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Old Oct 10, 2008, 1:39 PM   #21
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Aiptek obviously needs to hire a technical writer who also understands camcorders.
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Old Oct 10, 2008, 2:17 PM   #22
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Private Idaho wrote:
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Could you reveal which models of mics you used to do your tests?
I'd love to have one of the little camera field mixers like you show, but opted to use a mixer I have from another project for this to power and/or control the condenser mics. It is an Alesis Multimix 8USB which has both analog and digital (USB Sound card) outputs as well as 4 XLR/ quarter inch balanced inputs with Phantom power and 4 additional quater inch channels.

Right now I have 3 condenser mics to test. An Audio Technica ATR35S Lavalier mic, an Audio Technica ATR-55 Shotgun mic and an MXL 990 studio mic. All of these will run through my Alesis Multimix8 USB Mixer/Preamp and then into the camera. the ATR35S is a 3.5mm plug, ATR-55 is quarter inch and the MXL is XLR. The AT mics are pretty low end, low cost ($35-50) and the MXL is about $50-60. Our intent was to see if a fairly dramatic improvement could be made just with a reasonably priced external mic over the internal one. There are much better and much more expensive mics, but I'm not sure the incremental improvement in sound quality would be noticeable to most people.

The AT mics are both battery powered and do not require phantom power. The MXL does.

I have a couple of Logitec headsets with dynamic mics to test that have 3.5mm plugs that should be able to plug directly into the camera. I also have a low-end wireless dynamic mic that has both a headset and lavalier mic. I was going to pick up some low end handheld dynamic mics over the weekend to test. Probably an AT, Shure, Peavy or other mic in the same price range. May depend on what somebody like Guitar Center here has available. I am open to suggestions for ones to try.

I have several real time spectrum analyzer packages I can use to measure the noise floor of my setup as well as the camera output with the internal and external mics. I can produce reference tones and white noise to measure the gross response, distortion and clipping. Without a reference mic and speaker to calibrate the overall system frequency response I will only consider it a gross measurement.

Again, I am open to any and all suggestions as to setup, methodology, tests, microphones to test, etc.

Wayne12 wrote:

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Chipguy, have you got any short clips of the 720p mode, I am eager to see them.
Check back on Sunday or Monday. I live on a cotton farm here, so I'm thinking still and panning shots of a field of fluttering cotton plants will probably meet the requirements for some of your codec panning torture tests.

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Old Oct 10, 2008, 7:36 PM   #23
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Actually, those mic models you mention -- while fairly low-end -- really aren't too bad.

So my heart just sinks to read the results of your test.

The much-anticipated "Action-HD GVS" model might not be any better.

Dang.

It's getting to the point where a fellow must spend $700 to get a high definition home camcorder with decent sound.

CamcorderInfo.com posted a review recently about the Samsung SC-HMX20 that revealed a few shocking details... namely... that model actually has an external microphone input and the quality of the video was among the best consumer camcorder video samples!

http://www.samsung.com/us/consumer/d...=SC-HMX20C/XAA
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Old Oct 10, 2008, 9:51 PM   #24
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Private Idaho wrote:

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So my heart just sinks to read the results of your test.
I wouldn't get depressed just yet. I don't have any real test data or conclusions yet. All I have so far is a quick (late night) session of mostly trying to figure out where the #&$*(^)( Microphone icon was when I plugged an external mic in and trying to figure out if it was actually working.


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CamcorderInfo.com posted a review recently about the Samsung SC-HMX20 that revealed a few shocking details... namely... that model actually has an external microphone input and the quality of the video was among the best consumer camcorder video samples!
I took a quick look at this model. It is still going for over $500 it seems.

I haven't seen much discussion here about the Canon FS10/FS100 which are in the $300 range and both have external microphone jacks. They aren't HD but would work for our applications as well. I considered buying one of those but didn't really see any comprehensive reviews and sample videos at the time. Even now most seem to be people playing with the zoom.

My main camera right now is a Canon Optura 50 Mini DV camera. It has both external microphone and headphone jacks. I originally bought a ZR930 but returned it because it did not have a threaded lens to mount some macro lenses we need for very close work. I bought this one used off ebay for about $300. The sound quality on it using the external mics listed above have been very good.
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Old Oct 11, 2008, 12:03 AM   #25
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I think you have to remember that these models are really aimed at people who just want to film their kids and vacations etc. and for this the audio is adequate in my opinion. Sure it would be nice if it was better but it ain't gonna happen so if you are looking for a camera for more creative film work then yes I agree you gotta spend the bucks.
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Old Oct 13, 2008, 1:04 AM   #26
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OK, the weather and workload didn't really cooperate this weekend, but as promised, here are a couple of real quick video clips of the HSHD, I took a break from writing software long enought to go grab a couple of clips in-between showers.

http://www.vimeo.com/user710685/videos

The clips are a couple of quick panning shots of my cotton field. It was overcast and drizzling today and breezy, about 15 MPH. Enought to create a lot of rustling of leaves and wind noise.

The camera was set up on a tripod so I could just do a relatively stable pan. The camera was in 720p 30fps mode. I had one shot in 60fps mode that didn't come out well enough to post.

The white balance was set to auto. I probably should have had it in "cloudy". It looked more like it decided to balance for fluorescents looking at the raw footage (maybe all the green?).

I did a composite clip that I color corrected and titled in Premeire Pro and exported back out to 720p H264 using Adobe Media Encoder.

While the external microphone is better, it does sound like the AGC is still active as the background noise pops up whenever I'm not speaking opposed to the internal mic where the noise is fairly constant.

The mic level still seems to be a bit hot with a lot of popping & crackling. This is a noise cancelling boom mic on a headset and the mic was only about 1" from my mouth. I am going to try it again indoors with no wind noise and try different positions to see if I can get a better result. I also purchased a low cost Sony F-V220 dynamic mic on Saturday to try. It has a mono 3.5mm plug and on/off switch.
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Old Oct 13, 2008, 2:52 AM   #27
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Thanks celeritous.

Intricately worked out clips are not really necessary at this stage, general clips are good, while you are working out engineered tests.

One word of warning about using video editors, they may re-encode clips into h264/other codec and loose accuracy and introduce errors.
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Old Oct 13, 2008, 9:43 AM   #28
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That's just way too much popping and crackling.

I'm depressed to listen to that external microphone sample.

I wonder if -- perhaps -- the camcorder is defective.

Or...

Would it work better with a different type of microphone?
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Old Oct 13, 2008, 12:09 PM   #29
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EXT and INT at taht certain level he the person sounded overkill andit occured on both. so I am sure it is not a mic issue but the Sound issue thanks for the vid I am sure on other harsh or perfect conditions it be a better test.
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Old Oct 14, 2008, 1:25 AM   #30
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My eyes where a bit groovy from been up so long last night, so I did not do an in depth review. But pretty much it looked alright at a casual examination, most everything seemed in range, there seemed to be a crawl along the horizon though as panning, which might be haze or artifacts that may show up in the plants on closer examination. Color maybe good, the grass looked slightly pooped, but I don't know what shade that is in real life. Rolling shutter was good to look for, as the power poles already elan in both directions

The plants only form a small portion of the frame, so are not so bandwidth absorbing, but a close up of bigger breezy bushes or cotton filling a lot of the frame can pick up more problems.


One question, was it sunny day, over cast, or smog? If it was sunny or slightly smoggy then this is a good representation of latitude.
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