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A russian site recently released a program that allows Canon Liveview owners to record video with their digital camera. Not too long after, Nikon hacker Olivier Giroux posted a few tests of his own that do the same with a Nikon D700.

The next day I noticed a wave of news about updated remote-control software by a 3rd party (i.e. not Nikon). That got me thinking… clearly there is an SDK for Nikon cameras. How hard is it to get? I wondered.

Not hard at all. Basic form-filling skills is all you need. Last night I downloaded out the D700 SDK. Minutes later I had built the sample remote program and was pulling my D700′s strings over USB. That includes control of the Live View feed.

Good news: it is a viable video source. It’s fast enough, and the quality is sufficient.

Bad news: it’s a bit too low-quality to be really exciting. It’s roughly 30% below 480p resolution. The most unfortunate thing is they create the Live-View image by decimating the sensor data rather than downsampling it – as a result it aliases, moirés and looks terrible in low light.

Olivier hasn’t yet released his code, but the Nikon SDK is available for download and you can take a hack at it yourself while you’re waiting.

It seems like it shouldn’t be too long before there’s a more official convergence between digital camera and digital video technology. It’s all roughly the same optical technology. Why do we need two separate devices, with all their separate lenses and add-on equipment to record both still and moving images?

D700 Shoots Video
Video with any Liveview EOS Camera


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Comments

  1. rob0 says:

    “It seems like it shouldn’t be too long before there’s a more official convergence between digital camera and digital video technology. It’s all roughly the same optical technology. Why do we need two separate devices, with all their separate lenses and add-on equipment to record both still and moving images?”

    Nikon released the D90 several months ago which does just this. It’ll shoot HD video, but isn’t yet quite a replacement – the chip will overheat if you shoot for 5+ minutes. Also you’ll get some rolling shutter effects if you pan quickly. But you right this will only get better.

  2. The Oracle says:

    Speaking from the semi-pro photographer camp (I do sell pictures for profit, it’s not my day job), I really don’t see the convergence happening, and I really don’t think it’s a good thing for it to happen.

    I own a D90, and one of the reasons I bought it was because of the HD video mode. The physical form factor of the camera (being shaped as a DSLR) makes it quite uncomfortable for shooting video. It’s very hard to hold steady while adjusting the focus and the other controls are virtually impossible to touch without jostling the camera.

    But the camera feels absolutely fantastic as a still picture DSLR (if a bit light since I’m more used to the D300 and D700). After 2 days of use, I didn’t even have to look at the buttons while operating the camera, it just handles like a dream. If they rearrange anything to make it easier to shoot video, it will destroy the value as a still camera. The bottom line is it is a camera and they can’t comprimise it’s performance as a camera.

    This is in no way a negative review, I adore the D90, I’d recommend it to anybody who actually cares what their pictures look like, and the video mode is very useful for shooting quick clips. But to converge this into a true HD video camera would be producing a clunky piece of crap.

    There is a huge devide between the pro and amateur camps in photography. I was at a wedding rehersal last night were someone was asked to take a picture using a D300. Their first comment was that the camera must be an old junker because there’s no live view on the screen (the D300 does have live view by the way, it just wasn’t on). The professional was a bit offended and said that’s because it’s a real camera. The amateur just didn’t get it.

    To answer the question of why we need 2 devices. It’s because the devices are used in very different ways and for any professional, the tools *must* be tailored to the job. Not some sort of hybrid that’s pretty good at multiple tasks. An amateur can use the hybrid, which is why most P&S cameras have decent video modes, but someone who’s serious will use the right tool for the right job.

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