The moon on a stick
May 21, 2011 8:20 AM   Subscribe

Problems shooting video with a bridge/superzoom camera

A couple of weeks ago I bought a Fujifilm HS10. I'm really pleased with it, apart from one thing: the video. While the video quality is superb, the microphones on the camera pick up all the buzzes and clicks from within the housing. I've hunted around on the internet and there's no way to fix this - the video mode is fully automatic, so you can't adjust the autofocus and the like that causes the extra noise. There's also no way of plugging in an external mic, and firmware updates to fix the problem are fairly unlikely.

I bought the camera primarily for stills (which it does admirably), but I have the intention of shooting some video in the future. I don't really want to buy a dedicated video camera.

The way I see it is that I have four options here:

1) Buy some kind of external sound recording device, and then sync up the sound in video editing software. This would solve a lot of problems but cause a few more in that I'd have to manually put the sound and video together, and probably buy a clapperboard. Even so, is there an option for this? Preferably less than £50. There are iPhone devices which would be handy, apart from I've got an Android-powered HTC Desire.

2) Take the camera apart and wire up the microphone input(s) to a 3.5mm socket, then plug a mic into that. Obviously this isn't a great idea because a) I'm very bad at doing simple things like soldering and remembering where screws, and b) my warranty will go out of the window.

3) Take the camera back (I'm two weeks into a 30-day return policy) and exchange it for something better equipped in the video/sound department. I paid £220 for the camera, but I'd be willing to spend up to £300. I like having manual controls on the camera - which the HS10 has - as well as the bridge/superzoom format and price. I would consider a micro four-thirds camera if the price was right, but from what I've seen none shoot decent 1080p video in my price range.

4) Some hidden option that hasn't occurred to me yet.

I have scoured the internet for cameras, but it seems that in my price range there aren't any that do all the things I'm after particularly well, and this might be because the camera I'm after doesn't actually exist.
posted by hnnrs to Technology (7 answers total)
You'll be happiest with #3. Bridge cameras just aren't meant for serious users, and every time I've used one they've been insultingly limited. (What do you mean, I can't choose my aperture? Really?)

Canon has some DSLRs with eighth-inch mike inputs for 1280p video, my brother's got one with which he's quite happy. I'm sure you can get a refurb for significantly less.
posted by dunkadunc at 8:38 AM on May 21, 2011

Well, unfortunately you won't really find those options at that price level. Even at the Canon DSLR level (which I use professionally for video), there are many workarounds to make it happen - it just gives you such a great image for a (professionally relative) low price, that we do it.

What is it that you want to capture with this setup? Just everyday videos, narrative film ideas, interviews? It really boils down to what you want to do with it.

For example, my Canon 5D with my main lens is around $3200, another $1100 for shoulder mount and follow focus, plus $300 for the Zoom H4N external audio recorder that I sync up after the fact. According to Google, that's just shy of £2900 total.
posted by shinynewnick at 8:53 AM on May 21, 2011

Response by poster: Basically, I'm just getting started with the whole digital photography/video thing, thinking about using the video functionality to make a few short films. I think I might have set my expectations a tad high though!

I totally see the appeal of the 5D though - from what I understand it's the comparatively enormous sensor that makes it amazing. I can't afford to drop a few grand on a camera though, if anyone can recommend a sub-£500 DSLR that does acceptable video let me know.

Thanks for your help.
posted by hnnrs at 10:07 AM on May 21, 2011

I think you need to solidify your requirements a bit. You say you like the superzoom format, but do you really need 24 - 720mm? And you mention 1080p, but would 720p be acceptable? Is still image quality the priority?

The reason I ask is because cameras like the Canon Powershot S95, Nikon Coolpix P7000, and Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 (all in the neighborhood of £350) are all going to give you superior still images to what you have now due to having larger sensors, better low light performance due to faster lenses, and full manual controls. But they're only capable of 28 - 105mm (S95), 28 - 200mm (P7000), 24 - 90mm (LX5) and 720p video recording. The P7000 also has an external mic jack, so the autofocus and zoom motor noise shouldn't be an issue, although the LX5 runs its motors at a lower speed during video mode so as to not make as much noise.
posted by Rhomboid at 10:31 AM on May 21, 2011

Perfect, that will help. Let me check a few things out and come back to the thread.
posted by shinynewnick at 11:05 AM on May 21, 2011

I'd pick #1 with NO clapboard.

It's called dual system sound. Record on camera, record on a decent audio tool. Use the waveforms to sync everything up - either via Pluraleyes (NLE specific) or dual eyes (stand alone software)

Find both here.

You record on both. The software syncs everything up and you go off an edit!
posted by filmgeek at 7:54 PM on May 21, 2011

Alright, if at all possible - you should take back that camera, and go on the hunt for a used Panasonic Lumix GH1 (Not G1!).

It is now an older model, but body only is around £245 - Probably cheaper if you can find a used one. It shoots in 1080, and here is a preview from the trusted source in DSLR video:

Pluraleyes software is amazing (I use it all the time professionally), but don't spend your money on the plugin. Put it into a camera first and foremost. You won't get a superzoom lens for the GH1, but if you are serious about photography / video, the times you need that level of zoom are not as common as you would think - for filming, almost never.
posted by shinynewnick at 12:38 PM on May 25, 2011

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