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Old Dec 17, 2007, 1:36 AM   #1
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Well, I ordered a Z812IS for my wife. After recieving it, we noticed that the camera double flashed anytime flash was used. It doesn't matter if it's for fill flash or not, it always double flashed. I emailed Kodak tech support. They're idiots. Their first three emails kept telling me to turn off the RED EYE PREFLASH. Which of course I had done already. I also asked them in two emails if the double flash was normal. Their fourth email told me NO REFUND and to send it in to be repaired, but it will be checked to see if the damage was done by me. Hmmm.

CALLED Kodak tech support. The nice woman I spoke to put me on hold for about 2 minutes. When she came back here's what she said (in a nutshell): The Z812IS uses a double flash for flash metering. The red eye feature is actually non-functional because of the metering flash. Ok, then... that's fine with me and was all I wanted to know, so I'd STOP trying to turn off the damn red eye flash.

Made a 640x480 HD video and 720p HD video. Yep, the sound skips and is garbled when made very close to the people being video'd or in loud music. My first experience was recording my wife and son singing Jingle Bells. They were about 5 feet from the camera. My second recording was a small band playing Christmas music in an enclosed hall (very loud). In both instances the sound was garbled and jittery. However, I shot video today of the children singing in church. The sound was perfect! They were about 30 feet away. I'm sure Kodak could fix this with a better AGC control in the firmware. I did update to v1.04 and it didn't seem to help this, so there's always hope for a fix in the future. I thought about placing a piece of tape over the two microphones and seeing if that reduced the sound level any. It's a thought anyway.

Anotherquirk... due to the metering flash, you actually don't get a picture of what you see when you push the shutter button. It takes the picture on the second flash, of course, which means what you wanted is already past. Hmm, this is why it would be nice to turn off the metering flash.

One last quirk... the red eye removal works GREAT. But instead of the subject having red eye, they end up with WHITE eye. Kind of funny actually. Why substitue the red with white? It makes people look like they're still posessed. Black would have been better, since that's the natural color of the center of eye (retina).

Over all, we love the camera. The 12X zoom is fantastic. We found in low light situations and longer distances, the 12X and ISO function can get you a decent picture.

Here's a question, has anyone tried taking video with an SDHC card? Does the sound improve at all?

By the way, we buy RAYOVAC CRV3 batteries to use in our Z812IS. They're about 1/2 - 1/3 as expensive as other brands.

mj
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Old Dec 17, 2007, 4:21 AM   #2
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I think it's asking a lot of any small digicam to take decent sound. If you see any sound recordist in action the microphones are big. On the Z*12is series they're invisible. You probably have no control over the compression used.

I have used the sound on my (2005) Casio EX-Z750 occasionally, but I'd judge it suitable only for speech in a very quiet place. At least on that I can see the hole where the microphone resides. I tried it on my Z712is once, got the lousy result I expected, and won't try it again.

These Kodak camerasare excellent for stills, offering remarkable performance in a small, light package for little money. It's a pity they feel they have to stick video & sound on to attract customers, which means they are often seen as trashy & downmarket, even though they compete very well, especially on price, in the superzoom/hybrid market.

The Electronic Viewfinder is wonderful. I do a lot of the work I used to do in the darkroom or on a computer in the viewfinder now, before I take the shot.

I can produce reasonable quality music recording with my ancient Sony Video8 camcorders, which have microphones clearly visible on the front.Even they pick up some camera noise. Video8 uses the good recordingsystem that was in Betamax video recorders, killed off by inferior VHS. From what I read, I think only fairly upmarket camcorders using digital videotape are up to that quality now.
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Old Dec 17, 2007, 8:45 PM   #3
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MikeJnLA wrote:
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After recieving it, we noticed that the camera double flashed anytime flash was used. It doesn't matter if it's for fill flash or not, it always double flashed. I emailed Kodak tech support. They're idiots. Their first three emails kept telling me to turn off the RED EYE PREFLASH. Which of course I had done already. I also asked them in two emails if the double flash was normal. Their fourth email told me NO REFUND and to send it in to be repaired, but it will be checked to see if the damage was done by me. Hmmm.

CALLED Kodak tech support. The nice woman I spoke to put me on hold for about 2 minutes. When she came back here's what she said (in a nutshell): The Z812IS uses a double flash for flash metering. The red eye feature is actually non-functional because of the metering flash. Ok, then... that's fine with me and was all I wanted to know, so I'd STOP trying to turn off the darn red eye flash.

Anotherquirk... due to the metering flash, you actually don't get a picture of what you see when you push the shutter button. It takes the picture on the second flash, of course, which means what you wanted is already past. Hmm, this is why it would be nice to turn off the metering flash.

I'm going to suggest that the explanation you've received, at least as you've explained it here, is incorrect.

I believe the double flash you're observing has nothing to do with metering the flash but rather auto-focus. When the flash has not been switched off and the light/contrast of the scene is inadequate for auto-focus the camera will fire the flash to get enough light on the to allow the auto-focus to function. If you have switched off the flash it will fire self-timer LED to attempt to accomplish the same thing. Essentially this is saying that there's not enough light for auto-focus. You can make it quit pre-firing the flash by raising the ambient light level so that it can auto-focus (or switch to manual focus but that has it's own operational issues.)

I have had instances where the flash as fired once to aid focusing in daylight because the contrast of the scene was low (a brown bird in a thicket of brown branches) even though the overall illumination was high enough to not require the flash for the main exposure. If I don't want this to happen I switch off the flash and use the half press technique to insure (by watching the green box(es) to see that the camera has found a suitable focus point.

