Video A-Z

Video A-Z

Most cameras can now shoot video, but what quality and features can you expect from each type?

  • A good smartphone can shoot really good video. You don't get the manual exposure, colour and zooming controls of a serious video camera, but don't let that stop you trying. If you give a professional videographer a smartphone, they'll shoot professional-looking video because (a) video technique is a major factor in the quality of the results and (b) they'll understand the limitations of the device and work within them.

  • Even a basic point-and-shoot compact camera now can shoot 1920 x 1080 full HD video, but the shape makes them quite awkward to use and the small sensors and slow processors limit the quality.

  • DSLRs and compact system cameras offer bigger sensors, more processing power and interchangeable lenses, though their ergonomics are designed for stills photography rather than video.

  • Professional camcorders are better adapted for video, but they are the most expensive and specialized option and not suited for stills photography – many photographers are now required to shoot both.

  • Action cameras are at the opposite end of the scale. They're cheap, tough and simple to use and can clamp to almost any object to get you video footage you couldn't capture any other way.

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Rod Lawton is Head of Testing for Future Publishing’s photography magazines, including Digital Camera, N-Photo, PhotoPlus, Professional Photography, Photography Week and Practical Photoshop.