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Old December 9th, 2004, 10:31 AM   #1
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Optura 500 Comments and Questions

Hi everybody:

I'm certainly happy that this forum exists and is very active. I'm the new owner of a Canon Optura 500 and am very satisfied with the camera. It's my first experience with a DV Camcorder. I've done the full road from 8 and 16mm film to VHS camcorders, 8mm tape (Canon cameras) and a Sony Ruvi.

Up to the moment, the Canon has fullfilled my expectations and is *very* confortable to carry on hikes. The tapes look great, the photos also and everything works as it should, even though there's a lot to learn about the proper use of this camera.

I have a couple of questions about this camera though:

a) How big an SD Card can I put in the machine. I have a 128 Mb card and it works fine, but can you use a 512 Mb Card?

b) I've downloaded the MPEG-4 clips that you "film" in the card (they have .ASF extension). I have Windows XP Professional on my computers. With XP it's supposed to automatically view these clips, but I can't get them to open.

WIndows video says I don't have the proper driver. Is a special driver in one of the installation disks?

I only want to use these clips as a way to send "animated" e-mails, but if so, it should be useful.

c) What are the pros and cons of using a firewire card on my computer (for video editing) versus a USB 2.0 link?

Thanks a lot for your input,

Roberto Román L.
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Old December 9th, 2004, 12:54 PM   #2
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Hello Roberto,

As far as I know you cannot transfer DV to and from a computer with a USB connection. It requires a Firewire card.

This is just my opinion, but in my experience, I would never use the MPEG4 feature in the camera for any important video shooting, because MPEG4 is really a very lossy format that is meant for low bandwidth delivery and copying – not for acquiring original footage. It may be better for you to shoot on video tape first, then transfer the DV info to your computer editor, where it can be edited first, then copied to a small MPEG4 file. That way you will always have your original footage in the highest quality your camera is capable of.
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Old December 9th, 2004, 01:29 PM   #3
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Canon Optura 500

<<<-- Originally posted by Kevin Sturges : Hello Roberto,

As far as I know you cannot transfer DV to and from a computer with a USB connection. It requires a Firewire card.

This is just my opinion, but in my experience, I would never use the MPEG4 feature in the camera for any important video shooting, because MPEG4 is really a very lossy format that is meant for low bandwidth delivery and copying – not for acquiring original footage. It may be better for you to shoot on video tape first, then transfer the DV info to your computer editor, where it can be edited first, then copied to a small MPEG4 file. That way you will always have your original footage in the highest quality your camera is capable of. -->>>

Hi Kevin:

Thanks for your prompt reply. According to the Optura Manual, I can use a USB 2.0 port for downloading the DV from tape to a computer and the other way around. Since I haven't installed the software and also will not buy a fire wire card until January, I just wanted to know if anybody out there had any experience with this method.

I just might try it, because I have a powerful notebook PC and it would be fun to edit video on the field. For my home PC I'll certainly use the firewire card, since it also has a DVD burner.

As using the MPG4 feature, I totally agree with you that if you want quality, it's not the way to go. But it's *convenient* to have it on board and record short clips to then send by e-mail. I often travel abroad, and I guess it would be fun to either send friends a clip from Machu Picchu or else post it on my website.

I've seen the clips on the LCD screen and on a TV, and even though it's not great, I would think the quality is similar to some of my old VHS tapes made with a Panasonic camera in the 80's.

Thank you for your comments,

Roberto Román L.
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Old December 11th, 2004, 09:30 PM   #4
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Hi Roberto,

<< How big an SD Card can I put in the machine. >>

As far as I know there isn't any limitation. Put a 1gig in there if you want.
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Old December 12th, 2004, 06:30 PM   #5
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<<<-- Originally posted by Chris Hurd : Hi Roberto,

<< How big an SD Card can I put in the machine. >>

As far as I know there isn't any limitation. Put a 1gig in there if you want. -->>>

Hi Chris:

Thank you very much for your post. This Net is very useful, because in a different post I've read that 512 MB is OK and also that what you *do* have to watch over is the transfer speed of the SD card. This specification is useful for making MPG4 clips.

In my case I plan to use the SD card mainly for photos, but I *do* want to have the capability of making MPG4 clips.

