Video File Converting and Action Cam Reviews

action cam collage

UPDATE Jan 2015 Action Sports Cam reviews are down below the video file converting information is first.

We either have or had most of the video cameras out there at one point.

I have pretty much phased out all our MiniDV Cameras getting rid of our last one just the other day.

With today’s technology only getting better, we have been experimenting with all the latest camcorders…..in fact there is only two problems with most of the small action cams and that is storage and they don’t zoom in and out. The newer models of action cams like the GoPro and the Sony Action Cam a few others, accept allot larger memory cards than some of the other brands, but I am sure the rest will follow suit soon. With some of the older action cams that only accept 2, 8, 16 GB cards, you might have to film segmented video, where you can cut and switch cards or you can purchase three or four of the small cameras and when you know storage is getting close to full on one, you can turn on another and so on.

Over the past few years I have tried almost all of the small palm cameras from Canon like the Vixia and the HD10, and Sony HDR’s, and JVC GZ-MG130 & HD7 trying to find a small HD camera to have on hand that would be inexpensive, zoom in and out, easy to record, with good video quality, be easy to convert, edit, post and upload.

I purchased two of the JVC HD Everio GZ-HM300BU – 035A, Its is 1080p and has Dual SD Card slots, You can use all the various sports mounts for sale out to use this camera. But this camera is not as much an action sports cam, because the LCD view screen must be opened to activate the camera and record, the screen can be opened flipped around so that it is flat against the side of the camera and you can velcro strap it or use a standard 1/4″ mount, but that definitely leaves the screen exposed. Now allot of the JVC Everio HD cameras are really crisp and clear the only issue is you must convert the file. Here is JVC’s HD Camera page: http://camcorder.jvc.com/product.jsp?pathId=171

JVC GZ-HM300BU

 

Here is what the camera looks like, it records max 29fps (frames per second) in the UXP Video Mode. Now my bigger studio HD cameras are 46fps, and some of the action Cams are even larger. So this camera doesnt have as many FPS in that regards, however it in relation to this style it does produce a really good video in UXP Mode. We love this camera if you know how to convert the video or do what I tell you, than you wont go wrong, Also the built in mic is crisp and clear, it does not have an external mic port and that is too bad that I feel is the only draw back of this camera. UPDATE JVC has added many more SD cards models since the writing of this blog.

Now here is where you need to pay attention to, the camera comes with Everio Mediabrowser that uploads the video and you are supposed to be able to edit, convert and post video in this browser, but I am telling you it isn’t worth the time, don’t even upload the software, but I bet you will anyway. UPDATE:1/15/14 I was asked about this software, why its so bad, it locks up your computer and it affects even working in other problems and viewing YouTube or Hulu etc. It is always on and when you have other video files going it is analyzing them for everio files and that will stop your video playback and makes it appear that your mouse is doing it. Just to remove it from your computer and get it off all its extensions took three tries, finally had to load it all again just to remove. And it stores its files in the PIXELA folder, which pixela used to be a Canon program? Use Roxio to copy and convert, than either use Roxio to edit or Sony Vegas, you will thank me in the end.

There is a better way to work on this camera’s files. The camera records in .MTS file which is a form of h.264/Mpeg 4 video file extensions. Allot of the new cameras are using a form of .mts, diviX, AVI, mpeg or h.264 and this process should work for almost all video files and produce really good results. Click here to see list of video file formats 

I have many video programs and use Sony Vegas, Avid-Pinnacle and Roxio Creator 12 PRO the most. I prefer to use Roxio when dealing with .mts video files. Here is what you do to upload and convert the .mts file.

Either hook your camera up to your computer usually via mini usb cord or if you have a SD card camera like this one take the SD card out and place into your computer. >access the card, >access the private folder, >acess the AVCHD folder, > access the BDMV folder, access the STREAM folder, now highlight all the files or select all and you can than move them to a folder on your desk top or where ever you want. I make a folder called Everio Unconverted videos.

