Monday, August 31, 2009

SONY HX1 - Silence, I kill you

The words from Achmed the Dead Terrorist are perfect for this project.
Visit Achmed and Jeff at

Every time I am at the coast and want to shoot a nice wave video, the wind ruins the sound completely.Since we have no way of connecting an external micro, I have to find a solution to keep the sound but kill the wind noise.On my first blog post here I showed you a little furry thing to stick on top of a camera what eliminates the wind. It looks like a baby hedgehog on top of the camera and is quite expensive.
I remembered that in the olden days before people running around with microphones who looked like an animal on a stick there were foam balls on top of the micro to keep the wind out.
So I took a bit of foam and held it in place with a crossed rubber band to do a test.

The result was astonishing.
There was silence where the awful wind noise was before, so with this little piece of foam and a rubber band  I killed the wind noise. All other sounds came in clear through the foam.
It cost nothing and had a tremendous impact on the quality of the video.
My Canon S2 already had an electronic wind filter (same as SX10 and SX1) but this was just for a very slight breeze. Anything like I encountered on the coast here the Canon is not able to eliminate even partial.

The next days I will find out how thick the foam actually has to be to be effective and how to make it look a bit more eye pleasing. I will keep you posted.

Update 2009.09.05
To make it look nicer until I find some black foam, I shaped the foam down to fit the camera and made it slimmer. With the help of a blue marker (no black was at home) the yellow foam got a  more pleasing looking color. Now I need to find black rubber bands.
The wind test with the fan showed some slight wind noise at setting 3.
I will cut a couple different ones and then do the test at the next high wind on the coast.

Just came home from the beach and there was little wind but it picket up a bit once a while. So this is definitely a bit too small to to a perfect job.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

WD TV the SONY HX1 best HD friend

So your puny computer has problems playing the clips from your camera.
Welcome to the club.

On my search for an affordable solution to play full HD files on the big screen I found an interesting gadget.
After learning the hard way that a media player with or without hard disk and a HDMI port does not necessary also plays  HD videos I needed to do some research on that topic.
In my case the media player enclosure did not even wanted to touch SVGA (800x600) or anything with a higher resolution. No way to ask for a down sampling or so. Just DVD resolution is the most these units want to play.

Visiting the guys at Trusted Reviews I learned about the Western Digital WD TV HD Media Player and the Popcorn Hour A110 and the brand spanking new Asus O!Play HDP-R1 HD Media Player.
The Xtreamer was mentioned in some comments and after a couple hours on the WDTV forum and the Xtreamer forum I had and idea what is possible today and what not.

We have a Media Markt here on our island and I got very confused there a couple days ago trying to understand what is the difference between a just player with a HDMI port and a player with also an HDMI port and a 500 GB hard disk and why the are costing exactly the same, why some have an antenna and others a connection to the ethernet and there are prices from 70 to way over 200 Euros - well you get the idea.
After my homework I decided for the WD TV because the Asus is to new to be here already and the popcorn hour is to exotic to be here. The Xtreamer would be 119 Euro and had to be ordered via mail.
Lucky for me the Media Markt had 3 WD TV just sitting and waiting for me and for 95 Euro I snatched one,  another one found a new home just a few minutes later.

Remember my confusion about these things a couple days ago?
I had nearly purchased a 500 GB or 1 TB SO Speaky HDMI (what a goofy name) from DANE ELEC for 119 or 149 Euros.
Well today when I snatched my WD TV the 1 TB had a new price. 99 Euro -  the 500 GB was still at 119 Euro.
For that money I got myself another 1 TB storage with a free basic media player.
Funny thing, I tried to find the codecs or resolution on the box. Nada not even on the small handbook anything.
On the drive is a handbook folder and there it states:

Hard disk fling system: FAT32
Media fles supported:
1. Subtitle: SRT, SSA, SMI
2. Audio: MP3, WMA, AAC, DTS
3. Video : MPEG1/2/MPEG4.XVID.DIVX.VCD.DVD(*.mpg;*.mpeg;*.dat;*.avi;*.vob;*.ifo)
4. Picture: JPEG, MJPEG
Memory cards supported: CF.SD.MS. MMC.XD in FAT32 or FAT16.  SDHC cards are not supported.
Output mode: Composite video, HDMI audio channels, Progressive scan video
USB port: High Speed USB 2.0
Audio Output: Analogue stereo
Video output: CVBS.HDMI .YPbPr
Picture resolution: 720*480(NTSC, YPbPr, HDMI)/720*576(PAL, YPbPr, HDMI)
Power consumption: 30W (Max)

So you see you have to dig deep to find out what these things are capable of.
I tried to find out if anybody tested one of the full HD hybrid cameras on the WD TV, but no luck.
So here for your information the WD TV HD will try to play the original video footage from the SONY HX1, the Canon SX1, the Canon EOS 5D Mark II and the Panasonic GH1 in full HD resolution (video camera full HD in the case of the SONY).
I took the clips you see at: Movie Time - the 1080p competition HX1 vs SX1 vs GH1 vs 5DII and play them one after another in full HD resolution. The video quality on this You Tube clip is not good, but it is  just to see how well or not they are playing on the WD TV.
You will find more general info about the cameras and video clips here at the Camera Labs website. Also you can download the short clips for yourself on vimeo and compare for yourself.

