Question SD card footage only looks good when viewed on TV through camcorder, nowhere else

Trickster30

Novice Member
Hello all,

Hope this is in the right forum for this post.

I have recently purchased a Sony 4K camcorder (FDR-AX700).

To go with it, I purchased 2 x SD cards (SanDisk Extreme Pro SDXC UHS-I Card, 256GB, Speed up to 95 MB/s 633X - have taken a screenshot, see attached). When put in the camera, I was prompted to format them which I did.

I have shot footage both in 4K and HD.

I have viewed this footage on my 4K TV by directly connecting the camcorder to the TV (via a HDMI cable). The picture looks great and I am very happy with it.

However.... (there's always a however
clip_image001.gif
) this seems to be the only way where the footage looks this good.

When I downloaded the clips to my PC (using the cable provided, and using Sony memories which is the software with the camera) and played the clips back, the clips deteriorate in quality. Not massively but more than enough for it to be noticed. This is especially prevalent with movement. Its no-where near as smooth. Also, I think the colours are not quite as vivid.

I assumed this was just down to PCs not playing clips as well as a dedicated 4K TV. So, I put it the clips through premiere pro, outputted it matching the source settings, and viewed that on the 4K TV via an external hard drive that I use. The clips look exactly the same as they did on the PC (i.e. not as good).

Again, I wondered whether it was just down to a combination of the clips naturally not looking so great on a PC, and also maybe the quality dropping somehow by putting it through premiere pro (though never had that issue before)

So, in trying to isolate the problem, I have taken the SD card out of the camcorder. My 4K TV has its own slot for SD cards so I can play the clips back directly onto the TV. But, when doing this, the quality is exactly the same as the PC and the outputted footage (not as good). This seems to be the same whether its shot in HD or 4K.

So, it looks as if the clips look great when played on the TV through the camcorder, but when the SD card is played elsewhere, the quality diminishes. So, maybe the camcorder does something when playing the clips back (compresses it somehow) that it doesn't do elsewhere. Or maybe I have not got good enough cards.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I think the camera itself is absolutely fine, but I just can’t figure out why the clips on the SD card (which are digital) would lose any quality when played elsewhere

Many thanks,
Richard
 

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Deleted member 765458

Guest
From Sony UK

Sony FDR-AX700 4K HDR Camcorder

Recording Format (Video)
AVCHD format ver.2.0 compatible:MPEG4-AVC/H.264, XAVC S format: MPEG4-AVC/H264, XAVC S Proxy: MPEG-4 AVC/H.264
Video Resolution
[NTSC] XAVC S 4K: 3840 x 2160/30p, 24p XAVC S HD: 1920 x 1080/120p, 60p, 30p, 24p AVCHD: 1920 x 1080/60i (FX, FH), 1440 x 1080/60i (LP) XAVC S Proxy: 1280 x 720/60p, 30p, 24p, 640 x 360 60p, 30p, 24p [PAL] XAVC S 4K: 3840 x 2160/25p XAVC S HD: 1920 x 1080/100p, 50p, 25p AVCHD: 1920 x 1080/50i (FX, FH), 1440 x 1080/50i (LP) XAVC S Proxy: 1280×720/50p,25p, 640×360/50p,25p

XAVC S 4K : Approx.100Mbps, 60Mbps56, XAVC S HD: Approx.100Mbps (1920 x 1080/120p,100p), 60Mbps (1920 x 1080/120p,100p), 50Mbps, 25Mbps, 16Mbps/56 AVCHD FX: Approx. 24Mbps, FH: Approx.17Mbps, LP: Approx. 5Mbps56, XAVC S Proxy: Approx.9Mbps (1280×720)/Approx.3Mbps (640×360) 56

Are you in UK and did you record in Pal

Is TV NTSC or PAL ?
 

