Tech: Thoughts on the Canon HF S200 video camera

Well, after disappointing footage quality with the ‘Take Back Parliament’ video, and with my missing the shot of Nick Clegg addressing the TBP movement at Transport House as my video-cam was tilted in the wrong angle above my head, and which I didn’t realise as it had no tilting screen - or maybe a combo of that plus some perspectival deficiency on my part - I acquired a quite proper video-cam. That would be the Canon HF S200 with DM-100 Directional Microphone.

What led to this move from the VadoHD and JVC HD, both, literally, pocket-sized cams, is not really the resolution of the footage, which is certainly good enough for the internet, but the shakiness of the footage, the absence of a proper zoom, and the sound quality. [go HERE for the TBP video shot with a JVC HD]

With regards to the shakiness, this is most obvious when one ‘pans’ without a tripod - that is, turning the camera from one point to another. And with lower quality CMOS sensors, we have something called a ‘rolling shutter’ effect that causes jitters in the footage when one pans. Whilst you still get it in higher-range video-cams, it is less obvious. I’d probably move on to a CCD camera - i.e. Canon GL2 - in the future which is about $500 more and which i discovered only after purchasing this camera.

I also realised the need for a proper and relatively longer zoom when I attended the May Day rally at Trafalgar - some people aspire to Harrods or the Tower Bridge and other ‘touristy’ locales, but for myself, it is generally the culture and political vibrancy, or lack of, that interests me - and couldn’t get close-ups of the speeches. In addition to this, being into photography, i appreciate the value of ‘artistic’ close-up shots taken with telephoto zooms and thought that one would be able to better capture the spirit of an event if one incorporates the ‘telephoto’ perspective into a ‘scenic’ one. That is, close ups of scenes embedded within a wider view of a scene. At certain times, one would not be able to get ‘up close and personal’ with aspects of a scene, and that is when the zoom capability will come in most handy. For instance, I did some close up photographic shots of the TBP demo which I thought would serve to bring out the flavour of the scene if caught on video and embedded between a ‘wider’ scene.

The sound quality captured with the in-built microphone Canon is obviously superior to any of my ipod-sized cameras. Now if you’re wondering what’s that protruding implement on the top of the Canon, that is the ‘directional microphone’ (purchased separately). It enables one to choose to focus on the sound coming from a particular direction whilst significantly cutting out the sounds that come from outside it. You have a choice between ‘shot gun’, which focuses directly on the individual or sound source it is pointed at, or a 90 or 120 degree angle. It also comes with a ‘wind-sock’ or ‘wind-shield to cut down the sound of, well, the wind. But, i’ll try to minimise my use of it as, unlike my time as a ‘far east kid’ in the 80s, i’m not an attention-seeker, unless it is my turn to speak that is. For an excellent review of the microphone, and which was instrumental in my deciding to get it, may be found at Starfed (youtube).

For mac-users, it works well with imovie 09’. Personally, i’m considering getting a Final Cut Express as i’m more accustomed to the features with Adobe’s Premiere Pro which I used in my Windows (ugh!) days. But for general users, Imovie 09’ runs very well with it and converts the video for editing without any problem.

Well, i’ll give the camera a run in the next event that’s on. If you want to see a good test-run video shot with the Canon HF S200, you can check it out HERE.



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