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Old Nov 5, 2005, 11:39 AM   #1
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I am reviewing digicams before I buy and am considering the Xacti C5

I have see the movie sample ontheSanyosite and the ones on this site, which are all MP4, as the Specification says.

However, I have looked at the review of the camera at

http://www.unmediated.org/archives/2...ted_sany_1.php

This site shows a number of movie samples, alleged to be from the C5, but they are all MOV files. Since these play on my Media Player Classic, which will not currently play MP4 files ( I nned to use Quicktime for those ), they are not MP4 files in disguise. However, their size indicates that they are highly compressed, like MP4s

Any explanations ?

Phil
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Old Nov 5, 2005, 12:44 PM   #2
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Hi Phil, me again. Quicktime Movie info on those .MOV files is:
  • MPEG-4 Video, 640x480 Millions[/*]
  • AAC, Stereo, 48.000kHz
[/*]
So it seemsthat the video was simplytransfered to a .MOV file. The thing is that .MP4 is really only a container, as is .MOV and .AVI. .MOV and .AVI can contain streams utilizing other codecs.

For example you can transfer the contents of an .MP4 to an .AVI utilizing the MP4Cam2AVI. It doesn't actually convert the data at all, it justcopies it into an .AVI container.
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Old Nov 7, 2005, 12:12 AM   #3
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Caelum is absolutely correct - you can even play MP4 files without changing the container format (from .MP4 to .AVI) with QuickTime player. However, I really hate these bigshot company "free" players like QT and RM (Real Media) because they "phone home" (connect with homebase company to send some user info etc.) behind your back (well your firewall should intercept them!). There is a freeware program called "QuickTime Alternative" which spares all the "phone home", but I am not sure if it will open and play MP4 files.

MP4 is the non-specific container (format file extension) for the family of MPEG-4 video codecs, which include proprietary codecs from commercial companies like Windows Media (WMV), Real Media (RM) and QuickTime (MOV), and also open-source non-commercial codecs like XVID, DIVX (use AVI, MPG, MPEG, whatever non-proprietary video file extension you want to use, as long as you have the correct codecs installed) (sorry to say DIVX also yielded to commercialism, but older codecs (version 5.5 or older) are free and newest codec is "free" but installation contains adwares and "phone homes").

I have a Xacti C4 and I use MP4CAM2AVI to convert the MP4 files to AVI format, which can then be read by DIVX/ XVID codecs (they are quite similar and can read each other's files). I also use VirtualDub to edit the AVI movies. I have used TMPGEnc (Tsunami MPG Encoder, a bit out-of-date but does an excellent job!) in the past to convert the vids to MPEG-1 (VCD format) and MPEG-2 (DVD format), but I don' t need to this since I got a DVD player that can play DIVX (/XVID) MPEG-4 movies burnt on DVDs or VCDs.

If you don't like VirtualDub, there are now many many paid video editing softwares that can read MP4 files and convert them to other formats - eg. Video Cleaner Pro.
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Old Nov 7, 2005, 7:06 PM   #4
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Hi Blindsight

I quite agree with whayt you say about Real Media & QuickTime and I have been using Medium Player Classic to play all my videos before I came across the MP4 ones, which it will not play.

However, I have just found another player ( VCL Media Player ) which I downloaded from

http://downloads.videolan.org/pub/vi...c/0.8.2/win32/ - the vlc_0.8.2-win.exe file.

This will also play MP4 files and the colour on the movie is much better than when played on QuickTime.

I had been put off buying a Sanyo C5 because the videos look rather dull and grey when played on QuickTime. They are much more impressive when played on VCL Player. In fact the original MP4 movies look very similar on VCL Player as when I convert the MP4 files to AVI ( using MP4Cam2AVI ) and play the AVIs on Media Player Classic.

I would be very interested to see some more User movie clips from an Xacti C5 - the only one I have seen ( not from the Sanyo site ) are Steve's andthe MOV oneson the "unmediated" site I referred to before.

I am very impressed with the compression, using MP4.

From your experience, what is the downside of MP4 ?

Phil





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Old Nov 8, 2005, 9:44 AM   #5
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Phil999 wrote:
Quote:
I would be very interested to see some more User movie clips from an Xacti C5 - the only one I have seen ( not from the Sanyo site ) are Steve's andthe MOV oneson the "unmediated" site I referred to before.
I've posted some links before, uhm, let's see: there is a mini review on Akihabara newswhere they have a good video where it shows the good optical zoom and the bad digital zoom. There is deeje cooley who posted a few on his blog, one of themshowing the delay when you take a high res photo while shooting video. There is another C5 video ofa kitty on Semsons. And there are also lots ofC4 videos out there, I can't remember where, but mostly on Japanese sites, which produces very similar results to the C5. I remember finding more C5 videos on Japanese user's sites, I really don't remember where now.
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Old Nov 8, 2005, 1:41 PM   #6
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Hi

Thanks for the links

I'll beinterested to see what you think of VCL Media Player

I've downloaded the 2 movies ( from the Semson & the Alki Sites ) - they both show much more vivid colour when played on the VCL Player, compared to QuickTime.

The C5 is becoming quite appealing from the video point of view.

However, one thing I really don't like is the Li-ion battery which appear to be rated at 720 mAh.

I currently use AA NiMH batteries which are rated at 2300 mAh so 2 sets gives me 4600mAh.

For the same opeating time, one would need about 6 Li-ion batteries at a cost ofca £100. Ths seems a very bad choice by Fuji.

