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AVCHD Format Discussion
Inexpensive High Definition H.264 encoding to DVD, Hard Disc or SD Card.


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Old June 25th, 2008, 02:02 PM   #31
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Steve, I think you are right that testing of camcorders should be based around motion, since recording motion is the main reason for using a video camera. Actually, since video scenes also often have a lot of static content, both types of measurements are probably relevant.

One problem I have is that 95% of my background is in photography, so I tend to think static - that will probably need to change for video.

I'm sure most reviewers use static measurements because they are so much easier to make.

One compensating thing about motion is that our eyes/minds perceive (or perhaps process) less resolution in moving objects. This is why interlaced video worked so well for 3/4 of a century - it was a good technical compromise that saved bandwidth by leveraging the fact that humans perceive more resolution in static objects than in moving ones, and interlaced video provides just that.

In a way, the pixel shift idea may be similar - possibly providing a bigger resolution boost for static objects than for moving ones, and allowing lower cost sensors to be used. Clearly, it won't be as good as having three 1080x1920 sensors.

An interesting observation is that it appears that raw pixel density may not be the limiting factor in overall resolution in most consumer cams, which leads to the question of how much pixel density is enough given the other limitations in the system. For sake of argument, say that pixel shifting increases static resolution by 30%. That should be more than enough to generate 600 lines per picture height of (static) resolution starting from a 540 pixel high sensor. That is about what the Pana SD9 measures out to. The interesting thing is that the camcorders with higher resolution 3MP Bayer sensors (like the HF100) only test out to slightly more than that - around 650 or so.

This seems to indicate that the higher pixel density has increased the overall system MTF only slightly. Other factors must become dominant at that point.

This would also explain why cameras that output 1920x1080 video don't show an appreciable increase in measured horizontal static resolution than cameras which output 1440x1080.

Like you, I have guarded hopes for the new Panas. For me, the SD9 image was not terrible from a resolution/detail point of view. My main gripe was too aggressive EE. The CMOS sensors may provide better low light performance, and hopefully they've reduced the amount of EE they apply in the processing, which seemed more than most other cameras. What would be nice about the new cameras is the higher level of creative control.
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Old June 25th, 2008, 02:22 PM   #32
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Regarding tape vs tapeless costs, for the latter one should include the time and materials necessary to make at least two archive copies of your source footage. For an hour (8GB) of AVCHD that's going to be ~$2.50 for two dual-layer DVDs or ~$3 for corresponding hard drive space, plus the value of the time required to make the backups. That's not a cost advantage compared to recording HDV on $3-5 miniDV tapes with no archive time required.

Regarding editing, AVCHD is inherently difficult to work on directly and hence best converted to an I-frame intermediate. Current reports suggest this takes longer than capturing HDV to such an intermediate in real time, so no advantage there.

In the price range of good AVCHD cameras I'd suggest considering the Canon HV30 or Sony HC9 as more practical alternatives.
There are other advantages for the consumer with AVCHD HDD cams. Not possible to record over something important, instant playback with clip selection and very long record times. All things not possible with the average tape based cam. Easy in camera editing and playlist etc again not possible with a tape unit. No problems with head clogging or frame drops............ Backup is not as onerous as you say either. With the Sony units the Sony Browser software copies to the PC, analyzes video and records in a format that allows recall by folder or date and time. Again not possible with tape. Software remembers what has been backups and only backs up new stuff too. This is also possible with Sony's stand alone disc recorder too. As to costs I just bought two 750G drives for $130 each. That works out at about $1.38 to backup an hour of AVCHD, $2.76 if I keep a copy on two drives still less than tape!! I have just started to burn Bluray. Got an LG burner for $268 and discs from Tapesonline are $12.50 but will store about 3 hours of AVCHD close to tape costs.
As to editing. I use Edius and now with my quad core I can upload to PC and convert to Canopus HQ intermediate codec an hour of AVCHD for a combined time of about 1 hour and 15 mins.
I know how you feel about tape as I still use my FX1 etc but I am really beginning to like my SR11 no that editing is easier with HQ. You do need a quad core though!!!!!!

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Old June 25th, 2008, 04:43 PM   #33
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Steve, this may explain why my SR11 looks sharper than my FX1 at times. I was trying to identify with some shots the other day and could not decide whether it was the lower noise in the SR11, the colour depth or whatever but the SR11 picture really pops out on my Panasonic plasma when the FX1 is just a really nice picture. Can't really describe the effect but it could just be a little more resolution, shot was in 1920x1080? IF only the SR series had a few more manual controls, especially shockless exposure change etc.

Ron Evans
I felt the same way about the V1. Very NICE, but at times it looked too soft. I too could explain it. I felt that interpolation sometimes seemed to not work. Maybe if there isn't a certain amount of detail -- one can't interpolate more detail.

