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Video test: Canon Ixus 130 vrs Flip MinoHD 3rd Gen

One element of my job I need to keep reminding myself to revisit is video technology. The kit available in this area is changing so fast, that recommendations I make to journalists need to move just as fast. I’m mainly interested in the low end kit, the cameras you stick in your pocket to grab footage of something interesting that happens unexpectedly. Basically, once you reach the stage where you’re using heavy tripods and Final Cut Pro, you’ve moved beyond my interest zone…

With that in mind, I’ve been experimenting with two options for producing quick’n’dirty video by journalists on the go, rather than video-centric journalists. While I’m aware that you can get great results from mobile phones like the iPhone 4, there are some compelling reasons for not using it on occasions, from the fact that they’re no corporate-approved devices in many companies, to the battery life challenge. Flip-style mini video cams and digital compacts can both be good alternatives. 

First up: a digital compact. This was shot on Tuesday night with a Canon Ixus 130 digital compact camera. The footage was stabilized in iMovie ’11:
And this was shot this afternoon, on the latest model Flip Mino HD (generation 3, I believe). Soundtrack replaced, because it was just a car alarm in the distance. Footage stabilised in iMovie ’11, as with the previous clip:
On balance, I think I prefer the footage from the Flip. It’s caught the drifting mist far better than I expected it too, and it’s managed to catch the mood of some difficult lighting conditions. 
The bigger test, though, will be filming some brief interviews on them. 
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Shooting Video on a DSLR

I spent a chunk of the weekend editing 30 minutes of holiday video footage down to a nice, tight 10 minutes that went down a storm with the family. And that reminded me of several experiments I've wanted to conduct with video for a while, and a few extra ones that crossed my mind while chatting with Documentally when he came to speak at RBI.

So, I pulled some experimental video I shot on my Canon EOS500D DSLR (an enthusiast level camera, available for around £500) out of Aperture, and edited it up. It was shot hand-held, with some image stabilization applied in iMovie during the editing process: 
And...I'm quietly impressed by it. The quality is pretty good (as you'd expect with a decent lens on the front), and it's actually easier to handhold than some of the Flip-style cameras, because it's easy to get two hands on it. One shot near the end betrays how difficult it is to handhold at the further end of a telephoto zoom. With a tripod, you could get some really nice footage off this thing. 
Room for more experimentation, I think. 
There's a YouTube version after the jump, for those of you on iPads and their ilk...
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Le Web: My Liveblogging Kit

Liveblogging Kit

So, I’m in Paris, settled in my hotel room, and ready to go. Here’s the key kit I’ll be taking with me to Le Web this year:
  • MacBook (left): My trusty laptop, which has been my workhorse for closing in on three years. Despite the leaps in what phones can do, I still need it for the full keyboard and photo and video editing.
  • Kodak Zi8 and Flip Mino HD: Not one but two pocket HD video cameras. The Flip Mino is my traditional camera, but the Zi8 will probably see more action this conference as I’m testing it out.
  • iPhone. Web. E-mail. Photo. Video. Audio. The Le Web app. Essential tool for me these days
  • Fuji Z20fd: Snappy Fuji compact, for those moments when I don’t want to traipse the SLR around with me, but the iPhone won’t cut it. The most endangered part of this kit.
  • EOS 500D and 70-300 Zoom Lens – The bedrock of my conference photography. As past events have show, I can grab great pics from the stage by pushing the camera’s ISO high and shooting at the extreme end of the lens. 
And that’s what I’ll be carrying around for the next two days. Wish me luck…

On Tuttle, Canon and the Multimedia Journalist

Canon 7D

For the first time in an age, I managed not to schedule any meetings and take myself off to the Tuttle Club this morning. In fact, I've been so bad at going that I have missed the ICA phase entirely, leaping straight from the Coach and Horses to Leon in Spitalfields.

I'd blocked out the morning in my diary anyway, but I was delighted to learn from Lloyd that Canon would be sponsoring the morning, as I'm a long term Canon SLR and DSLR user, and getting the opportunity to play with their new kit was too good to be missed.

On the whole, people at work tend to know me as a champion of the "quick'n'dirty" approach to photos and videos in reporting. And I think that's valid. The social media era is pushing journalists towards being multi-media workers, and basic kit is (a) great for learning (b) easier to use, and thus gets used more and (c) often enough for most journos. But there are specialist tasks and situations which demand better kit. And some journalists will continue to have a bias towards particular elements of multimedia.

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