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l.babcock

sony's new xr520 video camera

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Hey guys my Sony TRV900 is ready to die. I have been looking at the new Sony XR520, it looks like it gets good reviews on topside, I was curious does anyone have any good info on this camera. It has a hardrive, i am not to sure about that, i have heard all the high end video cameras are going that way. Any feed back is much appreciated. Also if you have any other suggestions i am open, i am leaving for Malaysia in two weeks, i need to make a quick decision.

 

Thanks

Larry

Edited by l.babcock

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I tried one at a Sonystyle store a few weeks ago. Can't tell you too much about it. It does have the best image stabilization I have ever seen, which can be very useful for small housings in general and any filming near the surface. Also, the LCD is really nice. It's large with very good resolution. You will need to make sure you calculate how much disk space you will be using and whether or not you need a notebook or extra cards to offload files so you can keep shooting. Also make sure your editing software chain is set up for AVHCD files. What housing would you use?

 

Pat

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The Canon H series with AVCHD at 24mbps is still the better looking camera. The Sony has a lot more frills but I've seen the 16mbps from the SR12 and the difference is noticeable, especially with busy scenes. The Canon picture even rivals the EX1 sometimes in resolution and artifacting.

The only issue is housing supply and optics. But it seems the wideangle Zen ( a rebadged Fathom lens) lens is available for the Ikelite.

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i am looking at the Light and Motion housing with the 2000 led light

 

 

 

 

 

 

I tried one at a Sonystyle store a few weeks ago. Can't tell you too much about it. It does have the best image stabilization I have ever seen, which can be very useful for small housings in general and any filming near the surface. Also, the LCD is really nice. It's large with very good resolution. You will need to make sure you calculate how much disk space you will be using and whether or not you need a notebook or extra cards to offload files so you can keep shooting. Also make sure your editing software chain is set up for AVHCD files. What housing would you use?

 

Pat

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Is there any negatives in going to a hardrive camera vs. a DV tape

Edited by l.babcock

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Is there any negatives in going to a hardrive camera vs. a DV tape

 

im fairly new and inexperienced but i believe hard drive is limited to 16mpbs recording wheras with tapes i have no idea? I would assume tapes to be the highest raw quality, but then it would depend on what you used to convert it on your computer?

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I have been shooting with sony compact HD camcorders for quite a while (HC7, SR12). I have the 520v but don't have a housing yet. From my preliminary tests the XR520v is far far better in low light than any previous sony compact camcorder. If I get my housing this week I can test it out more. It lacks electronic focus control, so that's a pain. The SR12, HC9, HC7 all supported electronic focus which was handy. You can still control the focus manually with the Light and Motion housing but you have to use the control knob.

 

I have high hopes for it. Here's a link to the last video I shot with the SR12 and the Bluefin Housing and LED 2000 lights. From the Philippines the first week of March.

 

Adventure In Anilao Shot with Sony SR12

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Nice video, where did you get your music?its very good, that's the hardest part for me in making videos, is finding music. I have been using Cinescore for making music but it has its limitations. Have you ever had any problems with the hardrive? and does it give you enough space for recording.

 

Larry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have been shooting with sony compact HD camcorders for quite a while (HC7, SR12). I have the 520v but don't have a housing yet. From my preliminary tests the XR520v is far far better in low light than any previous sony compact camcorder. If I get my housing this week I can test it out more. It lacks electronic focus control, so that's a pain. The SR12, HC9, HC7 all supported electronic focus which was handy. You can still control the focus manually with the Light and Motion housing but you have to use the control knob.

 

I have high hopes for it. Here's a link to the last video I shot with the SR12 and the Bluefin Housing and LED 2000 lights. From the Philippines the first week of March.

 

Adventure In Anilao Shot with Sony SR12

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I have the bluefin pro housing for my 520v now, I will go diving with it on Sunday. I only have the blue water filter and I live in San Diego, so I won't be able to do much available light/wide angle testing if any though. The green water filters won't be available for a few weeks yet. I hate using the blue water filter around here because it cuts SO much more light than the greenwater ones do, the results are always worse.

