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(MPG4) Sanyo Xacti (all models)
A compact 720p MPEG4 digital media camera recording to SD Card.


 
 
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Old December 20th, 2007, 08:47 PM   #1
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Xacti HD700 audio

I got a chance to test my $299 amazon purchase today. Still tenative about whether to keep it or not. I was disappointed with the audio quality. In both movie as well as audio recorder mode, there's enough baseline noise in the background to make you think you're listening to scratchy old LPs. For what I want to use it for (backpacking videos), natural sound is important. To make up for the hiss, I'd have to carry some sort of better quality digital recorder like Zoom's H2. But then, any weight savings gained by the 7 ounce Sanyo is lost on an extra 6 ounce recorder.
Anybody else notice this problem?
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Old December 21st, 2007, 05:38 PM   #2
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I also scanned many postings on stevesforum regarding this camera. Most have to do with image quality issues, only one addressed the hiss problem. They said they used some sort of filter in their editing program to "erase" the background hiss. But I find it odd that hardly anyone has noticed this. (Could it be because most are recording in environments that have lots of noise, thus masking the hiss?) Try recording in a quiet--like a tranquil forest setting--environment and you'll see what I mean...unless I have a clunker!
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Old December 22nd, 2007, 10:24 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lynne Whelden View Post
(Could it be because most are recording in environments that have lots of noise, thus masking the hiss?) Try recording in a quiet--like a tranquil forest setting--environment and you'll see what I mean...unless I have a clunker!
Since you can't control the audio record volume level on the HD700 it may not be the ideal choice for your needs. My understanding, albeit limited, is that the camera's audio gain self adjusts so if you're in a nice quiet nature situation the camera is going to turn the audio gain full up "listening" for sound, which might account for the noise. In the stuff I've shot, extremely noisy environments and semi-quiet rooms with speech, the HD700's audio has been fine to my ears -- I was amazed at the way it handled the LOUD stuff as it was close to hurting my unprotected ears.

Never done it myself but I was told by an associate that what he does any time he videos is to shoot a 10-seconds or so of the the background sounds/noise in the scene so he can filter it out later in post production if he wants. He does it in Sound Forge and Sound Booth -- there's Mac audio software as well as freeware that should works as well, maybe even features in the editing apps that will work, too.

I did a PDQ Goggle search for "filtering audio noise in video" and found an old thread here that may be of help: http://dvinfo.net/conf/archive/index.php/t-27923.html

There were a lot of other links as well. You might want to change "video" to the name of the editing app you use for specific solutions and run a test and see if you can find a solution to your liking with the HD700.

Good luck!
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Old December 22nd, 2007, 11:15 AM   #4
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Thanks for the input and suggestions. Odd thing is that yesterday my 700 simply stopped working. Won't turn with battery in nor will it operate in the AC mode. Since I'm still within the 30 trial period (amazon), I have no choice but to send it back for a replacement. That way I'll be able to now compare the hiss from this unit with another.
But you're right, most higher end editing programs should have ways to filter audio. Of course, it's a trade-off: whatever you're removing frequency-wise to deal with the hiss will affect all the other audio as well.
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Old December 22nd, 2007, 02:59 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Lynne Whelden View Post
Thanks for the input and suggestions. Odd thing is that yesterday my 700 simply stopped working. Won't turn with battery in nor will it operate in the AC mode. Since I'm still within the 30 trial period (amazon), I have no choice but to send it back for a replacement. That way I'll be able to now compare the hiss from this unit with another.
But you're right, most higher end editing programs should have ways to filter audio. Of course, it's a trade-off: whatever you're removing frequency-wise to deal with the hiss will affect all the other audio as well.
That's odd, wonder what happened? True, any filtering will have some affect on other things but may not be noticeable, especially to someone watching your videos. I don't shoot in low light nor super quiet situations so it's a neat camera for me. I carry it everywhere I go, which is why I bought it. I have three other video cams that I now dust. :-) Good luck!
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Old December 22nd, 2007, 05:41 PM   #6
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This is the quietest video I've shot and there's cars, planes, etc. in most of the clips. There are brief moments of semi-quiet. Does yours sound like this?

http://gallery.mac.com/crosby007#100210
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Old December 24th, 2007, 06:41 PM   #7
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Lynne,

