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Old February 15th, 2004, 11:36 PM   #1
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Canon Optura 300-excellent!!!

Guys- I just gotta tell you how pleased I am with the Canon Optura 300....although it looks exactly like an Elura 50- it's an entirely different camera altogether.....this thing has a primary RGB filter- shoots native 16:9 (even has a "high resolution" mode which increases field of view) 2.2 megapixel CCD, Digic DV the works......I just shot some exotic praying mantids under a "grow" light and the camcorder rendered some very "3-CCD-like" video and excellent colors in "auto" WB mode...flower colors were very well saturated and detail was impressive...I could have easily intermixed the footage with video from a DVC80 or XL1S- that's high praise for a single chipper....

....if anyone here is contemplating a "fun" camera and can handle a $759 price tag- the Canon Optura 300 will not disappoint!

<< I know this knocks on GS70 territory pricewise and other impressive cams- but this thing is so tiny I think you'll find yourself actually carrying it around- who knows- you just may witness the "event" of the century- and having one of these things makes having it with you all the time a real possibility...Chris Hurd has mentioned the video quality of RGB filtered cameras- and I can be added to the list of impresed believers in this technology. This is my 1st single CCD camera and I have to admit it has lived up to the hype I've read about it!>>

I'll post a 16:9 video soon- so you guys can see for yourself! Anyway just wanted to pass on the good news about this little camera....stay tuned!
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Old February 16th, 2004, 04:44 PM   #2
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Quick question for you Canon DV experts.....Canon's website lists the Optura as having 16:9 using this description--------
"You can record high-resolution video in the 16:9 format for playback on widescreen TVs. Unlike systems which simply record a vertically stretched picture, the Optura 300 uses the full width of the CCD, retaining image quality and providing a larger horizontal angle of view at the wide end."
I took this to mean that it actually performs this natively and is not cropping or electronically altering the video to arrive at the 16:9 video....yet the manual states that 16:9 is an "electronic" function of the camera. To further complicate matters there are 2 ways to achieve 16:9 of which are listed as "standard" and "high resolution".....the Hi Res mode does not allow image stabilization causing me to believe it's a true 16:9 image and as such the camera has no extra CCD information to provide EIS.....am I correct in my thinking? The "standard" 16:9 does allow for IS (or EIS) and would seem to be an electronically sampled 16:9.......you would think Canon would want to flaunt the Optura's Hi Resolution 16:9 yet sparsely mentions that 16:9 is an electronic function- anyone have any comment or fiurther knowledge?

I'm almost sure the "High Resolution" mode is true optical 16:9- but am a bit confused by Canon's omission to this.....if anyone can elaborate further- I'd be much obliged!!


PS- Both modes produce very nice 16:9 footage with the "Hi Res" footage gaining in extra FOV.
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Old February 16th, 2004, 06:53 PM   #3
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Hi Steve,

Where did you buy the Optura 300 for $759? That's a great deal.

You are more or less correct with your statements regarding the built-in 16:9 mode onn the Optura 300 (and Optura Xi). Think of it this way: rather than being electronically interpolated as with the Xl1S and GL2, the 16:9 image on the new Opturas are pulled from within the 1600x1200 CCD - there is essentially no resolution loss.

- don
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Old February 16th, 2004, 07:33 PM   #4
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Don, thanks for the speedy response. B&H has the Optura 300 for $759....although it's listed on the site as $1499 or something like that- simply hit the "Give me a better price tab" -this will open a new window, where it lists the $759 price.

I sorta figured the "hi res" 16:9 was true native- it just looks so good and the omission of IS hinted of true full CCD useage. The 16:9 actually looks better than the 16:9 my Sony PDX-10 produced under near identical lighting....no highlight blow-outs, smearing or CA anywhere in the footage....the Optura 300 is a gem if I've ever seen one in DV cameras.....this camera is going with me everywhere!
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Old February 16th, 2004, 10:20 PM   #5
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Steve,

I'm glad to see that you are enjoying your new Canon Optura 300. Some of those features, including the color accuracy in both photo stills and video, are made possible with DigicDV thanks to the new Canon Digic processor inside your Optura 300. http://canondv.com/optura300/f_digic_dv.html

By the way, make sure you apply for your free copy of Pinnacle Studio software and a free 64mb SD card at http://canondv.com/promotions/index.html

Also, you might want to consider the very affordable TLH30.5 1.7X telephoto lens adaptor http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...=294245&is=REG which will effectively give you a full 17X Optical zoom in the palm of your hand. May want to consider using a monopod on the bottom of the camera to help stabilize your shots.

I would also recommend using a polarizer filter when in bright outdoor sunlight or perhaps a neutral density filter, which will help in maintaining a balanced exposure. As you know, the front screw-on thread size of the Optura 300 is 30.5mm http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...=30.5mm+filter

Keep in touch,

- don
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Old February 17th, 2004, 01:00 PM   #6
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Hello,

Could you comment on its low light ability. Is the picture very noisey and blurred as I have seen from internet reviews.