JH4

Well-known Member
Are you sure that you are always looking at the 4K files ? You may be looking at the smaller lower res. files that sometimes get recorded at the same time. Depending on how you have set up the recording modes. If that makes sense !
 

chrishull3

Well-known Member
SanDisk Extreme Pro SDXC UHS-I Card, 256GB is what i use and they are fine even for 50P 150Mbps 4K for me,i load my files on to my pc via a card reader,what does your 4K edited footage look like played back on your tv and what are you rendering your films to, external drives is what i make films onto and they look the same as the origional clips playing back.Your is a strange situation i have never used the (FDR-AX700).
 

Trickster30

Novice Member
Thanks all for your helpful replies.

Jabbanut,
Yes, that is the card. Is the 256GB version.
I have recorded in both 4K and HD. Im not sure the TV is HDR (don't think it is). And PC probably isn't either. Though, when I play the clips on the TV (directly from the camera) it looks fine.

Sony UK,
Yes, I am in the UK, and I am UK. I assume I am shooting in PAL. I haven't come across an option to change this, and as I purchased this in the UK, I am assuming it is in PAL.

JH4,
Yes I am pretty sure. There is a proxy setting in the camera which records at both the mode you have selected (4K/HD) and a low-res version as well. I made sure this was switched to off before starting.

chrishull3,
The 4K (and HD) footage looks absolutely fine on the TV when played directly from the camcorder (via HDMI cable). But, when I try the following, the clips do not look as smooth and the colour is not quite so sharp:
- Putting the SD card directly into the slot on the TV and playing the files there
- Importing the clips to the PC then just adding those clips to an external drive which I then connect to the TV
I don't have a card reader so am importing the files onto the PC by connecting the camcorder with the leads provided. I agree, it is strange. They are digital clips so you would think the quality would be exactly the same when they are transferred to external drive or even more so when the SD card is in the slot on the TV and playing back directly.
 

12harry

Distinguished Member
Reading this Thread, Trickster30 appears to have a difficult problem. There is no logic in a camcorder "doing something" to your files when they are being processed on a PC, since this process has been at the forefront of Editing for some time - indeed the success of "editing" is that it destroys nothing ( er, except by the User-commands!).
However, I would expect this is replicated by other Buyers in the UK. Sure, you can discount maybe 50% who simply store their stuff on the Card in the belief that's their Option...and then play it back using the TV ( from the camcorder). So I wonder that you can't let Sony UK know about this.... of course most comments go through a shreader ... =far too many Corporate folks involved in pretending it is the User at Fault.
I bought a Sony product some years ago and this shows its PAL credentials on the supplied sticker - 50i - I have never found this creates problems which haven't been my fault at the filming-moments.
Have you tried these files with ANOther Film-Maker? They could discover a different scenario.... or confirm? In addition, they could supply HD-files that you can play via the PC.
Whilst it's unlikely to make any difference, I would suggest you buy a modern USB3 card-reader ( so it covers the latest options ), these are typically £20 and could eliminate having to use the play-memories software.... Copy files over in the normal way ( using this new reader), and then perform any Edits - when you Render the Edits, you can put this in a folder of "Rendered Films". Many camcorder Mfrs supply software to "help" users.... but IMHO, this will only delay having to do things properly - and eliminating intermediate software is unlikely to reduce quality.
You should be able to detect files that are "low-res" versions - these might be "Proxy files" which allow Editors to work faster - until the larger files are used to complete the Render-process.
Formatting in the camcorder should mean your cards are correctly formatted and of the right speed.
That you can replay "good quality" must mean the camcorder is capable of good work. I wonder that the TV isn't applying some effect ( e.g. Sharpening, colour correction ) - and this is being seen as the "original" - whereas, it is of itself a minor corruption. . . .
Yet somehow I feel the problem ( as described), lies elsewhere . . . .

Cheers.
 

JH4

Well-known Member
I reckon the problem lies with the TV. Forget editing the footage. The issue seems to be the difference between the playback via HDMI, and the playback via the SD / HDD USB input. This may be due to the TV's player...Whatever that may be. Sony TV's with Android can use several different ones, depending on what is loaded or installed later. Some may not play 4k very well.. I have several on my Sony TV that I use for playing files. Not sure which might solve the problem , tho. I'll investigate further...
 
