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High-quality video in versatile camera?

 
 
MarkČ
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Posts: n/a
 
      10-19-2006
PTravel wrote:
> "MarkČ" <mjmorgan(lowest even number here)@cox..net> wrote in message
> news:atDZg.48572$nm1.45116@fed1read04...
>> PTravel wrote:
>>> "Mike Stucka" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
>>> news:(E-Mail Removed)...
>>>> Kind folks,
>>>> We're looking to get a better digital camera, one that's highly
>>>> versatile. I was very impressed with a few minutes' hands-on time
>>>> with a Fuji S6000, which offers a great zoom and some wonderful
>>>> close-up opportunities. I didn't get to test it in low-light,
>>>> though, or test the video.
>>>> Is there a digital camera out there that offers acceptable
>>>> video?
>>>
>>> Short answer: no. However, it depends on how you define
>>> "acceptable." The video quality of any still camera will be far
>>> below that of even a medicore miniDV camcorder, just as the still
>>> quality of any camcorder will be far below that of even a mediocre
>>> still camera.

>>
>> That's only partially correct.
>> While it's true that video camera still image capture is always
>> going to be comparative crap...there are many still- cameras which
>> now offer VERY comparable VIDEO quality...even up to 60
>> fps(!)--which is much higher than standard video capability. A
>> couple years ago, this was not the case...but there are now many
>> still cameras which are excellent...shooting at full VGA resolution.

>
> Sorry, but the measure of video quality is the frames per second. Still
> cameras must use very high compression rates to store video on
> an SD or CF card. All of the ones that I've seen use either mpeg1 or
> mpeg2. Mpeg1 is incapable of anything beyond sub-VHS resolution. Mpeg2 is
> a lossy compression format that uses temporal compression,
> meaning subsequent and prior frames determine the compression of the
> current frame. Good quality mpeg compression requires two things: an
> analysis pass before transcoding and a high bit rate. No realtime
> consumer camera is capable of doing multi-pass transcoding -- all
> must do so on the fly, so the transcoding is less efficient. DVD-compliant
> mpeg2 (which, to my knowledge, none of the still
> cameras can do) has a maximum bit rate of approximately 10 mbs (less
> to conform to older set-top players). MiniDV camcorders, on the
> other hand, use the DV-25 video standard which, while lossy, is not
> temporally-compressed. Accordingly, there is no efficiency penalty
> for single pass, on-the-fly encoding. The DV-25 standard has a bit
> rate of 25 mbs, more than 2.5 times the data rate of DVD-compliant
> mpeg2. The result is that far less data is lost, far more detail is
> passed, and the DV-25 video image is vastly superior to anything that
> can be produced by a single-pass, temporally-compressed, low-bit rate
> codec such as is employed in still cameras. Finally, note that "VGA
> resolution" is 640 x 280 pixels per frame. The standard for digital
> video, including DV-25, is 720 x 480 (NTSC), resulting in a VGA image
> that has only 88% of the video information of miniDV. And, finally,
> note that the NTSC video standard is 30 fps, each frame consisting of
> two interlaced alternating fields. The effective video rate is 60
> _fields_ per second, not 60 frames per second. Non-interlaced video
> is called "progressive scan," and will result in motion artifacts
> when displayed on a standard television (as opposed to a computer
> monitor).
> You are wrong -- no still camera can produce video remotely
> approaching the quality of that of a reasonably decent miniDV
> camcorder.


Then you have apparently been looking at different results than I have.

>
>>
>> The down-side is that file-sizes are H-U-G-E at the highest quality
>> levels, meaning storage and capacity for long video recordings
>> become very limited.

>
> The standard for DV-25 is 13.7 gigabytes per hour.


The files created by even my little camera are about 1GB per 9 minutes of
video...

The OP referred to "acceptable video," which I do not interpret as "state of
the art camcorder video," rather simply "acceptable." There are certainly
cameras capable of this, by most consumer's definition of what is
"acceptable."


 
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Paul Rubin
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      10-19-2006
"MarkČ" <mjmorgan(lowest even number here)@cox..net> writes:
> >Single-point stereo
> > microphones work very well. The trick is that there is a pair of
> > directional microphones at the same location, not both pointed in the
> > same direction.

>
> It's better than mono, but they are not typically directional microphones.
> If they were, then they wouldn't pick up sounds in front of the camera very well.