Yes -- the SR comes very close to wonderful. Did low light tests dimming lights and it just got darker. No real increase in noise as the picture went fully dark. I've never seen this before!
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Old June 25th, 2008, 08:09 PM   #34
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I think Ron Evans is on the right track re archiving tapeless video. Blu Ray disks, even at the current high price, is cost effective for AVCHD archiving, and pretty much bulletproof as storage medium. When BDs get down to $1.00 and under, it will really be a no-brainer.
Those of us shooting Sony EX1 are facing the same archiving issues- except that the data rate is 16 Gig /hour.
As far as the time involved in batch capturing/ converting to DI for edit/ archiving: I think of those activities as something that happens while I am at the movies, eating, sleeping, etc. That's not to say that I don't get a little nostalgic about tape. There is something real comfortable about just popping the cassette out and sticking it on the shelf.
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Old June 26th, 2008, 07:18 AM   #35
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Agreed that Ron makes some good points, and I hadn't thought about using Blu-ray for archiving footage. But there's still something to be said for being able to come home from a long shoot and put your master footage on a shelf with no archiving required, and the full benefit of tapeless recording will come when that's an affordable option. This should happen soon enough but we're not quite there yet, plus we need more AVCHD came with professional features.

I do like the idea of long record times with AVCHD and will consider that as a useful feature for a backup shot camera.
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Old June 26th, 2008, 04:47 PM   #36
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Remember when I posted that in an economy that wants low prices, it was necessary to keep costs very low so as to generate a profit. Sony has returned to profits, but still not enough, as this report on Sony makes clear.

Sony wants to lift return on equity (ROE) to 10 percent from an average of about 6 percent over the last three years, and reach the 5 percent operating profit margin that eluded it in a previous plan, coming in at 4.2 percent in the year ended in March.

“We believe a 5 percent operating margin represents a baseline to continue to lead and innovate,” said Mr. Stringer, the first non-Japanese top executive at Sony. “This is what’s considered to be the minimum, acceptable level going forward.”

Sony’s current return on equity is low compared with global rivals like the Samsung Electronics Company of South Korea, which boasts 14 percent, and Philips Electronics , which registers 23 percent, according to Reuters data.

The story goes on to say if Sony can't increase profits it could be a take-over candidate -- just like JVC was.
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Old August 21st, 2008, 09:56 PM   #37
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I don't believe there is the price disaparity that once existed between SD cards and memory sticks. I just ran over the Circuit City website and under "16 gig" there were two listings. One for a Panasonic SDHC card @ $319.99 and a Sony memory stick @ $299.99. I'm sure both can be had cheaper, but the old disparity just isn't there as it was.
Retail price for a 16GB Sony Memory Stick Pro Duo looks to be around $200 now. I just picked one up from Amazon this week for $150. So these Circuit City prices may be pre-some kind of price drop.
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Old August 21st, 2008, 10:02 PM   #38
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Pictures elsewhere look just like the CX7 - NO VF - I'm going with the site has some "1st day" errors. ...
I've downloaded the User's Guide and HandyCam Guide for the CX12 and there's no mention of a viewfinder. I've also held one for a few minutes to check the stability in my hand (as opposed to anyone else's...). I'm sure there's no viewfinder. The buttons and mode dial that used to be on the body on the right (tape, DVD, or HDD enclosure) had to move to where the viewfinder used to be on the other Sony models.
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Old August 21st, 2008, 10:16 PM   #39
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Sorry, my goal is to REPLACE tape with SS. When SS reaches tape price, I'll shoot once, label them, and stick them in a tiny box.

After using an HDD camcorders for a year, I'll not sign-up again for non self-archiving media. Sony, IMHO, blue-laser is the smart way to go. Shoot, edit, store.
Due to producing HD footage off an HC7, I've switched away from DVD media totally. They have a finite shelf life unless you buy the best. I have two DVDs I burned about 7-8 years ago that were unrecoverable. The original media for those was 1994s video tape, and I gave the camcorder away years ago as well. The total of my DVDs took up a lot of space for one full copy of what I would keep, much less two copies. I eventually pulled everything back off the DVDs and converted it all to MPEG-2 files.

Since all of it is digital and since my playback device for HD is a PS3 feeding into a Sony Bravia TV, I ended up buying cheap 500 GB external hard drives. Those now hold my complete music, picture, and video collection and numerous family scanned documents. The key to me is the format of the data, not the media. The drives are so cheap I bought two - one for home use, and one kept at the office as a backup. As technology changes, I'll just recopy all the files to later media as that becomes appropriate, always staying at a low cost overall. I don't have to keep the original recording device, all the video fits in a device the size of a book, and I can create a complete new backup copy to a new device with one Windows command. It takes a while because I'm over 350 GB now, but it's easy.

Anyway, this approach works for me because I can play the files back directly from the media via the PS3 and I'm not trying to do fancy DVD authoring with menus, etc. I can navigate well-named folders easily so I don't miss the menus. That won't be everyone's cup of tea. But I'm not sure I think archiving the original media is going to be particularly useful in the future if you've gone all digital.
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Old August 21st, 2008, 10:20 PM   #40
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Anyway, this approach works for me because I can play the files back directly from the media via the PS3 ...
...And of course, it can all be played back through Windows Media Player on PCs that have the horsepower, which is any PC you could buy today. So the TV is the standard playback device, but the whole collection is portable in one housing and you can take it over to a friend's house or whatever. There are some usability advantages here that I didn't anticipate when I tried this - I just needed something that would play the video back to the TV, and the PS3 looked right. I imagine it would play back fine from an XBox 360 as well.
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