A couple of additional questions:

a) How do you feel this camera fares as a photo camera, compared to other 2 Mp digital cameras. I have an Olympus 2 Mp camera from 2001, and am very happy with it. The Optura gives pictures at least as good as the Olympus (though with more kb per photo) with the added plus of a much longer zoom lens.

b) How can one reproduce the MPGclips on the computer. I've downloaded them allright, but can't get them to play on Windows XP, even though the manual says that should be straightforward.

I've filmed abou 30 minutes of tape and am *very* happy with the quality. Now I'll have to try low light conditions to see how well the Optura fares.

Thanks very much,

Roberto Roman L.
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Old December 14th, 2004, 05:12 PM   #6
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Try The Core Media Player, search the web for it, it is only player capable for playing .asf format (I've tried everything). It's free too.
For converting .asf to any format you like there is Advanced X Video Converter http://www.aoamedia.com/videoconverter.htm
(not free).
Have fun !
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Old December 16th, 2004, 01:24 AM   #7
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I had this attitude for awhile that I would never use the digital still features of my camcorder. Untill recently, I hadn't even tried that part of my Xi!

Recently, I tried it just for the heck of it and was pleasantly surprised. For a 2 megapixel cam, the Xi actually does a very good job. Nice clean, richly colored pics. It's alot more usable than you would think, and it's very handy. Just push a switch and snap away. No need to lose the moment while setting up your dedicated still cam.

The pictures are great for adding higher resolution stills to your video edits. The camera does a very good job of setting the exposure and whitebalance for you, and the built in flash is great. The Xi really surprised me with how well it judges what the flash settings should be.

It's also really handy to be able to use all my video lens filters for still photgraphy.

Now I just need to buy a bigger memory card ;)
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Old December 18th, 2004, 08:45 AM   #8
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<<<-- Originally posted by Marko Xorg : Try The Core Media Player, search the web for it, it is only player capable for playing .asf format (I've tried everything). It's free too.
For converting .asf to any format you like there is Advanced X Video Converter http://www.aoamedia.com/videoconverter.htm
(not free).
Have fun ! -->>>

Hi Marko:

Thanks for the post. The funny thing is that at my Office I use (sometimes) an old Pentium 3 with Windows 95 (rock stable). The Media Player for that machine found the correct Codec and I could see the clips but not hear them.

Both my other PC's (a notebook and a desktop) have Windows XP Professional on them and Windows Media Player 9. When I load the clips, the systems tries to download the codec from the internet and then I get a message that's there's a problem with the audio.

Well, *now* I'll try the digital solution disk that came with the Canon. Maybe I've should have tried that in the *first* place!!

Thank you!

R. Romàn L.
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Old December 18th, 2004, 08:52 AM   #9
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<<<-- Originally posted by Kevin Sturges : I had this attitude for awhile that I would never use the digital still features of my camcorder. Untill recently, I hadn't even tried that part of my Xi!

Recently, I tried it just for the heck of it and was pleasantly surprised. For a 2 megapixel cam, the Xi actually does a very good job. Nice clean, richly colored pics. It's alot more usable than you would think, and it's very handy. Just push a switch and snap away. No need to lose the moment while setting up your dedicated still cam.

The pictures are great for adding higher resolution stills to your video edits. The camera does a very good job of setting the exposure and whitebalance for you, and the built in flash is great. The Xi really surprised me with how well it judges what the flash settings should be.

It's also really handy to be able to use all my video lens filters for still photgraphy.

Hi Kevin: I was *also* very pleasantly surprised by the photo qualities of the Optura 500 (Xi in other markets?). I had seen photos from some Sony machines and they were, to say the least, not impressive.

This one gives still pictures as good as an Olympus 2 Mp still camera I've had for 3 years. Maybe even a bit better. Since I do quite a bit of trekking in the mountains near my home, It's certainly an advantage to have to carry only *one* piece of equipment with me. Besides I have a much better optical zoom (10x vs 3x). I *still* have to compare the low light qualities of the Canon vs the Olympus. From what I've read in other posts, it *seems* the Canon isn't so great in this department.

Thank you for your post,

R. Romàn L.

Now I just need to buy a bigger memory card ;) -->>>
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Old December 20th, 2004, 03:37 PM   #10
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Hello Roberto,

I just found a 128 meg SD card at Walmart yesterday (US) for $14.99 I think that's a really good price. Ooops, I just admitted I sometimes shop at Walmart....

Basically, I feel like I got a "free" digital still cam with my camcorder, that has a very nice lens. Not bad at all.