Are you aware of the Phoenix 0.45x magnetic lens? Very small, lightweight, and gives you a 17mm angle of view. I got mine for $15 and $5 shipping from Amazon. Here's a few samples with/without it.

http://gallery.mac.com/crosby007#100210
http://gallery.mac.com/crosby007#100211

What it looks like: http://members.cox.net/visorblue/images/Phoenix045x.jpg
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Old December 24th, 2007, 07:27 PM   #8
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I think the sound's similar. What I hear underneath your audio is a subtle "roar" that, without seeing the visuals that accompany it, sounds like a stream in the background or a constant wind in the trees. Now, to be honest, I only listened to the first few seconds (I have dial-up and low patience) but I persuaded myself that I could hear the hiss.

As for the WA lens, did you get the large or the small or do both work just fine?

I sent back the camera today and Amazon tells me the new one will be delivered in 3 more days. Wow, talk about service!
Are people buying the 8gb cards or going with the cheaper smaller cards?
I wish there was a forum other than steves dedicated to the use of this camera...
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Old December 25th, 2007, 07:17 AM   #9
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I think the sound's similar. What I hear underneath your audio is a subtle "roar" that, without seeing the visuals that accompany it, sounds like a stream in the background or a constant wind in the trees.
The background sound in mine is usually traffic. I live on a main street so even with the dog playing in the yard there's the sounds of traffic muffling out the birds, etc. No streams...sewer pipes count? :-)

Quote:
Now, to be honest, I only listened to the first few seconds (I have dial-up and low patience) but I persuaded myself that I could hear the hiss.
Do as I do, hit pause and go freshen up a cup of coffee, tea, whatever, come back and the videos are ready to play.

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As for the WA lens, did you get the large or the small or do both work just fine?
Go with the large. Someone on Steve's (I'm Visorblue there) got the small one and while it works fine in video it vignettes in stills at full wide. Technically, it shouldn't but technically the HD700 shouldn't be wider in 4:3 stills than the video is in 16:9.

I'm amazed that the tiny $15-30 piece of glass is so sharp. I had a much larger, more expensive add-on lens that I'd rigged up that I was happy with until I dropped and broke it. When I tested the Phoenix I was very surprised. I may get the 1.5x version, too.

Quote:
I sent back the camera today and Amazon tells me the new one will be delivered in 3 more days. Wow, talk about service!
Hope the replacement one is quiet enough for you, or you find a way to know the noise out.

Quote:
Are people buying the 8gb cards or going with the cheaper smaller cards?
I got a 8GB class 4 Kingston one of sale for $40 after rebate. Others seem to be sing 2 and 4GB ones. I didn't want to need to remove mine. Ordered an aftermarket battery and charger from Hong Kong that I'm, waiting for.

Quote:
I wish there was a forum other than steves dedicated to the use of this camera...
Yeah, me, too. Just not enough owners yet as it's still a new camera and it's a rather specialized one at that. I'm doing my best to keep the main thread on Steve's going. I've seen discussion elsewhere but not on a video forum. You always have here.
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Old December 25th, 2007, 11:04 AM   #10
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Ok, I'll exhibit more patience and give it another try.

Interesting to hear about the quality of such a cheap WA lens as the Phoenix is. For my Sony HC3 I bought the Sony WA (vcl-hg0 0730x) and paid $120. It's a .7 so there's not any distortion to speak of and it's clearly made for HD use. Hard to imagine that a $15 lens could come close to that in quality. Add to that the weight of the Sony lens, 4 ounces, and it becomes a real drag to carry around.

So Class 4 SD cards are fine? Class 6 isn't a requirement? I see where amazon is selling Class 6 4gb cards for $20. I guess it makes more sense to get a bunch of those rather than an 8gb card for $66, which is what the special was being offered with the $299 camera around Thanksgiving.
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Old December 25th, 2007, 12:14 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Lynne Whelden View Post
Interesting to hear about the quality of such a cheap WA lens as the Phoenix is. For my Sony HC3 I bought the Sony WA (vcl-hg0 0730x) and paid $120. It's a .7 so there's not any distortion to speak of and it's clearly made for HD use. Hard to imagine that a $15 lens could come close to that in quality.
I didn't side-by-side compare it to a Sony, I have a Sony WCL-HG0758 for my JVC HD, and it's a big heavy chunk of glass. Haven't put it on my HD700 as it's twice the size and 5+ times the weight of the camera (wild guess). However, the Phoenix is tiny, cheap, and from my tests performs quite well. Check the clips to see if it meets your needs. It's magnetic and attached to the HD700 without the included adhesive rings. I would jog with it as it will fall off. Added an O-ring and strap to mine.

