This is my newest column for the October-November issue of Streaming Media Magazine:
At the beginning of this school year, Echo360 Inc. CEO Fred Singer wrote an editorial for The Huffington Post extolling the virtues of lecture capture. He observed that the lean economy “won’t allow institutions to simply erect new buildings and hire qualified staff to meet rising needs” but that lecture capture can assist because it’s “like DVR’ing class with full playback functionality.” Singer went on to argue that “lecture capture addresses overcrowding by freeing seats,” permitting students who prefer to view an online lecture to skip class.
He also cited studies that pointed to higher student achievement and even better classroom attendance resulting from students reviewing video materials outside of the classroom.
Nevertheless, my interest was piqued by Singer’s argument that lecture capture can substitute for the in-class experience for a student who prefers watching online. It’s not something I often hear in the promotion of lecture capture. While companies list distance learning as a core use case, they take care not to imply that recordings of classes in on-the-ground curricula should substitute for attendance.
Justified or not, the relationship between attendance and lecture recording is a sensitive issue. When there’s resistance to adopting lecture capture, the risk of encouraging would-be slackers to cut class is a prime objection. Thus, I was surprised that Singer would be so blunt. Read the rest at StreamingMedia.com
Those of who enjoy the retro video curation of Network Awesome or the VHS mining of Everything Is Terrible, but don’t want to commit whole minutes to watching whole clips might like a tumblr I just stumbed on to, trashcanland, which strips minds the impacted VHS landscape to unearth the best 1/30 of the second.
The site is the work of DJ Daniel J. Cashman who seems to acquire a lot of VHS tapes. Then he takes screenshots and posts them to his tumblr. Sounds simple, but the secret is in the editing. Just you see, when you’re on page 48 and you’re still clicking to dig deeper, you’ll know you’re stuck.
Not everything is a still VHS screen cap. Some are also animated GIFs, and other found detritus.
Man, I could lose days browsing this site, Network Awesome. The site editors pour through YouTube finding the best retro videos that bring me back to my prime video viewing years as a teenager and young adult in the 1980s and early 90s.
Home video and cable television were just becoming mainstream in those days. Cable-only channels were a relatively new phenomenon, as were premium channels like HBO and Showtime. Commercial basic cable channels were low-budget affairs, desperate to fill a 24-hour programming grid in the days before infomercials became the default late night program stream. The boom in home video also meant that video stores were similarly desperate to fill their shelves with content to supplement limited supplies of expensive Hollywood blockbusters.
What this all added up to was a goldmine of b-, c-, d- and f-movie grade schlock pushed onto our screens. The kind of stuff a teenager with a VCR and cable just eats up. But also amid all the low budget dreck was the truly experimental and weird. To programmers and buyers it kind of didn’t matter as long as it was cheap.
Thanks to the widespread bending of copyright laws and YouTube much of these riches have been mined and uploaded to the interwebs. The problems for middle-aged geeks like me is sorting through the videos of cats, backyard wrestling and other truly low-effort detritus to find the real gems. That’s where a good curator like Network Awesome comes in.
Going to the site is truly like tuning in a fantastic underground cable channel, because the videos just start up in a program stream, just as if you’d tuned in a TV channel. Nothing is started in progress, and you can jump around. But it’s better to experience it as a video mix tape, enjoying the short Network Awesome teasers, promos and bumpers sprinkled interstitially.
Complementing the TV channel is a magazine that I’ve only started to check out, featuring essays considering the programs and themes found on the video stream. Network Awesome is definitely one of those sites that is so well conceived and executed that I really wished I’d thought of it first.
These days we all do it. We meet someone new in person or online and then we do a search of his or her name on Google, Facebook, or LinkedIn. Perhaps we want to stay in touch, or maybe we’re interested in learning more about what that person does. But I’m pretty sure that I’m not the only person who is a little disappointed when I don’t find a profile picture. We don’t just want to read about someone; we are naturally drawn to photographs and want to know what someone looks like. It helps us build a connection.
Obviously—at least to us video producers— video amplifies that connection by allowing us to see a person speak and act; it’s more like if we were in the same room together. This is the same reason why videoconferencing and video chatting have become popular technologies among both business users and consumers.
I was certainly surprised today when I learned that Cisco is shutting down its Flip camcorder division. The Flip camcorder has only been with us about four years, and Cisco has owned the company for only two, all the while the Flip has pretty well stood on top as the best selling camcorder in the US. Without a doubt the Flip revolutionized the camcorder industry, providing a very simple to use camera that just plain worked. The success of the Flip was helped along by the mainstreaming of YouTube and computers finally having enough processor horsepower to make light work of editing its compressed MP4 video files.
