This is the first part of different tutorials on camera gearing for K-Pop related uses. I’ll start by focusing on the different notions that you have to know to understand the settings and the features of a camera. This will help you decide which camera might be the one for you, and how to use it.
Disclaimer: I’m not a specialist, but I have done a lot of research to get my stuff, and I’ve made mistakes by the past, so I’m here to help you guys avoid those.
Camera gear vocabulary
DSLR: This term is used to point at the bulky black camera you usually see. Those are the most commons I would say, and you usually can detect them by the distinct sounds they make when taking a picture. We can also call a camera, a body.
Mirrorless: A camera is considered mirrorless when it got … no mirror. This is the thing that makes the sound and take the picture in a DSLR. In a mirrorless system, everything is dealt with electronics. They are smaller in general, feel less tough, but image quality wise, no major difference with DSLRs.
Full Frame: Regardless of body type, a camera is also distinguished by its sensor. The full frame type got the biggest sensor for the SLR fragment. Full frame sensors are usually seen in high end cameras.
APS-C: This kind of camera got a smaller sensor than a full frame one. A coefficient is usually used to get the full frame equivalent (x1.6 for Canon and x1.5 for Nikon and Sony, meaning a full frame sensor is 1.6 bigger than the Canon APS-C one). Most of entry level and mid-level cameras are using APS-C sensors. The kind of sensors will have mainly impacts on two things:
- Light: there will be more luminosity gathered in a full frame camera. More light = better picture. For instance, a lens that has a f-stop of f/2.8, will have an equivalent of f/4 on an APS-C body. (2.8 * 1.6 = 4.5). Using the same lens will have different results depending on the camera used, solely based on sensor size.
- Range: at the same distance, when looking at something, the aps-c user will get a tighten view. It means, that if the full frame user wants to get the view of the APS-C user, he’s gonna have to move forward quite a bit. This is why people are reffering to different range on APS-C sometimes, for instance, a 70-200mm lens is gonna have an equivalent of 112-320mm for APS-C user. However, all the lenses range are based on full frame, even the ones only compatible for APS-C.
MFT: For micro four third, or 4/3, is another type of sensor which is twice smaller than one of a full frame, so the crop factor (ratio) is x2. It’s a sensor usually seen in mirrorless cameras. I will not talk much about those because they are lacking in low light which is needed for K-Pop in general.
Lens: This white thing on the picture, is a lens. This is what you need to attach to the body so it can capture photos. The quality of a photo will depend on the lens first, then on the camera. This is why, if you have to invest in one thing, it’s the lens.
Focal lenght: This is the range of a lens basically. The higher the number, the closer you can look at something without moving. As a point of comparison, the human eye got a range of around 42mm.
Zoom lens: When a lens got a variety of focal lenght, it’s a zoom lens, it means that it can go from one range to another.
Prime lens: Or fixed range, is to determine a lens that can’t change its range … There are pros and cons to use either prime or zoom tho … I would recommend zoom because of versatility.
Aperture: It’s the opening inside a lens that let the light go through. A big aperture (or wide to be precise) will let through more light. The aperture can also be called f-stop, and is mentionned on the lens by “f/xx”, xx being a number. You can have lenses with fixed aperture (ex: f/2.8) or variable aperture (ex: f/3.5-5.6). The lower the number, the bigger the aperture. A wide aperture lens tend to be more expensive as light is a very important feature in photography.
Image stabilization: This is a feature on lens (and on mirrorless bodies) that appease the natural shake of your hands when taking pictures, this is very interesting feature, because if you don’t have it, you are gonna have to increase the shutter speed to compensate, so less light.
Shutter count: This is the number of shots a camera can take before being subject to failure, it’s some kind of approximate lifespan. Most DSLRs got between 100 000 and 150 000. It doesn’t mean that it gonna stop working once this number is reached, just that it’s most likely to fail than a new one. If you are buying used gear, you have to check for this. (high shutter count = lower price)
Viewfinder: It’s where you put your eye to see through the lens. You also have a diopter close to it, that you can adjust to see more clearly. (so people with glasses can shoot without them), since the diopter will simulate the correction of the glasses.
Liveview: There is a button dedicated to activate that, it’s so you can view through the lens on the back screen of the camera instead of the viewfinder. Certain features of your camera will change when it’s in liveview (for instance, the Canon 1DX Mark II got 16fps in liveview compared to the usual 14fps).
