When I started in the video biz, I had a 3-chip Sony M7 cabled to a separate VO8800 3/4 SP deck with 20-minute tapes and two batteries. It produced very pretty images. Today I carry a phone that shoots HD. My phone is smaller and lighter than the camcorders I started with.
But I am so very tired of vDSLR (HDSLR, EVIL, whatever) fanatics touting that one of the greatest features of the format is that they are so “run & gun” so “small & light” and yet offer so much capability. You mean like full HD output on a big screen, built in stereo audio, XLR inputs, audio metering, waveform, headphone outputs, multiple HD video outputs, on-shoulder balance, easy to toggle and adjust manual settings for focus, zoom, iris, shutter, gain and white balance while shooting? Able to shoot for hours at a time for live events? You know, those features, aside from “it looks pretty” that professionals need all the time?
Well, it turns out that the smaller & lighter vDSLRs can indeed offer many of those features, by throwing away the notion of smaller & lighter. So I wish people would stop touting it as a “you get smaller & lighter AND you get real pro camcorder features.” Read more…
Nikon’s P7000 increased the model number from the previous model’s P6000, but actually decreases the pixel count on the chip, while increasing the size of the chip. Both factors serve to allow more light into the camera, let the camera record images with less noise, and require less noise reduction, which can obliterate fine detail.
Why the change?
Because Manufacturers are finally hearing the siren call from consumer and pundits who have proved, time and again, that increasing megapixels does not mean better pictures. After a certain point, the optics aren’t even good enough to focus all three colors onto the same pixel, and you get awful chromatic aberration.
But more importantly than that, a faster chip, and faster glass, means you can take great photos in more lighting conditions– like indoors, like at night, and it means that those photos will look better, with less blurred motion, or noise from gain. Moreover, it has the side effect of making the tiny built-n flash seem more powerful. Read more…
Canon says that the Canon XF300 Professional Camcorder is on it’s way to me for test & review. This camera features 50Mbps MPEG-2 4:2:2 recording to Compact Flash (CF) Cards. This high data rate should push aside all issue with compression, even though it does use the older MPEG-2 codec as opposed to the newer MPEG-4 / H.264 / AVCHD codec that a lot of newer camcorders and cameras use. The advantage to MPEG-2 is that, with a lot less compression, today’s even faster computer should handle it with ease, as opposed to the much more difficult time today’s systems have with AVCHD footage. Read more…
There’s a lot of buzz about HD video on DSLR’s. What this misses is that HD video is also possible on most every digital still camera made today, with fewer and fewer exceptions.
When Canon upgraded their venerable PowerShot S-series, they did it in an odd way, the US got the CCD based SX10 which could not shoot HD video, but the rest of the world received the CMOS-based SX1, which could shoot 1080p30 HD video with stereo audio built in.
After several months, Canon brought the SX1 to the US. But those wishing to avoid the CMOS distortions I easily demonstrated in my earlier review were still left out in the cold, despite cameras lower in Canon’s lineup offering CCD-based HD video. Finally, Canon brought the SX20 to market which adds HD video and more megapixels to the camera. Is it a winner? My hands-on will find out.
If you can get a consumer camera that shoots HD for just a couple hundred bucks, why not load up on the cameras and get multiple angles of an event for next to no cost. Plus, you can move them around easily, perch them in unusual places and you don’t need a half-dozen video camera operators. Sounds great, doesn’t it?
Well, the reality is that the rolling shutter CMOS image distortion in video cameras is just as prevalent in digital still cameras. You can easily see it when you bounce the camera up and down lightly, or pan the camera side to side. Things that you naturally do when you are recording video with the camera in your hands instead of on a tripod. These motions distort the image from what really exists in reality. Camera flashes are partially bad- partially illuminating multiple frames. When you play that back, it looks completely unnatural.
To quantify these CMOS distortions, I secured two brand new digital still cameras that shoot HD video and pitted them side by side in some critical tests and the results clearly demonstrate the difference between CMOS and CCD when it comes to capturing video that faithfully represents what happened.
Both of these “super zoom” cameras also shoot HD video… BUT the 10 MP SX1 shoots 1080 with a CMOS sensor, the 12 MP SX200 shoots 720p with a CCD. I’ve spoken about “sensor issues” with the imagers in these cameras before. For comparison, I also have a Canon S2 IS that seems to be about a stop to two stops faster with its larger, 5 MP, SD video, CCD chip.
Which camera shoots better video… this is what I intend to find out in the coming days.
Well, the 2009 Photo Marketing Association’s annual conference is March 3-5 and it’s expected that most everyone who hasn’t already announced a still camera capable of HD video recording— will at the event. This is not to say that video camcorders are not needed any more. I have already shot video with these new “HD-capable” still cameras… and let me tell all the video camcorders out there: your jobs are secure.
The other shoe to drop recently is the first cell phone to tout HD video recording capability. Personally, I am hoping for about 5 MP of quality pictures, but HD video? I doubt it. The proof will be in the pudding when these things actually ship and the video makes its way onto the web for everyone to critically assess.
Either way, the main problem these devices have, aside from the complete lack of control of “camera” functions while shooting, is video that is plagued with problems… Read more…