But the Cisco acquisition of Flip always struck me as a strange marriage, given that Cisco otherwise is a network hardware company whose only other consumer products are Linksys home networking products. While the spread of home broadband helped fuel Flip sales because it finally became practical for the average person to upload and share video, that’s still a weak connection between the two product categories.
Many commentators are declaring that the iPhone and smartphones in general killed the Flip. It’s a seductive argument, but a very shallow one. While Flip sales were down around 16% this past holiday season I don’t think it was sales, per se that motivated Cisco to shut it down. Rather, the Flip is in many ways a victim of its own success.
Prior to the introduction of the Flip there had been a few attempts by electronics makers like Panasonic and Samsung to introduce small flash-memory camcorders which failed to take hold in the market. Sanyo was actually an early success story with its Xacti line of standard def and HD camcorder, though never a runaway success like Flip. As most observers now know, Flip beat all the big guys by making a camcorder that was super simple to use — no extraneous buttons and controls, just one big record button, like an old-school tape recorder.
While Flip caught its competitors by surprise, that first-mover advantage didn’t last very long. Within a year Flip had created its own market segment, challenging Sony and Kodak, in particular, to jump into the palm-sized camcorder market with both feet. Sanyo answered the challenge by reducing the price on its Xacti line while retaining higher-end features like an optical zoom lens and flip-out screen. Even though Flip remained on top, these other manufacturers soon were nipping at its heels.
Flip’s sales may have decline this past holiday season, but at the same time sales of small compact camcorders grew as models proliferated. Sure many of these competing models offer none of the Flip’s precise alchemy of decent picture quality and bone-simple operation, but in a crowded market there’s always rooms for bargain-basement bottom-feeders.
Now, I don’t doubt that the increasingly-credible video recording features of smartphones aren’t having an impact on the camcorder market as a whole. It’s true that much of the time folks don’t want to carry anymore devices than they have to. And so, if their smart phones will record good-enough video, that’s a disincentive for carrying along a separate camcorder. However, by that same logic we should expect the market for digital cameras, especially dSLRs to be declining, which it isn’t.
I can think of dozens of reasons why someone would want to use a Flip or other small camcorder instead of a smart phone to record video. First off, there are places where you don’t want to bring your smartphone and risk it being damaged or lost. And, although iOS and Android are relatively easy to use, they still don’t hold a candle to the Flip’s one-button simplicity. Camcorders like the Flip have also been very popular in schools, where it’s far less risky to hand a ten year-old a $100 camcorder than have her mess around with a smartphone or more expensive device.
Sanyo Xacti VPC-CG10
Picture and sound quality are still important aspects, even if smartphones have made significant gains in the last year, many offering 720p HD video. For instance, I have an HTC EVO Android smartphone which features an 8 megapixel camera that shoots 720p HD video. The video is pretty good, but still doesn’t measure up to my Sanyo Xacti VPC-CG10, which also has a 5x optical zoom and costs less than the smartphone. I also think the Flip and Kodak HD camcorders also offer better video quality than any smartphone I’ve seen, even if the gap is closing fast.
Nevertheless, I can understand Cisco’s position, especially given that it’s really not a consumer electronics company. Keeping up with the market will require a faster product cycle along with a shaving of margins of the sort that Sony and Toshiba are more used to. Simplicity of operation and brand recognition are worth something, but they meant more when there were fewer than a handful of competitors.
I do think that the peak has passed, as it always does when a new product segment is created. Cisco may not be acting rashly in getting out of the inexpensive camcorder business. That does not mean the segment is going away.
The challenge for the manufacturers still making Flip-style camcorders will be to keep the video quality higher than smartphones, without also over complicating their product. The other building competition comes from still digital cameras that offer video close in quality with a simplicity in use that comes close to the Flip-style cams.
I still think that people who are focused on shooting video are going to want camcorders rather than a multifunction device. A video-shooting smartphone is great when you happen upon a video-worthy moment you weren’t planning on. But when you’re intending to shoot video it really helps not to be distracted by twelve other functions, or have your shooting interrupted by a text message or phone call.
The Flip certainly introduced many millions more people to the joy of shooting, editing and sharing digital video, accelerating a trend that started a decade earlier with the first miniDV camcorders. It’s strange to see Flip exit the market so quickly. But just like the loss of Atari didn’t mean the end of video games, there will be Flip-style camcorders long after the death of Flip itself.