Of course they're directional microphones, theyre not
ultra-directional (that would require enormous shotgun mics) but the
common schemes are either crossed cardioids or else a cardiod facing
ahead plus a mic with a figure-8 pattern getting the sides (mid-side
arrangement). See:

http://www.paia.com/msmicwrk.htm

This has been very standard stuff for many decades.
 
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PTravel
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      10-19-2006

"MarkČ" <mjmorgan(lowest even number here)@cox..net> wrote in message
news:QSJZg.50212$nm1.45548@fed1read04...
> PTravel wrote:
>> "MarkČ" <mjmorgan(lowest even number here)@cox..net> wrote in message
>> news:atDZg.48572$nm1.45116@fed1read04...
>>> PTravel wrote:
>>>> "Mike Stucka" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
>>>> news:(E-Mail Removed)...
>>>>> Kind folks,
>>>>> We're looking to get a better digital camera, one that's highly
>>>>> versatile. I was very impressed with a few minutes' hands-on time
>>>>> with a Fuji S6000, which offers a great zoom and some wonderful
>>>>> close-up opportunities. I didn't get to test it in low-light,
>>>>> though, or test the video.
>>>>> Is there a digital camera out there that offers acceptable
>>>>> video?
>>>>
>>>> Short answer: no. However, it depends on how you define
>>>> "acceptable." The video quality of any still camera will be far
>>>> below that of even a medicore miniDV camcorder, just as the still
>>>> quality of any camcorder will be far below that of even a mediocre
>>>> still camera.
>>>
>>> That's only partially correct.
>>> While it's true that video camera still image capture is always
>>> going to be comparative crap...there are many still- cameras which
>>> now offer VERY comparable VIDEO quality...even up to 60
>>> fps(!)--which is much higher than standard video capability. A
>>> couple years ago, this was not the case...but there are now many
>>> still cameras which are excellent...shooting at full VGA resolution.

>>
>> Sorry, but the measure of video quality is the frames per second. Still
>> cameras must use very high compression rates to store video on
>> an SD or CF card. All of the ones that I've seen use either mpeg1 or
>> mpeg2. Mpeg1 is incapable of anything beyond sub-VHS resolution. Mpeg2
>> is a lossy compression format that uses temporal compression,
>> meaning subsequent and prior frames determine the compression of the
>> current frame. Good quality mpeg compression requires two things: an
>> analysis pass before transcoding and a high bit rate. No realtime
>> consumer camera is capable of doing multi-pass transcoding -- all
>> must do so on the fly, so the transcoding is less efficient.
>> DVD-compliant mpeg2 (which, to my knowledge, none of the still
>> cameras can do) has a maximum bit rate of approximately 10 mbs (less
>> to conform to older set-top players). MiniDV camcorders, on the
>> other hand, use the DV-25 video standard which, while lossy, is not
>> temporally-compressed. Accordingly, there is no efficiency penalty
>> for single pass, on-the-fly encoding. The DV-25 standard has a bit
>> rate of 25 mbs, more than 2.5 times the data rate of DVD-compliant
>> mpeg2. The result is that far less data is lost, far more detail is
>> passed, and the DV-25 video image is vastly superior to anything that
>> can be produced by a single-pass, temporally-compressed, low-bit rate
>> codec such as is employed in still cameras. Finally, note that "VGA
>> resolution" is 640 x 280 pixels per frame. The standard for digital
>> video, including DV-25, is 720 x 480 (NTSC), resulting in a VGA image
>> that has only 88% of the video information of miniDV. And, finally,
>> note that the NTSC video standard is 30 fps, each frame consisting of
>> two interlaced alternating fields. The effective video rate is 60
>> _fields_ per second, not 60 frames per second. Non-interlaced video
>> is called "progressive scan," and will result in motion artifacts
>> when displayed on a standard television (as opposed to a computer
>> monitor).
>> You are wrong -- no still camera can produce video remotely
>> approaching the quality of that of a reasonably decent miniDV
>> camcorder.

>
> Then you have apparently been looking at different results than I have.
>
>>
>>>
>>> The down-side is that file-sizes are H-U-G-E at the highest quality
>>> levels, meaning storage and capacity for long video recordings
>>> become very limited.

>>
>> The standard for DV-25 is 13.7 gigabytes per hour.

