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Old January 11th, 2013, 09:37 PM   #1
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The ideal travel cam

So CES 2013 has been and gone and the new and exciting line up from Sony was anything but. So my quest for the ideal travel cam continues. My travel plans call for a pocketable device that is the lightest possible and that shoots at least half-decent photographs and video, video being most important, while the cam itself must be not too flashy. And inexpensive because in the event I get knocked on the head and thrown in a ravine in order for the perpetrator to steal my camera at least I will not be out-of-pocket too much. My EX1 stays at home.

I am considering the Sony HX20v. Couple of questions:

How does the HX20v video compare to a) the HX200v and b) the CX700v?

I have both and the HX200v is more than twice the weight of the HX20v ( and certainly not pocketable) and if the image quality, stills and video, produced by the HX20v is up there with the HX200v then that would be just fine. My HX200v is way sharper and has better image stabilization than my CX700v although I must confess I have dropped the CX700v a couple of times. I could take it to a service center but my experience to date with those folks is that anything other than a clean and polish costs big time and a new HX20v might come close in cost.

Any other suggestions?

Many thanks
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Old January 11th, 2013, 10:23 PM   #2
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Re: The ideal travel cam

I carry a Canon PowerShot S100 around in my pocket -- only 10 megapixel, not quite the Sony HX20v but about the same size. It does 1080 HD video with stereo sound; certainly enough to keep me happy given the size vs. cost ratio. I don't think you can go wrong with the Sony HX20v for the same reasons I enjoy my S100... it's small, it goes with me *everywhere* and it doesn't cost a lot if I have to replace it. On top of all that you get very good image quality too. I see nothing but good reviews for the HX20v. Nothing for you to lose, John, in my opinion!
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Old January 12th, 2013, 01:10 AM   #3
 
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Re: The ideal travel cam

I love the video of the RX100 John. Have you considered that camera?
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Old January 12th, 2013, 03:04 AM   #4
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Re: The ideal travel cam

Jalan, thanks for your input. The RX100 Ė great camera. I certainly did consider that charming little (expensive) beast. I have a NEX 5n and while I presume the RX100 image stabilization is much better than the lens stabilization deployed in the NEX 5n Iím guessing the actual larger sensor video quality is not that dissimilar, which I judge to be a tad on the soft side. And of course in some situations that just fine, and I shall bring my NEX 5n along for situations where that might be the best tool for the job at hand but it wonít be my walk around all purpose slip-in-the-pocket cam.

And the thing is, for me, optical zoom is important. Yes, I know; some say use your legs - walk a little closer, and thatís well and good in some situations but often that would mean stepping into a swamp full of anacondas and alligators, and you can take that literally and figuratively, where Iím headed. No, I shall keep my distance and let my lens do the getting closer thing. And the piddly 35 mm equivalent: 29-105 mm RX100 zoom just doesnít cut it whereas the HX20vís 35 mm equivalent: 25-500 mm will keep me back from the action and out of harmís way, most of the time Iím hoping. The extra at the wide end is a good thing too.

Not to say that if I see an RX100 on sale in Paucartambo I wonít on the spur of the moment pick one up.

Chris, thanks for your so so sensible suggestion. ĎNothing to loseí. Of course you are right, it is a no brainer, and the price at our favorite store is about $280.00 US so whatís the big deal. I have one in the shopping cart just waiting while they observe the Jewish tradition.

Cheers...
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Old January 13th, 2013, 04:36 PM   #5
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Re: The ideal travel cam

John -

I'd second the RX100 - yep, it's pricey, BUT if you're concerned about still and video quality, you're going to be in another class than the "average P&S", while still being "pocketable". It actually does manage to almost <wink> justify the price, and I'm a cheapskate <wink, wink>!

It's far closer to an Alpha class SLT (stills) or the CX700 (video) than the "other little cams" are.

RX100 shoots 1080/60p video (is the HX20 i or p, I know the HX200 and 700 are p), and keep in mind that the clear zoom function with the 100mm optical will actually get you pretty decent quality, and equivalent to around 200mm... there's also "digital" zoom, but you can't get too far with it... yes, you may lose some quality, but in relation to what you'd be getting with one of the Sony P&S cameras, it's still likely to be a BETTER quality of photo (and video)... sure it's not 900mm (+ or -) like the HX200, but by the time you equalize out the image quality between the small chip that degrades when you zoom/crop in on images from it, and the big chip that can crop and still probably hold up OK... it's probably closer than you might think.

Don't forget that the RX100 also shoots RAW, and has a TON of controls over image quality, unlike a P&S camera, so if you are used to shooting a larger more capable camera, you won't feel so constricted. The menus are similar to the Alphas I have, so it's like shooting a "mini" Alpha!

I had my doubts about the RX100, but snagged a used one to test, and have yet to be disappointed - get an add on grip, the magspeed polarizer, and a strap of your preference, and it's a very capable little camera. Very small, very light, very unobtrusive (looks like a P&S), and yet it's a "real" camera. I usually carry a small folding flash bracket to add on to help stabilize handheld video, especially since this cam is SO small.