One of the most impressive features of my Sanyo VPC-CG10 camcorder has been its audio recording quality. But sometimes you don’t realize how good something is until you have a chance to compare it. This weekend I made an inadvertent comparison and I came away all the more pleased with the CG10′s audio performance.
On Friday night I brought my Sony NEX-5 with me to see the legendary rock band Killing Joke at a very small club here in Chicago. My primary purpose for brining the camera was to take pictures. But when the intro music started I decided it would be nice to at least shoot some video of their entrance. When I reviewed the footage the next day I found that the sound with the band playing was distorted beyond repair.
Now, I wasn’t really surprised that the audio was so distorted. While it’s a great camera, the NEX-5 doesn’t have pro audio features like manual levels, any sort of level meter or a headphone out. The camera uses auto-gain (AGC) exclusively, and under normal conditions it works well. But Killing Joke is a loud band, and I was pretty close to the stage. Apparently that was just too much sound pressure for the NEX to properly deal with.
However, I’ve used the little Sanyo at a lot of different concerts, both indoor and outdoor, and it’s been able to handle loud amplified music like a champ. The Sanyo also doesn’t have any manual audio controls or meter, but somehow its combination of microphones and AGC is able to outperform the much more expensive Sony. Searching around the internets I’ve heard similar complaints from people using the NEX cameras, as well as other video dSLRs from Canon and Nikon. And, really, that makes sense. The NEXs and other dSLRs were designed as still cameras with video as an afterthought. Even tough the Sanyo Xacti is a very inexpensive video camera, that is its primary function. Nevertheless, I am glad that it does so well.
So my lesson here is that if I want to have just one camera to shoot some concert video the Sanyo CG10 is the best candidate. If I want to get better quality video using the NEX-5, then I should consider using dual sound, bringing along my Zoom H2 to record audio. Dual sound is slightly more complicated, mostly because it requires bringing more gear and having to futz with it all.
One option that many recommend now is the newest Zoom recorder, the H1, which is even smaller than my H2. Folks using dSLRs sometimes get adapters to mount it to the camera’s flash hot shoe. The NEX-5 has no such shoe, so a different mounting method would need to be found.
I will probably just use the Sanyo CG10 for impromptu concert recording. I’ll use the NEX-5 when I’ve got time to set up and do a more thorough job, such as when recording gigs put on by friends.
After hemming and hawing for about six months I finally took the plunge and bought a Sony NEX-5 interchangeable lens compact camera. As I wrote when the camera debuted, I was concerned about a few apparent drawbacks: a new lens mount and the lack of in-body image stabilization. You see, the reason I made the Sony a100 my first dSLR was entirely due to it being the only dSLR at the time–fall 2006–with in-body stabilization. It continues to be a feature I really like in my a100, even if now Pentax and Olympus have it, too.
Ultimately my concerns were minimized when I had a chance to actually have the NEX-5 in my hands and see just how small and pocketable it really is. Now, I had also been considering going with one of the competing micro-four-thirds (m4/3) cameras from Olympus or Panasonic, like the E-PL1 or GF-1, and only the Olympus has in-body stabilization. These cameras, too, have new lens mounts, though there are more lenses available since the first m4/3 camera debuted about fifteen months ago.
I finally decided to go with the NEX-5 for several reasons. First, Sony has released an adapter that permits it to use Alpha-mount dSLR lenses. With a firmware upgrade that came out in October, that adapter will autofocus most newer lenses. Also, the new firmware made significant improvements to the NEX-5′s user interface. Of particular importance to me is the addition of programmable buttons, to which you can assign your most used functions.
Shot with the NEX-5 and the 16mm pancake lens at f8.
I was also convinced by the NEX-5 having full 1080 HD video rather than just 720. While 720 is certainly quite adequate for many applications, at this point I don’t see any reason not to go with 1080. Finally, one of the most appealing aspects of the m4/3 cameras is that there are adapters available to fit almost any camera lens out there, so you can use your Nikon, Canon or even Leica lenses. But then these sorts of adapters starting appearing for the NEX cameras, too.
I actually bought my NEX-5 at a brick-and-mortar store, Bel Air Camera in Westwood, Los Angeles, near the UCLA campus. They were offering it for the same price as everyone else (due to Sony’s pricing restrictions), and the salesman let me try it out with the new 18-200mm lens. He told me, “I don’t want to sell you that lens with that camera,” which was refreshingly honest. The reason why is because the lens is just way too big for the diminutive NEX-5, and I agreed. While it feels relatively well proportioned on a full-sized dSLR, on the NEX it really defeats the purpose of having such a compact camera.
