It hardly ever rains here in South Texas, but it’s rained more in the past week than it usually does in a full year. But this isn’t a post about the weather, it’ s about my new toy: a Sony HDR-CX380 camcorder. This sucker shoots full 1920×1080p at 60 frames per second and 55× optical zoom.
The other day it was raining so I decided to test out the camera. Here’s my ghetto-ass neighborhood being deluged with rain. For shits and grins, I rendered the footage in B&W just to see what it would look like, and I was pleased with the results. I was tempted to jack up the contrast to give it an overexposed B-movie look, but instead I just added a little something at the 1:30 mark.
One of the cool things about shooting at 60fps is that slo-mo looks much cooler. In a couple of spots, I slowed the footage down to half speed and it looks pretty damned good.
The downside of shooting at 1080p @ 60fps is that my computer freaks out when trying to process the footage. Right now I’m exporting a 10-minute clip shot in 1080i @ 29.97 fps and it’s going to take 5 hours to complete. This 8-minute clip took about 24 hours to export to a 1280×720 .h264 encoded mp4. Research indicates it’s not a processor or RAM issue, but that standard 7200rpm hard drives have difficulties with higher frame rates.
If I have any complaints about the camera they’re relatively minor. First, if I don’t want to shoot at 1080p @ 60fps, I can either shoot at 10801 @60fps or 720p @ 29.97fps; there’s no option for shooting at 1080 @ 29.97fps, or 24fps, for that matter. Of course, shooting at 720p vastly increases the amount of footage you can put on either the 16GB internal memory or an external memory card (up to 64GB; I got a 32GB that will probably serve me well, although I’ll probably upgrade the card soon).
Incidentally, my main reason for purchasing this particular model is that it is the cheapest Sony consumer camcorder with an external microphone jack. I haven’t tested the external mic capabilities yet, but the built-in mic does an impressive job. In some earlier footage I shot, the songs of the neighborhood birds are nicely separated; you can tell some are coming from the south and others to the east and north.
I’d definitely recommend this camera to anyone. Sony makes an upgraded model that has a built-in projector, if that suits your fancy. I’d advise you to forgo that option and use the savings to get an external memory card, extra battery, and a tripod (you can’t take advantage of the camera’s 55× optical zoom without a tripod… trust me on this).