Video is pretty close to your 700, maybe a little soft in some situations, but it's not bad from the shooting I've had the chance to do with it. Seems to hold up well in "low light" conditions, I actually thought it was a tad better to the eye than the 700 when shot side by side.

I'm not sure when you say your HX200 is sharper and has better image stabilization than your 700 whether you meant stills or video... but you can't expect "good" stills out of most handycams - the video will typically be sharper than P&S, even the HX200... maybe you're onto something about the drops?


My experience with the Sonys that use the 18 Mpixel sensor (HX200 included) is that they look good UNTIL you zoom in (pixel peep, yep), then the image turns into an impressionist watercolor - detail is just not there... and I've seen numerous reports of this phenomenon, so I'm not the only one who has noticed - funny thing is the images from the prior years' 16MPixel sensor held up as well or better - the TX100 in particular squeezed a lot out of that 16MPixel sensor...

It's really up to you, and budget is always a consideration, but you shouldn't underestimate the RX100 - it takes some time to explore the controls and capabilites, but it's one of those rare times when a camera actually earns the rave reviews and the full MSRP prices (but you can save a little buying lightly used). Sure it'd be "great" (actually might qualify as a "no brainer") at maybe $400-500, and when they come down on the used market I'll probably pick up a few for the family shutterbugs, but this camera is so popular, it'll be a while before the price drops much... so you'll have to weigh whether to pay the "new/hot" premium...

As a "budget" comparison, the HX200 was $479 - the RX100 is $649, or $175 difference... I sold my HX200 right after I got the RX used at a decent price... no regrets. The bang/buck ratio is of course put off a bit by the higher MSRP, but there's a LOT of "bang" there in a tiny little package, and it's likely you'd get a lot better images out of it, and be happier with the results.

Hope that is of some help in the decision making process!
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Old January 13th, 2013, 07:10 PM   #6
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Re: The ideal travel cam

Thanks Dave for your, as usual, thoughtful and helpful comments; much appreciated.

A couple of points of clarification: regarding the comparison between the HX200v and the CX700v I was referring to video (I have not shot stills with the CX700v) and my understanding is that the latest generation of HX and CX devices from Sony including the HX200v and the HX20v/30v versus the HX 100v and the HX9v, and the CX760v versus the CX700, are reported to be sharper than the previous generation when it comes to video and these cams have superior image stabilization. Again, I must emphasis this is anecdotal and I have no solid data to support this claim. I have the HX200v and the video quality I get out of that cam is nothing short of remarkable, and bear in mind my A cam is a Sony EX1. I do like Ďsharpí and excellent image stabilization with hand-held video is a must. Such a lot of video on You Tube shot hand held without image stabilization is, in my opinion, unwatchable.

The second point of clarification is that I am more than happy with the still image quality I get out of the HX200v most of the time as I do not print (and I never pixel peep) but rather publish on the Internet and view on good computer monitors. I will quickly add that when out shooting in safe places and where weight is not a factor I also bring along my NEX 5n for still image capture when I need the ability to go manual.

You make good points about the superior still image quality produced by the RX100 but again, my primary use will be video capture on the go and from what I have viewed on the Internet the video produced by the HX20v is clearly more pleasing to me than the video produced by the RX100 however I have not conducted a side by side comparison.

In any event I now have a HX20v on the way. I noted on a forum somewhere one fellow pointed out that his shirt had two pockets and he carries a HX20v in one for shooting video and an RX100 in the other for shooting stills. Perhaps in due course I might go with his program!

Thanks again, and cheers.
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Old January 14th, 2013, 02:07 AM   #7
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Re: The ideal travel cam

Since I haven't had an HX20, it's a bit tough to compare - owned or own most of the "TX" line, and the HX100 and 200, and a couple of "WX" models. The TX100V is probably one of the nicest cameras I've owned for video, but of course it's got the short zoom range - notably it's cleaner and better in low light than ALL of it's "relatives" (Sony uses the same sensor, just different body designs). It matches up farily well with a CX700, which is a tad sharper than the 5xx series. It baffles me why that particular cam performs so much differently...


I'm sure if you like the HX200, the 20 will do the trick for you. I personally like that top of the line HX body style a lot, handles much better than a "tinycam" package, but I still see the "small chip" image quality, which I also suspect comes from the .jpeg compression algorithms Sony uses - darn SLT-A65 spoilt me, but it won't fit in a pocket! RX100 seems to fit that bill so far, but I too have a couple pockets <wink>.

It's pretty surprising how well the Sony P&S cams with 60p do video, I noticed Sony pretty much eliminated them from the new releases, unless they have some off cycle "surprises" up their sleeve. Makes me wonder where they are going - the Handycam and Cybershot lines were pretty much "downsized" and gutted if the announced cameras are "it", and they seem to be trying for the high end enthusiast market...


One thing the RX100 does quite well is low light - when wide, it does quite well, and you can switch into shutter priority and drop it to 1/30 and it's even better - you'll get a usable image where the P&S cams will be mud. I'll have to do some more shooting in "normal" light, but it's COLD outside right now!

