Vlog #14 – last days in Amsterdam, and camcorder thoughts

28 Sep, '05
last couple of days in Amsterdam
6.5MB • 5m42s • get Quicktime

The last couple of days in Amsterdam. It rained, and then the cold, cough and VERY sore throat caught up with me, so much so that I was off sick for a week after a came back and I still suffer from it. Even after two visits to docs and a couple of shots and a bucketful of medicines. Never mind, I’m alive.

The quality of these clips should be familiar to you now.. all through my Nokia 6630 phonecam… the picture is ok, the sound is crap. Ok ok, both are crap…

I saw a fantastic Samsung flash-memory based camera in Dubai the day before yesterday and fell in love with it. Very thin and slightly better quality pictures than the phonecam, but not so much better for me to flash my card and buy it. That’s coming soon I think as I do need some handy, little, light camcorder to continue vlogging (yes the bug is deeply ingrained now.)

I also saw some really nice Sony HDV camcorders at the Gitex exhibition in Dubai a couple of days ago, one in particular shows a lot of promise, a cheapo HDV model: the HDR-HC1 and it was listed at 7,000 Dirhams ($1,866). The picture quality was definitely better than any DV camcorder I’ve seen (single CCD ones) but the pictures were washed out, with a lot of colour smearing especially at ambient indoor light.

Sony were running a side-by-side comparison footage shot using the HDR-HC1 and a normal DV camcorder, the exercise shows quite clearly that the quality of the HDV produced by the HDR-HC1 is much better. However, when compared with the HDR-FX1 “proper” consumer HDV, it pales in comparison. The reason I think is not only because of the optics, but also the CCD blocks, the HDR-HC1 uses a single CMOS chip for image acquisition, which is a new technology as far as I can gather, rather than the 3 individual CCDs as in the case of the FX1. The technology shows a lot of promise.. but I would hold off and pay the approximately $1,000 difference and get the FX1 instead if I was looking for image quality.

BUT (yes, there is always a but somewhere) judging by my experience with the Canon EOS 20D, it is a large camera, not easily portable, and is not really a “point-and-shoot” type. It totally discourages you from simple “lomography” if you like when compared with the IXUS for instance. Throw that in your pocket and shoot anything that moves. In fact, that is one of the main reasons that I shoot with my phonecam rather than bring out my Sony PC9E DV camcorder. Convenience. The Sony PC9E is bulky and unwieldy compared to a mobile phone of course, in addition to it being a bit threatening. However, the picture quality is infinitely better.

But I’m getting to be lazy. I want small and fast. That’s why I’ve been looking more and more into the new mobile telephones with particular emphasis on their image acquisition engines! Top of the heap at the moment seem to belong to the Sony Ericsson W800i. The newer Nokia N90 is a total disappointment. Although the camera is just as good as the Ericsson model, the design is total and utter crap. Whoever designed the N90 should be shot, because I think he’s done a lot more damage to Nokia than any competitor could. It’s big, bulky and total and utter crap.

Anyway, I guess I have to make some sort of decision regarding camcorders. I would really love to just get a small and cheerful camcorder for instant shooting, even if it records on memory sticks (though that would be restrictive in the length of the movies it can store) or even better a smaller format than DV. Didn’t Sony bring out those MPEG4 camcorders a couple of years ago? Whatever happened to them?

I’d like to hear from you if you have or indeed use such a small camcorder and let me know your experiences with it. I’m looking to buy something immediately, but need to hear some opinions first…

Enjoy the movies!

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  1. mahmood says:

    Vlog #14 – last days in Amsterdam, and camcorder thoughts

    That Samsung RAM camera by the way is this one, quite nifty isn’t it?

    I want one!

  2. Fuad says:

    Vlog #14 – last days in Amsterdam, and camcorder thoughts

    Salaam Mahmood

    I am going through the same dilemma these days; I need a new digital camera because my Fuji is failing me and needs some maintenance which will cost an arm and a leg here in the UK so I rather buy a new one. The problem is that if I buy a high resolution one with interchangeable lenses and the option of capturing good quality video then the whole thing becomes bulky. My friend in here told me that you will only take it out with you on photography designated trips and will lose the ability of and to point and shoot as I mostly do with my little Fuji.

