Canon HF-S10 vs Sony XR500 - Page 7 at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > High Definition Video Acquisition > AVCHD Format Discussion

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


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old December 24th, 2009, 03:53 PM   #91
Major Player
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Gilroy, CA
Posts: 369
Just did a winter hike to lower Grand Canyon with the CX500. The footage looks like I was using a tri pod, best OIS I've ever used on a small camera.
Duane Adam is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 24th, 2009, 09:16 PM   #92
Trustee
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Knoxville, Tennessee
Posts: 1,666
I'm coming late to this thread, but I have to say I'm suprised at the enthusiasm for the Sony given (as I understand it) its lack of manual control of shutter speed. Am I missing something here, or is fixing the shutter speed relative to the frame rate not a big deal for other folk?
Graham Hickling is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 24th, 2009, 10:52 PM   #93
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Rockville, Maryland
Posts: 142
Re manual controls on the Sony: I am a point and shoot person generally, so my comments come from that direction. I am basically interested in results and not how they're achieved, so I have no drive to understand aperture, f-stops, shutter speeds, etc. as they relate to taking digital video. It boils down to getting the right exposure and in special cases, the right frame rate.

Sony may actually be making a bold move into the future by not providing direct manual controls for aperture and shutter speed called those names. For people coming from the photography world, these terms are vital to taking good pictures and you want to control them. But wanting them in the digital video world assumes that (a) they physically still exist in that world at the same level of importance as they did with film and (b) they are the best way to get the results camcorder users want to achieve. I suspect both of these things are no longer true.

Sony's CX and XR cams give you direct manual control over exposure, focus, white balance, and three apparently fixed shutter speeds: normal to produce 60i frames, slow motion, and low lux (1/30th second). They also provide spot exposure and spot focus and combined spot focus/exposure via touchscreen. So if aperture contributes to exposure in digital video (and much less to depth of field than in stills) as does shutter speed, shouldn't I really want a manual exposure control? Which I have?

In practice, though, the actual way in which exposure and light and focus work in these modern digital cams is much more subtle than human-set aperture, focus, and shutter speed settings. In fact, other than shifting white balance and exposure generally (which Sonys let you do), I trust the auto settings much more than my own eye, generally - particularly when changing light and motion is involved. I'll lock the cam settings down in very special cases, but I'd argue that it generally does a much better job of manipulating all the factors than I would. These are now very sophisticated optics and computing systems so while I understand peoples' desire for manual control, I'm not sure I believe that's what the average person requires by any means.

Steve Mullen produced the "Sony SR12/CX12 Handbook" in 2008 and it discusses the insides of the cam to a high degree. Part of my point here is that some of these manual controls that seem essential are effectively vestiges of the past in some way. They don't necessarily reflect how the cams actually work today. So they're a convenience for people who already know them, but somewhat misleading for people who don't. If you can control exposure without having to set three things, and can control focus and white balance and have a few specialty shutter speeds (slow motion, low lux), what more does an average point and shoot person need? (Film frame rates are a limited market, I'm pretty sure...)

Here's a paragraph from p. 35 of Steve's handbook that emphasizes what I'm discussing a bit. The following page contains a table showing how each of Sony's exposure stops represents an intersection of the more standard shutter speed, iris, gain, and neutral density filter settings. That is, you can set the exposure and it's the same as if you manually set the other four items on a more complicated cam. Note in the quote that Steve emphasizes that "shutter speed" (actually CMOS integration period) now takes precedence in exposure over iris manipulation because the electronics are both faster and more precise than the physical iris mechanism.

"Understanding the Exposure System
The Sony SR/CX camcorders control exposure primarily by adjusting shutterspeed—
not by adjusting the iris. Specifically, exposure is controlled by
altering CMOS integration period. (See Appendix A to learn more about
CMOS integration period.) The period can be altered smoothly and very
accurately from 1/50th or 1/60th second to 1/800th second
Of course, the iris, at times, is also used. But, because it is mechanical and
thus slower and inherently less accurate, it becomes the secondary way
exposure is controlled.
In Appendix A, you can read about both “diffraction interference” and
“longitudinal chromatic aberration.” The former motivates not using Fstops
smaller than f/5.6 while the latter motivates not using F-stops larger
than f/2.8. Thus, for a 1/3-inch CMOS camera the best F-stop is f/4. As you
will see in the following Chart, the Sony camcorder quite cleverly achieves
this goal.
To accomplish this, the SR/CX camcorders will switch a Neutral Density filter
into and out of the light path when necessary. This ND filter cuts light by one
F-stop.
Once the iris has opened fully, the only option for obtaining proper exposure
as light levels fall is to add video gain. Gain is added smoothly up to +18dB."