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JH4

Well-known Member
Just checked on my Sony. I have "Video", MX player, Kodi, "Album" Google Play, VLC player. Try using MX or VLC player. That may fix the problem. If the files play OK via HDMI, then they are not the problem..
 
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noiseboy72

Distinguished Member
I would imagine that the camcorder is recording extra meta-data and is processing the file while playing back. You may well find that it's actually the black level, gamma or chroma that is being adjusted by the camcorder on play back and not the inherent quality of the clip.

Might be worth using a colour chart to see if this is the case.
 

Trickster30

Novice Member
12harry,
Thanks very much for your reply. I did try to email Sony about it, basically for advice. They answered with quite a hardline 'this is not a fault of the camera' - I never said it was, I was just seeking advice on how best to use the camera with the SD cards and a PC. It is a shame that there is such a default position.

I haven't tried the files with anyone else no. Though, guess it would be hard unless they were sat in my room seeing what im seeing on the TV (via the camera and then via the SD card alone). But it is definitely worth an option (if nothing else, to see if there is anything odd-looking about the file itself).

The quality isn't massive but it is noticeable especially on movement - then its really quite noticeable.

Thanks for the advice on the card-reader. Think I will definitely try this. Though, I have thought of another option here. Regarding a card reader, I have a still DSLR camera. I have found that I can put the SD card in there and download all the files to the PC (without having to use the sony play-memories software). Would this be the same technique that a card reader would perform (i.e do I not need a separate card reader).

Anyway, even using this technique, the files are exactly the same (i.e. not as good). Even when I copy to the PC, then copy straight to the external hard drive (without any intervention) and play on TV the footage is still the same (not as good as when played through camera). This is an external hard drive using USB 3.0 to connect to the TV.

I thought a good thing to try was to import to PC, then copy straight back to the SD card and play it through the sony video camera (so I would then know either way whether transferring it to the PC was somehow causing issue). But....even though I can copy to the SD card, when I hook the camera up to the TV via HDMI, it doesn't display that file (even though its exactly the same (with a 2 after the name to distinguish it form the original). It is very strange (and frustrating). If I could do this, I could at least see whether the two files look the same.

I'm with you on the software. I just want to copy across, put it in my own folder and have it ready to use in premiere pro. Play Memories stores every file in its own date folder.

I can tell straight away that the files are 4K using the properties (plus a 20 second clip is 200mb).

I formatted the SD card as soon as I was prompted to when I first inserted it in the camera.

The TV may well be applying some effect as you say. But then, would it not do that even if the camera is playing through it via HDMI (which is so far the only way I can see the footage at its best quality).

Thank you so much for all your comments though, it has given me a lot to think about.
 

Trickster30

Novice Member
JH4
Again, thank you for your comments. It may well be the TV. And I have given up trying to edit at the moment. Right now, I am just trying to get the files to look as good as they do on the TV when played through the video camera. And I think this may well be the issue. But just to reiterate the options I have tried:

Playing files through the video camera to the TV via HDMI cable - Footage looks great.
Playing files through the SD card alone through the TV (via the SD slot on the TV - footage not as good.
The same goes for importing files to PC then back to the SD - exactly the same (as you would expect).
Also same goes for importing files to PC, copying them to external hard drive, then playing that through the TV via USB 3.00 - same, not as good.

I wish I could copy the files to PC, then put them straight back on the SD card (say, with a slightly different name) then play that through the TV via the video camera. But as mentioned above, once copied back to the camera, I cant find that file (even though I know its on the SD card) the camera wont display it. Maybe cause of the xmp though I have tried to change that to suit.

I will check on the MX or VLC player - are these programs on your sony TV ?
 
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Deleted member 765458

Guest
Check the specification of camcorder playback cable and computer to TV cable.

When playing back from camcorder check resolution and TV image mode TV reports. Then do the same for Computer to TV playback.
 

MarkE19

Moderator
This looks to me to be an issue with the media player software installed on the TV.

Playback from the camcorder just displays the image it is receiving via the HDMI cable. But connecting the SD card or an External HDD to the TV uses the software media player built into the TV.
Another possible option to check if this is the issue is to plug a hardware media player (even an UHD disc player that has media playback features) and see how that looks on the tV. This is bypassing the TV's software and using the software of the player - same as when using the camcorder as the playback device.

