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Old March 14th, 2010, 03:31 AM   #1
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Sony CX550v Sample Footage

I did some quick shots today that are posted as a 2:30 min short.
Shot as HDFX:24 mbs, all shot with monopod or handheld.
I tried to get a variety of lighting, contrast, color, motion, etc. The sky was really hazy today, so the muted blue is not the camera's lack of "punch", it's actually volcanic pollution (vog).
The last shot in the reel is a night shot of distant town lights- it's really just to see the blacks to check out the noise level.
Nothing was tweaked in post, The raw AVCHD was transcoded to Cineform.avi for the edit, exported to Flash 720x400, 3K kbs stream.
The footage definitely looks a little more awe inspiring directly from camera HDMI to HDTV, but the 720 Flash gives some idea of what the CX550 can do.
This is a new link- the color is a little better on my server:
http://www.irondocvideo.com/Sony%205...Mainframe.html
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Last edited by Robert Young; March 14th, 2010 at 06:48 PM.
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Old March 16th, 2010, 04:53 PM   #2
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Thanks! I have been considering the Song CX550 for doing dance recitals. However I have been waiting to read some detailed reviews and possible comparison to the Canon HF S21. This 2:30 video you made available is very helpful in getting an idea of how if does in contrasty light (especially the city lights and the sunset).

I am definitely leaning toward this camcorder.
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Old March 16th, 2010, 06:12 PM   #3
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My impression is that both the top end Sony and Canon consumer AVCHD cams produce amazing HD imagery & just keep getting better.
Probably couldn't go wrong with either.
Definitely the Sony low light preformance has hugely improved since the SR-12 model.
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Old March 21st, 2010, 08:06 PM   #4
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Hi Robert

I have posted a question on your earlier thread regarding the testing, before seeing this one... Sorry for that. So you think that the Canon HF-S21 and the Sony CX 550 are pretty much comparable?

Thanks.
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Old March 21st, 2010, 08:34 PM   #5
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Not to push in too much, but a lot of sources would suggest the Sony excels at low-light low-noise performance and has the best stabilization in its class out there, while the Canon maybe edges it out in bright-light filming. But there haven't been any formal reviews of the Sony 550 yet so this is largely based on prior year performance coupled with postings from people who have the camcorder already.
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Old March 21st, 2010, 08:48 PM   #6
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I have no personal experience with any of the Canons, but there are plenty of Canon enthusiasts on this forum. You should be able to find many first hand reports.
I think the specs are similar and certainly both Canon and Sony are at the cutting edge of this technology. I expect that their latest top end cameras have more similarities than differences.
I think there is no "best" camera. Users have different needs & will select the camera that most fits their requirements.
For example- if 30p/24p is critical, you'll go Canon; if native 28mm wide angle is critical, you'll go CX 550, etc., etc.
In terms of HD image quality, all of these tiny new cameras are simply awesome!
You can't miss...
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Old March 21st, 2010, 10:59 PM   #7
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It's not an easy choice. I like to shoot progressive. It's a + for the Canon. Also, I live in a PAL land (read EXPENSIVE). I could get away with the 24fps offered by Canon on US models if I buy one in the US. Furthermore, I could use the 30fps to produce a mild slo-mo. None of these would be possible with the Sony and I would have to buy it in Europe.

In the other hand, I have WA adapters for my HV-30 which won't fit on the HF-S series Canons because of that ridiculous 58mm barrel around a tiny lens... Those WA adapters could be used with the Sony camera, with a 37-43 step-up ring.

The better low light capability of the Sony is also appealing. I hate to see the grain and the noise in the shots taken at the "magic hour", which used to be the case with the HV-30.

Finally, I need both the long end of the zoom and the extreme wide angle for the scenery. Maybe a combination of a CX 520 with a telephoto adapter and a CX 550 with a wide angle adapter would do? That way, I could cover a range from roughly 16 -1000 mm in still photography terms... But it won't be progressive :-/

Why they just don't make one camera that has it all? (sigh)
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Old March 21st, 2010, 11:10 PM   #8
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Keep in mind the 550 probably won't "need" a WA - at around 29mm, it's pretty wide, where the Canon will be a narrower field of view. But you'll pay the price on the tele end of the new lens range with the Sony...

If low/bad light is a regular shootign condition, the Sony should be the best choice, although it's too early to say if the Canon (or for that matter the Pansonic 700 series) has caught up. The other strong point is the image stabilization, which again depends on your shooting conditions. Your idea of picking up a CX500/520 on closeout for the long end might not be so bad, as it should be comparable to the CX550 and even smaller and lighter, should make a nice "pair" if you shoot multicam.
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Old March 21st, 2010, 11:43 PM   #9
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Robert, it must be a real struggle to shoot under the hellish conditions in your locale. :-) Just kidding, I am soooo envious....

But seriously, I was most impressed by the indoor room shots; I'm assuming that was normal room light and not treated....really remarkable for a consumer camera. And the night shot was impressive too - the night sky completely blended in with your webpage's black background, at least on my monitor. Saw no aliasing or banding at all there.

These Sonys are mighty impressive; I'm a Canon HF series fan, as I have an HF100, but it can't compete at all in the low light arena; ambient daylight coming in the window looks good, but nighttime lowlight indoor shots just won't cut it compared to what you have.
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Old March 22nd, 2010, 01:51 AM   #10
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None of the shots were tweaked in post. Furthermore, however the shots looked to you as Flash 720x400, they looked even better in raw HD.
The indoor shots used existing room lights only- in some shots they weren't even all turned on.
Starting with the Sony XR 520, the low light/low noise performance took a huge jump from unacceptable to acceptable. The CX 550 seems even a bit better.
A shot that is simply a "little dark" can be adjusted in post, but a shot that is full of noise is hopeless. For my purposes (mostly travel docs for the small cams), the low light capability is a critical feature.
The native W.A. allows me to deep six the heavy W.A. adaptor that was perminantly on my SR 12, XR 520, and leaving me with a camera I can actually stuff in a pants pocket.
Relative to 16 mbs, the 24 mbs data rate gives me much more digital headroom for editing, and, I'm hoping, better quality images in the final delivery format- BR, DVD, Flash...
There are several really good small cameras out there, but the CX 550 seems to cover just about all of my personal bases.
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Old March 22nd, 2010, 10:08 AM   #11
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Nice!

Just so I'm clear, when you guys say "W.A." adapter, is that another term for DOF adapter? Wide Aperture?
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Old March 22nd, 2010, 10:28 AM   #12
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WA=wide angle, as in: an add on lens to get a wider field of view
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Old March 22nd, 2010, 10:53 AM   #13
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Doh! Should've caught that, thanks.
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Old March 22nd, 2010, 03:04 PM   #14
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Thanks for both the initial write up and the video. I have only 1 question: I'm assuming that the camera has manual control over the external mike input, but cant find any info on this on the Sony website.

Can you confirm this and is it easily accessible?
Thanks.
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Old March 22nd, 2010, 03:37 PM   #15
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presuming it uses the same menu system as the CX500V (probably a fairly safe bet, although the 500 doesn't have external mic inputs), it has normal and low options for the mic, not a full manual level control, and it's somewhat deeply buried, although you can assign 6 buttons to a "personal menu" that comes up in one touch, and that would make for a little faster access to the sub menus.
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