 

Link to previous San Diego Footage shot with SR12/HC9

Edited by uzun

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Awesome, where are you diving...wrecks or La jolla??

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Uzun,

Nicely shot, good color saturation. Can you manually white balance with your 520 and Bluefin housing?

Steve

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I can manually white balance, but I only have a Blue water filter right now, it will be a few weeks before they have the green water filter available for this housing. Using a blue water filter in California isn't a great idea, you cut too much light. You can still white balance, but results aren't good.

 

I will be diving Point Loma, some of the wrecks near train wheels etc. It's mostly nudibranchs and common kelp life in that area. As soon as I can get a green water filter I will head out to Los Coronados or Catalina/San Clemente. For now I don't think it's worth it, without the right filter.

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Sounds like a fun time. Cant wait to hear and see your reports. We got our shipment of Bluefin Pros in for the 520 today so Im hoping to get out and shoot one soon. That sure is a sweet housing. Uzun, did you get the new OLED monitor back?

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Hello everyone,

 

"New" to the Wetpixel forums here, but I thought I would share my thoughts on my new Sony XR520V camera and the Light and Motion Bluefin housing.

 

My reference for comparison is the Sony VX2000/Amphibico setup I have been shooting since 2004. While the Amphibico is certainly the most efficient setup for the "bulky" VX2000 in my opinion, I wanted to move into the hi-def world and improve my "travel friendliness". The Light and Motion housing, LED 1000 lights, XR520 camera and accessories all fit in my roll aboard carry-on with room for my reg, mask, dive log, iPod, and other essential travel accessories with room to spare. And I no longer have to "look like my carry on doesn't weigh a lot" because it really doesn't. The Bluefin is 61/2 lbs. Mission accomplished!

 

As for the camera, I am very happy so far with its performance. Topside images are excellent; the only complaint I have is the "slow" autofocus. Underwater, the XR520 performs as well as the VX2000 with much less noise. My first dive was snorkeling at Pennekamp State Park at dusk (~6pm on 5/11/09) with two manatees feeding and stirring up the muck to a mere 2-3 foot vis. I then did two days of diving with Pennekamp (molassis reef, statue, etc) on bright sunny days in the afternoon and the color was every bit as good as the VX2000. I also did a lot of "snappers in the shade" testing and I am quite pleased with the results. Then I was off to Boynton Beach for a day of wrecks. On a cloudy morning, 4-5 foot waves, at 95 feet with red filter I was able to manually white balance (even on the "shade" side of the wreck). I was not able to manually white balance at the same location without the filter. The manual white balance on the L&M XR520 is a bit cumbersome (the Amphibico VX2000 is literally one-touch) , but I feel the manual white balance control is essential to producing an acceptable result (even the VX2000 auto white balance underwater was aweful). Two days later I was back in Chicago diving Lake Michigan wrecks, and was able to operate the housing with my DUI Dry Zip gloves without a problem (including white balancing). The LED 1000's are smooth and excellent for macro, but not enough for big wide andle shots.

 

With AVCHD format I have had to adjust my work flow (and buy more hard drives for storage!). Final Cut Pro 6.0.4 was not able to recognize the camera, so I had to import using iMovie '09 (which was actually very easy, and provided some additional editing ability up front). The Windows-only software provided by Sony is a little cumbersome (there's no "preview" slider as in iMovie) but manageable.

 

I am very happy with my choice and hope the L&M XR520V provides for years of "Hi-def in a carry on". If this is what you are looking for, I recommend this setup without reservation. I will be editing my Lake Michigan footage professionally to Blue Ray disc in the next month, so will have a chance to compare with published broadcast footage. I will provide feedback on the comparison. I also hope to put some of this initial footage on the web soon..