Shot with the NEX-5 and 18-55mm lens at f8
On top of the NEX’s unique features as a compact interchangeable lens camera, I also was impressed by how much better its low-light, high-ISO performance is compared to my four-year-old a100. It’s really night and day, with the NEX rivaling the well-regarded low-light performance of the Nikon D300, which I use at work. Since I hate to use flash and like to take photos in light-challenged settings like rock clubs, I was really looking forward to getting the bump in low-light performance with the NEX.
I’ve had the camera now for just over two weeks and I’m just starting to get a feel for it. Lacking a viewfinder you compose your shot on the rear LCD, just like a point-and-shoot digicam. I don’t mind this aspect, though it does take some getting used to. The autofocus isn’t quite as fast as a dSLR, but it’s actually quieter and a little more certain than my a100, which was never known for its autofocus performance. When you want to manually focus you can magnify the center of the image on the LCD, which greatly helps nail it. In fact, I’m finding it easier to focus manually with the NEX-5 than with my dSLR. Neither is as easy to focus as my old manual film SLRs which have a split-prism viewfinder that lets you see precisely when you have focus, but those focusing screens aren’t included in any modern SLRs anymore.
Low light shot with NEX-5 at ISO 1600 and 18-55mm lens at f5.6
At first I was actually kind of disappointed with the accuracy of the autofocus, finding my pictures not quite as sharp as I’d like. Part of this I attribute to the two lenses introduced with the camera, but then I found my few manually-focused pictures came out sharper. I realized the camera came set to multipoint autofocus which seems like it averages out the focus distance between a few different points in the scene. I prefer to just have one autofocus point in the center so I know exactly where the focus will fall. I’ve since changed the setting but haven’t had a chance to go out and really test the change.
I can say that I’m very happy with the low-light performance. It truly blows away my old a100, giving me pretty clean images up to ISO 1600, and very useable images up to ISO 6400. At these higher ISOs there is noise, but it’s quite film-like and not at all unpleasing, especially given the fact that you can essentially take pictures lit by streetlight.
I did buy a Nikon lens adapter made by Fotodiox, located just north of Chicago in Waukegan, IL. With an adapter you have no autofocus, which is fine with me. You also have to set the aperture manually on the lens, but the camera still meters fine. The adapter I bought even lets you use newer G-series Nikon lenses that don’t have an aperture ring. In order to control aperture you use a little dial which opens and closes it. It doesn’t give you a precise reading, but you can see the results right on the LCD, which eliminates a lot of the guesswork. With daylight receding much earlier now I haven’t had much opportunity to take the NEX-5 out with some Nikon glass, but preliminary testing inside the house looks promising.
I’ve only shot a tiny bit of video that was worth anything, but still not with a tripod, which is really necessary if you’re going to get a steady image using such a tiny camera. The aforementioned firmware update now permits you to set the camera’s aperture manually, but only before starting to record. Frankly, that’s fine since you really shouldn’t need to change aperture while recording unless you’re doing long-form event or lecture recording. Even then, the NEX-5 really isn’t the proper tool for that job. Rather, the NEX-5 is well suited to cinema style single-camera shooting with short takes, just like all other video dSLRs.
No, there is no microphone input on the NEX-5, but its m4/3 competitors don’t have inputs either, at least not without an adapter. While I have been strong advocate of mic inputs on camcorder I ultimately decided that it wouldn’t be a big deal for me. This is because I’m quite comfortable using a separate digital audio recorder to capture audio, just like you would when shooting film. Plus, the digital audio recorder arguably will capture higher quality sound, with more precise level controls. The NEX-5 and my Zoom H2 audio recorder together take up less space in a bag than my miniDV camcorder, so this is not the inconvenience it was several years ago.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that Final Cut Express and Pro imported my video footage without any hiccups. After importing it was immediately available in the timeline for editing. I’ve only imported about ten minutes of footage so far, so I don’t know what it will be like to work with an hour or more. But so far it’s been refreshingly easy.
I will definitely need more time to get more acquainted with the NEX-5 both as a still and video camera, but so far I’m quite happy. And I’m especially satisfied with its size and the ability to slip it into a coat pocket or a small bag where taking along a dSLR would be unwieldy. I’m also interested in using it in a two-camera setup with my Sanyo Xacti VPC-CG10 palm-sized camcorder. While the Xacti doesn’t have nearly the same image quality, in good light its 720p HD video is high quality. Furthermore, the Xacti is even smaller and much cheaper, so I’ll be willing to put it places where I wouldn’t want to risk my NEX-5.
