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Focus Enhancements FireStore
Specifically for the FireStore DV Direct-To-Edit Disk Recording Solutions.


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Old September 27th, 2005, 01:34 AM   #1
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Share your Firestore experiences

Hey everybody,

I'm highly considering getting a Firestore FS-4 for the Canon XL2 I'll be receiving next week, but I'm wanting to get some user feedback first.

Which model do you have? Are you happy with it? Have you experienced any dropouts or malfunctions? Is it worth the price?

I'd love to hear all feedback, good and bad, so please share if you or someone you know owns one!

Thanks!
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Old September 27th, 2005, 09:31 AM   #2
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Have had an FS4 since March/April.

Its a 2.5" hard drive in a small box with some electronics which costs more than many laptop computers, so the reason Focus can get away with the price is because they've effectively got the field to themselves.

For what it's supposed to do (recording DV from a camera), it works. The recording time is (annoyingly) just UNDER three hours (so it doesn't match 3x1hr miniDV at SP or 2x1.5hr miniDV at LP). Two standard batteries will NOT QUITE allow full recording time of the hard disk. The new longer-life battery will NOT FIT in the FS4 holster, making mounting it on a camera difficult.

The buttons (particularly the ON button) sit proud of the surface, which means it is possible to accidentally turn the unit on when storing in a gear bag or when brushing against it (unless one arranges special external shields).

If powered from the mains, there are cables coming out of BOTH ends of the unit which means it cannot be stood up on end to read the rather dim display on the front.

The time it takes from pushing the ON button to being ready to record is much longer than the time it takes to turn on a camcorder and have it ready to record.

We are still waiting for an external battery charger. At present, the only way of charging batteries is on the FS4 whch means you can't charge batteries while you are mobile recording and this limits your recording time to the charge you put in your batteries before the job. The promised external charger will be a clumsy, larger-than-it needs-to-be stopgap at a very high price.

As you can see, it's a great idea but there are many flaws in the design. These flaws could have been eliminated if prototypes had been given to practitioners to use 'on the road' before the design was finalised.

Mine has worked on many jobs and given good results. I just wish the design features were better.

Ray Liffen
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Old October 3rd, 2005, 06:11 AM   #3
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Mark, this thread is probably not getting such a good response because this forum is filled with just what you are asking for. Although I don't have the time to go through my own personal history with the FS-4, I guess this would be a good opportunity for a review.

Ray hit on a lot of the most annoying points -

I would add that the FS-4 has a very loud cooling fan which kicks in around 15 min. into recording. This makes recording in audio sensitive situations impossible. I posted a retrofit solution for this problem in a previous thread, but it requires major changes in the FS-4's case. Also on the subject of audio - the FS-4 emits a very loud warning signal when the battery is getting low. This warning cannot be turned off, and it will ruin any shot being made with important audio at the time, and force you to change the unit's battery or switch to mains power before continuing to shoot.

These are two important things, in addition to those mentioned by Ray, which deserve consideration before buying the FS-4.

The FS-4 is highly mobile, in-spite of it's imperfections in this area (large battery charger, and power cable adapter (PAL)), and reasonably priced, compared to other devices of this type (that work). The FS-4 is also very conducive to retrofitting and modification (especially in the areas of triggering and powering).

The FS-4 is not perfect and has a long list of functions which, in my opinion, are not very useful, while some of the "useful" functions could have been better designed. But it does work.

The most frustrating thing I find about the FS-4 is that it seems as though it's short comings could have been easily avoided by Focus. The FS-4 is ... this far from being perfect.
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Old March 10th, 2006, 02:43 PM   #4
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One Proud FS3 Owner ...

I have been using FS3 since 2004. I am very happy ... though heavy & big in size But I use Professional Camcorders with AB mount so I dont feel that way. i like the rugged built it sports. I had even operated the HD casing & transplanted a 120GB2.5 HDD in place of 40GB. i use it say about 50% on my shoots so that I dont have come back & screw the hapiness of my VTR head as I am already screwing my camcrder' head.

I sit & wonder how very les users I see using FS3 ... wish to see more if any one around.

BTW use FS3 with my Panny DV200, JVC5000, Sony 400 w/o any hangups what so ever !!!
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Old April 29th, 2006, 04:22 AM   #5
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vive' FS-3

I was never a big fan of the FS4. I thought Focus "dumbed down" the unit for compatibility with smaller cameras and more pro-sumer cams. The FS3 is by far the best, for use with full size cameras. Depending on the configuration of your XL, it can either be good or bad. If you have wireless receivers, battere brackes, etc - pushing the unit back, it would help balance out the front-heaviness, unlike the FS4 which would rest on your hot shoe, making the problem worse.

I use the FS3 with my JVC 500, a Panny 610, and Ike' DV7, but only for dailies (not for actual use but review by director / ad / ap / ). I found that what I have on tape looks better than what I get on the unit.
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Old May 3rd, 2006, 03:07 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel Wang
I was never a big fan of the FS4. I thought Focus "dumbed down" the unit for compatibility with smaller cameras and more pro-sumer cams. The FS3 is by far the best, for use with full size cameras. Depending on the configuration of your XL, it can either be good or bad. If you have wireless receivers, battere brackes, etc - pushing the unit back, it would help balance out the front-heaviness, unlike the FS4 which would rest on your hot shoe, making the problem worse.
Hi Daniel, I would like to point out a few things based on my short experience with the FS-3, and what I have extensively experienced with the FS-4.

First off, I find the menu navigation on the FS-4 better than that of the FS-3. Maybe Focus has offered an update for the the FS-3 so that it now has the same menu structure as the FS-4 in the mean time, but I don't see how the FS-4 was "dumbed down". The FS-4 has exactly the same functionality as the FS-3, particularly on cameras that don't take advantage of the FS-3's EVF display capability. The only major differences between the FS-3 and FS-4 are the HDD swap-ability of the FS-3 and the fact that the FS-3 is truly silent (no fan noise). Other than that, I don't think that there is much of a difference between the functionality of the devices.

The fact that the FS-4 comes with a hot-shoe adapter doesn't mean that, with a little ingenuity, it can't be mounted elsewhere on the XL-1 to help remedy the camera's nose heaviness like the FS-3. The FS-3 with it's AB or similar battery pack is way too heavy for smaller cameras IMO.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel Wang
I use the FS3 with my JVC 500, a Panny 610, and Ike' DV7, but only for dailies (not for actual use but review by director / ad / ap / ). I found that what I have on tape looks better than what I get on the unit.
I don't understand why you have the feeling that the footage on tape looks, or is better, on tape than it is on the FS-3's HDD. The fact that the footage is being recorded drop-out free onto the HDD, was a major reason for my initial interest in the FS series. The DV footage recorded to HDD is virtually identical to that which is recorded to tape - only without drop-outs due to dust or tape defects, it should be like recording ultra SP, or super DVCAM.

Of course we have learned in the mean time that there are significant differences between footage recorded to tape and the files written to HDD, especially for those of us who would like to take advantage of the 4 channel audio functionality of the Canon XL series. There is also some meta data which gets recorded to tape which the FS files do not contain, like date and time, f/stop etc.

Anyway, this is just my two cents

Cheers,
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