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Old August 13th, 2008, 07:53 AM   #1
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New Indie Pocket Camera project

My health is still getting trashed, and I am still busy with submissions, but the creative ideas and design ability is still flowing. As I am not going to get well enough to attempt this, I would like to share the following project, which is for a cheap easy low end Indie Cam.

There has been many HD pocket cameras starting at prices around $99US, with 1080p30/720p60 models closer to $199 and above based on Micron sensors. The Micron sensors have substantially improved. The quality might be shocking (rolling shutter at 1080p30 is disastrous) but descent footage can be had with careful handling, but still not professional.

New Camera:

Manufacturers even do OEM orders (and hopefully with requested enhancements like live HDMI out and those below) lens mount and manual controls. Which I urge the group to look at. If such a product was just a slightly modified version of their conventional model (possibly keeping the present lens) a standard model could be based on it and the cost of your batch of these cameras be similarly priced, around $200. This is considerably cheaper than what anybody is offering.


So, why bother. Somebody has replaced the lens with a mount. I don't know, but maybe the sensor can be separated from the camera for those people that want to find a cheap source for Micron sensors, this is less than $99, much cheaper than mucking around with unsupported machine vision cameras. You could possibly tap the digital or analogue HD video feed in circuit (FPGA people, perfect little, and I mean little, project to repackage data to a format that a disk can except, or HDMI for external recorder, camera and lens have their own controls).

To reduce rolling shutter, shock horror, get an external shutter. Something I did not tell people I had planned for my lens adaptor to handle this problem etc.

Lastly, I think the ambarella chip possibly has a range of performance set in the cameras firmware, and this might be able to be setup differently, and controls, even rawdified (4:4:4 converted to bayer) data dumped to USB2.0, or card (if fast enough), with simple compression to fit the bandwidth, or HDMI live output enabled. But realistically, a appropriate amount of h264 bandwidth could be had, and hopefully HDMI out.

The lens mod, interesting:;forum_id=92

Poking around the threads you can find other mods etc to different cameras, and 1080p ones.

I leave it with you guys, as I know some of you have an interest in ambarella and Micron stuff, and DIY.
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Old August 14th, 2008, 03:05 PM   #2
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Good to hear from you again, Wayne.
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Old August 16th, 2008, 08:49 AM   #3
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New lessons.

Yes, it is a shame. I was waiting for the release of the planet82 sensor with 120db SN ratio (I think heaps of latitude too) to do a triple pixel shifted camera. But they got an industrial partner, and clammed up. Samsung has announced the camera, and it is several thousands of dollars and SD. HD versions, I still have not seen. There was another company before that which did three colors per pixel (like, Foveon) but they clammed up as well, but didn't like their S/N and bandwidth.

I had decided to use a chip that I knew about for a HDMI to twin flash recorder. But, even though the chip is coming, it handles data in such a way I expect it not to even be able to keep up with USB2 data. It is a software based alternative to FPGA, but low data rate IO. I know some of these people, and have tried to communicate with them on a better method to do auto routing parallel inter-processor and inter-chip communications that did not compromise their battery life much and increased performance, but to no avail, they are too far in, maybe one year. If I can put this correctly into lay terms, they maybe within 10% complexity to greatly increasing their top data rate across a number of applications, and the battery consumption might be kept very close to present per instruction. If I had a few million to pour down, and a few tens of million for a product to use it, I could probably get a radically better version of their chip. As it is, one of my contacts in the third-world computing community has out me onto a software based alternative to FPGA, and I will have to examine these options sometime.

The HDMI recorder would be able to fit inside a regular the HDMI port (mini HDMI one day maybe) except for the flash, as there are not many high-speed items I think I could get that small, but these can be integrated next to the camera casing so closely it might be totally convenient (a usb mini could be used to download even). Not many people could do this, as most parts require too much power consumption to potentially rely on tricking HDMI port to supply the power. It would be getting close to the $100, while cineform is still mucking around with old FPGA and controls (mine would just make a file when the user passes record, the camera has it's own controls).

Anyway, Red Scarlet next year (I hope).

Lessons in the way.

Another thing I might share, of some amusement. Is that I have waited fro a string of cameras, that have been pulled from the market, or changed in such a way as to make them undesirable, really annoying. If I were paranoid, it would be like the companies had read my threads and changed the things ;) . I can't remember all the cameras, but here goes, the mid range single chip, and consumer, 720p capable JVC cameras, both non appearances, instead pixel-shifted 1080i. All the cheap HDMI live stuff, uncompressed and progressive and 10bit. I think they have done interlace on the low end, but no progressive, if anything at all (a lot of ambarella cameras, and I am pretty sure I discussed it with them). The Samsung pocket Ambarella, that looked like it had around 17mb/s+ a few years back. The Panasonic AVCHD cameras, finally, and I was disappointed. The AVCIntra, did not come out to play, but AVCHD replacement for AGXDV100 (reel stream cheap cameras I did not wait for, but it would have been good). The Casio F1 SLR, disappointment (the SR12 seems nicer picture) and the Aus distributor decided to drop JVC about the same time it was due out. Toshiba gigashots with ambarella and the Samsungs HVX10, disappointed (I don't care what the HDMI does). Toshiba 1080p version, the chip produces similarly appearance to the Casio, and no 1080p50. Pockets based on the ambarella series, higher bit-rates (the latest one I looked at did not) HDMI. And who can forget the Sanyo debacle, even with the latest HD1010, it fails to impress me in a number of areas that were improved. The XDCAM came out as I predicted they would, but it costs so much, the little removable lens camera (forget the name) was too high. And who knows what other there might have been. Just goes to show, it is cheaper to buy an expensive monster of a camera than to wait for a nice cheap one (unless you are going to remake it like we are discussing here).

I can say, that I am impressed by the SR12 picture levels, the Canon HV10/20/30, and now their 24mb/s AVCHD recorders, none of which have the 50/60fps HD progressive, let alone 50/60fps progressive HDMI out. In reality, if you want easy and convenient to use with good picture, like most buyers, then these Canon and Sonnies, if you want professional no hassle use , support and work-flow, then the Sony XDCAM HD, Panasonic 24mb/s AVCHD semi-pro cameras might be more your thing, the above project, like many, are for the rest of us. I had also approached Jim on the pocket camera project a few times, but I don't think I received a reply.
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Old August 16th, 2008, 08:26 PM   #4
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We would need more info though. Which OEM manufacturers offer such cameras, what are the options to add HDMI out ports or similar...
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Old August 18th, 2008, 06:33 AM   #5
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The question is, who are the root manufacturers for most the brands? I think digilife might be, Aiptek might also be though I don't know many other brands possibly using their cameras. I don't know how many others.


Micron sells a sensor codec kit, but there is enough firmware updates out there for the cameras.

It is a matter of digging examining and developing, but, apart from web-cams, and stills, this is almost the last frontier for DIY cameras, and the most potentially fruitful.
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Old August 18th, 2008, 06:40 AM   #6
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Forgot about HDMI.

Some cameras have HDMI, some have component. I don't know the exact details as to how it has it disabled during live (and I don't know which cameras have). It is something that requires examination. However, I am curious about getting sensors, and might get a camera for that once get a processing/control platform (still a while out).
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