Just as digital photographers have to relearn some of what they knew from using film cameras, digital videographers have to relearn some things as well. I don't miss setting shutter speed and aperture in the slightest for video, and I'd bet the cam is generally making much better decisions re exposure than I could, and responding to changing conditions far more effectively when they occur.

That said, I know some people miss the sense of being in control when they had specific settings they could manipulate and they'd get known results. I just wonder if the cams that provide those controls are just translating to the real physics and the bottom line is exposure control 99% of the time.
Tom Gull is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 25th, 2009, 02:55 AM   #94
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Apple Valley CA
Posts: 4,866
No doubt Sony users would like to see more manual controls... but with cameras this small, there's little or no real estate to put them on. Sony seems to have gone highly "artificial intelligent" with pretty respectable results, IOW, the camera can probably beat you to the settings most of the time.

Personally I "miss" manual control, but with Sony, you've got a set frame rate, no 30P and 24P, just 60i, which I believe results in 1/60 shutter speed take it or leave it, or for low light I believe it slows to the equivalent of 1/30. Then as noted there is a "special effect" to record 3 seconds at a fast frame rate and play it back in 12 seconds...

Aperature again would be handy, as there are times when one would "like" to control the "F-stop" to control DoF, at least in theory - again with the small size of these cameras, you're not going to get a lot of DoF anyway...

Sony chose to put SOME control into these cameras, and if you learn how those controls work, you can get very acceptable results with them. Learning how the AI works helps some too, so you can override where needed. That said, the AI algorithms are pretty frighteningly effective. Put the "brains" and OIS and R sensor into a bigger camera, and you'd have a winner - still waiting to see if and when Sony makes this step, the NXCAM seems to be in this direction, but higher end - there's a HUGE gap between these pocket rockets and the "pro" line... logically there should be some cameras in there to compete with the HMC150 and kin...

Upsize the EXMOR R to 1/2" or 2/3" from the 1/3" sensor these use, make it a bit bigger, toss basic manual controls on it, plus the AI and OIS... and toss in those other frame rates for those that want them...



To completely change gears... got hands on a CX500, and it's an interesting step from the XR500, loses some things, but seems like it gains in others. Will make some observations once I get more time playing with it, but does seem to be a tad better in both low light (at the expense of more noise, so it may just be more agressive gain) and OIS performance (could just be easier to hold a lighter camera?).

If one keeps in mind these are image acquisition devices, designed for "no-brainer" capture of crisp, clean high definition video in all sorts of conditions (including especially difficult ones), you'll "get" these cameras, if you want knobs and buttons and adjustments to tweak, you'll be scratching your head... a lot...

I have no doubt Sony "could" put buttons and wheels to access the traditional "manual" functions - the AI does it, obviously, but for whatever reason they just don't feel that capability meets their market, would be nice to see them reconsider!

As it stands, these little cameras keep up nicely with their "big" pro line cams, even on full auto, that is pretty impressive even if you can't tweak things as much as you might like...
Dave Blackhurst is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 25th, 2009, 06:57 AM   #95
Trustee
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Knoxville, Tennessee
Posts: 1,666
> IOW, the camera can probably beat you to the settings most of the time.

Thanks for the thoughful replies guys. I agree with much of what you've said, and indeed with the quote above EXCEPT when it comes to shutter speed - to me the change in motion signature if shutter speed rises above 1/60 in bright light is really not acceptable.

Now it seems from your replies that maybe these new Sonys don't allow that shutter speed increase to happen (or at least the cameras stick to 1/60th for as long as possible and perhaps beyond that could be managed by adding external ND filter). So I need to learn more about this ... since Sony's own product information in mostly silent on this kind of detail.
Graham Hickling is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 25th, 2009, 08:09 AM   #96
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Rockville, Maryland
Posts: 142
I claim amateur status, first - so the technical details need to be verified exactly as you suggest <g>.

Based on Steve's quote, two thoughts:

1. There is no shutter in the old sense - there is manipulation of the CMOS integration period which affects how long light is allowed to hit the sensor before it gets measured and processed. This is all electronic, at least in the Sony cams.

2. Since it's electronic, it's computer-controlled, which means the cam is constantly adjusting this as its major way of creating the proper exposure. The physical iris still exists but is much slower so it is essentially a gross adjustment now where the CMOS integration period (called "shutter speed" for convenience) is the major player.

