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Old November 30th, 2007, 05:30 PM   #1
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Travel Video with the HV20

My (rather serious) hobby is travel videography, and I've just returned from a relatively short trip to China where I gave the HV20 a workout. I'll post some video at some point, but these are my initial impressions. I shot exclusively in 1080/60i -- I didn't play with 24p as I have no use for a film-like effect for what I do.

- Overall, I'm thrilled with this camera. Previously, I shot with a VX2000, a prosumer standard definition camera. Aside from the obvious improvement of HD vs. SD, I think the HV20 does a superior job as a travel camera. There are some negatives, but these are mostly cautionary.

- My primary goal in shooting travel video is to recapture as much of the feel of where I've been as possible. The HV20 does this magnificently. The first time I reviewed some video I shot with it on my HD television, I literally said, "Wow!" out loud.

- The HV20 does a better job than the VX2000 at capturing what I see. This is particularly apparent in shots at dusk and at night. My VX2000 would tend to "brighten up" the image, losing some of the subtlety of the play of late afternoon sun and shadows. The VX2000 is legendary for its low-light capability. However, night shots would not necessarily look realistic. The HV20 lacks the lowlight sensitivity of the VX2000, but does a better job of reproducing the response of the human eye -- my night shots look exactly as they looked to me live. The trade-off, however, is obvious grain and noise. I'm going to experiment with some of the grain-reducing solutions available in post. However, add my voice to the chorus that would like a way to manually-disable video gain in low-light situations.

- The on-camera mike for the HV20 is surprisingly good. I'm quite satisfied with its ability to accurately capture ambient sound. Note that the plastic case creaks when starting and stopping the camera and this is recorded on the audio track. It's good practice to touch the camera as little and as lightly as possible while shooting.

- The HV20's automation is WAY too aggressive. It varied exposure, noticeably but unnecessarily, when, for example, someone would pass in front of the camera in the foreground. It also varied focus, which is deadly for the kind of video that I do -- there are times when I want a foreground image to be out-of-focus with the background sharp. At least this can be overcome with manual focus, but . . .

- Both the LCD and viewfinder are too coarse to permit accurate focus. A couple of times, the HV20's autofocus couldn't find a lock when zoomed in. I couldn't tell, however -- it looked fine on the LCD -- but the shot is useless. Worse, at one point I managed to get some dirt on the UV filter. I couldn't see it on the LCD, but it is obvious when the video is played on an HD television.

- The HV20 did a fabulous job at reproducing accurate, but fully-saturated colors in a variety of lighting conditions, better in many respects than the VX2000 which has a characteristic "warm" character to its color reproduction. However, the HV20 is particularly susceptible to flare. I was shooting either with the Canon wide angle lens, or without it with a UV filter on the camera to protect the lens. When it was just the UV filter, any sun flare was most obvious. resulting in poor contrast and washed-out colors. I bought a lens hood for the camera, but I didn't use it -- I'll know better next time. A lens hood is an absolute must for this camera.

- The HV20's OIS is pretty good, particularly when combined with the shoulder-strap-shoot-from-the-chest technique that I've described in other threads. However, it is not a substitute for a tripod (and, unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to do any tripod shooting due a combination of an unexpected minor, but painful, injury and a nasty bout of food poisoning).

- Unlike the VX2000's wonderful battery (5-7 hours of shooting per charge), the HV20's batteries are short-lived, particularly if, like I do, you leave the camera on all the time and do most of your shooting with the LCD. I brought 2 batteries with me, but this clearly wasn't enough. I'm going to pick up another 4 (and another charger or two) before my next trip.

- The light weight of the HV20 is sheer pleasure after lugging around the 7-pound VX2000 for several years. The WA lens weighs more than the camera and, as with the case with every camera I've owned, I found that careful composition usually made the WA lens unnecessary.

- I did some shooting with a circular polarizer stacked on the UV filter. I even did some shots with the WA lens screwed on top of the UV and polarizer stack, and experienced no vignetting whatsoever. I recommend leaving a UV filter permanently mounted to the HV20 and screwing the WA lens into that. The HV20 has plastic filter threads and, particularly for travel video, throwing the WA lens on and off will almost certainly wind up stripping them. Leaving the UV filter in place provides metal filter threads in which to screw the WA lens on and off. The camera and lens were completely secure with the combination, and I'm pretty rough with the camera.

