The obsession with using Shutter Angle on an electronic video camera.

I’m not sure I fully understand the obsession with using the shutter set in degrees on video cameras. For years video cameras have used fractions of a second to display the actual shutter speed. Very simple, tells you exactly how long the shutter is open no matter what your shooting frame rate. Basic film cameras use a fixed rotating shutter. This is a disc that will have half of it cut away to allow light to fall on the film. If a full circle is 360 degrees then half of this is 180 degrees, hence the commonly used 180 degree shutter. As these basic shutters are fixed then if you changed the film cameras frame rate then the shutter speed changes too. The shutter speed will always be half of the frame rate. More advanced film cameras have shutters where you can adjust the amount angle of the shutter opening, sometimes to as much as 270 degrees, but often only to an angle less than 180 degrees.

When you use degree’s your having to continually make a mental calculation of your shutter speed in fractions of a second to ensure that you don’t run into phase issues with your lighting etc. Why do this? With a video camera, if you use fractions of a second you know exactly where you are. I know of many film cameramen, myself included that found degrees to be a nuisance with the shutter speed changing all over the place depending on frame rate and angle. Fractions of a second are far easier to work with. For example, to avoid flicker from artificial lights (in particular florescent office lighting) when shooting in 50hz areas use a shutter speed that is a multiple of 1/50 and in 60hz countries use a fraction of 1/60, no matter what your frame rate. Try figuring out what angle you need to shoot 24p in a 50hz country (the answer is 1/172.8). Degrees is a hangover from film days that is seen as fashionable because it make you sound like a cinematographer, but this is fashion for the sake of fashion, not because it makes sense or is a better way to work. There is no difference in the way the shutter functions within an electronic video camera whether you use degrees or fractions, it’s just a different way of describing the same thing (unless you have a high end camera like the f65 with a mechanical shutter). If you want to mimic a film camera with a 180 degree shutter then all you have to do is halve the frame rate, so 24p = 1/48, 25p = 1/50, 30p = 1/60. Very simple.  Then if you need to match the local mains frequency simply use the next highest mains multiple. So if shooting 24p in a 50hz country use 1/50th or shooting 24p in a 60hz country use 1/60th, much easier to figure out than degrees.

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