Just got the Canon Vixia HF200. Very dissapointed at DVinfo.net

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Canon VIXIA Series AVCHD and HDV Camcorders
For VIXIA / LEGRIA Series (HF G, HF S, HF and HV) consumer camcorders.


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Old August 12th, 2009, 11:54 PM   #1
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Just got the Canon Vixia HF200. Very dissapointed

Hey there,

Based on the recommendations I've read on the net, it's GREAT reviews, all the GREAT footage I've seen online of the HF200 and it's predecessor, the HF100, I bought an HF200 yesterday.

Today I took it out for a test shoot, shooting outdoors at a outdoor train train station and indoors at a dance studio class with large windows.

The camera works great, feels great, it's a great camera to use. The image quality however....

Maybe I was spoiled by what I saw online, and maybe I did something wrong with my settings, but I am not happy with the footage quality.

I put the camera on manual video mode and left it as it. It was using whatever default auto presets it has for it and the footage looked great on the LCD. Crisp, sharp, great colors.

I put the footage on my computer and played it back with the Pixela player and was surprised to see the footage not as sharp, the colors dull, the footage was darker.... It just looked dark. I know the manual says that the viewfinder is typically brighter than the actual footage, but this was a huge discrepancy.

Either I was supposed to make some adjustments to the video as I was shooting or something is wrong. But what would I adjust? The exposure was at default, raise that? For the amount of light I had, auto exposure should be fine.

I will try to go full auto tomorrow and see if it changes, but I am doubtful.

Here is a still from the dance class showing what I mean.

This is about what I saw in the LCD screen:



This is actually what came out on my computer.



The stills from the camera are just as bad as well.

Also, the Pixela software that came with the camera will download the files to the harddrive but when I try to use it to edit any footage it crashes. How useless is that?

Any thoughts or advice? Did I miss tutorial on shooting with this camera? Is this because of the AVCHD format and I'd be happier with HDV somehow?
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Old August 13th, 2009, 12:14 AM   #2
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I haven't heard anything good about the Pixela software they give you with the camera. Don't blame the camera. Check out the other sections on this forum about editing AVCHD.
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Old August 13th, 2009, 07:39 AM   #3
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Sometimes you need to "calibrate" the camera's LCD to a good "reference" TV. Record some outdoor footage and some indoor footage in long enough sequence so you can play it long enough to do some matching.

Hook it up to the TV that is going to be your "reference" TV (the one you will be watching videos on or one that is typical of what most you deliver to will be using) using an HDMI cable preferably, component cable if HDMI is not available.

Play it back watching both the LCD screen and the TV, adjust the brightness of the LCD screen as necessary to get a fairly close match. An exact match may not be quite possible but if you get close it will work better.

Do this with the LCD on the camera in normal mode, NEVER USE IT WITH THE BRIGHTNESS BOOST ON for any exposure judgement or matching as above. That boost (available by holding the "display" button down) is for use only in trying to see the LCD image in daylight and for that I recommend using some kind of LCD hood.
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Old August 13th, 2009, 08:21 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronald Ng View Post
I put the camera on manual video mode...
Try the Auto modes instead.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronald Ng View Post
I put the footage on my computer and played it back with the Pixela player and was surprised to see the footage not as sharp, the colors dull, the footage was darker....
That's due to discrepancies between your computer monitor and the camcorder's LCD screen. You should spend some time calibrating your computer monitor, your living room HDTV and the camcorder's LCD display so that they all match each other as closely as possible.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronald Ng View Post
Also, the Pixela software that came with the camera will download the files to the harddrive but when I try to use it to edit any footage it crashes.
AVCHD needs a *lot* of horsepower. What are your system specs? The minimum system requirements Pixela calls for will pretty much allow for playback only. Editing will require the maximum recommended system specs.
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Old August 13th, 2009, 09:11 AM   #5
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Thanks Bruce, I'm going to have to calibrate the LCD brightness with my computer monitor. It comes out of the box too bright and it even says so in the manual I beleive.

And thanks Chris, I'll try auto today. And maybe also try to boost the exposure later as well. Other than apature or shutter priority and exposure (and white balance and programmed shooting profiles), is there anything else than can control the camera's picture?

Crossing my fingers.
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Old August 13th, 2009, 05:04 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronald Ng View Post
Thanks Bruce, I'm going to have to calibrate the LCD brightness with my computer monitor. It comes out of the box too bright and it even says so in the manual I beleive.
I believe it will be best to calibrate it to a "reference TV" first.

Then look at adjusting your computer monitor to that. Computer monitors are frequently not adjusted to imaging standards, that's a roll of the dice. Look at how Adobe PhotoShop users have to "calibrate" computer monitors to get a decent print.

Every time I get a new monitor I have to do a "crude" visual calibration by adjusting to something close to color, contrast, and density using a good professional lab print. Others use monitor calibration hardware.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronald Ng View Post
And thanks Chris, I'll try auto today. And maybe also try to boost the exposure later as well. Other than apature or shutter priority and exposure (and white balance and programmed shooting profiles), is there anything else than can control the camera's picture?

