On my recent trip to Japan I took my hand-me-down-but-new-to-me DSLR with the intent of documenting my trip and stuffing my swipe file to the brim. I didn’t take my video camera because it was too bulky and required too much attention: tapes that have to be managed, batteries to be charged and swapped, etc. Once I got there I quickly regretted not bringing the video camera and picked up a pocket-sized HD video camera, a Sony HDR-TGV5.
The DSLR is a great tool for documenting 2d and 3d design, but for 4d design you really need something that can capture video. (It’s true that some DSLRs now capture stunning video, but only for short durations and quantities and you’re still lugging around a full-size camera.) My “should have brought the video camera” regret kicked in as soon as I started experiencing how differently Japanese people interact with technology and their environment. Sure, I could take lots of photos and copious notes, but those aren’t nearly as good as 10-15 seconds of video.
It’s not just recording video that’s important, it’s being able to record video conveniently, in high quality, then easily move the video off the camera. With my full-size, miniDV video camera it’s pretty much impossible to take quick snippets of video given the overhead of getting it in/out of the case, turning it on, etc. On the other hand, the TGV5 is small and light enough that I can carry it in my pocket and within a few seconds have it out and recording video. (It’s even faster than getting my Droid out and recording.) Cheap/free software makes it trivial to take a 10-20 second clip, trim it if needed, then “Save As” for Flickr or Vimeo.
As an experiment I’m starting to document design — especially 4d design — using only short video clips. I’ve posted a couple of short clips to a new flickr set, “Japan + Design” which I’ll be filling with video and still clips as I get around to processing the backlog of photos.
There’s no chance of my getting rid of the DSLR any time soon as there’s no substitute for huge glass when it comes to taking good photos. However, I have stopped lugging it around unless I’m intentionally on a trip to take hiqh quality photos as the TGV5 is becoming my “go to” camera for documentation and swipe files.