Nikon Learn & Explore

What to do When you Need Stills while Shooting HD Video

frame Grab still taken from HD video from D4 by Steve Heiner

© Steve Heiner

This image was captured as a frame grab after shooting HD video of the ice climbers. The D4 D-SLR allows you to save a frame grab from video or shoot video and stills simultaneously.

There are a number of reasons why a photographer might need to simultaneously capture Full HD video and still images. Most photojournalists are being asked to not only photograph still images of the news events they’re covering but also to shoot video and put together multimedia stories. Event photographers may shoot both stills and video, switching between the two when they realize they suddenly need both video and a still of a specific moment. Even sports photographers who are shooting video might want a “photo finish” still image to enhance their coverage.

Simultaneous shooting using Live Frame Grab

With most D-SLRs, when you click the shutter to snap a photo while recording video, the video recording ends to allow the camera to capture the still photograph. This is no longer the case—at least not with Nikon’s flagship DSLRs—using the Live Frame Grab feature.  

Using the custom settings, you can set the camera to simultaneously record Full HD video and still images. You need to be in Live View Mode, and set the shutter button’s functionality to simultaneously record a still photograph while continuing to record HD video when it is depressed fully. (Continuous shooting is not available.)

Still image files will be recorded at 1920x1080 pixels in size, with a 16:9 aspect ratio, and JPG Fine quality setting. This gives you approx. a 2-megapixel image. At 300 dpi, the image will be about 4x6-inches in size.

You might ask the question, ‘only a 2MP file?’ Odds are that the photographers who will be using this method are photojournalists, event or sports photographers who will be able to utilize the image file for their needs. For example, although printing of a glossy photograph is normally done from images with a resolution of 300 dpi, most newspapers can use images sized at 200 dpi. This would result in an image of around 8x12-inches.

If the still image is only going to be used on the web, then size is no longer an issue.

Saving a Still JPG from Video Footage

Suppose, on the other hand, that you’ve completed shooting Full HD video of an event, whether news, sports or celebration in nature and upon viewing the footage in playback, you notice what would make a great still image. Or, you forget to shoot simultaneously and must bring back a still image in addition to the video footage.

With Select Nikon DSLRs, such as the D4/D4s DSLRs, you can create a still copy of a video frame. The still frame will have a 16:9 aspect ratio and a size of 2 Megapixels.

Play back the video to the point you want the still frame from. In the Edit Movie menu, select Save Selected Frame. Press the ^ button to create a still copy of the selected frame then choose Save copy, highlight Yes, and hit OK. The camera will create a Fine quality JPG. Upon viewing this image in full frame playback in the camera you’ll see the Movie Still icon attached to the image file.

[Editor's note: the still image accompanying this article was created by the photographer using the technique of saving the still frame after the video was shot.]

© Steve Heiner

Ice Climbers - Select cameras allow for still shooting simultaneously to DSLR video.

Steve Heiner

Steve is the former Senior Technical Manager and Media Spokesperson for Nikon. After working as a photojournalist for several hometown newspapers in his native state of Utah, Steve joined Nikon in 1985 as a Technical Representative. During his time in the field, Steve provided technical assistance and training to pro photographers during major sporting and news events. He had trained government and military specialists around the country and while at sea. 

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