Camcorders forum

Question

Choosing best resolution/quality setting for recording video

by pdaphone / February 13, 2013 9:32 PM PST

I just bought a Sony HDR-CX260V camcorder that I intend to use for recording volleyball matches my daughter is playing in. It will be mounted on a tripod and record continuously through each match. I will later edit the video to pull out clips and assemble them to send to a college coaches. I am guessing they will watch them on their computer, but not sure about that yet.... may use a DVD player.

I bought some 64G cards and also have extended batteries.

So looking at the manual, I'm not sure how much benefit I gain in choosing the different quality levels vs. that added battery drain and space usage.

PS - 28Mbps 1920 x1080
FX - 24Mbps 1920 x 1080
FH - 17Mbps 1920 x 1080
HQ - 9Mbps 1440 x1080
LP - 5Mbps 1440 x 1080

and then whether to choose interlaced or progressive.

The default is HQ and claims to go 660-880 minutes on 64G.

Going with FX would cut that down to 360 minutes on a 64G card.

I'm not sure if they increased quality levels are going to dramatically change the output.

Thoughts?

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All Answers

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Answer
Compression is your enemy
by boya84 / February 13, 2013 10:28 PM PST

Most consumer camcorders - including your CX260 - use a technology called AVCHD to compress the video. Many other compression things happen, but the big deal is that frame 1 = the "base". The next 7 frames = what changed from frame 1. Keep in mind that you'll be recording at NTSC standard frame rate of 29.97 frames per second (normally referred to as 30 fps). Your goal is to reduce compression as much as you can.

Less compression = higher quality = bigger file size.
Conversely,
More compression = reduced quality = smaller file size.

If you want "best quality" i.e., best resolution, then you will use PS or FX. Least compression.

There are other factors that will impact the "visual quality":
1) The lens and single imaging chip on your CX260 are small. That means not a lot of light is allowed into the camcorder for the small imaging chip to begin with. While I understand that Volleyball is played indoors under lights, the camcorder and your eyes are very different. This sort of indoor lighting is not very good - for camcorders. Be sure to learn to use the aperture/iris settings.

2) The indoor lights can have a blue or orange tint to them. Be sure to use the white balance setting. Manual is best - presets wok fine, too.

3) Before the "real" recording activity, Practice practice, practice - just like the players. Capture video during practices or - better yet - under the SAME lighting conditions that the game(s) will be played. Import and edit the video in the computer. Burn a DVD. This is the ONLY way you will know if what you bought is capable of providing you with what you want. Use the extended batteries to be sure they work.

Turn digital zoom off. It is useless.

Since a Volleyball game is not 4-6 hours long, you have plenty of recording space. Just get the video into the computer after the match, then you can re-use the SD cards for future events. We don't know which batteries you got, but if you got extended batteries, then you *should* be fine - assuming the batteries are from the camcorder manufacturer, and not third party replacements. SD cards are not "long term archive" media. Hopefully you got the appropriate Class 4 (Class 6 would be preferred) cards that can keep up with all the high definition video data coming in during recording.

Once the video is in the computer - assuming your computer has the horsepower to deal with AVCHD-compressed video and the video editor can deal with the file format, you can make either a computer-readable data file or a standard definition DVD. The stuff on the disc in the box is next to useless. An editor capable of dealing with capturing/importing AVCHD video like Sony Vegas or Adobe Premiers for Windows or iMovie or Final Cut for Macintosh is preferred. Making a DVD requires a DVD authoring tool - like MyDVD for Windows or iDVD for Macintosh. There are many other applications available.

The trick is capturing the video you want at the quality you want. Try not to zoom or pan too much.

When you get the video into the computer, keep in mind that going frame-by-frame is not going to provide you with any measure of the video clarity. You will likely see the image as blurry. What counts is what it looks like at normal playback. Depending on the video editor used, slowing to around 17 frames per second can likely yield useful results, too - if some slow-motion is desired

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Thanks...
by pdaphone / February 13, 2013 11:04 PM PST

Thanks for all the valuable information. I should have probably given more details in my original question. I am very familiar with the lighting/white balance/etc.. issues with this type of venue. I've been shooting sports photography for years, and will be using a Canon 5D3 and a bag of lens to capture stills during these matches. The camcorder will be for recording, from a tripod unattended, the full match(es). College coaches like to see a clip of several minutes of play so they can see how the player moves on the court and interacts with the team. So, I won't be zooming, panning, or anything. It will be set and left to run. If I do any close up panning and zooming I'll use the 5D3 for that. I had not thought about setting white balance/exposure/etc. manually for this, but will give that a look.