Camera settings vocabulary
ISO: This is the light sensitivity. When you go up, the image get brighter, but noise increase as well. So, it’s about finding the compromise. We call base ISO, the lowest your camera can go, in a lot of photo dslr, it’s 100.
White balance: It’s the colors of the photo, expressed with numbers. Go toward 0 and the photo get colder, more blue-ish, go toward 9999, and the photo get warmer, more reddish. It’s a camera settings that you shouldn’t bother too much about, it can easily be changed afterward in post process.
Shutter speed: It’s the time the sensor of the camera stays open to capture the light. The longer it stays, the more light it captures, but since it doesn’t stop time … if things move (enough) during the trigger, things can get blurry. So, the settings have to be different depending on what the subject is doing. Dance performance ? It has to be faster, so you can freeze the moment like this. You can see that the hair is not blurry, so the speed was appropriate. However, in this picture, Chaeyeon wasn’t moving fast enough so it’s ok, but Heehyeon’s hand was faster, so it appears blurry. To avoid confusion, 1′ is one second, 1/30 is one thirthyth of a second, and 1/400 is one four hundredth of a second,so 1/30 is longer than 1/400.
RAW: Like the name suggest, this is the pure file without any kind of alteration. A raw file will have a lot of information saved within it, so it will be easier to process later on. However, because of all the data, a raw file is heavier. I suggest you to capture Raw in any case.
Focus: It’s pretty self explanatory, the focus is when you target an element so that your camera know what to shoot, and your target appears sharp. For instance, in this picture, I focused on Yoohyeon so she appears more sharp than Sua, who is more blurry. It’s very important to hit your focus right, otherwise, it will ruin your pictures. In general, put your target in the middle of the screen, with experience, you can direct the focus with precision.
Focus mode: In a camera, you have different mode to what you want to capture, moving subject or still subject ? Either way, I would suggest you to choose the moving subject focus mode, called AI Servo on Canon and AF-C on Nikon (I don’t know about others).
Framerate: or FPS is the frame per seconds in which you record a video. 30FPS, 60FPS, 120FPS, etc. This will impact the smoothness of a video. You need at least 24FPS so the eye can track and understand motions, lower and it will look ugly as fuck. 60FPS is a sweet spot for dance performance. Here is a comparison, the 60FPS of God dancing, and the not-60FPS video of God dancing, so yeah, the 60FPS looks smoother but not all cameras can do that.
For photos, the FPS refers to the speed you can take pictures in a chain (also called FPS continuous shooting), for instance, this dude is showing the speed of his camera. As a reference the Canon 80D got 7fps which is good.
Buffer size: This is the numbers of photos you can take before your camera slow down. (for Sony, they stopped entirely, waiting) The photos have to write themselves on the storage, and this take some times, thus this buffer size notion. It depends on the speed of your camera and the memory card used. You can shoot longer depending on the file chosen (since jpeg file weight less). Here is an example of a guy filling the buffer size on his 80D. Something along 10/15 for Raw is quite standard, higher end cameras can shoot longer.
Bitrate: This is a number that defines the flow of data when recording a video. The higher the number, the higher the data, consider this data as details. So, if the video has a high bitrate like 100 MBps (megabytes per second), the video will be more detailled, better quality. High bitrate = high storage needed.
Noise: When a picture looks grainy, it’s noise… This thing appears when it’s lacking light in general. Example.
Sharp: We call a picture sharp when there is no blur, when we can see all details, and everything is pretty and shit. Sharp = clear. Here is a sharp photo of God.
Soft: When it’s not sharp, it’s soft. It’s usually a bit blurry, it doesn’t mean that the photo is bad but sometimes, softness can’t be avoided because of lens, environment, etc. Here is an example. Soyeon is in focus (more or less…), however, it’s not sharp because of gear and light. Usually, when you want to reduce noise, you introduce softness, it’s about a compromise, how much softness and noise you want in your picture.
Bokeh: It’s the background blurr, how isolate is your subject from the background. Example. You can see that Qri is sharp but we can’t distinguish the leaves behind her. The bokeh, also related to the notion of depth of field, is affected by the focal lenght, and the aperture.
Megapixels: This is the resolution of a camera. For instance, 24 megapixels (mpx) is 6000×4000 resolution on a computer. (6000*4000=24M). Usually, something around 20 is more than enough to get good looking pictures. Having higher will allow you to crop better tho, but that comes to a price.