DSLR video time limit confusion. 12 minutes? 30 minutes?

Started Dec 6, 2015 | Discussions
Greg Guarino New Member • Posts: 23
DSLR video time limit confusion. 12 minutes? 30 minutes?

I've had no luck getting definitive answers on this.

My Nikon D3300 can shoot 30 minutes (OK, 29m59s) continuously of 1080p, 30fps in "Normal Quality" mode. That reduces to 20 minutes in "High Quality" mode.

My daughter's Canon T5 only goes 11 minutes and change. Any settings she has tried do not seem to increase this.

I read several explanations, none of which seem definitive.

The first is the Windows File System 4GB limit. That might be persuasive, but how does the Nikon manage to take 30 minute files?

The second explanation is a EU tariff limitation that keeps DSLrs under 30 minutes. That looks like a good fit for my Nikon, but what's up with the Canon? Does the Canon compress the video (and audio?) less? Is 12 minutes really an unbreakable limit?

Canon EOS 1200D (EOS Rebel T5 / EOS Kiss X70) Nikon D3300
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plain text Senior Member • Posts: 1,800
Re: DSLR video time limit confusion. 12 minutes? 30 minutes?

If Magic Lantern is available for that cam, it's worth trying. I shot two gigs earlier this year, the first with "vanilla" Canon settings, the second with ML. The first cut out after c.12 minutes due to the 4Gb limit, and I could fit 3-and-a-bit clips onto a 16 Gb card - I filled 5 cars. The other using ML I got 5 29.59 clips, and fitted onto one card.

If you do use ML, it's important to follow the instructions exactly.

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Duke Sweden Regular Member • Posts: 415
Re: DSLR video time limit confusion. 12 minutes? 30 minutes?

plain text wrote:

If Magic Lantern is available for that cam, it's worth trying. I shot two gigs earlier this year, the first with "vanilla" Canon settings, the second with ML. The first cut out after c.12 minutes due to the 4Gb limit, and I could fit 3-and-a-bit clips onto a 16 Gb card - I filled 5 cars. The other using ML I got 5 29.59 clips, and fitted onto one card.

If you do use ML, it's important to follow the instructions exactly.

Agreed, but to answer your question, it has something to do with the camera overheating. More likely a problem in the summertime.

Corkcampbell
Corkcampbell Forum Pro • Posts: 18,895
The 29.xx time limit is for EU cameras. The limitations for your cameras...
1

The 29.xx time limit is for cameras sold in the EU due to that nanny continent's tax issues. For your dSLRs, which are not designed for video, the issue is heat, as another poster mentioned. If you really want to get into video, get an m4/3, or other mirrorless, camera. I can shoot for four hours, unattended, with my GH3, and I only have time limits (29.xx minutes) on my Sony RX10 and RX100M3 cameras.

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OP Greg Guarino New Member • Posts: 23
Re: DSLR video time limit confusion. 12 minutes? 30 minutes?

I've learned a little more by looking at the files our cameras made. When my daughter's T5 stopped at 11:42, that was indeed a 4GB file. But my Nikon made a 17 minute file that was only about 1.5GB. I was using "Normal Quality" (but still 1080p, 30 fps), rather than "High Quality". The Canon does not seem to have a choice of settings in that regard. But even at the "High Quality" setting, the Nikon tells me it can shoot for 20 minutes.

So the answer seems to be that the Canon has a higher bit rate, and thus bumps up against the 4GB file size limit at a little less than 12 minutes. I'm no expert - not nearly - but the video quality on both cameras seems to be pretty good. Perhaps there is some visible "cost" to the lower bit rate, but it doesn't seem obvious yet.

Sean Nelson
Sean Nelson Forum Pro • Posts: 14,159
Re: DSLR video time limit confusion. 12 minutes? 30 minutes?

Greg Guarino wrote:

Perhaps there is some visible "cost" to the lower bit rate, but it doesn't seem obvious yet.

Lower bit rates show their weakness when trying to capture scenes with a lot of random motion - think of a tree whose leaves are rustling in the wind or reflections from the undulating surface of a pond.  For relatively static subjects you can often get away with a lower bit rate without as much, if any, visual degradation.

OP Greg Guarino New Member • Posts: 23
Re: DSLR video time limit confusion. 12 minutes? 30 minutes?

