PHOTOOG Photography writings by Olivier Giroux

26Feb/09Off

Your D700 shoots video too

…and probably also your D3/D300.

I’m announcing the availability of a BETA-quality video capture application for live-view capable Nikon DSLR cameras.  I provide this application "as is" for your enjoyment only.  I'm not offering any support with it.

In a nutshell, the application “nkvid” simply allows you record the live-view feed of your Nikon D3/D300/D700 camera. This is really the extent of nkvid’s functionality, as it does not aim to be “remote control” application. The product of running nkvid is an AVI movie file in the standard MJPEG format recognized by many playback applications, such as Apple Quicktime and Microsoft Windows Media Player.

Visit the download page to obtain a copy of nkvid.

Using nkvid

Before using nkvid, make sure that you have read and understand the terms on the download page.  These terms, along with basic instructions and troubleshooting tips are included in the README.TXT file included with the download package.

When you run nkvid, it will immediately trigger live view on your camera and display the live view feed in a simple window. Each run of nkvid records exactly one video. Launch nkvid again to record another. Successive runs of nkvid record sequentially-numbered files to avoid overwriting your videos by accident.

The recording state is bound to the state of the CAPS LOCK key. When CAPS LOCK is on, nkvid is recording. Trigger recording at any time while nkvid is running by enabling CAPS LOCK. If CAPS LOCK is on before nkvid starts, it will start recording immediately. When you turn CAPS LOCK off, nkvid will finish writing the video file and close.

If you encounter difficulties, refer to the README.TXT file included in the nkvid download.

Feedback

Feel free to comment on this post or the download page.  Note that at this point I do not plan to take feature requests that go beyond fixing glaring bugs.


Comments (36) Trackbacks (3)
  1. Great job.

    Is there a limit on how long you can record without overheating the sensor? Is there any indication for that?

  2. Nikon cameras are protected and will display a countdown before the camera shuts LiveView off so you can’t damage the camera.

    You can use LiveView for a very long time as long as you briefly shut it off between takes. The little time is sufficient too cool the sensor down.

  3. Thanks a lot Olivier!
    Did you already record with your software using a NetBook?

  4. Martin, I don’t have a netbook so I didn’t try, but I did achieve the performance objective I had set for myself. The application requires relatively little CPU – on my laptop it is happy with a little less than 1/2 of 1 core. This is because the MJPEG format I am writing is the most direct possible coding from the JPEGs the camera produces.

  5. Olivier:

    I just tried this on my D300 and it worked perfectly. Excellent job and very nicely done. One question – what resolution is being captured? Is that program dependent or camera dependent?

    Thanks

    David

  6. Hello Olivier,

    I tried your app together with my MSI Wind 100U (1,6 GHz Atom CPU, 2 GB RAM) und my Nikon D700 – works great! Do you have any ideas to achieve a higher resolution – maybe via HDMI? Keep up the good work!

    Best regards,

    Sebastian

    • The camera is clearly capable of generating Live-View feeds at higher resolutions via HDMI but we cannot read those images through USB. Someone would have to write an HDMI capture application and you would have to buy HDMI capture hardware. That wouldn’t be cheap.

  7. Thanks, Olivier. This is very cool.

    I noticed that my D300’s USB configuration had to be set to MTP/PTP, not MSC (Mass Storage), for nkvid to be able to communicate with the camera.

  8. Just passing by.Btw, your website have great content!

  9. Unfortunately it does not work with my D300. As soon as I start nkvid, the shutter audibly opens. If Caps Lock is enabled nkvid will also create a file called movie000.avi. But that files’ size will always remain 0 bytes, and neither the live view nor the nkvid window display anything. After a while, nkvid crashes.

  10. I did that, otherwise nothing at all would have happened.

  11. Then I recommend you try another PC, or check for negative factors (Vista security?, drive full? read-only folder?). I can offer no more support beyond this advice.

  12. I tried nkvid with D700(with MBD10 and AI-S lens) on a desktop computer and a notebook computer.

    When D700 was connected to the desktop computer, it was immediately detected as D700 without intstaling any driver manuually.
    When D700 was connected to the notebook comoputer, it asked for driver. I let it search for it on the internet and D700 is detected as Nikon Still Camera.