>
> The files created by even my little camera are about 1GB per 9 minutes of
> video...


Sounds like constant-bit-rate mpeg2 at DVD-compliant rates, which will be
around 5 GB per hour.

>
> The OP referred to "acceptable video," which I do not interpret as "state
> of the art camcorder video," rather simply "acceptable." There are
> certainly cameras capable of this, by most consumer's definition of what
> is "acceptable."


I'm not talking about state of the art camcorder video. I've spent a fair
amount of time explaining the technical reasons why video from still cameras
is of significantly lower quality than video from an _average_ quality
miniDV machine. Your response is to ignore the specs and the technical
explanation and simply claim that still camera video is "acceptable" by
"most consumer's standards." Aside from the fact the you do not speak for
most consumers you are incorrect -- most consumers who want video buy miniDV
or Digital8 (another DV-25 based format) camcorders. Accordingly, most
consumers want DV-25 quality.

>
>



 
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Paul Rubin
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      10-19-2006
"PTravel" <(E-Mail Removed)> writes:
> > The files created by even my little camera are about 1GB per 9 minutes of
> > video...

>
> Sounds like constant-bit-rate mpeg2 at DVD-compliant rates, which will be
> around 5 GB per hour.


I think the stuff from my A530 is mpeg-4 and I'd be surprised if the
SD700 is something different.

> I'm not talking about state of the art camcorder video. I've spent a fair
> amount of time explaining the technical reasons why video from still cameras
> is of significantly lower quality than video from an _average_ quality
> miniDV machine. Your response is to ignore the specs and the technical
> explanation and simply claim that still camera video is "acceptable" by
> "most consumer's standards." Aside from the fact the you do not speak for
> most consumers you are incorrect -- most consumers who want video buy miniDV
> or Digital8 (another DV-25 based format) camcorders. Accordingly, most
> consumers want DV-25 quality.


I'd say the audio matters a lot more. I'm also not so sure DV25 is
the most popular camcorder format, or if it is, by what margin. I see
quite a few of those silly 3" mini-DVD cameras in the stores. There's
also quite a lot of analog (VHS-C and hi- still around, and hard
drive camcorders are getting more popular. I've been interested in
getting something more modern than my old hi-8 camera but I'd only
bother with mini-DV if I were doing something serious. Otherwise I
kept wanting a camera that recorded onto regular (i.e. full size, 4.7
inch) recordable DVD media. These days though, hard drives also look
good. I'd even consider a flash-based camcorder if it ran on AA cells
and had good audio.
 
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Mike Stucka
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      10-19-2006
http://www.velocityreviews.com/forums/(E-Mail Removed) wrote:
> Check out the Canon S2 IS. The video performance is excellent.


Thanks for the suggestion!

To the folks in the more involved discussion: I thank you, too. As
someone pointed out, "acceptable" to one person may not be "acceptable"
to another. While I'll certainly treasure video of my child's earliest
years, I'm not certain how much difference it'll make if a 15-year-old
video looks like an 18-year-old video.

I think the advent of DVD standards and then HDTV has changed how we
look at video, constantly raising the bar. That said, I just looked at a
~15-year-old video of my sister-in-law's birthday, and, while the sound
was atrocious and the video quality was merely awful, it was still
invaluable.

Meanwhile, we're busy getting seven reels of 8mm film from our two
families converted to DVD.

I think the value of these films is incalculable, but everyone expects a
loss of quality compared to contemporary standards. Our standards simply
shift with technology, which shifts with time.

I guess I'm more concerned about being able to discern faces in
low-light birthday parties than being able to catch every detail. In
that sense, the ultimate resolution matters a bit less than other
technical specs.


Mike
 
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PTravel
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      10-19-2006

"Paul Rubin" <http://(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:(E-Mail Removed)...
> "PTravel" <(E-Mail Removed)> writes:
>> > The files created by even my little camera are about 1GB per 9 minutes
>> > of
>> > video...

>>
>> Sounds like constant-bit-rate mpeg2 at DVD-compliant rates, which will be
>> around 5 GB per hour.