- The "consumer look" to this camera was both a positive and negative. Because my VX2000 looked "pro" (or, at least, "pro-ish")it attracted attention when I used it for travel video. Sometimes this was helpful -- I could get to shooting positions that weren't permitted the hordes with consumer cameras. Other times it was a problem, as it made it more difficult to get candid shots. I didn't get any of the "professional" consideration I used to get with my VX2000, but it did make it easier to get the candids.
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Old November 30th, 2007, 06:41 PM   #2
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I also went back to China this summer and shot a video with a Manfrotto tripod as a tripod and a rig with me in JiuZhaiGou. But I shot it with a HC7 and FH100 and I still had like 50% battery left at the end of the day!

I find that manual audio levels eliminates most of the rec button creaking.

The manual controls on the HC7 are better in my opinion. I used 100% manual controls for the video below.

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=101389
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Old December 15th, 2007, 12:44 PM   #3
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Travel Video with the HV20

Hi Guys,

I'm about to go to India in January for two weeks (on a culinary tour) and am taking my HV20 with me. I only have the HV20 a few weeks, haven't shot much tape with it, but have spent my time familiarizing myself with its controls, making sure I don't have any problems with capture and so forth.

I have purchased (but not yet received) the Raynox 6600 WA lense.. I thought I might find myself in some tight quarters where the WA may come in handy. Although I have a UV filter on the HV20, I haven't bought any (yet) for the WA lense. I am concerned that putting too many layers of glass may interfere with the final product.

Even though I don't want to take gear along that I won't use, I gather that a lense hood is essential. When traveling, having equipment that takes relatively little space and is lightweight is important. Which lense hood(s) do you recommend? What do you think of the flexible ones that fold back on themselves?

I had a "rain jacket" for the TRV900. Did you carry something like that for the HV20? If so, where did you buy it?

Did you take any still photos using HV20? I dropped a 6 GB card into it to make sure I'd have plenty of capacity. However, my instinct is to use the G7 for the still shots.

Did you find yourself changing "modes" when shooting video? I've read so much about cine mode vs TV mode, I'm driving myself crazy. The old TRV900 didn't have so many options, and I don't want to do something that will make the product unusable.

I also will be taking my Canon G7 camera (interestingly, the batteries for the G7 also fit the HV20) and a Joby Gorillapod. I use the gorillapod to take food photos without flash. We went on a culinary tour of Japan in April and when I returned, I integrated the photos into a DVD slide show and put video (shot with my trusty Sony TRV900) onto the same DVD. Puting everything onto the DVD made the trip much more accessible to us and our friends and families.

Thanks for your very interesting posts on traveling with this camera. I'm delighted that it's so light weight and am looking forward to seeing how it performs on the trip.

Judy
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Old December 15th, 2007, 06:11 PM   #4
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I've shot in India, but with my VX2000, not my HV-20.

A couple of India-specific things: even in January, there are many parts of India that are hot and humid. You want to be particularly careful taking your camera from the cool, air-conditioned indoors to outside where it is hot and humid. You can get condensation which can damage your tape and/or camera. You might want to carry a plastic bag with you -- put the camera in the bag before you go out, make sure it's well-sealed, and don't take it out until it has warmed up to outside temperature. In northern India it is dusty and, in January, fog is endemic.

As for the WA lens, I've been using mine screwed into a UV filter for a couple of reasons. One is I like to always have a filter over the camera lens for protection. The other is that the HV-20 has plastic screw threads that can become stripped from screwing a lens on and off a lot. The primary concern with stacking the lens on the filter like this is vignetting (assuming you're using a good-quality coated optical glass filter). I found that the Canon WA lens doesn't vignette when stacked in this fashion.

I don't recall which lens hood I've got -- it was one I found recommended and it does a fine job.

