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Old October 16th, 2011, 09:44 AM   #346
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Re: The Panasonic TM900 Users Thread

Those pictures are offensive to chinchillas everywhere.
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Old October 16th, 2011, 08:21 PM   #347
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Re: The Panasonic TM900 Users Thread

Claire - I love your pictures! Now that I returned my tripod, I can't wait for my monopod to get here and see it all set up. I ordered the Manfrotto 561BHDV-1 Fluid Video Monopod with Head. I think it will work really well for shooting video from inside a vehicle, either while sitting down in an open sided vehicle or through the roof in a closed-sided vehicle. So I appreciate your and Tom's nudging in that direction.

Alastair - I will try your suggestion before I decide whether or not to get a microphone. I would definitely be looking at something smaller than in Claire's setup. The question is, will a smaller (stereo) microphone perform better than the built in mike?

How much storage do you think I need? I will be shooting at 1080/60p. Do you think a 35GB SD card for each full day on safari is sufficient? I read tests on some cards that different cards perform better when you delete out sections of video and then record more video on the card. Any experience with this? Claire - how much did you use on your trip?

And Tom - there are still 2 or 3 spots left on my trip! And you still have time to get your visa and your shots if you hurry!
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Old October 16th, 2011, 10:50 PM   #348
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Re: The Panasonic TM900 Users Thread

Hi Carol,

I use a Nikon ME-1 mic for when I want decent sound. Checkout this post for a few clips and piccies: Panasonic SD900 + Nikon ME-1 = pretty good stereo sound

I also have one of these permanently attached and it actually works quite well: Stick-On WindCutter

Cheers,
Ian
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Old October 17th, 2011, 02:42 AM   #349
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Re: The Panasonic TM900 Users Thread

The good thing about plugging in an external stereo mic is that you'll get stereo recordings whether you're in iA or manual recording mode. With no external mic on board you get (unnecessary, in my view) 5.1 audio recordings in the iA mode.

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Old October 17th, 2011, 12:17 PM   #350
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Re: The Panasonic TM900 Users Thread

Ian - thank you for the link. I watched the 360 degree test of the running water on YouTube that was linked to in the thread and that sold me on the Nikon ME-1! I have some video I shot last week of my dogs splashing around in a small pond that we came upon while hiking and I can hear my breathing in it almost as much as I can hear the splashing! I also ordered the Micover Slipover Windscreen. I may not need it in Africa, but I am sure that I need when taping my dogs at the beach here in Pacifica.

Is there anything special I need to know about the sound settings while using the mic? For example, do I leave the wind noise canceler on? Also, any suggestions when using the built-in mic in manual mode?

I have a lightweight Sennheiser noise-cancelling headset that I will be bringing with me (I use it with my iPod on the plane so that I can sleep). Will it help to use it when the sound that I am capturing is important? And if so, do I use it with noise cancellation on or off?

I had ordered the stick-on wind cover you recommended last week and I'm still waiting for it to come in. I'm sure that will help when I want to go really light and not use an external mic.

I have questions related to another topic: I have a difficult time shooting my black lab. I know that I will have similar problems with dark-skinned people when I am in Africa. I thought I would use the AE/AF tracking function, but that is only available in auto mode. So what is the best way to improve my video in these situations?
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Old October 17th, 2011, 12:32 PM   #351
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Re: The Panasonic TM900 Users Thread

I wonder if the fact that you could hear your breathing was due to the camera recording 5.1 audio in the iA mode, Carol. In manual you can specify that the camera only uses the stereo L & R mic capsules, which may help directionality (not sure, haven't tested that).

Generally wind noise cancellers are simply bass-cut filters, the theory being that if you don't record the bass you won't record the wind. I dislike the thin sound they leave behind. Try recording your hi-fi with the filter on and then off.

Noise cancellation can be good, though generally such h/phones are frowned upon by audio guys because the cancellation circuitry robs you of some fidelity. I like them though - in noisy surroundings (such as that mountain stream, say) what you hear is what you get on the soundtrack. Tghey're like a big rubber eyecup on the v'finder.

