Raynox 5050PRO with adapter ring - Really?

At first I used my 0.5x wide angle adapter without the supplied 37/37mm adapter ring. Then after a comment to this post I was convinced this adapter ring has to be used.

But sometimes I noticed a shadow in the corners, especially in the lower right one. I finally made a test today. As you can see below the shaded corners clearly come from the adapter ring.

The mean thing is that you don't see this on the LCD but later on the recording.

It looks like you shouldn't use the 37/37mm adapter with the HF100. Can someone confirm my observation? Raynox unfortunately never replied to my email regarding the adapter.


The HF100 on a bike

Unterwegs from Martin Koch on Vimeo.

I fixed the HF100 to a bike and a bike trailer using a Manfrotto 035 Super Clamp to shoot the video above.

You get this type of clamp from stage lighting suppliers like this one in Germany or photo studio suppliers like this one in the USA.

The Super Clamp is made of metal with rubber protection padding and very strong. It clamps especially well to pipes from 13mm to 55mm diameter but can also be fixed to plane surfaces by using a supplied insert. Two mounting holes (which I used), one 1/4" and two 5mm threads and a secured socket for studs of all kind offer lots of possibilites to mount something to the clamp.

A Super Clamp plus a stud with 1/4" thread like e.g. the 037 or 036-14 (or a piece of 1/4" thread plus two nuts) is all you need to mount the camcorder to the handle bar of the bike. But since the handle bar is constantly moved while you drive it is better to mount the camcorder to the frame of the bike.

My solution consists of a 250mm long, 40mm x 50mm block of wood which I screwed to the clamp as shown below on the right. To mount the Quick Change Adapter I drilled two holes into it. Alternatively you can counter sink the thread for the tripod (as shown) and use just one counter sunk head screw.

This mounting method worked very well since the camcorder is away from the brake cables and above the front light. My bike has a horizontal frame rod but you can screw the wooden block at any angle to the clamp in order to have the camcorder horizontally mounted.

By rotating the camcorder adapter plate of the Quick Change Adapter the HF100 can be oriented at will.

I only filmed on smooth roads and tightened the clamp very well. I love my HF100 so please understand that I can't offer any experiences with mountain biking. Such shocks wouldn't be that good for the optical image stabilization system anyway.

A Quick Change Adapter is convenient but of course you can also use a 1/4" hanger bolt (a standard tripod thread is 1/4"-20 UNC) and a 1/4" wing nut. Note that you may not screw the HF100 any deeper than 5.5mm onto a tripod thread (see page 109 of the manual).

There are alternatives to the block of wood: An unfortunately expensive 244RC Magic Arm would be great as it allows a lot of positioning freedom. Maybe a 155RC Tilt-Top Head would also work if you can mount the camera to the very front of the bike frame. Or hows about a 042 Extension Arm with a 3/8" to 1/4" thread adapter if you don't own a Quick Change Adapter.

UPDATE February 21, 2012: I found the reasonable priced FEISOL Bicycle Mount. It's designed to be used with a ball head.


Difference between the "PAL" and "NTSC" model

This Blog is about the HF100 "PAL" model (which I own) so keep in mind that my experiences with the "NTSC" model are just secondhand from what I've read on the web.

I've put PAL and NTSC in quotes because unlike the (old) television standards the image resolution of HD is identical in both worlds.

Nevertheless there's still a difference in frame rate. The HF100 "PAL" model records 50i or 25p while the "NTSC" model offers a 60i and 30p and also a 24p frame rate. The latter was added to offer a slower cinema like frame rate which the "PAL" model automatically has. The 24p of the NTSC model is not a "real" 24 fps recording as it is derived from 30 frames per second. Motion will not appear as smooth as if recorded with 24 fps natively. Don't ask me for details I never comprehended this matter completely.

Another difference is that the AV output ports will deliver 720x480@30fps on the "NTSC" model and 720x576@25fps on the "PAL" model.

I've heard that if you use a "NTSC" model in a PAL country (or the other way around) you will see the light flicker on your indoor recordings because the frame rate and the mains frequency do not match (50Hz vs. 60Hz). Otherwise photo cameras with movie mode record 30p worldwide so maybe this is just a problem with interlaced recordings. I don't know.


HDMI Output to a TFT monitor

I don't have a HD device with HDMI input so I can't comment on that but I can tell my experience with HDMI output to a computer TFT monitor.

To connect the HF100 to a computer monitor with DVI input you need a Mini HDMI to DVI cable or as I did a Mini HDMI to HDMI cable and a HDMI to DVI adapter. Basically HDMI is DVI plus audio so both are compatible.

