Technology At The Altar

This groom just couldn’t wait to tell the world of his new relationship status. He whipped out his Blackberry, just before kissing his bride, in order to update his Facebook relationship status and send out a tweet. Now with my wedding coming up this May, I got to thinking… but Kristina quickly put a stop to that and banning any sort of gadget on our wedding day. Fair enough.

But I did want to live stream the ceremony. I was thinking of setting up my laptop with its built-in camera streaming everything across the Internet with something like or The venue has wifi and the computer can be near a power outlet. Since my venue is a music center, they should have a decent sound system that I can route to my laptop for a good quality sound source. Kristina and I will be miked-up so everyone can hear our vows and all that.

To top it off, it would be neat if I could get a small, pinhole camera to discretely embed on my tuxedo which could also stream to the laptop and eventually out to the Internet as a second angle. That way viewers could choose the locked down wide angle shot as well as everything going down from my point of view. How cool would it look to see the crowds reaction as we turn and face them after being pronounced man and wife? That would be awesome. Plus, I would record all the footage locally to the hard drive just in case the Internet craps out we’ll still have a copy.

After Googling around for a good mini spy cam, the Mini DV AEE-MD90 seems to be highly recommended. Here’s a good video review of it.

The only problem is there’s no way to stream the live video from it to a computer. The sound is also crap but that doesn’t really matter. Does anyone know of anything like this that would fit the bill? Has anyone done something similiar like this before? Any tips?

Canon Strikes Back Against The Nikon D90

Two weeks ago Nikon launched the first DSLR with video capabilities. But today Canon unveiled the 5D Mark II, a worthy competitor. The 21.1 megapixel successor to the 5D includes the ability to shoot 30 progressive frames per second with 1,080 vertical lines per frame. Video nerds call this 1080p30. What this means for the rest of us is the 5D Mark II becomes an effective HD media acquisition tool for both pictures and video.

Canon has a sample gallery with 8 videos resized for the web. Full resolution video clips from the Canon 5D Mark II are also available for download.

The table below outlines the video differences between the two cameras.

  Canon 5D Mark II Nikon D90
Resolution 1920×1080 1280×720
Frame Rate 30p 24p
Video Format MOV(H.264) AVI (MJPEG)
Max Recording at full resolution 12 minutes 5 minutes
Microphone Input 1/8" mono jack None

The biggest thing that makes the 5D Mark II better for video over the D90 is the microphone input. The mic input is big for people that want to record sound from something other than the on board microphone. It might not be an XLR input, which all of the professional gear uses, but it is still nice to have the option.

While most prosumer media gurus will be excited about the 1080p abilities of the Canon 5D Mark II, indy filmmakers like Stu Maschwitz are adamantly upset about the lack of 24p. Shooting video at 24 frames per second produces a look that is more filmic and less harsh compared to the TV standard 30 frames per second as well as making it easier to transfer to film for cinema distribution. I see Canon targeting the 5D Mark II video features at the web video crowd who want to capture the best photos and videos from a single device. This is more like TV news gathering than artsy, indy filmmakers.

But I see no reason why Canon couldn’t introduce a new firmware update that gives a new option for 24p recording since it is certainly feasible technically.

The new camera is set to go on sale at the end of November for $2,700. The Nikon D90 will hit the market at the end of September for less than $1,300. Until then you can read about every single minute detail from DPReview’s hands on preview of both the Canon 5D Mark II and the Nikon D90.

Optimal Aperture For Foreground Sharpness At Infinity

The technical bits of photography can be a bit tricky. Understanding the effects of different aperture settings comes with lots of experimenting. For example, focusing at infinity sounds fairly straight forward. Essentially everything in the background will be in focus. But depending on the aperture you have set, the items in the foreground may be out of focus. Luckily Robert Seber has posted this helpful chart to his Flickr photostream showing the minimum distance you need to be to get everything sharp and in focus.

Optimal Aperture For Foreground Sharpness At Infinity

To quote Robert on how to read this chart:

Suppose you are using a 20mm lens focused at infinity. Something in the foreground is 12ft away. The point at which 12ft and 20mm intersect is closest to the f/13 line, so f/13 is the aperture to use.

Suppose you are using a 50mm lens focused at infinity. Something in the foreground is 6ft away. No line on the graph is close to this. At this point you need to re-think your shot and move further from the foreground, otherwise it will be intolerably soft. 26ft to the foreground will allow you to use an aperture of f/22.

Suppose you are using a 10mm lens focused at infinity. Something in the foreground is 12ft away. You’re above the f/8 line so f/8 will work just fine.

The basic rule to take away from this is the longer the focal length you use the smaller the aperture you will need to use to get the foreground sharp, or the further you need to move back.

You should also check out Robert’s photos. His macros are really top notch.

Aye Aye, Grasshopper