

    dixeyk Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 9, 2010
    Here's that link I mentioned

    Is video essential to these cameras? No, but I doubt you'll see too many cameras being produced anymore without it. It's the same for something like wifi. I work in educational IT and and am probably more connected than most and I don't use wifi. In a world that stays connected through mobile phones however I can certainly see how it's inclusion makes these cameras more appealing to a wider audience. Same is true of video (and sadly @kevinparis@kevinparis...Art filters and HDR as well).
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2016
  11. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Legend

    Mar 21, 2014
    I can understand Art filters, and even in-camera HDR, but exposure bracketing?
    • Agree Agree x 4
    • Informative Informative x 1
  12. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    Why, have you ever used that??? :) 
  13. ijm5012

    ijm5012 Mu-43 Legend Subscribing Member

    Oct 2, 2013
    Pittsburgh, PA
    People can see my videos quick and easily. With the presence of Youtube and Vimeo, getting my videos out there is easier than ever. Viewers can see my work by flagging it as "watch me later", to watch on their home computers, or watch on their device when connected to wifi (which is pretty much everywhere now-a-days. We're not in the 20th century anymore...).

    Don't you need to script a good image too? Think about the lighting, time of day, weather, subjects, people, accessories, etc.? That's all scripting a photo in my opinion.

    There are plenty of videos where you only get one shot (much like photography). No redo's or multiple takes. I use a tripod in both video and photography, so it's a moot point there as well. I don't worry about pans, I just shoot in 4K. I don't worry about focus pulls, I just bump my switch to MF and enable focus peaking. The only "specialist" gear that I use to shoot video over photos is a variable ND (and even that is useful in photography), and a microphone. That's it.

    True, it does take much more time editing a video, but the end result is worth it. IMO, video tells a much more powerful story than a photo does. It can capture events and memories better than a photo can, and the audio can be very important (a baby's first words, the voice of a loved one you've lost, etc.). That's something no photo can ever do.

    Just like how the production quality needed to make an image worthy of Nat Geo is high as well, no?

    Or, thanks to our wonderful camera manufacturers, you can just buy a hybrid camera. I have two GH4's that shoot something like 7 FPS with AF tracking, have great dynamic range, fantastic AF with technology like DFD, dedicated dials to select my drive, AF, and shooting modes. It's a wonderful stills camera. But it also has ports for mic-in and audio-out, a 4K-capable sensor, it will do 1080p in 60 & 96 fps, it has V-Log for color matching & correcting. It's a wonderful video camera.

    So, with the expansive popularity of video, why would a manufacturer go through the trouble to create a device, only to alienate a section (possibly the majority) of it's potential customer base?
  14. Dave Lively

    Dave Lively Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 16, 2014
    I shot some video once when got my GX7 and have not used it since. But having video available has not made my GX7 less of a still camera in any way. Since video is a must have feature for some and it adds very little additional cost there is no reason not to include it in all cameras.

    I remember reading posts about tilt vs. tilt swivel LCDs before video was an option. Even though I only shoot stills I am not sure which I prefer. Both work pretty well for me.

    While Panasonic and Olympus both do a good job keeping video features out of the way of still only photographers not all camera companies do. I used to own a NEX-5N that had a dedicated record button that could not be repurposed or disabled. It was positioned so it was easy to hit accidentally and on more than one occasion I ran down the battery making long videos of the ground. They eventually added an option in a firmware update to disable it but still did not allow it to be used for something I found useful. In a camera that lacked buttons and control wheels it was annoying to see a perfectly good button going to waste. Unless Panasonic and Olympus start doing things like that saying that video is driving camera design is not accurate.
  15. jimr.pdx

    jimr.pdx Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 5, 2010
    near Longview ~1hr from PDX
    Jim R
    You sound like a Pentax customer :)  the market 'forced' them to put nasty video in their lovely still cameras. They did so but it's probably as weak a video set as any - though it improves slightly every generation. Market pressure affects even them.. as do reviewer ratings of their cameras, high scores despite points off for fixed screens & basic video.

    I seldom use video in my cameras but I'm glad it's there. We've had some Varied Thrushes in our yard, skittish birds that flip leaves over & eat the bugs. I keep trying for still shots but they jump as soon as I click. Ideal video targets (suppose I could use burst mode.. :oops: )

    - I could do this just as well with Pentax, with no autofocus, digital SR and only recently h.264 throughout the lineup (K-5 series used M-Jpeg). Their latest camera is the first with a flip screen, but no doubt it won't be the last.
    • Funny Funny x 1
  16. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman Subscribing Member

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    Have never seen the need for it in my photography - I am sure to some people its important... but not to me. It kind of strikes me as being a legacy feature from analog film days where you could not instantly see the results of your exposure

    we all shoot differently - which makes the manufacturers job pretty hard at deciding a feature set

    • Agree Agree x 1
  17. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Legend

    Mar 21, 2014
    Yeah, as a landscape photographer I regularly use exposure bracketing. Sometimes with the intent of doing an HDR-merge, but since I predominantly shoot handheld, often I end up getting better results from a specific single exposure and massaging it. It's often hard to tell which exposure will give you the best results when you're dealing with the absolute edges of the camera's capabilities, as sometimes you are able to reclaim more highlight detail than you expect from a moderate exposure, whereas other times you need to really dig deep and go with the -1.5EV or -2EV underexposure and boost the shadows to get any kind of foreground detail, since they will typically just be silhouettes in the RAW at that point.

    Even on a tripod, if there are trees/leaves in the subject and any wind at all, multiple shots usually result in problematic HDR merging, because even single-pixel displacements cause ghosting. It's a lot like working with the Olympus high-res mode, I imagine. The in-camera HDR usually ends up being the worst of both worlds, where I get the artifacting/ghosting of the HDR merge, and no better dynamic range than a single RAW exposure properly massaged.

    Anyway, that's a long digression, but Kevin's last point above is a good one. Everyone uses their cameras in a different way, and so the manufacturers ultimately need to throw everything in and hope that its pleasing enough to a broad group of people. Fuji and Sony probably don't care that any camera over $700-800 without a touch-screen is an instant dealbreaker for me (I can probably tolerate it for something like a Ricoh GR, or an underwater camera), but I can't be the only one for whom that's the case, so yeah, picking features to include is a hard compromise.
    • Like Like x 2
  18. Jonathan F/2

    Jonathan F/2 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 10, 2011
    Los Angeles, USA
    I wouldn't mind if one of these camera companies designed a barebones stripped down camera with just basic function and not charge a leg for it!
  19. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Legend

    Mar 21, 2014
    Most camera features are just software, and use code that they've already written, so cost nothing. And very little of the cost of a camera can really be linked to its physical manufacture (by contrast, I expect the R&D required to develop proper weather sealing would be a lot more expensive than its physical implementation.) I can't imagine you'll see any such product come to market, because all they'd be doing is stripping away their margins, which are currently the only thing that's keeping them all afloat in a shrinking camera market.
  20. dixeyk

    dixeyk Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 9, 2010
    That's it exactly...Fuji and Sony don't care and that's perfectly understandable. I would love for a company to make a camera just for me but that is not going to be the case, they are looking to create something with broad appeal If they created something for me it would have no AF, have only 2 dials, no EVF and cost $100
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