Overall, I'm suggesting that the real question is whether you're provided enough manual controls to make the cam dance for you, easily producing the effects you want to produce. I vote "yes" in this case for my purposes. In fact, I'd argue the controls are simple and provide what I need and make more sense to me inherently than saying I should adjust aperture and shutter control properly to get the right exposure. I'm not arguing that people shouldn't need to learn some things, but this is maybe a bit like arguing about stickshifts vs automatics in cars. At this point, with modern antiskid, antilock, and other chip-controlled safety features in cars, some set of features is now available that you don't want to override.

Quick example: Steve discusses how electronically-controlled signal gain is used to adjust for certain issues in the digital cams. It's automatic and manually controlled to some degree by fixing the exposure setting you control. Do the cams with aperture and shutter speed manual controls also include a gain control? If not, why not? It's part of the equation. But it's not part of the old manual video equation, so it's left out because it wouldn't make sense to people using aperture and shutter control. So those controls (missing part of the equation) are a simulation of the older approach in any case, they're not real in some ways.

Anyway, Steve's guide is an interesting read because it clearly points out how much these cams differ from their ancestors. It's probably still for sale over the Internet - maybe he'd offer a discount now since it's for last year's models!

As an aside, he also includes a section on how to post-process 1080i video to emulate all of the various cinematic-like outputs. And he discusses the Exmor chips extensively, though the new R series puts the chip superstructure behind the sensor instead of in front of it where it used to block some of the incoming light.

Basically, there's a lot to be learned about the inner workings of these all-digital cams. Much of it is beyond my basic knowledge so I can't discuss it cleanly. Some of the old terminology is still being used but no longer lines up with the mechanics of the actual cam itself. So the question isn't really "how can you function without manual controls with these specific names?" but "does the cam give you the manual controls you need to produce the results you want?". For me, the answer is clearly "yes". For an experienced videographer, I don't know, but I suspect so. There just might be a learning curve for that person.
Tom Gull is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 25th, 2009, 08:15 AM   #97
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Rockville, Maryland
Posts: 142
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Blackhurst View Post
..........Sony chose to put SOME control into these cameras, and if you learn how those controls work, you can get very acceptable results with them. Learning how the AI works helps some too, so you can override where needed. That said, the AI algorithms are pretty frighteningly effective.........
That's a great way to put what I was hinting at - frighteningly effective. The cam as a well-programmed computer is to be respected. When I have been waiting to shoot something and had time to play with the manual controls, I used the LCD to see how my changes worked out. In almost every case, I decided to put the cam back on full auto before I started filming. Maybe if I were an experienced videographer I could have squeezed more performance out on manual. But maybe not...
Tom Gull is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 25th, 2009, 08:24 AM   #98
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Rockville, Maryland
Posts: 142
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Blackhurst View Post
...To completely change gears... got hands on a CX500, and it's an interesting step from the XR500, loses some things, but seems like it gains in others. Will make some observations once I get more time playing with it, but does seem to be a tad better in both low light (at the expense of more noise, so it may just be more agressive gain) and OIS performance (could just be easier to hold a lighter camera?).
Sony added "3-Way Shake Canceling" to the CXs in the four months between the release of the two otherwise-much-alike cams. I missed this change at first until someone pointed out that the CX marketing specs mention it and the XRs don't. I asked Sony's support people if the two cams differed in this way, and they pointed me to some internal group to get a definitive answer. The regular group discusses only published features for a specific cam. I didn't bother following up - I'll take their advertising and marketing specs at face value when the missing feature is this valuable.

Anyway, this appears to be a sophisticated Electronic Image Stabilization that uses the extra pixels around the frame to damp down twisting motions in the "3rd dimension". I have been amazed at the CX image stabilization. That and the low light improvements over other cams have been worth the price of admission to me.
Tom Gull is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 25th, 2009, 12:00 PM   #99
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Posts: 3,943
We all have to remember these are consumer cameras meant for the point and shoot market. Most of the time my SR11 and XR500 outperform my FX1 !!! I too am looking forward to the NXCAM models. Things I would like to see on the XR500 that would make manual control more effective but still use all the smarts of the camera are limits on controls ( ie F stops up and down, effective shutter speed, gain limits etc) I have started to use the AE shift a lot and would like a greater range. I shoot stage productions and use the XR500 unattended full stage view, spot focus and AE shift at -4 most of the time. I would like the metering in AE shift to be assigned to upper or lower limit etc( meter for brightest area, sort of auto spot meter, range limit !!! etc). This would make the camera really great and worth paying more for a model with these attributes. The cameras computer is really good I would just like to bias it a little to the form I would like it to create.
I believe the auto system has the capability of manipulating segments of the sensor rather than going to full manual control which would effect the whole sensor. There is the possibility that the auto system can always produce better images than the camera in full manual because of this ability to manipulate the exposure across the sensor. This is I believe how the dynamic range expansion and highlight capabilities are achieved. Details in the shadows as well as the highlights in the same scene. Selective dynamic range expansion.
As a family camera in full auto its great.