Sean Nelson wrote:

Greg Guarino wrote:

Perhaps there is some visible "cost" to the lower bit rate, but it doesn't seem obvious yet.

Lower bit rates show their weakness when trying to capture scenes with a lot of random motion - think of a tree whose leaves are rustling in the wind or reflections from the undulating surface of a pond.

Interesting. Maybe I'll do a comparison ... when the leaves are back on the trees. What would I look for , blockiness, pixellation?

One of the things my daughter has shot - and may again - is her school orchestra. That would be 60 or so musicians many of whom have bows sawing back and forth, mallets pounding, etc. I wonder if that might show it.

Sean Nelson
Sean Nelson Forum Pro • Posts: 14,159
Re: DSLR video time limit confusion. 12 minutes? 30 minutes?

Greg Guarino wrote:

Sean Nelson wrote:

Greg Guarino wrote:

Perhaps there is some visible "cost" to the lower bit rate, but it doesn't seem obvious yet.

Lower bit rates show their weakness when trying to capture scenes with a lot of random motion - think of a tree whose leaves are rustling in the wind or reflections from the undulating surface of a pond.

Interesting. Maybe I'll do a comparison ... when the leaves are back on the trees. What would I look for , blockiness, pixellation?

Blockiness is a pretty common symptom, along with reduced resolution and colour separation.  Here's an extreme example of macroblocking due to insufficient bit rate.  I've never seen anything this blatant in my own clips, though.

lancespring Veteran Member • Posts: 3,974
If you want good quality 29 minute and 59 second clips
1

Greg Guarino wrote:

I've learned a little more by looking at the files our cameras made. When my daughter's T5 stopped at 11:42, that was indeed a 4GB file. But my Nikon made a 17 minute file that was only about 1.5GB. I was using "Normal Quality" (but still 1080p, 30 fps), rather than "High Quality". The Canon does not seem to have a choice of settings in that regard. But even at the "High Quality" setting, the Nikon tells me it can shoot for 20 minutes.

So the answer seems to be that the Canon has a higher bit rate, and thus bumps up against the 4GB file size limit at a little less than 12 minutes. I'm no expert - not nearly - but the video quality on both cameras seems to be pretty good. Perhaps there is some visible "cost" to the lower bit rate, but it doesn't seem obvious yet.

.

Then you need to get a mirrorless camera from Sony, Panasonic, or Samsung. They are not limited to 4 Gig max size clips. And they have much higher bit rates. So the image quality is quite good.

Better quality video is a key reason why so many people have switched to using mirrorless cameras.
.

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carport888 Regular Member • Posts: 126
Re: DSLR video time limit confusion. 12 minutes? 30 minutes?

Greg Guarino wrote:

I've had no luck getting definitive answers on this.

My Nikon D3300 can shoot 30 minutes (OK, 29m59s) continuously of 1080p, 30fps in "Normal Quality" mode. That reduces to 20 minutes in "High Quality" mode.

My daughter's Canon T5 only goes 11 minutes and change. Any settings she has tried do not seem to increase this.

I read several explanations, none of which seem definitive.

The first is the Windows File System 4GB limit. That might be persuasive, but how does the Nikon manage to take 30 minute files?

The second explanation is a EU tariff limitation that keeps DSLrs under 30 minutes. That looks like a good fit for my Nikon, but what's up with the Canon? Does the Canon compress the video (and audio?) less? Is 12 minutes really an unbreakable limit?

Both file system limitations and EU tariffs can limit clip length.  Manufacturers can get around the 4GB file limit by what is called file spanning.  This means that when recording a clip, when the file size limit is reached, a second file is immediately started to continue the clip where the previous file ended.  When the files play back-to-back on an editing timeline, the transition is seamless.  Some cameras will include software for importing these files into one larger file on the computer.

If a camera can reach 30 minutes, but goes no further, it is due to EU tariffs.  With very few exceptions (GH4), stills cameras (including those with file size limitations) will always be limited by the EU tariff limit.  It sounds like your D3300 (and most likely the T5) have both limits.  In high quality mode, the clip stops at 4GB, in normal quality mode, the EU tariff limit stops the clip.

