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4K for Nikon D5


Ramm Francis

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Mr. Reid:

I've been in the 35mm motion picture film and then video business for years. What I know about still image cameras is zip except I have always liked the colorimetry of Nikon cameras and lenses.

I will soon have nice 4.6K video cameras. What we need is an exceptional time-lapse video camera which brings us to search for the best DSLR cameras. Thus, we have two purchase criteria:

A. The best resolution still image camera in the Nikon line which I assume to be the new D5.

B. A still camera that can capture true, 4K (4096 x 2160) video images for time-lapse video (not UHD 3840 x 2160).

I know the D5 does 4K UHD in 1.5 crop mode. Not what is needed for our archival shooting. Here is the question:

"Though the D5 is rated to shoot UHD 3840 x 2160 video at 30p, is there any way to increase the video resolution by shooting single, still-frame images every 8-12 seconds for time-lapse as though one were taking still images? No, not the same as "video" at 30p - but is there a way to save those single frames or files (essentially full sensor still-image frames) so that they can be turned into high-quality 4K time-lapse video that are a higher resolution than UHD 3840 x 2160?"

I greatly appreciate your knowledgeable response.

Kindest Regards,
Jim Mitchell

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Actually, you don't need a 4K capable camera at all. Any digital camera can shoot timelapse (some older models might need an external time controller).

The only problem with timelapse is the mechanical shutter. These are usually rated for 100.000-300.000 shots, depending on the model. Timelapse eats through that very fast, so you might want to look into cameras with silent/electronic shutter modes.

 

(btw, the nikon d810 has more resolution than the D5, the D5 is a camera that focuses on speed and high iso performance, contrary to the d810 that focuses on low iso DR and high resolution)

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If it's just timelapse you're after at 4096 x 2160, the D5 is probably overkill.

The D750 would serve you just as well and the 6K (24 megapixel) images will go nicely to 4K in post. You would however need to frame in 16:9 and then crop to the very slightly narrower 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Just a very tiny slice off the top and bottom of the image required.

The D5's 4K looks to be limited to just 3 minutes and 3840 x 2160 so pretty useless for timelapse. I'm not sure it has a built in intervalometer like the prosumer Nikons?

The Canon 1D C has very similar colorimetry to the Nikons and shoots 4096 x 2160 at 24p or 25p. Do you need 30p at all? If not, then get the 1D C and simply fit your Nikon glass to it via an adapter.

If all this seems like too much of a workaround then the D5 would of course be very good in low light and fit the bill for timelapse but as it isn't out yet nor in my hands, I can't really be too sure about its suitability.

PS - the best resolution stills camera in the Nikon line is actually the D810 at 36MP or close to 8K... D5 is 20MP to keep the high ISOs sweet.

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Though I'm not Mr. Reid I believe I can help:

Yes, you can shoot timelapses to turn them into high quality 4K videos. Not only with the D5, but with pretty much any dslr since they all have resolutions higher than 4096x2160. The video functions of the camera don't come into play here. You'd be using the camera as a stills camera that shoots a single picture every x seconds, so not only 4K is possible, but also 8K, depending on the camera used. To record the timelapse you would need either an intervalometer or the built-in app/function of the camera to shoot pictures at regular intervals, and then load those pictures as a sequence in After Effects, for example...

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1) For Nikon cameras like D750, D800, D810, there's a time-lapse function that creates 1080p H.264. On the Nikon D5, this can be done in UHD (see the manual at http://downloadcenter.nikonimglib.com/en/products/320/D5.html, page 74). On my D800, I've found out that these kind of time-lapse movies utilize the full sensor and downsamples the image in high quality, so it's actually better quality than the usual video modes. I expect the same to be true for the D5.

2) If you are after the highest quality, you should use the "interval shooting" features found in these cameras. Then you get the output in Nikon RAW or JPEG (or both formats if you want). Then you'll get a series of still images that you can make into a time-lapse movie yourself. You can then do the exposure editing and coloring in Lightroom - and apply to all of the photos, then export to a format suitable for putting the sequence together in Adobe After Effects or similar software. By doing this, you could downsample and crop the full megapixel count of a D750/D800/D810 into 4096x2160.

If time-lapse is the main reason, I'd also recommend going with D810 instead. If you need UHD footage as well, I guess D5 and D500 will be the only options from Nikon. The older D200/D300 series of cameras had interval shooting options, so I expect D500 to also feature that as a builtin feature.

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55 minutes ago, Andrew Reid said:

Oddly enough I am using the Sigma Quattro DP3 for 5K timelapse. Actual resolution is closer to 8K and it has a built in intervalometer. Writing a blog on it now.

Does it use the mechanical shutter or can you choose electronic shutter (or does it have a leaf shutter,lol)

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Wow.  Great stuff.  Thank all of you so much for responding.  You have a really GREAT forum.  

I have two objectives with the DSLR camera:  (1) High quality still images and (2) time-lapse which I cannot do with the video cameras at high 4K resolution.  The slider will control the tracking-pan-tilt of the camera and it will also send the trigger to fire the camera so that the camera is motionless when the shutter makes the exposure.

