Mini-Shootout Videos

I’ve got some video together from our little camera test on Friday. The “shoot-out” element of the test is more or less lost unfortunately. I can only get the first 30 seconds of any given XDCamHD clip (trial limitation of Flip4mac MXF), which means most of the footage is of me focusing the shot. The footage off the XL-H1 is largely over or underexposed, as the viewfinder was, as previously mentioned, “gone wonky.”

In any case, I’ve pulled some of the better footage, and have my thoughts, after the jump.

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Mini-Shootout Stills

I’m still gathering up the footage – I may have found a way to get some of my variable bitrate XDCamHD stuff into a format I can use, but it’ll take another day to sort that out. Similarly, it’ll be about a week until the 16mm is back from the lab. In the meantime, here’s some photos and some thoughts.

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Overall, each HD camera showed strengths and weaknesses. I think that the Sony F350 (XDCamHD) really does belong in this group, because it’s essentially a bulked up HDV camera. You get larger chips and better processing, but it’s still 4:2:0 at 25mbps. Frankly, if someone is willing to consider the F350 a “professional” camera, they should consider the Canon XL-H1 just as professional.

We were using the Fujinon 17x lens, and I found it to be remarkably terrible. I’m not sure if we just had a bad example, but the chromatic aberration was even worse than the XL-H1. I need to investigate this further, if I’m going to give any consideration to purchasing one of these cameras. Because they use 1/2″ CCDs, there is a much smaller group of native lenses available. You can get an adapter to go to 2/3″, but I’m not sure what drawbacks that might have.

I’ll post more thoughts and video tomorrow.

Sony HVR-M15U Mini-Review

We just reviewed a Sony HVR-M15U HDV deck. I’ve only used it for a short while, but it looks to be just about what I expected – a DSR-11 that happens to play HDV tapes. If you’ve used a DSR-11 in the past, you’ll immediately be familiar with the form factor and the control layout.

You get full playback for both small and regular sized tapes, HDV/DV/DVCam support and that’s about it. Standard analog outputs are all you get, as it’s quite clear that Sony is incredibly paranoid about stealing sales from higher end Studio decks in the XDCam/HDCam line. Which is stupid.

The M15U will play 1080i60 and 1080i50 – sorry Canon and JVC shooters, no 24 frame or 720 support is available.

As I said, it’s a DSR-11 that happens to play HDV tapes. If that’s all you ask of it, it does a fine job. Just don’t ask too much and everyone will be happy.


Semi-Shootout Results coming Monday

Went out shooting with Gary, Adam and Mark today, with the idea of doing a little camera comparo.

We shot with a Canon XL-H1, a Panasonic HVX-200, and a Sony PDW-F350 (XDCam). Thanks very much to Steve at Z-Systems for the XDCam, and thanks to Adam for the Panasonic. We also shot some 16mm (color reversal), just so that we could say we did.

I’ll get more substantial information up Monday, but I wanted to post a quick note. Results so far are:

1) One of our Canon XL-H1s is broken. The viewfinder is jittery and jumping all over. Ugh.

2) Nobody in the Twin Cities has P2 cards for rent on short notice.

3) Final Cut Pro only supports XDCam footage at 25mbps.

4) The Sony XDCam system is really, really nice.

I finally get XDCam. I finally understand why we need to drop about $100,000 on XDCam hardware. I’m ready to shill for Sony. I take back everything bad I’ve ever said about them. Well, no, not that last one.

More next week!

Synergizer Update

I just updated our Synergy 2MD to the version 5 software. One of the major upgrades from version 5 is that you can add images to the still store via WebDAV, and you no longer need to deal with XML files and database updates. Just throw the file on the frame and it works.

Because of this, I wanted to post an update to Synergizer which supports the new revision. I still find this tool useful, as I don’t like having to manually convert my images to the proper TGA format before uploading them. With Synergizer, it’s just drag and drop. If you’re running the older software revision, visit this post for a version that will work. As always, let me know if there are features you’d like. Synergizer for the Mac Synergizer for Windows

MacPros and Xserves and Leopard oh my!

Today was Christmas for members of the Cult of Mac. WWDC kicked off with a keynote by Steve Jobs, including the announcement of the MacPro and XServe intel machines. They look to be absolutely killer.

Interesting little note on the “Performance” page of the MacPro site. They talk about rendering with Final Cut Pro 5.2.1. That version doesn’t exist, at least not in the wild. Does that hint that we may have a somewhat substantial update coming? Could be!