For a rain cape, you might consider this:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...Rain_Cape.html

You'll need a step-up ring to use it:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...arch&Q=*&bhs=t

I didn't change modes. I used it in "P" mode but turned down the in-camera sharpening (an absolute necessity). 24P and the Cine mode can create a film-like look. If that's what you want, then use it. I didn't need this look (I actually specifically didn't want it), so I just shot 1080i.

I don't use the HV-20 for still shooting. I also incorporate stills into my videos, but I use my Canon 10D (and, occassionally, a Nikon P&S) for that.
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Old December 15th, 2007, 10:00 PM   #5
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Travel Video with the HV20

Hi Paul,

I think it's a great idea to bring along some ziplock bags to protect the camera(s) from humidity. I sometimes travel with them for other reasons, but I appreciate your suggestion. I would think I'd do well to keep the WA lense in its own ziplock as well.

We are starting in Mumbai and then going south to Cochin, Goa, Hyderabad and then flying north to Rajasthan (Udaipur, Jaipur) and then on to Agra and Dehli. I'm not sure what the precipitation will be like in January in those places, nor the dust, smoke and pollution. We were in some of those places 20 years ago, but it was in October and it was unbelievably hot and humid.

The rain cape you suggest looks interesting. Have you ever used it?
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...Rain_Cape.html

Judy
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Old December 15th, 2007, 10:19 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Judith Mazza View Post
We are starting in Mumbai and then going south to Cochin, Goa, Hyderabad and then flying north to Rajasthan (Udaipur, Jaipur) and then on to Agra and Dehli. I'm not sure what the precipitation will be like in January in those places, nor the dust, smoke and pollution. We were in some of those places 20 years ago, but it was in October and it was unbelievably hot and humid.
I haven't been to southern India yet, but I've spent time in Rajasthan in, as I recall, February. We didn't have rain, but there was a lot of fog. Places like Jaipur tended to be dusty and, as I recall, rather warm. We spent some time on the India/Pakistan border -- that's a desert, with typical desert conditions. Outside of Delhi, the pollution isn't too bad as the cities are rather small. At Agra, I'd recommend seeing the Taj at dawn -- there are very, very few tourists and the winter fog lends a ghostly air to everything. Here's a still that I took: http://travelersvideo.com/Agra,%20India.jpg

Quote:
The rain cape you suggest looks interesting. Have you ever used it?
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...Rain_Cape.html

Judy
I haven't used this particular one, but I have another EwaMarine cape that's very similar to it that I used with my VX2000. I've used the combination in all sorts of weather -- pouring rain, gale-force winds by the shore, "drippy" fog, etc., and the camera always remained dry (though I can't say the same for the cameraman). The only downside of the cape is, if you're using the HV-20's built-in mikes, the cape will distort sounds -- it will sound like you're in a well, rain noise will be amplified, and the mikes will pick up the sound of the plastic cape flexing. I use an external mike for those occasions. I have a Vivanco EM-216 stereo lapel mike that has pretty good sound. I'll put a closed-cell wind screen on it and clip it to the outside of the rain cape. That way it's protected from the water (and the wind). I also use this mike in combination with a small portable Panasonic MD recorder, which is an easy way to get wild-sync digital audio. It's very easy to sync up the audio in post.
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Old December 16th, 2007, 08:06 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Paul Tauger View Post
I haven't been to southern India yet, but I've spent time in Rajasthan in, as I recall, February. We didn't have rain, but there was a lot of fog. Places like Jaipur tended to be dusty and, as I recall, rather warm. At Agra, I'd recommend seeing the Taj at dawn -- there are very, very few tourists and the winter fog lends a ghostly air to everything. Here's a still that I took: http://travelersvideo.com/Agra,%20India.jpg

I think we're scheduled to see the Taj in full moonlight. Let's hope it's clear!

The only downside of the cape is, if you're using the HV-20's built-in mikes, the cape will distort sounds -- it will sound like you're in a well, rain noise will be amplified, and the mikes will pick up the sound of the plastic cape flexing. I use an external mike for those occasions. I have a Vivanco EM-216 stereo lapel mike that has pretty good sound. I'll put a closed-cell wind screen on it and clip it to the outside of the rain cape.
I tried to find that microphone on the 'net, and couldn't find a vendor selling it. I have some old mono lavalier microphones that I used to use when recording workshops 25+ years ago...I wonder if those would work. Do you have any other microphone suggestions if I decide to buy the cape?