Stay tuned to mediageek for more updates about my experience with the NEX-5.
I’m always complaining about how most consumer-level camcorders don’t feature microphone inputs, or even decent mics. My Sanyo Xacti VPC-CG10 has pretty good mics for camcorder of it’s size and price. But because the mics are on the camera and there’s no input to add an external mic, they’re still inappropriate for interviews or any sort of shoot where you need to record voices clearly because the mics will be too far away.
Now Zoom has upped the ante by adding HD to create the Q3HD, featuring full 1080p HD video. I’m surprised that the Q3HD still lacks a microphone input, however it does add a line input. In its promotional literature Zoom says that the input is good for recording multiple microphones using a mixer “for sophisticated recordings.” While this is certainly useful, I question whether someone using a tiny hand-held camcorder wants to drag around a mixer and multiple mics just to get better sound. Being able to just plug in a single lavaliere mic would be much more practical.
Like most Flip-style camcorders the Q3HD has no optical zoom, and doesn’t seem to have much in the way of manual control over the video. So, in essence it’s a Flip camcorder with vastly improved audio. I think it would be vastly more useful if Zoom were to combine something like a Sanyo Xacti style camcorder, that has an optical zoom, with the enhanced audio recording of their “handy recorders.” That would really make for a DIY videographer’s dream pocket camcorder.
The Q3HD is supposed to be available by the end of the year for $299. My guess is that the street price will be a good bit lower than that. However, I’d gladly pay $300 or a bit more for my dream of an Xacti + Q3HD.
Back in May I wrote about the vexing mix of features in Sony’s new NEX interchangeable lens digital cameras. While visiting a big Chicagoland electronics megastore I finally got my hands on the NEX-3 and NEX-5 cameras and came away liking them more than I expected. Though I only got to play with them for a few minutes I didn’t find the user interface to be as frustrating as I predicted. I rarely shoot in full manual mode, generally preferring aperture- or shutter-priority. So changing aperture or shutter using the back control dial was fairly intuitive and easy.
I was truly blown away by the form-factor. These are tiny cameras! Without the lens they’re the size of a typical compact point-and-shoot. With the lens they’re no bigger than so-called “bridge” cameras of the sort that look like mini-SLRs. The fit and finish is very nice, and the lens casing feels top-notch. Some of my initial concerns still remain, especially the lack of true manual exposure control when shooting video along with the lack of a microphone input for video. Nevertheless, I came away more intrigued than before when I’d only read about them.
Answering some of the concerns about the video capabilities of the NEX-3/5 Sony is releasing a camcorder using the same large APS-C sized image sensor and interchangeable lens mount, named the NEX-VG10. The Luminous Landscape just published a hands-on review of the camcorder, giving it a qualified recommendation. It seems like most of the weaknesses of the camera lie in firmware — that is, features that are programmed in rather than part of the physical mechanics of the camera. In particular, there’s limited exposure monitoring making it difficult to see when you’re clipping the highlights. I find that omission particularly surprising, since it’s included in nearly every pro-sumer Sony camcorder I’ve used in the last decade.
The idea of having a still camera and a camcorder that can share lenses is quite exciting, as is having a true video camcorder–not just a still dSLR with video capabilities tacked on–sporting a large high-quality sensor that’s nearly the size of 35mm motion picture film. All the more amazing is that the still camera costs well less than a grand and the camcorder costs just under $200 with lens. This approach promises to be a game-changer in many of the ways that video dSLRs shook up the digital video world.
Panasonic has also announced its own version of an interchangeable lens camcorder based on still-camera sensor, the AG-AF100. Panasonic’s version is based around the micro 4/3 standard behind still cameras like the Olympus Pen series and the Panasonic GH-1. The AF100 is still a little further away from stores, and looks to be a bit more pro oriented than the Sony, with the inclusion of XLR mic jacks and more exposure options. It also looks to be more expensive, at a price around $6000.
I find the Sony cameras to be so interesting because of their price, and because I’m already an owner of a Sony dSLR. While Sony dSLR lenses don’t mount directly on the new cameras and camcorders, there is adapter that lets you use them.
I’m not quite ready to jump into a new camera, camcorder or lens-mount system, but am seriously considering taking the plunge with the NEX-5 or its successor. To add more grist to the mill, dSLR News Shooter has a short review of the NEX-5 as a video camera for the working journalist.
