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Old October 13th, 2009, 05:21 PM   #1
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FYI: Have CX500V on hand can field limited questions

Due to a new need to take some low-light video, my comparison of the CX12 vs the CX500V led me to buy a CX500V. I have been very pleased with it so far but haven't tried to test it heavily. I'm definitely going to keep it and trade the CX12 in.

I'm posting just in case someone has specific questions about features that I can answer as an amateur. For example, I can offer my opinion on the relative quality of stills. But I can't test anything in a real-life sense - measuring actual resolution, color fidelity, or the like. If I get a question I can't answer readily, please bear with me <g>.
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Old October 14th, 2009, 04:07 PM   #2
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Congrats on the new toy Tom - I think you'll find the "R" sensor to be a pleasure to work with! For me the improvement between the SR11/CX12 series sensor and the XR/CX500 "R" was a no-brainer.

The main thing that intrigues me is the change in menu structure, I'll have to go download the manual for these cams and see what the changes are... never really been that thrilled with the menus adopted with the CX7/SR11/XR500, preferred the "old" menus from the earlier HD cameras where they had a single entry point, not TWO...

I would've waited for the new CX's, as I really like having the smaller cam, but since I was able to pick up XR's at decent prices I am happy with those across the board - one layout/menu to remember, and my old eyes are far happier with the bigger LCD and a VF for bright light/outdoor shooting!
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Old October 15th, 2009, 05:14 AM   #3
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Tom, have you had a chance to field test the CX500V's stabilization? I played with the camera on demo at a Sony dealer here and have to say it was the best I'd seen on ANY video camera. It (in Active Mode)was particularly good at stabilizing "walking" shots, reducing the usual jumpiness associated with walking rythm fast and slow. Handheld panning and tracking shots were also unbelievably good compared to similar shots produced by my own SR12. A demo apparatus setting up the camera to output live filming of a dim slideshow in a very dim box revealed very little noise in that dark environment.

In short, it's one tiny impressive camera. Aside from the lack of mic and headphone jacks, the absent of zebra is probably the only major downside.
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Old October 15th, 2009, 09:53 AM   #4
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I miss the zebra on the XR500 but in all other respects it is better than the SR11 I also have. Waiting for the full manual version!!!!! Or the sensor in a 3 chip version. I'll keep wishing!!!

Ron
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Old October 15th, 2009, 08:28 PM   #5
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Haven't tried walking test, otherwise I agree

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wacharapong Chiowanich View Post
Tom, have you had a chance to field test the CX500V's stabilization? I played with the camera on demo at a Sony dealer here and have to say it was the best I'd seen on ANY video camera. It (in Active Mode)was particularly good at stabilizing "walking" shots, reducing the usual jumpiness associated with walking rythm fast and slow. Handheld panning and tracking shots were also unbelievably good compared to similar shots produced by my own SR12. A demo apparatus setting up the camera to output live filming of a dim slideshow in a very dim box revealed very little noise in that dark environment.

In short, it's one tiny impressive camera. Aside from the lack of mic and headphone jacks, the absent of zebra is probably the only major downside.
Hmmm...I'll have to try a walking test. I usually don't video that way unless I'm following a rabbit in the yard or something <g>. I had the camera on tripod for a soccer game, and otherwise have mostly been panning handheld but with my body stationary. I agree with all your observations minus that one test. The low-light performance and stabilization were the selling points over the CX12 for me, though in practice I've found the stills to be sharper and more detailed (higher resolution) and the menus easier to manage as well. Not sure about the Manual dial yet, but I wasn't a heavy user of it on the CX12.

Generally, I'm finding that the stabilization lets me operate at the full 12x zoom more readily. Handheld with the CX12, I learned to not zoom in max unless the shot really required it. That was OK, because its 10x had much less shake than a cam that maxed out at 10x. But I'm not feeling like I need to restrict the zoom with the new cam.

Re tiny: I was able to squeeze the cam into a regular shirt pocket but it was borderline and I didn't trust the pocket to hold the weight. The CX12 couldn't fit there. Then I tried slipping the CX500V into a rear jeans pocket and it slid right in with room to spare. I'm not sure I'm going to treat it as a pocket cam but in a pinch, it might fit in some pockets OK.

I have video of our new pets taken in low light from two weeks ago with the CX12, and footage in the same light taken with the CX500V. The low light video difference is easily apparent. Camcorderinfo waffled and gave the XR520 decent but average ratings on two separate measures of low light performance, but people made comments to them that whatever they were measuring didn't match the obvious visual improvements they saw in real video situations. I found the camcorder head-to-head comparison website from slashcam.org that has 12 lux (I think) frames from many camcorders. You can just look there to see the differences.
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Old October 15th, 2009, 08:30 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Evans View Post
I miss the zebra on the XR500 but in all other respects it is better than the SR11 I also have. Waiting for the full manual version!!!!! Or the sensor in a 3 chip version. I'll keep wishing!!!

Ron
Hmmm...in my comparison, I missed that the XR series had the zebra feature. I had that on my HC7 and was sorry to lose it on the CX12.
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Old October 15th, 2009, 08:51 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Blackhurst View Post
Congrats on the new toy Tom - I think you'll find the "R" sensor to be a pleasure to work with! For me the improvement between the SR11/CX12 series sensor and the XR/CX500 "R" was a no-brainer.