When you connect the HF100 to a DVI device the HDMI status in the camcorder menu says "DVI" and the output resolution from the HDMI port is only 720x576 pixel (4:3). As you can see below squeezing 16:9 into a 4:3 ratio distorts the image (Wendy and Bob aren't that slim). Nevertheless such a monitor is quite usefull as it - unlike the HF100 display - shows the complete recording area. The resolution though is a far cry from HD since the 720x576 get scaled up. Despite this the image looks quite good.

If you connect a 16:10 widescreen monitor and set it to fill the screen unproportionally the ratio is better (16:9 = 1.78 and 1920:1600 = 1.6). The output still remains 720x576 (4:3) which gets scaled up (more horizontally, less vertically).

I connected the HF100 to the Eizo shown above and a NEC wide screen monitor without problems but note that the HF100 manual says on page 79: "Correct operation cannot be guaranteed when connecting the camcorder to a DVI monitor".

Since HDMI is digital the HDMI cable can be quite long without quality loss.

The camcorder on screen info is not transmitted via HDMI out. It is via AV out though.

If you connect a cable to the HDMI port the AV ports do not work.

I'd be grateful if someone with a Full HD TV with HDMI input could comment what the HDMI status in the camcorder menu says and what resolution is output.

PF25 vs. 50i

HF100 - PF25 vs. 50i from Martin Koch on Vimeo.

As far as I know Vimeo changes the frame rate to 24 fps so please download and view the original 25 fps QuickTime version at Vimeo which is deinterlaced (I noticed that iMovie '08 exported the interlaced samples deinterlaced although I didn't check deinterlace source video during export).

To show you real interlaced footage I compressed two short original clips using the Photo-JPEG codec (the Apple Intermediate Codec is not available on Windows machines). The two PF25 and 50i clips are recorded at 1/50 shutter speed. You can clearly see the typical interlace combs in the 50i version. Download the samples at www.filefactory.com/file/c1df3c (200 MB).

I'm not convinced by the interlaced recordings. All versions "stutter" on a LCD but I found this is seldom a problem in real life. Also movies in the cinema are 24p and and no one complains that action movies would look bad. I think the movie people have their tricks to conceal any stutter (e.g. slow shutter speed = motion blur). I'll better learn from them and stick with PF25.

The future will be progressive TV displays that display 50p or 60p though.


Setting Custom White Balance

Setting Custom White Balance from Martin Koch on Vimeo.

The example is a bit exaggerated very often Auto White Balance (AWB) does a good job.

Make shure that the white object you use is lit by the same light as the scene you're recording.

For best results use a dedicated white balance card as it should be correct white, without color cast. You can also test if a gray card gives you good results.

By setting Custom White Balance you can also avoid color shifts between different scenes under the same light. That happened for instance in "Der Hahn". I used AWB and in the fifth scene the grass has a completely different green than in the other ones although the light didn't change a bit.

Lens Hoods

Lens hoods minimize lens flare when shooting against the sun. Together with an UV filter the lens is also very well protected.

The 37mm lens hood shown above is offered on eBay by "hubi-77" (www.foto-tip.pl). The price is right and the quality is really good.

You need a filter on the lens (e.g an UV filter) to be able to mount these lens hoods. An UV filter is recommended anyway and it can be left on the camera all the time but if you don't want a filter on your camera there are also clear glass protection "filters" available.
If you find a lens hood with 47mm attachment diameter you could mount it directly to the camcorder without the need for a filter.

Such lens hoods are called "Tulpe" (German for tulip) because of their flower like shape. Usual round lens hoods would drop a shadow into the corners.

After seeing a HF100 with a rectangular lens hood at 00:44 in this video I'd prefer such a type. It looks way cooler. But note that such a wide lens hood covers the iAF sensor in front of the camera so there's only the slower through-the-lens contrast auto focus possible.

Don't follow me and buy a large 62 mm lens hood for the 0.5 wide angle converter as shown above. It will appear on the sides of the image at full wide angle. Don't even put a filter on because it will also be visible at full wide angle. I'm afraid no lens hood that mounts on a filter will work with the .5x wide angle converter.
The lens hood is not visible if you zoom in a little bit but since the display doesn't show the entire image you can't never be sure you zoomed in far enough (unless you use an external monitor).
The only lens hood that would work with the Raynox 5050 Pro is a large rectangular hood that mount's directly on the wide angle adapter which has about 67mm diameter at the front.


Does the HF100 need an IR blocking filter?

Infrared blocking filter from Martin Koch on Vimeo.

As you can see above the HF100 records infrared light.

Therefore I bought the Heliopan Digital UV/IR blocking filter (Nr. 8025). It blocks invisible light below and above the visible light range. Visible light goes from violet at 400nm to red at 700nm.