Unfortunately, the Olympus C-770 ( MP4 ) also uses Li-ion batteries, apparently somewhat higher powered and a little cheaper than the Sanyo ones but nevertheless MUCH more expensive than AA NiMHs

Phil


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Old Nov 8, 2005, 1:57 PM   #7
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Yup, I'm also not crazy about proprietary batteries either and have also had good results with AA NiMH. I guess it's one of the tradeoffs for an ultra-portable camera, Sanyo's DB-L20 battery is less than 6mm thick, almost half the thickness of a AAA!
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Old Nov 8, 2005, 11:06 PM   #8
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Phil999:

" From your experience, what is the downside of MP4 ?"

"MP4" in general - not much unless you have an old computer with slow processor and little RAM, because modern high-compression MPEG-4 codecs are very hardware (processor) dependent. I have an "old" (I guess anything more than 6 months old is "old" haha!) PC with P4 1.7GHz/ 1GB RAM and I have no problem with playing the video. MPEG-4 is also very software-dependent, that's why you find some video players better than others.

"MP4" from the Xacti - this is really not the fault of the "MP4" codec, but hardware limitation of the Xacti: even at the best quality setting (bitrate 2MB per second) the video are still a bit choppy and blocky when the movement is high (eg. changing scenes quickly; zooming in and out quickly) - this can be improved with higher bitrate (say 3-4 MB per sec.), but I suspect the Xacti either has a slow video chip or image sensor, which limits the encoding bitrate (of course this is probably either cost-cutting/ earning-boosting strategy, leaving better hardware to be introduced in future models!). You also need to consider the speed of the memory card - the Xacti works happily with the "average speed" (nowadays probably called "low speed"!) SD card because its video encoding speed is not high (2 MB per sec., lower than the "write" speed of the SD card), but if the bitrate is higher, you may need a "high speed" card.

(The poor low light performance I always complain about is an image sensor limitation, nothing to do with MP4 encoding).

IMO, MP4 is definitely better than other digital camera "video modes", which are mostly MJPEG. As for comparison with MPEG-2 (DVD format), the biggest advantages are (1) filesize reduction (2) "may need high speed memory card to record MPEG-2". Although many MPEG-2 camcorder companies claim their products record with "DVD quality" because they are MPEG-2, you must remember that it really means they are only "compliant with DVD format" (ie you can burn the video taken by the camcorder directly onto DVD and play it on the DVD player without re-encoding) - depending on the quality of the compression software (codec) and the hardware (video chip), the final quality is not as high as those you see on Hollywood movie DVDs - of course, the manufacturers count on most ignorant mass comsumers buying into the words "DVD quality" for the sale!

Regarding battery, I bought replacement (non OEM) batteries for about $20. Each battery last about 1 hour of video shooting (or as long as the 1GB card storage at the best video setting, with the warning signal up), longer if you only take pictures, less if you use the zoom button frequently (this is the only mechanical component of the camcorder, one that sucks up power much more than electronics). I haven't used any card larger than 1 GB, but you most likely have to change battery when using a larger card. And yes you trade cost and battery time for size and weight, but (hopefully) at least lithium batteries (are supposed to) have less memory effect than Ni-MH from recharging.

I am glad you found VLC player (I haven't used it but I hear it is better than MediaPlayer Classic). In fact, if you use MP4CAM2AVI to convert the MP4 to AVI container (make sure you click "no re-encoding" option), you can play it on any media player (including Windows Media player) if you have DIVX or XVID codecs (or better still, ffdshow filter) installed.
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Old Nov 9, 2005, 4:22 AM   #9
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Caelum & blindsight:

Thanks for all that info.

First re. the batteries, I can understand the move to Li-ion batteries in light, slim cameras - there seems less need and justifiation for this in the larger, heavier cameras such as the Olympus C-770.

We ( mainly Caelum & I ) have been discussing in another thread http://www.stevesforums.com/forums/v...mp;forum_id=87

aspects of playing MP4 movie files.

Playing on QuickTime seems to produce rather dull, greyish movies but if these are played on VCL Player then the colours are much better. I cannot play MP4s on my MPC. Also, if an MP4 movie is converted to AVI ( with no recoding ) and played say on MPC then this looks OK as well.

If you look at Steve's "Dog" movies in the review on this site of the Olympus C770, then the MP4 one, ( played on QT ) looks a lot duller then the MOV one ( played on MPC ) but they look very similarwhen both are played on VCL. As indicated above, the MP4 one looks OK when coverted to AVI ( with no recoding ) and played on MPC. Puzzling !

It would be interesting to see how the original MOV & MP4 files compare when they are burned to a DVD to play on a TV. Unfortunately, I cannot try this at the moment as my SONIC "MYDVD" software will not write to my DVDs. Maybe loading all these new players and codecs has overwritten some DLL file which SONIC uses - I need to sort this out.

Another thing I have recenlty noticed, comparing all the sample movies I now have, is that the memory usage for movies produced by the Fuji S7000 is less than for most other non-MP4 [email protected] 640x320 & 30FS - only ca 70MB/Min compared to ca. 120MB/Min for most others. Maybe they code with higher compression and there will be more artifacts. I have so far found only the one S7000 sample movie -the one on this site and this looked OK.

Phil



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Old Nov 10, 2005, 6:43 PM   #10
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Other new flash memory camcorders (I mean ones with proper optical zoom lens) also for consideration:

Panasonic SDR-S100 - Newest and much improved model from the orignial AV series. Records to MPEG-2 ("DVD format") use up more memory but 2 GB SD card included ! Got a Leica lens and http://www.camcorderinfo.com reports nice image quality !!!!

Samsung Miniket VP-X110 - record to MPEG-4. Now has 1 GB built-in memoary !!!! Otherwise records to Sony MSPro sticks (expensive!). Earlier models only have so-so image quality.

IMO: the Sanyo Xacti series have the best quality for value. I am also surprised by the excellent still picture quality of my C4.
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