Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Nikon 1 V1, Fuji x10, Canon s100 Real World Video Test


Nikon 1 V1, Fuji x10, Canon s100 Real World Video Test 1 – Camera Setup

NOTE: This is part of my Nikon 1 V1, Fuji x10, & Canon s100 comparison articles. I highly recommend you enjoy this link before or after reading this article.

How many times have you looked at a video samples online of camera that you were considering buying, only to discover that the quality when you used it sucked? The reason why I think this happens is that reviewers don’t want to embarrass themselves by showing real-world video, but rather they’ll shoot video in ideal conditions and in some cases even post-process their videos to give you the image you want to see – not what you’ll really see. Well I hate those kind of reviews because I always feel so let down when I try the product myself and get crappy results. As a result I decided to sacrifice my perception as a photographer by shooting video in the EXACT conditions I would for real-life family events in my home.

It’s much like my Let the eyes tell the story notebook entry where I show how $12k+ worth of equipment can still give you a muddy looking shot if you don’t take time to process the photo. These videos can probably be cleaned up and of course you can always use manual settings to improve the results, but this is real world out of the box experience stuff here, so I hope you enjoy it!

Methodology

I lined all three cameras up in the same spot and had my wife start them all at roughly the same time so that there would be no advantage to one camera over another. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions based on what you see, but I know which camera I’d trust for my real-world family videos.

Since I didn’t have three tripods (anymore :)), I used my Gary Fong Flip Cage for the s100 and V1. For the X10 I used my tripod simply because the other cameras were already on the flip cages from my previous work. Before conspiracy theorists flip out, all three cameras demonstrated excellent stability during the video so this variable shouldn’t have any impact on the outcome.

In real life I wouldn’t use any support for video as I am no videographer – I’m just a point and record consumer when it comes to video. However, to reduce controversy I set up all cameras on stable support and pointed them to roughly the same spot (all three have different zoom lenses and crop factors, so this is an approximation).

This is not a test of video stability, my cinematography skills, or the level of the camera – this is a ballpark estimation of a real world usage. In fact on Christmas day I shot from both spots featured in these videos, so I consider this to be a real world scenario in my household.

Test 1 – Mixed Lighting in Dark Room


Natural window light from the left, tungsten back light and mixed light on the subject
with a shadow of the tree – it doesn’t get much worse than this

For this my goal was pretty much show the worst real-world scenario I’d likely get in real life to see how each of these cameras performed. I hate shooting anything in this room, but it’s the best place for the Christmas tree so I’m fighting all odds in here all the time. The tall cathedral ceilings don’t help either as little light gets reflected back down on the subjects.

All cameras were at maximum video resolution with factory default settings. Here’s the results in alphabetical order:

Canon s100


Play in HD

The Canon s100 did a reasonable job with the exposure, but it is still a bit on the dark side (although not as much as the Nikon V1).  The white balance feels a bit cold on me, but perfect on the background. The focus and depth of field were rock solid. I’d say that it got the job done reasonably well – especially given its cost compared to the other cameras.

Fujifilm X10


Play in HD

The Fuji X10’s light meter nailed this exposure to produce the best overall result, but the AF system was a bit off. There seems to be more of a shallow depth of a field on this video as well.

Nikon 1 V1 


Play in HD

The Nikon V1 did the best job of autofocusing and the image is pretty good, but the light meter sucks so it is way under exposed. I was also unimpressed with the auto white balance.

For reference, 10-30mm lens was used in this and the next video.

Test 2


Nikon 1 V1, Fuji x10, Canon s100 Real World Video Test 2 – Camera Setup


Good natural light was available for test 2

For this video I gave the cameras a little more help by facing myself towards a window that allows ample natural light through the window. It was about 4:00 PM in December in Seattle on a typical overcast day, so the light is diffused very evenly. The temperature is a bit cool, but easy for Auto White Balance (AWB) to do its job.

Canon s100


Play in HD

This video shows the lack of dynamic range of the s100 as the dark colors on me and the shades of green on the dinosaur get rather muddied. The white balance is reasonable, the audio is decent, and depth of field is good. I felt like the autofocus was bang on.

Fujifilm X10


Play in HD

The excellent dynamic range of the X10 really shines here. You can see that my shirt is a darker gray and that my jeans are dark blue. The full range of colors on the dinosaur are present and the auto white balance is excellent. I felt the autofocus and depth of field were much better in this video and the sound is acceptable for a point and shoot camera. The reds are rendered very well on the toys in the foreground as well.

Nikon 1 V1


Play in HD

Again the Nikon meter just misses its mark. The image quality and noise level is excellent. I can tell that the dynamic range of the foreground toy is very good, but it’s hard to tell farther back as the underexposure muddies everything.

A word about video editing software

I’d like to point out that all three camera companies have not stepped up to deliver a usable video editing solution for these cameras. Even simple tasks like clipping off a little of the video on the beginning or end is easier done on YouTube than with their bundled software. As a result if you are going to be doing anything serious with video you’ll need to invest in a better solution or rely on software bundled with your operating system. Thus far Adobe Premiere Elements 10 has been the easiest to use product that I’ve used for simple editing, and video is one area where the Mac is clearly the preferred platform for the video editing experience. I’ve been very disappointed with Final Cut Express and the full version of Adobe Premiere, and I have yet to try Vegas.

Conclusion

As mentioned earlier, I think it is easy for you to reach your own conclusions on this one. This isn’t rocket science – it’s just record, upload to YouTube, and play the results. I should also note that the HD results on YouTube are a fair representation of what I see from the originally captured videos.

NOTE: This is part of my Nikon 1 V1, Fuji x10, & Canon s100 comparison articles. I highly recommend you enjoy this link before or after reading this article.

Disclaimer

I’d like to thank B&H for loaning me the cameras for this review. The Nikon and Canon cameras were returned after this review and I purchased the X10 for my personal use. I may get a commission if you make purchases using the links in this article – thanks for supporting my blog by using my links.

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2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hello Ron,

First of all, best wishes for 2012! Also, thanks for the real-world tests/reviews. I enjoy reading them. My question here is whether there's a noticeable noise in the X10 videos (although I couldn't hear any in the videos posted here)? There seem to be occasions (reported on different forums) where there's unwanted noise in the videos of the X10.

What's your personal experience with this? I'd appreciate your opinion. Thanks!

Regards,
Rob

Ron Martinsen said...

Hi Rob,

Thanks - happy 2012 to you as well!

I haven't heard any noise issues in the video on my X10 as you can see in my samples. These are straight out of the camera with zero processing (which is why they are so ugly ).

Ron