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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 March 8th, 2006, 05:53 AM   #1
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Can we draw some conclusions?

Now that at least 3 people in the world now own the HD1, is it possible to come to some conclusions about its performance? Or at least clear up major misperceptions about the camera? Namely, that:
1--only bright sun and a tripod will result in a decent picture
2--that diagonal lines tilting to from R to L can't be reproduced accurately
3--that the footage is difficult to edit
4--that 4 GB cards aren't compatible yet

Personally I have high hopes for this camera but have had my expectations lowered by reading preliminary reports.
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Old March 8th, 2006, 08:29 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lynne Whelden
Now that at least 3 people in the world now own the HD1, is it possible to come to some conclusions about its performance? Or at least clear up major misperceptions about the camera? Namely, that:
1--only bright sun and a tripod will result in a decent picture
2--that diagonal lines tilting to from R to L can't be reproduced accurately
3--that the footage is difficult to edit
4--that 4 GB cards aren't compatible yet

Personally I have high hopes for this camera but have had my expectations lowered by reading preliminary reports.
My questions are different.

1--Can the HD1 serve as my primary compact camera?
2--Related to 1 above, will the stills be better or worse than a FUji 700?
a--Forget that the flash is weak. That means little since most small cameras have weak flash. Is the flash and low light operation comparable to a $300 compact camera?
b--Is the speed comparable to my Fuji F700 in terms of shot ot shot still speed and focus speed?
3--I don't care if the video isn't fully HD quality. Is it significantly better than the 640x480 AVI video taken by most compact cameras like my F700?
4--Can the camera function as the primary non-enthusiast video camera?
a--Do you get usable video indoors?
b--Is it automatic enough to just turn on and start takign pictures of kds playing i.e. ability to focus, exposure capability when automatic?

I think the 4GB SD card question has actually been answered in the positive since at least two people have used them successfully in the camera. Computer card readers, however, may not work. You may have to transfer from the camera to the computer via USB.

Paul
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Old March 8th, 2006, 11:59 AM   #3
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"Can we draw some conclusions?"

I don't think so. It's too early.


"Only bright sun and a tripod will result in a decent picture"

A considerable amount of light and competent handheld operation are standard requirements for good videography... would be a less hysterical way of putting it.


"Do you get usable video indoors?"

In my opinion, unless there is a lot of light shining in the window or you actually light the scene, no.

However, many would be as satisfied as they were using handycams indoors in the past.

Because this camera scrapes a HD classification, expectations skyrocket.


"Diagonal lines tilting to from R to L can't be reproduced accurately"

I am getting the jaggies everyone else got.


"The footage is difficult to edit"

Not in Vegas it ain't. Import the HD1 MP4 files directly, make a HDV intermediate so that cutting won't be slow and when you are rendering conform the original MP4 footage - all these options are available without fuss in Vegas 6.

NB: I know the Sanyo HD1 isn't HDV


"4 GB cards aren't compatible yet"

At least two people have used them without difficulty. There is a separate issue relating to SD cards: that cards formatted in-camera may not work elsewhere and vice-versa. Rafael del Campo Garcia doesn't have a problem pulling that off, though - see separate thread http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=62328.

Not an issue for me because of the great docking station used for transfer. If I desperately needed to transport 4GB of files without the cam/docking station/leads in tow I would burn them onto a DVD. People who use SD cards in various readers have a right to be irritated though.


"I don't care if the video isn't fully HD quality. Is it significantly better than the 640x480 AVI video taken by most compact cameras like my F700?"

A different world.


"Is it automatic enough to just turn on and start takign pictures of kids playing i.e. ability to focus, exposure capability when automatic?"

Nearly.

You'll need to use some judgement.

The OLED monitor is better than LCD screens were - which tends to make up for it.
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Last edited by Graham Jones; March 9th, 2006 at 02:25 AM.
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Old March 8th, 2006, 05:24 PM   #4
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jaggies

Can you comment more on the diagonal line jaggies you see? Is it only on straight lines? In other words, shooting nature-type footage where straight lines rarely are seen, would it be apparent? Is it so subtle even when it IS present that you really have to look for it to see it? Can you live with it?
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Old March 8th, 2006, 06:49 PM   #5
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Any judgment of cameras is relative to the purpose for which they will be used. An 8 X 10 view camera is more "perfect" than a 35mm, but you wouldn't want to use it for candids.

My personal standard is what looks good on my 60" Sony HDTV. My 50 year-old Kodachromes look terrific at 1920 x 1080 (which is only 2 Megapixels, by the way).

When this discussion began, I was using a Sony PC1000 DV camcorder; its video looked pretty good, but not great. Its 1920 X 1080 stills were not very good. 5 MP stills from a Panasonic FZ20 were excellent, even when reduced to 1920 X 1080.

The Sanyo HD1 has met my expectations. The video looks markedly better than my DV, the stills just as good as those from the Panasonic FZ20. I now have what I wanted, a single, small camera that gives me what I want in video and stills.

The small size brings some issues: it is hard to hold still. I am experimenting with adding some weight at the tripod socket, etc. The only significant complaint (there's always something) is the microphone picking up the sound of the auto focus in quiet environments. I will probably create some sort of very small microphone that plugs into the external mic input.

