Monday, June 29, 2009

You need a bad camera to learn what is important

Last Friday I found an offer of a 10 mpix camera with HD video for 199 €. It sounded too good to be true.

Her name: Fujifilm Finepix S2000HD
A model from last year with 28mm wide and a 15x zoom and 1280x720 HD video with a 2.7" screen. The screen and viewfinder were similar  to the Panasonic FZ28 I tired a while ago.

For that amount of money I could have an inexpensive in between camera and wait another year until the next generation HD hybrids come out with the features and the quality I wanted (hopefully).

Now  I am a fan of the big screen and when I say big screen I mean big as in room hight size. One of my dreams was to have a beach scene in HD on the screen so real looking that you have the feeling you are there. The VGA quality of the Canon S2 is great but the resolution is too low to make it look real. I hoped the S2000HD would be able to satisfy me there. 

Next to the Media Markt here on our little island between the Sahara and the Caribbean is a beach where I just took the camera out of the box and mounted her on a tripod and started my video experience. 
At home on the 42" full HD screen it looked terrible, on the laptop screen it was not better. I experienced big fluctuations in brightness and out of focus periods in the 5 min video. Also the stills I took were terrible compared to the Canon S2 or even my trusty pocket Ricoh R6.

So, what was happening? The wave action has some areas where the water turns from blue to white. This makes the picture brighter and the camera makes the picture darker to compensate. That is normal but the way the S2000HD did the adjustments are plain terrible. You can see for yourself on vimeo. The next day I went to the beach with the S2000HD and the S2 to compare this problem. At home I noticed that the Canon adjusts the picture too to compensate but it is so subtle that it is barely noticeable. I also noticed that the S2 had some out of focus parts in the video and then I understood that the only way to solve this problem was a camera what allowed me to lock the focus and the exposure during the video.

The S2000HD states that if you switch from optical zoom to digital zoom the focus stays locked. I tried it but still got out of focus errors in the video.
I also noticed that the S2000HD needed 8 second to zoom into a picture in preview while the S2 makes this in 1 second.

Well the Finepix S2000HD is a very crappy camera from the bad quality stills to the jumpy exposure video and is topped with a terrible menu system and handling. If you try to manual focus there is no magnification and the only way you see that it is sharp is when the color of the focus frame changes.

You can watch a 20 sec clip form the S2000HD on vimeo, just watch the skyline .

Fujifilm Finepix S2000HD.

To quote South Park: "You know, I learned something today"

On the must have list from my next Hybrid will be now focus and exposure lock in video mode and after reading through the Sony HX1 manual it seems Sony does not have these features. The Canon SX10 and SX1 both have focus and exposure lock.

Update, I just re read a review on my Canon S2 and looked into the manual to see if she has the same features as the SX1/10 and found out she has even more...
Talking about evolution. - Oh and she has 20 MP/cm² while the SX1/10 has 35 MP/cm² pixel density.