Report from the Field: the Sony AX100 - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 30 Old 07-07-2014, 08:41 PM - Thread Starter
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Report from the Field: the Sony AX100

I decided for a trip to four China cities + Hong Kong (as a non tourist) I would bring the AX100, rather than the GH4 and lenses, as I like to travel light. Here is what I learned:

1. In 95+ F heat, shooting 4K for two or more hours without ever turning the camera off there was no overheating (except by me).

2. One battery was enough for the above (not two hours + of video, two hours + of shooting).

3. I brought three batteries (I had some from previous Sony's), but two would have been enough plus the little Sony travel charger I also had.

4. The camcorder is not very conspicuous without the large lens shade, which I left off. I did not see any problems of glare or flare.

5. I used the viewfinder exclusively, for better stability and because of the bright sun. I could see the peaking colors easily and the zebras and could judge color (overexposure).

6. I almost always had to reduce exposure (shutter priority mode) using AE shift by -.5.

7. Peaking is essential - it tells you what is in focus when in autofocus, and helps to manually focus. I used manual focus a lot to get close-ups of objects with distant vistas. I even used the magnifier (with my left hand). You really can get exact focus shooting handheld.

8. I used active mode exclusively - only way to get reasonable stability handheld.

9. I lost the lens cap early on.

10. The camera is somewhat heavy; my right arm is now more developed than my left.

11. I can easily edit the 4K video using the free Sony Movie Studio Platinum 13 on my tiny $259 Celeron laptop (with 4GB of memory). The trick is that the software automatically creates proxy clips, so the editing experience is just like you were using sd files. Proxy conversion takes a long time (when you have hours of video), but once the files are created editing is a breeze with smooth playback of your edits. Rendering takes a long time (e.g., 2.5 hours for a 5.5-minute final 4K video), but what matters is my work time.

The videos are to come. Two spots I returned to, so there will be an ability to compare videos of the same place shot by the Panasonic TM900, the Panasonic ZS30, the Canon EOS M, the BMPCC (RAW), and the AX100. For one place, I have a 3D video and that from the AX100. So you can see the progress, and false starts, of camera technology.
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Last edited by markr041; 07-07-2014 at 08:47 PM.
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post #2 of 30 Old 07-09-2014, 01:16 AM - Thread Starter
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Videos from Shenzhen and Hong Kong

Hong Kong Lake:


https://vimeo.com/100187219







Shenzhen Dancers, early morning very day:


https://vimeo.com/100253064


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post #3 of 30 Old 07-11-2014, 03:25 AM - Thread Starter
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Video from Kowloon, HK

https://vimeo.com/100464201


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post #4 of 30 Old 07-11-2014, 04:57 PM
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Looks brilliant.
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post #5 of 30 Old 07-11-2014, 08:10 PM
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Really awesome, Mark. I 100% agree with David.

What continues to strike me about this camera aside from the striking clarity and depth, is how well it renders flesh tones, regardless of nationality. People look strikingly natural without a hint of oversaturation or embellishment.

As always, a great job, Mark! It only took about 8 minutes to download your 7 gig, 4K file.
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post #6 of 30 Old 07-12-2014, 03:33 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Ken Ross View Post
Really awesome, Mark. I 100% agree with David.

What continues to strike me about this camera aside from the striking clarity and depth, is how well it renders flesh tones, regardless of nationality. People look strikingly natural without a hint of oversaturation or embellishment.

As always, a great job, Mark! It only took about 8 minutes to download your 7 gig, 4K file.

Thanks, Ken and David. Btw, it took over 9 hours to upload the video from my hotel room!
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post #7 of 30 Old 07-12-2014, 05:17 PM
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Hi Mark.

I have watched a number of your videos, and think they are great regardless of the camera used. Your shoot out post being especially insightful.

Although I always say that it is the operator that is the professional aspect of a camera, as proven by your use of different cameras. This AX video is especially impressive.

While there is great framing and composition all the way through your edit. I love the shots of the two guys fishing off the pier, it's very natural and looks like something you would expect to see in a high quality doc.

I am not one to bitch about one camera against another. Because again, it's the operator that makes a great shot and not the camera. And every camera has its issues, although all these new cameras really do allow for excellent image quality. But the AX100 is such an unbelievable camera, and insane value for money.

Again, not wanting to compare cameras. But your video is excellent from beginning to end, and shows exactly what can be done with the AX100 and a great operator who knows what they are doing. I would go far as to say that your video wouldn't have looked any better even using a camera that cost many times more than the AX.

