How shoot photo and video at the same time

Brave knight of multipurpose, let us embark on an epic quest! Today, you shall learn how to shoot video and photo simultaneously. Now read this biblical manifest and rise in the ranks of lenses to become the ultimate multitasker behind the camera.

Shooting a perfect video is already a tricky task on its own – such are good photos. So, aren’t we insane recommending you to do both at the same time with the same gear? Not at all: It is indeed possible to take high-quality photos and videos more or less simultaneously and with just one lense, considering some basic rules and knowing about the typical pitfalls. Just follow some of the instructions below – and you’ll be perfectly fine.

The challenge of color

Videos are dominated by their mood – and the mood is defined by colour. This is why videos need to set a specific white balance per shot to reflect the overall temperature: Warm or cold? Red or blue?

However, this is not ideal for taking high-quality photos: They should be taken in RAW, in order to enable a maximum of editing possibilities afterwards. Consider this if you switch between the video and photo modes – and try to preconfigure profiles in advance, so you don’t need to recalibrate your camera time after time.

The challenge of motion and static

It is better to take photos in rather static settings – in contrast, videos feed on motion. This results in different requirements in terms of shutter speed. Whereas shutter speed seeks to freeze the action in photography to result in a crisp clear image, videos tries to capture a certain motion blur in each frame. This may be the biggest challenge when doing photo and video simultaneously.

This is why the shutter speed should be defined differently for photo and video capturing. For orientation for videos, use a shutter speed of twice the frame rate (e.g. 1/60s); and a much shorter shutter speed (e.g. 1/125s for walking people to 1/800s for sports) in case of photos.

The challenge of resolution

Today’s standard cameras are capable of capturing both video and photo almost simultaneously. However, when doing so, they reduce the quality in certain aspects. Which aspect? That depends on your gear. Using the shutter button on some DSLR will halt the video to record a full-resolution still. Other cameras will continue to record both video and an 1080p / HD resolution image (which is not that great for a picture).

There is no remedy – just knowledge. Know your camera, play with the options – and have a look for new models.

The challenge of lighting and sound

We have taken a look into the image quality, but what about the sound? This is one of the typical pitfalls: As you plan out your shooting, you focus on pixels, color and shutter, but often you forget about the audio. However, this should be one of your highest priorities – jointly with the lighting!

Our extensive guide on lighting (LINK) will lead you the way, but if time is scarce, just remember:

  • Three light sources are the optimum;
  • Don’t count on weather conditions;
  • And try to control as much of your lighting setup.

The challenge of personal strengths and weaknesses

Enough of the equipment – what about yourself and your, well, preferences? The simultaneous shooting will challenge your skills to the maximum, so we recommend focussing on your weaker skills first. If you do feel less comfortable with video, take your time and start with it. By doing so, you are fresh while tackling the more challenging part.

Furthermore, the situation needs more communication than other setups. Your protagonists won’t be aware of the switch between photo and video if you don’t tell them. Be proactive. Be direct. Be clear.

A question of gear?

Have a look at your current gear. It doesn’t so much matter if it is a mirrorless camera or a DSLR – the questions you should ask are:

  • Does it offer the possibility to switch easily between photography and videography?
  • What about the shutter preferences for both video and photo?
  • And how does the camera behave in terms of resolution?

A bright future

Photography and video shooting are still two different pair of shoes which need extra attention in many details each. It takes time to adjust your camera to the specific needs of each activity. However, digitization is likely to unburden you step by step: Most smartphones are already able to shoot HD photos while capturing 4k 60fps videos, thanks to several lenses and image processors. Driven by Moore’s law, the sheer power of cameras (and their increasing storage) will probably lead better possibilities with each year.

And what still sounds exotic today – shooting video and photo at the same time –, will be pretty normal by tomorrow’s standards.

One thought on “How shoot photo and video at the same time

  1. There’s some really good advice in this article and most of these suggestions I’ve found by experience. But when I shoot video I’m mentally oriented toward the process in a completely different way than when I’m shooting stills. When I shoot stills, I’m shooting light. When I shoot video, I’m shooting motion. Focusing my consciousness for the best outcome with either one precludes being able to do the other optimally. And there’s the different orientation to camera controls for each approach. Which one to use? For me the answer is in knowing the purpose of the shot. How is it going to be used and is that best communicated with a still, or a video clip? And then go for the best possible outcome.

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