Photo and Video Aren’t the Same: Here’s Why

I came into photography after being a newspaper videographer for several years. I thought that my video skills would transfer cleanly into photography, and while in some ways that were the case, in more ways, it was not. Here's a video that breaks down exactly why that is.

Kasey Stern of Camera Conspiracies talks about the many emails he gets from photographers offering him advice on cameras and lenses that might work well for video. The problem is that what often works well for still photographers doesn't work well for video.

While things like composition and framing can often translate over, often, the very fundamentals of image-making do not. As Stern points out, when you're photographing wildlife, a fast shutter speed is necessary to freeze your subject for a sharp photo. The exact opposite is the case with video, where you need to slow down your shutter speed to achieve smooth motion.

Another thing that I often don't think about is image stabilization and how it differs for video versus photos. I've often talked about how great the image stabilization is on my Olympus E-M10,but I'm thinking mostly about how it allows me to hand-hold photos well. Stern notes that the part that most people don't think about is how in-body stabilization plays with lens-based stabilization, and while buying a lens that is the same manufacturer as your camera can often yield good results, buying a third-party lens doesn't always work as well. Whereas a third-party manufacturer has to reverse engineer the specs of a lens mount, a native lens faces no such challenges or hurdles. This applies to adapting lenses to non-native bodies as well. The systems just aren't designed to play nice with each other.

Stern goes on to discuss a few more points that photographers don't often think of, and one of the chief ones is autofocus and how cameras handle continuous tracking versus one-shot modes. If there are any Panasonic still shooters around, prepare to be offended for this part. That's not to even mention his thoughts on the once-prevalent camcorder when it comes to video.

There are quite a few more reasons why video and photo skills are so disparate; check out the rest of the video for Stern's sometimes tongue-in-cheek way of explaining why. If you have your own experiences of the differences between photo and video shooting, leave them in the comments below.

Wasim Ahmad's picture

Wasim Ahmad is an assistant teaching professor teaching journalism at Quinnipiac University. He's worked at newspapers in Minnesota, Florida and upstate New York, and has previously taught multimedia journalism at Stony Brook University and Syracuse University. He's also worked as a technical specialist at Canon USA for Still/Cinema EOS cameras.

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Mr Stern is crude and funny but he makes his point well. I agree with him . video and Stills are not the same. Did anyone actually think they were the same? That is why you always want to set separate settings for videos and stills, although some camera do not allow it easily. He could do away with some of the colorful metaphors he uses.

It is surprising how many people in journalism think they are the same.

I like this guy, he makes good points but he is so far off and 100% wrong. It's not still photographers who asked video to takeover, it's videographers that took over the cameras we use. If that created this messy market he cries about, he sure hold his part of responsibility into it.

Was there anyone who ever thought they were the same? The motivation behind shooting a still and shooting footage for a video are poles apart. Ok, framing, exposure and focusing of course overlap but that’s about it. While you can use a still straight out the camera a piece of video footage or shot is not a stand alone item it’s no more than a very small part of a bigger much more complex whole. Of course like many photo type debates the article is focusing on gear and missing the most important differences. What underpins a good film or video happens way before any camera or lens is ever picked up. While good photography can get away with minimal planning great video needs a huge amount of planning and forethought before it can happen, before it will work. Great video will often happen on paper before an actual shot is taken. The shots being just the realisation of the paper edit of ideas. Good video is often a multidisciplinary product that involves a whole team of people with different skills. Ok a solo filmmaker can do it all at a different level but while the same gear can be used for both the activity is totally and utterly completely different with making good video being a much more cerebral affair.
If you think they are the same then think again. The examples presented in the article are naive to say the least.

This kinda' reminds me of, I believe, when Time Magazine declared men and women are different. Funny, I had always thought that stills and video were different. Guess I was correct. :eyesrolling;

I think Mr. Stern just has a number of minor subjects he wanted to talk about, but realized they weren't very generally interesting. So, he just stood up a row of strawmen to knock down for comedic effect.