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I would like to record footage at high resolution for one hour without interruption. I have a DSLR camera that, with 1080 pixels of vertical resolution and 50 frames per second, stops recording at 10 minutes and I have to press the record button again. Another hand-held camera can record for an hour but breaks it into chunks that, when concatenated, skip a fraction of a second. I understand that this time limitation is because DSLR cameras use the FAT32 standard for reading and writing files from disks, and FAT32 has a limitation of 4 GB:

The maximum possible size for a file on a FAT32 volume is 4 GiB minus 1 byte or 4,294,967,295 (2^32 − 1) bytes. This limit is a consequence of the file length entry in the directory table

Does another filesystem allow recordings without interruption for longer than 4 GiB or 10 minutes? And did cameras adopt such a filesystem?

Update: @Michael Liebman's suggested this Quora link that mentions "file chaining". I could solve the problem if the split files from a camera could be seamlessly joined and produce the same output as if I had been recording continuously. Does a format or camera standard allow this seamless juxtaposition?

Second update: I understand from the comments and questions that the file size limitation serves for DSLR's to avoid the EU's 5.6% import duty on cam-corders. One Sony camcorder can record continuously in AVCHD format but chops the clip into multiple files with around half a second missed in between files. Can another filesystem or video format record for camcorders footage for one hour without interruption?

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    If you read further down in the article you linked and here, it really isn't the filesystem or any other technical limit that is restricting the file length. It is a pure business decision to get around (possibly outdated) tariff classifications. – Michael Liebman Oct 26 '19 at 4:20
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    Unless you're planning on replacing your camera's firmware (that's a thing—check out magic lantern if you want to take the red pill) you're stuck with the disk format the manufacturers specified. Formatting your card to another file system will just mean that the camera won't recognise it. – stib Oct 28 '19 at 6:17
  • @MichaelLiebman Great point, which I had missed and explains it. Could you write an answer? I think that quoting that Quora page that has the only two cameras commercially available that don't have the limit would be good, but I'm not sure if it goes against the site's policies on staying away from product recommendations. – miguelmorin Nov 1 '19 at 16:30
  • @stib I read about magic lantern and I'll do it! Could you write an answer with some details? And do Nikon cameras have a similar hack (I found Nikonhacker.com but it seems stale)? – miguelmorin Nov 1 '19 at 16:48
  • @stib The FAQ on the time limit suggests that with H264 the limit is 30 minutes or 4 GB, whichever comes first; and RAW has no limit, but the file sizes are huge. So H264 would not record continuously for one hour. This calculator suggests the filesize for one hour of footage at 1080p and 30 fps is 1 TB, is that right? – miguelmorin Nov 1 '19 at 17:09
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In my experience, that's a indicator of the line between consumer, pro-sumer and professional cameras. At a previous workplace, it was problematic enough to justify investing in a better camera for the situation that could handle longer video lengths.

Additionally, standard FPS for video are 24 or 30 fps.

You might be able to save some time on the card by recording at 24 fps, but not enough to record for an hour by my calculations.

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You might want to keep in mind the regulations concerning camera manufacturers. When recording over a certain limit in time (which I believe is 30 minutes), the sellers of the camera pay an extra tax-amount - so longer recordings are usually reserved for more professional, expensive cameras.

What might be worth a try is recording with an external recorder from a dslr or something better. Other than that, buying an expensive professional-grade camera might be your only option.

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  • Can you provide references for the extra tax when over 30 minutes (or confirm if they are the same as mentioned in the other answers) and for the setup with an external recorder attached to a DSLR? – miguelmorin Nov 10 '19 at 21:38
  • I found this article for Nikon about recording uncompressed footage. By my calculations, 1 hour of raw footage is 1 TB, does that sound feasible and more feasible than a professional-grade camera? – miguelmorin Nov 10 '19 at 21:40

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