A little door at the front, under the lens, provides access to plug in headphones or an external microphone. However, using these audio interfacing options is likely to interfere with your grip, since they're located exactly where you will want to place your index finger as it curls over the barrel to hold the Xacti securely. Admittedly, not everyone will use the audio ports but their placement does seem ill judged.
Audio interference: plugging in a mic or headphones obstructs handling
The supplied docking station incorporates an HDMI output - cable not included - along with a component-video and audio jacks, and a USB port. For these, cables are included. In use, the camera sits comfortably on the dock’s mini USB interface. It’s all very easy to set up and provides a nice way to view your footage.
The camera’s microphone is nicely sensitive, with the captured audio on outdoor footage sounding excellent when replayed on a TV. The birdsong was clearly audible from all around – and with the low sound of traffic in the background panning from left to right – it was like experiencing a live feed. During playback, recordings suffering wind noise could be improved a little thanks to the Xacti's the noise reduction function.
When filming indoors, next to a loudspeaker, for example, there doesn’t appear to be any sound distortion in playback, only a reduction in bass. When using the still camera in low light interiors, the Auto Focus becomes slow, indecisive and unsatisfactory. Indoor shooting can also produce a little colour fade and distortion. Outside is another matter, with both still and video shots delivering excellent colour reproduction and, overall, picture quality leaves little to be desired.
Next page: Sample Shots
>really.. 2 decades ? I mean I only know one person who still has a CRT tv.
I guess my target audience (extended family members) aren't so much into keeping up with technology. They keep tellies around until they break or otherwise deteriorate into being unwatchable. Old PAL sets may or may not be able to lock into 30fps.
So my solution is to stick to 25/50 rates in all cameras (except for mobile phones, where there is no choice but which have crappy quality anyway).
ok. I hear you. but really.. 2 decades ? I mean I only know one person who still has a CRT tv.
and how are you pumping your home vid into them ? DVD I assume ? Most of which will cope with 25/pal/ntsc/30 fps anyway. i.e. they will do the best they can to interpollate to 50 fields per second.
and yeh, you shoot in HD if you want to. But I was like you 5 years ago, and I shoot all HD now. It just gives you soooo much more freedom for editing even if you end up sticking something on youtube ( http://www.vimeo.com/3084247 .. one of my flights).
sure, compiling clips with different resolutions and framerates is tricky. But it will always be that way - some content needs more temporal info, some more definition (e.g. sky tv broadcast some stuff in 720p30, some in 1080i60.. same datarate. different tradeoff). A decent NLE takes care of it (I use sony vegas).
And yeh.. I know 'ntsc' is 29.97. But even then some digital cameras shoot in true 30 fps, so you ALWAYS need to be aware of source fps.
@stu (on 50hz rates)
"What exactly is a '50hz tv set' in 2009 ? It does not exist."
Everyone I might want to share videos has one. I expect it will be at least a decade or two before I can assume everyone has a flat-screen HDTV- capable set (so why even shoot HDTV ? In the hope the full resolution can be seen and shared in the future).
"I have numerous video cameras, some shoot 25fps, some 30fps, some 60 fields per second (i.e. AVCHD interflace). As long as your edit sticks to the same fps as the source footage, there is no problem."
But when you edit a combined film that contains material from them all, you have to pick one common frame rate for the result, and anything not in the common rate will turn jerky.
By the way, the NTSC rate is not really even 60hz (that would be too easy), but a funny fractional 59.94 or something like that. As I said, Blecch!
PAL/NTSC ceased to be meaningful when we threw out out CRTs and analogue recordings.
If you have a DVD or a PC, and a flat screen tv or a monitor it makes not a blind bit of difference whether you feed it 24/25/30 or 60fps. It will display if fine.
What exactly is a '50hz tv set' in 2009 ? It does not exist.
720p for example comes in 3 flavours: 24, 25 and 30 (broadcast wise.. though you can obviously have whatever you like). All playback fine at the approporiate rate off a PC onto a monitor or hd tv.
I have numerous video cameras, some shoot 25fps, some 30fps, some 60 fields per second (i.e. AVCHD interflace). As long as your edit sticks to the same fps as the source footage, there is no problem.
you are creating a problem where there is none.
No 50fps, blecch
Too bad it does not do 50fps or at least 25fps. Anyone not living in USA, Japan or a handful of other 30fps TV countries will see jerky motion if the output is transcoded to regular TV.
This issue is the main reason I did not buy an earlier generation HDTV Xacti when a friend offered to sell it cheaply. I evaluated it for a few days and found anything involving a smooth motion (eg a playground swing or a carousel) looked horrid on a 50 hz TV set. As my European country is not likely to move to 60 hz in the foreseeable future (not even for HDTV), camcorders that are 30hz or 60hz only are useless.