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Old January 12th, 2010, 09:50 AM   #16
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I'm pleased to see Sony including a wider angle lens, and will probably buy one of the CX line for this very feature. I'll probably get an HX5 too.

While I have a couple of wide angle adapters for my Canon HV20, they add bulk and weight and really hinder the "pocket" nature of the camera. When you add too much extra gear to these cameras they begin to lose their appeal.

Pity about the dearth of progressive frame rates in the new Sonys though. Is it really so difficult to include native 24p? Canon is doing so this year. Apparently the HX5 includes 30p, but -- ironically -- the CX line does not?

I agree that these small cameras are incredibly useful as travel cams. If used artfully, they can produce a high quality image. I have a PMW-EX1 and love it, but it's not something you want to tote around all day.
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Last edited by C.S. Michael; January 12th, 2010 at 02:11 PM.
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Old January 12th, 2010, 12:12 PM   #17
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RE the use of SD cards with the CX/XR 550-
I'm thinking that they are using the same card slots that are in the new Sony NXCam- The slot will fit either the Duo or SD card. I haven't read this specifically for the CX/XR cameras, but I have read this detail for the NXCam. The specs for the CX & XR clearly state that they are SD compatable, so it makes sense.
Hope it is true anyway.
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Old January 12th, 2010, 08:07 PM   #18
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Pity about the dearth of progressive frame rates in the new Sonys though. Is it really so difficult to include native 24p? Canon is doing so this year. Apparently the HX5 includes 30p, but -- ironically -- the CX line does not?
Sony chose not to include 24p at all on its regular-sized consumer camcorders because a lot of people still have 60 Hz-only HDTV's. Despite the increasing number of available HDTV sets which support refresh rates in multiples of 24 Hz, the sad truth (at least for now) is that the majority of HDTV units (as opposed to models) that were actually sold are 60 Hz-only units. As a result of this unfortunate compromise between image quality and popularity (and also Sony's sticking strictly to the officially supported Blu-Ray specs, which allow 1080p only at 24 fps), the consumer regular-sized Sony camcorders will continue to record only interlaced video for the foreseeable future. (The Sony pocket cameras, on the other hand, can use 1080p30 because the target market for those models are people who make videos for uploading to the Internet or viewing on a PC.)

What's more, Sony (and a few other manufacturers) still include SDTV (480i) recording modes in their HD camcorders. Canon's AVCHD camcorders in the consumer line, on the other hand, are permanently fixed at 1080-line recording (no SDTV recording capability is possible); however, a choice of 60i, 30p and 24p modes are available. And as for native 24p recording capability on Canon's new camcorders, only the upper levels of its high-end line will offer this capability. The other, less-expensive Canons will continue to encode 24p inside a 60i stream.
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Old January 12th, 2010, 11:14 PM   #19
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Also I suspect that Sony tends to cater to the "consumer", and many people don't like the motion signature of 24p video - it's very much a "film maker" demand. The added support calls when a soccer mom accidently switches modes and wonders why the video stutters aren't probably worth it to them... that thar "easy" button is there for a reason pardner.

Personally, I'm not even that fond of the 1080 30p that my DSC-HX1 shoots - to me I see the individual frames and a less smooth video - it "works", most people would never see the difference, but it does pop out to me.
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Old January 13th, 2010, 06:48 AM   #20
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I agree with Dave. I don't like the slow frame rates either really bothers me and its even worse when the camera person swings the camera around just like an interlaced camera--- terrible. Can't wait for 60P or more personally. Some of these latest Sony's now output 60P from the HDMI, nice move making up for some poorer deinterlacers in flat panel displays. Sony's market is definitely the consumer and the point and shoot one at that for most of their market hence the iAuto modes on all their newer still cameras and the Easy button on the video camera ( my daughter leaves this on all the time!!!) Manufacturers don't get rich on selling low cost cameras to a very small segment of the marketplace and like Dave says the possibility of service calls from people who don't understand the issues with slow frame rate shooting.
24fps was a business decision of the last century to minimize the film stock distributed to cinemas. It had nothing to do with art or technology it was the slowest they could run the film and get acceptable sound. Before sound they ran the film even slower!!!!! Once all those cinemas had projectors the frame rate was set for decades. Hopefully with digital projection and HD we can get away from the last century economic effects. The film look is driven by the need to mask the slow frame rate. Shallow depth of field to blur the juddering backround, specific angles to mask the judder of moving objects, moving camera slowly on a dolly rather than panning , the colour saturation etc etc etc. Most of the techniques can be used with a higher frame rate of course!!!!
Personally I applaud Sony for leaving off the slow frame rates.
For me 24p on a video camera has one valid reason-a lower cost way of making and transferring to film to show at a film festival on a projector.
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Old January 13th, 2010, 08:49 AM   #21
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.....Personally I applaud Sony for leaving off the slow frame rates.
For me 24p on a video camera has one valid reason-a lower cost way of making and transferring to film to show at a film festival on a projector.
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I agree with you and Dave as well. If Sony left this off to enable giving me improved EIS, a bigger sensor, and other features I use, I'm all for that decision. I've always suspected this whole focus on 24p was being carried on by a very small but very vocal minority of the cam community. I don't want their obsession with that mode costing me money or lost features, frankly.