  • Once they are in a folder on your computer, open Roxio Creator 12 PRO or  Roxio NXT
  • open video-movies (this next step is crucial to the clarity of your project)
  • go down to edit and transfer section and click on copy and convert video now there is a slide bar that allows you to select what kind of file conversion you want, for instance if you choose WMV HD 720p it will show converting at like 26fps or more, this does not mean that you are getting a better conversion than say WMV HD 1080p that will show like 14 fps, or even the Adroid tablet selection that will show 65fps.. what this is showing can be confusing, your are not getting what you think! pay attention to this. When converting video footage in any software ignore the converting window that says what the fps are. What the converting software is actually doing the opposite. It is taking your video what ever your resloution you shot it in and changing it. For EXAMPLE if I shot a video in 1080p on a JVC and its .mts format and I choose say WMV 720 it shows 26 fps, (it is less) not more. if I choose WMV 1080 p it shows 14 fps the 14 is actually better because it is showing the video in clearity because it is not compressing the entire video into more frames per second. do you understand. What I am trying to tell you. The software window that says like in (android tablet H.254) show 65 frames per second that is it is taken your entire video and compressing it. (example) I have a piece of video shot in 1080p on my camera which on my camera is 29fps when I shot it, that can’t be changed. When I convert it to 1080p in any software I am getting the HD clarity I wanted. because the software is converting as it is to just another format equal to its resolution.(again just ignore what the software says 14 fps) if I chose 720p I am dumming down the footage so to speak…to more frames per second of the entire video its not taken what you shot one second of video in and making it better its actually adding almost a full second of the next (second) of video you shot and combining it onto the previous one (1 second of 26fps video and adding almost another 1 second of 26fps video to it) this will start to change your clarity esp when played back in different resolution computers, monitors, devices etc..I hope you get this because its really hard to explain it to those not familiar with the difference betwen Video shot in….to Video converted to…. and video played back on… to video viewed on…
  • NOTE: if you want to reduced your 1080p footage to a smaller file size, than do the opposite and choose WMV 720p or Android Tablet or any of the other conversion types and it will reduce the size of your video file (example 1 GB 1080 will be almost half the size at 720p or 1/4 at H.264 converted down.. but again you will loose some clarity)
  • Your now in the conversion window of Roxio, now go up and select movies
  • find your .mts files (avi,mpeg4 or other) what I do is select all of them in the folder at once, (try to only do 10 at a time) or Roxio could lock up especially if they are long or 1080p, once added slide the quality bar to highest.
  • push the green go button and Roxio will convert your video, where these converted videos are saved usually in the my movies or videos folder on your computer, but you can choose where to save the videos, or make a shortcut on your desktop to video folder.
  • Once your video is converted and saved. I delete the .mts files in the unconverted folder so that I can save hard drive space.
  • NOTE: in Roxio in the converting window – after you have converted the .mts file than click clear the list in the Roxio program other wise if you open more to convert it will convert everything showing in the list again, including ones you have already converted.

Now this camera has several video settings, kind of like VCR’s in the past.

  • UXP – which is 1080p HD on this camera – select this and leave it there, when you select this mode – the camera will say “scenes in this mode are in high definition format and cannot be backed up on DVD” select OK, ignore it, it doesn’t mean crap if you do what I say above, it doesn’t matter anyway.
  • XP – standard definition, which is okay, especially when you convert it in highest quality like I described above. but I like the UXP mode the best
  • SP – slow play – lower quality so you can get more on a SD Card – please don’t use it.
  • EP- extended play – lowest quality for even more video on a card. – Please don’t use it either.

I shot some video with this camera in both UXP and XP Modes to show you that either of these modes are okay. Click links below:

This one is UXP Mode: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FdC4AVGqYs4&feature=c4-overview&list=UUptgDiNoypz5zcrZrwZa0xw

and This one is XP Mode:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQfgxWzzz4c&feature=c4-overview&list=UUptgDiNoypz5zcrZrwZa0xw

You cannot tell that much difference in playback, but the main difference is the file sizes the UXP is double the size of the XP file.

Overall this is a pretty good camera and the video is easily worked on if you do not use the software that came with the camera. You can apply this method to any .mts video file and most others from any camera.

37mm Fisheye Lens

 

I also got a 37mm threaded wide angle, a fish eye and macro lens and some filters for this JVC camera.

 

 

Now this video here was shot with the Sony HVR-HD1000u camera at 46 frames per second. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JIprTmPb2LY&feature=c4-overview&list=UUptgDiNoypz5zcrZrwZa0xw Now you can see that the above JVC Everio HD sample in UXP mode is actually better. Because my Sony is interlaced video and the JVC is progressive video: RESOLUTION is keyaction cam collage

 

 THE ACTION CAM REVIEWS ARE BELOW:

JVC has come out with the JVC ADIXXION sports cam – it retails for $199 http://www.bestbuy.com/site/jvc-adixxion-gcxa1bus-hd-flash-memory-camcorder-black/5923042.p?id=1218705943056&skuId=5923042 it is a pretty good camera and here is a YouTube review: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUk23e6Ucqk and JVC site: http://camcorder.jvc.com/product.jsp?pathId=141

I have tried all the sports cameras as well, Do not buy the Oregon Scientific ATC 2K -it doesn’t process fast enough and has lighting issues, Emerson HD Action Cam, Nerf, Kodak Play, Cobra, Swann, Epic, Action Head cam, Sony Nex Nsc-Gc1, Vista Quest, DXG, DXG Twist, Polaroid Duf-130, Extreme Bullet cam, or the Action Bullet Cam, all have quality issues, some grainy, some have processing issues, lighting issues and easily blurred, some even pixelated especially when used in action sports, some don’t do well just sweeping back and forth while holding the camera.