Ron Evans
Ron Evans is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 25th, 2009, 03:33 PM   #100
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Apple Valley CA
Posts: 4,866
I think the question should be asked... if a consumer uses a "professional" camera, does that make it a consumer camera... or conversely if a "pro" uses a consumer camera, does that make it professional...

I know that sounds silly at first, but the question becomes one of whether an imaging device can capture a high quality image for a specific task. EVERY camera has limitations and useful applications, and ultimately it's the creativity and skill of the user (and of course the quality of the "content and talent") that really determine the ultimate usefulness of a given tool.

Sony has made some very effective "tools", and they come in handy (big) pocket size, perfect for capturing things you might otherwise miss because the "big gun" is too bulky to drag everywhere. SO, you catch more memories and hopefully great footage. These cameras do an amazing job of making that much easier, whether you're a consumer or a pro...


Ron, I think you're on the right track with the idea of "manual override" vs. full manual, although there are probably times when you'd in theory want full control... maybe.
Dave Blackhurst is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 25th, 2009, 04:12 PM   #101
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Apple Valley CA
Posts: 4,866
Short CX500 vs. XR500 overview

OK, with both in hand, I've got some observations!

CX isn't "that" much smaller, yet feels lots smaller, and a bit lighter - perhaps enough to make it more comfortable for a long day of shooting (like amusement parks/tourist traps/museums).

Improved LCD size over earlier CX models is appreciated, almost as big as the XR LCD. CX AiShoe cover is back to a better design than the slightly sloppy feel of the XR's slide up & over, and rattle around cover - CX shoe retracts INTO the camera body, not out over the top.

CX of course loses I/O options of headphone and mic (mic input still available through AiShoe with proprietary mics...), and viewfinder - LCD is quite good even in very bright sunlight though. LANC still available through A/V jack, which is now in an awkward position mid body right under the handstrap... no using THAT jack while handheld!

Sony completely redid the menus... still not too sure about it, but it's workable. The display options are unusual, with two auto modes (one with W/T/Rec buttons displayed on touchscreen, one without, both with details that "disappear" after a few seonds), and one "on" mode. Not sure about the disappearing display details with the auto modes... but touch the screen they return! I think I preferred the "disp" button (SR/XR) that cleared the screen if you wanted. The return of a "personal menu" with the functions you want to access the most is very nice, last saw something similar with the HC9, nice to have 6 "quick access" buttons!

CX appears about two "stops" (if the Sony adjustments can equate to stops) brighter than the XR, and there seems to be more gain noise at the brightest end. AE definitely needs to be set negative, -4 is about right. Colors also seem to be pumped up a bit over the XR, need to take some side by side footage to see what's really going on there, but this is reminiscent of earlier CX models, which had similar characteristics vs. their other Sony models.

Need to put the OIS through some tests, but sure SEEMS to improve over the XR, which was already impressive.

New control knob/button at the rear of the cam (button inside the LCD cavity) replaces the front mounted one from the SR, XR and CX12 - no room on the front anymore because of the reduced profile, but I'd say the front positioning was better, so far.


Overall I'd say the XR is a more "balanced" package with more handy features, where the CX is a nice cam in a small package...
Dave Blackhurst is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 25th, 2009, 06:33 PM   #102
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Rockville, Maryland
Posts: 142
Quotes from Dave Blackhurst (why doesn't the system offer Quote instead of just reply?):

"Improved LCD size over earlier CX models is appreciated, almost as big as the XR LCD. "
They made it larger by removing the physical buttons for W, T, and Rec down the left side, turning that strip into LCD touchscreen instead. Note that the XR LCD resolution is much higher than the CX, though I'm fine with the CX resolution.