 

Hope this helps..

 

David

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Hello everyone,

 

"New" to the Wetpixel forums here, but I thought I would share my thoughts on my new Sony XR520V camera and the Light and Motion Bluefin housing.

 

My reference for comparison is the Sony VX2000/Amphibico setup I have been shooting since 2004. While the Amphibico is certainly the most efficient setup for the "bulky" VX2000 in my opinion, I wanted to move into the hi-def world and improve my "travel friendliness". The Light and Motion housing, LED 1000 lights, XR520 camera and accessories all fit in my roll aboard carry-on with room for my reg, mask, dive log, iPod, and other essential travel accessories with room to spare. And I no longer have to "look like my carry on doesn't weigh a lot" because it really doesn't. The Bluefin is 61/2 lbs. Mission accomplished!

 

As for the camera, I am very happy so far with its performance. Topside images are excellent; the only complaint I have is the "slow" autofocus. Underwater, the XR520 performs as well as the VX2000 with much less noise. My first dive was snorkeling at Pennekamp State Park at dusk (~6pm on 5/11/09) with two manatees feeding and stirring up the muck to a mere 2-3 foot vis. I then did two days of diving with Pennekamp (molassis reef, statue, etc) on bright sunny days in the afternoon and the color was every bit as good as the VX2000. I also did a lot of "snappers in the shade" testing and I am quite pleased with the results. Then I was off to Boynton Beach for a day of wrecks. On a cloudy morning, 4-5 foot waves, at 95 feet with red filter I was able to manually white balance (even on the "shade" side of the wreck). I was not able to manually white balance at the same location without the filter. The manual white balance on the L&M XR520 is a bit cumbersome (the Amphibico VX2000 is literally one-touch) , but I feel the manual white balance control is essential to producing an acceptable result (even the VX2000 auto white balance underwater was aweful). Two days later I was back in Chicago diving Lake Michigan wrecks, and was able to operate the housing with my DUI Dry Zip gloves without a problem (including white balancing). The LED 1000's are smooth and excellent for macro, but not enough for big wide andle shots.

 

With AVCHD format I have had to adjust my work flow (and buy more hard drives for storage!). Final Cut Pro 6.0.4 was not able to recognize the camera, so I had to import using iMovie '09 (which was actually very easy, and provided some additional editing ability up front). The Windows-only software provided by Sony is a little cumbersome (there's no "preview" slider as in iMovie) but manageable.

 

I am very happy with my choice and hope the L&M XR520V provides for years of "Hi-def in a carry on". If this is what you are looking for, I recommend this setup without reservation. I will be editing my Lake Michigan footage professionally to Blue Ray disc in the next month, so will have a chance to compare with published broadcast footage. I will provide feedback on the comparison. I also hope to put some of this initial footage on the web soon..

 

Hope this helps..

 

David

 

 

 

 

Here is a few minutes of sample footage on Youtube with the XR520V & LM Bluefin. All of the clips were shot using manual white balance and ambient lighting. I used the Fathom 90 lens for the Lake Michigan wreck and mako shark, and the standard 65 for the rest (would have used the 90 for everything but didn't have it yet!). I have found the auto exposure to be a little "hot" so I have been setting the auto exposure compensation to -1 and it seems to work well (there is no zebra option). The camera image stabilzer is excellent, and the noise is very low (both much better than my previous VX2000)

 

 

Enjoy!

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Hello everyone,

 

"New" to the Wetpixel forums here, but I thought I would share my thoughts on my new Sony XR520V camera and the Light and Motion Bluefin housing.

 

My reference for comparison is the Sony VX2000/Amphibico setup I have been shooting since 2004. While the Amphibico is certainly the most efficient setup for the "bulky" VX2000 in my opinion, I wanted to move into the hi-def world and improve my "travel friendliness". The Light and Motion housing, LED 1000 lights, XR520 camera and accessories all fit in my roll aboard carry-on with room for my reg, mask, dive log, iPod, and other essential travel accessories with room to spare. And I no longer have to "look like my carry on doesn't weigh a lot" because it really doesn't. The Bluefin is 61/2 lbs. Mission accomplished!