    When I launched nkvid, D700’s mirror went up. A window was displayed on the computer. However, no image was in the window and nkvid crashed. The same situation happened on both computer.

    I tried to update D700 with “nkvid bundled” driver. However, it did not accept nkvid driver.

    So my trial was unsuccessful.

  13. What Ronny describes is exactly what I observed.

  14. Hi Olivier,

    Super App you’ve created here, now my D300 can record Video!

    I tested on a proper XP laptop and it worked first time – nice work man.

    I’m still trialing on my netbook, it works, but seems to record everything at high speed, when played back it seems like a ‘Benny Hill’ clip (twice the speed). If anyone has any thoughts on that it would be appreciated.

    Cheers for sharing this lovely little app!
    NB

    • The speed would appear to be too fast if your laptop couldn’t keep up somehow – reading from USB was too slow, the CPU was too slow or the disk was too slow. In those cases nkvid wouldn’t be able to get the frames in time and future frames would fill the spot for current/earlier frames, causing everything to look speeded up.

  15. Awesome application.
    works great on my computer. the only thing that bugs me is the live view from the D700 is not fluid. it stutters sometimes but that is the camera.

    Looking forward to updates of this application.

  16. Wow this is such good news!!!
    i really hope nikon will sort out the firmware and allow us to capture right onto memory card…

    it cant be more then just a firmware upgrade to get it to give us Hd video…

    but im geussing they rather put a price tag on video functions…

    though it can really help in sorting out the 5d mk2 battle once and for all.

    keep up the good work!!
    heres holding fingers nikon will try to join the cause!

  17. Hi,

    Is it possible to record 720P+ to CF or Microdrive at a useful frame rate?

    Cheers in advance 🙂

  18. Very nice app!
    I already love it, don’t need to buy a webcam for recording my guitar movies now 😀

  19. I have to add something:
    It seems to me as the video sometimes drops frames, as I can’t get it synced to my audiostream. How should I handle this, or are you trying to fix that yourself?

    Would be a huge improvement (or, set a audiostream manually in the program so that it matches it together automatically)

    greetz!

  20. Hello!

    I want to buy this camera.. but I think I might wait for its successor because I need video functionality too.
    What is the output of the HDMI interface??
    Is this also the liveview in HD, oder is this only to show the images one by one with HD?

    Thanks

    Regards,
    tronics

    • Tronics,

      The D700 will output Live View over HDMI, not just individual pictures. There is no easy way to record this feed however, and that’s only the first problem there (also: no sound).

      If you really need video you should choose a different camera. You’re probably facing a 2-year wait, or get a 5D Mk II.

      Cheers,

      Olivier

  21. Hi Oliver, it sounds like you have an excelent program here. I hate to be “that kid” but my old windows laptop died so I’m using a Mac right now. I really want to do some videos with my D300, but I haven’t been able to find any solutions. I’m sure it must be near impossible to design one program for the two different platforms, but since that is probably the case, I figured it couldn’t hurt to ask if you’ve discovered any programs like yours that capture video, but for mac. thanks!

    • I believe that someone has made a similar program for Mac. I don’t remember who/where, but I remember coming across it.

      I can’t help you any more than that I’m afraid.

  22. You could try running Windows on your Mac via Parallels or Bootcamp and see if the program works.

    I would try it on my mac, but I don’t have a copy of Windows!

  23. Hi Oliver,
    great project.

    Just a thought:

    It would be very nice if you would added a PAYPAL DONATION link to your website so that we could support this project and maybe help you let it grow into a real software (HDMI capture/full res capture/high bitrate codec ect).

    All the best.
    CF

    • Thanks Cyberfilmmaker, but I’m afraid most requests are simply infeasible. I wrote this application to do exactly one thing, and that was something possible within the confines of the rules set by Nikon. Besides simple usability improvements, and things like sound recording, any requests having to do with image quality are basically impossible to honor.

      So with regret I must pass on your excellent suggestion…

      Sincerely,

      Olivier

      • Hi Oliver,
        yes I can see your valid point.

        Thanks again for this great free of charge project.

        All the best,
        CF

  24. I am waiting on my Convergent Design Nano Flash recorder which has a HDMI input and in theory should be able to capture from my D700 via live view HDMI out in full 1920×1080. Any thoughts??