I suspect that if you have the flash red-eye reduction mode on it uses the red-eye pre-flash for focusing as well so you don't have three flashes.
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Old Dec 18, 2007, 3:23 AM   #4
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Alan T wrote:
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I think it's asking a lot of any small digicam to take decent sound.
True but at least, there should be no skipping and garbling as mj states.

I use a competitor's ultrazoom (comparable to the Z812) and have no problem at all with the video and audio - I can clearly hear and understand the words spoken whether from near or far.
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Old Dec 18, 2007, 1:58 PM   #5
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The following may help explain why the audio from you're P&S sounds as it does although it won't necessarily make you any happier: http://1000nerds.kodak.com/technologycat/. Go done to the October 30th article.

Executive summary - The hardware, A/D conversion, compression algorithms etc. are those used for voice telephony.Analogy, imagine someone dialing you on their cell phone from row three of a live concert to let you listen to the music. Worse, play that through your home entertainment system.

Bottom line, P&S audio, think conversation in a moderately quiet environment, not live music.

At the end of the article the author does suggest a work around but I doubt that many in this forum are that into video editing.
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Old Dec 18, 2007, 10:02 PM   #6
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I replaced a Kodak CX7530 5MP camera with this cam. The CX audio is perfect, no matter what the audio level. On thing I've noticed, the higher the resolution of the video on the Z812IS, the worse the audio defects. This points to processing power of the internal cpu and firmware. Maybe, because more time is needed to process the high resolution video, the sound processing pays the price. I'll get an SDHC card soon and will post a followup if it's highspeed transfer helps.

No matter though, we really like the camera and are going to keep it (inspite of the fact that Kodak say's no refunds.)

mj
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Old Dec 19, 2007, 6:11 AM   #7
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ac.smith wrote:
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...why the audio from you're P&S sounds as it does ... http://1000nerds.kodak.com/technologycat/. Go down to the October 30th article.
Excellent article, Alan (ac.); thanks for the link. I've kept a copy for future reference.

My experience comes from recording my wife's classical solo soprano performances, sometimes with orchestra,with my 8mm camcorder. I got highly acceptable results making audio CDs years agoby playing them back direct from the camera to my sound card using various bits of Win 3.1 freeware for the A-D, lost long ago on antique machines.

More recently I've done a few experiments playing the Video8 sound from the camera to the 'line in' of my mp3 player/recorder/radio,through entertainingly multiply-stacked phono plugs & stereo jack adapters. I've done a bit of editing too, using "AcidWAV" (www.polyhedric.com/software) .

Once one has got a ".wav" file somehow, it's instructive to experiment with re-encoding it at various frequencies using Windows 'Sound Recorder'. That makes it easy to hear the difference that higher-frequency sampling makes for good quality music.

For a long time the best sound around in the UK was analogue FM BBC Radio 3 (a largely classical channel). That quality has been steadily worsening as the pressure on broadcast bandwidth increases. Recently the quality of digital audio (DAB) Radio 3 has been reduced a little to below CD quality rather than above. So some of the world's best performed and best recorded music is sliding downthe same downward spiral of 'lots more, but much worse' as are digicam & camcorder sound.

Many young persons won't notice, as they'll be used to much-compressed heavy rock.However, lots of folk singers and lots of amateur performances recorded by people likeme for family archives deserve a better hi-fi deal. It's gone quite the other way with all the improved technology for still images, apart from the current aberration of 'pixel wars'.
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Old Dec 19, 2007, 8:05 AM   #8
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Alan, please keep posting on this forum-I'm learning a lot from you.:-)
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Old Dec 19, 2007, 7:17 PM   #9
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MikeJnLA wrote:
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On thing I've noticed, the higher the resolution of the video on the Z812IS, the worse the audio defects. This points to processing power of the internal cpu and firmware. Maybe, because more time is needed to process the high resolution video, the sound processing pays the price.
You may have a point on processing power. The Z812 has stereo audio channel vs. the Z712 and Z1275's monaural audio. The Z712 of doesn't have HD either but the Z1275 does. Neither camera has generated the controversy that the Z812 has.

I have done a couple of music tests with my Z612 (stereo audio, no HD) and it will do a decent job with music on a TV (extremely compressed compared to live) and with FM radio on a high quality sound system (still quite compressed compared to live but less so than TV audio.) Presumably the Z612 has a less capable CPU the Z712/812/1275 but there were no dropouts or obvious AVC pumping. Quit frankly though the video function was completely irrelevant to me when I bought the Z612 and the only videos I have done have been simply to test for things mentioned in various forums.

Alan T: Thanks for posting your comments and setup to get a quality sound track on (or off) a video.

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Old Dec 20, 2007, 11:28 AM   #10
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The OP (mj) said:

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Made a 640x480 HD video and 720p HD video. Yep, the sound skips and is garbled when made very close to the people being video'd or in loud music.
So please correct me if I'm wrong (a I quite possibly am, as I'm just barely scratching the surface of this whole HD thing), but I am thinking that 640x480 is VGA and not HD. Or is there a 640x480 HD mode AND a 640x480 VGA mode on the Z812?



Now then, in ac.smith's most recent post /\, a comparison of sorts is made between mono vs stereo, and Z1275 (HD) vs Z612/Z712 (non HD). So if there is a 640x480 non HD mode on the Z812, how does the audio compare?

As others have also mentioned, I did not buy the Z812 for video or audio capture, but for outstanding still images. But the video/audio capture is a bonus, and I plan on doing some of my own experimentation once I get the camera in my hands.

As it stands, wifey insists on holding out until Christmas Day to give me the camera. She seems to delight in my anxiety as I watch the minutes and hours and photo ops tick (slip) by!

-Frank
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