Showing posts from January 3, 2010

A curse on the name of Bloggie

Out of curiosity, I trekked to the Sony Style store today to see whether they had any of the cameras that had been announced at CES. Luck was sort of with me, as they had both of the new “Bloggie” cameras out on display. I’m particularly interested in the MHS-PM5K - the kit version of the MHS-PM5 that comes with a 360 degree lens - but there was no indication of this model in the signs next to the two they had out on display, or the three that were inside a glass display case. I will say this; I was surprised at how thin the MHS-PM5 is; it’s 19mm thick according to the spec, 5mm thinner than the previous model. It’s not much bigger than my iPhone. Though the video display on the back of the camera is pretty big, the actual video image is small. Much of the display shows other information about the camera operation, clip duration, etc. Of course, the camera itself isn’t that wide, so there’s not much they could do about that, but the small size display is something to consider.

HF S21 First Impressions Review has a " First Impressions Review " of the Canon Vixia HF S21, the new top of the line consumer camcorder. It has the same lens and sensor as last years HF S10, but with new LCD touchscreen, new Optical Image Stabilization, an electronic viewfinder, and native 24p mode. Just be warned, though it describes features and functionality, this isn't a full review; they didn't do any of the image/motion tests that they usually perform on their actual reviews.

More on Bloggie 360 video

Sony has posted a video on YouTube on the new "Bloggie" MHS-PM5 and there's a little bit about the 360 degree lens and video capability at the very end. The lens is described as plastic, though it obviously must be a tiny parabolic(?) mirror. The interesting thing is the video playback; it requires their custom software to play back the video, and it shows a 360 degree view thumbnail at the bottom, with an enlarged 4:3 section of the window above that. You can drag back and forth across the panorama thumbnail changing what region is displayed in the enlarged video above. Now I'm just looking at video of the video, but it looks pretty pixelatedly awful! This isn't a surprise; it's saving a 360 degree panorama in a 1920 x 1080 frame, but I'm hoping you can actually have the whole 360 degree panorama play on the screen; that might be kind of fun. Since the camera also takes higher resolution stills, perhaps the lens will be useful for taking panor

Reader Question: HVR-Z5U or Canon 5D Mark II?

We get letters! Okay, an email once and a while, but the latest one asked an interesting question: should the writer ditch his HVR-Z5U and get a Canon 5D Mark II? Has he not read my recent posts ?! Well, I thought it was an interesting enough question to take a whack at: What's your thoughts on me selling my Sony HVR Z5U to get a Cannon 5D Mark II? I'm a Television Production student drop out who's getting interested in still photography. I would also like to eventually shoot short films and documentary videos. My Z5U sits in it's camera bag with it's compact flash recorder and has been used approx. 5 times. I use a Kodak Zi6 on almost a daily basis because of it's size. The Cannon Mark II appeals to me because of it's size and ability to shoot HD video and stills. Any thoughts? That’s a difficult question because I think the Z5U (despite the arrival of NXCAM ) and the 5D Mark II are both awesome cameras, but they are very different cameras. Which o

HXR-NX5U does 4:2:2 on HDMI

Sony definitely says that the NX5U outputs 4:2:2 out both the HD-SDI port and the HDMI port; it's mentioned in a video with Juan Martinez, Senior Product , that they produced when it was announced. Which raises the question; what are they sending out the HDR-AX2000's HDMI port? Interestingly, I thought that when I saw this back in November, he specifically said something about the NXCAM being one of the few cameras (in this class) that outputs 4:2:2; but that doesn't seem to be in there now, so I might have just imagined it.

