Saturday, December 20, 2008

Tis the Season to Dream of Riding

Well with 12 inches of snow last night and more on the way tomorrow it looks like our riding days are over for awhile. We held out as long as we could though, we didn't winterize the bike until a week ago! It could also be that we were so busy we just didn't have time.

Already getting ready for some great rides for next year. I just picked up an early Christmas present to make documenting our rides much easier next year. It's a new video camera. It was hard to decide which model to get as there are so many choicesto consider. I wanted one that was under $200 but took decent video, had removable memory, plenty of battery life, useful zoom and was compact. That's no too much to ask right.

I first considered the Flip cameras. While nice and compact, affordable and very popular I didn't like 2 things, it has a built in batter that can only be charged via USB port and it had a fixed amount of memory. If you're shooting more than 6o minutes you need to go to a computer and download the videos and recharge the battery. Normally our rides last much more than 60 min. and I don't want to have to lug the laptop along. That kind of defeats the purpose of small and compact.

I next considered the Kodak version of the Flip the Zi6. I really like this camera and really wanted to buy it since Kodak is a local company and I like to support them, but it just didn't have all the features I wanted. It does have some advantages over the Flip in that it used rechargable AA batteries and in a pinch you can substitute standard AA's, it used standard SD cards for memory so you are not limited as to how much video you can shoot. It offers HD video, although not true HD it higher quality that standard video. What I didn't like is that most of the reviewers commented on the fact that it has no image stabilization (neither does the Flip) and the videos tend to come out a little shakey. Alot of the video we are going to shoot is on the bike and image stabilization will be important.

So as much as I liked the KodaK Zi6, I finally decided to go with the Samsung Mx20. It offered all of the features I was looking for and although not quite as small as the Flip or Zi6 it does fit in the palm of your hand and it has a rotating LED screen to allow shooting videos from any angle.
This camera has alot of other nice features as well.
  • Used Standard and HC SD cards for memory
  • Has a rechargable 4 hour battery which is replaceable so you can have a spare
  • Incredible 32X Optical zoom that really works well
  • Macro mode for closeups
  • Rotating LED screen
  • Sliding lense cover
This only thing I don't like about the camera is the software that comes with it. It's called Cyberlink Media Show and it simply doesn't work. I installed the software, shot some test video and uploaded it into the software and when I hit play all I got was sound, no video. I went to their website and found a couple of updates and a patch so I downloaded them and now the software won't even load on my computer!

I've pretty much given up on the software it really only did simple editing and allowed you to easily upload to YouTube. I'll probably get something like Adobe Premiere Elements so I can do alittle more with the video. It was disappointing though that Samsung would include such inferior software to an otherwise excellent product.

I took some video of the snowstorm yesterday just to play around with it. This is on the lowest quality, what they call the "YouTube" setting. There are 3 higher quality settings above this one.

As you can see the video is pretty good at this setting. Oh, sorry about the "chilling" images but it's all I had to work with!

I think this will make a great addition to our riding season next year I can't wait to get out and give it a try. I'll comback and give it a more thorough review after we've taken it on a couple of rides and give it a real world test.