The WD TV plays all 4 clips without stutter, it has just a problem with the uncompressed audio format what Canon still thinks it has to use in their videos.

Here the info if you want to compare the codecs from the cameras.

Format : MPEG-4 at 12.3 Mbps
Length : 67 MiB for 45s 545ms
Video #0 : AVC at 12.2 Mbps
Aspect : 1440 x 1080 (1.778) at 29.970 fps
Audio #0 : AAC at 128 Kbps
Infos : 2 channels, 48.0 KHz

Canon SX1
Format : MPEG-4 at 43.0 Mbps
Length : 194 MiB for 37s 866ms
Video #0 : AVC at 41.6 Mbps
Aspect : 1920 x 1088 (1.778) at 30.000 fps
Audio #0 : PCM at 1 411.2 Kbps
Infos : 2 channels, 44.1 KHz

Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Format : MPEG-4 at 40.5 Mbps
Length : 139 MiB for 28s 700ms
Video #0 : AVC at 39.1 Mbps
Aspect : 1920 x 1088 (1.778) at 30.000 fps
Audio #0 : PCM at 1 411.2 Kbps
Infos : 2 channels, 44.1 KHz

Panasonic GH1
Format : MPEG-4 at 32.1 Mbps
Length : 145 MiB for 37s 888ms
Video #0 : AVC at 32.0 Mbps
Aspect : 1920 x 1080 (1.778) at 25.000 fps
Audio #0 : AAC at 157 Kbps
Infos : 2 channels, 48.0 KHz

Saturday, August 22, 2009

SONY HX1 - you got mail - or the Super Magic Mirror

My first post in this blog was about the mirror what would provide the HX1 with the same flexibility as Canon has with their variangle swivel screen. 4 days later I ordered the mirror from Hong Kong via ebay.

 Less than a week to reach Spain and a few days more to reach our little island next to the Sahara.

The envelope is well padded

and easy to open for customs to check what is in

the box arrived undamaged

with simple pictogram instructions on the back

the mirror was surrounded by a sturdy packing material

and this is the new best friend of my HX1 extended

looking good, so far

3M VHB sticky tape is used, so no cost cutting here

can you see me now?

mirror? what mirror - I am the screen protector!

OK - OK it says Super Magic Mirror on the back so what?

testing if the mirror interferes with the flip screen function
nope - works like a charm.

behold the first self portrait
there is an oldtimer from 1956 hidden in this foto

this setup would work so  much better on cameras without a viewfinder/flash hump

So we need to stick the mirror upside down on the display.
Luckily the 3M sticky tape sticks on a flexible plastic frame, what can easily flex and disengages from the display without problem.

So, now upside down and it works well, no constriction in movement.

Hah - take that hump

this is how the setup above looks.

Finally, you do not rely on external mirrors for creative photography
So, how does it work out?
As a sunscreen works perfect - display is better to see.
As a screen protector - feels sturdy enough.
As a variangle substitute - well we are pretty close here.

Would the 3" mirror would work with my 2.7" screen on the Ricoh R6 also?
Since the next smaller size is 2.5" I would loose too much with that one.

works like a charm too

again the angle of the mirror for the shot above

It stays a bit over the frame but not over the camera hight and and it really did not want to come off from the Ricoh metal case. So on a metal surface it sticks much more thorough than on a plastic screen.
Here are the exact dimensions:outside: 6,7 cm 2.63" wide, 5,2 cm 2.04" high
inside: 5,9 cm 2.32" wide, 4,4 cm 1.73" high
thickness: 6 mm

Hellooooo Candy Shower  21 Lam Hing Street Kowloon Hong Kong -  I like to order another one for US $11.46 please!

So if you have a Panasonic FZ28 / FZ28 the Kodak Z980, Nikon P90, Olympus SP-590, Pentax X70 or any other camera and you want more freedom in composing your pictures or want to be more creative, you should give this gadget a try.

hidden street shooting

Update 2009.09.12
Two days ago I got my second mirror from Hong Kong and it works well with my Ricoh R6

The unprotected screen

Flush with the camera

In this position the mirror doubles as a tripod 

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

SONY HX1 - the inside

In case you are looking for a screwdriver to see what is inside, let me save you the work.

Friday, August 14, 2009

SONY HX1 - Street Shooting

Today I wanted to test if I carry the HX1 in an unthreatening way how street shooting would turn out.
Since I was near a beach and on the street were no people I went to the beach.
Here I have to warn the people form the puritan and religious countries. We here in southern Europe have no problem with breasts and nipples. For a European female it is normal to be topless on the beach or parks for sunbathing. For our very little ones it is normal not to wear anything.
And most people do not have a problem with that. If somebody glances at a topless woman or a naked kid, they are not perverts and peeping tom´s nor pedophiles. They take a glance and that´s it.
So if you are offended by a breast, please skip this post.
This is the way I carried the camera, you see the index finger tip is not on the trigger. The shutter button is sensitive enough to function this way also. The arm was hanging loose and was slightly swinging in the normal way you go if you carry something light but delicate. The only thing I did was swivel the hand in the direction I wanted to shoot. A couple fotos below are even shot with the camera pointing backwards after I passed the subject I wanted to capture.