Mark.
 

Trickster30

Novice Member
Hi guys. More and more I am beginning to think it is down to the TVs software more than anything else. It does play through its own media player. Maybe I should stop making the connection that the TV and the PC play back the footage poorly for the same reasons (i.e. the card/files etc) - as this is probably due to completely different reasons. Footage will never look as good on a pc as it would through a dedicated 4K tv (though in this case they are pretty much the same). Maybe this is as good as it gets when using the external drive on the TV. I mean, its ok, its just that when you see footage which is better (through the camcorder) makes you feel like you are missing out.

Mark, fantastic suggestion to play it through a separate hardware player as this bypasses the TVs software....though I don't have one :-( I have a bluray player (haven't made the jump to a 4K player yet) so guessing using that wont really be of any help. But I will have a look - And not even sure how I would play it through that anyway - presumably with a SD slot or a HDMI in cable port ??

I will check the camcorders playback via TV, see if I can get some info off either the camcorder or the TV.

"Video", MX player, Kodi, "Album" Google Play, VLC playe - Are these located on your TV ??
 

MarkE19

Moderator
Either an SD card slot or a USB input port, but as you only have an HD BDP it is unlikely to give good quality output even if it can play the files as everything would just get downscaled to 1080p

4K media players are coming down in price if you do want to try to see if playback using it is as good as when using the camcorder. If bought from the likes of Amazon you can send it back easily if it is no better than using the TV's media player.

Mark.
 

JH4

Well-known Member
This may help. I have just played some 4K videos that I recorded on a Panasonic HC X1 pro camcorder in 3840 X 2160 150Mb/s, stored on a HDD, and plugged into my 4K Sony TV's USB port, and played back using the VLC player that I installed on it. They play back superb, in glorious 4K ! Hope this helps. ( They are MP4 files, btw. ) Download the VLC player via the Google Play Icon on an Android TV.
 
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12harry

Distinguished Member
I wonder if others are becoming as confused like me? The original prob wasn't with:- the 4K Camcorder-HDMI-TV
It was when the file went via PC.
-did we know the PC spec is up to dealing with this amount of playback data?
-is the PC output via the (same) TV using HDMI or the dreaded PC connection?
I read also that some files copied from camcorder-to-HDD are also of lower quality - there should be no difference since the copy/save-process takes as long as it needs.
FWIW my own PC has an HDMI output, but I don't think the graphics card will suit 4K - it's only 500Mb which was OK for HD. My 42" TV is 'HD-ready' and shows a good image from a modern HD-tuner, via HDMI. I have no 4K files. but the camcorder HD files are pretty good, considering the TV is shows SD as everyday programmes.

Of course it is possible that some data is being transferred to the TV to tell it to "improve" the files ( and presumably the camcorder knows when it is being used for HDMI-Playback) - so could that trigger some image boost?

Maybe the fix may be to try HD files, where the spec. of the interfaces, etc. are more tolerant.
Re using the old DSLR for file transfer . . . probably OK as the digital file takes as long as it likes; but you may have issues with larger SD-Cards, as older kit may not recognise them. For about £20 I'd think buying a USB3 Reader is a good investment, as it should eliminate transfer issues to the PC.
+If your PC writes a file to camcorder SD-card it may not be recognised, as the FAT won't be updated unless it's inside the camcorder. Some clever folks may know a "workaround" - but even these may not be the whole answer.

Apart from the above.... are you enjoying the AX700 . . . maybe waiting for the weather to improve?
Cheers.
 

Trickster30

Novice Member
Hey all,

Again, apologies for the terrible delay in replying. Lots going on this week, and the weather is....well, a bit rubbish (meaning I have been stuck at work a couple of times).

But.....my friends, I have a little update on the issue (and Harry, thanks for the post above :) I think I may have found the answer. I have been experimenting. I shot some footage today, and tried to shoot exactly the same thing, but one clip in 4K and one in HD.