~Dan

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rtillery New Member • Posts: 18
Re: DSLR video time limit confusion. 12 minutes? 30 minutes?

carport888 wrote:

Both file system limitations and EU tariffs can limit clip length. Manufacturers can get around the 4GB file limit by what is called file spanning. This means that when recording a clip, when the file size limit is reached, a second file is immediately started to continue the clip where the previous file ended. When the files play back-to-back on an editing timeline, the transition is seamless. Some cameras will include software for importing these files into one larger file on the computer.

In my experience with a couple of different cameras of different brands, the files are cut in mid-stream, which means that the stream in the first file is not properly terminated and the stream in the second stream does not begin correctly.  The camera handles these seams...err...seamlessly during playback, but things get more complicated when you move the video files to your computer.

Many programs can read these files and compensate for the malformed end and start by ignoring them. But even if they can, this means frames are lost at each file break. Additionally, even in 2015, a few programs can't handle files that have this cut stream at the start (e.g. DaVinci Resolve 12).

To avoid losing those frames, and to allow compatibility with programs that do not like these cut files, you need to re-join these files.

While the FAT32-based cards may have the 4GB file size limit, typically desktop machines use NTFS, HFS, or another filesystem with much higher file size limits (much larger than the largest SD cards anyway). So joining them once you get them to your computer isn't a problem.

Most cameras come with software that can do the import and join the files, but I find that the software suites are usually full of stuff I don't want (and it's often an all-or-nothing install), and the import isn't what I really want (e.g. the complete AVCHD structure).

So I tend to ignore the software and handle this on my own.

Say you have four files:

01418.MTS - 2,045,399,040 bytes

01419.MTS - 2,045,687,808 bytes

01420.MTS - 2,045,607,936 bytes

01421.MTS - 1,338,992,640 bytes

For Windows, you can concatenate the files simply with the copy command:

copy /b 01418.MTS + 01419.MTS + 01420.MTS + 01421.MTS MyVid.MTS

(Note that you could do this at the same time you import the files from the SD card by using full paths, if you don't want to use up the space for two copies of the video.)

Linux (and I assume Mac) can use the cat command:

cat 01419.MTS 01420.MTS 01421.MTS 01422.MTS >MyVid.MTS

Rick

lancespring Veteran Member • Posts: 3,974
Re: DSLR video time limit confusion. 12 minutes? 30 minutes?

rtillery wrote:

carport888 wrote:

Both file system limitations and EU tariffs can limit clip length. Manufacturers can get around the 4GB file limit by what is called file spanning. This means that when recording a clip, when the file size limit is reached, a second file is immediately started to continue the clip where the previous file ended. When the files play back-to-back on an editing timeline, the transition is seamless. Some cameras will include software for importing these files into one larger file on the computer.

In my experience with a couple of different cameras of different brands, the files are cut in mid-stream, which means that the stream in the first file is not properly terminated and the stream in the second stream does not begin correctly. The camera handles these seams...err...seamlessly during playback, but things get more complicated when you move the video files to your computer.

Many programs can read these files and compensate for the malformed end and start by ignoring them. But even if they can, this means frames are lost at each file break. Additionally, even in 2015, a few programs can't handle files that have this cut stream at the start (e.g. DaVinci Resolve 12).

To avoid losing those frames, and to allow compatibility with programs that do not like these cut files, you need to re-join these files.

While the FAT32-based cards may have the 4GB file size limit, typically desktop machines use NTFS, HFS, or another filesystem with much higher file size limits (much larger than the largest SD cards anyway). So joining them once you get them to your computer isn't a problem.

Most cameras come with software that can do the import and join the files, but I find that the software suites are usually full of stuff I don't want (and it's often an all-or-nothing install), and the import isn't what I really want (e.g. the complete AVCHD structure).

So I tend to ignore the software and handle this on my own.

Say you have four files:

01418.MTS - 2,045,399,040 bytes

01419.MTS - 2,045,687,808 bytes

01420.MTS - 2,045,607,936 bytes

01421.MTS - 1,338,992,640 bytes

For Windows, you can concatenate the files simply with the copy command:

copy /b 01418.MTS + 01419.MTS + 01420.MTS + 01421.MTS MyVid.MTS

(Note that you could do this at the same time you import the files from the SD card by using full paths, if you don't want to use up the space for two copies of the video.)

Linux (and I assume Mac) can use the cat command:

cat 01419.MTS 01420.MTS 01421.MTS 01422.MTS >MyVid.MTS

Rick

.

