Monday, June 22, 2009

Director’s choice

Not impressed by the latest emotional concoction on offer from Bollywood? Well, it’s time to buy yourself a megaphone and light meter and catch the next train to Filmistan. That is if you first lay your hands on a Canon HF 11 HD camcorder, simply the sharpest smoothest handycam in town.

But to call the HF 11 a handycam would be like calling champagne a wine with fizz, for this is the first non-professional camcorder with a 24Mbps bitrate, the highest in AVCHD format. The camera, which weighs just 380 gm and easily comes within even a teenager’s grip, also has 32GB storage space — that’s about 12 hours of High definition video.

Though the camera is actually an improvement on the HF10 which was ruling the top spot till now, it also has Dual Flash Memory camcorder which allows users to record on the 32GB internal memory as well as the removable SDHC card -- can decide the capacity of that one.

But as someone who’s tried out some other cameras before, the feature that appealed the most to me was the zoom. To use a cliché it’s like a hot knife on butter, and can easily be mastered by even the most unsteady hand. And the 12x HD video zoom lens means that I could focus on the fireworks in a banquet hall down the road as if it was next door. To make life easier, the optical image stabiliser negates much of the noise that you would associate with digital images.

Though a touchcreen would have been really handy, the joystick perched just beside the 2.7” Multi-Angle Vivid Widescreen LCD just about makes up. The function and VCR controls are placed just below the flip-open LCD, not on the body opposite like some earlier camcorder models, and can be easily accessed with the joystick.

Though it has a maximum shutter speed of 1/2000, the night shooting is still a little below expectation. However, there is an autoflash if you want to take still photos and the HF11 can easily double up as a still camera. And like still digital cameras, this one too has white balance modes which can add to the effect along with preset transition effects and even an artistic mode thrown in for good measure.
The Image Mixer 3 software will do in the post production stage what you missed out with the camera and skills, but make sure that your PC has the potential to take the load.
Overall this is an ideal choice for those of you who would like to graduate from your handycam to a clearer picture and more flexibility—who knows, maybe even some independent cinema. There is a dampener though: the price. The HF11 costs Rs 95,995, so better be serious about what you do with it.

  • The others
  • Sony Handycam HDR-CX100E:This brand new Flash memory handycam can capture those special moments on 1920x1080 high-definition video. The model also features intelligent Face Detection and Smile Shutter technology — which clicks candid smiling photos while simultaneously recording video— along with 8GB of embedded memory. In addition to a high-quality Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar 10X optical zoom lens, the camcorder comes with Steady Shot image stabilisation that reduces shake for smooth video and clear photos. Cost Rs 36,990.
  • Sony Handycam HDR-XR100: This one integrates the new ‘Exmor R’ CMOS Sensor and BIONZ image processor technologies, doubling light sensitivity to produce images of exceptionally high resolution even in low light environments. With the new highlight playback feature, the camcorder can also automatically extract key highlight scenes recorded based on features used such as Face Detection, Smile Shutter and Dual Recording. Cost Rs 39,990.

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