Know what you mean about the black lab. Anyone who has photos of themselves with their black lab know they sit beside a silhouette, because the dynamic range required to expose from shadow to highlight is beyond cheap cameras. You can bump the exposure for black faces (using the backlight function, say) but that will be at the expense of the rest of the frame. Best to let them be black unless they're frame-filling faces.

tom.
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Old October 17th, 2011, 01:18 PM   #352
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Re: The Panasonic TM900 Users Thread

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Originally Posted by Tom Hardwick View Post
I wonder if the fact that you could hear your breathing was due to the camera recording 5.1 audio in the iA mode, Carol. In manual you can specify that the camera only uses the stereo L & R mic capsules, which may help directionality (not sure, haven't tested that).
And I thought it was because I was out of shape!
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Old October 17th, 2011, 05:17 PM   #353
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Re: The Panasonic TM900 Users Thread

Hi Carol, I only ever record in stereo and have never recorded myself breathing. The 5.1 is too awkward to edit in post.

When using the Nikon, if I am in a windy situation, I leave the noice canceler on just to help out. Unfortunately, the Nikon is good at recording wind noise. I have actually emailed Rebekah from WindCutter asking if they will make a furry for it. When indoors, I turn noice canceller off. It does seem to produce a wider dynamic range with it off. I always use the mike in manual, never used auto.

Cheers,
Ian
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Old October 18th, 2011, 04:44 AM   #354
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Re: The Panasonic TM900 Users Thread

Generally the better the mic's frequency response (i e the more expensive and sensitive it is) the better it will record wind noise. Switching in the wind-cut filter generally only curtails the bass response - it certainly shouldn't affect the overall dynamic range.

The limited bass response of the Nikon should help in this regard - though of course it's always best to shield the capsules from the moving air rather than to jettison the bass from the outset.

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Old October 18th, 2011, 11:51 AM   #355
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Re: The Panasonic TM900 Users Thread

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Originally Posted by Carol Berman View Post
I have a difficult time shooting my black lab. I know that I will have similar problems with dark-skinned people when I am in Africa. I thought I would use the AE/AF tracking function, but that is only available in auto mode. So what is the best way to improve my video in these situations?
The video scope in my NLE indicates luminance and chroma are being recorded in PC space (0 - 255). I apply a filter in post, along with a slight gamma adjustment. Also shoot with intelligent contrast on. The bummer is that iris mode switches ic off. Works in shtr or prgm auto though. That's about all you can do, dynamic range is the weakpoint.
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Old October 18th, 2011, 01:59 PM   #356
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Re: The Panasonic TM900 Users Thread

I want to thank everyone who has been helping me prepare for my trip. There are a number of classes available in the San Francisco area for photography, but other than formal film school classes, I can't find any classes where you can go out with an instructor and shoot video and learn more about how your camcorder works. So this thread has really helped to fill in some details for me and guided me about what to go out and test.

I think that I am pretty close when it comes to equipment. Here is what I currently have or have ordered:
Panasonic TM900 (obviously)
Manfrotto FLUID VIDEO MONOPOD W/HEAD - Fluid (shipped today)
ME-1 Stereo Microphone from Nikon (arrives tomorrow)
Micover Slipover Windscreen for Nikon ME-1) (Ian - I think this is what you are looking for)
Raynox HD-6600PRO 0.66x Distortion-Free Wideangle Conversion Lens for High Definition cameras
B + W 46mm Top Linear Polarizer Coated Glass Filter

I am also bringing 1 std. and 2 large Panasonic batteries and charger, plastic bags, small case, various supplies for cleaning lenses and camera, and white and grey WB cards.

I haven't decided how many SD cards to bring yet.

I also haven't decided whether or not to use a daylight, plain glass, UV, or no filter on my camcorder all the time. And I haven't determined if I need to get a polarizing filter for the Wideangle Conversion Lens and if I need a protective filter on the front of that lens.

