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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 It is a pure business decision to get around (possibly outdated) tariff classifications. Oct 26, 2019 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, 2019 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.
    – emonigma
    Nov 1, 2019 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)?
    – emonigma
    Nov 1, 2019 at 16:48
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    "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" — most likely there are no missing frames, it is your NLE that cannot stitch them correctly.
    – Rusty Core
    Nov 4, 2019 at 22:51

3 Answers 3

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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?
    – emonigma
    Nov 10, 2019 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?
    – emonigma
    Nov 10, 2019 at 21:40
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The filesystem limit and the 30 minutes EU tax limit are unrelated.

The 30 minutes limit is on most cameras, like Nikon P1000. It is typically not on camcorders.

The file size limit on FAT is 4GB. Some cameras can record to "extfs" from Linux, some on exFAT: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ExFAT

But I did not find a low-end camcorder (< $1000) that can handle these. The exception is smart phones, which nowadays use Ext4 from Linux, or F2FS (Flash Friendly File System).

The continuous recording split into 4G files is relatively well done by Panasonic HC-VX9xx models at FHD. The fraction of a second pause is because the camcorder needs to "wrap up" the file (add a header and a footer) and begin a new file, which it could do in the background, but then they couldn't be so cheap :)

Panasonix X1000 does this without the drop.

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