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-   -   just bought FS4 Standard Drive (http://www.dvinfo.net/forum/focus-enhancements-firestore/66509-just-bought-fs4-standard-drive.html)

Joseph Andolina May 2nd, 2006 07:18 PM

just bought FS4 Standard Drive
I just took the plunge and purchased the Firestore 4 Standerd (Domestic) version from Brian at Zotz. Didn't feel I needed certain features like Timelapse, or upgradeble to HD that the Pro version has. I'll be using it in conjunction with my XL2. Should be to my sometime late next week. I've heard good things about it, and wanted to have the option of mostly using tapes for safety backup and archiving when shooting. And I certainly will love the fact that it'll cut out having to capture.
Anyone have any tips and such to share about the unit? Would appreciate any feedback shared, good or bad. (hopefully mostly good) :)

David Yuen May 2nd, 2006 11:30 PM

I love it but here are my gripes
I've had my FS-4 for a year and I love it. Nevertheless, here is my gripe list that you should hope to avoid:

1. Tenuous FireWire connections. Daniel Kohl, expert modder, uses hot glue to secure his cable. FireWire cables, especially the 4-pin variety, are not securely connected and I've had my share of accidental disconnections.

2. Fragile belt clip - I broke the plastic part off my clip. It still works, but thin plastic has no place for a critical mechanical device out in the field.

3. Insecure lock on the belt clip. With some effort, it is still possible to dislodge the FS-4 from the belt clip. It would have been better to have some kind of locking mechanism so that the FS-4 won't pop up and out. This happened to me right before a wedding as I was running up one of the aisles and the FS-4 went sprawling onto the hard tile floor. The battery came out as did another piece but when I put it all back together, it worked just fine and has not malfunctioned since then.

4. Accidental turning on of the unit. The power button protrudes and if you pack your unit tightly, can turn it on, thus discharging your battery, not to mention running it in a hot environment.

5. 90-minute battery - Despite a 173-minute run time, it comes with a 90 minute battery. I got around this by buying a Radio Shack adapter that connects my NRG battery belt to the FS-4's power jack, so now I have a lot longer runtime.

Jesse Redman May 3rd, 2006 04:46 PM

Warning Beep

When the FS-4 disconnects, does it warn you? Do you hear a beep? Or does it simply disconnect without letting you know that it is no longer receiving data?

Does it stop recording (recording nothing now) when it gets disconnected?'


- Jesse

David Yuen May 3rd, 2006 05:07 PM

There is a warning and it stops recording
My GL2 warns me by blinking a [DV IF] message. When connected, it will blink either [STOP] or [REC]. The FS-4 does not warn me, but since it hangs from my belt, I would not hear the warning anyway. If it were loud enough to warn me, that would not be a good thing in the middle of a shoot. Of course, the ability to turn it off could have been provided but as you are familiar with the ubiquitous cell phone ring in movie theaters and performances, you might forget to turn it off.

I wish the GL2 would color-code the warning but it does not, displaying everything in white text.

When disconnected, the FS-4 stops recording.

Dan Euritt May 3rd, 2006 06:23 PM

joseph, you should look for a solution to attach the fs-4 to the camera... you can see my setup on the website in my sig; it's kinda ugly :-) but i've never had the firewire cable come unplugged.

i went with aa nimh batteries mounted to the camera also, but it makes the rig kinda heavy... so i got a steady stick, which has been really helpful.

several weeks ago, after lugging this rig around for months, the stub plug on the canon xlr adaptor broke off from the added weight, but it was a pretty easy fix... canon should have made the stub out of metal instead of plastic in the first place.

my latest issue with the fs-4 involved trying to edit the raw dv files directly in sony vegas 5... the program accepted 'em, but it created a huge amount of disk thrashing on the c: drive, even tho i cut the swap file on the c: drive down to 50mb... that could have just been a flaw in vegas, tho.

i had to go back to using the focus software to convert from raw dv to type 2 avi, which isn't too big of a deal, because it's still faster than capturing from tape, and i still had to use it anyway to pull the second pair of audio channels out of the files.

btw, fs-4 timecode may or may not work.

Joseph Andolina May 3rd, 2006 08:18 PM

wow...thanks all for the insightfull feedback with the unit. Well, I guess I'll be seeing what kind of workarounds I'll be dealing with having to come up with.

Dan, you mentioned about the FS4 timecode possibly working and not working. Has that been a constant problem you've been experiencing?

Dan Euritt May 4th, 2006 02:51 PM

i do not need timecode for most of what i do, so i haven't really looked into it... i mentioned it because some people out here have commented on it, so you'll have to do a search.

timecode is one of those things that when you need it, you really do need it!

also check out the fs-4 4-channel audio threads on this forum.