I think that this not only meets Tom's travel light rule, it also should provide me everything I need to take awesome videos. Now I need to practice, practice, practice to make sure that I really know how to use all of it without having to think about it!
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Old October 18th, 2011, 02:07 PM   #357
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Re: The Panasonic TM900 Users Thread

Carol,

You nailed it in the last line. Get totally familar with the camera/ancillary gear you're going to be using before the trip and you'll not regret it.

Regarding SD cards - well I took four 16GB SDHC cards to supplement the 32GB in built memory on my TM900 to a recent 3 week trip back to my wife's native Mauritius. I could have filled twice as many cards...so what I did was every day spend 30 minutes reviewing what I'd shot the day before, deleting obviously naff clips and trimming the ends off any that had good sections in them to economise on memory usage. The in-camera editing tools are surprisingly easy to use once you've got a need! Sure, doing all that with the (otherwise pretty good) LCD as your only monitor is not ideal but it worked OK for me.

Enjoy your trip and enjoy that cam. It's an amazing bit of technology that only 5 years ago I'd have said would be impossible to do in such a small package - capable of stunning images when you know how to use it (occassionally, I even manage to get a few with it myself!).

Just be careful about blowing out areas of the picture in very bright conditions. The Picture Adjust, then dial Exposure setting down to -2 or -3 (or even more sometimes) is an important thing with that - as indeed are the Zebra and Histogram tools (never leave home without them enabled - they are very useful and accurate even on this tiny little cam!). Shooting at 1/100th shutter speed in bright light is also something I do routinely now. I shoot almost exclusively in 1080p50 mode by the way being in PAL land. You'll soon get to know all the tricks with this cam and will squeeze the best out of it.

Good luck!
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Old October 18th, 2011, 03:16 PM   #358
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Re: The Panasonic TM900 Users Thread

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Originally Posted by Carol Berman View Post
I also haven't decided whether or not to use a daylight, plain glass, UV, or no filter on my camcorder all the time. And I haven't determined if I need to get a polarizing filter for the Wideangle Conversion Lens and if I need a protective filter on the front of that lens.
I can tell you now Carol - only use filters with this camera when you *absolutely must*. Why? Well look at it this way. If you had a 35mm lens on your SLR you could put a filter in front of it without fear of either surface of the filter being in focus on your film, right? Now look at the 900. It's '35mm lens' is in fact an incredibly tiny 3.4mm. Space your fingertips that 1/8'' apart, marvel at the incredibly short focal length and realise that the dof will mean that both surfaces of the filter will be coming into focus at wide angle and close focus.

Do you want spots and splodges in your against the light shots? Thought not. By adding the filter you've got to have three spotlessly clean surfaces - very difficult to achieve, and in against the light shots any minuscule dust spots will be all too apparent.

Now you fit the 0.66x Raynox and your focal length is an astonishing 2.27mm. Your front element is going to have to be squeaky clean and although Raynox describe it as a 'filter thread', take my word for it (I owned one of these) it's much better treated as a hood thread.

So no, you don't need a protective filter. If the rhino's that close the filter won't help you and anyway, modern multi-coatings are pretty tough - you can clean them with (washable) microfibre cloths and all will be well.

tom.

PS, just to add - Carol, you realise that the 6600Pro is not a full zoom-through lens, don't you?

Last edited by Tom Hardwick; October 18th, 2011 at 05:13 PM.
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Old October 18th, 2011, 08:31 PM   #359
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Re: The Panasonic TM900 Users Thread

Andy - Nice to hear from you! Thank you for starting this thread and thank you for the advice. My goal is to shoot in as many different environments that I can and then evaluate on my 1080p TV before I go.

Tom - you just saved me a lot of money on filters! I just want to check: When I am not using the adapter, I should still use the polarizing filter when conditions call for it?

Let me see if I have this right about the lenses:

The wide angle lens in the TM900 is a 35mm equiv. lens. If I use intelligent zoom to 20x, that gives me a 35-700mm equiv. zoom. (700=20x35) If I go the the 30x setting, I have a 35-1050 mm equiv zoom. I did some testing on my larger 1080p tv and that video still looked fine to me. I need to do more testing, but at this time, I am planning to use the zoom setting up to 30x, but would welcome any advice.