 

As for the camera, I am very happy so far with its performance. Topside images are excellent; the only complaint I have is the "slow" autofocus. Underwater, the XR520 performs as well as the VX2000 with much less noise. My first dive was snorkeling at Pennekamp State Park at dusk (~6pm on 5/11/09) with two manatees feeding and stirring up the muck to a mere 2-3 foot vis. I then did two days of diving with Pennekamp (molassis reef, statue, etc) on bright sunny days in the afternoon and the color was every bit as good as the VX2000. I also did a lot of "snappers in the shade" testing and I am quite pleased with the results. Then I was off to Boynton Beach for a day of wrecks. On a cloudy morning, 4-5 foot waves, at 95 feet with red filter I was able to manually white balance (even on the "shade" side of the wreck). I was not able to manually white balance at the same location without the filter. The manual white balance on the L&M XR520 is a bit cumbersome (the Amphibico VX2000 is literally one-touch) , but I feel the manual white balance control is essential to producing an acceptable result (even the VX2000 auto white balance underwater was aweful). Two days later I was back in Chicago diving Lake Michigan wrecks, and was able to operate the housing with my DUI Dry Zip gloves without a problem (including white balancing). The LED 1000's are smooth and excellent for macro, but not enough for big wide andle shots.

 

With AVCHD format I have had to adjust my work flow (and buy more hard drives for storage!). Final Cut Pro 6.0.4 was not able to recognize the camera, so I had to import using iMovie '09 (which was actually very easy, and provided some additional editing ability up front). The Windows-only software provided by Sony is a little cumbersome (there's no "preview" slider as in iMovie) but manageable.

 

I am very happy with my choice and hope the L&M XR520V provides for years of "Hi-def in a carry on". If this is what you are looking for, I recommend this setup without reservation. I will be editing my Lake Michigan footage professionally to Blue Ray disc in the next month, so will have a chance to compare with published broadcast footage. I will provide feedback on the comparison. I also hope to put some of this initial footage on the web soon..

 

Hope this helps..

 

David

 

David,

 

Good sample of video from the XR520. Thanks for posting it. You mentioned the complexity of manual white balance with the L&M housing. Could you please share the steps involved? Presently, I am shooting with a Sony PD-170 in a Sea and Sea housing which (when set for one touch white balance) is merely the press of a button while pointing the camera at a white surface. Very interested in the process with this setup. I too am looking at a light travel rig for easy carry on. Travel to remote locations is getting more and more difficult and your new setup looks like it might just be the answer. Also, what depth were you shooting at in the various shots shown in your test footage? The reef shots? Even for a Youtube video, the results without lights look very good indeed.

 

Craig

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David,

 

Good sample of video from the XR520. Thanks for posting it. You mentioned the complexity of manual white balance with the L&M housing. Could you please share the steps involved? Presently, I am shooting with a Sony PD-170 in a Sea and Sea housing which (when set for one touch white balance) is merely the press of a button while pointing the camera at a white surface. Very interested in the process with this setup. I too am looking at a light travel rig for easy carry on. Travel to remote locations is getting more and more difficult and your new setup looks like it might just be the answer. Also, what depth were you shooting at in the various shots shown in your test footage? The reef shots? Even for a Youtube video, the results without lights look very good indeed.

 

Craig

 

Craig,

 

The manual white balance with the Bluefin for the XR520 is a "several button" process, all of which are accessed via the touch-screen menu on the left side of the housing. One button to open the menu, a second dial to select white balance, then rotating that dial to select manual white balance and obtain a reading, then another button to close out the menu. I was spoiled with my Amphibico VX2000 "one touch" white balance on the right handgrip (didn't even need to move my hand!) It is a little cumbersome, but manageable (even with dry gloves in a drysuit), especially given the superior results. The auto white balance is not worth using.

