DSLR Video Time Limits and Firmware Cracks

Created by tomtakespictures on Nov. 28, 2014, 12:20 p.m.
  • I am a photographer who shoots stills. I recently upgraded my Nikon D80 to a D300s, I now have access to HD 720 video. However, I have recently learned that I am limited by a time or file size limit. 2gb seems to be the largest file size that it will handle at a time. Why they don't record longer periods of time doesn't seem to be determined by the hardware capabilities, instead it's just to keep the DSLRs from being in the camcorder category which is taxed higher in European countries.

    Magic Lantern and Nikon Hackers have developed firmware cracks that will let you record for a longer period of time in the same file and record uncompressed video files.

    I have a question for the more code savy folks out there - is this firmware relatively safe? It seems like Magic Lantern is dependable enough for professionals who are doing film making, but I don't know about this whole Nikon Hackers thing. Has anyone else used the crack and had success with it?

  • I have often seen it handled as when it hits 2gb it creates and new file and continues as its mostly a file system limit. Which has been left in place for compatibility reasons between different media reader types. I know this can affect in device playback however its not as big of a deal in post.

    The inherent risk with firmware is that you will brick the device. It doesn't matter what your working on there is always a chance a write will go corrupted or fail. Resulting in not booting device. While you can get around this if you have a high knowledge level. If you don't have much experience with doing this kind of stuff. You are better off staying away.

  • I've used Magic Lantern before without issue, but I wasn't aware that Nikon now had something similar.

    I've also exceeded the 30-minute time limit with my Canon 6D and it seamlessly began recording a new file that was perfectly stitched together with Adobe Premiere in post.

  • Thank you guys for the insight. I haven't tried a long video yet, but wanted to get everything sorted out before giving it a shot.

  • This was actually covered on the TESTED blog a while back.

    http://www.tested.com/tech/photography/44445-why-digital-cameras-have-a-30-minute-video-recording-limit/

    The 30 minute limit is mainly due to a higher tax levied against video recording devices in Europe. So they limit the time that a DLSR can record video as a way to circumvent this tax.

  • I didn't know that Tested had covered it, but I had read that the tax was the reason for the limit. My camera does not start a new file when reaching the end of its limit. Does anyone have any advice to get around this? I'd rather not mess with the firmware if possible. Any help would be appreciated.

  • Sell the D300s and buy a D7100 instead?

    I'm actually really curious why you bought a D300s in 2014.


  • Right now it seems to me that Nikon is focusing on its full frame line up for anything even remotely related to a pro camera. The D7000/D7100s aren't a real replacement for the D300 series for me. They just don't have the build that I like in a more pro camera (pro-sumer/whatever you want to call it). Anything with the build I'm looking for is a full frame. With your suggestion of the D7100 I might as well do the real upgrade to a D610 which isn't very much more. I plan on upgrading to a full frame eventually, but there isn't room in the budget for it yet. Mind you, I was upgrading from a D80. Doing so I got a very good deal on the D300s and it has low actuations. There is nothing wrong with this camera, even if it's not the newest model. There are many reasons why I chose a D300s over the Nikon D7000. It meters my old Nikon glass that I love, it shoots well enough in low light (I implement studio lighting enough that this isn't an issue), and its buffering for continuous shooting is very nice. It's exactly what I need. I just want to see if this video limit is real and if it can be changed.

    I understand your suggestion for the D7100, but I am not looking to upgrade my camera. I am just wondering if anyone has any suggestions for the camera that I'm currently using.