The main thing that intrigues me is the change in menu structure, I'll have to go download the manual for these cams and see what the changes are... never really been that thrilled with the menus adopted with the CX7/SR11/XR500, preferred the "old" menus from the earlier HD cameras where they had a single entry point, not TWO...

I would've waited for the new CX's, as I really like having the smaller cam, but since I was able to pick up XR's at decent prices I am happy with those across the board - one layout/menu to remember, and my old eyes are far happier with the bigger LCD and a VF for bright light/outdoor shooting!
Don't tell my wife it's a new toy - it's needed for taking good video of the new pets! Just because I play with it doesn't mean it's a toy, right?

You surprised me by listing the XR500 as having the CX7 (also 12) style menus. I assumed the whole set of new Exmor R cams had the newer (somewhat retro) menus a la the CX500V. I just downloaded the XR500 manual and you're absolutely right about the menus. Take a look at the CX manuals - both the presence of configurable menus (3 with 6 items each) and the reworking of the menus has been a big plus for me. I didn't explore them the first time I saw the cam in Best Buy and didn't really pick up on the reorg in a cursory read of the manual. The second time I was at Best Buy I played with the new menus for about 15 minutes. They're a definite plus for me. There is that size/resolution tradeoff in the LCD, though, just as you mention.

The Exmor R does seem like a winner to me. I went back to some technical websites to read more about it. Apparently flipping the layers did cause some bottom-line results issues that Sony had to address - that is, this probably sounds much simpler to do than it really was by a long shot. But I love the low-light results. The increased resolution is also visible to me, at least in stills. And I think it's a requirement for the "Active stabilization" that is wowing everyone - you have to have enough extra video pixels on hand to waste some lining up the final frame you're going to show so it doesn't jerk around.
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Old October 15th, 2009, 08:53 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Evans View Post
I miss the zebra on the XR500 but in all other respects it is better than the SR11 I also have. Waiting for the full manual version!!!!! Or the sensor in a 3 chip version. I'll keep wishing!!!

Ron
Zebra might be one of the next incremental features they can pack back in - the processor chip (CPU / GPU) will only get faster, opening it up to simply do more. That kind of feature plus processing up to the 24M level (needed or not) would seem like good targets. I'm sure they had to pick and choose which features went in due to some processor speed constraints, but the hardware will get faster.
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Old October 15th, 2009, 09:02 PM   #9
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One thing I've noticed is actually in Picture Motion Browser and may be an old feature, but I've just discovered it personally. I do all my editing in Corel's main editor software, including turning individual frames into JPEGs. PMB has a pretty decent "convert this frame to a JPEG feature" that I'm now using by preference since it's part of the playback program. You press a "snapshot" button during playback, and you get a mini-playback window with frame by frame forward and backwards arrows. Move around until you've got the frame you want, then press Save and the JPEG is there. From a 16:9 video, it captures a 2304 x 1296 pixel copy at 72 dpi, 24 bit color. Ease of use is good, which is why I'm mentioning it. Since the video low-light is generally better than the still with the same settings, capture from video can be handy in such cases. (Both the CX12 and CX500V take brighter video than stills in low-light, presumably because the expectation is you'll use flash for pictures which you can't do with the video.)
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Old October 15th, 2009, 11:20 PM   #10
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Hi Tom -
Yeah, the menus are a "weak point" since about the CX7 where that "home" icon appeared... I'll have to download the CX500 manual, it sounds like a return to a better setup. Have to check that stills trick too, as it looks to me like the video is sharper than the stills... video definitely looks better/sharper to my eye, while the stills are just a tiny bit soft (not bad, just not quite as good as a dedicated still cam).

I'd like to see zebras return (along with manual controls!), but I've stated before that I suspect that the intelligent auto functions tend to control the camera in such a way that all you really need to watch is that there are no obvious blown out areas - the camera seems to have a pretty forgiving range/lattitude, and if you use the usual trick of adjusting the AE offset between -2 and -4, it's fairly safe.

I picked up the DSC-WX1 still camera with the "R" sensor, out of curiousity, and it tends to blow the highs easily (HAVE to use the EV offfset to get decent results), but the XR has been good to me on exposure, and you just really can't beat the low light performance.
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Old October 16th, 2009, 12:04 PM   #11
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AE trick; stills vs video; dynamic range optimization

I thought I saw a stray reference from you earlier about the Exmor 2's extra sensitivity making it a good idea to do an AE adjustment in bright light. Is that what you're referencing when saying you're setting it at -2 to -4? Can you elaborate on that a bit as I may try it when it's sunny here again (not this week!).

Isn't Sony also supposedly using "dynamic range optimization" to adjust for cases where the correct exposure for the bottom half of a frame gives too bright an exposure to something like the sky above it, blowing the latter out? I thought this was advertised as a new feature with the 500 but the specs sheet for the CX12 mentioned it too. Is this there but just not that obvious or effective?
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Old October 16th, 2009, 10:03 PM   #12
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It's actually far better than earlier CMOS cams - auto backlight adjustment is great, DRO seems to do fairly well, but I feel like the overall auto exposure is still just a tad on the bright side (fairly common in video cams) sometimes, so I will use the AE adjustment (should be one of the options when you hold the selection button/dial down?) to tone it down from the auto level.

I will say that it doesn't "feel" as necessary with the XR500, and more often since getting the XR500, I set the dial to exposure and tone it down there if I need to. Either method works, just different approaches.
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