A new hobby I just picked up has been cutting into my blogging time... digital video. Upon advice from a technically savvy friend, I purchased a JVC Everio Hard Disk Camcorder. It was about $600 (of course already on sale cheaper) which is an amazingly cheap price considering all the features it has.
It can record between 10 and 30 hours of video depending on the quality setting you choose - a friend of mine took it on a family trip and took about an hour of video and we hooked it up to his high definition TV and it looked incredible. The camcorder automatically changes focus and is extremely steady even while you are walking. These features are probably familiar to more experienced video people but I thought it was relatively space-age for the money. We used the (crappy) software that came with the camera to burn some DVD's that turned out great, but clearly I needed some better software. I bought the Corel Ulead DVD Movie Factory for about $50 and am trying to figure it out... but I have a long way to go. Luckily they don't bother with a manual or anything like that so it is a bit of hit or miss.
The optical zoom on this camera is just amazing - it is 34x zoom which is like a decent pair of binoculars. I borrowed a tripod and took it to the range so that I could spot how I am shooting... the light is pretty poor and you can't really see how you are shooting against the target without some sort of scope or range finder.
Here is a brief video of a friend of mine shooting a rented 9mm... you can tell that the sights are a bit out of line because his pattern is targeting a bit up and to the left on the target.
Of course my video is much worse since I am not a great shot. Even though the magazine holds more than 10 rounds I shoot in groups of 5 rounds so I don't lose focus.
I am trying to figure out the best way to upload the video because the camera is MPEG 2 which makes even a brief 1 minute video 20 megabytes or so. I went on you tube and some guy said use WMV format at high settings but that file was almost 20 megabytes, too. I scrunched down the WMV format to a lower resolution but I will have to play with this over time.
A fun new hobby... I do think that the tripod and the range was one of my better ideas in a while.