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Is Video the Future of Still Photography?


Microsoft expert, Kostas Mallios discusses the move to photography becoming one with video in the future.

At the Pro Photo Summit, Kostas Mallios, general manager of the Rich Media Group at Microsoft, talked about the direction he believes photography is headed and what he sees coming in the near future. Having video and still-image capabilities in the same product is something he saw as inevitable and very exciting.

I have said for a long time that video cameras and still-image cameras were on a collision course. The resolution of video cameras is getting higher, as is the frame rate of still cameras. Not long ago, the Red One high-definition (HD) video camera came out, which was capable of delivering 12-bit RAW files at 1,080p (1,920 x 1,080 pixels) resolution with a 12-megapixel sensor at 30 frames per second. We were reaching a point where a single frame could be plucked from these video files and printed as a still image – perhaps not a 16×20 print, but definitely getting there.  Fast-forward to Aug. 28, 2008, when Nikon unveiled the D90 DSLR, a 12.3-megapixel camera capable of recording 720p (1,280 x 720 pixels) HD video at 24 frames per second and then Canon announced the EOS 5D Mark II with 21 megapixels, 1,080p (1,920 x 1,080 pixels) HD video at 30 frames per second, three weeks later.

As Neil Armstrong once said: “Houston, the Eagle has landed.”

While this might not be quite as exciting for all of mankind as the first moon landing, this is definitely a paradigm shift in the making. I am already seeing postings on photography blogs and e-mail lists from photographers who are learning about video, purchasing gear and adding it to the services they can offer clients. This is going to be a very exciting (and scary) time for photographers, as this technology presents new opportunities that will require an updated skill set. Being able to potentially shoot stills and video simultaneously could be very, very cool.

However, as Vincent Laforet, a foremost photojournalist and leading digital evangelist, discussed recently in his blog (see blog.vincentlaforet.com), the use of a digital still/video camera at events where television has purchased the rights to broadcast the event could create some major conflicts (and lawsuits).

This technology also raises a new set of questions about rights and usage, fees for postproduction (which will definitely require more time than still-image postproduction) and other items unique to the video world. At press time, Photokina and PhotoPlus Expo were right around the corner, so a lot more announcements may already have been made.

And how do the professional organizations deal with this? Should groups like the American Society of Media Photographers, Advertising Photographers of America and American Society of Picture Professionals now include videographers? Are we looking at longer acronyms, like ASMV&P, AP&VA or ASP&VP? Or perhaps we need to become “image producers” and change them all to ASMIP, AIPA and ASIPP?

Stay tuned: All changes will surely be caught on video.

Richard McEnery
Story Author: Richard McEnery

Richard McEnery started photographing as an amateur in 1976 at rock concerts and sporting events in New York City. Today, he is a professional photographer specializing in sports, travel, nature, and underwater photography. His nature and underwater work has been featured at the Long Beach Aquarium and the National Museum of Wildlife Art as well as in Popular Photography, Outdoor Photography (UK), Sport Diver, Scuba Times, and Dive Travel magazines. He has also received a "Highly Commended" award in the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition. Richard has worked at the US Open as an assignment photographer for Tennis Times. He is also a regular contributor on digital photography subjects for PhotoMedia magazine.

Website: www.mceneryphotography.com/ E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it