Video Accessories Misc
- Written by John E. Johnson, Jr.
- Published on 20 August 2009
This is probably the lightest HD camera I have ever used. It does not slide into my pants pocket quite as easily as the Canon VIXIA HF11 that I reviewed, but it is only half the weight of the Canon.
Menus are getting easier to use on digital cameras now. I guess they figured out which items we are likely to use most often, and make them readily accessible.
When the 3" LCD monitor is folded open, there are some jacks for video and audio on the camera body, as well as the SD card slot.
The top of the camera has the zoom control, volume control for the built-in speaker (for reviewing what you recorded), and a button for taking snapshots. Notice at the front of the camera there are five microphone grilles (the grilles cover the microphones). This camera records five-channel Dolby Digital so you have surround sound in your home videos, if you play the files from the camera through the HDMI port. If you transfer the files to your PC for editing, you will need software that can deal with five channels of audio. Otherwise, you will end up with two channels when you burn your DVDs.
At the rear is the main dial for turning the camera on, setting it to take video (red camera icon), playing back what you recorded (green arrow icon), and connecting it to your PC (blue PC icon) for transferring the videos. The toggle on the far right is used when the Menu button is activated.
At the right front of the camera is a covered USB jack (top jack) and HDMI jack (bottom jack). You can play the videos directly to your HDTV using the HDMI jack, and the USB jack is used for transferring the video files to your PC.
The remote control is very small, but it has all the essential features that you might need, particularly starting and stopping recording when you want to be in the video.
The menu structure is simple. When taking videos, you can see the recording quality (in this case, HF, which is 13 Mbps), how much time you have recorded, Auto vs. Manual mode, and the battery time that is left. When you start the video and then stop, it is stored on the card as an individual file. When you then start the video again, it creates another file, numbered as 00001.mts, 00002.mts, and so on. Each time a video is started, the hour, minute, and second counter is reset to zero. That's why you get the R40 min indication on this screen. It is saying I have 40 minutes of video on the SD card. At the HF setting, you can record up to 90 minutes.
This is the menu that comes up when you press the Menu button. You can assign the recording quality, activate the digital zoom, turn on the image stabilizer, set the time and date, and several other actions. Some features are only accessible if you have the camera set to Manual mode. Otherwise, using the Auto mode, everything is pretty much taken care of for you.
Here is a photo of the included 40 GB hard drive which is designed specifically for transferring the video files from the SD card in the camera to your PC when it is full. It has a rechargeable battery, and is easily carried in your pocket.