I find the Xi is better in low light, with much less grain than my old Sony D8 cam. I also recently discovered a free plugin on the web for Vegas Video called "Smart Smoother" that does a remarkably good job of removing grain and noise without having much of an effect on the rest of your video.

I used it this weekend on some campground shots that were taken in just firelight. I was pretty amazed at how clean the shots looked after using the plugin.

My low light expectations are basically a livingroom with one or two floor lamps on. The Xi is pretty usable as long as you manually white balance first - it keeps the colors from drifting to orange.
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Old December 22nd, 2004, 12:16 PM   #11
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<<<-- Originally posted by Kevin Sturges : Hello Roberto,

Basically, I feel like I got a "free" digital still cam with my camcorder, that has a very nice lens. Not bad at all.

I find the Xi is better in low light, with much less grain than my old Sony D8 cam. I also recently discovered a free plugin on the web for Vegas Video called "Smart Smoother" that does a remarkably good job of removing grain and noise without having much of an effect on the rest of your video.

My low light expectations are basically a livingroom with one or two floor lamps on. The Xi is pretty usable as long as you manually white balance first - it keeps the colors from drifting to orange. -->>>

Hi Kevin:

Thanks for your post. I expect to be using my camera on a 3 day trek to the mountains near home in about 3 weeks. Your observation that I should set white balance manually in low light is *very* useful.

I have a few photos I took with this machine on the Internet. The originals were 1632x1224 pixels and I downsized them so as not to use too much space. You can see them in:

http://trekking.ecomaipo.cl/Ingenio

Comments are in Spanish and English.

In the future I also want to post short Quicktime clips of places.

The more I use the camera, the happier I feel with it.
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Old December 26th, 2004, 09:41 PM   #12
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Hello Roberto,

Thanks for sharing all those pictures - they look fine, and wow! what cool subject matter.

I expect to get moderated for asking this here, but I am curious: aren't there a lot of reports of UFO activity seen up in the mountains around there?

Kevin
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Old December 27th, 2004, 01:44 PM   #13
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<<<-- Originally posted by Kevin Sturges : Hello Roberto,

Thanks for sharing all those pictures - they look fine, and wow! what cool subject matter.

I expect to get moderated for asking this here, but I am curious: aren't there a lot of reports of UFO activity seen up in the mountains around there?

Kevin -->>>

Hi Kevin:

I'm glad you enjoyed the photos. As for UFO's, even though I live near San José de Maipo, I haven't seen any. But a few friends have. What one often sees are satellites and meteors, but a trustworthy friend (who works in the Air Force) has seen a UFO recently.

*Maybe* I'll have the fortune of catching one with my Optura, *then* I'll post the clip.

Going back to the photos. Often, while trekking in the mountains I see condors. They're really majestic in flight. With my Olympus digital photo camera I only got a 3x zoom (working out to the equivalent of a 80-90 mm lens in a 35mm camera). With my Canon video camera, it's very hard to get a steady shot past 8x zoom. With the Optura, I can easily go to 10x zoom, handheld, with very little jitter. It's ideal for framing these birds in flight. In january I plan to go to Río Olivares, then I'll have my Optura ready.

By the way, thanks for the advice on using the 16:9 aspect ratio, I'll certainly do that.

Yours truly,

Roberto Román L.
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Old January 3rd, 2005, 02:14 PM   #14
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Roberto,

I just remembered, I made this web page a while back showing off my then new Xi:

http://home.wi.rr.com/kevinsturges/opturaxiframegrabs.html


All the pictures are 16:9 video grabs, NOT still shots. I think the quality still holds up with the video output of this camcorder.

It's been awhile, so I need to come up with some new ideas for my web page ;)
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Old January 6th, 2005, 11:44 AM   #15
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<<<-- Originally posted by Kevin Sturges : Roberto,

I just remembered, I made this web page a while back showing off my then new Xi:

http://home.wi.rr.com/kevinsturges/opturaxiframegrabs.html


All the pictures are 16:9 video grabs, NOT still shots. I think the quality still holds up with the video output of this camcorder.

It's been awhile, so I need to come up with some new ideas for my web page ;) -->>>

Hi Kevin:

I saw your 16:9 frame grabs and they're *really* nice. They give a *much* better impression than ordinary frame grabs. Thanks for the idea, since I'm certain this alternative is much better than "normal" frame grabs for posting stuff on the Internet.

Thank you,

Roberto Román L.
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