I really like the Midland XTC Cameras and they just came out with the model 400 which I do not have yet. I started with the 100 when it came out than I had the 200, than I got the 260 and now I have the 280 -1080p HD Action Camera and we use it for a lot of filming. Out of all the Action Cams we bought and Tested I like the Midland XTC Camera. However just like the Go Pro’s and other action cams too much filming outdoors with changes in humidity, effects the mirophone I have had 3 Midland Cameras mic’s get distorted…but that has happened with many of my other brands as well…https://midlandusa.com/xtc-cameras/products/  Tip when pushing forward the XTC’s record button be aware it takes a few seconds to initialize, so you may want to start sooner, I have cut off some quick video by not anticipating the 3 second delay, also when turning record off same deal about 3 seconds delay for it to stop. Here is their YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OafXZ_laWTw#t=41 Also remember on the 720pHD models when you open the flap over the SD card there is a little switch that says SD and HD that is Standard definition and high definition, put it in HD and leave it, buy a big enough memory card to save your project. We like our Midland XTC 720p model and won’t be getting rid of it any time soon. We also purchased 2 new 1080p models as well. Here is a quick Video I filmed with the Midland XTC 260VP3 720p HD Camera in HD mode:

We purchased 3 of the Kodak ZX-1 720P HD Cameras and they aren’t too bad. We have filmed a lot of our video with them. But if you can get these cameras off of eBay do so, and by a really good category 10 card or HC 1 card and a couple sets of rechargeable batteries. We also bought One Kodak PlayTouch 1080p version, but we did not like it at all.

The Brand New Ion Air Pro 2 is alright, but it’s not a favorite of mine. It retails in the $300 range: http://usa.ioncamera.com/ion/ and some videos are here: http://usa.ioncamera.com/ion/ION-Videos.html

The Monoprice MHD is a cheaper version similar to the Ion Air Pro: http://www.monoprice.com/products/product.asp?p_id=10159, I haven’t tried it.

The brand new Gear Pro HD isn’t too bad. It is 720p and the price can’t be beat especially for newbies,  Here is a review: http://www.firmology.com/2013/07/09/gear-pro-720p-hd-sport-action-camera-39-99-normally-199-99/ and here is an Amazon Listing http://www.amazon.com/Gear-Pro-High-Definition-Action-Wide-Angle-Camcorder/dp/B008JFS5W8

The Contour HD Camera is okay: http://store.contour.com/ae/us/page/home

The Drift HD Cam is a pretty good camera. http://driftinnovation.com/

Now the GoPro Hero3 Black edition for $399.99 is a good camera, (update the Hero 4 is now out) The processor is unbelievable for fast action focus, even movie studios and TV shows are using this camera. The black edition is 12mp and WiFi, the silver edition is 11mp no WiFi, but that’s not the only difference the black edition has resolutions options that the silver edition does not. The Black edition has 4k digital at 15fps, 2.7k digital at 30fps, 1440 at 48fps, 1080p at 60fps and 720p at 120fps. The silver edition also has the same 11mp processor that the 11mp Hero2 has. The Hero3 Silver resolutions are 1080p at 30fps, 1080p at 24fps, 960p at 48fps, 960p at 30fps, 720p at 60fps, 720p at 30fps and WVGA at 120fps. unless your buying one from eBay just to experiment with an action camera. Buy it from GoPro Only that way you know it wasn’t returned somewhere. The GoPro cameras are getting mixed reviews because there have been reports that they are prone to breaking real easy and some reports that some never worked out of the box and some say that customer service at GoPro is horrible, I think that there are so many people breaking the GoPro and trying to scam GoPro, that GoPro doesn’t believe anyone received one broke out of the box. But the GoPo Hero 3 black edition that we purchased from Best Buy for $399 did not work at all, would not come on, and yes we tried every suggestion that is out there, holding this button or that button while inserting battery, etc etc….But with our GoPro we clearly noticed that it had been purchased, repackaged and returned to Best Buy and was put back on shelf, someone had taped over the round circle factory taping on package and allot of the parts included had already been opened. Best Buy did take it back…..their customer service is allot better than some places. But be careful, if you buy from any store, when they take it out of the locked showcase ask to see it, inspect packaging real close before you allow them to just take it to the cash register and place it in the bag. We could clearly see after we got our’s home that it had been repackaged.