Rob Mitchell May 18th, 2006 03:14 PM

Hi Joseph
I've used the FS4 for over a year now and love it. I've never used the belt clip but velcro it to the back plate on the Canon XL2. The fast transfer time to the computer is the strongest point. Fan noise is the weakest, although I've never had the noise picked up by any mics, it does make people on set nervous when that fan kicks in. I haven't had any firewire connection problems, but maybe that is because it is mounted to the camera. Excess cable is coiled and tie wrapped to the camera to prevent any movement.

Two batteries are a must. I agree that it's crazy to have a 90 minute battery on a 170+ minute machine, but a spare battery solves that problem.

Good luck, you'll love it.

Joseph Andolina May 18th, 2006 05:47 PM

That's the first I've heard about the fan noise. I'm still waiting for mine to arrive from Brian at Zotz. It's been about two weeks since I've ordered it. He checked it being in stock from where he gets it from, but it still hasn't arrived to him for shipping to me. Frustrating since I have a shoot coming up relatively soon.
I'm wondering if anybody has had any issues out there with the fan on the unit.
I also was planning on doing the velcro thing.
Well, I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I as others will find it more a positive choice, although the possibly fan noise gets me a little nerveous.


Rob Mitchell May 18th, 2006 08:52 PM

Didn't mean to make you nervous. The noise is annoying, but even the onboard mic doesn't seem to pick it up. I guess it bothers me more because it is right next to my ear when shooting.

Joseph Andolina May 22nd, 2006 06:48 PM

just got the FS4 delivered today. can;t wait to test it, charging up one of the two batteries right now. So hopefully in a few hours I ca give it a test run. I can see what Rob said about the fan. At first it may make one think will this be picked up by any mic's, but as I distanced the unit a little away from me, it's not even noticable. I do have to agree about that belt clip piece that's made for it. Pretty disconcerting to say the least. I wouldn;t even feel comfortable using it with fear of just moving the wrong way that the unit will be falling to the ground after it slips out of the adaptor. And you'd think Focus would have designed some king of leather casing you could slip the unit in and out of, something that could be hung onto something like the tripod, or with a belt snap kind of thing to be able to secure around ones belt. A case with all the appropriate holes for the ventilation of the fan, etc... boy someone seemed to miss the boat on that possiblity. Unless there is something out there now that I don't know about?

I guess I will be definetly devising a velcro set-up, i guess securing it to the batteries to be velcroed to the XL2.

And the battery seems a bit hard to get off the unit.
A question I do have is about the power button. Other than the obvious of turning the unit on, it doesn't seem to be able to completly turn the unit off. At first it looks like it's turning off, but it's more like rebooting the unit, becaue it turns back on after briefly powering down. Am I to assume the only way the camera can power off completly is by removing the battery, or of course when the battery runs out?

And as far as battery charging. is the green light indicating that the battery is charging supposed to shut off when the battery is fully charged?

Any thoughts on this?

Thanks ahead of time.


Brian Carrell May 22nd, 2006 08:12 PM

turning fs-4 off
To turn the unit off, you have to hold down on the "stop" button, keep it held down until you hear a series of beeps, then it will shut off completely.

I think if it is rebooting but not turning off you are pressing down on the power on button?


Joseph Andolina May 22nd, 2006 08:19 PM

Thanks Brian, that's exactly what I was doing. Didn't notice it saying "off" below the stop button until I just saw your posting and re-looked at the unit. Since my last post, I've been chrging the battery on the unit for about 4 hours now. and the green charge light is still on. Can you tell me that after 4 hours, the 90min battery should be fully charged? or does the light stay on regardless?

Brian Carrell May 22nd, 2006 08:30 PM

I believe that it is charging correctly when the charge led is green, and that when it is fully charged, the led will go yellow (which looks orange to me) supposedly indicating that it is in "float" charging mode. I'm not sure how efficiently it charges (if at all) when the unit is turned on. Now that you have the unit turned off, it should start charging fully.

Joseph Andolina May 22nd, 2006 08:55 PM


Originally Posted by Brian Carrell
I believe that it is charging correctly when the charge led is green, and that when it is fully charged, the led will go yellow (which looks orange to me) supposedly indicating that it is in "float" charging mode. I'm not sure how efficiently it charges (if at all) when the unit is turned on. Now that you have the unit turned off, it should start charging fully.

Well, the first battery seems to be fully chrghed after checking it. But I just threw on the 2nd new battery I bought with the unit, to chrge it, and knowing that it had only one bar left to it since it's brand new, the chrger light is indicating orange or red. The book says red means chrger error,. So looks like I'm having a possible problem already. I'll have to check it further. Maybe i'll be on with Focus already tomorrow questioning them :(

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