Cost Effective, Compact, Media Wrangling Tools

When it comes to managing your media on location shoots, the tool of choice is typically a laptop. However, laptops can get very expensive quickly, require big external power supplies and bags, and, for simple media management (copying files to a client’s drive) they are overkill. Today’s laptops are also powerful enough do basic grading, editing, and even media conversion and uploading while in the field. But what if you don’t need all of that capability? What if you just need to copy your camera files to an external hard drive for the client to take with them?

Continue reading “Cost Effective, Compact, Media Wrangling Tools”

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IEBA Review: Datavideo DN-60 Solid State CF Card Recorder

When it comes to camcorders, most everything is moving to flash media.

There are, however, an incredible amount of HDV and other tape-based HD camcorders out there, still working hard and producing great images. How do you get these camcorders up to speed with the new flash-media workflow? With an external recorder.

Thus far, the need for external devices to record HD footage has primarily been served by Focus Enhancements’ FireStore line. However, there has been growth in the segment recently and Datavideo has entered the fray with a unique design and price point under $500. Does the Datavideo DN-60 Solid State CF Card Recorder give the more expensive recorders a run for their money? Let’s find out. Continue reading “IEBA Review: Datavideo DN-60 Solid State CF Card Recorder”

The Megapixel Myth is finally reaching manufacturer’s ears.

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. Continue reading “The Megapixel Myth is finally reaching manufacturer’s ears.”

Canon XF300 on the way for review. Questions? Tests? [UPDATE] It’s here.

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. Continue reading “Canon XF300 on the way for review. Questions? Tests? [UPDATE] It’s here.”

This $22 Sima SL-10HD LED light shines nicely.

I ordered the Sima SL-10HD because it touts “widescreen” LED lighting for HD cameras. I’ve one of the many people who have taken to using the digital still camera as my ONLY camera when travelling, or even around the house. This means I need tit to shoot both stills and video- and without a video light, or a lot of daylight, the video is very dark.

Well, it does the job pretty well, though I’ll probably end up adding a bit of diffusion inside to help spread the beam out a little flatter. Continue reading “This $22 Sima SL-10HD LED light shines nicely.”

Canon’s PowerShot SX-20 IS – review

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.

pslogocus.jpgWhen 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.

Continue reading “Canon’s PowerShot SX-20 IS – review”

Consumer Digital Still HD video shoutout.

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. img_6430w.jpgPlus, 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.

Continue reading “Consumer Digital Still HD video shoutout.”

Apple, Video Pros & the future.

It’s pretty clear that Apple dropping “computer” from their name was not just to use less ink. They’ve been behind the curve with the hardware for many years. Case in point: after PCs have had a SD card slot for many years, Apple finally decides to integrate this functionality into their laptops (but not desktops.)

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But, in so doing, they ditch the ExpressCard slot from the 15″ MacBook “Pro” and specifically make the SD card slot not compatible with I/O devices so it can’t be used to expand the computer. wtf?

So now, the 17″ MacBook Pro is the only expandable laptop from Apple- for a starting price of $2500.
If I’m going to spend that much, I’ll buy a Lenovo 17″ (starting at $1,900) that offers me the capability of a quad-core chip, dual internal LCD displays, integrated Wacom tablet, Pantone color calibration of the displays, fingerprint reader for mobile security, internal Blu-ray, integrated cellular broadband, and more.

There were times, back when Apple didn’t have today’s market share, that they produced computers that were affordable, and wildly expandable. They strong to be what the other guys weren’t. They thought differently. That gave us the G3, the G4 towers. It gave us the G3 series PowerBooks with dual media bays, in addition to the PC card slot. That emphasis on providing users with innovative solutions ahead of the pack is gone. Continue reading “Apple, Video Pros & the future.”

HD Everywhere?

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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… Continue reading “HD Everywhere?”

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