I love the idea of using some ziploc bags to protect the camera from condensation. In general they sound like a good idea to protect both the HV20 and the Canon G7 from dust when not being used...

Judy
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Old December 17th, 2007, 12:28 AM   #8
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I tried to find that microphone on the 'net, and couldn't find a vendor selling it. I have some old mono lavalier microphones that I used to use when recording workshops 25+ years ago...I wonder if those would work. Do you have any other microphone suggestions if I decide to buy the cape?
I had to order mine from the U.K. I also like Sony's ECN-MS907, which is a small, hand-held stereo mike. If you get the cape, please let us know how you like it. I'm planning to get one, but not until my next international trip, which won't be for quite a few more months.

Quote:
I love the idea of using some ziploc bags to protect the camera from condensation. In general they sound like a good idea to protect both the HV20 and the Canon G7 from dust when not being used...

Judy
Actually, Judy, the idea to use ziplock bags is yours. Because I used to shoot with the VX2000, I had to use big plastic bags (I often used the plastic laundry bags from the hotel). The HV-20 is much smaller and should fit a large ziplock bag quite nicely. I'm going to try that, too, and from now on, I'll call it the "Judy technique." :)
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Old December 17th, 2007, 10:17 AM   #9
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Travel Video with the HV20

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Originally Posted by Paul Tauger View Post
I had to order mine from the U.K. I also like Sony's ECN-MS907, which is a small, hand-held stereo mike. If you get the cape, please let us know how you like it. I'm planning to get one, but not until my next international trip, which won't be for quite a few more months.


What do you think of this microphone?
http://www.amazon.com/High-performan...7906473&sr=1-2

The only "criticism" I saw was that with a very wide shot, you might see it in the frame of the video. It's not too expensive and people seem to like it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Tauger View Post
Actually, Judy, the idea to use ziplock bags is yours. Because I used to shoot with the VX2000, I had to use big plastic bags (I often used the plastic laundry bags from the hotel). The HV-20 is much smaller and should fit a large ziplock bag quite nicely. I'm going to try that, too, and from now on, I'll call it the "Judy technique." :)
Hey, that's great! I was thinking of calling it the "Paul technique!" ; - )

Judy
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Old December 17th, 2007, 12:08 PM   #10
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What do you think of this microphone?
http://www.amazon.com/High-performan...7906473&sr=1-2

The only "criticism" I saw was that with a very wide shot, you might see it in the frame of the video. It's not too expensive and people seem to like it.
Because it's a hot-shoe mount, it won't work in the rain cape (or, at least, will have the same problems as the HV-20's internal mikes). The trick is to get the mike on the outside. I just did a quick google search on "Vivanco EM-216" and found a number of sources, though all are the in UK or Europe. I wouldn't think it would take that long to get.

Incidentally, I had a fair bit of trouble finding a windscreen for it. I finally settled on a generic ball windscreen, but my recollection was it took my quite a bit of searching to find a source. However, the windscreen is a critical part of this audio solution, as it keeps the mike from getting trashed the first time it gets wet.

Also, incidentally, I'm quite satisfied with the HV-20's internal mikes. I'm reviewing my China footage now. They did an excellent job of capturing ambient sounds and almost kept up with the Vivanco/Panasonic MD recorder combo for recording live musical performances. Were it not for the dampening effect of the rain cape, I wouldn't see any reason for external mikes for travel purposes.
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Old December 17th, 2007, 02:11 PM   #11
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Travel Video with the HV20

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Because it's a hot-shoe mount, it won't work in the rain cape (or, at least, will have the same problems as the HV-20's internal mikes). The trick is to get the mike on the outside. I just did a quick google search on "Vivanco EM-216" and found a number of sources, though all are the in UK or Europe. I wouldn't think it would take that long to get..
It's a good point...a lavalier mic would be better. This one seems to get good reviews:
http://www.amazon.com/AUDIO-TECHNICA...7906473&sr=1-2