>
> I think the stuff from my A530 is mpeg-4 and I'd be surprised if the
> SD700 is something different.


mpeg4 is a temporally-compressed lossy codec. Everything I said about mpeg2
applies, i.e. the need for an analysis pass rather than single-pass
on-the-fly transcoding, data rate, etc.
>
>> I'm not talking about state of the art camcorder video. I've spent a
>> fair
>> amount of time explaining the technical reasons why video from still
>> cameras
>> is of significantly lower quality than video from an _average_ quality
>> miniDV machine. Your response is to ignore the specs and the technical
>> explanation and simply claim that still camera video is "acceptable" by
>> "most consumer's standards." Aside from the fact the you do not speak
>> for
>> most consumers you are incorrect -- most consumers who want video buy
>> miniDV
>> or Digital8 (another DV-25 based format) camcorders. Accordingly, most
>> consumers want DV-25 quality.

>
> I'd say the audio matters a lot more.


Audio is irrelevant to video quality. However, audio is important, yes.

> I'm also not so sure DV25 is
> the most popular camcorder format, or if it is, by what margin.


It is. I don't have numbers, but miniDV is the most popular format. It's
also the only digital format that is also used in prosumer and professional
cameras.

> I see
> quite a few of those silly 3" mini-DVD cameras in the stores.


Everything I said about digital still camera video applies to them in
spades, except that digital still cameras probably have better glass.

> There's
> also quite a lot of analog (VHS-C and hi- still around, and hard
> drive camcorders are getting more popular.


In terms of resolution, VHS (vhs-c only refers to the physical cassette
format and not the recording format) can resolve about 250 lines. Hi-8 can
resolve about 425-450. MiniDV (and Digital can resolve 500-525. Analog
formats, such as Hi-8, are also far more prone to drop-outs.

> I've been interested in
> getting something more modern than my old hi-8 camera but I'd only
> bother with mini-DV if I were doing something serious. Otherwise I
> kept wanting a camera that recorded onto regular (i.e. full size, 4.7
> inch) recordable DVD media. These days though, hard drives also look
> good. I'd even consider a flash-based camcorder if it ran on AA cells
> and had good audio.


Do you have any interest in editing your video? If so, you do not want a
DVD, hard drive or flash-based camcorder as all use temporal compression
codecs which are not readily editable, quality issues notwithstanding.


 
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Paul Rubin
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      10-19-2006
"PTravel" <(E-Mail Removed)> writes:
> > I'm also not so sure DV25 is
> > the most popular camcorder format, or if it is, by what margin.

>
> It is. I don't have numbers, but miniDV is the most popular format.
> It's also the only digital format that is also used in prosumer and
> professional cameras.


Probably the higher end of DV25 is getting displaced by HDV, but
the low end doesn't care. Note that HDV is also one of those
"temporally compressed formats" but that doesn't stop serious
productions (TV shows, indie movies) from using it.

> In terms of resolution, VHS (vhs-c only refers to the physical
> cassette format and not the recording format) can resolve about 250
> lines. Hi-8 can resolve about 425-450. MiniDV (and Digital can
> resolve 500-525. Analog formats, such as Hi-8, are also far more
> prone to drop-outs.


Regardless of that, hundreds of millions of consumers watched
Hollywood movies on VHS and were perfectly satisfied.

> Do you have any interest in editing your video? If so, you do not want a
> DVD, hard drive or flash-based camcorder as all use temporal compression
> codecs which are not readily editable, quality issues notwithstanding.


The motion compression means the editing software has to be a bit more
complicated, but that's not the user's problem. It also means if you
want frame-accurate editing, there can be some video artifacts right
after the edit point, but most viewers won't notice. As a fairly
casual video user I don't really care about frame-accurate editing,
I'm fine with being off by a few frames or even by a second or two. I
think this is pretty typical.
 
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PTravel
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      10-19-2006

"Paul Rubin" <http://(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:(E-Mail Removed)...
> "PTravel" <(E-Mail Removed)> writes:
>> > I'm also not so sure DV25 is
>> > the most popular camcorder format, or if it is, by what margin.

>>
>> It is. I don't have numbers, but miniDV is the most popular format.
>> It's also the only digital format that is also used in prosumer and
>> professional cameras.

>
> Probably the higher end of DV25 is getting displaced by HDV, but
> the low end doesn't care.


Actually, not yet. HDV has some signficant problems. It, too, uses a
temporally-compressed codec and, evidently, there are some significant
motion artifact issues with it.

