New EOS M3: Looks Promising

Z-canon_eos_m3-rearAngle-EVF-PRSomehow I missed the launch of the Canon EOS M3 overseas. Probably because the M2 never made it to the USA, and wasn’t much of an improvement. I own the EOS M, and love it for video. Hands down, it’s the best, most cost effective way to get into HDSLR video capture. Under $300 for a body with lens. Part of the reason it is so cheap is that it wasn’t a great still image camera. You can take some nice pictures, but it just isn’t up to par with other offerings on the market, for stills. But for a video camera? It’s great for the price.

And now the M3 is out in Asia and Europe.  Check out these specs: Canon EOS M3 UK site.

Prices from eBay are running about $600. Plus the wait time and possible customs fees to get it from Japan. There are currently no plans to bring the M3 to North America. Since you can find a 70D body for just a couple hundred more why choose the EOS M3?

Well, $200 isn’t anything to sneeze at. But there are other benefits.

1. Lenses– The mirrorless body lends itself to all sorts of lens adaptations. I have 2 Pentax K mounts I use regularly on my EOS M, and neither would work on a 70D (or any other traditional APS-C Canon camera) You can use just about any lens from any manufacturer on the EOS M mount with a cheap adapter. Canon FD, Nikon, Pentax, m42, the list goes on.

2. Autofocus for Video- The 70D changed the game for HDSLR video by adding a 19 point Phase Detection continuous autofocus system on a 20 megapixel sensor.  Suddenly you could shoot DSLR video like a camcorder, sort of. The EOS M3 has 49 points of continuous AF on a new 24 Megapixel sensor. Of course, the new AF only works with lenses that can use it, and all that old glass I mentioned before doesn’t. It does, however, have focus peaking, to help with manual focus. That is huge.

3. Size- The EOS M3 is small. Very small. Half the weight of a traditional DSLR. Less than half the size. The M3 with 22mm lens can fit in your pocket.  (Albeit a loose pocket of your jacket or pants.)

Plus, Canon has addressed a lot of the concerns of the EOS M. There is an available Electronic View Finder. The back screen, while not fully articulating, can flip out to different angles (up to 180 degrees.) And of course the new AF system puts to rest all of the complaints about slow AF in the original M.

The video record resolutions are still lacking. You can do 1080p at 30p. To record in 60p you still have to drop down to 720p. Basically, it’s the same resolutions as the original.

I have to admit, I am sorely tempted to sell my EOS M and a few other gadgets to upgrade to the EOS M3.

[Update 2] The EOS M3 has been out long enough for some folks to test something besides the still image AF. I had read that the video codec was different, and it looks like it isn’t better than the old EOS M. Disappointing. it’s bad enough to not have any improvements, but to go backward? I’ve seen some video shot with the camera on Youtube, and it’s not horrible. But reviews like the one linked give some pause about purchasing.

[Update 1] Got my hands on a manual. Saw that you can use the hdmi output while shooting. Not sure if it is clean or what resolution, but anything is an improvement.


Amazon Intant Video, CreateSpace, Aggregators and Episodic Content

{Update: You should now look into Amazon Video Direct. Fixes a lot of issues with Amazon instant Video.}

handy videoI’ve been looking for ways to get the episodes of Peculiar onto streaming sites. There are a few aggregators out there, but many require you to fork over several hundred dollars in order to have the content submitted. Then there is a chance it won’t be accepted.

One place that will take anything you submit is Amazon. If you send it, they take it. And Createspace offers a simple way to get your content online.

But it’s not perfect. The workflow of the Createspace submission is: Create a project, burn a DVD (!) and mail it to them. They rip it. They place it online and share the sales with you. Sorry, no Amazon Prime access for your content. That’s right, you must make a standard definition DVD of your video project and they will rip their file from that compressed mpeg2 file. There is no way to upload your content, and no way to sell HD content through Createspace.

But it is free and fairly simple.

If I had a movie I would probably have already just sent it in. But I have 10 episodes of a show.

When I asked about sending episodic content in, I was told they no longer allow that.

That seemed odd, since there are tons of TV shows grouped together as seasons on Amazon Instant Video. And from that phasing, Createspace used to allow indie producers to group their content together as well. So I asked why.

