9 things you should know about shooting 4K video on the Lumia 950

I used the Lumia 950 to shoot some videos over the weekend while walking at the High Line in New York City. I didn't use any rigs, stabilizers, or tripods. Without any fancy editing, I combined the clips so you can check the video and audio quality for yourself. Take a look at the video and read some of the things I noticed while shooting 4K Keep in mind that the Lumia 950 XL has a similar camera.

1. In 4K mode, the Lumia 950 can shoot in 24, 25, or 30 frames per second (fps). I selected 30 fps, but my video editing app noticed most of the clips didn't shoot exactly 30 fps. Many were just above or below 30, like 29.97, 30.15, 30.06, etc. For comparison, my Panasonic GH4 produces 29.97 fps clips in 30 fps mode. It's not a big deal, but I thought it was strange and worth mentioning.

2. I notice scenes sometimes 'jump.' I think this is related to the autofocus. I have to say that I'm not a fan of these jumps.

3. The camera sometimes freezes when I hit the record button. A workaround is to press and hold the back button, close the camera app, and then re-open the app.

4. You can zoom while recording. The best way to do it is to swipe up or down on the screen. In 4K, the zoom isn't much, but it's better than nothing.

5. You can lock down focus, but you can't lock down the exposure. The camera will try to automatically adjust exposure. This is good for most users, but not advanced shooters who want a little more control. You can adjust the brightness level within the camera, but it still adjusts the exposure when it sees a change in the scene.

6. I'm happy with the colors. Looks very natural. Not too saturated. Not dull either. However, for a more consistent look, you should manually select a white balance. If you leave it in Auto, the color can change when you're moving with the camera. This isn't just a tip for Lumia 950 users, though. This applies to all video cameras with auto white balance.

7. In addition to optical image stabilization, you can also enable digital video stabilization. It's great, but don't expect miracles. If you're walking while recording, the footage will be shaky. If you're standing still and do smooth pans, the video will look smooth.

8. The sound is incredible. I listened to the clips with my headphones and was impressed. I'm not an audio expert, but what I hear on this video is very accurate to what I was hearing while recording. Just be aware that recording in windy places will pick up wind noise.

9. It's easy to transfer the video files to a Windows PC, but it's a totally different story on a Mac. When connected via a USB cable, the Mac cannot see any file data from the phone. The Windows Phone Mac sync app doesn't work yet either.

File size madness

To give you an idea how huge 4K videos are, a 40-second 4K video with the Lumia 950 is about 270MB. A 3-minute edited video with minimal compression is 1.29GB. If I compress the same video for Youtube, I can lower it down to 624MB. After it's uploaded to Youtube, they do their own compression too. You can download the original file I've uploaded to Youtube here.

What are your thoughts on the sample video above? Make sure to select the 4K version if the have the bandwidth.


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Mark Guim

Mark Guim is Video Editor at Windows Central. He switched to Windows because the MacBook Pro isn't Pro enough. You can follow him on Twitter at @markguim.