The shots are all in an angle and in portrait orientation. Some have been straightened out and cropped some are just resized.
The fun part is, all were taken just walking by and maybe twisting the arm a bit to point the HX1 in the direction where I thought was something interesting. I saw at home so many things in the snapshots what I absolutely missed on the beach.Remember they are shot with out proper prefocusing and while in movement. So they are not at their best quality wise. Do not judge how blurry they are, judge how good they are shot under these circumstances.

 just girls walking by

Family portrait

... just enjoying herself

look for the peson behind the guy and where her hand is ...


ahem ....

Hello World!

damn, that key safety box does not taste like orange ice at all

look ma, I will be a surfer when I am big

Update 2009.08.25
3 low light and slightly blurred fotos

waiting for Godot . . .

street racer

note to self, in low light situations move ISO from 125 to auto . . .
but it is interesting how certain parts are sharp and others much more blurred.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

dear reader

I have a short break in my HX1 exploration.
Right now I am testing a zero cost power up for scooters and all CVT (Constant Variable Transmission).

If you have a scooter or vehicle with a CVT or your friend has, you might be interested in my post:

Speedy Gonzales, Road Runner and the Red Rocket 

see you here again in a few days

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

SONY HX1 - have it your way

This will be a post about how people customize their HX1.
It will be updated every time I find something new.

Let´s start with Captain EO Aero

The HX1 with a Raynox DCR-2020PRO, a 2.2X telextender.
You find his pictures and mods on flicker and Stephen explains a bit about it and shows an example of a 7 mile away house he shot in good clarity here.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Amazing SONY HX1

I am playing with cameras since I was a teenager. My first real camera after the Kodak Instamatic with the ultra modern flash cubes was the RICOH TLS 401. Why a RICOH?

She was the only cheap SLR camera who had 2 viewfinders. One as usual and one on top. You see now where my fable for cameras with more viewfinder / display felxibility comes from.
With the RICOH I went through all the fun the people today have who buy a DSLR. First the camera, then you add some more lenses for flexibility, you need a flash (hello Olympus E-P1), there is need for a tripod and definitely some filters, lens hood, remote (was a rubber squeeze ball with a hose to remotely trigger the shutter. I had my first girlfriend and - well you can guess) . Put this all in a nice bag - nah the tripod is too big you need to carry it extra, and you have yourself a semi professional setup. Somebody just forgot to tell you about the fun and convenience to schlepp it around with you permanently - you don´t want to miss that shot, don´t you?

This is where today a sturdy, always carry with you around (even in your shirt pocket if you want), camera comes in handy. Like my RICOH R6 but this is another story.

Before I end my trip down memory lane and bore you to tears let me quick show you one of my early works.
A cheap bastard I already was as a teenager and a fan of the big picture also. So instead of making pictures, I was making slides and discovered the easy way of foto manipulation by just putting 2 slides together in one frame to create something rather unique.
Please remember that was many years before the IBM PC was born and the normal picture manipulation was done in a darkroom or via (air) brush.

After my experience with the camera equipment and the unwillingness to always carry it around,  I was happy when the superzooms came into play. The usual 3x zoom was a bit limited and so was the creativity what you could do with it.
In this post, what will be updated on a regular base, I will show you some things I discover with the HX1 that I find amazing.
Let´s start with this evening and a nearly missed sunset. Thanks to the Twilight Mode shooting something like that in a near perfect quality is now possible.

I was wondering if the panorama mode would work under these low light conditions.

Here is the cropped, resized and re compressed result. It was shot with ISO 800 and 1/30 sec.
We are talking of a camera movement in a 180 degree circle with all the shake, rattle and roll you get when you do this in a spur of the moment where in time you got the tripod ready the colors were gone. Did it come out perfect?

No, there were some stitching errors. Is that bad? No, I just cut out what I wanted and if it was important to me I could have easily fixed the the crocked phone line.
To have a camera who delivers these low light shots is simply amazing.

Isn´t the ISO 800 noise really bad in a moved around blurred picture?
Not for me when I consider under what circumstances this shot was taken, no Sir, not bad at all.
For your critical eye here a lossless crop of the original, unchanged in any way.

Update 2009.8.20
It is extremely hard to catch a permanent fast moving flying bug (sorry have no idea how it is named) in macro mode. So, the bug moves, the camera moves the distance to the bug moves - you get the idea. So you need a camera who is very quick in focus and shooting. And lots of pictures to get at least a few clear ones. 100% lossless crop.

The 20x zoom combined with the forced flash to get the detail what is lurking in the bushes.

Perfect flash exposure. 

... to be continued