I forgot about the 100,000 - 300,000 shutter duty cycles.  Time lapse gets up there rather rapidly with use.  ATOMOS has a recorder that electronically will record video frames at intervals from a video camera but unfortunately, it is not high enough resolution for archive.  It seems that the 810 has a higher resolution than the D5 - true?  So the 810 would be better for time-lapse and the D5 would be better for stills - is that correct?

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The d810 will be better for both, unless the stills you want to do are above iso 200-400. The d810 has iso64 that gives the best image beside mediumformat backs.

The sony a7rii has an electronic shutter mode, but I don't know if its supported with the timelapse app. Battery life and reduced dynamic range should also be kept in mind (I believe it had less DR when using electronic shutter but I might be mixing cameras here).

And before I forget, some nikon lenses don't have consistent apertures, this means that between frames, when using lower aperture values, the exposure will vary and produce flickerimg. Maybe nikon has fixed this somehow, but when I was into timelapses it was something that people would run into a lot with nikon cameras.

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Mr. Reid:

Thank you for responding.  I too look forward to your article on time-lapse.  I had originally intended to use the D5 for shooting 4K until I learned it uses 1.5 crop mode and UHD versus true 4K.  That's what made me think about stitching together still images for time-lapse.  As I clearly can read, it appears that is a very common practice.  Moreover, trying to make cameras that were intended to shoot still images and repurpose them for video is somewhat like buying a farm tractor and also expecting it to race and corner like a sports car.  That is the reason why still images for time-lapse makes so much sense.

If you had to steer me in a direction, would you recommend the 810 or the D5?   I want to accomplish some night time-lapse too using available light.  I apologize for my ignorance but all my experience is with either Mitchell or Panavision cameras or video cameras.  I'm a real schmuck when it comes to still-image cameras.  My knowledge does not exceed knowing which side of the camera to stand behind when taking pictures!  That will of course have to change.

For video, I shoot 60p.  Reason?  It is far smoother than 30p or slower frame speeds.  I also see where in the not-too-distant future, video folks will be capturing and playing back at 60p - not for slow-motion but rather, to retrieve smoother video.  Because all the stuff I shoot anymore is intended for archive, quality for the future is the greatest consideration when selecting cameras, formats, frame rates and glass.

I will play around with After EFX and look at the other programs to see which one is the most intuitive for putting the files into a finished time-lapse sequence.  Again, your name was recommended to me and I can see the reason for the good recommendation.  Thank you so much for your advice and counsel.

- jm

 

 

 

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I can see where the mirror is an issue.  Again, remember that I am still camera illiterate.  Mirror lock-up mode?  Yes, DR and batt life are both critical.

Tony, that's funny.  I actually had a crew member take a Mamiya 645 with all the lenses and pelican case years ago.  Never saw him again - of course!

I'm going to NAB next month in Las Vegas.  Don't know how many DSLR manufacturers there will be but it sounds like I need to gather more camera information.

Nikon lenses hunt - really?  That's not nice.  Recent problem - old problem?

- jm 

 

 

 

 

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14 hours ago, Tony Anastasi said:

your actually better off in the long run using anything BUT a nikon.. you really want mirrorless which doesn't have a flippy mirror inside to bounce about and run downs its lifespan.. timelapse full frames stills until your camera gets stolen :) no shutter life stress... ( just saying ) 

Mirrorless cameras still have a mechanical shutter and it has the same shutter actuation expectancy MTTF as a DSLR. The shutter is the weak part, not the mirror.

As was mentioned before, there are cameras that can do electronic exposures without using the shutter but as far as I know that will typically reduce the dynamic range by a few stops.

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15 hours ago, Phil A said:

As was mentioned before, there are cameras that can do electronic exposures without using the shutter but as far as I know that will typically reduce the dynamic range by a few stops.

Nah, dynamic range stays the same.

Only thing that changes is rolling shutter.

Hardly an issue for timelapse!

X Pro2 has a silent shutter, maybe worth a look.

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On 28 March 2016 at 1:14 AM, araucaria said:

The d810 will be better for both, unless the stills you want to do are above iso 200-400. The d810 has iso64 that gives the best image beside mediumformat backs.

The sony a7rii has an electronic shutter mode, but I don't know if its supported with the timelapse app. Battery life and reduced dynamic range should also be kept in mind (I believe it had less DR when using electronic shutter but I might be mixing cameras here).

And before I forget, some nikon lenses don't have consistent apertures, this means that between frames, when using lower aperture values, the exposure will vary and produce flickerimg. Maybe nikon has fixed this somehow, but when I was into timelapses it was something that people would run into a lot with nikon cameras.

Sony supports time-lapse video through paid app, but its limited to Full HD only

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Another good option would be Canon 6D with Magic Lantern "hack". It has electronic shutter mode so no wear. DR is less than on Nikon as it is, but with Magic Lantern's workaround called "Dual ISO" it should be on par. There are some quirks with this setup — Dual ISO mode requires extra processing step on the computer and it's not recommended to use electronic shutter with exposures shorter than 1/2 second.

As for electronic aperture and the flickering it produces I can recommend LR Timelapse software. It's used for animating parameters of Adobe Camera Raw and can smooth out minor jumps of exposure.

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