As always seems to happen to me, I am modifying the camera as soon as I get it!
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Old March 9th, 2006, 02:15 AM   #6
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"Can you comment more on the diagonal line jaggies you see? Is it only on straight lines? In other words, shooting nature-type footage where straight lines rarely are seen, would it be apparent? Is it so subtle even when it IS present that you really have to look for it to see it? Can you live with it?"

I would need to do frame grabs and blow them up, as others have done. Right now all I can say is that based on the blown up frame grabs I saw elsewhere, I am pretty sure the same phenomenon is occuring on my unit.

It's not apparent to me - I wouldn't have even noticed had it not been pointed out - and I can definitely live with it. Indeed, it may be possible to resolve with a firmware upgrade at a Sanyo repair station down the line.

"I now have what I wanted, a single, small camera that gives me what I want in video and stills."

This is one of the great things about this camera. It really does do both. Remember the memory card in the PD1/HD1/10 that was for still capture? The still capture was very poor because all the cam was doing was grabbing frames from the live video. One frame in five was okay, the rest weren't. Unless you were shooting sculpture.

The same problem occurs with still cameras that supposedly shoot movies - all they're really doing is taking advantage of the live video that services the monitor.

The Sanyo HD1 actually does both jobs in a dedicated way.
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Old March 9th, 2006, 04:28 AM   #7
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I've shot a little bit more footage with the camera and the penny is dropping.

The HD1 does not take well to subtle shifts in light.

This explains the whole 'you need a tripod and a sunny day' furore.

You don't need a tripod, you don't need a sunny day.

But now I accept that you do need consistency of light.
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Old March 9th, 2006, 07:09 AM   #8
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Does that mean the dynamic range is more limited than most camcorders, that it can't handle a scene well that has dark shadows as well as areas of bright sun...like, say, a nature scene where shafts of light are illuminating a forest floor that's otherwise in deep shadow from leaves overhead? (Not that any camcorder could reproduce that well!) I'd expose it for the highlight and hope for the best in the shadows. But do you think the HD1 could do a good job at this?
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Old March 9th, 2006, 07:37 AM   #9
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It seems surprisingly good at resolving that kind of thing until the light shifts.

It's early days yet..
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Last edited by Graham Jones; March 9th, 2006 at 12:29 PM.
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Old March 9th, 2006, 01:06 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lynne Whelden
3--that the footage is difficult to edit
I'm working on this ;)
(converting to AVI without loss with uncompressed audio for use in any nle.... If you know what's ffmpeg, it can do the job pretty easily)
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Old March 9th, 2006, 04:41 PM   #11
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hmmmm

I wonder if using the 2nd best setting (I don't remember its designation) would eliminate the jaggies. What's the difference between the highest quality (9 MB/sec) and the 6 MB in terms of what the eye can see?
Also, as far as the camera's ability to handle shifting light, is it because the automatic exposure circuitry just isn't sensitive enough and it ends up over-exposing all the time?
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Old March 9th, 2006, 04:55 PM   #12
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Actually I tried the second best setting today - compared SHQ and HQ. I was surprised not to see any difference! Both are the same HD Res. As far as I know the only difference is the 6mb vs 9mb. This has to cause some difference.

Yes, it could be because the automatic exposure circuitry just isn't sensitive enough..

I'm wondering if having the cam on auto is worth it.
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Old March 10th, 2006, 05:57 AM   #13
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Fascinating...

That's interesting that the 6 MB setting doesn't look any different from the 9 MB setting. Plus you're getting a lot more recording time on the card! What's going on there?
As for the light issue, you know the f-stop range of that camera is not standard. Why does it only open up to 3.5? And why does it only stop down to f8? Virtually all other camcorder's range is from 1.8 to 16. Clearly there's a limitation here on its ability to handle much variation in light. But why that is I haven't a clue....
Still, its portability makes it so tantalizing.
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Old March 10th, 2006, 05:59 AM   #14
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Graham,

Thanks for the great input.

Paul
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Old March 10th, 2006, 08:40 AM   #15
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A drop to 6MB has to cause some difference. Just can't see it yet. Perhaps because the resolution is the same and because I'm so focused on all the other factors, the lower bitrate isn't making an impression on me. I don't know.

It was better weather in Ireland today and I was able to do more thorough testing outdoors, as opposed to just popping out for a second.

In Auto mode the cam definitely does seem to overexpose outdoors / underexpose indoors. Anybody hoping to point and shoot with this cam will probably find a lot of their HD footage doesn't look HD due to exposure problems.

Adjusting the aperture didn't seem to help, either...

However, I switched from MULTI SECTION LIGHT MEASURING to CENTER WEIGHTED LIGHT MEASURING and found that the light sensitivity problem wasn't as bad. Perhaps Sanyo should have designated CENTER WEIGHTED as default.

Also, when I put the shutter at 1/60, switched the ND filter on and then put the exposure meter (another setting always accessible by simply pushing the joystick to the right) down as far down as it would go, I discovered a much more acceptable image, that personally I quite liked.

However, that's subjective. It also meant shadows were very underexposed and that overall it was very contrasty.

There are a lot of manual settings to get through - even if none provide full range.

It may be possible to find a recipe for getting the most out of this camera, but it is definitely not something that happens automatically or even very easily.

In addition to the 'competent videography' I said was required, some artfulness is needed.

I'm kind of enjoying it, though. It's like I'm using a Super 8 camera or something.
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Last edited by Graham Jones; March 11th, 2006 at 12:06 AM.
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