Oh yes before I forget, the dragonfly in the other video looks ace.

Cheers,
Dave.
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post #8 of 30 Old 07-13-2014, 05:45 PM - Thread Starter
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4K Video: Beijing

https://vimeo.com/100658501

Tourists, dancers, mahjong, strollers, singers, cards, tai chi, badminton, jugglers, hacky sack, a butterfly, a selfie, traffic. On a sweltering afternoon.

Video frame grab:

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post #9 of 30 Old 07-13-2014, 05:57 PM
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great,continues to strike me about this camera aside from the striking clarity and depth, is how well it renders flesh tones, regardless of nationality. People look strikingly natural without a hint of oversaturation or embellishment.[IMG]http://*******/AN0mnq[/IMG]
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post #10 of 30 Old 07-14-2014, 07:20 AM
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Mark,

I've started to loose interest in the technical capabilities of your cameras. I no longer see major differences in the quality of the viewing experience. Everything you shoot and edit has exceptional screen quality. Could it be that, as long as our viewing devices are 1920x1080, consumer video won't get significantly better.

My interest in what you shoot and your video technique grows. It seems you are becoming a master at filming what a visitor sees as a country's guest. I will probably never go to Beijing, but with your video gift, I get to see what I'm missing.

FWIW, your Beijing video might be the best you've done regarding the people, their culture and routine city activities.

Again, thank you.

Bill
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post #11 of 30 Old 07-14-2014, 08:17 AM
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Another 4K Sample shot by my production house for a local motorbike distributor client. Since we felt the AX100 excelled at resolution and detail (plus it's relatively cheap/fast handling and the workflow was manageable) it was therefore chosen for the job. The preference of the client was to capture the details on the products as clearly as we could while causing minimal disruption to the ongoing activities around us. Or to make it more like a casual shoot but have focus on some specific details on the subjects.

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post #12 of 30 Old 07-14-2014, 08:26 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by P&Struefan View Post
Another 4K Sample shot by my production house for a local motorbike distributor client. Since we felt the AX100 excelled at resolution and detail (plus it's relatively cheap/fast handling and the workflow was manageable) it was therefore chosen for the job. The preference of the client was to capture the details on the products as clearly as we could while causing minimal disruption to the ongoing activities around us. Or to make it more like a casual shoot but have focus on some specific details on the subjects.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=uJyhHDVa7dk

It's a nice video. But this seems to be a case in which shallower depth of field would have been really helpful in isolating the objects of interest. The sharp backgrounds with people milling about are distracting here (e.g. the opening motorcycle shots). You can make for shallower dof by using the telephoto end more and getting close (keeping the aperture as open as possible). But a bigger sensor would make this easier.
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post #13 of 30 Old 07-14-2014, 09:37 AM
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Thanks, Mark for commenting. That's was what we were thinking too but we had shown them prior to this video a few sample shots with a GH4 fitted with our Nikon 50 f/1.4 and 28 f/1.8 shot at or nearly wide open via an adapter on a Steadicam Merlin (it had to be since there was not an IS on the lenses!) and they somehow didn't like the looks. In fact I personally preferred the GH4's 4K image when tweaked right other than it's obvious ability to get nice, shallow DoF shots with appropriate lenses. This particular client was clearly more into simple documentary or news style rather than stylized shots. They were hoping to screen the footage to attract more people to the show over that weekend perhaps.

One thing I really don't like about the AX100 is it's size and weight. It's neither a full sized Handycams like the FX1 or EX1R I'm more accustomed to nor is it nearly as light and compact as the CX700, PJ760 I also use frequently. Even with a tiny Sony stereo mic attached to it via an AIS-to-MIS adapter, an FV70 battery, a featherweight plastic lens hood, shooting handheld with both hands strains my wrist and arm in relatively short time. It's hard to hold steady maybe partly for this reason making me leaving it on the active steady shot mode always when in use off a tripod or any support.
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post #14 of 30 Old 07-14-2014, 02:01 PM
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P&S, I've generally found the heavier the camera is the more stable I can be holding it. I was probably more stable while using my NEX-VG30 than I am with the AX100. I've had some of my worst stability issues with featherweight cameras. So I guess we all have different styles and means of hand-stabilizing these cameras. But with that said, I haven't found the fatigue you've experienced with the AX100 and that could be just the way we hold the cameras or how acclimated we are to holding a camera of this type.
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post #15 of 30 Old 07-15-2014, 01:57 AM
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Right Ken, it probably has something to do with the way I hold the camera of this size and weight that I'm not familiar with. Sometimes I mount it on a very light weight horizontal U-shaped support with a foamed top handle. That makes shooting generally easier but it takes away the portability of the camera.
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post #16 of 30 Old 07-17-2014, 06:05 AM - Thread Starter
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4K Video: A Brief Visit to Guangzhou

https://vimeo.com/100908549


2000-year old tomb museum, historical exam-cramming academy, drumming instruction, and modern icons.


