Canon Springs S100

Canon S100
The Canon S100 is a marginal upgrade to the S95 - by Canon

Canon moved to upgrade the wildly successful S95 with the S100. It’s sometimes challenging to figure out just what manufacturers were thinking when reviewing new camera models, as this one seems to be something less than a generational improvement over the S95.

Canon swapped out the 10-megapixel CCD in the S95 for a 12-megapixel BSI CMOS chip in the S100. The BSI sensor should deliver stronger low light performance, with the ISO rating extended from 3,200 in the S95 to 6,400 in the S100.

Those are the biggest differences in the specs. The continuous shooting mode is slightly higher in the S100 (2.3 fps vs 1.9) and low light performance will be improved. Overall, fielding cameras like the S100 puts Canon in a poor competitive position with manufacturers like Fujifilm, Olympus and Panasonic which are fielding cameras with better specs at competitive prices.

S100 back
Back of the Canon S100

Two worthwhile features in Canon’s S100 are the Digic 5 image processor and the fact the S100 is one of the few pocket cameras to record full 1080 video at 24 fps for timeline compatibility with its larger DSLR cousins. If you shoot a lot of video, that feature will be surprisingly compelling.

Another surprise was the addition of stereo microphones for sound and a lens control ring that enables control of many of the camera settings and built-in GPS.

It’s a fair conclusion to say the S100 is a decent camera, but not one likely to stem the loss of market share to Sony, Panasonic and Fujifilm in the consumer camera space.

Tips For Recording Better DSLR Video – Part 2

DSLR rigged for video
A simple DSLR video rig - photo by Bill Pryor

In Part I we covered the basics of shutter speed and frame rates.  Today we’ll delve into some of the more technical aspects of video production with DSLRs and you’ll understand better why you can’t just run out and shoot amazing video with your camera without some education.

Turn Auto-Everything Off

It’s hard to turn off all the automatic settings on the average DSLR, there are quite a few you might not even think about.

The easy ones are turning off auto exposure, automatic white balance and auto focus.  Less obvious are turning off auto ISO, Peripheral Illumination correction and Long Exposure Noise Reduction.

Anything that automatically adjusts the picture quality in the middle of a shot has to go.  The reason for that is when doing color correction in post, if auto anything is enabled, your color settings will be changing in the middle of shots.  Nothing will get a video colorist on to a new career path faster than color settings jumping around in the middle of a shot.

Shane Hurlbut recommends the further step of changing the color space from sRBG to Adobe RGB, but that’s the where I draw the line.  I’ve tried them both and never run into a situation where the color curves where that far off.  Be aware that if you change your color space, the camera will change the file naming format.  I’ve had panic moments because my file browser didn’t recognize files with a “_” at the beginning .


When it comes to getting good audio out of the camera, you can pretty much forget that.  Occasionally the camera audio will be adequate, which is only proof that even a blind sow gets an acorn once in a while.  Most of the time you’ll need to record second sound.

Luckily there are many good options for portable recorders.  The Marantz PMD661 and H4N Zoom are popular among DSLR shooters, matched up with mics like the Rode NTG-2 shotgun.

For syncing up video and external audio, it’s a lot easier if you make a loud noise at the beginning and end of a shot, or use a clicker.  If you don’t want to do that then invest in software like PluralEyes which will save your sanity.

Aliasing and Moire

Aliasing and its French cousin moire are two challenges that have been with DSLRs from the first day they were fielded.  Aliasing can be seen in any tight pattern shot at a higher f-stop.  Strong side lighting can make the effect even worse.  Brick walls, composite roofs, and herringbone fabrics are famous for producing the kind of alias strobing that makes it looks like the background is alive with crawling ants and patterns.

To reduce moire you’re going to need to use your ND filters to stop down to a wider f-stop and pull the focus just enough to soften the background as described in this article.  For herringbone clothing, your talent is going to need change or you’re going to need to go really tight on their face.  No way around it.

Or you can buy a $400 anti-aliasing filter.  It really depends on how much video you plan on shooting.

Color Presets

I could write a book on custom presets for DSLR video and there are several good articles on the internet that go into great detail on creating custom presets for DSLR video.

Simple interview setup
A simple interview setup for a DSLR

Luckily there is one custom profile, developed by people who really know what they’re doing at Technicolor.  It’s called the CineStyle preset and it’s the one I use for all my video work.Use the Technicolor CineStyle custom preset, turn off all the automatic functions of your camera, shoot at 24p and watch tight patterns and the video people you work with will be both pleased and impressed.

Tips For Recording Better DSLR Video – Part 1

DSLR rigged for video
A DSLR rigged for video - photo by Bill Pryor

Back when Nikon and Canon engineers first started getting requests from field reporters to add video to their high end still cameras, I’m sure the top two manufacturers were doing it so they didn’t lose business to the other.  It wasn’t an unreasonable request at the time because video capability was turning up in all kinds of appliances.  If your toaster had a camera, someone would have added video recording.

