More on the D5100 video.

After my initial experiment with the D7000 I decided to use the D5100 for a prolonged period of video shooting. I was particularly interested in what seemed to be the opportunity to produce very stable hand-held footage.

This is largely down to the lens I used, the 16-85mm AF-S zoom. It has VR, the Nikon image stabilisation sytem built in, and has two settings. Normal and Active. I shot over both days using the Active setting, which is apparently designed for shooting from a moving vehicle, so is ideal for video use. 

The second element in this is using the image stabilisation option in iMovie, the Mac video editing software. This analyses the video and makes adjustments. This does result in some shrinking of the frame to compensate for this. It also takes a long time. The short clips I used in the video above took over an hour to process. 

As you can see from the above example, it works very well indeed. There's almost a floating in mid-air feel to the footage. It works well on panning, both side to side and up and down. In fact there's a short section where I did both and it looks as good as a steadicam.  

I initially thought that this would be restricted to wide-angle use only, but there are a couple of sections on the telephoto end of the zoom that are also incredibly smooth.

Even the shots of walking and climbing stairs are pretty good, with a kind of bouncing effect happening.

There are a couple of things I have to sort out. I have a tencency to lean to the left, so I'll have to be careful about that, and a dust spot found its way on the the sensor. I attempted to remove it with a blower brush last night and it seems to be gone.

Added to my two previous short videos, this is a very useful video option indeed.

All of this of course goes to show just how useless most reviews of the video functions on cameras are. They get dismissed very quickly, usually it seems by people who haven't actually used it or even bothered to see what it can do. These "reviews" ususally seem to consist of people turning it on, following their dog around, getting terrible results and blaming the camera. They then come out with something like "It doesn't do full manual control, so its useless" As if they would know what to do with full manual control anyway!

How useful a video enabled DSLR is to you depends entirely on what you want to use it for. If you want to just video your family and holidays I would suggest that a DSLR isn't the best tool anyway. A small compact or camcorder with a smaller sensor will probably be more suitable in those instances.

The D5100 (Preferable to the D7000 for me because of the articulated screen) has a VERY useful video option for me. I'm able to use the AF (in non-continuous mode) as it then doesn't start hunting around when I'm recording. I can lock the exposure using the AE-L lock button set to AE-L only. I can set the aperture manually, in aperture priority mode and I can operate all of these buttons with one hand without moving it from the hand grip. All this on top of remarkably smooth hand-held footage.

I was very impressed with the Sony A55, but this is better. Shooting the video and stills at Kenilworth yesterday was relatively easy, relatively fast and indeed a pleasurable experience. I will obviously get better at this, but even so I was very pleased indeed with the results. I should also mention that using the latest version of iMovie the whole thing was very quick to edit and I had it all uploaded to YouTube by yesterday evening.

So, if you read somewhere that the Nikon D5100 isn't any good for video, don't believe it!! If you want a walk-around camcorder then it probably isn't, but then I don't think any DSLR or CSC is useful for that. However if you want to produce something that looks a bit more like TV footage then this camera has lots of ways to help that. As far as I'm concerned, this is easily the most useful set of video functions in any camera I've ever owned. To be able to produce something like the Kenilworth Castle footage with no tripod, has both amazed and pleased me.

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