 

I probably should have put depth/conditions in my footage. All the clips are using internal red filter with manual white balance and ambient lighting. The reef scenes are from 25-60 feet at Pennekamp State Park Key Largo during sunny, mid day diving. The Grey Angelfish shot is at 90 feet on a Boynton Beach, Florida wreck, cloudy morning, 3-4 foot waves, and on the "shade" side of the wreck. Mako is at the surface, 1-2 foot waves off Catalina, cloudy day, and optional Fathom 90 lens. Lake Michigan wreck is about 80 feet, cloudy day, 3-4 foot waves, and Fathom 90. Manatee is also at Pennekamp, but at dusk with very little sunlight and ~3 foot vis in the muck..

 

I love travel with this new setup! Easily fits in my carry-on with room to spare for reg, mask, iPod, etc..

 

Again my only comparison is with my old VX2000 and this setup is superior all around. Even though the VX2000 is a three chip camera, I think Sony did a great job with the new chip in the XR520

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Craig,

 

The manual white balance with the Bluefin for the XR520 is a "several button" process, all of which are accessed via the touch-screen menu on the left side of the housing. One button to open the menu, a second dial to select white balance, then rotating that dial to select manual white balance and obtain a reading, then another button to close out the menu. I was spoiled with my Amphibico VX2000 "one touch" white balance on the right handgrip (didn't even need to move my hand!) It is a little cumbersome, but manageable (even with dry gloves in a drysuit), especially given the superior results. The auto white balance is not worth using.

 

I probably should have put depth/conditions in my footage. All the clips are using internal red filter with manual white balance and ambient lighting. The reef scenes are from 25-60 feet at Pennekamp State Park Key Largo during sunny, mid day diving. The Grey Angelfish shot is at 90 feet on a Boynton Beach, Florida wreck, cloudy morning, 3-4 foot waves, and on the "shade" side of the wreck. Mako is at the surface, 1-2 foot waves off Catalina, cloudy day, and optional Fathom 90 lens. Lake Michigan wreck is about 80 feet, cloudy day, 3-4 foot waves, and Fathom 90. Manatee is also at Pennekamp, but at dusk with very little sunlight and ~3 foot vis in the muck..

 

I love travel with this new setup! Easily fits in my carry-on with room to spare for reg, mask, iPod, etc..

 

Again my only comparison is with my old VX2000 and this setup is superior all around. Even though the VX2000 is a three chip camera, I think Sony did a great job with the new chip in the XR520

 

nice! the deep shots on the wreck look really crisp! i may have to buy this baby.

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Craig,

 

The manual white balance with the Bluefin for the XR520 is a "several button" process, all of which are accessed via the touch-screen menu on the left side of the housing. One button to open the menu, a second dial to select white balance, then rotating that dial to select manual white balance and obtain a reading, then another button to close out the menu. I was spoiled with my Amphibico VX2000 "one touch" white balance on the right handgrip (didn't even need to move my hand!) It is a little cumbersome, but manageable (even with dry gloves in a drysuit), especially given the superior results. The auto white balance is not worth using.

 

I probably should have put depth/conditions in my footage. All the clips are using internal red filter with manual white balance and ambient lighting. The reef scenes are from 25-60 feet at Pennekamp State Park Key Largo during sunny, mid day diving. The Grey Angelfish shot is at 90 feet on a Boynton Beach, Florida wreck, cloudy morning, 3-4 foot waves, and on the "shade" side of the wreck. Mako is at the surface, 1-2 foot waves off Catalina, cloudy day, and optional Fathom 90 lens. Lake Michigan wreck is about 80 feet, cloudy day, 3-4 foot waves, and Fathom 90. Manatee is also at Pennekamp, but at dusk with very little sunlight and ~3 foot vis in the muck..