Even though they were reluctant participants at first, that all changed when the first video from the Canon 5Ds hit the internets machine.  The film world experienced a collective jaw drop as video from a full frame 35mm sensor behind quality glass hit home.  I remember there was a great disturbance in the Film Force that went through the normal stages of grief:  Denial, anger, bargaining and, ultimately, depression.  Hard to believe that was just 2008.

Today Canon DSLRs, particularly the Canon 5D and Canon 7D are as common on movie sets as Assistant Directors.  The film world recovered from their initial shock and life went on.

For still photographers, the transition to video isn’t always easy because the rules are different.  Instead of framing a shot and pushing the button, you’re scripting a scene that might feature multiple angles.  The normal rules for exposure and composition go right out the window when you flip the selector switch from the little still camera over to the little video camera and DSLRs have some quirks that you need to aware of when shooting video.

There’s so much information about what goes into quality video, I’ve divided this into two separate features.

Frame Rate

I’m continually amazed at camera reviewers who take the position that 30 fps is “better” than 24 fps.  It’s not a question of better or worse, when it comes to quality the two are almost indistinguishable.

A frame rate of 24 progressive frames per second is a hold-over from film days.  When the film vs video worlds first collided, there was 24p on the film side and 30i (okay, 29.97) on the video side and neither was about to budge.  DSLRs changed all that.  Video from a 5D was good enough to be inter-cut with film, only the frame rates didn’t match.  So some techno-wizards came up with the Magic Lantern firmware update which gave the Canon 5D the ability to output 24p video and, shazam, film and DSLRs were suddenly BFFs.

Today, most high end DSLRs support 24p, 30i and sometimes 60i.  As movie theaters move away from film projection and production switches to video over film, the 24p/30i argument is less critical in production. Still, if you are thinking about shooting a video feature on a DSLR, you’ll want to stick with a 24p timeline.  Mixing 24p and 30i on the same video timeline does not work.  Sure, there is expensive software, like Twixtor, available that changes the frame rate and it looks decent, but the motion is still always a little off.

Unless it’s a quick cut-away shot, when you start a project in 24p or 30i, you’re stuck there for the entire project.  Choose wisely.  If you’re just grabbing some quick video at the beach, it doesn’t matter.  If it’s a feature length documentary or film, you’ll want to shoot 24p.  I shoot exclusively in 24p.

Shutter Speed

This one trips up a lot of photographers new to the video world.  They think they have have the same exposure control they do over a static image.  If you want a smaller f-stop, just bump up the shutter speed to compensate.  Easy, right?

Wrong answer in video, where your shutter speed options are dictated by the frame rate:

24 fps → 1/48 (or closest, usually 1/50th)
30 fps → 1/60
60 fps → 1/120

Ignore those rules and your video with either look smeary at slower shutter speed or the motion will look choppy at higher shutter speeds.

If you want to change to lower f-stop for a shallow depth of field and the light isn’t right, you’ll need to use ND filters.  To get a wider depth of field at a higher f-stop, you may need supplemental lighting.

In Part Two we’ll talk about color space, presets, audio, moire, and camera settings.

Taking photos of the stars

I love the stars, there is nothing better than laying down on a grass field, far away from the city lights and just looking up at the night sky. If you are like me than you will want to try to capture the beauty of the

Photo by Dan Newton
stars on your camera. Ben Canales is an amazing night time photographer, he has put together a basic video guide to takeing some amazing night time photos.

Some things to keep in mind when taking photos of the stars:

  • Have a plan and know where you are going.
  • Prepare: check the weather, bring a flashlight, know your camera, check your camera, bring and use a tripod and preset your camera.
  • Turn off auto-focus.
  • Use your cameras timer to reduce camera movement.
  • Take photos in RAW (if available).
  • Crank up your ISO (2000-4000).
  • Open up the aperture.
  • The rule of 600 or 400 helps you determine the max exposure you can set your camera to, before you will see star trails.
    • For full frame cameras take 600 and divide it by the focal length of your lens.
    • For crop body cameras take 400 and divide it by the focal length of your lens.
    • If you have a 20mm lens, take 600/20 = 30 seconds so you can set your camera to 30 seconds, or 400/20 = 20 seconds.
  • Watch out for clouds.
  • Point your camera away from cities otherwise light pollution may show up in your photos.
  • Take lots of photos.
  • Take some time to enjoy the sky and have fun.

Photo by Dan Newton

If you liked this then make sure you check out our Low Light Photography Tips- Infographic and our three part series on low light photography: Low Light Photography TipsLow Light Cameras and Equipment, and Fixing Underexposed Photos.

low light photography
Snapsort’s Low Light Photography Infographic

How camera lenses are made

Have you ever wondered how camera lenses are made? Discovery Channel’s “How it’s Made” produced a segment a few years ago on the process of assembling a lens.

According to the video it takes 6 weeks to make an lens and optical glass can costs up to $1000 per kilogram, no wonder lenses are so expensive.

Image credit: Photographs by Duncan Meeder