UPDATE the GoPro Hero 4 is out…and Better than ever…..

Now allot of the GoPro Video you see in their ads are truly shot by professionals, not so much as they work for the company, but that they are experienced camera people, don’t expect that you will be as good as the ones on the store display or on their weekly videos, trust me they only show the really good ones. But keep in mind that those videos on the GoPro site and on their display are in real 1080p HD, Your videos will also look allot better on your 1080p HD TV at home, than any of the GoPro videos posted on YouTube. YouTube’s compression can mess up the best of videos, (I know first hand) But they have no choice they cannot store everyone in the worlds HD video especially for free, so unless you have a paid page, there must be a trade off in that regard.

Don’t get on eBay and buy a GoPro and complain when it doesn’t work, and do not buy the older ones off of eBay and complain that it doesn’t look like the Videos on their display. Advancements with GoPro cameras have been ongoing and if you think that the original GoPro hero will look like the new Hero 3 black edition you need to do more research. They are worlds apart. Click here for GoPro on Wikipedia, here you will be able to compare the different models, keep in mind that if you do not need WIFI, that there are options for you, also some older versions of GoPro like the Hero 2 are not far off from more expensive Hero3 silver, if you want to experiment or just starting out.  

Click here for the GoPro Site: http://gopro.com/products/?gclid=CN3Ti6KW7bkCFY1DMgodmm0A3g

They have just came out with the Go Pro Hero 4 and I am sure they will supercede that one before too long as well.

Sony has come out with 3 New Sports Action Cams the HDR-AS30V I like this camera’s video and its attachments, plus the accessories are well thought out especially the wrist LCD screen Remote, but, the microphone is so sensitive that it picks up every breath, every bump, jiggle, you name it, see my video below, I am holding it on a monopod just turning camera it sounds like grinding. We won’t be using this camera for any of our future videos, they also have the 15 and 10 versions,

Here is my review with a few accessories.

Here is also video from Sony,http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eeV3RIoBroU You can see them at most Best Buy stores. This Camera can film at 120 (fps) frames per second in HD for super smooth slow motion, plus Steady Shot Mode helps the vibration. They range from $199 to $299 http://www.bestbuy.com/site/sony-pov-hd-flash-memory-camcorder-black/1801272.p?id=1219064877868&skuId=1801272, here is another review from Sony http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wu8MKceMve4&feature=endscreen We purchased the HDR-AS30V from Best Buy with the Hand Grip LCD screen adapter.

Here is my Sony Action Cam HDR-AS30V review video:

Oregon Scientific has come out with a new sports cam called the ATC Chameleon. It retails from $149 to $249 here is their site link: http://www.oregonscientific.com/us/en/ATC-Chameleon-Dual-Lens-Action-Video-Camera-ATCChameleon-P  and here is the YouTube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ydtflnKv4TU#t=244 Now this camera is worlds apart from their ATC 2K camera that I gave a bad review above.

Polaroid has been in the action sports cam business for a little while but they too have a new action cam the XS100 , I am not too big on this camera, I do not have one and unless I find one dirt cheap on eBay it will remain that way. Here is a review on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hkBbGNEW2_s funny!! – he mounted it on a remote control car…….seriously!!

HD32 yellow

Oh don’t buy that HD32 Yellow Camera (sometimes made in Black) branded with many names it says its 1080p, underwater, motion sensor, night vision etc its is garbage besides changing a ton of colors to purple, motion sensor shuts off after 3 miutes, and night vision is also crap.

 

Here is a YouTube page that reviews action cams and other tech devices that you may find interesting: http://www.youtube.com/user/Techmoan/featured

NOTE: Again keep in mind when you look at reviews on YouTube look and see what model of each camera they are using allot of times they are not comparing same resolution cameras, and remember that YouTube’s compression will change the quality. Also what type of monitor you are viewing the video on, as well as your computers video card and Ram, all play a roll in your viewing. (note on YouTube videos click the sprocket in lower right corner and change settings to highest resolution if you want a better video) You will need to decide on what your final product is for and whether you truly need a Action Sports cam, That is why I showed you that JVC Everio HD camera above because even after YouTubes compression it still has really good quality. Again here is the JVC Everio HD cameras video shot in UXP mode (HD 29fps) I shot this on a cloudy rainy day and you can see the quality: 


Click Here for Cnet reviews on Camcorders: http://reviews.cnet.com/camcorders/

Crutchfield has some action cams and camcorders at great prices http://www.crutchfield.com/g_348350/Action-Video-Cameras.html?tp=36196

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