And the HD appears to play back pretty much perfectly, whereas the 4K playback is a bit choppy (and has the issue I first mentioned). So, this looks to be the issue. Which means it is (I think) how the SD card or the external hard drive is playing it back on the TV. Which is pretty much what Harry was saying above.

I am not overly bothered. I have a 50in TV and cant really tell the difference between HD and 4K, so I will just shoot at HD. The camera seems to have more available when I shoot in HD as well (more settings available).

I may look into a new external hard drive (do any come with HDMI, or are they all USB). It may of course be the TVs media player. Might not even support 4K playback via the SD or external drive (though would think so as its a 4K TV).

Anyway, that's where I'm at. The fun experiments go on, but im feeling a bit happier about it all now.

Yes, I am now starting to enjoy the camera although weather has meant most of the trial footage has been of my lounge (which does get a tad boring after a while lol). Also noticed that the photographs I have tried with it are spectactular, esp when viewed back on the TV (which was a big surprise).

JH4, I will have a look at VLC playback, though struggling to find how to get this. Not sure I have google play on the TV but this is probably just me being an idiot. So thank you for this advice. Sounds like it worked very well, so I will try and find out how to do as you have suggested.

Thanks Mark for the suggestion of the 4K player, as this is my next option. I am looking on amazon as we speak, and there are loads to choose from. Any good suggestions. A lot of them seem to be for streaming (which I don't overly need, just need something that will play back files at 4K levels). For example, am I after something like this:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Android-RK...id=1549131680&sr=8-3&keywords=4k+media+player


Kindest regards,

Richard
 

Trickster30

Novice Member
This may help. I have just played some 4K videos that I recorded on a Panasonic HC X1 pro camcorder in 3840 X 2160 150Mb/s, stored on a HDD, and plugged into my 4K Sony TV's USB port, and played back using the VLC player that I installed on it. They play back superb, in glorious 4K ! Hope this helps. ( They are MP4 files, btw. ) Download the VLC player via the Google Play Icon on an Android TV.

Ref above, I have a Panasonic 4K TV. Would I be able to download the VLC player to use on this ? I'm not sure how and where I do this. I don't have an android TV, but from the above (you are using this on a Sony TV) sounds like VLC could be used on a TV which isn't android. I might be getting confused here though. The TV does have connection to the net, and has Apps, but it does not have VLC player in those apps (god knows who uses to apps, they look rubbish) so don't know if I can get VLC.
 

12harry

Distinguished Member
FWIW, I thought VLC was a Win-Playback program for PCs - (there may be Mac-versions), with Options to play almost any format. However, after discussions here, some years ago I settled for Windows Media Player Home Cinema - I'm not sure if this a Microsoft product, but suspect it's not.
WMPHC plays HD via my Graphics Card to my HD-ready 42" TV.
( I Edit only HD camcorder material. When it's good it is excellent, but I know some Pana 700's were slightly sharper, judged on a projected screen, probably 6 ft. ).
OP's 4K TV should show the difference between HD and 4K, IMHO - but IMHO you'd need to be pretty picky to complain. Indeed average older folks probably can't see any worthwhile improvement - oops! The "advantages" of 4K are "future-proofing" and the notion that you can "Zoom-in" during Edit - but it will be interesting to know if OP's 4K footage (after downgrade to HD, in Edit) shows as well as the best HD he can obtain.

I suspect that a 4:4:2 Pro-camcorder (HD-only), might well outperform a consumer 4K camcorder . . . . but the issue of "playback" could wreck 4K because of "Data-rate" issues . . . .

. . . . . nevertheless the "original" complaint hasn't been fixed - merely "Gone-Away" - - - by using HD.... is that the Case?
Some features are "HD-only" due to the need for huge data-shifting in 4K-mode.

I think all external HDDs/SSD's are USB3 nowadays. HDMI is the reserve of very fancy TV players/recorders and PC Graphics-cards, starting at RAM=500Mb, for 4K you may need RAM=2G . . . . Gamers using 3D will need more RAM and dedicated power wiring!
Cheers, +glad to have adding some prior help.
 

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