And how many CX series buyers target film festivals, anyway? Great point!
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Old January 13th, 2010, 08:53 AM   #22
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The small Canons have an 'Easy" button too, so it's not really an either-or situation.

Given that 24p is one of the two 1080 Blu-Ray options, that Vimeo seems to encode most (all?) of their clips in 24P, and that my new DSLR shoots 24p, I'm glad Canon doesn't think I'm too dumb to use it appropriately, and continues to make it available.

EDIT: Tom, if 24p was at the of cost those other features, then I would agree. But is there ANY evidence that is so? - I don't think so!
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Old January 13th, 2010, 09:34 AM   #23
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The small Canons have an 'Easy" button too, so it's not really an either-or situation.

Given that 24p is one of the two 1080 Blu-Ray options, that Vimeo seems to encode most (all?) of their clips in 24P, and that my new DSLR shoots 24p, I'm glad Canon doesn't think I'm too dumb to use it appropriately, and continues to make it available.

EDIT: Tom, if 24p was at the of cost those other features, then I would agree. But is there ANY evidence that is so? - I don't think so!
Agreed. I don't see how frame rates is an "either/or" proposition. There's no evidence that the inclusion of progressive frame rates dictates a removal of other features (Canon seems to manage just fine with its flagship camcorders). More frame rates = more choice.
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Old January 13th, 2010, 11:40 AM   #24
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Since it hasn't been mentioned .. these new Sonys' 35mm equivalent zoom range appears to be 29.8mm-298mm vs. 43mm-516mm on the previous models. And I think the new HFS Canons still start at ~43mm, right?

EdIT: Sorry Dave, I just meant the numerical values for the focal lengths hadn't been mentioned.
This wider angle and shorter highest focal-length will probably be popular with many serious videomakers, along with the dedicated controls for shutter and exposure. But for some of us, who shoot wildlife and sports events, it's not a welcome change. If the flash memory models still have the 43mm to 516mm range and all the other new features, that would
prompt a move away from those with the harddrives. As usual, no one gets everything they want, in a single model. If I put my 2.2X telex on the XR550, I'd get only 655mm, instead of 1135mm, which isn't nearly enough for shooting birds on the far side of a river. I'd much rather pop on a wide-angle lens, than be limited to such a short lens reach.
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Old January 13th, 2010, 12:38 PM   #25
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Different features for different users. I prefer the maximum zoom focal length be even more limited than on the new Sonys: My maximum comfort level for focal length is a 35mm equivalent of only 85mm. (I said 85mm rather than a shorter focal-length equivalent because any shorter and the depth of field would become so great that the camera manufacturer might as well eliminate autofocusing in favor of fixed focus, and I have never been satisfied with the performance of fixed-focus cameras.) Any longer and I would have to permanently weld the camcorder onto an 800 trillion-pound block of concrete in order to even get a usable moving image since not even a $1000 tripod would hold a telephoto shot steadily enough to maintain a usable image with a 1/60 second shutter. You see, nearly all of my videos were shot in areas where the ground itself shakes quite a lot with all the truck and train traffic in the area - and in such a circumstance, a tripod or monopod proved worse than nothing at all because they tend to amplify any vibrations coming from the ground.

And please note that this is my current situation. Extremely long telephotos only work if the ground is perfectly still.

And of course, no handheld shot is as steady as a tripod-mounted shot under normal circumstances. The problem is that I often shoot in areas which specifically prohibit the use of a tripod or monopod.
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Old January 13th, 2010, 04:47 PM   #26
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EDIT: Tom, if 24p was at the of cost those other features, then I would agree. But is there ANY evidence that is so? - I don't think so!
I'm extrapolating from 35 years of building software products commercially. There is almost ALWAYS more feature you can pack into a product than you have people to implement it or materials it can include due to price. It's all about logistics and implementing the most important items first for your goal. Sometimes the goal is gaining market share, sometimes it's getting an avant garde reputation for innovation. Sometimes it's serving a mass market instead of appealing to specialists. I will guarantee you all of these conversations go on as the different camcorder lines are being developed.

