by Ian Burley
HD Video clips from the Pen E-P1 posted to YouTube
We have four HD video movie clips for you, uploaded to YouTube - which handles E-P1 HD movies very well. Make a note of our YouTube channel url: http://www.youtube.com/user/fourthirdsuser to find all our video clips.
The Olympus Pen E-P1 has a simple, but effective, HD video recording facility. Recordings are in Motion JPEG (MJPEG), and at 720p resolution. This is not 'full HD' but will be more than adequate for most of us. Recording are made at 30 frames per second. Olympus confirmed to me that 30fps is applied to all market regions unlike, for example, Panasonic who decided to equip their Lumix DMC-GH1 with 50 or 25 fps for Europe and 60/30/24 fps for Japan and the US. In theory, countries with 50Hz mains electricity may cause some lighting frequency clash effects when recording at 30fps compared to 50 or 25fps, but I consider this to be a minor issue. The good news is that if you want to upload your HD video to YouTube, 30fps files are handled much better than 50 or 25 fps ones, with no frame dropping, and so resulting in smoother motion playback.
MJPEG is great for quality, especially with lots of fast moving detail in recordings. However, it's not a space efficient compression option for movies, like AVCHD used by Panasonic. The E-P1 uses about 300MB per minute of recorded HD video, meaning a 2GB card will only let your record around 7 minutes. Compare this with around 12 minutes for a typical AVCHD camcorder - recording 1080i HD video at 50 frames per second. The E-P1 uses the AVI file format and this limits you to 2GB (7 minutes), maximum, clips.
Video clip 1 - don't forget to click the HD button for better viewing quality
Unlike most DSLRs that currently offer a HD recording mode, the E-P1 can use continuous AF (C-AF) during a recording. This has advantages and disadvantages. In the fourth sample below the C-AF motor noise is quite audible and towards the end of the recording the AF starts to hunt quite badly. Disappointingly, I could not see a way of using Face Detection AF in movie mode. You can switch C-AF off and lock AF at the start of a movie clip, which is what I tended to do in the end.
Video clip 2 - note the shimmering horizontal detail in the fence on the opposite bank of the canal
With the m.Zuiko Digital 14-42 standard zoom I found it relatively easy to zoom in and out smoothly during video recordings as the zoom ring is not too stiff. By contrast, the video-optimised Panasonic G Vario 14-140 zoom has quite a stiff zoom ring.
In this clip we are on a pleasure boat cruising on a Berlin canal.
One interesting option available to E-P1 users is the use of Art Filters in movie mode. Access to this feature in movie mode is not easy at first because still image Art Filters have their own setting on the mode selector knob. The same knob accommodates the movie mode setting, so Art Filters in movie mode are hidden away in the menus, and each filter type is simply listed as a filter number rather than a meaningful name.
Video clip 4 (above) shows that the m.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm standard zoom doesn't cope very well with AF active during recordings. You can hear the AF motor in action and focus gets indecisive towards the end of the clip. But at least you have the option of using AF during recording, which DSLRs, to date, don't offer. I hope that the Panasonic Lumix Vario G 14-140mm video-optimised 10x zoom will eventually work on the E-P1, though the word is that it doesn't currently work in its smooth transition video AF mode.
As ever, do let us know what you thinks of these clips!
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