Video/Film making

DXG-5F9VK HD 1080p 3D Camcorder

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A 3D camcorder for under $200 US, are you kidding? Yes this is a sub $200 3D camcorder. I first saw this when I was looking for a pro model camcorder to do stock videos with. I dismissed it as I really needed a camera with a high quality lens and sound recording ability. Later I decided to revisit the possibility of 3D video just for fun. The price was right so knowing it was just a fun toy I took a chance on it.

The camera is light weight and I’m sure for most this will be a good thing. I like my cameras to be a bit heavier as the weight helps to steady the camera. The controls are simple as is the menu. It stores video on SD media, I used a class 10 16gig scandisk for my testing. It has an almost instant on. Just flip the lens then open the view screen. The view screen is in 3D, no need for 3D glasses. The only issue is when the lens is open you can’t tilt the screen too much.

The camera has really good image quality. It may be a bit awkward at first because of the stereo lens but that isn’t too bad. Video is sharp and crisp with very nice color and contrast. I was shocked to see what this camera could do. The only real issue I had was a choppy zoom. I really wish the zoom was smooth but for the price and the image quality I can deal with the slightly jerky zoom.

The microphone is stereo and located in the front part of the monitor door. This does well as long as the sound that is right in front of the user. If there was one thing that would really make this camera sell better that would be the addition of an external microphone, but they did not add the plug. Since I did buy this camera to just play around, for me that missing feature was not a big deal.

So here are the pros
· Good image quality
· Light Weight
· Simple Operation
· Live 3D viewer
· Good Color

Here are the Cons
· Choppy Zoom
· No external Microphone jack
· Limited viewer tilt
· Average to poor images in low light

Conclusion – If you want a fun little camera to create 3D video with this is the camera for you. It has a low price and great image quality. I really enjoy using this camera. If you need features like an external microphone and smooth zooming then you may want to look at some other cameras. Again I would recommend this to users who want a fun camera or those who want to dabble in 3D. It would be hard to beat the quality at the price of this camera.

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Nikon AW100 – Sports Camera

A while back I wrote about the GoPro camera. I have used my GoPro for many things and intended to use it for some underwater shots while on vacation. After reading reviews I found it was limited on quality underwater. Further research lead me to the Nikon Coolpix AW100. Water proof up to 33ft and shock proof up to 5 feet. This camera was made for mild sports action yet still remains stylish.

The camera looks like a simple point and shoot. Many of the features you would find on most with a couple differences. First the button for the shutter and video are separate. Each has a unique texture so you can feel what is what. Next the batter and memory card door had a rubber seal but also uses a double lock to be more secure from accidental opening. Next the camera has a built in GPS allowing you to GEO tag your images or use it as a functional ground GPS. Finally you will find a underwater setting in the presets for diving.

Dolphin Flight - Discovery Cove, Orlando FL

Going through the presets and doing some tests I found the “simple” mode to be annoying. I switch it over to “auto” for playing. During vacation I used several presets like “underwater”, “Beach” and “Night Portrait”. These are easy to change using the scene mode button on the back of the camera. All in all I found the scenes to be quite adequate for most of my images. Remember this is a point and shoot. The zoom range work well for most situations. The one drawback was the speed between shots. The manual boasts 2.5 frames per second but even with my extreme 30MB/s SD card I could not get shots that quickly.

The image quality during daylight was above average to outstanding in the point and shoot category. I think the color and contrast in the daylight images were spot on. I also could not see any real issues with noise in these images. I was a little disappointed in the night images. They seemed to have a lot of noise and took time to fix in photoshop. I would say a 5X7 would be the largest you could get a usable print from using night settings. Overall for a point and shoot the camera performance was above average. ** note I tested the zoom lens but did not use the digital zoom feature.

Video was also handled very well with this little camera. It takes 1080p HD video with great color and contrast. I also took several night videos and amazingly the quality of night video was much better than the photos. I was able to snorkel taking video and stills again with great results. The camera was easy to manage underwater. I did notice one difference here that should be noted. Using the underwater mode the still images look nice, corrected color but to me look a bit dull. The video looks great, especially compared to the GoPro but the color looks off a bit. I have included a video shot entirely using the AW100. (stills and video use the Coolpix AW100, Edited in Final Cut X Pro)

My overall opinion of the Nikon AW100: If you need a camera that can take some light abuse and for all weather situations I would recommend you check this camera out. The image and video quality are excellent in most situations. The controls are simple to use and it has safety locks keeping the camera weather tight. The drawbacks are minimal unless you plan to do lots of low-light images. For under $300 (USD) this camera is well worth a look.

