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Old March 20th, 2005, 02:55 AM   #1
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FS-4 - first field test - 'real world' problems

Yesterday was the the first chance to use the FS-4 on a job - in this case a wedding, and give it a field test.

The camera was a VX2000 and I rigged up a mounting using an L-shaped bracket (normally for extra mics, lights etc). The supplied belt clip was fitted horizontally at the top of the upright of the 'L' and the upright drilled for two self-tappers under the clip to stop it slipping. This meant that the FS-4 was upright, with the firewire connector coming out of the top. The info screen could be read easily from the side of the camera, even when a high tripod was used. As the VX2000 was the 'backup' camera for most of the shoot it was useful to be able to check the FS-4 at the same time as I did my periodic checks on the VX's fold-out screen.

Feedback - well, Focus will have to do something about longer battery life. Yes, the supplied 850mAH will JUST do 90 mins of continuous recording, but life isn't like that. I ran the VX with a tape in at LP to give parallel working. The VX will get from OFF to to Rec Pause in 7 secs. The FS-4 takes 15 secs. The temptation therefore is to leave the FS-4 running so that you can pick up on an interesting shot quickly. But if you leave it running it consumes power, so Tape 2, for example, still had 10 mins of recording left when the Battery 2 died on the FS4. In other words, two fully charged batteries are not enough to record the full capacity of the hard disk under field (ie, less-than-perfect) conditions

Don't forget there is no way to charge FS-4 batteries on a shoot, because there is no external battery charger available. Batteries have to be charged on the FS-4, so I couldn't re-charge until the shoot was over.

So for mobile use the most urgent need is increased battery life.

Other points:

1. It would be really nice to have a 'confidence' LED that blinks when the FS-4 is recording. If you are remote from the camera you need to know that you are actually putting video data on the hard disk.

2. I'll be looking around for a 4-pin-to-6-pin firewire lead that is no more than 15 inches (38cm) long and has a right-angle plug on the 6-pin. The supplied lead is to long and unnecessarily thick for on-camera use.

Electronically the FS-4 works fine. It is the practical points to do with 'real world' use that need refining.

Ray Liffen
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Old March 20th, 2005, 11:49 AM   #2
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Hi Ray,

Thanks for your feedback.

A long life battery for the FS-4 (run time in record about 180) minutes will be available shortly. We are just getting it ready for production now. I will post more details shortly.

We do sell a 23" 6-4 pin FireWire cable (with a right angle on the 6-pin side). The part number is CBLA-0127-01.

Hope that helps,

Matt
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Old March 20th, 2005, 01:36 PM   #3
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hello matt,

i just purchased a f-4 (b&h) and i have some questions for you.

since i am connected by firewire to my camera, do i start the record function when i start recording with my camera, or do i have to start the recording at the f-4?

how about mounting options, have a canon xl1-s

thanks
karl
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Old March 20th, 2005, 02:25 PM   #4
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Hi Ray,

Just to let you know, there is a confidence LED.

It is located on the upper surface of the FS-4, next to the battery charge indicator. This LED blinks when the unit is writing. It would be nice if it were directed toward the front of the unit (LED side) for better visibility, but it is there.
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Old March 20th, 2005, 08:34 PM   #5
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Hi Karl,

You can use FS-4 in two ways. You can control REC and STOP from the camcorder or you can do it manually on the unit itself. To control it from the FS-4 itself, use LOCAL control mode. To control it from a camcorder, use SYNCRO SLAVE mode (but you must have a tape in your camcorder). If your camcorder has a DV control out function, you can also use TAPELESS control mode which means your camcorder does not need a tape.

As for mounting to the XL1s, if you have a MA-100 or MA-200 mount, you could mount in a similar fashion to Don Berube on his XL2...see some pics at: http://noisybrain.com/firestore/fs4_proto_pix
You will also need the Cam Mount Kit which I believe is available from B&H. This kit will also allow you to mount to the camcorder's hot shoe on the viewfinder. The other option is to use the belt clip.

Hope that helps,
Matt
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Old March 20th, 2005, 11:32 PM   #6
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<<<-- Originally posted by Matt McEwen : Hi Karl,

You can use FS-4 in two ways. You can control REC and STOP from the camcorder or you can do it manually on the unit itself. To control it from the FS-4 itself, use LOCAL control mode. To control it from a camcorder, use SYNCRO SLAVE mode (but you must have a tape in your camcorder). If your camcorder has a DV control out function, you can also use TAPELESS control mode which means your camcorder does not need a tape.

As for mounting to the XL1s, if you have a MA-100 or MA-200 mount, you could mount in a similar fashion to Don Berube on his XL2...see some pics at: http://noisybrain.com/firestore/fs4_proto_pix
You will also need the Cam Mount Kit which I believe is available from B&H. This kit will also allow you to mount to the camcorder's hot shoe on the viewfinder. The other option is to use the belt clip.

Hope that helps,
Matt -->>>

hello matt,

thanks for your post.

the fs-4 will be my backup. the artistic directors i am taping for, want their vhs tape right after a show.
the camera does have a dv out function.
i also have the ma-200, so mounting should not be an issue.

thanks for the pic link.

can't wait to try out my new toy.

thanks again

greetings
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Old March 21st, 2005, 01:53 AM   #7
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Hi Karl,

You can also look at how I mounted the FS-4 to my XL-1s. http://www.marq5.de. It requires a bit of cobbling though. There are other threads which describe possible mounting ideas.

Good luck
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Old March 21st, 2005, 03:42 AM   #8
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Matt

Thank you for your swift reply to my original post.

As a UK user I am still waiting for the holster from Holdan, the UK suppliers, but do I guess correctly that a bigger battery will need a bigger holster?

The 6-to-4 cable that you mention doesn't seem to be listed on the Focus website. Maybe Holdan will stock it once they have got their supply situation running smoothly.

To Daniel

Agreed that the Status LED SHOULD act as a confidence LED but in practice the Status is amber in Stop mode, amber in Record mode and the 'blinks when Hard drive is being accessed' is so minimal as to be impossible to see in a lit room at a distance of more than a yard or so. Does the handbook need a revidion of the info on the Status LED in the same way as the Charge LED? Oh, in addition the Status LED is more-or-less fully recessed, and so impossible to see unless head on.

Ray Liffen
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Old March 22nd, 2005, 09:42 PM   #9
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Re: FS-4 - first field test - 'real world' problems

<<<-- Originally posted by Ray Liffen :
Don't forget there is no way to charge FS-4 batteries on a shoot, because there is no external battery charger available. Batteries have to be charged on the FS-4, so I couldn't re-charge until the shoot was over.

So for mobile use the most urgent need is increased battery life.
-->>>

Thank you for verifying this, I asked about charging and the lack of an external charger in another thread but no one from FE provided feedback. This is a big issue for me, I'll hold off until this issue is addressed.
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Old March 22nd, 2005, 09:50 PM   #10
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<<<-- Originally posted by Daniel Kohl : Hi Karl,

You can also look at how I mounted the FS-4 to my XL-1s. http://www.marq5.de. It requires a bit of cobbling though. There are other threads which describe possible mounting ideas.

Good luck -->>>

hallo daniel,

viele gruesse aus san francisco
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Old March 25th, 2005, 02:54 PM   #11
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Ei! gute wie?

Wo kommst du hie?

I'm not a real Frankfurter, I just live there.

Greusse zureuck
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