    The problem is that I want a light camera that has Super CCD SR, captures high quality videos and allow for interchangeable lenses all stuffed in a small body that could fit in my shirt’s pocket!!! and knowing that this will never happen, at least in the near future, I started thinking of this Fuji, the [url=http://www.fujifilm.co.uk/digital/cameras/z1/]FinePix Z1 Zoom[/url]

    Fuad

  3. mahmood says:

    Re: Vlog #14 – last days in Amsterdam, and camcorder thoughts

    Your friend is very correct in that advice. I don’t take as many pictures since I bought the Canon EOS 20D. But I’ve got 2 IXUS cameras on the shelf, so my laziness is to blame rather than anything else.

    I’ve been thinking about these issues for a few weeks if not months really and there is no “in-between” unfortunately: we want quality and flexibility… but at the moment you cannot shrink that into a deck-of-cards sized package. It is a physical and practical impossibility at the moment.

    So, what I will do now is get both! The high-end for those times when high-end is required, and an entry-level gimmick for a point and shoot, and that could just be my mobile phone!

    Bite the bullet Fuad, and do the same because as far as I can tell, there is no middle ground.

  4. mahmood says:

    Re: Vlog #14 – last days in Amsterdam, and camcorder thoughts

    It combines a body for the catwalk with a spec for the studio. The FinePix Z1 Zoom is a super-slim compact digital camera with 5.1 million pixels, 3x optical zoom and a mammoth 2.5 inch LCD monitor. Its ergonomic, wrapped-shell casing isn’t the only thing that sets it apart – with a sensitivity of ISO 800, the Z1 Zoom is twice as effective in low-light situations as comparable ISO 400 cameras in its class. And as if that were not enough, the 640 x 480 resolution movie mode at a full 30 frames per second is a truly remarkable achievement for such a small device.
    FinePix Z1

    I just looked at the specs and it looks a very very good thing, twice the capabilities of my IXUS 400 and half as slim too. I should have a closer looksee, the only downside for me is that the movie resolutions quoted above are NTSC rather than PAL, and the memory card it takes is not CF – which I have plenty of for my Canons… hmmm… for around $350 and good reviews it certainly demands a serious look.

  5. mahmood says:

    Re: Vlogging cameras wiki

    It’s actually a general camera wiki which contains good information:

    http://www.voxmedia.org/wiki/Videoblogging_Hardware

  6. chalk66x says:

    Vlog #14 – last days in Amsterdam, and camcorder thoughts

    Still using my old Sony FDMavica for the convenience of floppy disks. Pictures arent that good but they do clean up good with Intellihance.

    billT

  7. mahmood says:

    Re: Vlog #14 – last days in Amsterdam, and camcorder thoughts

    The fridge!

    I keep them in the bottom drawer in the fridge for about 5 – 6 weeks then plant them around mid-end Nov, flower between Christmas and Feb/Mar. Never fails.

    As for squirrels… don’t know about that as we don’t have them in Bahrain, but we have two dogs who LOVE to chew on newly planted bulbs!

  8. anonymous says:

    Vlog #14 – last days in Amsterdam, and camcorder thoughts

    Mahmood

    Get a big jar of cayenne pepper or hot curry powder and toss a few table spoons into the soil when planting your bulbs. Dogs will stop messing with the bulbs after a snout full of the stuff. Works for other digging creatures as well. Kids, gophers, vols, chipmunks etc.

    ciao!
    bonsaimark

  9. anonymous says:

    Vlog #14 – last days in Amsterdam, and camcorder thoughts

    OK
    You are loading up with tulips. We have them here in Canada. The main question here is where the hell do those bloody squirrels replant them after they dig them up?

    I had always thought that tulips require a cold period of dormancy before the bloom. How do you manage that little detail?

    Harry

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