If you’ve come across this article it is probably because you discovered that your camera has a recording limit of 30 minutes.
If like many camera users, you only discovered this after a long day of shooting, you have our deepest sympathies.
This limitation is infuriating and can cause severe problems for unsuspecting professional videographers.
While we cannot help you to recover your lost footage, we can help you to understand why some cameras stop recording after 30 minutes and, more importantly, how to work around this limitation.
Keep reading to learn more!
Why Do Some Cameras Stop Recording After 30 Minutes?
If you are scratching your head and wondering why camera manufacturers would impose such a strange and seemingly arbitrary recording list on their products, you are not alone!
Many camera users have experienced similar confusion.
The truth is that the answer may come down to the law.
Some camera users theorize that it comes down to rules set by the European Union.
These rules are said to place import taxes on camera devices capable of recording over 30 minutes.
This rule is likely in place to differentiate cameras intended for photography from more expensive cameras intended for videography.
In order to avoid these import taxes when selling in Europe, it is likely that camera makers around the world decided to cap their product’s recording limit at 30 minutes — instead of paying the tax…
Which Cameras Have A Thirty-Minute Recording Limit?
Cameras from many different manufacturers are reported to have a 30-minute video recording limit.
These include brands such as Nikon, Olympus, Fuji, Canon, and Sony.
That said, when it comes to video recording limits, Sony is typically the target of most people’s frustration.
This is because of Sony’s Alpha series of cameras.
Despite being focussed on still photography, these cameras offer many impressive and affordable “pro-sumer” video specs — making them an incredibly popular option among videographers.
This is where the problem with recording limits comes into play…
Many videographers purchased cameras in the Sony Alpha line, only to discover their frustrating limitation.
How To Record Longer Than 30 Minutes
Though most cameras with recording limits do not include a setting to turn off this cap, there is a way to “hack” the system and work around this problem.
This “hack” requires an intervalometer — an external camera accessory commonly used to capture timed shutter actuations.
This method also requires that the camera you are using is capable of beginning recording from the shutter button. This is critical. On some cameras, such as those in the A7 series, this setting can be turned on in the settings menu.
Once you have purchased an intervalometer and set your camera is set up properly, follow these steps:
- First, start by setting your intervalometer to a timer of 30 minutes and a few seconds (between 5 and 10 seconds is safe to ensure your camera is capable of writing all your footage to your memory card before it starts recording again).
- Next, set your intervalometer to repeat its timer as many times as necessary for your shoot.
- Lastly, start recording. Once your camera hits its 30-minute limit, the intervalometer will run for a few extra seconds while your footage is written to your SD card.
The obvious flaw in this method is that you will end up with gaps in your recording. However, this may be your only option for working around a recording limit of 30 minutes.
Here is a helpful video from Chris Spice that offers an in-depth guide to using this method:
Sony Camera Method
While Sony users are welcome to use the previous intervalometer method, there is another, arguably better, method for bypassing the recording limit on some Sony cameras.
NOTE: Depending on your Sony firmware, this may not work on some newer camera models.
This method will require a Sony camera, computer, Micro USB cable, and a piece of software called PMCA-GUI.
This method will also require that you set your Sony camera to “MTP” under your camera’s USB settings.
Once you have acquired these items and installed the software, follow these steps:
- Plug your Sony camera into your computer using the Micro USB cable.
- Next, open the PMCA-GUI software and click “get camera info.”
- After your camera’s info appears in the app, move to the “Install App” tab and select the “Open Memories Tweak” in the dropdown app list. Install this app.
- Once the app is installed on your camera, unplug your camera and navigate to the app on your camera. This can be found in your “Application List” in your camera’s settings.
- Once the app is open, navigate to the “Video” tab.
- In this section, you will see an option titled “Disable video recording limit.” Select this option.
- If everything is set up correctly, your Sony camera should now be capable of recording for longer than 30 minutes.
Here is a helpful video from GreenBox that offers an in-depth guide to using this method:
The 30-minute recording limit on certain cameras can be VERY annoying. Especially if you don’t understand it exists or how to get around it.
Hopefully, this article has helped to clear up any confusion and offer a few methods to bypass this obnoxious recording cap.
If you are a Sony user, we would recommend experimenting with the PMCA-GUI software in order to completely bypass the limit.
However, for those using other camera brands, we recommend experimenting with the intervalometer method. It just might be your best option for overcoming your camera’s recording cap.