To Move, Or Not To Move

Almost all new Digital Single Lens Reflex Cameras (DSLR’s) now come with the option to shoot video, usually in some format of “High Definition”. And I’m really not sure about that.

The techy nerd in me hopes that the manufacturers would concentrate on making their wares do a better job of their primary job: shooting still images. More pixels? Possibly. Ten megapixels equates to a print of roughly A3 size, and how often do most DSLR users make A3 sized prints? So more pixels is nice to have but not essential. Less noise? Definitely. Noise is introduced when you have to shoot at higher sensitivities (i.e. change the ISO setting) to shoot in low light. The problem is that as you increase the number of pixels on the sensor you also increase the opportunity to introduce noise into the system. However with the move from CCD to CMOS sensors some of the new cameras are producing very good results at high ISO settings.

But ultimately it is not about technical details, its about the different emotions that still and moving images can produce. If you watch, say, the TV news, the camera is restless, it pans and tracks, roaming across a scene; it abhors stillness. And this I believe, reduces it’s emotional impact. A still picture of, say, a starving refugee forces you to look at it, gives you no comfort by panning away.

Take, for instance, this iconic image from the Vietnam War

Trang Bang, Vietnam, 1972 © Nick Ut / The Associated Press

© Nick Ut / The Associated Press

There was a film crew at the same location and film exists of this group of children running down the road away from a Naplam airstrike, but it is the still image that lingers in the mind, it was the still image that went around the world, the still image that won the Pulitzer prize, that in 1972 helped swing opinion against the conduct of the war, and remains the reason that the American and British military are very strict about the limitations they impose upon reporters and photographers working in modern war zones. The still image is actually the more moving image. The lack of colour, like the lack of movement only adds emphasis to the horror of the scene.

And that, in a nut shell is why I think moving images and still images are different beasts and should be kept in different cages.

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~ by @mmonyte on March 27, 2010.

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