> Note that HDV is also one of those
> "temporally compressed formats" but that doesn't stop serious
> productions (TV shows, indie movies) from using it.


Ah, you beat me to it. I don't know of any professional use of HDV, whereas
I know of several studio-released feature films that were shot on miniDV.

>
>> In terms of resolution, VHS (vhs-c only refers to the physical
>> cassette format and not the recording format) can resolve about 250
>> lines. Hi-8 can resolve about 425-450. MiniDV (and Digital can
>> resolve 500-525. Analog formats, such as Hi-8, are also far more
>> prone to drop-outs.

>
> Regardless of that, hundreds of millions of consumers watched
> Hollywood movies on VHS and were perfectly satisfied.


Sure -- VHS was the only game in town, except for the exotic, expensive,
must-be-flipped-many-times laser disk.

>
>> Do you have any interest in editing your video? If so, you do not want a
>> DVD, hard drive or flash-based camcorder as all use temporal compression
>> codecs which are not readily editable, quality issues notwithstanding.

>
> The motion compression means the editing software has to be a bit more
> complicated, but that's not the user's problem.


Not quite. The temporal compression means that frame-accurate editing
requires untranscoding and retranscoding. Some of the higher-end prosumer
products, e.g. Premiere Pro 2.0, can handle it, but only with a very, very
powerful computer. I've done projects that required working with mpeg2
clips (I use Premiere Pro 1.5 on a 3.1 GHz P4 with 1 gig of RAM). It was an
absolute pain, and I was only using clips. It would have been almost
impossible to do any compositing, effects, etc.

> It also means if you
> want frame-accurate editing, there can be some video artifacts right
> after the edit point, but most viewers won't notice.


Again, it depends on what you mean by "most viewers."

> As a fairly
> casual video user I don't really care about frame-accurate editing,
> I'm fine with being off by a few frames or even by a second or two. I
> think this is pretty typical.


I'm a casual video user, and I care very much about frame-accurate editing,
as well as achieving the best possible video quality.


 
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Paul Rubin
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      10-19-2006
"PTravel" <(E-Mail Removed)> writes:
> Ah, you beat me to it. I don't know of any professional use of HDV,


According to Wikipedia, some parts of the JAG television series are
shot on HDV.

> I'm a casual video user, and I care very much about frame-accurate
> editing, as well as achieving the best possible video quality.


I think I'd take issue with "casual video user" in that case, but it's
not exactly a club that anyone is clamoring to get into. A casual
user is someone who isn't very fussy, pretty much by definition. The
still photography equivalent would be someone who takes snapshots with
a disposable camera or cell phone camera.
 
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MarkČ
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      10-20-2006
Mike Stucka wrote:
> (E-Mail Removed) wrote:
>> Check out the Canon S2 IS. The video performance is excellent.

>
> Thanks for the suggestion!
>
> To the folks in the more involved discussion: I thank you, too. As
> someone pointed out, "acceptable" to one person may not be
> "acceptable" to another. While I'll certainly treasure video of my
> child's earliest years, I'm not certain how much difference it'll
> make if a 15-year-old video looks like an 18-year-old video.
>
> I think the advent of DVD standards and then HDTV has changed how we
> look at video, constantly raising the bar. That said, I just looked
> at a ~15-year-old video of my sister-in-law's birthday, and, while
> the sound was atrocious and the video quality was merely awful, it
> was still invaluable.
>
> Meanwhile, we're busy getting seven reels of 8mm film from our two
> families converted to DVD.
>
> I think the value of these films is incalculable, but everyone
> expects a loss of quality compared to contemporary standards. Our
> standards simply shift with technology, which shifts with time.
>
> I guess I'm more concerned about being able to discern faces in
> low-light birthday parties than being able to catch every detail. In
> that sense, the ultimate resolution matters a bit less than other
> technical specs.


Your description here is precisely why I used the term "acceptable."
I think you would most likely be very happy with the (as someone mentioned)
Canon S2 or S3, or many of the other offerings which allow 30fps at VGA
resolution. While it's true that there are certainly higher standards of
quality from true camcorders, your description indicates to me that you
would be quite pleased with the rendition of some of the more capable video
recording capabilities I've described.

-MarkČ
--
Images (Plus Snaps & Grabs) by MarkČ at:
www.pbase.com/markuson


 
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