In any event, I will be keeping close watch to see what develops. Exciting times, indeed.
There’s a common idea amongst serious photographers that it’s a good idea to always have a camera on you, because you never know when you’ll see the stuff of a great picture. Seeing as how it’s often impractical to always have an SLR or other larger camera with you, many photogs adopted smaller point-and-shoot cameras they could easily toss into a bag or even keep in a pocket. In the digital age these are often called “serious compacts,” because they offer enough control for the experienced photographer without being enormous.
While these ideas seem to be quite common in still photography I don’t often hear them repeated in video circles. It could be that photos and video often are thought of differently, or perhaps serious videographers look upon video shot in the moment to be too much like bad home videos to be taken seriously. Or maybe it’s because it’s a very recent occurrence that there are video cameras that are as small as compact still cameras.
Not exactly pocket-sized.
Home video camcorders are about thirty years old now, but for the first ten years of their existence they were big shoulder-mounted affairs. In the 1990s the birth of 8mm, VHS-C and then miniDV led to so-called “palmcorders.” Yet, they were still a little bigger than most film SLR cameras. That is to say, one might take it on vacation to record special moments, but only a dedicated few would take one on a walk through the park or to a party.
In the early 2000s there were several miniDV camcorders shrunk down to about the size of a couple of paperback books. While this seems to have encouraged more folks to carry camcorders with them, the relative delicacy of their complex tape mechanisms and the need to carry blank tapes still served as discouragement from keeping one in your bag all the time.
By 2005 the ability to record video crept into most point-and-shoot digital cameras. At this point I think a lot of average folks started to take more video, primarily because it was simple and built into the camera they were hauling around anyway. But the quality of the video still was lacking compared to a decent dedicated camcorder, often with much poorer sound. So while many more videographers played around with their digicam’s video function, it doesn’t seem like they were taken too seriously.
Now we’re finally at the point where there are good camcorders that will fit in your pocket. Whether it’s a Flip cam, a Sanyo Xacti like I use, a point-and-shoot digital camera with HD video or even an iPhone 4 it’s possible to shoot quite credible video using a device only slightly bigger than a miniDV videocassette. Thus begins the era wherein serious videographers can indulge in taking “video notes” of daily life and events in the way still photographers have been doing for decades.
I’ve realized that’s the real value to small camcorders, having the ability to easily shoot video without a lot of planning and schlepping. As a result I think I’ve shot more video with my Xacti VPC-CG10 in the last year than I shot with my miniDV camcorders over the previous nine years. The miniDV camcorders, as relatively small and easy to use as they were, still required more forethought and planning, along with carrying an extra bag for the camera and tapes.
What I’ve really enjoyed is shooting short “slice-of-life” videos that last no more than a few minutes once edited down. Not coincidentally, this is the perfect length to share on the web. So I also think that having the ability now to share HD quality video so easily on the web contributes to the value of the pocket-sized camcorder, where before the venues to share such video widely were quite a bit more limited.
I’ve got quite a bit of video in the queue waiting to be edited. Luckily, sometimes I end up with a solid 3 minutes that requires minimal editing. As an aside, while I still lament the lack of a proper microphone input jack in most small camcorders, I continue to be amazed at the quality of the sound recording in my Xacti VPC-CG10. It truly rivals the quality of dedicated digital audio recorders like the Zoom H2. The Xacti doesn’t quite measure up at the low-end, and emphasizes the midrange a little more than I’d like. But a little equalization cleans that up pretty easily. I now notice that the new Sanyo VPC-PD2 that I wrote about yesterday sports some fairly serious looking microphones that I am curious to hear.
Here’s a short video I shot of the classic post-punk band Mission of Burma at the Wicker Park Fest street fair here in Chicago a couple of weeks ago. This was shot hand-held from the crowd in the street. There was no room for a tripod or monopod. The only reason I was able to grab the video was because I had the camera in my bag and could easily grab it. I’m able to hold the Xacti much more still than a Flip style camcorder because of it’s pistol-grip design and flip out screen which makes for a more stable two-handed grip.
The sun was starting to go down so I switched the CG10 into black and white mode which I think works better in low light. I accidentally underexposed it a little, as I’ve learned that the LCD screen isn’t the most accurate way to judge exposure, so I had to boost the gamma in post. This makes the video a little more contrasty in a way that I like and is more film-like, but it may not be everyone’s cup of tea.