This filter brings - according to the Heliopan website - better color seperation and rendition and reduced color channel noise. They say "it's absolute neccessary at artificial light".

I compared some shots with and without this filter and didn't see any difference. I think you can save your money and buy a normal UV filter instead. If I discover an advantage by using an IR blocking filter on the HF100 I'll let you know.


Ein Hahn - Another .MTS clip

Ein Hahn from Martin Koch on Vimeo.

Today was a rainy day, no sun just clouds and I visited my favorite actors again with the HF100 on a tripod. When the light is right and you don't waste pixels i.e. get close to the object, the image quality of the HF100 is stunning.

Download an original 20s (50 MB) .MTS clip: HF100.MTS
This time without wide angle converter, just the HF100 with the arperture wide open.


Behind the curtain of iMovie '08

A lot of people hate iMovie 08 and a lot love it. I like it because it offers everything needed for basic video editing and because editing becomes so quick and easy. If you watch a professional documentary you'll see that only very few transitions or effects are used. All you need to tell a story are a cross disolve transition and a fade from and to black, centered or lower third titles, additional audio clips, voice over recording and ... nothing else. All this is offered by iMovie 08. Remember it's the story that counts.

Apple offers excellent video tutorials on using iMovie 08 but I always feel uncomfortable when I don't have a clue how a software actually works.

iMovie 08 installs the AppleIntermediateCodec.component in Library>QuickTime.

If iMovie 08 came together with a new Mac you can reinstall it by choosing Install Bundled Software Only on the first DVD.

When you import AVCHD footage into iMovie 08 it gets converted to QuickTime movie files. These files are stored in an event folder. You can choose where to put this event folder during import so it's no problem to use an external harddisk for video storage for example. To find the original file right-click a clip thumbnail and choose Reveal in Finder.

It's not obvious but you can also move entire event folders within iMovie. To do this click on the harddisk icon to the right of the "Event Library" title to switch to View Events by Volume then drag and drop the event folder to its new place. All files will be moved to the new location.

After the import, thumbnails of your footage are generated and stored in an iMovie Thumbnails folder within the event folder. These thumbnails are tiny Photo-Jpeg compressed QuickTime movies.

iMovie 08 will also generate an iMovie Cache folder within the event folder

The quickest method to add a scene to a project is selecting a range of frames in the events window and then pressing E on the keyboard.

The first step to repair clip display problems is to delete the thumbnail and cache folder within the events folder. You can do this safely, iMovie 08 will rebuild them after a restart.

The QuickTime movies in the event folder remain untouched all the time. Basically iMovie 08 is a nondestructive controller for QuickTime files. The control info - the actual project file - is stored in Movies > iMovie Projects on your main harddisk. If you right-click on a .rcproject file, choose Show Package Contents, double click Project and navigate to $objects you will see that all information about your edits is stored in this file. The size, the location of the original video or additional audio file, the in and out point of the edit, the titles, everything is managed by this project file.

The most dangerous operation (at least with the current 7.1.1 version) is deleting unused clips. If your projects are finished and exported you can right-click on an event folder and choose "Move Event to Trash" and then choose "Delete Unused". This is the only destructive operation by iMovie 08 since it trims the original QuickTime clips in the event folder to just the portions that are actually used in projects. This is very useful as it frees up a considerable amount of harddisk space after emptying the trash.

If this operation doesn't complete though you'll be left with a complete mess. I strongly advise to back up the event folder and the project file before you do this. If the operation completes successfully you can delete the backup and enjoy the additional storage space but if not, you'll be able to restore the event and project. Alternatively you can reimport all clips from the backup of the SDHC card. You made a backup didn't you?

Below is what happened to me after an unsuccessful deletion of unused clips. AVCHD import turned footage into animated impressionist paintings. Nothing helped only after deleting some older projects AVCHD import suddenly worked again.

Sometimes when iMovie refuses to import AVCHD it helps to go online or to turn off Airport!? Another option is to remove non Apple Quicktime components such as Perian.

Finally I want to reveal an Apple "secret" and introduce the person responsible of this new, quick and promising concept of video editing. iMovie 08 is the work of Randy Ubillos no less a person than the creator of the first three versions of Adobe Premiere and of Final Cut Pro! Here's the proof.


Quick Change Adapter

Quick Change Adapters are extremely useful when using a camcorder on a tripod. This particular adapter is made by Manfrotto in Italy. It can be mounted to any 3/8" or 1/4" tripod thread.

The battery release switch at the bottom of the HF100 remains accessible.

Quick Change Adapter from Martin Koch on Vimeo.