Equipment - tools of the trade: October 2006 Archives

samson_h4.jpgGizmodo blogs about the new Samson Zoom H-4 field recorder, which seems extremely promising. At only $300, it is about $100 less expensive than either the Edirol R-09 (which is what I have) or the Microtrack 24/96 (which is very popular). The interface for the Samson looks absolutely fantastic and it has two XLR balanced inputs, which none of its competitors have.

The mike placement of the Samson is a spitting image of the Sony PCM-D1, which costs about $2000. The X-Y configuration is designed to give you a better sound field by reducing the possibility of the stereo mics being out of phase with each other.

Samson's product home page is here and they also have a copy of the manual online, which gives some of its specs. After the jump is a comparison of the Samson H4 against the Edirol R-09. The main defect that I can see is the lack of a time/date stamp on the files. This makes it much harder to use as a field recorder -- or as the audio component of a dual-system video recorder.

I'm thinking of picking one up as it seems very promising. No one has it in stock yet though. There are also only a few reviews online, but check the video review on

Canon USA and Canon Japan have announced that there is a new firmware upgrade for the Canon XL-H1 camcorder. Version corrects issues with time-code synchronization as well as reducing the granularity of the manual iris control to 1/8 stop steps.

The firmware is available by either bringing the camcorder to a Canon center or by phoning them and asking them to send you the update on an SD card for free. It is not available by download. I phoned them and they are sending the new firmware by Fedex 2nd day. I'll post again when I've updated my unit.

p.s. My camcorder, which is one of the first 100 made, was at version I haven't been able to find out what the minor fixes between and (the last public version) have been.

For more info:

For more info about the upgrade from Canon Japan:

Canon HD Video Lens 6x Zoom XL 3.4-20.4mm L

Canon has also announced a 6x wide-angle high-def lens for the XL-H1. The new Canon HD Video Lens 6x XL 3.4-20.4mm L has a 35mm equivalent perspective of 24.5 to 147mm, making it ideal for indoor videography. There's a manual iris control ring, which makes many people happy. Unfortunately, focus and zoom are still servo controlled which makes me unhappy. I had to dig around to find the maximum aperture, but it looks like it'll be f/1.6 to f/2.6.

The price is quite reasonable at a MSRP of $3000. When it comes out in November, I want one. This is the lens that should have come with the camera, in my opinion.

For more info:

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This page is a archive of entries in the Equipment - tools of the trade category from October 2006.

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