OK, so the big question is, what’s the tiny Canon TX1 like as a video camera? To answer the question, I made a short video this weekend. I’m not much for testing with charts and side by side comparisons these days, image quality is only part of the camera equation, so instead I do some shooting and from the results, I ask the question, is the image quality reasonable given all the other aspects of the camera that come into play when making the decision of what camera to purchase or use, for example, handling, form-factor, weight, cost, features, image processing, media formats, lens, ease-of use, etc.?
If you go to the movie page on blip.tv, under the “Play video in alternate format:” pop-up, you’ll have access to the following formats: 1. Large iPod Video (1:52, 21.2MB, 640 x 360 H.264, Stereo, default QuickTime Pro Export settings), 2. AppleTV Video (1:52, 50.3MB, 960 x 540, H.264, Stereo, default QuickTime Pro Export settings), 3. Flash version (transcoded by blip.tv, not sure of the exact settings, audio is 64 kbit/sec mono). I’ve also posted to Flickr a set of frame grabs from the original Motion JPEG frames so you can see the quality of the image prior to compression for web delivery.
All the video and audio was left “as is” with the TX1, no color correction or post-production processing on the audio or video, the only thing I did was import the video clips into Final Cut Pro and edit them on a DVCPRO HD timeline. Some horizontal resolution is lost going into the DVCPRO HD format, however, it’s pretty minor.
This test was designed to show the camera in real-world conditions, not in the best light, so there’s some shooting under relatively low light conditions. Most of the shots exhibit the noise that comes part and parcel with shooting in situations with less than optimum lighting.
Since the conversion to iPod movies and Flash for web viewing (which is what’s available on the blip.tv page) adds additional artifacts to the original image, and since the conversion from the Motion JPEG original to DVCPRO HD for editing also adds some additional artifacts, I’ve posted a series of frame grabs from the original video files so you can see the quality of the original Motion JPEG frames.
Video that is noisy does not compress as well as video that is clean to start with, so starting with an HDV or H.264 original would yield better compressed video than the Motion JPEG implementation in the TX1. In most shooting situations you’re going to see lots of noise in the image with this camera unless you’re shooting outdoors during the day.
Shots were made using auto white balance, 720p 30fps mode, auto focus (face tracking turned off).
Christopher S. Penn
Thank you, sir. I was considering this camera, but watching the full size HD on Blip, I realized just how noisy the HD video was – and I’m going to pass on buying it. Appreciate the truly unbiased review!
David – Do you have any thoughts on the on-board microphone? Is it correct that this has no mic in jack?
@nanio: The camera has no mic-in Jack, but the fact that the recording is STEREO makes a big difference and dialog is very intelligible with this camera, compared to other tiny cameras that only record Mono. Ambient noise is less of a problem when the recoding is done in stereo and preserved as stereo through the post chain and out to the web. Unfortunatelly, blip.tv transcodes to MONO FLASH, so you have to upload your own Flash version with stereo high quality audio if you want to offer that option on the web.
Hey Chris, Don’t dismiss this camera so fast, I have not posted a true HD version on blip.tv, the original frames of my test movie look much better than the highly compressed version for web delivery, take a look at the still frames here:
Also… a digital SLR with a large sensor or a “real” video camera would be better, no doubt about it. But no comparison in terms of form factors. I carry the TX1 on my belt wherever I go, that’s not practical with a larger video or still camera. Better video with noise than nothing sometimes. The TX1 does great in bright light, notice the Tulips are much cleaner than the Grill shot in the still frames referenced above, due to difference in ambient light levels.
I have owned the camera for about a month now, and if it is used correctly gives fabulous video. I have experimented with many different programs using my apple duo core computer. My best results have been by downloading into image browser and editing the movie (simple editing) through the movie edit option under the edit menu.. Make sure and save the movie with the advanced option and use 30 fps and 1280/720 resolution with the stereo settings. I save the movie to the desktop. What you do next determines the final outcome…. I make dvd’s or send the movie to apple tv. Either way I use Visual Hub (which can be purchased for about $23.00 on line) Bring up the program and import the movie into it from the desktop. If you are making a movie to show on your hi def tv use the itunes box and check apple tv and h.264 encoding and send to ITunes.
This will put the movie directly onto your apple tv. If you cut a dvd (like I do) bring up the dvd box in Visual Hub and check off author as DVD and Burn DVD when done. I get wonderful videos on my 60″ 1080i hd tv and the dvd’s look great! I tried other programs such as MPEG Streamclip and the results were horrible.
When I first bought the camera the results with other programs were so bad I thought I would return it. After experimenting I can now say that I love it. I bought a 8gb Kingston sdhc card with a sdhc reader and it works great. I would be very interested in other peoples experiences.
Keep in mind that the editing program that comes with the camera is very limited, but it does what I need it to do. It will not make chapters on a dvd and will start the dvd ass soon as it is inserted. But, it will divide the various clips in the movie and you can jump forward or back to those clips.
Stephen, thanks for the detailed and thoughtful comment on your TX1 experiences!
Even though the quality is not as good as a hd camcorder, it’s size means i can carry it everywhere in my pocket.
Compared to shooting video using a normal digital stills camera (most of which can do adequate 640*480), I find people react differently to the tx1 when doing interviews, not only because of it’s unthreatening size, but also because they feel they are looking into a mini video camera, rather than a stills camera.
I’ve been trying to do the exact same thing as you, to successfully burn all my baby’s AVI files onto a DVD and send it to my mom, I’ve done exactly as you described using image browser and visualhub (i also own a mac), but i can’t get the DVD to play, it says invalid media or something (this is a toshiba HD DVD player but it plays regular DVDs as well) and on the other dvd player I have (a basic philips 480i) it says bad disc, i’ve gone through a few disc without any success, i’ve been using fujifilm’s DVD-R media which as far as I know is pretty good, anyone has any suggestions?
I have the TX1 and I also have the Aiptek Go-HD which is half the price of the TX1! The Aiptek has HD 720 H.264 video capability. The Aiptek wins hands down for better video quality, but the Aiptek’s mic sucks. Overall if your looking for a decent HD video camera the Aiptek Go-HD is a winner.
Yes, movies made with the Canon TX1 suffer in quality due to the use of Motion-JPEG rather than H.264, I hope Canon comes up with a follow-up camera that uses H.264 compression. Except for the choice of compression for movies, it is a robust, well built camera, yet the design is compromised overall. There are better video cameras and there are better still cameras. But video, still, and tiny size all in one? It’s still pretty good if you want all three.
Am a newbie with digital cams and only learn stuff from browsing. I have been using the canon tx1 for several months now and it works pretty well for me (size-wise and quality). To improve on the still and video qualities I started using the manual mode and while still learning, and I found out that I came out with better results for both video and stills.
Make just posted a diy TX1 wide angle adapter:
P.S. Great to see you @ PCB2 and hope to work together soon.
John, thanks for the update, and it was good to catch up with you at Podcamp Boston 2.
I am about to purchase an iMac computer. My Dell PC ran out of harddrive space and will no longer allow me to edit my Aiptek footage through Adobe Premiere Pro. Everytime I post stuff on YOutube the quality and audio are awful. What do you suggest with compression David? PS All of the Aiptek video files will not directly upload on Adobe and I have to transcode all the files which automatically reduces the image quality.
Susie, Try to export movies to the H.264 coded, the highest quality you can make. Always upload the highest quality you can fit into the Maximum file size that YouTube will accept (for short videos not too hard, for longer videos, experiment with settings). This way, when YouTube converts the video to Flash, it will look better than if you uploaded something highly compressed to start with.