Category Archives: Video

Dartmoor video

I’ve put together another video slide show to the music of Harold Budd. This time it’s my walk across Dartmoor in April last year. It’s about six minutes long so get a cup of tea or coffee, sit back and relax.

Barking up the wrong tree?

Sorry to bang on about video, but this is exercising me at the moment. Maybe the answer is not a Flip or a Vado or an Aiptek, perhaps it’s a Sony. The new Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T500 Digital Camera may be the answer. It’s a proper camera but it also shoots HD video. It has a Carl Zeiss lens. Quite frankly, I’ve been underwhelmed by the quality (or lack of) on most of the video clips I’ve seen. I also feel that carrying two cameras (one still, one video) is not exactly part of the lightweight ethos and may over-complicate life. It weighs 180g, which is not bad. It also has stereo sound. I’ll have a look after Christmas to see whether any bargains are on offer. £220 seems to be the cheapest at the moment. That seems better value than either the Flip Mino HD or Vado HD.

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The waiting game

The Vado HD pocket video camera has finally hit the UK streets at £195. For comparison the Flip Mino HD retails at £199. The lower definition cameras are the Mino at c. £120 and the Vado at £62. It’s interesting that the Vado seems to have dropped in price a fair bit recently. At this pace of development, the HD cameras will have fallen in price substantially by the middle of next year. At around £60, we’re starting to talk sensible money. At around £200, that’s way too much for an occasional user. However, the HD cameras look as thought they produce much better video quality. I could use my stills camera but I would prefer to have a separate lightweight dedicated camera that shoots HD (my camera does 640 x 480 max). It seems to me that it is worth waiting for the price of these HD cameras to fall further before taking the plunge.

Video poll

To say that my post and poll on adding video to my blog stirred up a controversy would be over egging the pudding. However, some forthright views have been expressed here and on Andy Howell’s blog as to the desirability of video content. I didn’t need the electoral reform society for the poll: 9 in favour, 4 against. I fully sympathise with the view that a lot of what is on YouTube is rubbish.

I’m grateful to Martin Rye for pointing me to Andy Skurka’s website as an example of how to integrate video clips int trip reports. I like the way he’s combined still photography with short videos. I think both are interesting and are not mutually exclusive. As a rule there’s not much commentary. It seems to me that it is a potential template to develop. There’s not a huge amount of editing to do.

I also doubt that anyone wants to watch more than 10 minutes of amateur footage at a maximum. Clips of 1-2 minutes are more than adequate. Filming short snippets shouldn’t impinge on other photography, nor should it dominate the walk, another fear expressed.

Over the next few months I’ll investigate the hardware aspect a bit more. In addition to the offerings from Flip and Creative, I had a look at the smaller hand held Sanyo camcorders. The ideal would be a camcorder that took stills which are as good as a camera, but I suspect that is asking to much.

If I carry a camera and a camcorder, I wouldn’t want the camcorder to weight more than around 100g. At the moment, the Creative Vado HD looks the best candidate. I shall wait until after Christmas to see if any bargains are on offer. 

More on video

So far the comments and poll are suggesting that there is a demand for video content. The new small pocket camcorders from Flip and Creative are making this feasible. Darren is using a Flip Mino for his blog and it certainly looks the part. There’s a fair amount of Mino footage knocking around the web. The quality seems to be acceptable although some care is needed in not using close ups or panning too quickly.

I ruled out the Flip Ultra on weight (150g) and the Creative Vado on video quality. The Mino weighs 93g, 60 mins recording time, 2gb memory and a 640 x 480 resolution. Flip have brought out a high definition version, the Mino HD, which looks even better, giving a resolution of 1280 x 720, but still only 60 mins of recording time.

PURE DIGITAL TECHNOLOGIES FLIP MINO HD

The blockbuster may be the Creative Vado HD, which has 8gb of memory (2hrs HD+, 4hrs HD, 8hrs VGA), 2 hours of battery life and weighs 100g. It’s $200, so it’s not going to be cheap in the UK, but at the rate these models seem to be developing, it’s probably worth waiting a few months for others to be introduced and prices to drop further. I’ve had a look at slightly larger higher quality (and higher priced) camcorders but ruled them out on weight/price. I also want to do very basic short videos, so I don’t need too much sophistication.

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I’ve not really bothered much with YouTube in the past, but Duncan, George and Darren’s efforts on their blogs piqued my interest. Martin Rye has also started to experiment, so this could be a trend.  Aside from the miniaturisation of the technology and rapidly improving quality, the other piece of technology that makes this feasible is solar re-chargers. I bought a Freeloader recently and have been playing around with re-charging my iPhone with it. It charges the iPhone remarkably quickly.

So far I’ve only charged the Freeloader hub from my PC. I do have the Supercharger panel which is supposed to charge the hub in 4 hours in bright sunshine, but haven’t tested it yet. I’m tempted to get a second hub so that I don’t run out of battery for a camcorder (assuming it will charge from the Freeloader) and my iPhone.

I won’t be introducing video quite yet though, as I won’t be going on any trips until spring. That gives me a bit more time to investigate the market and for prices to drop.

One further thing I should mention. I’ve been listening to Ken Knight’s podcasts on the TGO Challenge. I have a huge amount of admiration for Ken. To attempt an arduous two week trek in a foreign land when you are partially sighted takes a lot of guts. Well done sir. While the podcasts are enjoyable, it brings home to me how difficult it is to produce audio podcasts. Bob’s audio podcasts are fantastically well produced both technically and presentationally (as are Andy Howell’s).

In contrast, Ken’s are a bit rough and ready, though still immensly enjoyable. I can’t prove this until I attempt it, but I think video may be easier than audio simply because you don’t need much audio and you don’t need to paint an audio picture for the audience. The one time where it may be more difficult is for interviews, but, to be honest, I’m not that bothered about doing those.

My feeling is that the content that is most appropriate for a blog is relatively short clips in conjunction with text and stills. These can be describing routes, scenery or points of interest. Gear reviews are also feasible. If the clips are short, then editing should be less of an issue as should continuity. One thing’s for sure, I’m not going to be any competition for Mr. Cartwright or the BBC.