The new camcorders at CES

Samsung and Panasonic have announced their new camcorder line up, and Canon’s already have been leaked too. The new trend is flash storage and full progressive 1080/30p recording. Panasonic goes the extra mile to include true progressive 1080/24p too, while Samsung can capture 300fps for 10 seconds which yields very “clean” slow motion. We know no tech specs about the new Canon cameras yet, but we know that they went flash-storage too. Sony didn’t offer major new ideas/features in their new lineup.

I am very happy to at last see true progressive recording, no more wacky aspect ratios, no more interlaced crap for consumers (50% of them don’t know how to de-interlace and then they export interlaced to sites like vimeo and so their videos end up looking like crap), and of course 24p.

However, Panasonic did not go the extra mile to compete with the HV20, and Samsung didn’t seem to even try either. Just because you can shoot progressively and 24p does not make your camcorder a better device than the HV20. Not only because AVCHD is still not as good as HDV in quality, or because 3CCDs are so small in these consumer cameras that yield essentially no background blur compared to 1/2.7 CMOS of the HV20, but also because there is no manual focus ring, no filter threads, no manual controls in hardware buttons.

This reminds me a lot of the efforts of Samsung and LG to compete with the iPhone last year. Instead of actually replicating all the existing iPhone features plus adding more new features, they just kept their old software feature-set and just gave their device a big ass touchscreen. Well, that’s not enough to compete with the iPhone, and in the same way, Panasonic’s solution is not a better deal for the hobbyist/indie filmmaker than the HV20 is.

Personally, I will still wait for this. If Canon won’t deliver that, no one will.

Update: This Casio digital camera looked very promising for a moment, but then I read that it has no image stabilization, not conversion lens support, and not enough background blur (same as in the HV20). This is why followers are not leaders in the market. Because they make a lot of buzz about a single feature that no one else has, but they forget to take care of the basic stuff. Stupid Casio.


Cesar wrote on January 6th, 2008 at 7:43 PM PST:

I think I’m going to wait a little more.

But what do you mean by background blur? Shallow depth of field?

Bob C wrote on January 6th, 2008 at 7:54 PM PST:

Yup, I saw the imager size on the panasonic and samsung, and came to the same conclusion; I love my HV20, and I’ll see what canon announces tomorrow.

I love this time of year though. If you’re bored, my buddy and I used to go to CES every year and take lots of pictures and upload them from our hotel room to our website…. then engadget came along…. and I got married and had kids… and my wife doesn’t let me go to CES anymore. It’s much funner sitting at home and visiting engadget anyways.

This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on January 6th, 2008 at 8:05 PM PST:

Cesar: shallow depth of field is related, but it’s not the same as background blur. DOF is the amount of space that’s sharp, and bg blur is well, having a blurred background without exactly calculating or caring about the sharp space’s size.

Bob: nice pics!

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Eugenia wrote on January 8th, 2008 at 12:08 PM PST:

They changed the article I had linked. When I wrote the above, there was no image stabilization.

Yeah, this makes a nice camcorder-alternative. Too bad it can only do 1080i though instead of 1080p, and its 720p mode doesn’t also do 60fps progressive. Other than that, it seems to be really-really nice.

coolkamio wrote on January 8th, 2008 at 1:49 PM PST:

Eugenia, Where did you read that the Casio EX-F1 can only do 1080i?

Todd Lloyd, DC wrote on January 8th, 2008 at 1:51 PM PST:

Eugenia, thanks for your reply.

I read your blog about the perfect camcorder for the enthusiast. I agree that there should be a camcorder that isn’t dumbed down with small sensors and little manual control. That’s what I want too! I would be glad to spend up to $2000 for a high quality cam with control and versatility like you would get with a DSLR camera. Why don’t manufacturers see that there is a market for this?

Regarding the Casio EX-F1, one of the things I like about the video function is that you can shoot low resolution videos as well as the 720p (would I even bother with 1080i?). I think I would use the you-tube capture a lot for a quick patient testimonial for my business.

Thanks for your feedback.

Todd Lloyd, DC wrote on January 8th, 2008 at 1:55 PM PST:

Hi coolkamino,

The F1 does 1080 at 60 FIELDS per second (interlaced), and does 720 at 30 FRAMES per second (progressive).

The special high speed modes are, thankfully, shot at frames per second for clear video.


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