Consumer Video Tips

Nothing But Information on Today’s Hottest Consumer Video Gear, Tips & Tricks

Archive for January 2009

Canon 1.7 Tele-extender Demo

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For those who wanted to see the difference in zoom capability using the Canon Tele-extender, I have posted a new video on Vimeo that shows you the difference.

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Written by scottbourne

January 28, 2009 at 10:30 pm

Posted in Gear

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Canon Camcorder 1.7 Telextender Lens Unboxing

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Written by scottbourne

January 28, 2009 at 1:20 am

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Which Video Accessories Do You Need?

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If you’re one of the millions who received a new video-capable camera or camcorder this past holiday season, you might be wondering which accessories you really need.

Let’s start with the basics. You’ll need video tape (unless you’re tapeless – then you might need memory cards – unless you’re recording to hard disk or CD – in which case you need nothing.

Be sure to pick up an extension cable (or two) and a power strip.

You’ll also probably need an extra battery. Most camcorder batteries are good for about one hour’s worth of recording time.

Next up, make sure you have a good mic if you can record audio from an external source. Likewise, you’ll need a pair of headphones or earbuds if you want to monitor audio in the field.

In my opinion, you also need a sturdy tripod and fluid head. This is essential if you want to get “locked down” steady shots. And the fluid head makes panning and tilting flow smoothly.

Now that we’ve covered basics, the next group is desired accessories. Here you’ll want to think about things like extra optics – wide angle and telephoto add-on lenses give your camcorder additional focal length, meaning you can get more creative with your shooting and framing.

You want to also make sure you have plenty of cables. Not all camcorders come with a firewire cable, yet that’s the most popular way to connect your camcorder to programs like iMovie.

Be sure to pick up a small video light. This will be valuable when you’re in dark light.

Finally – you’ll want a case to carry all this stuff around in. Try out several in person to make sure you get one large enough to hold all of your accessories.

What else should be on this list?

Written by scottbourne

January 26, 2009 at 1:55 am

Posted in Articles, Gear

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Canon HV30 Field Test

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I just spent a week shooting with The Canon HV30. It’s a small, but very powerful and affordable camcorder.

I selected this model for use on the Aperture Nature Photography Workshop based on the advice of none other than my pal, Alex Lindsay. Alex is the honcho at Pixelcorps and knows his stuff. He said the HV30 is THE camera to get, if you’re looking for a small handheld and you want to use tape. So I did – get it that is.

Now before I go on, let’s deal with the elephant in the room…

Yes, HD/DV tape is probably on its very last legs. I’d be surprised if in three years we see any new camcorders using tape – so I plan to buy up a nice supply when I see the end near. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by scottbourne

January 18, 2009 at 10:24 am

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Let’s Put Some Light on the Subject – Litepanels Micro

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If you’ve shot any significant amount of video, you’ve no doubt encountered situations where you have needed just a little more light on your subject. This is most often necessary when you’re shooting a simple stand up head shot.

Since most cameras/camcorders have a hot shoe, a great way to add light is to use a portable hot light. My choice is the Litepanels Micro.

It’s an LED light that works on simple AA batteries, and easily slips onto the camera hot shoe. It’s lightweight, travels well and is very easy to use.

Unlike flash, constant lighting lets you see what you’ll get while looking through the viewfinder. And LEDs aren’t hot to the touch like most similar lights. This helps avoid injury. There’s no flicker and no color shift. You get nice, evenly dispersed light that makes your subject stand out from the background.

The unit can also be stand-mounted and easily tilts to give maximum angle flexibility and it can be modified with gels. There are no cables to mess with.

I my tests, a pair of quality batteries last about four hours of continuous use. But since you rarely use it continuously, you’ll find the batteries seem to last a long time.

One of the best features of the Litepanel is the dimmer knob. You can dial in anywhere from zero to full power. I find the effective range to be no more than about 10 feet, with the sweet spot around six feet.

I also use this as a catch light on my digital cameras, both point and shoots and DSLRs with great results.

It is spendy. At around $295 US, you can find cheaper solutions. But you’ll never have to replace the bulb, or go to the hospital for burn treatments.

Written by scottbourne

January 10, 2009 at 11:39 am

Posted in Gear, Reviews

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Canon To Announce New HD Camcorders At Macworld

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Canon will announce a new line up of HD camcorders at Macworld in San Francisco today. Pricing and availability will be published after the formal announcement.

