Moving pictures: professionals talk about hybrid shooting and how they do it

A brightly coloured toucan perched on a branch. Taken by Christian Ziegler.
Wildlife photographer Christian Ziegler spent six weeks documenting a family of toucans nesting near his home in Panama using a mixture of stills and video. Taken on a Canon EOS-1D X Mark II (now succeeded by the Canon EOS-1D X Mark III) with a Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS III USM lens and a Canon Extender EF 1.4x III at 1/800 sec, f/5.6 and ISO1600. © Christian Ziegler

Camera systems are becoming ever more sophisticated, and the way we shoot content is changing. Photographers can now switch from stills to video at the touch of button, and a hybrid approach is becoming increasingly common across a range of genres, from wildlife to weddings.

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Ever since the pioneering EOS 5D Mark II in 2008, Canon's pro DSLRs have been capable of shooting video as well as stills, and today's hybrid shooters have a choice of high-spec cameras able to capture both cinema-quality video and ultra-sharp, well-balanced stills.

Canon's flagship action camera, the Canon EOS-1D X Mark III, which can capture stills at up to 20fps in Live View mode and 16fps when using the optical viewfinder, is also a formidable filmmaking machine, capable of recording Full Frame 4K 60p or 5.5K RAW footage internally.

Setting new standards, the Full Frame mirrorless Canon EOS R5 captures breathtaking stills at up to 20fps with electronic shutter or 12fps mechanically, and shoots 8K video in RAW at up to 30p with internal recording. This means unique, one-time moments can be captured in fine detail across the two mediums with a single, easily portable piece of kit.

Canon Ambassadors Christian Ziegler, Dafna Tal, and wedding duo Julia Blumenthal and Gil Gropengießer have been shooting both video and stills for several years. Here they explain their approaches to creating hybrid content and reveal the kit they use to realise their visual creativity.

Christian Ziegler

Canon Ambassador Christian Ziegler beside a tropical plant.

About Christian Ziegler

Wildlife pro Christian Ziegler regularly contributes his still images to magazines such as National Geographic but also weaves video into his output during shoots that take him all over the world.

Christian uses a Canon EOS-1D X Mark II (now succeeded by the Canon EOS-1D X Mark III) for both stills and video, and says the camera's 20MP Full Frame sensor and its ability to shoot 4K 60p video footage enable him to capture wildlife stories as they develop.

Christian spends much of his time in Panama, and last year he discovered toucans nesting in a tree cavity near his house. "I followed the family for six weeks and it was amazing to document the full process with both video and stills," he says.

Frame rate and image stabilization (IS) are especially important when shooting wildlife, Christian says, particularly with the longer lenses he favours – often a Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS III USM combined with a Canon Extender EF 1.4x III.

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"I use this combination a lot," he says. "Because it's such a long lens, it needs stabilization. I shoot video at 60fps to capture the movement of the subject, then slow it down. This is especially good for birds – they move so fast, it's hard to capture them in flight."

For the first time on any Canon camera, the Canon EOS R5 offers 5-axis In-Body Image Stabilization, which works in harmony with the IS in Canon RF lenses to provide the ultimate in shake-free, super-sharp stills and video. This, combined with 4K video up to 119.88fps, makes the Canon EOS R5 ideal for tracking fast-moving wildlife. Then there's the camera's advanced animal subject tracking AF, capable of recognising and tracking either the body, face or eye of dogs, cats and birds as well as humans, which promises sharper shots even when subjects move unpredictably through busy backgrounds.

Having a camera capable of video as well as stills speeds up Christian's workflow and allows him to seize opportunities he might otherwise miss. "I don't have to think about putting another camera in my kitbag," he says. "I often have to hike long distances to shoot in remote locations, so carrying just one camera is much easier."

Dafna Tal films one of the subjects of her video looking in a mirror.
A behind-the-scenes image of Dafna Tal's You're Gorgeous, You're Mad. The project was mostly video based, but Dafna also took a series of stills of the participants listening to the recording. © Dafna Tal

Dafna Tal

Canon Ambassador Dafna Tal photographed by Michael Katz.

About Dafna Tal

Dafna Tal has a background in stills photography, but is increasingly recognised for her multifaceted installations mixing photography, video and sound.

Hybrid shooting has also proved invaluable to Israeli creative artist Dafna Tal, who currently shoots on a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with a variety of lenses including a Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM, a Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM and a Canon EF 70-20mm f/2.8L IS II USM (now succeeded by the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM.

She says the faster her equipment, the more creative she can be. "The really good photographs and videos are always taken during one-time moments," she says. "Whether it be a subject emoting or a moment in a religious ceremony, I always want to get both photos and videos.

"One of the most useful features for me is the Dual Pixel CMOS AF on my Canon EOS 5D Mark IV," Dafna continues. "It means I can precisely track pull-focus transitions in any resolution. Combined with the face detection and improved tracking system, it creates consistently sharp videos." On the Canon EOS R5 Dual Pixel AF is available in all 8K and all 4K modes.

A man and a woman embrace at a wedding. Taken by Julia Blumenthal and Gil Gropengießer.
A still taken by Julia & Gil of a wedding at Gare du Neuss, Germany. Working in tandem, the pair capture both stills and video so they can present a full package to clients without the need to hire a separate video team. Taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with a Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM lens. © Julia Blumenthal and Gil Gropengießer

Julia & Gil

Canon Ambassadors Julia Blumenthal and Gil Gropengießer.

About Julia & Gil

German wedding photographers and videographers Julia Blumenthal and Gil Gropengießer have been shooting hybrid for the past four years.

Wedding photographers Julia & Gil say they are receiving more and more requests from their clients for videos as well as photos, and having a camera capable of both means they don't have to outsource. "As we deliver both video and stills, we don't need an extra team," says Julia. "That means fewer vendors and lower costs, as the clients don't have to pay extra travel expenses."

The other benefit of delivering both media is that the pair can edit the footage and stills to match, so the clients receive a package with a consistent style.

The pair shoot on a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, often with a Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM lens or (particularly for video, especially for wide-angle footage in low light) a Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM lens, and prefer to work with natural light, so capturing images and video of a consistently high quality is of utmost importance. "At a minimum, we record at 50fps in Full HD so we have enough power in post-production for slow motion, colour grading and level alterations," says Gil. "For stills, we need to be able to shoot in M-RAW format at 5040x3360."

The Canon EOS R5 supports a range of video formats to fit into a professional production workflow seamlessly, including 4:2:2 10-bit Canon Log (H.265) and 4:2:2 10-bit HDR PQ (H.265) Non-cropped, both of which are supported in 8K as well as 4K modes.

So whether producing wedding packages, recording wildlife behaviour, or presenting fine art installations incorporating multiple media, these content creators and many others are using Canon kit for hybrid shooting and giving their clients a more rounded, more rewarding result.

Written by Jason Parnell-Brookes

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