 

I love travel with this new setup! Easily fits in my carry-on with room to spare for reg, mask, iPod, etc..

 

Again my only comparison is with my old VX2000 and this setup is superior all around. Even though the VX2000 is a three chip camera, I think Sony did a great job with the new chip in the XR520

 

David,

 

Thanks for all the info. It all looks pretty good to me. Hate the process you described though for manual white balance. Funny that L&M publishes "one-touch" manual white balance with that housing. I'll most likely get this same setup though as it does look extremely good for remote travel and the image quality is impressive for such a small unit. I am however, going to wait until some folks have had the chance to dive (and review with sample footage) the same setup with the Canon HF S10. Have always been a big fan of Sony, but some of the specs on the Canon are hard to ignore. Thanks again for posting your findings and even more for publishing some footage that shows what the rig really can do. Congrats on a fine setup that should bring you years of enjoyment and great results.

 

Craig

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I was always under the impression that the "one touch" mwb was able to be achieved because you could configure the mwb button on the camcorders screen anywhere you wanted it. Thus by moving it right in front of the push button, you could like push it twice I think to achieve mwb. Or something like that.

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I was always under the impression that the "one touch" mwb was able to be achieved because you could configure the mwb button on the camcorders screen anywhere you wanted it. Thus by moving it right in front of the push button, you could like push it twice I think to achieve mwb. Or something like that.

Not exactly anywhere... but almost... If its anything like my HC7/9,the one touch WB setting is actually 3-4 touches, once the screen is corretly configured; Once to open the menu, once to tell it that I want to set WB, once to set the wb. and a 4th touch.. to exit the menu.

But.. its done in the amount of time that it took you to read that sentence.

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Yes the set up is the same. Thats the one down fall., because we all know MWB is critical. Thats what is so nice about the new L&M housing for the Canon HF S10...WB on the hand grip!!

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Nice !!! That's probably the best color I've seen from a single chip HD camcorder shot underwater ambient light.

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I was always under the impression that the "one touch" mwb was able to be achieved because you could configure the mwb button on the camcorders screen anywhere you wanted it. Thus by moving it right in front of the push button, you could like push it twice I think to achieve mwb. Or something like that.

 

 

Well it is "kind of" one touch white balance LOL. It just takes a couple of menu selections to get there. You could leave the menu "open" on the camcorder, but then the selections would interfere with the subject in the viewfinder. I am glad I got the Bluefin, as manual white balance is an essential camera control for underwater use. The auto white balance setting does not produce good results at all, and I wouldn't consider a housing for this camera that does not offer this feature.

 

Probably the only thing I don't like is the lack of independent shutter speed or iris control. The front camera dial is accessable on the Bluefin, so you can use manual exposure, but there is no option to shoot in either shutter priority or aperature priority. I usually shoot auto exposure anyway, and it would have been nice to be able to control the shutter speed for fast moving shots like the mako. But I think the auto exposure did just fine on that shot. Again, I am very happy and realize that my travel friendly, compact setup will have to sacrifice some of the more advanced camera features.

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Well it is "kind of" one touch white balance LOL. It just takes a couple of menu selections to get there. You could leave the menu "open" on the camcorder, but then the selections would interfere with the subject in the viewfinder. I am glad I got the Bluefin, as manual white balance is an essential camera control for underwater use. The auto white balance setting does not produce good results at all, and I wouldn't consider a housing for this camera that does not offer this feature.

 

Probably the only thing I don't like is the lack of independent shutter speed or iris control. The front camera dial is accessable on the Bluefin, so you can use manual exposure, but there is no option to shoot in either shutter priority or aperature priority. I usually shoot auto exposure anyway, and it would have been nice to be able to control the shutter speed for fast moving shots like the mako. But I think the auto exposure did just fine on that shot. Again, I am very happy and realize that my travel friendly, compact setup will have to sacrifice some of the more advanced camera features.

 

 

And thanks for the compliments on the video!

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