Thanks
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Old February 17th, 2004, 08:21 PM   #7
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Sounds like the Optura 300 might be better than the Optura Xi I had. The Xi had a high resolution 16:9 mode but the overall picture quality was poor compared to my past PDX10. The contrast ratio was my largest arguement as outdoors shots were always blownout.

The Xi's AF is fairly good until it gets indoors and then it just hunts and hunts. The last sore point was the low light performance which was unacceptable compared to my past Optura Pi.

Use the link below for a review of the Xi and 300.

http://www.dvspot.com/features
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Old February 17th, 2004, 08:24 PM   #8
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Performance between the 300 and Xi should be about the same. They share the exact same CCD and RGB filter.
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Old February 19th, 2004, 09:46 PM   #9
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Video posted......

Hey guys,

my son has been dying to offer a DVD of his mantids to his "insect" buddies.....we began using the Optura 300 to shoot some macro video (which it does nicely) and we posted a "teaser" clip online- the lighting is all indoor incandescent bulbs- nothing fancy- typical room lighting- so this will give anyone with concerns about the Optura 300 a chance to see how it handles typical indoor lighting (we had a lamp with a bulb that we moved around a bit for better lighting)....

....here goes our little "fun" clip with the Optura 300.....

http://www.exoticmantis.com/video/dvd2004.mov

Let me know how you guys like it.....
..have fun- you only live once!!
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Old February 20th, 2004, 07:30 AM   #10
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Hi Steve,

That's a really nice looking clip. What resolution is that? Also, did you know that according to a russian review of the Optura Xi that it has progressive mode if the shutter is set to 1/30. Have you been able to achieve that? I see that the clip is progressive. Maybe you deinterlaced?

Ok thanks for your help.
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Old February 20th, 2004, 01:48 PM   #11
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That clip is nice. Is it compressed? It looks much better than any footage I've compressed with Quicktime. What did you use?
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Old February 20th, 2004, 02:36 PM   #12
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Thanks a million for the nice compliments. The footage looks fantastic when viewed on a TV set and I didn't really optimize it for RGB viewing- but easily could have using FCP4 and a few setting changes.

I've gotten a few e-mails asking about my QT settings for this clip......basically I editied in DV (anamorphic) using Final Cut Pro 4 then exported as a FCP movie (which basically means it isn't a self-contained movie, but more of a pointer that will direct a QT compatible player to the raw Dv files for playback).....then compressed the video using Cleaner 6 for Mac OS X with a modified Sorenson 3 codec I've been experimenting with- I also modified it for progressive downloading so that it will stream to the viewer as it downloads....I deinterlaced the footage while compressing and outputted as a .mov...

.......that's about it.....the more I use the Optura 300 the more I'm amazed with it...it's a great cam for the "mobile" videographer- I find I grab at it frequently and carry it around with no fuss.....as for the 1/30 sec frame rate- I can't get my camera to go below 1/60th- so if anyone knows how to get below that frame rate- I'd like to hear it.

If I shoot anything more interesting- I'll post it here.

Have fun everyone!
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Old March 14th, 2004, 06:13 PM   #13
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Hi,

I just purchased the Oputura 300 and I am pleased to write a working review about the camcorder for those interested.

However, for now I will mention some highlights and lowlights about the camcorder and special features I discovered while using it.
____________________________________________________

Highlights:

True 16:9 High Resolution Widescreen Mode
Progressive Shutter Mode
RGB Filter -> life-like / 3CCD-like colors

Excellent low-light capalilities for its class and price range. It also has low chroma/color noise in low-light. Actually, I think its low light capabilities is on par with the GL2 (I extensively used both). The Sony VX2000 is of course much better in low light, but the Optrua 300 is more realistic in low light. By that, I mean it doesn't seem artificially bright like the VX2000 and replicates the darkness/shadows admirably with reasonable detail.

The latitude on this camcorder has to be seen to be believed. It has excellent detail in highlights and lowlights. In my tests, "slightly" better than the VX2000. I know that is saying a lot, but I have thoroughly used both camcorders. I know I will have to back up that statement with objective tests. Maybe in the future.

Electronic image stabilizer is effective in pans/zooms and does not visibly degrade quality.

Very sharp image with lots of detail without artificial/electronic edge enhancement (through contrast-based sharpening).

Very small and lightweight design with accessible controls
Manual audio controls -> level adjustment
Auto white balance is accurate -> neutral color.
Auto focus is responsive and accurate.

Very good quality stills from a camcorder (2 Mega pixels). The pictures are processed separately due to the DIGIC DV chip. This allows it to have separate contrast and saturation levels, suitable for still image photography. Pictures are stored on a flash card so video shots and still shots can simultaneously be taken (is this useful?)

