Saturday, June 21, 2008

Farm Report: Our Humming Bird Heaven

This video is about 1 minute and 45 seconds long. I was trying out my new Canon ZR-800 mini DV camcorder on our local hummingbirds. One of them seemed to be posing for me, and I was able to zoom in really close. It was hand-held, if I had a tripod I could have even zoomed in closer. Next time I'll set up the tripod.

I've tried uploading this video as a high quality DV file, size of about 100MB, but it would not upload, it would try for hours, then fail with an error. So I've uploaded this copy I made, using the .wmv format that's specifically recommended for internet video by my editing software, using the highest resolution setting it allowed. The copy was only 25MB, and it only took about 16 minutes to upload to blogger.

It's not bad, it's just that the original footage on my hard drive is sharper and better. I don't know if there is another web host that would let me upload higher quality video, I'll have to look into that. Here's a few still shots from the video:

We have several feeders on the front and back porches. They seem to really love it here. Hopefully I'll get some good footage of the swarms that happen sometimes.

I'm very happy with this camcorder. The image quality is outstanding. The biggest complaint about the camera by people who have purchased it has been that you can hear the motor of the camera in the recorded footage.

Now while you are looking at this footage, if you listen closely, you can hear a high pitched whine. THAT is the sound of the motor, being picked up by the camcorders built-in microphone. Some people find it totally unacceptable, while others are not bothered by it at all.

Ideally it shouldn't have the motor noise, but it's not deafening. Listen and judge for yourself. But it's worth noting that this model has a jack for an external mic, which is highly unusual for a camcorder in this price range. Some reviewers say they solved the noise problem by using an external mic. I purchased an external condenser microphone for about $20, but I have not tried it out yet. I still have lots of experimenting to do!

Related Links:

Farm Report: two chicks in a screen test

Video Camcorders: Cheap or Pricey? A comparison of the Canon ZR800 and HV20


Walker said...

By Golly Chas! Another example of how video adds exponentially to your blog. Now I think that hummingbird was posing for you. Darling little guys.

On the West Coast you have all the colorful ones, too.

As for the noise, I did hear it, but I'll be looking forward to your experiments with the external microphone. Should be interesting. Perhaps with the microphone attached all the sound will go there? thus you won't have the motor noise?

Chas said...

It was fun filming the humming birds, I think if I had zoomed in any closer, I could have read the bird's mind.

The built-in mic is very sensitive, and because it's built-in to the camera's body, it records the motor.

The external mic is on a side arm that attaches to the camera but is separate from the camera body. It has a foam wind filter, and when plugged in to the jack I believe it will disable the built-in mic. I think it should be better, but I must try it soon and put it to the test.

Walker said...

I was reading your old report on that camcorder. Zounds, the price has come down on those things. REALLY makes me want one.

How do you offload the video? I'm guessing it has a plain USB jack or a firewire jack or something and load right into the computer?

You know the built-in mic is pretty darn good. Have you tried getting an audio in a group? I'd be curious what its range is.

Chas said...

I capture the video to my computer's hard drive using a firewire cable, with ArcSoft Showbiz software. It's easy to do, and the ArcSoft program is very easy to learn and use.

The built in mic is so sensitive that it can pick up the sounds of horses on neighboring farms, and dune buggies miles away.

This camcorder is WAY better than my old camcorder. It has a huge amount of features and controls, and cost only a fraction of what I paid for my old one years ago. And the video quality and sound is better than the old VHS tapes.

This camera is a winner. Canon just came out with a newer model, but of course it costs a bit more. This model should be dirt cheap, while supplies last.

I'll be posting more video, so you'll get to hear more of the sound quality.