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Sony HDR-FX1E - First impressions

Thumbs up after a few problems By David Hague



Over the last couple of days, I have had the opportunity to get my grubby little hands on a Sony FX-1, and immediately - because it is a different world - came across a few problems. Not that these detract from the actual camera in the long term, just that there are a few variables that need to be adressed before taking the Jump to HDV.

Firstly, the freebie capture software that Douglas Spotted Eagle of DMN fame pointed me to at simply didn't work for me. It would see the camera, but on-screen camera controls had no - well - control and I continually got runtime errors. The only thing I can think of, to be clarified is that may be an NTSC v PAL thing.

Spot then guided me towards the demo of HD Link from Cineform, which after a bit of fiddling I got to work, alebit with a couple of hangs after capturing while it does its thing encoding. I suspect this is due to processor speed and RAM issues as around 18 minutes of HD gave a captured file size of 8gig +. Considering I have only (never thought I would say this12 months ago) an Athlon 2100+ and 768Mb RAM, this could cause it. The final attempt got through, but the final "encoding" took around 20 minutes before I got my system back so to speak.


The artifacting I got can be clearly seen

However, previous even smaller captures gave lots of artifacting, in both static signs and high speed scenes (yes, yes, more motor racing footage - what can I say, I like the grid girls :)) I initially put that down to those captures being to an external Firewire drive, even on the "small" filesize setting (which in hindsight doesn't affect the capture but the final encoding). Consequently, I captured to my internal 120gig drive and got the same artifacting, so ergo, I figure it is system speed, RAM size, drive speed, defragging issue. Anyone have any futher experience in this area?

One thing I can say is that the quality of "good" footage is very good indeed, and I for one, once these glitches and their fixes have ben identified, have been swayed to go the way of HDV for the long term.

During obtaining this motor sport footage (for the Aussies, Saturday and yesterday at the final round of the V8 Supercars at Sydney's Eastern Creek), it was fascinating that the techie and camera guys from the host broadcaster, Channel 10, were all eager to have a play with the FX-1, and from a "professional" viewpont - they know far more than me I happily admit - could find little to fault the cammy. Lack of balanced SLR audio in this "domestic" verson (which I understand will be rectified with a "Pro" version sometime soon) and a bit of a whinge about some of the control locations / sizes, and that was about it. The actual picture quality blew them away.

Precision driving

Precision driving - Ford V Holden

Indeed, it was amusing to all of us that they used a gazillion dollar full broadcast beastie - dunno which - to film the after race press conference, when in fact all this footage is used for is live streaming to ISP Big Pond customers? The irony was not lost ....

Mascot Combatants

Team Mascot Combatants

For the footage I wanted - mainly back room and behind the scenes stuff - I didn't need to recharge the battery over the 2 days of the meeting; the 2 hours it gave was more than enough. I *do* wish I had had a shoulder brace for shopoting some long stuff such as a wiat on the grid of 15 minutes when the track power failed - but apart from that, it was very comfortable to use despite it being a stinking hot day and very, very humid.

In short. Thumbs Up at this stage.

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David is the owner and publisher of Australian Videocamera. He has a background in media dating back to 1979 when he first got involved with photojournalism in motorsport, and went from there into technology via a 5 year stint with Tandy Computers.

Moving back to WA, David wrote scripts for Computer Television for video training for the just released Windows and Office 95 among others, and was then lured to Sydney to create web sites for the newly commercial Internet in 1995, building hundreds of sites under contract to OzEmail including Coates Hire, Hertz Queensland, John Williamson, the NSW Board of Studies and many, many more.

David can be contacted via  [email protected]

Related Keywords:Sony HDV, HDR-FX1E, CineForm


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