HONORARIUM: a hybrid 7D/EX-1 short

Steve Mims shot a twelve-and-a -half minute, short fiction film called HONORARIUM late last year using a Sony EX1 and a Canon 7D. He’s written a fairly exhaustive article about how the movie came together and was shot, including all elements of pre- and post production. It makes for a fascinating read. Clearly he still likes the EX1 – which was used for about half the film – but he found the 7D somewhat revelatory, with it’s low-light abilities: After having used the EX-1 the day before, the change to the Canon 7D was electrifying. It was as if, optically, we’d switched over to a 35 mm motion picture camera. The 85 mm lens delivered beautiful, glossy, shallow depth of field shots while only being a few feet away from the subject. Additionally, we bumped the ISO up to 800. As the rest of the shoot unfolded we often used no lights. [...] It was really liberating. Most of the time he used a Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 lens (which is less than $400), as well as the kit lens for some wi

Sony HDR-AX2000 price (update)

When they announced it a couple of days ago, Sony said the HDR-AX2000 would list at $3,500. Amazon already has pre-orders up for it at $3,499.99. But the Sony "For Business" website - at the moment - has it up with a list price of $3,199.99  (with an asterisk telling you to ask your reseller or distributor for product pricing!)

Sony HXR-NX5U pre-orders

B& H has the HXR-NX5U available for pre-order at $4,499.95 . No availability date is quoted.

MHS-PM5K does 360 video

In my previous post about the Sony Bloggie cameras, I got it wrong about the 360 video. It appears that it's the MHS-PM5 that does 360 video, and it comes as part of a separate "Kit"; the MHS-PM5K, which sells for $189.99 (currently back-ordered on Sony's site. Limited information about the kit can be found at this product page , but there's no samples of the video (yet). The "lens" looks like a little plastic cap that's placed over the top of the regular lens (see below.)

Sony HDR-AX2000 up at Amazon for February delivery

Sony said yesterday that the HDR-AX2000 would be out in March, but it's already on Amazon with a projected release date of February 8! Price is $3499.99. No sign of the HXR-NX5, but since that will be sold through Sony's Professional Video unit, it probably won't appear at Amazon for a while. I see that it's up on too, with approximate delivery in February and a price of TBA .

Sony NXCAM HXR-NX5E review by Nigel Cooper

A video "interview" with freelance film maker Nigel Cooper has been posted at metacafe. It runs a bit like a sales pitch of a listing of product features, alongside some video of him playing with the camera, but if you aren't at CES, then this is better than nothing! He seems to like the Active Stabilization, and the new LCD screen. Sony NXCAM HXR-NX5E Prototype Review - More amazing video clips are a click away

360 Degree video? I thought 3D was the NEXT BIG THING!

Sony announced updates to their Webbie (now Bloggie) cameras. The previous generation Webbie cameras, the MHS-PM1 and MHS-CM1 were low-cost competitors to the Flip; the PM1 featuring an odd swivel lens model, and the CM1 resembling a regular compact style camera. Both could record HD video at 1440 x 1080 (the same resolution at HDV video.) Sony MHS-PM5 With the new "Bloggie" models, Sony has updated the MHS-PM1 as the MHS-PM5, adding true 1920 x 1080 recording, simplifying the operation - amongst other things - but keeping the basic shape the same. For the MHS-CM5 they've gone to a pistol grip format, and - interestingly - added a 360-degree video feature [ See UPDATE ]: Sony MHS-CM5 Record everything around you with the included 360 Video lens Never heard of 360 Video? Now you have. With this latest piece of gadget that comes with [the camera], you can literally record everything that is "around" you. Simply attach this unique add-on lens to th

More HDR-AX2000 Information

I didn't find it last night, but there is a product information page for the HDR-AX2000 on Sony's site. Adam Wilt, who did a preview of the HXR-NX5U, also has some information on the HDR-AX2000 . He seems to think the camera will support SDHC cards as well as Memory Stick, yet that's not what Sony said in their press release, and the specifications page (above) also has no mention of it. In addition to the differences I already noted between the HDR-AX2000 and the HXR-NX5U, he adds that the camera lacks: No B&W EVF mode; macro focus; high-speed zoom; smooth-transitioning gain and white-balance; hyper gain; viewfinder markers and safety zones; numerical zoom display and focus distance display in feet; black level, black gamma, knee, and color depth adjustments; manual white balance setting; colorbars with tone; individually switchable front & rear tally lamps; shutter angle display; hour meter; TC reset via remote control. Fewer tweaks for color modes, gammas,

Sony SD/SDHC: the other shoe.

