Dolphins and cameras


Here’s the highlight of my day at the zoo with the girls:

This was taken from the underwater observation deck in the dolphin exhibit. Those dolphins were literally inches away from us when they came back under water. The entire underwater area is big, consisting of three wide hallways and a large central hub, and you can see the entire dolphin habitat there. How cool is that?

Technology note — this video was shot using my Canon PowerShot A70, a still camera that’s ancient about four years old (with a once-cutting-edge 3.2 megapixels). This video wasn’t on the highest possible resolution (on that setting videos max out at 30 seconds in length) but I think the quality is pretty impressive. I think it even beats the fancy and expensive hard drive camcorder we recently bought, at least once the video is put on the web. Plus, it’s smaller, more durable, and doesn’t have crappy battery life. For high-quality video footage I want to archive or make into a movie, I’ll use the expensive camcorder. But for little videos I just want to put on a blog, the still camera seems the way to go.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Dolphins and cameras

  1. Just a warning about the video camera. The file format it records in is MPEG-2, which is very poor for video editing. If I remember right you are a Mac user, which means that in order to even work with the files on your Mac with iMovie or Quicktime you will need to buy the MPEG-2 plugin for Quicktime which is about $20. Then, in order to import the video into iMovie, you would need to convert the stream to .avi or DV (MPEG Streamclip is a fabulous, free utility). While neither of these work arounds is particularly bad once you get used to them, the problem arises when you go to make a DVD from your edited footage. Since the source footage is MPEG-2, which is highly compressed, this whole process introduces a lot of artifacts into your final product. You get a lot of motion blurring and strobing…it is not pretty at all.

    So, I’m actually getting ready to eBay my Sony DCR-SR80 camcorder because of these issues. It’s a bummer, because it is a 60 GB model with a lot of great features.

  2. Eric – Yeah, we figured that out the hard way the first time I tried to capture the camcorder footage into iMovie. I purchased DropDV for $40 and it does a pretty good job of converting MPEG2 to Mac-friendly formats. Also, Google Video lets you upload MPEG2 footage directly, although I think the stuff from my still camera looks better.

    I do wish I knew about the MPEG2 issue before i bought the camera. It’s a pretty decent camera but that’s really annoying, and of course the teenager working at H.H. Gregg had no idea to tell me about it even after I told him clearly I was a Mac user.

    It highlights another advantage of the still camera over the camcorder — the Canon saves its video in AVI format. Goes right into iPhoto, iMovie, Quicktime seamlessly.