Beach Day 2009!

Slow motion footage is amazing, and I’ve always been fascinated by it. Seeing high quality slow motion footage always seems to reveal some insanely intricate details that were otherwise not visible, and sometimes it’s just amazing what you see.

Casio EX-F1 with Canon Wide Angle Adapter

Casio EX-F1 with Canon Wide Angle Adapter

The ability to shoot in slow motion has been pretty much out of the reach of any normal consumer until very recently… The first time I saw the footage from the Casio EX-F1 at CES last year, I totally freaked out. Here was a consumer camera that could shoot at 300, 600 and 1200 fps, and it was relatively affordable at around $1000 CDN. I knew when I saw that video that one way or another, I’d eventually get my hands on one of these to play with it.

So, when Canada day came around this year, a bunch of friends and I went out to the beach, and I managed to get what I think was the last Casio EX-F1 in Winnipeg. I don’t think i’ve been this excited for a piece of gear in a LONG time. We shot as much as we could, and only got a little sunburnt. I picked up a special water bag for the camera, so it wouldn’t get wet while I was chest deep in lake Winnipeg. It worked fantastic. The camera stayed dry, and I kept a cloth in the bag wrapped around the handle I attached so I could wipe the lens when It got too covered with water.

Casio EX-F1 Water Bag

Casio EX-F1 Water Bag

As for the technical details, I have a love/hate relationship with this camera. When we were shooting, it had horrible issues with auto-focus. About 20% of the shots we took were totally out of focus. I had a wide angle adapter screwed onto the front of the camera, because the lens is way too long. So, that added some vignetting on the edges of frame, which I removed in After Effects.

When my friends and I got back from the beach and were looking at the raw footage, it reminded me of what old video footage looked like from the 80′s. You knew that there was potential in this technology, but give it a few years, and it’ll look amazing. I’m hoping that in a few revisions of this camera, that we’ll be able to shoot in 720p at 300fps, instead of the meager 512X384 resolution that you get right now.

The video is also riddled with compression artifacts when there’s any high frequency detail. It’s just a mess of macro-blocks from the H264 codec. I’m surprised they didn’t up the bit-rate since the movies it captures are VERY small. For example, a three minute quicktime, the file size is only 31.7MB. That could be MUCH higher, and make the quality a ton better. In any case, this is version 1.0 of this camera, and maybe in the next few revisions the quality will be better.

I’m hoping to shoot some cool footage at the Winnipeg Folk Festival this year, so we’ll see what comes from that. I also shot some sparklers at 600 and 1200 fps if anyone is curious to see what that looks like.

If anyone has any comments or questions, please feel free to leave a comment here or on Vimeo, Youtube, Facebook, or Twitter.



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