My main question was about how good is good enough. I understand about compression and all that, but just not sure what is sufficient without having to unnecessarily deal with larger files. A match doesn't last many hours, but a 3 day tournament will see many matches. They could play 5 or 6 matches in a day potentially, which would be about 6 hours... after which I can offload in the evening to my computer and start fresh... so my outside limit in that scenario would be approximately 350 minutes, and that would be pushing it in the "FX" quality mode.

I will probably have to do some trial and error. I have a limited amount of time to play because of where we are in the process, so just wanted to get some advice from others more experienced than me with video.

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My lesson.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / February 13, 2013 11:58 PM PST
In reply to: Thanks...

Record at the best quality I can get. I can always remove quality later but can never add it back in.
Bob

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Choosing best resolution/quality setting for recording vide
by Nikurashi / March 7, 2013 3:37 AM PST

Boya84,

The problem is, you can't always choose the most suitable resolution. I like to send videos by E-mail. I did it all the time with my now expired Flip. To replace it, I chose a Samsun pocket camcorder, but I now realize that that was a mistake. It's just not designed for producing videos that can be sent by E-mail. True, after hours of stumbling and fumbling (I'm no expert), I was able to compress the Samsung produced video with QuickTime enough to send it by E-mail. However, what I FINALLY managed to send was a very short video, and I don't think I will ever be able to send a long Samsung video. So, I think the choice is not to find a proper setting on your camcorder, but to find a camcorder that has a suitable setting available--my Samsung doesn't, but I'm hoping that other pocket camcorders do.

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Bingo. Email a video? As it stands today.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / March 7, 2013 3:50 AM PST

This is not an issue you'll solve by changing camcorders. Emails are usually limited in size so as you learn more about this, you'll find out why email is only good enough for sending a link to your video.
Bob

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Answer
SD cards
by mjd420nova / February 15, 2013 11:56 AM PST

I go for the highest resolution and use the biggest memory card the camera can support. The first step to digital should be with the highest resolution to give you the best initial image. Then you can edit it later and reduce the resolution to make smaller files sizes to sent in e-mail or compile unto a disk(CD/DVD). If the resolution is too low, any enlarging will result in pixelation.

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Answer
depends
by porsche10x / February 16, 2013 6:23 AM PST

On the one hand, I agree, record with the highest resolution and quality that you can. But, on the other hand, consider your target output. I sometimes find that with digital video, working in the "native resolution" gives better results than working in a higher resolution, then resampling to a lower one. Occasionally, the resampling process can introduce undesireable artifacts. When you say "...use a DVD player", do you mean at standard resolution, not blu-ray? As was already suggested, your best bet would be to experiment with all the choices. Also, it takes a lot more computing horsepower to edit large very high resolution video files. You could be waiting a long time for things to render.

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testing
by pdaphone / February 17, 2013 12:55 AM PST
In reply to: depends

I am at the tournament and shot 4 hours of video for the first 4 matches. I believe I used FH for 2 and FX 1080p for 2, but the settings on the menu are a little confusing. Picking p vs. i forces some other choices. I can't play back on the hotel TV because they have input blocked. I tried playback on my Macbook Air and they are close, but I think the higher rez is better. I am going to try that today and see if I run out space.

This camera is is working great for this purpose... looking at some of the other cameras on tripods nearby, I'm able to get a lot wider which for this is great.

Now I need to find out how to process the AVCHD file. I was expecting each clip to be a separate file, but its all in one file bundle, and iMovie 11 doesn't seem to recognize it, even though I see a lot of discussions online that say it should. I am going to want to break this apart in iMovie to create clips for sending to coaches... but also put the full movie clips on my NAS box to playback on my Apple TV... iMovie should do all that if I can get them imported.

Thanks for all the help here.

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