This issue that you have noticed in between AVCHD files when a clip is spanned over multiple files is caused by user error in not importing the AVCHD stream properly with the video editor software that a person is using.

I ran into this problem myself when I first started using AVCHD files in Adobe Premiere Pro 6. Trying to import the individual files indeed caused this problem that you describe. But if I instead used the Media Browser feature in Premiere, I could then easily import the entire clip seamlessly in one action. All of the files that comprised the clip were then imported together with no issues.

And no frames are lost if the import is done correctly. Countless video professionals have been using AVCHD for years with a number of video editor programs.

.

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a7sastro Contributing Member • Posts: 862
Re: DSLR video time limit confusion. 12 minutes? 30 minutes?
1

To the topic in general:

Two things I think about when DSLR users are shooting video:

#1. they want great video by using great glass.

#2. They are NOT recording a long duration/large amount of footage.

As said before firstly heat is an issue with a thing that is not a video camera.

Secondly recording media and format are going to be a limiter.

So while you trade having interchangeable lens away by using a prosumer video camera, you can benefit in the other areas.

The other option, especially helpful for extended shots:

external recorders.

It is an investment just like a camera, but I enjoy recording high quality video in a codec that preserves information and is processor friendly, while recording it straight to a ssd that can afterward be directly connected to my pc for fast copy and editing!

And since it is an external recording, it:

a. has no camera overheating problem

b. gives me no time duration cap internal recording gives me

c. and gives me a better color depth than internal recording

And for the retort than an external recorder is burdensome--I ask: "are you really taking a long duration video while needing excessive motion and flexibility?" Anyway, how's the handling of that still pictures camera doing for you after 30minutes of continuous video?Wish you had a rig yet?

I would say long duration lends itself to a tripod and stable setup. Lots of movement and flexibility are usually short duration shots-which DSLRs can deal with easily.

And if one retorts that it is not in the budget, I ask: is the expensive glass you "need" in your budget? Maybe just go prosumer video camera if you need the video. It's all about priorities.

FWIW.

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rtillery New Member • Posts: 18
Re: DSLR video time limit confusion. 12 minutes? 30 minutes?

Not everyone uses the O/S supported by the software included with there camera. Linux is rarely supported, so importing must be manual there.

The invasive nature of the software that has accompanied the cameras I've used (e.g. overriding file associations), plus all-or-nothing install of inferior tools (e.g. older or slower codecs), has made me avoid it altogether. YMMV.

It's good to know that some software is AVCHD aware, but some is not (e.g. DaVinci Resolve), hence these tips.

Rick

carport888 Regular Member • Posts: 126
Re: DSLR video time limit confusion. 12 minutes? 30 minutes?

a7sastro wrote:

To the topic in general:

Two things I think about when DSLR users are shooting video:

#1. they want great video by using great glass.

#2. They are NOT recording a long duration/large amount of footage.

As said before firstly heat is an issue with a thing that is not a video camera.

Secondly recording media and format are going to be a limiter.

So while you trade having interchangeable lens away by using a prosumer video camera, you can benefit in the other areas.

The other option, especially helpful for extended shots:

external recorders.

It is an investment just like a camera, but I enjoy recording high quality video in a codec that preserves information and is processor friendly, while recording it straight to a ssd that can afterward be directly connected to my pc for fast copy and editing!

And since it is an external recording, it:

a. has no camera overheating problem

b. gives me no time duration cap internal recording gives me

c. and gives me a better color depth than internal recording

And for the retort than an external recorder is burdensome--I ask: "are you really taking a long duration video while needing excessive motion and flexibility?" Anyway, how's the handling of that still pictures camera doing for you after 30minutes of continuous video?Wish you had a rig yet?

I would say long duration lends itself to a tripod and stable setup. Lots of movement and flexibility are usually short duration shots-which DSLRs can deal with easily.

And if one retorts that it is not in the budget, I ask: is the expensive glass you "need" in your budget? Maybe just go prosumer video camera if you need the video. It's all about priorities.

FWIW.

It is true that camcorders generally don't have overheating issues, but I think non-camcorder cameras can do several things to avoid this issue as well. For example, simply making their screen swivel out away from the body will take much heat away from the sensor. Even if the swivel screen is closed, it will produce less heat internally.