Video frame grab:
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post #17 of 30 Old 07-17-2014, 06:41 AM
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Mark,

I'm enjoying your trip to China. I particularly like the footage of the fisherman in the video you put on Vimeo after this one.

I recall you explained that you are editing with the Sony software that came with the camera. If I remember right, it does not "smart render". So I presume it uses your 4K footage then, after you put clips together, that you output in a 4K preset for upload to Vimeo.

I ask, because where you and Vimeo allow downloading the "Original .mp4 file" it must mean the original as you have rendered or transcoded in Sony Movie Studio 13.

You were once a proponent of "lossless" or "smart rendering". Has the 4K format changed your ideas about that?

Bill
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post #18 of 30 Old 07-17-2014, 07:16 AM - Thread Starter
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Mark,

I'm enjoying your trip to China. I particularly like the footage of the fisherman in the video you put on Vimeo after this one.

I recall you explained that you are editing with the Sony software that came with the camera. If I remember right, it does not "smart render". So I presume it uses your 4K footage then, after you put clips together, that you output in a 4K preset for upload to Vimeo.

I ask, because where you and Vimeo allow downloading the "Original .mp4 file" it must mean the original as you have rendered or transcoded in Sony Movie Studio 13.

You were once a proponent of "lossless" or "smart rendering". Has the 4K format changed your ideas about that?

Bill

Thanks. Yes, the video is rendered "stupidly" in Sony Movie Studio 13 (or Sony Vegas Pro 13). There is no software that "smart" renders the 4K videos from the Sony AX100 or the Panasonic GH4 correctly (I have tried), so we have no choice.* On the other hand, the loss seem minimal as the Sony software preset for 4K (long GOP) is 100+ Mbps (XAVC S). Of course, most viewing is at less than 4K, so any loss may be hidden.


Back in the good old days of 1080p, which it turns out was not really 1080p, we needed all the resolution we could get. Smart rendering was easy, and kept whatever resolution we had. Equally, shooting RAW 1080 enabled one generation compression. With 4K, in a sense we have resolution to spare.


*An exception is HD Writer supplied by Panasonic for the 4K A500 action cam! It smart renders video from that camera in 4K. This may mean that the 4K video from the FZ1000 can be smart rendered using the supplied HD Writer (I assume that will happen). And, of course, HD Writer will not do that with video from any other camera.
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post #19 of 30 Old 07-17-2014, 07:44 AM
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Very nice video Mark. I'm just curious, with all your trips to China, can you converse in Chinese?
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Very nice video Mark. I'm just curious, with all your trips to China, can you converse in Chinese?

Thanks. Not a word.
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post #21 of 30 Old 07-17-2014, 09:02 AM
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^ That's where nodding comes in.
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post #22 of 30 Old 07-17-2014, 04:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markr041 View Post
Thanks. Yes, the video is rendered "stupidly" in Sony Movie Studio 13 (or Sony Vegas Pro 13). There is no software that "smart" renders the 4K videos from the Sony AX100 or the Panasonic GH4 correctly (I have tried), so we have no choice.* On the other hand, the loss seem minimal as the Sony software preset for 4K (long GOP) is 100+ Mbps (XAVC S). Of course, most viewing is at less than 4K, so any loss may be hidden.


Back in the good old days of 1080p, which it turns out was not really 1080p, we needed all the resolution we could get. Smart rendering was easy, and kept whatever resolution we had. Equally, shooting RAW 1080 enabled one generation compression. With 4K, in a sense we have resolution to spare.


*An exception is HD Writer supplied by Panasonic for the 4K A500 action cam! It smart renders video from that camera in 4K. This may mean that the 4K video from the FZ1000 can be smart rendered using the supplied HD Writer (I assume that will happen). And, of course, HD Writer will not do that with video from any other camera.
Thanks for the reply.

