# Sunday, 21 March 2010

I own 2 dedicated video cameras. My first true digital video camera was the Sony SR60.

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I got it because at that time I knew as a father I would WANT to have something that can record proper video. And that the SR60 was pretty much the first camera I knew that was spitting out VBR MPEG2 files that I could just easily copy off the camera and manipulate. I definetly DIDN'T want to deal with tape, and I didn't want to deal with direct DVD cameras as well since I knew my videos final destination is the computer and NOT a DVD player.

My other video camera is the Creative Vado.

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I grabbed it because I realized the need for a dedicated compact video device which I might want to carry around easily in my pockets. And I have used the Vado in EXTREME situations, I've taped it to a paintball gun before and I've also used it when I went for the SkyTrex experience, it's small size makes it easy for me to consider carry it wherever the need arises. While video is of usable quality, the mic pickup left a lot to be desired.

So I've bought tickets for a legendary musical event next month. And they WELCOME video recordings of their show, and I plan to make FULL USE of that invitation. But I don't know how thrill the venue people might be at the sight of a camera, so I thought about bringing the Vado, but considering that the Vado's audio pickup sucks and I couldn't afford stage side seats, I'd have to bring the SR60 then. But then I told myself, well... it's been awhile since I got the SR60, and there's this whole HD thing going on now. Why don't I indulge and take the opportunity to find a HD camera. I didn't want to spend too much on a pro grade video camera cause it's not like there's a reason I need CRYSTAL CLEAR video, so I was actually thinking of the Creative Vado HD 2nd Gen since from some sample videos it seemed to have better audio pickup.

Then I found this today...

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This is the Sony CX-150, yes... I just bought YET ANOTHER Sony camera. This has EXTRA impact when I say it because nearly all (with the exception of the Creative Vado up there) of my Digital Cameras which I have used throughout my life HAS BEEN A SONY! Their cameras just have that extra something which I prefer I guess. So why did I pickup another full blown handy cam instead of my initial mini cam idea? Because the CX-150 is SMALL.

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It's almost as long as the SR60 but the CX-150 is much thinner, the only reason it is as thick as it is seems to be to accommodate the lens assembly. Another reason why I choose this over a mini cam is that this is a FULL BLOWN video camera, means it comes with all the frills of a proper video camera ie. Decent audio pickup and OPTICAL ZOOM capability. So I don't sacrifice performance for size with the CX150. And for those of you complaining that it ain't THAT small. Well my definition of portable is that I can stick it into my Dockers Mobile Pant's pocket. ;)

The reason the CX150 can be so small is because it uses Sony Memory Stick Pro DUO (!) or SD HC (phew... class 4 and above only though) media cards for writing it's video to.

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But the camera doesn't come with any card because (as you could see in the first photo) it has an onboard flash memory of 16GB. Pretty decent, but it can only hold about 85 minutes on the camera's HIGHEST (it's some weird 1920x1080 24Mbps video, I say weird because it talks about video compatibility issues with hardware players when you switch to that setting) quality setting. Dropping the quality down one notch gives you 115 minutes, and dropping down another notch gives you 230 minutes. At the lowest setting the onboard memory can hold 6 hours worth of video.

But you wouldn't need to worry about that too much since the bundled battery...

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Is good for about 125 minutes of continous recording time, LESS if you zoom in and cause it to auto focus during the recording of course. I guess I can force more usage time by turning off the screen during recording.

There's nothing much to talk about the design of the CX150, it's your typical fold out video camera design.

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There's really nothing much to say about it. I do need to comment on one thing though. Even though the CX150 is very light, at no time does it feel CHEAP. In your hands it feels like a solid well made gadget. Wish Fujitsu paid attention to this detail when they were making the UH900.

One welcomed change from the SR60 is the fact that the CX150 has all important connection points on the camera itself. The power and analog video sockets on on the right.

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Where as the STANDARD mini USB and HDMI connectors are on the left.

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They didn't use any flimsy or removable rubber flaps to cover the ports, they made actual doors! I like this because my main gripe with the SR60 was that if I wanted to get files off the camera, not only did I needed to bring the docking station where the mini USB connector was. I also needed to bring the power adapter cause the SR60 won't power up without it! The CX150 has no problems acting as a mass storage drive when connected to the PC without the adapter. Though I don't think it actually draws any power from the USB port so if it's battery is dead you won't be able to connect it to your computer.

One welcome feature that DIDN'T change from my SR60 is the lens.

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The CX150's lens design and heck.. I think the lens itself! Remains the same as the SR60. This means that the old wide angle lens I got for the SR60 fits like a dream on the CX150.

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Obviously image quality suffers, but it's not like I care anyway I just want to be able to capture WZ when he's standing right in front of the camera! :P There is one little change to how the lens works though. The lens cover has to be MANUALLY opened and closed by a switch on the side

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The SR60's lens cover was automatic, so I now need to remember to close the cover or risk lens damage!

I'll upload some video once I have more time to work on it (I managed to capture the Putrajaya Hotair Balloon Fireworks Display!) But I'd have to say the CX150 is a medium quality HD camera, so it can't hold a light to the video quality of higher end cameras. But I don't mind because I'm happy with the performance vs size that I'm getting.

Here's some advice to all of you planning to get a HD video camera.

  • HD files are HUGE! For example, at the highest quality setting 27 seconds of video resulted in a 75MB file.
  • Dealing with HD files are a NON TRIVIAL operation. Your computer might not have the right video codecs to decode the file, and even if you DID have the right video codecs, decoding H.264 requires a pretty beefy system, or a codec that performs very well.

I don't think I'll upload any FULL SIZED sample video (30 secs already = 75MB, I'd think I'd go over most 100MB limits). Just likely edit it and throw it up to YouTube.


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