Shooting video vs. photo (time lapse) for outdoor tour creation

On our Trek Packs I currently recommend photo time lapse over video. However, with newer cameras coming onto the market, I’m really starting to think about using video in the next iteration of the pack.

Here are some of the considerations in my decision making process…

Power consumption / heat

It seems that most newer cameras, at least outdoor / action cams allow you to control the frame rate in video mode. For us a rate of 1 or 2 seconds is about right and what we would shoot in time lapse mode thus power consumption is not as big an issue as it once was (e.g. GoPro Fusion is fixed @ 30 FPS @ 5.2k). Similarly this should solve overheating issues with long video captures at a high frame rates (a big problem for the Fusion).

Image Quality

One of the negative points seems to be quality of the extracted images is noticeably less in extracted video frames vs. time lapse photo captures. I have not tested this first hand, but did read this on another forum:

My YI360 is a 5.7k camera. When I take an image the file size is something like 9Mb. When I extract an image from a video file it is around 3Mb. The video and image both at maximum quality settings. The difference in file size is huge and yes when zooming in you see that although both images have the same amount of pixels, the quality is noticeably less good.

The YI360 has a maximum video bitrate of 120 Mbps. In short that means the camera can write 120 megabits of data every second (0.015GB / 15MB per second), assuming the storage medium (e.g. SD card) can support that rate (buy a fast one).

If the video FPS is set very high and storage write speed is slow that might explain the reason for poor image quality described above. At 1FPS, even at >8K I can’t see bitrate being a massive issue. I have read that the QooCam, for example, can be set to 200Mbps, therefore chances are that the quality difference between an image and a ‘video grab’ will be at a more acceptable level.

Personally I wouldn’t mind if a camera would have the option to increase the Mbps to say 400 or even 800 Mbps resulting in say a maximum image rate of once per second to once per two seconds

Processing

I think almost every new 360 camera I’ve seen has on camera stitching for video and photo, at least as an option (I like the choice). I’ve heard some issues with horizon levelling on the GoPro MAX for example (why I like the choice).

Video files can be more painful to work with than images files post shoot. For example, it’s easy to discard images you don’t want at the start and end of the tour. Whilst possible in video, it’s a little trickier and requires additional software. If you’re just uploading to Street View it’s not so bad, as most upload tools allow for editing like this, but this is not such a simple workflow if you want to publish elsewhere.

Storage

Shooting at a low frame-rate video should not take up much room, so not a big difference compared to photo time lapse capture.

The write speed of the storage medium is probably the more important point in deciding on video or time lapse photo capture for the reasons described above. If the camera does not use external storage, make sure you investigate the write speed of the inbuilt storage!

What have I missed? Which camera do you use? And in what mode do you use to capture? And why?

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