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Tauger View Post
Incidentally, I had a fair bit of trouble finding a windscreen for it. I finally settled on a generic ball windscreen, but my recollection was it took my quite a bit of searching to find a source. However, the windscreen is a critical part of this audio solution, as it keeps the mike from getting trashed the first time it gets wet..
I don't really understand how a windscreen fits on a lavalier mic. I could try searching to see if I can find a windscreen for a lavalier.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Tauger View Post
Also, incidentally, I'm quite satisfied with the HV-20's internal mikes. I'm reviewing my China footage now. They did an excellent job of capturing ambient sounds and almost kept up with the Vivanco/Panasonic MD recorder combo for recording live musical performances. Were it not for the dampening effect of the rain cape, I wouldn't see any reason for external mikes for travel purposes.
I am very relieved to hear you say that. In general, people seem to have been negative about the HV20's internal microphone. Part of the beauty of this little camera is that it's so small and lightweight. I'm not looking to make it more complicated than it need be.

Judy
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Old December 17th, 2007, 02:31 PM   #12
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I don't really understand how a windscreen fits on a lavalier mic. I could try searching to see if I can find a windscreen for a lavalier.
It's just a little foam ball with a hole in it that goes over the mike. If I recall, it cost $20 plus another $5 or 6 for shipping. I measured the width of the mike and found the smallest ball windscreen with that size hole. It works great.

Quote:
I am very relieved to hear you say that. In general, people seem to have been negative about the HV20's internal microphone. Part of the beauty of this little camera is that it's so small and lightweight. I'm not looking to make it more complicated than it need be.

Judy
That's what I love about the HV-20, too. After lugging around my heavy VX2000 (and a ton of support gear), the HV-20 is an absolute pleasure to travel with.
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Old December 17th, 2007, 02:35 PM   #13
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Travel Video with the HV20

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Originally Posted by Paul Tauger View Post
It's just a little foam ball with a hole in it that goes over the mike. If I recall, it cost $20 plus another $5 or 6 for shipping.
Upon further inspection it looks like the ATR-35S microphone does come with a little foam windscreen. They don't show it in the photo, but do you think that would be enough?

It may well be a nice addition to the travel gear...it has a 20' cord and people seem to like it for video use.

Judy
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Old December 17th, 2007, 02:55 PM   #14
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Upon further inspection it looks like the ATR-35S microphone does come with a little foam windscreen. They don't show it in the photo, but do you think that would be enough?

It may well be a nice addition to the travel gear...it has a 20' cord and people seem to like it for video use.

Judy
The ATR-35S is a monophonic microphone. It might be good for interviews, but I believe that a monophonic mike loses the ambient feel that is essential for travel video. The Vivanco is a stereo mike with good field separation, reasonable dynamic range and acceptable frequency response. When used for video, it not only looks like you're there, it sounds like it, too.
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Old December 17th, 2007, 04:32 PM   #15
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The ATR-35S is a monophonic microphone. It might be good for interviews, but I believe that a monophonic mike loses the ambient feel that is essential for travel video. The Vivanco is a stereo mike with good field separation, reasonable dynamic range and acceptable frequency response. When used for video, it not only looks like you're there, it sounds like it, too.
Hmmm, well it sounds like the Vivanco is the better one to get. What a shame it's not available here in the USA. I see now that it is a discontinued model. I did learn that what I am looking for is a "single point stereo microphone."

There are a few that I have seen that are in the $50-$60 range.
http://www.minidisco.com/Microphones...eo-Microphones

Specifically, the Sony ECM-DS70P
http://www.minidisco.com/Sony-ECM-DS...11&category=29

or the SoundPro SP-SPSM1 which is $10 less than the Sony but which doesn't come with an extension cable

http://www.minidisco.com/SoundPro-SP...11&category=29

What would you think of either of these?

Thanks for helping me out.

Judy



Judy

Last edited by Judith Mazza; December 17th, 2007 at 04:52 PM. Reason: have more information
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