It's always hard to judge from "amateur" sample video - particularly with a "still" camera, I presume they have little or no "video" experience - it "shouldn't" be that much different, but I often see it is...
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Old January 14th, 2013, 10:41 AM   #8
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Re: The ideal travel cam

I recently decided for the Lumix LX7, I had the LX3 for years and really enjoyed it for it's amazing photographic quality but I would always also carry with me a camcorder for travel video.
I got the lumix few weeks ago and will be going to Mexico at the end of the month, this time no camcorder, the LX7 will be my only cam.
I understand your concern for a good zoom and I share it. If the leica lens of the LX7 give you 24 to 90mn (with a fast 1.4 to 2.3) , the camera provide a new gimmick that allow to double your zoom up to 180mn with a minimum loss of quality and it is very impressive. This feature is different that the usual digital zoom (also available on the cam).
Have a look a this footage from the Lumix LX-7
Lumix LX7 Test Footage - Best Compact Camera - YouTube
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Old January 14th, 2013, 12:05 PM   #9
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Re: The ideal travel cam

I have a HX30V as well as CX700 and can confirm that the video from the HX30V is lovely. I bought to carry around and go on my ski trips with me but my wife used as the "B" camera for a short shoot we did and it looked better than the CX700. Was not a totally fair comparison as she was down close the show and I was up an the balcony with the CX700 on a tripod.

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Old January 14th, 2013, 02:10 PM   #10
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Re: The ideal travel cam

I also got the LX7 and am enjoying its video capabilties - it has all the manual controls plus picture tweaks (sharpness, NR, WB, saturation, color modes (natural, etc.)) of pro video cameras and buttons and dials to control, rather than menus. And its sensor is bigger than most camcorders. The f1.4-f2.3 lens is fantastic.

Here are two low-light videos I took having the camera for two weeks:



Plus it has 720p 120fps capability and time-lapse.
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Old January 14th, 2013, 04:24 PM   #11
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Re: The ideal travel cam

Mark , very nice work. Did you get the EVF? I have it and love it.
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Old January 14th, 2013, 05:23 PM   #12
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Re: The ideal travel cam

Thanks. Yes, but I have not made enough use of it yet, as I have been shooting indoors, Will soon.
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Old January 16th, 2013, 10:38 PM   #13
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Re: The ideal travel cam

The simple fact is that many small P&S cameras shoot pretty darn good video - I still have a couple TX100's for backup angles and when I need a small camera. Still shoots some of the cleanest low noise clips, just wish it had more zoom! And I wish Sony had managed to get the same performance out of all the other cameras that used that same sensor... still leaves me scratching my head why that particular model is noticeably better.


I've been fiddling more with all the video capabilites in the RX100... there's a LOT more there that just hitting "record"... Found you can adjust the DRO (Dynamic Range Optimization) level, and add many special effects as well as adjust WB and EV offset. Adds a completely new dimension to "manual control". One of the challenges of this little monster is that there's lots of adjustability hidden just beneath the surface - the "FN" button pops up all sorts of fun things that you can spin through with the ring and buttons! After playing with it more, I got FAR better results than my first "push record" tests. Clearly it is a beast to be harnessed, not a tame consmer camera!
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Old January 17th, 2013, 09:33 AM   #14
 
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Re: The ideal travel cam

From what I have seen the RX100 has been either about the same or even better footage than the NEX-7 but then again it depends on the user and how they shot it. Anyone agree?
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Old January 17th, 2013, 09:41 AM   #15
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Re: The ideal travel cam

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Blackhurst View Post
The simple fact is that many small P&S cameras shoot pretty darn good video - I still have a couple TX100's for backup angles and when I need a small camera. Still shoots some of the cleanest low noise clips, just wish it had more zoom! And I wish Sony had managed to get the same performance out of all the other cameras that used that same sensor... still leaves me scratching my head why that particular model is noticeably better.


I've been fiddling more with all the video capabilites in the RX100... there's a LOT more there that just hitting "record"... Found you can adjust the DRO (Dynamic Range Optimization) level, and add many special effects as well as adjust WB and EV offset. Adds a completely new dimension to "manual control". One of the challenges of this little monster is that there's lots of adjustability hidden just beneath the surface - the "FN" button pops up all sorts of fun things that you can spin through with the ring and buttons! After playing with it more, I got FAR better results than my first "push record" tests. Clearly it is a beast to be harnessed, not a tame consmer camera!
The same is true of the Panasonic LX7 - you have all the manual controls (shutter, focus, apetrure, etc.) and *adjustments* of a pro video camera, including control of sharpness, NR, saturation, contrast + film types. So you can get the "look" you want, which you cannot do with most camcorders.

The LX7 has controls like a pro camera (multiple dials and buttons), unlike the RX100, which is menu driven. The RX100 is much harder to use.

And the LX7 has a built in ND filter you can invoke manually - just like a pro camcorder. You can keep the shutter speed down and still shoot to get shallow dof in sunlight.
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