Crossing my fingers.
Be absolutely certain you have the LCD outdoor brightness boost OFF before making ANY exposure judgements. The display button inside the LCD "well" that when held down switches the LCD into a boosted brightness mode and when held down again switches it back to the normal mode.
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Old August 14th, 2009, 01:17 AM   #7
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AND NOW FOR A DIFFERENT PROBLEM

I messed with the settings and got the video to be somewhat better, but now there is a different problem. I was using a Class 2 SDHC card. It works find for SP quality, but I put it to XP+ to see if there would be any improvement.

You guessed it, the card wasn't fast enough so the video is only slightly jerky, almost unnoticeable, but not quite.

Is there anyway to save this footage or it can't be saved?

Yes, i know, I'm just getting my class 6 card now, this was just a temp card.
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Old August 14th, 2009, 01:37 AM   #8
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Woah, wait... just checked the footage from yesterday again. It's also a little jerky (though not as much). Maybe the problem is my processor.

If I convert to Cineform Neo Scene, will the Pixela player play it or will the plugin work with Windows Media Player?

And with it converted to Cineform, will it be easier on my system resources to play?
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Old August 14th, 2009, 09:35 AM   #9
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Do you mean jerky in your editor or your final export file. Neoscene only works in specific programs. "NLE compatibility".http://www.cineform.com/neoscene/specifications.php
I believe there are other less expensive intermediate codecs available. Check out "editing AVCHD" farther down in the forum.
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Old August 14th, 2009, 10:10 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronald Ng View Post
I was using a Class 2 SDHC card.
For AVCHD recording at the higher quality bit rates you'll need at least a Class 4 card.

Also, it's really hard to offer any advice about your system without knowing its specs.
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Old August 14th, 2009, 11:34 AM   #11
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Hi, it turned out to be my system. I left it running for a few days and thus I did a spyware search and found some spy ware. What happened was that the longer it ran, the more the spyware ate up the system resources, which I already am at the edge.

I am running winXp in a dell notebook computer. Its good, I like it, of course I do notice I get spyware and adware like crazy every once in a while that slows it down (and no, not from porn sites, I learned my lesson long ago and don't visit them). Other wise...


* Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo T7300 (1596 Mhz/4MB L2 Cache)
* OS: Microsoft Vista Home Premium
* Hard Drive: 160 GB SATA @ 5400RPM
* Screen: 15.4" WSXGA Widescreen (1680 x 1050)
* Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT 256MB
* RAM: 2.0GB DDR2 SDRAM @667 MHz (2 x 1GB)
* Optical Drive: 8x CD/DVD burner (DVD+/-RW) w/Double Layer Support
* Battery: 9-cell lithium ion
* Wireless: Intel 4965AGN
* Weight: 6.4 lbs
* Dimensions: 1.47-1.65” (H) x 14.12 “ (W) x 10.59" (D)
* Ports/Slots: 1 IEEE 1394 (FireWire); 4 Universal Serial Bus (USB 2.0); 8-in-1 Memory Card Reader; VGA Out; S-Video; RJ-45 Ethernet LAN; RJ-11 Modem; ExpressCard 54mm; stereo in, headphone/speaker out and dual digital mics

Last edited by Ronald Lee; August 14th, 2009 at 12:24 PM.
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Old August 14th, 2009, 02:39 PM   #12
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I've been using Trend Micro Virus software which does a good job at eliminating spyware, etc, and it hasn't interfered with my Adobe or music software.
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Old August 14th, 2009, 09:19 PM   #13
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Yeah it's really best not to surf the net with your editing computer, if possible. Running virus software can sometimes eat up system resources worse than spyware itself, though I suppose you could switch it off while editing and on again while surfing the net. Also a 5400 rpm drive is really pretty slow for editing hd video, the editor may not be capable of accessing the disk fast enough. If needed you could always get a 7200 rpm or faster external firewire drive for that

But I never worry too much about video playing a bit jerky in the editor, I use Premiere Pro though so I'm used to it. If possible export it to a Blu ray disc or a hd video file you can play on a PS3 or something to really get an idea of what's going on. That way you know you're evaluating the quality of the actual final product and not just your computer's performance
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Old August 15th, 2009, 01:49 AM   #14
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New update.

The automode of the camera isn't any better it didn't help.

I did fiind that I can adjust the image through exposure, while balance presets (of which there are a few good ones) and custom settings, like color depth, sharpness, brightness, contrast.

That's good, I'll play with those.

The one thing that I am not happy with is the default sharpness of the video. I think it should be a tad sharper as once the HD video is on my computer, it really isn't that sharp at all.
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Old August 15th, 2009, 01:56 AM   #15
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I don't think the camera is the problem. Maybe the files you're rendering to are too compressed. I've got a dual core with 2 drives for video and use Premiere Pro and the footage looks great. Just out of curiosity, what exactly are you viewing when you play your footage. What file type and bit rate.
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