Mobile Video – The Hardest Nut To Crack

Updated on 23 December 2010 by

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Over at Carrypad I’ve been writing about another attempt to get a mobile reporting kit together. This time the Netbook gets left in the hotel and I try to use the Samsung Galaxy Tab as the main input device. I’m using it now and it is working out really well. The Nokia N8 works fantastically as a mobile camera too. Results in some low light tests I did snow a huge improvement in quality over my bridge camera, the Canon S2IS. Only the optical zoom is missing.

One major problem I have though is video. With my bridge camera I can produce reasonably good quality videos at VGA resolution. The files are big mjpeg jobs but they’re easy to work with on a Netbook. 720p videos produced with the N8 however aren’t nearly as good. The stabilization isn’t as good, audio isn’t as good, there’s no zoom and the videos are done in fixed-focus mode. Given that the N8 is one of the best 720p capable camaeraphones out there, it looks like I will have to stick with my Canon S2IS. At 500gm it’s not much fun to carry around but what’s the choice?

I love the zoom, the USB remote capture, the hinged viewfinder, the stereo mics and the AA batteries. The only device I can find that competes is the SX20IS but then we’re into H.264 territory which means the netbook would need to be upgraded in order to process the files. It’s still over 500gm too.

Most people with any sense would just upgrade and take the hit on the extra weight but I am determined to focus on mobility here.

Given the N8 can’t do the video, I need to focus on something else as the camera and video camera and just use the N8 for those times (many) when I haven’t got my camera with me.

10x Zoom
USB connectivity
720p recording with zoom, continuous AF and good quality microphone
sub 250g weight
SDHC card support

I’m currently looking at the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ10 which seems to be getting good reviews in the camera and video department. The Sony HX5 is also getting good video and low-light reviews.

I have a week before CES so if anyone has any ideas, please let me know.

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7 Comments For This Post

  1. azeman says:

    Hi Chippy,

    i know you want zoom, but if you really want something small and with DSLR Reference Quality you need to look at the Sony NEX3 or NEX5. With the 16mm fixed focus you are under 400€ and you remain very small and light.
    You can buy a zoom objective too, i heard that with the zoom and the fixed focus objective you can get the whole package for around 500€ at MM in the moment.
    But With so many Megapixels and low light capabilties you dont really need the zoom.
    There are many reviews out there. Take a look at that camera, before you finally decide what to do.

  2. chippy says:

    Thanks Azeman. I saw it mentioned on a few reviews so ill check it out further. My problem with zoom is that I’m often sitting in a press conference and need to pick out stuff on stage.

  3. Faaborgs says:

    Hi,

    Not counting the 10x Zoom your X10i is close :-)

    I’m using the Sony HX5V and it performs good allaround. The videos I post on my site is recorded om that camera. On the picture side the N8 is a little better (I have testet outdoors), but its close.

    /Lars

  4. ebabsBlog says:

    I only can say something about the Panasonic camera, but have to say, that I only use the older device, the DMC-TZ 5, the first compact cam with HD video possibility 2 years ago. These cams are producing the most beautiful Macro pictures I ever saw an those kind of cams, easy to use, very small, very stabile, high quality.
    But, the only thing I don’t like is the sound. You can see a comparison between the TZ 5 and the Nokia N8 on my Blog (blog.stephaniehoffmann.de) – video and sound. The result of this relativly bad sound was, that I had to record the sound separate and mix it with Quicktime (mov format) on my Notebook, which works very nice. There is no possibility to connect a separate micro on it. I fear, thats nothing for you. So you have to pay attention on this and maybe bettter test it first, if this is fixed on the TZ 10. I hope so, because the TZ 5 is the absolutely best cam I ever used for me and my work – because I love Macro Mode.

  5. Johnnny says:

    If you are not making pictures for printing but just for the web, why do you need zoom? N8 has the best phone camera, paired with a micro camcorder, it should do the job nicely.

  6. chippy says:

    Zoom is a requirement for sitting in a press conference or product launch where you can’t move toward the subject.

  7. Benz145 says:

    You could look at the Flip cameras (www.theflip.com). They connect directly via USB, but not sure of they have SD cards or not. They also lack optical zoom. iPod Touch is also another consideration as the latest ones take good 720p video with much better compression than all other devices I’ve tested (ie: equal length video files are significantly smaller), but this still lacks optical zoom and SD card. I feel like the weight restriction is going to be the toughest to find if you also want optical zoom.

    “HD Camcorder” in amazon pulls up lots of good results with optical zooming, but most are over the weight limit.

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