Following Sony's announcement of a line of SD/SDHC cards, it isn't a big surprise that they announced new consumer camcorders some of which include a hybrid memory card slot—compatible with both Sony brand Memory Stick PRO Duo cards and the more standard SD/SDHC cards. The hybrid memory card slot explains how the HXR-NX5U , also announced yesterday, supports both Memory Stick and SD/SDHC cards (something I had been puzzling about.) I still don't completely understand why the HDR-AX2000 didn't get the same slot as well, but maybe someone will ask Sony at CES.

Sony announces HDR-AX2000 and HXR-NX5U

As expected, Sony announced their new prosumer camera that uses the AVCHD format, the “professional” HXR-NX5U. Not quite so expected was the simultaneous announcement of the “prosumer” model, the HDR-AX2000. Sony HDR-AX2000 The HXR-NX5U had been expected, as it had already been previewed in November. Given Sony’s proclivity for having a high-end and low-end model based on the same basic camera, the HDR-AX2000 isn’t a shock - though it is a surprise that it was announced at the same time. I was expecting it to appear in a few months, though I got it half right; it will be available two months after the NX5U! It seems that the NXCAM name is being reserved for the professional cameras. Both cameras share the same basic case, lens and use AVCHD to record at up to 24Mbps. Where they differ is that the NX5U includes both HD-SDI and HDMI outputs as well as two-channel linear PCM audio capabilities, 720/60P recording, built in GPS, SMPTE Time Code I/O and an upgrade option for 60i/50i

George Lucas's new book: Blockbusting

George Lucas has a new book out, and it's not about Star Wars or special effects. He may not have even written most of it; he may have just had it published to get on The Daily Show . George Lucas's Blockbusting: A Decade-by-Decade Survey of Timeless Movies Including Untold Secrets of Their Financial and Cultural Success was just released, and the write-up for the book pretty much says what the title says: Taking us decade by decade, this book focuses on the revenues, costs, production and distribution of 300 of the most critically and financially successful movies of all time from the business′s origins through 2005. George appeared on The Daily Show last night, and though he doesn't really talk about the book, it's a funny exchange, beginning with Jon acting like a fan questioning George about problems in the Star Wars story. His ultimate response to his critics?: It's a work of fiction. It's a metaphor. It's not real, and therefore you can ei

Hell freezes over: Sony to sell SD/SDHC and microSD/SDHC cards

Yes, this winter has been cold , but who knew it would be this cold? Sony has announced it will be selling five new SD/SDHC memory cards for digital imaging products, and three new microSD/microSDHC memory cards for mobile phones. I know what you're thinking, and I'm thinking that same thing: does Sony make anything that actually works with SD cards? [Yes they do, dumby! The Alpha DSLR-A550 ] Okay, but it's still not their preferred format. Infact, the press release goes on to say: Memory Stick is the recommended media for Sony products, offering a range of unique benefits. For example, the high-speed “HX” Series’ capabilities are optimized when using the burst shooting mode in Sony’s α (alpha) DSLR cameras, as well as high-speed archiving of high definition movies shot with Handycam® camcorders and Cyber-shot® cameras. So, yes, they are selling SD cards, but they sorta, kinda don't want you to use them!

New Canon consumer camcorders

At CES Canon has announced new consumer camcorders in their high-end VIXIA HF S-series, the compact VIXIA HF M-series and the entry-level VIXIA HF R-series. New features in these models include a new Touch Panel LCD with an advanced tracking feature, enhanced image stabilization, and an all-new HD-to-SD Downconversion feature (in some models) that allows video to be easily uploaded to the web or burned onto DVDs. Some models are also compatible with Eye-fi SD Memory Cards, allowing for wireless uploading of video content. Canon also says that their HD CMOS Image Sensor and DIGIC DV III Image Processor have been improved to reduce noise under low-light conditions and deliver more faithful reproduction of purple and blue tones. Canon HFS 21 VIXIA HF S-series All three new HF S-series models record 1920 x 1080 HD video and feature a 10x Lens and a Canon 1/2.6-inch, 8.59-megapixel CMOS Image Sensor. They also sport the new 3.5-inch High Resolution (922,000-dot) Touch Panel LCD s

