Sunday, September 14, 2008

Samsung SC-MX20 Flash Camcorder

I've always wanted to get a camcorder, but I hate tapes and mini-DVDs. Hard-drive based camcorders are great, but I'm worried that the nature of camcorder usage is not good for moving parts like hard-drives. Besides, the cheaper models all use MPEG2 compression, which is NOT PC friendly, especially with Macs. AVCHD camcorders are very expensive. Enter the Samsung SC-MX20. It's just newly released, and I got it on sale for $225. It uses SD/SDHC cards as its recording media, thus the size of the unit is very compact and lightweight. Unlike other MPEG2 camcorders, this Samsung uses H.264 compression, resulting in more recording time compared to MPEG2, and it is iMovie friendly.



Quick impression list:
-Very compact
-The spec says 3 hours of recording time per charge. Not too shabby
-34x optical zoom
-Built-in lens cover, but operation is manual, not automatic
-Tripod hole
-Affordable price
-Uses the standard SD/SDHC cards
-Uses H.264 instead of MPEG2
-Can record in widescreen mode (720x480)
-Interval recording feature! (see below for video)
-Uses standard USB mini jack
-Widescreen mode recording is interlaced. iMovie and Quicktime have problems with it. Luckily there is a freeware for Mac called JES Deinterlacer. Still, this requires an extra step and encoding during video editing. Annoying and time wasting.
-Video quality is not the greatest, but since the final destination is youtube, I don't think it's a big deal. AVCHD video takes a LOT of space, and if the end result is youtube/DVD, IMO why not just use a standard def camcorder.
-Minimal accessories included (AC adapter, A/V cable, USB cable, pouch). Based on the manual, there will be models that include built-in memory (8GB and 16GB), and docking station.

The interval recording feature is awesome, and fun! You can basically set the MX20 to record an image every second or longer. The movie itself is still 30 frames per second, resulting in a video with a fast forward effect. This is used to be something only a pro can do, and/or very difficult. Now, it's automatic. Here's a video I took:


In short, I think I'm going to like this camcorder, especially for the money.

12 comments:

chuuu said...

test drive di I-5 yak.. hahaha...

Anonymous said...

How is the sound quality? Looks like 2 channel stereo? If I go to a medium sized venue and record a band playing, is it distorted (a big issue with my canon digi camera) or is sound pretty good? Thanks, for the initial review, and post any other thoughts on the SC-MX20 as you use it more. Jim

pika2000 said...

Yes, the SC-MX20 records audio in AAC stereo, but only at sampling rate of 22.050kHz, so don't expect CD quality sound recording.

Anonymous said...

"Yes, the SC-MX20 records audio in AAC stereo, but only at sampling rate of 22.050kHz, so don't expect CD quality sound recording."

Pika2000, thanks. Sounds like it is reasonable sound quality, certainly better than the lousy mono recording my canon digicam does.

One other question for anyone, can this device be used to stream to services like Kyte.tv, Ustreamtv.com, Stickam.com, or to create video shorts for Seesmic? I have a Logitech webcam that can do this, but seems like a vid cam would offer better image quality, but not sure if this cam has output jacks, or is able to do.
Anyone know?

Also, have seen a few vids on YouTube using this cam, but if anyone can provide links to more YouTube content shot with this cam that would be great.

And lastly, this cam can be used with most all other video hosting svcs. I assume? Might not have the instant upload like YouTube, but would be good to know it is not a one trick pony, so to speak?

Thanks.

Jim

pika2000 said...

Jim, when you connect the Samsung SC-MX20 to a computer, it is recognized as a mass storage only, so you cannot use it as a webcam. For that, you need a miniDV cam with Firewire.

The MX20's video format is .mp4. So it is quite friendly with video sharing sites. However, as I noted on the blog, other than the lowest quality setting, it records interlaced video. If the software converter doesn't do any de-interlacing, the resulting video is quite bad due to the lines/jaggies. Even iMovie and Quicktime cannot properly de-interlace it. I have to use JES Deinterlacer (for Mac).

Anonymous said...

Pika2000 thanks for the HU that the unit is recognized as a mass storage device only.

Read the wikipedia entry discussing interlacing, and appears this issue is associated with many video cams not just this one, but correct me if wrong.

So the YouTube quality video is the lowest grade and as such does not require deinterlacing?, but higher grade settings do require this?, or only require this if you decide to post the video to a third party hosting site? Sounds like a bit of a pain in the ass if on higher grade videos I would need to deinterlace them to simply watch them on my computer monitor. But if many cams have a similar issue, then guess just something I would deal with.

If you have used your SC-MX20 lately, you might want to report on how you like it after more use. I am also interested how it handles low light and sound, such as doing a video of a band performing in a low to medium light music venue. I've got tickets to see a band mid-October and in part want a video camera able to shoot decent video and reasonable audio.

Anyway, thanks for your additional info.

--Jim

Anonymous said...

In the PAL version the MX-20 video is interlaced with bottom field first. For some reason Samsung do not tag this in their MP4 files (they are always tagged as progressive). Same goes for the 16:9 aspect ratio, which is also tagged wrongly.

EDIUS copes with it all remarkably well (if you set the clip aspect ratio and interlacing correctly) and the resulting DVDs are quite watchable.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone tried importing the video of this camera into iMovie 09? Curious if it fixes the problem I've read about on Amazon with the 16x9 video not being "flagged" as 16x9 video causing you to convert widescreen video before importing to iMovie?

Anonymous said...

Don't know if anyone is still following this, but there is a free download at http://samsungscmx20.blogspot.com that fixes the interlacing and widescreen issues.

Tomnibus said...

My old video camera the video imported in with resolution 853x480. Now I have a Samsung SC-MX20 and the video is coming in as 720x480 The problem with that is everyone is stretched vertically. When I bring it into quicktime 7 and manually change the resolution to 853x480 the video looks normal. I'm not going to do double-importing/converting of all my movies!

I think this is going back to the store.

Pooja said...

Samsung SC-MX20 looks quite decent. It is available in silver with options of blue accents, red accents, black accents or all white. It has a compact design and fits easily in the pocket. The video quality is not very satisfying, just average. This camcorder is specially for people looking to buy under a budget. For more details refer Samsung SC-MX20 review

Prices India said...

I am also interested how it handles low light and sound, such as doing a video of a band performing in a low to medium light music venue. I've got tickets to see a band mid-October and in part want a video camera able to shoot decent video and reasonable audio.