"Sony completely redid the menus... still not too sure about it, but it's workable. The display options are unusual, with two auto modes (one with W/T/Rec buttons displayed on touchscreen, one without, both with details that "disappear" after a few seonds), and one "on" mode. Not sure about the disappearing display details with the auto modes... but touch the screen they return! I think I preferred the "disp" button (SR/XR) that cleared the screen if you wanted. The return of a "personal menu" with the functions you want to access the most is very nice, last saw something similar with the HC9, nice to have 6 "quick access" buttons!"

Back to the future - I think your mention of the HC9 is exactly correct. I had an HC7 which had a much flatter menu structure. I remember it as very similar to what's in the CX. I am delighted to have the My Menus back (it's actually 18 choices total - 6 each for video, photo, and playback modes, though you can use most menu items in any of the three modes). I also much prefer the flatter structure to that of the XRs and the CX12, which I owned. Note that the addition of scroll bars, fast scrolling through menu choices, etc. is new and wasn't in the HC7. Overall, I'm pleased they revamped the menus. Re the disappearing display, I thought that was pretty cool the first day - the screen clears after about 3 seconds so you can see everything for filming or playback. But I quickly discovered I needed the symbols on the screen almost all the time, so I disabled the disappearing symbols by day 2.

Your remaining thoughts:

1. Not sure about the AE shift. I've tried it in various settings and I must just prefer the brighter images. With bright daylight, I have used the AE shift. On cloudy days or indoors, I haven't liked the effect in the LCD. I haven't tried experimenting with it for throwaway comparisons. I should do that. Most film I was taking was transient - get it now or miss it altogether.

2. On some clips, I think the OIS is phenomenal. I had three HD models in a row so I have clips I can use for comparison. My tripod hasn't been out of the house for a month and a half now. I know I should still use it sometimes but I don't feel compelled to do so now.

3. The rear-side manual control knob is hard to turn compared to the front one. I think the front position was better and easier to manipulate as well.

My next experiment will be to use slow-motion recording to catch our pet sugar gliders jumping between family members in mid-air. At regular speeds, they're just a blur once they push off. I see some people who have taken great stills of the motion. Either they're using some kind of sports mode with a camera (burst mode) or they're using slow motion. The Sony buffers while in standby mode, so you can set slow motion mode to capture the three seconds before you press the Record button, or the three seconds after you press the Record button. I'll have to use the former for the gliders...
Tom Gull is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 26th, 2009, 09:08 PM   #103
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Rockville, Maryland
Posts: 142
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Blackhurst View Post
.......
Sony has made some very effective "tools", and they come in handy (big) pocket size, perfect for capturing things you might otherwise miss because the "big gun" is too bulky to drag everywhere. SO, you catch more memories and hopefully great footage. These cameras do an amazing job of making that much easier, whether you're a consumer or a pro...
Here's a fun memory to catch. We have two marsupial sugar gliders as pets and they are true gliders. Ours are babies and can jump and glide about 15 feet, though we don't encourage that. They're bonded well now, so they primarily jump between their humans. I tried to take regular video of them jumping in hopes of getting good stills similar to those I've seen online. No luck - they're so fast over short distances that they were just a blur in every frame.

So this morning I set the cam to slow-motion mode using the "before" option. That is, I have the cam on standby monitoring what I want to film, and when I see it, I immediately press Record and get the three seconds prior to that moment at 120 frames per second instead of 30. So a 3 second realtime clip plays back in 12 seconds. This turned out to work beautifully except the lighting was somewhat dim and the video is underexposed. The resolution is less than usual and the colors a little subdued - a documented way that this mode works.

Anyway, here's a sample clip with some blurring and cropping on the left to protect the innocent... I have not otherwise post-processed the clip.

YouTube - Sugar glider jumping (four repeats) Sony CX500V slow motion mode
Tom Gull is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 26th, 2009, 10:29 PM   #104
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Rockville, Maryland
Posts: 142
Here's another - my favorite because the glider wiggles his wings up and down for in-flight adjustment. Not sure if this will come across OK with the cropping but hopefully so.

YouTube - Sugar glider jumping (eight repeats) Sony CX500V slow motion
Tom Gull is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 27th, 2009, 09:43 AM   #105
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Posts: 3,943
"LANC still available through A/V jack, which is now in an awkward position mid body right under the handstrap... no using THAT jack while handheld!"

Dave, Sony have a pistol grip that can be used with these new camcorders with LANC. Turns into a little table top tripod too.

High Definition Camcorders - DVD Camcorder - AVCHD Camcorder - Camcorder Accessories - Tripods - GPAVT1 - Sony Style Canada

Ron Evans
Ron Evans is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > High Definition Video Acquisition > AVCHD Format Discussion

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 08:41 AM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network