The 6600PRO is a .66converter. So the wide angle is converted to 23 mm equiv. The 6600PRO is optimized to focus through to 6x zoom, or to 138mm equiv. The lens is optimized to have imperceptible distortion and no vignetting over that range.

So without the adapter, I have the equivalent of a 35-700 or 1050mm zoom lens. With the adapter, I have the equivalent of a 23-138mm zoom lens. That seemed to be a pretty good mix to me, but I am basing that on when I used to travel with my Olympus OM-1, shooting slides, with a wide angle zoom and a telephoto zoom.

My decision came down to this lens and the Panasonic VW-W4607 Wide Conversion Lens (0.7x). Almost every review of the Panasonic lens remarked on how heavy it is. I only considered 46mm lenses since I find it a lot harder to change lenses when I need to use an step-up ring. But now that you point it out, that lens would be the equivalent of a 24.5-294 zoom at 12x, and to 490 at 20x. How would the quality of that video compare to video shot without the adapter on?

Do you think I made the wrong choice and I would be happier with the Panasonic adapter? Or a third adapter I didn't even consider? (The adapter won't arrive until next week, so I can easily change my order.)
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Old October 19th, 2011, 03:32 AM   #360
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Re: The Panasonic TM900 Users Thread

OK, we'll take the points in order. Firstly I'm glad you've got the message that filters add nothing, they only take away. That 'taking away' might leave you with better images which in itself can be good reason for using them, but there's little that can't be replicated in post - although the polariser is a noted exception.

Grads can be good for bright skies over dark plains and if you've got all the time in the world then a selection can mean you carefully flag the filters so that they're always operating in the shade. This way the inevitable imperfections won't show up on your footage. It's a big reason why matt boxes are popular.

Of course the wide converter means hooding the front element becomes much more difficult, but paradoxically much more important. Aspect ratio hoods (or petal hoods) are the answer if that's possible.

Polarisers (as you know) do their magic when used at 90 degrees to the sun's axis, so they can give continuity headaches when your shots happen to be 90 degrees apart. They also remove the sheen from hair and fur, so the male lion might not be best pleased.

My 6600Pro did add to the barrel distortion but not by much. Raynox trade distortion for zoom ratio, and Panasonic take the other route. They give you the full zoom but in combination with more barrel distortion. When I had the Raynox I was always worrying at what point as I zoomed I would enter this soft zone - with the Panasonic lens attached you can forget this worry. And will the distortion show up on the African plains? I doubt it. It'll show up in the Toyota Land Destroyer though, when you film your cut-aways.

Now some thoughts about the 900's lens. When shooting stills it's a 12x zoom - with different focal lengths depending on the aspect ratio chosen (unlike their GH2, say). When you shoot movies you can 'use the full chip' and get a 20x zoom (very clever, Panny) without loss of resolution and with mild f/1.5 to f/2.8 ramping. If you go into the digital zoom area, even slightly, you lose picture quality. OK, you say it's hard to spot but nevertheless it's there.

The next point is that a focal length of 1050mm really requires a concrete tripod, and however good the hybrid OIS and monopod is, that's asking a lot. As always, pictures trump specs, so if you're getting better pictures at the 30x setting rather than the 15x setting, go for it.

There must be a lot of wimps out there. Complaining about the weight of the W4607? Will someone else carry their water bottle? And we're back to my statement that the picture is more important than the pixels. Adding an extra (slightly miss-centered) 3 elements in front of your fine 12x zoom will degrade the image; it's the law of the land. Oh, and having a polariser on the 900 and the wide-converter on that (now 4 extra elements) could well result in vignetting - on the smaller W4607 more so than on the 6600Pro (which will have its step-down ring permanently attached).

tom.

ps just to add that this 900 review is well wort a read:
http://www.camcorderinfo.com/content...der-Review.htm

Last edited by Tom Hardwick; October 19th, 2011 at 06:31 AM.
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