This is a quick post to demonstrate the video quality of two different cameras. This is not meant to be a side-by-side review and there is no assumption on my part that these two cameras are in the same class, because they are not. What this shows is why you might want to consider an upgrade form a high end consumer class video camera to a low end professional class video camera. The two cameras I compare are the Canon HF S21 and the Sony HXR-NX5U.
I decided to upgrade myself for a number of reasons…
More dynamic colour range
Less noise in lower light conditions
Better optics, specifically optical zoom for close-up work
Pro audio connectivity and capability
I purchased the NX5 camera at a good price at just £1,400
The outcome is pretty self evident as you will see in the video. I have made no changes to the two clips, each is a native AVCHD import directly from the SD card into Final Cut Pro X, I made no changes to the video but FCPX did have to transcode because the two camera’s shoot at different frame rates.
The quality of the HD video I am able to produce now should be much better, it will be good to see how improved the detailing is when I am zoomed into those small surface mount components…
Whenever I am faced with watching a video with poor sound quality I feel compelled to stop watching. Its strange that with a media as visual as video how important the sound aspect is. Poor sound makes watching a video really hard, try watching a film on TV where the sound is so low or muffled that you can’t hear the dialect properly – it does not matter how good the film is, without decent, clear sound you will just not enjoy it. As I started to make some video content for my blog I was getting frustrated with the quality of sound I was able to produce. Mostly I am in a room where there are a lot of hard surfaces so the audio ends up full of sound reflections, sounding hollow when using the camera’s built in microphone. There are a number of factors that drive sound quality, including dynamic range and frequency response and the ability to reject unwanted noise. Probably the biggest contributor to poor quality sound though are the reflections you get when you are recording in an enclosed space. To understand what this is, imagine getting one of those small bouncy rubber balls and throwing it hard at a wall, the path the ball will take will be unpredictable and the ball will bounce around the room uncontrollably – this is what happens with sound. The microphone not only picks up your voice, but also picks up some of the reflections which are slightly delayed, and the recoding ends up sounding hollow – like when you sing in the bathroom – sounds OK in the bathroom but this effect really sucks on video.
A good way to solve this is to get the microphone close to you, this way your voice is at a much higher level than the reflections in the room and you get better quality sound. However, being close to a microphone is not always practical or desirable. I want to get good quality sound for my video content but I don’t want to have to be near a microphone, or wear a head set and I also want to be able to move around freey – so no wires either. Getting good sound quality requires you to understand where the poor sound comes from, it takes some practice and most importantly some decent gear too.
I have put together a video comparing various microphone options using my Canon Legria HFS-21 camera and the following microphone combinations: -