For me, I'm more comfortable with stills-type cameras (DSLR, mirrorless), so I choose to use them mainly for video.  My Panasonic GH4 can shoot continuous video. For me, it's great because I can set it on a tripod and let it record an entire live event. For live events, clip length limitations really hinder.

As many of the technical limitations for extended clip length are solved, it becomes increasingly irritating that manufacturers still insist on allowing Europe tax law to influence their US camera division.

~Dan

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Duke Sweden Regular Member • Posts: 415
Re: DSLR video time limit confusion. 12 minutes? 30 minutes?

a7sastro wrote:

To the topic in general:

Two things I think about when DSLR users are shooting video:

#1. they want great video by using great glass.

#2. They are NOT recording a long duration/large amount of footage.

As said before firstly heat is an issue with a thing that is not a video camera.

Secondly recording media and format are going to be a limiter.

So while you trade having interchangeable lens away by using a prosumer video camera, you can benefit in the other areas.

The other option, especially helpful for extended shots:

external recorders.

It is an investment just like a camera, but I enjoy recording high quality video in a codec that preserves information and is processor friendly, while recording it straight to a ssd that can afterward be directly connected to my pc for fast copy and editing!

And since it is an external recording, it:

a. has no camera overheating problem

b. gives me no time duration cap internal recording gives me

c. and gives me a better color depth than internal recording

And for the retort than an external recorder is burdensome--I ask: "are you really taking a long duration video while needing excessive motion and flexibility?" Anyway, how's the handling of that still pictures camera doing for you after 30minutes of continuous video?Wish you had a rig yet?

I would say long duration lends itself to a tripod and stable setup. Lots of movement and flexibility are usually short duration shots-which DSLRs can deal with easily.

And if one retorts that it is not in the budget, I ask: is the expensive glass you "need" in your budget? Maybe just go prosumer video camera if you need the video. It's all about priorities.

FWIW.

I agree completely with everything you said, which is rare for me! I normally shoot 20 second clips at a time, rarely will I go to one minute, for the reasons you sited. Who wants to go through a 15 minute clip to find the 8 seconds I intend to use?

As for your external recorder idea, there's one whose name escapes me right now. It does exactly what you say, and it's $295.00 bucks. I'm not sure if that's complete or if you need to buy other connectors and such, but if I was a serious filmmaker I'd consider purchasing one. If I can remember the name I'll edit this. I'm sure you probably know what I'm talking about.

EDIT: Here we go. It's the Atomos Ninja Star Pocket-Size ProRes Recorder & Deck

Hirsti Contributing Member • Posts: 660
Re: DSLR video time limit confusion. 12 minutes? 30 minutes?

Greg Guarino wrote:

I've had no luck getting definitive answers on this.

My Nikon D3300 can shoot 30 minutes (OK, 29m59s) continuously of 1080p, 30fps in "Normal Quality" mode. That reduces to 20 minutes in "High Quality" mode.

My daughter's Canon T5 only goes 11 minutes and change. Any settings she has tried do not seem to increase this.

I read several explanations, none of which seem definitive.

The first is the Windows File System 4GB limit. That might be persuasive, but how does the Nikon manage to take 30 minute files?

The second explanation is a EU tariff limitation that keeps DSLrs under 30 minutes. That looks like a good fit for my Nikon, but what's up with the Canon? Does the Canon compress the video (and audio?) less? Is 12 minutes really an unbreakable limit?

Hi,

I have seen these issues in the past on different cameras, the file size limit is not the camera but the SD cards you are using and your camera supports.

All SD cards less than 32Gb are formatted as Fat32 which gives an individual file size limits of 4Gb per file, if your camera doesn't support file spanning then it will stop recording when the file size has been hit.

SD cards that are 64Gb and greater are formatted as exFat and have a individual file size a lot higher, think it is 16 Eb which there aren't any cards large enough, this means that a camera will record video upto 30 minutes or until the card is out of space.

The solution to fix this is to format your SD cards in a computer rather than the camera, just Google exFat format and there are loads of instructions out there, this can be done to any SD card over 4Gb in size.

I don't know if your camera supports exFat but I would be very surprised if it didn't.

Put in the newly formatted SD card and you should get video recorded upto 30 minutes or until the card fills up.

Alternatively, buy a 64Gb SD card which already formatted exFat but this will rely on your camera supporting 64Gb cards

Hope this helps

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