As you may know, I’m at STN in Anaheim – and my roomie (Jamie Watts of Arizona) loaned me a teensie video camera. It’s called a PureDigital and has 512KB of storage. Here’s the user guide, which pretty much explains the features.
This little camera is big on the “cute” factor (which I am immune to). But still, it was intriguing. My intent was to run a test shoot and see what the audio and video quality were like – not expecting much. After all, cost was down around $100 (more or less, depending on rebates). But for a beginning camera it seems to have it all. A built-in mike. Almost a zoom. It can record about 30 minutes of tape on a 512MB chip. The latter is what stopped me – sure, and with what kind of quality? I was taking odds my five year old digital still camera could shoot better quality video.
So here’s some video shot with the PD.
And here’s an interview.
The video astonished me. It was compressed with mpeg4 and considering how much it can jam onto a small chip, it is remarkably detailed. There are, of course, drawbacks. Pixelating if you pan or tilt or if there is rapid movement of any kind.
Zoom is not much and focus is set for about three feet or more with a fixed focus lens. Combine that with the audio quality when you get too far from the camera mike and it won’t work for interviewing unless you plan to cover the interview with b-roll.
The audio seems tinny. There is little depth and the interview has a lot of sibilance. Strangely, my voice sounds okay…just the person in front of the camera has lousy audio. Even the natural sound/ambiant sound is tinny.
Hook-up to my laptop with the pop-out USB connector was a breeze.
Installing software was equally easy, as was downloading video.
Then the problems began. I could download to the proprietary software program – but what I wanted was access to the clips in a real editing program and it was a headache. Jamie had set up her laptop by guess and by golly so she could do it, but we couldn’t replicate on my laptop, so she converted the clips and put them on my portable hard drive.
So if you’re happy using PureDigital’s proprietary system and like a little point-and-shoot with great video, this is one to consider. If you’re trying to teach visualizaton and basic editing and don’t need good quality audio, you might consider this camera. Jamie told me she has a bunch she uses just for that purpose with her students. And considering she got three for the price of one traditional video camera, that’s three more students able to pick up gear and get out and shoot.