Hopefully you have made the right choices about what needs to come in front of your camera. Once the light has hit the sensor, you are at the mercy of what the camera circuitry decides to pass on as footage.
Whatever its quality, it must be recorded. Most cameras offer some form of internal recording system.
Typically, the two broad categories that footage falls into are:
- Compressed Footage
- Uncompressed Footage
A second type of classification is:
- RAW Footage
- Debayered/Raster Footage
If you don’t know what I’m talking about I strongly recommend you read these posts on wolfcrow.com before proceeding:
About Containers and Codecs
The Costs of Working with 2K and 4K Uncompressed Footage
Deconstructing RAW, Parts I, II and III.
Here’s a list of cameras chosen for this guide, along with information on the data rate and type of media used to record internally only:
|Cameras||Maximum Data Rate in MB/s||Media|
|Canon 5D Mark III/6D/1DX||11.25||CF, SD|
|Canon 550D/600D/650D/60D/7D||5.5||SD, CF|
|Sony PMW F3||4.375||SxS|
|Sony A99||3.5||SD, Memory Stick|
|Sony FS700||3.5||SD, Memory Stick|
|Nikon D4/D800/D800E/D600||3||XQD, CF, SD|
|Sony FS100||3||SD, Memory Stick|
The table does not claim to be accurate, only indicative.
SD includes SDHC and SDXC when required.
Don’t take the data rates literally. Sometimes a lower data rate looks and holds up better in post production than a higher bit rate.
Yes, data rates can be ‘rigged’. You can have bits that don’t mean anything. To know how and why, you might find Section One of Driving Miss Digital interesting.
It is important to listen to the camera manufacturer on recommended media. You might find exceptions, but it takes time for viable options to emerge (or for the recommended options to prove useless!).
You might as well trust the manufacturer. After all, you bought their camera!