For real-time computing scenarios such as filming video, every feature is going to get a maximum time/storage budget it can use compared to every other feature the cam delivers. I gave the classic example once of how much computing budget is given to the artificial intelligence steps in games. To us, it seems like the processor isn't stretched at all by what it's being required to do. But real-time continuous computing processes near the bleeding edge suck up storage and processor time like you wouldn't believe. So the designers are making choices based on real-world limitations interacting with the goals. If Sony ignored 24p for a while, it was a business or technical limitations choice - it wasn't some personal preference someone had for ignoring 24p.

So given what's being done today and the level of processor change over the last five years, yes, I'm making an extrapolation I'm very confident is close to reality. If you've never worked in a tight resources business, this won't make sense to you. But if you have, you only need to make the jump that these cams are now much more computerish than camera-like. The optics have become the easy part. The real-time graphics processing and compression going on in these cams is a phenomenal piece of work. You're talking top scientists and software engineers hammering out solutions that look trivial to outsiders, hiding all the complexity. But we can see some of that because not every cam offers every desirable feature. If it were a trivial thing to implement all the features, what marketing person would let the cam designers get away with not doing that?

So an example here would be Sony investing in the Exmor-R chip design and supporting software to significantly improve their low light performance. I care about that performance, I'm not interested in 24p as an art medium. Sony made a choice there that I like, and I'm sure they had to pick and choose what to implement or not implement, and a schedule for the former. All I was saying here was I like the order of their choices. I in fact chose not to buy cams where the marketing and design folks made different choices - I voted with my wallet for the features I want. On the other hand, Sony put GPS into these cams, too, which is of marginal value to me outside of being neat. So if they had put GPS into a CX12 instead of better optics, the Exmor-R, etc, to make up the CX500V - I would have voted not to spend more money to get just that new feature set.

If Sony isn't making these kind of choices because they have infinite resources and capacity in the cams they don't use and they just don't care to cover all bases, then they'd be an incredible exception to product development, in my opinion. So I am showing a bias here and assuming they operate under the same constraints the rest of us operate under when we're building or enhancing things.
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Old January 13th, 2010, 05:33 PM   #27
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And of course, no handheld shot is as steady as a tripod-mounted shot under normal circumstances. The problem is that I often shoot in areas which specifically prohibit the use of a tripod or monopod.
Randall-I'm in the same boat and often cannot use a tripod or monopod. I had the XR520v and replaced it with the CX520v because any incremental improvement in stabilization is huge for me.

Do you know if the CX550v stabilization has been improved relative to the CX520v? The stabilization that Sony is touting throughout the new product line sounds like the same that is already in the CX520v...
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Old January 13th, 2010, 05:49 PM   #28
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RE the use of SD cards with the CX/XR 550-
I'm thinking that they are using the same card slots that are in the new Sony NXCam- The slot will fit either the Duo or SD card. I haven't read this specifically for the CX/XR cameras, but I have read this detail for the NXCam. The specs for the CX & XR clearly state that they are SD compatable, so it makes sense.
Hope it is true anyway.
On the other hand, if there's two separate card slots, there could be the ability to automatically switch recording to the 2nd card, when the first one is full.
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Old January 13th, 2010, 06:17 PM   #29
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Two slots would be great, but I'm sure a feature like that would be touted prominently in the promotional info rather than in the fine print.
I'll just be glad to have the option- tho, honestly, with 64GB of reliable flash memory onboard, I may not even use cards anymore. I think that's about 6 hrs @ 24mbs. That's an awful lot of 10-15 sec clips.
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Old January 13th, 2010, 06:43 PM   #30
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Agreed. I don't see how frame rates is an "either/or" proposition. There's no evidence that the inclusion of progressive frame rates dictates a removal of other features (Canon seems to manage just fine with its flagship camcorders). More frame rates = more choice.
My issue isn't with progressive frame rates its with 24p. It can not be seen in its true frame rate on a 60 or 50hz display. It has to be modified to play using pulldown of some sort because 24 does not divide into 60 or 50. The display has to be a multiple in refresh rate. 72, 120 etc . To emulate a film projector the display is best with 5 blade shutter emulation ie 120hz display refresh, displays each frame 5 times. However what people see when viewing 24p on a 60hz display is an effect. 30p is different( at least for 60hz) For editing and transfer to film for projection its a good approach. But for video its just an effect. In my mind not very watchable either because the means of displaying on a 60hz display exaggerates the judder inherent in 24p and creates a cadence only seen on TV not a film projector. One now watches the deficiences of the slow frame rate AND of displaying on a 60HZ display. If you like the totally unreal motion thats your choice. I would like progressive but at least 60P until then its 60i for me.

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