In true major company help desk fashion I had to ask three times. Every time I asked why they don’t allow indie producers to group episodes, I was told what they allowed. They said, that’s right, we don’t allow it. On the fourth try I finally got an answer.

It seems that some users ruined it for the rest of us. A few people were uploading movies broken into multiple parts, and asking customers to buy multiple installments. Customers complained. The hammer dropped. I personally think it’s a bit of overkill for what had to be a small problem, but it’s their company.

I was preparing to submit each semester of the show (6 episodes for the 1st, 4 episodes for the 2nd) as a separate movie, when I ran across a new aggregator. This one is called Kinonation. I’m still researching them, and waiting to hear back if they allow episodic content, but on the surface it seems like a good thing. no upfront fees, just a split on the backside. For a project that may not see huge sales to recoup lots of submission fees, this seems like a good deal. Oh, and the submissions are eligible for Amazon Prime.

So, I’m waiting to hear back, and ready to move toward online distribution of the show.

Sneaking Into Blu Ray

I have been slow to adopt Blu Ray. Not because it’s not amazing, or the clear winner of the HD disc wars, but because I have a huge investment in DVDs and am not sure that disks are the final solution for video entertainment. I think movies will be stored on drives, and downloaded or streamed as a final solution to the “How to watch HD movies” question.

But Blu ray Players are getting a lot cheaper. This Black friday… I may have to get one. Lots of great deals to be had.

Knowing that, and my habit of ripping movies and watching them on my Apple TV (video from a hard drive or streamed), I noticed that a lot of Blu Ray discs come with a digital copy. Last night I bought a Blu Ray movie and I don’t even have a player. but I can play the digital copy. That version isn’t HD, but it looks as good as my regular DVDs.

I’m sort of sneaking into the Blu Ray world.

Kodak Zi8 in Stock… Sort Of

Best Buy online has the Kodak Zi8 in stock, and Kodak is offering a free 4GB SD card with purchase.

Could it be, they are finally available? If I go to my local store, will I see one?

Just yesterday I was in a conversation about how to shoot decent quality video and quickly be able to play it back. The Kodak Zi8 came up as a possible solution. With it’s external microphone jack we could capture decent video and audio for immediate playback before an event. The ability to drag footage in a play it back without capturing it and then exporting it would really help our workflow for this event.

$180 plus the XLR to mini transformer for the microphone, and we could be golden. If only I could hold one and see it in action.

Kodak Zi8? Anyone?

I got a comment on a recent post about the Zi8, Kodak’s phantom “flip killer” pocket camcorder. 1080p, external mic input, Shake reduction, focus tracking, etc…

They have been MIA for weeks now since the September release. The commenter said he was able to find one at a Target. I check the Best Buy online store, and there they were, listed… but backordered. Still, it’s progress. Previously they were not even listed. doesn’t show them, but you can buy a nice pink Zi6 for $130.

I suspect that by Christmas shopping season they will be readily available. Why Kodak didn’t wait until they were ready to launch I don’t know.

Kodak Zi8 1080p Pocket Camcorder

zi8A few days ago I heard about the soon-to-be-released pocket camcorder from Kodak, the Zi8.

It is the first 1080p pocket camera. It also does 720p @ 60fps or 30fps. Unlike the Flip cameras, you need an SD card to capture more than the onboard 128MB of storage. But you can use up to a 32GB card, which they claim results in 10 hours of video.

It has the facial focus system, sort of like the new iPhone 3Gs, and image stabilization. Also, it takes 5.0 MP still photos. You still use the built in USB plug to transfer files, and it comes with some sort of video editing software. H.264 compression in a QT .mov shell. That all sounds great, but the best new feature?

It has an external stereo audio input. That means you could use something like the Beachtek DXA2s or Shure A96f to convert a signal from a microphone using an XLR. You could use a professional microphone to capture sound. My biggest complaint about these small cameras has been the lousy audio quality. of course, to upgrade to professional capture you will spend more than you spent on the camera, but still the overall cost is a lot less than other pro audio input HD camcorders.

It’s no professional video camera. I doubt we will see any kind of decent low light performance. There is no zoom function except 4x digital zoom. I only guess it is as easy to use as the Flip HD.

$180 plus the cost of an SD card and case. I may have to pick one of these up this September.