Quote:
So Class 4 SD cards are fine? Class 6 isn't a requirement? I see where amazon is selling Class 6 4gb cards for $20. I guess it makes more sense to get a bunch of those rather than an 8gb card for $66, which is what the special was being offered with the $299 camera around
The camera will work fine with standard SD cards as well as SDHC class 2 ones. No real speed requirement for it but a faster card may (or may not) speed up the transfer to your computer. My Class 4 one works just fine. There's lots of deals on cards online. I try to stick with a name brand; Sandisk, Kingston, and a few others.

While I've never had a problem with even off-brand cards in still cameras I'd hate to have a problem shooting a documentary or something else important. Chris Hurd in another thread ( http://dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=107015&page=2 ) said he's had more than a few go bad so I'll hedge my bet with a name brand card. Good luck!
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Old January 1st, 2008, 03:03 PM   #12
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let-down

Well, I had the opportunity to play back my new Sanyo HD700 images on a 52" Samsung LCD. Talk about disappointed. Even at the highest bit-rate setting, the picture looked like a bad watercolor drawing--trees in the distance were smudges, not distinct--the brown bark on near-by trees were swimming with pulsating grainy pixels (pulsated with noise in about 1-sec. intervals). My conclusion was that this camera, while totally fun as a pocket cam, isn't up to true HD production standards. I don't mean Discovery Channel broadcast standards, I mean simply looking pleasing to one's eye on the big tv screen. Do you think the HD1000 is much better image-wise? Or are there simply no lightweight (well under a pound) solid-state cameras up to the task of shooting backpacking videos with an HD future in mind?
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Old January 1st, 2008, 05:41 PM   #13
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Well, I had the opportunity to play back my new Sanyo HD700 images on a 52" Samsung LCD. Talk about disappointed. Even at the highest bit-rate setting, the picture looked like a bad watercolor drawing--trees in the distance were smudges, not distinct--the brown bark on near-by trees were swimming with pulsating grainy pixels (pulsated with noise in about 1-sec. intervals).
Hmm. Just saw a post in another forum where someone finally saw the output from their HD700 on their brother's (or someone's) 52" and they all were blown away. I don't know what their experience/taste is and I don't have a HDTV so I can't give my opinion.

Someone in one of the HD1000 threads should be able to help you on how it works. Assuming you've seem The Clarks music video that was shot with HD1000s. http://gallery.mac.com/xacti#100000

There was a full resolution version you could download somewhere. There are full resolution file links in this http://dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=110608 thread.

Quote:
My conclusion was that this camera, while totally fun as a pocket cam, isn't up to true HD production standards. I don't mean Discovery Channel broadcast standards, I mean simply looking pleasing to one's eye on the big tv screen. Do you think the HD1000 is much better image-wise? Or are there simply no lightweight (well under a pound) solid-state cameras up to the task of shooting backpacking videos with an HD future in mind?
Not many small solid state cameras to choose from. I don't think the Panasonic SD1 would be up to your standards either.
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Old January 1st, 2008, 05:55 PM   #14
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Yes, beauty is always in the eyes of the beholder. If someone had told me I was looking at an SD cam on the 52" screen, I too would have been impressed. The challenge of backpacking videos, as opposed to music videos like the Clarks you mentioned, is capturing the small detail under prevailing light conditions. The flutter of leaves in the far distance, the undulating waves of millions of ferns in a field...all stuff that SD renders poorly. I guess I'll have to stick with my Sony HC3 for now. I did send an email to Steve Mullen asking him of his awareness of any light cameras "out there." We'll see. But thanks for your help along the way. The HD 700 is a fun camera!!!
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Old January 1st, 2008, 06:58 PM   #15
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I did send an email to Steve Mullen asking him of his awareness of any light cameras "out there." We'll see. But thanks for your help along the way. The HD 700 is a fun camera!!!
The HD1000's 1920x1080 vs. the HD700's 1280x720 might be closer to what you need. Did you download and check out any of the footage?

Is the HC3 too big/heavy (or the tapes and batteries) for your needs? Granted, I'm a Les Stroud fan. :-)
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