Thanks for reading!

iPhone App 8mm – Fun and Simple!

I found a fun little iPhone app and wanted to share. This app lets you take video and make it vintage. You can import or film straight from the app. It allows you to choose different types of vintage film. You can change the lighting to include center light, outer boarder, lens flare and others. The controls are simple to use just swipe to change. I think it has many fun uses. I took it to the zoo for a fun walk around safari. The only real issue I had was the control for shutter/flare is easy to touch and change while filming if you are not careful. But if you want to have some fun this is an app I really like and had a lot of fun making the video part of this post. Hope you enjoy my zoo safari!!

Thanks for reading!!

8mm Test Video

iStopMotion – Still images in Motion

I embark now on a new bit of photographic fun. Not only photo’s but video as well. I decided to play with iStopMotion. This was a very fun tool to use. The interface is simple and takes very little time to learn. Like those Claymation holiday movies this program creates a video from still frames. You position your character/object then snap an image. The program imports the file (if you have a web Camera/live view video camera you can see the image preview) then you move your character/object a little and take a picture. Repeat this process and your character comes to life.

The program has several tools to assist you like color correction and tilt shift controls. You can use a grid layout to help track motion. The program can also be use to capture time lapse photography. Additional tools like onion skin lets you overlay the current image over the previous on to insure you movement is fluid and not off. One of the other useful tools is the robo sync. You can for instance record an actor then use the footage to mimic the actors motion with the character/object. The program also comes with some preset foregrounds and backgrounds. Over all I say if you enjoy those old Claymation movies and want to create your own then you need to try iStopMotion.

Below is my first sample movie. I used iStopMotion then imported the project in After Effects to give it that night look and create the ghost. It was fun to make, hope to make another one soon! Thanks for reading!

GoPro fun with Dobie Doggie Cam

Each year the Kansas Humane Society puts on an event called Woof Stock. I thought what better than to have Dobie put on the GoPro and make a new addition to Dobie Cam. You don’t get the most stable footage when you attach the camera like a collar but it is all in fun….right??

Now you do have to change some settings. I use the upside down mode for recording and since you never know what Dobie will get into I also use the full back so the camera is waterproof.

Now, just remember the footage will be unstable so you may have to run it through a filter like I did. I also used a movie trailer mode like in the iMove demo http://classmact.com/?p=32 Hope you enjoy the video, remember to have fun and if you don’t shoot something you get nothing.

Thanks for Reading!

Go Pro…. Go Fun!!

I decided to get a GoPro camera. If you have not heard of these it may be due to the fact the main purpose of this camera is for extreme sports. I myself don’t do crazy sports or stunts but still I though I could have some fun with the camera.

Lets start with the basic stuff. You want to have good light. So far the performance has not been too great in low light. In daylight the color and quality are top notch. I like the widest view as it give a semi-fisheye effect to the video. I also like to use the 60 frames so I can slow down my video and not loose quality. The drawback is only shooting in 720 not 1080. If you don’t plan to use slow-motion effects then I say go all out and use the 1080p mode.

I have the helmet kit so it came with a lot of different mounts and a headband mount. I also purchased the roll-bar mount and the wrist mounts. The camera case has 2 backs. One is open allowing better sound while the solid back is better suited for high-speeds and rated up to 160’ under water. Did I mention this is a sports camera? Other mounts for surf boards, skateboards, suction cup, and different adhesives are available as well.

I have posted a couple quick videos I put together. 1 is using a helmet mount and attaching it to my dog’s collar and the other I used different mounts on my motorcycle.

The iPad is a great tool not just a fun new toy!

So I recently bought an IPad.  I thought it would be fun and I haven’t bought “new” technology when it was first released in a LONG time.  I usually wait a while until everyone else has one.  For example IPhone came out and everyone rushed out to get one what did I get… a blackberry.  For some reason this was different.  I saw the ad read the hype and just decided I think I’d use that!

As a photographer I already found it useful.  I uploaded samples of my images, my calendar, email and of course music.  I was at a workshop that I will be reviewing in a couple weeks (when I have time to finish a few more images) and a photographer took out his IPhone to show some samples.  So I took out my IPad to do the same.  The Model said and I quote “No way! You didn’t just whip out an IPad”.  It was a hit, everyone stopped to look at the thing.  I have since used it for another client to see samples.

You don’t have to have big files, smaller 600X800 72dpi files look great.  The only issue I have with the picture manager is that you can’t arrange your folders the way you want them.   I really see this as more than just an organization tool.  I can see this as being a stepping stone to a new breed of electronic portfolio.  Sleek look, lots of great apps and easy to use the IPad gets a gold star!!