Canon’s new VIXIA High Definition Camcorders:

All VIXIA camcorders feature HD Video Lens; Canon designed and manufactured HD CMOS Image Sensor for Full HD image capture; and Canon-developed DIGIC DV II and DIGIC DV III Image Processors.  Additional features found on select VIXIA models include Instant AutoFocus, SuperRange Optical Image Stabilization and 24Mbps Recording – the highest bit rate in AVCHD.

Canon Face Detection Technology used in Canon digital cameras is now available in Canon VIXIA high definition camcorders.  Up to 35 faces can be detected automatically, and nine detection frames can be displayed at one time.

From the official Canon News Release:

Canon VIXIA HF S10 and VIXIA HF S100 Flash Memory Camcorders

Canon’s top-of-the-line high definition Flash Memory camcorders, the Canon VIXIA HF S10 and VIXIA HF S100, boast an impressive range of new and advanced features.  The VIXIA HF S10 offers the option of recording video to a 32GB internal Flash drive or directly to an SDHC memory card, while the VIXIA HF S100 records to an SDHC memory card only.  Both models feature the new DIGIC DV III Image Processor, an 8.59 Megapixel Full HD CMOS Image Sensor, Genuine Canon Face Detection Technology, an advanced Auto Exposure system and Video Snapshot and Dual Shot Modes.  In addition, both models deliver stunning 8.0 Megapixel digital photographs.

Canon VIXIA HF20 and VIXIA HF200 Flash Memory Camcorders

Canon’s most compact high definition Flash Memory camcorders, the VIXIA HF20 and VIXIA HF200 are powerhouse options for anyone looking to take their HD camcorder with them wherever they go.  The VIXIA HF20 offers the option of recording to a 32GB internal Flash drive or SDHC card slot and the VIXIA HF200 records to an SDHC memory card only.  Additional features include a 3.89 Megapixel Full HD CMOS Image Sensor, newly designed Genuine Canon 15x HD Video Lens, advanced Auto Exposure system, and Video Snapshot and Dual Shot Modes.

Canon VIXIA HV40 HDV Camcorder

The Canon VIXIA HV40 HDV Camcorder, a replacement to the highly acclaimed VIXIA HV30 camcorder, shares the core components found within the VIXIA line, but also offers a Genuine Canon 10x HD Video Lens and 2.96 Megapixel Full HD CMOS Image Sensor.  What’s more, the camcorder allows consumers to record in native 24p Mode, a feature previously found only on Canon’s professional camcorders.  Native 24p allows consumer to capture and record 24 progressive frames per second to a HDV tape, a big advantage for the serious filmmaker.  Another add-on feature, Custom Key Mode, enables consumers to assign commonly used functions to a single button on the camcorder for easy access.

Written by scottbourne

January 5, 2009 at 2:12 pm

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Backing Up Your Precious Video

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You spend hundreds (or thousands) of dollars on a camera or camcorder that records video, a computer, software and accessories. And then you spend your precious time to learn about shooting video. And then you spend your precious time and money to go out and actually capture some video. And then you spend precious time editing the video…

What happens to all those video files? You have the raw assets, canned assets, the edits, the music, the stills you insert and the finished product. What do you do with all those files?

Video cameras look at hard drives the way I look at a box of hot, buttered popcorn. . . that is – something to be consumed quickly! So if you shoot, edit and produce a great deal of video, you’ll soon learn that you need a great deal of hard disk space.

But wait – there’s more!

You’ll also soon need a great deal of BACKUP hard disk space. That’s right – you need to back up all that hard work. You don’t want to risk losing that data in the event that your main hard drive fails. And fail they all eventually do.

So the answer is to but AT LEAST as much backup hard drive space as you have primary space.

One way to do that affordably and effectively is using drive arrays like Drobo from Data Robotics. I’ll post a separate review of the Drobo later, but it’s essentially a box with a computer in it that holds SATA drives. You connect the box to your computer, copy files to it and you have a safe, redundant backup.

Whatever tools or system you use, please carefully consider backing up EVERYTHING. As a good friend of mine says, unless you have a backup, you don’t have anything.

Written by scottbourne

January 1, 2009 at 4:43 pm

Posted in Uncategorized