Lowlights:

Microphone is on viewfinder and picks up too much background noise (behind camcorder)
No "hot shoe" accessory port
No image stabilizer in 16:9 HR Widescreen Mode.

Auto focus fails in extremely low light conditions -> just like every other auto focus. Sony makes a slightly better one though. However, manual auto focus is easily adjustable and effective.

The Night Mode is adaptive and can go to a shutter speed that is unacceptably too low -> motion blur. The Super Night Mode generates even more motion blur -> this is expected though from any camcorder using such a low shutter speed.
____________________________________________________

Tips/Tricks/Special Features:
____________________________________________________

Progressive Shutter Mode:

Yes, the Optura 300 does have a Progressive Shutter Mode. It is not documented and its control is not evident. However, if you switch to the "Low Light" mode (there are three of these, choose the one that says "low light") then the camcorder will enter into a 1/30 shutter speed (this is how you achieve that Steve) and the resulting output will be progressive. Of course, like all camcorders at this shutter speed some motion blur is noticeable, especially if the camcorder pans or zooms. However, it is a great way to achieve a film-like look (especially with the true 16:9 mode) and increase low-light capabilities.
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16:9 High Resolution Widescreen Mode:

This mode uses the full width of the 2 Mega pixel 1/3.4" CCD. That is why it is called "high resolution." The resulting resolution is of course standard DV (720 x 480), but the initial resolution before being encoded to DV is higher in widescreen mode.

How much higher is the resolution before downsizing? Well, my tests show that the horizontal resolution is initially at least double DV resolution. Meaning it is over 1280 pixels horizontally.

The horizontal view is increased without "noticeable" reduction in the vertical view. There may be a slight reduction, but I did not see any.
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Super High Resolution True Progressive Scan Mode:

Conscious speaking: What?!? This can't be true from a $699.95 high end consumer camcorder; a small one nonetheless!

Alas it is partially true.

The reason is that to achieve this, one must connect the camcorder to a computer/laptop for on-the-fly capturing. However, for many this can be a reality.

First, let me explain what actually is being achieved and by what means, then I will explain how to do it (it is very easy to do). Just like the previous High Resolution Widescreen Mode, this mode is starting from an initially high resolution (up to 1632 x 1224) and being downsized and encoded into the DV format. [Aside: How I wish the DV compression could be bypassed so that we could have a true HDTV consumer camcorder for peanuts] That makes sense, but why “True Progressive Scan?” Well, this is true progressive scan, because the camcorder is not being used in the traditional video mode; rather, the picture/still mode is being used, which uses progressive scan technology to achieve progressive stills.

So let me explain how it is done. Simply power on the camcorder in record mode and switch it to still image capture. Except this time you take out the SD card and connect the camcorder to the computer through Firewire. Use any image capture program of choice and record. That’s it!

The video that is captured will be noticeably different. It will be in a 4:3 aspect ratio and be truly progressive -> hence no motion blur. The sharpness and detail is really remarkable. In addition, another side effect is produced. Remember that Canon uses the DIGIC DV chip to separately process the still image and video recording? Well, we are in still image mode correct? So, the image is more saturated and has a higher contrast ratio -> I don’t believe the TV levels (16-235) is preserved. Of course that can be changed in post production. Even more interested is that even though it is not widescreen, the whole CCD is used so actually the same horizontal view as the widescreen mode is preserved, but in addition you get an increased vertical view!! That’s truly remarkable. As a result, it is clear that image stabilization is not used. However, someone shooting in this “special mode” would be in a more controlled environment (studio, on a tripod, etc.)

This is truly a remarkable little camcorder and I would like to thank everyone on these forums for their intellectually stimulating discussion and advice.

If anyone has any questions, I would be glad to assist. I may put together a little website with image grabs, sample videos, etc. showing off what this camcorder can do.

Best Wishes,
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Old March 14th, 2004, 07:23 PM   #14
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Quote:
I can't get my camera to go below 1/60th- so if anyone knows how to get below that frame rate- I'd like to hear it.
The frame rate is 29.97 frames per second captured in fields. Shutter speeds are not frame rates. If the Optura 300 doesn't have the option of using lower shutter speeds in manual mode, then use auto, and shoot in low light. :-))
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Old March 14th, 2004, 07:31 PM   #15
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Johann,

Thanks for your input.

Just to clarify, the new Optura 300 and Optura Xi do not offer Progressive Scan of any sort. Perhaps you may feel that the motion signature of 1/30th sec is somewhat similiar to the look of 30p - but it is not the same thing as 30P. The CCD inside the 300 and Xi is not a progressive scan CCD.

Doesn't really matter though - the image output of these two new cameras is still superb.

- don
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