Canon EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II

This has been rumored for some time; Canon has updated the EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS lens with the EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II ( original name! ) Canon has improved optical performance on the new EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens by redesigning the internal elements, incorporating a fluorite element and a fifth UD element. The use of the fluorite element and five UD elements helps to minimize secondary chromatic aberrations and produce better image quality with improved contrast and resolution through the entire zoom range; the end result is an optically precise lens worthy of becoming the leader of Canon's L-series lenses. Along with its redesigned optical elements, the new lens design features improved AF speed due to a new focusing algorithm and has reduced the minimum focusing distance to 3.9 feet (1.2 meters) through the entire zoom range, allowing photographers to capture tighter portraiture shots in a small studio space. The previous lens model's minimum focusing distance

In defense of Memory Sticks

One of the things that caught my eye in yesterday's write-up by Adam Wilt on the forthcoming NXCAM is his defense of Memory Stick. For those who are so engrossed in video gear that they haven't yet encountered Memory Stick, it's Sony's own flash format that has got a lot of bad press from many sectors (and users.) Yeah, it's a drag to have multiple memory card formats, but it's not like there's only one other format. As Adam says: I hear you: “Oh, no, not Memory Sticks! Why is Sony forcing me to buy their weird proprietary media?” [...] I dunno ‘bout you folks, but I’ve long since given up on being able to stock one card type exclusively. I have four still cameras, each of which uses a different type of card (CF, SD, Memory Stick, and MS Pro Duo; two of the cameras are Nikons, and there’s no prize for guessing who makes the other two). He then goes on to point out that prices have come down now that Lexar and SanDisk are making them, (though they ar

NXCAM first hands-on

Adam Wilt got his hands on a prototype NXCAM "Prime" camera (NXCAM is the system name, the name of the actual model hasn't been revealed yet, so it was referred to as the "Prime"), and just posted his thoughts in a very extensive article . The first part of the article is a thorough walk-around of the camera's controls, and the second part pretty exhaustively evaluates it's performance. He doesn't do strict comparison tests to other cameras, instead making general comments about how he feels the camera compares to cameras like the Z5U and EX1; this is a prototype, so that probably makes sense. If you're thinking of getting one of these - or considering buying a Sony Z5U - you have to read this article, if only for the conclusion: At NXCAM’s highest quality recording—1920x1080, 24 Mbit/sec AVCHD (MPEG-4) with uncompressed PCM audio—the Prime’s recorded clips clearly outclass the 1440x1080, 25 Mbit/sec HDV (MPEG-2) clips recorded by the HVR

Camcorderinfo says "meh" to Pentax K-x

The Pentax K-x has been out for a while, but has only just posted a short review . They compare it to the Nikon D5000, Panasonic GF1 and Canon T1i, and it comes up short, particularly due to the 720p support and artifacting. Their conclusion: The Pentax K-x isn't the kind of camera you want to use for your professional video shoot. Its manual controls are lackluster, its handling is a bit finicky, and its video quality limited to a 1280 x 720 resolution. That being said, you would be hard pressed to find a cheaper video-capable DSLR than the Pentax K-x ($649.95 with its kit lens). Interestingly, Dpreview reviewed the camera last month , and wasn't quite so hard on it (admittedly, they are a still camera site): The K-x's video footage is not quite as detailed as the 1080p output of some of the higher-priced competitors but certainly in-line with other 720p video-DSLRs. It produces good quality HD footage with fairly smooth motion [...] When record

Samsung NX10 preview at dpreview

It's the week of CES , and the new toys are starting to dribble out: has a preview of a Micro Four Thirds competitor, the Samsung NX10 . It has a larger APS-C sized imager than Four Thirds cameras, promising better high-ISO performance, at the expense of requiring slightly larger lenses (and do we really need another lens mount?) Unfortunately, for video it's limited to 720p, using the H.264 codec: Movie Mode Gives you access to the movie recording function. Within movie mode you can choose between Program and Aperture-Priority mode. You can also control the following parameters: Resolution (1280x720, 640x480, 320x240 Quality (Normal, HQ) Fader (Off, In, Out, Both) Sound (Off, On) Optical Image Stabilization (Mode 1, Mode 2) The 'fader' option performs a quick fade from or to black at the beginning or end of your clip (or both). [UPDATE: Dpreview correctly points on that the NX10 isn't a DSLR, as it lacks the mirror box of the SLR. T