I mastered HD Writer 2.6 that came with my SDT750, similar to the TM900. I did one complete video on it that was smart. In fact, it was my first video called "Chickens and Cherries". It is about my drop-dead-gorgeous, charming and brilliant granddaughters entering and wining at a county fair. For the sake of sharing, you should be able to watch it here:

After that I went looking for dumber NLEs that would allow some latitude with creative tools. I tried Sony Movie Studio and had a month long lock out problem related to corrupted user permissions. To solve it I switched to Adobe's cheaper NLE. I continue to like dumber NLEs because of the fun of playing with adjustments, sound tracks, transitions, including stills, etc.

Bill
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post #23 of 30 Old 07-17-2014, 04:39 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the reply.

I mastered HD Writer 2.6 that came with my SDT750, similar to the TM900. I did one complete video on it that was smart. In fact, it was my first video called "Chickens and Cherries". It is about my drop-dead-gorgeous, charming and brilliant granddaughters entering and wining at a county fair. For the sake of sharing, you should be able to watch it here: http://youtu.be/m0GdrYhUCHQ

After that I went looking for dumber NLEs that would allow some latitude with creative tools. I tried Sony Movie Studio and had a month long lock out problem related to corrupted user permissions. To solve it I switched to Adobe's cheaper NLE. I continue to like dumber NLEs because of the fun of playing with adjustments, sound tracks, transitions, including stills, etc.

Bill

That's a drop-dead gorgeous video. Great chicken-shots too. I tend to forget how good that SDT750 (TM900) is (was). I do not think that more editing tricks would have helped much - it has a good overall feeling, interesting subjects, good pacing, a story line, and plenty sharp and colorful.


Btw, I really dislike Youtube - you always have to set the resolution higher and I never get a constant stream - it starts and stops. I can stream the Vimeo ones easily (even the 1080p ones) and the picture is just as good if not better. I have high bandwidth.
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post #24 of 30 Old 07-17-2014, 05:23 PM
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Great video and great fun Bill. Really enjoyed that. The girls are just too cute and their personalities show through.
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post #25 of 30 Old 07-17-2014, 09:06 PM
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My kind of video, really. Used to be a chicken raiser myself back in my school days I love hearing those noises, clucking etc. and everything in that kind of atmosphere.

I think we here at AVS forum are sometimes too hard on ourselves regarding the device in our hands (camera), the devices back home (PC, Mac, displays, disk arrays, software etc.) and the obsession of the means of controlling these things that we forget first and foremost, the thing that truly counts is enjoying the moment and making those devices help you cherish the valuable memories.

This unfortunately does not always apply in the case of professional work.

Thanks, Bill for posting this. And for those of you who have trouble steadying your would-be cherished memories, I have this short video for you. It was of course not shot by me.

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post #26 of 30 Old 07-18-2014, 08:06 AM
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"A Brief Visit to Guangzhou" video at around 3:34 the close up of the brushes were very nice indeed. The natural colors continually blows me away for this camcorder.

re: chickens ... Nice video Bill, great shots. Used to spend summers on my grand parents farm with different animals. Raising, feeding, collecting eggs and eating them once grown were fond memories. Now all I get are plastic wrapped prepared chickens from the supermarket ... suburbs and no live farm animal bylaws. I really need to move back to the country where I belong.

Also loved the chicken cam vid. that was pretty funny.
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post #27 of 30 Old 07-18-2014, 09:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markr041 View Post
Btw, I really dislike Youtube - you always have to set the resolution higher and I never get a constant stream - it starts and stops. I can stream the Vimeo ones easily (even the 1080p ones) and the picture is just as good if not better. I have high bandwidth.
re: Youtube - if you are using Firefox I find this add on invaluable to force YT vids. to auto play in high def. "Youtube High Definition" https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/fir...gh-definition/ Set it and forget it.

As far as starting and stopping, I sometimes have this issue which drives me crazy too. Check you Flash player plugin is up to date and use this other add-on called Quick Java to disable and enable- this usually kickstarts the YT vid and it plays without issues for me: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/fir...ddon/quickjava Just click on the little red "F" on the lower add on bar at the bottom of the Firefox window to disable Flash and again to re-enable it.

If you are not using Firefox - then I think Chrome should have these add-ons also.
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post #28 of 30 Old 07-18-2014, 11:52 AM
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Thank you Mark, Ken, RobAC and P&Struefan for the compliments. It appears about 25 people also watched it in the last 48 hours. I had it designated as private with no views for over 2 years. My daughter-in-law cried with laughter when she saw it. I think she is in mourning this year because both of those cute girls turned into women this year! They isolate that age group in "junior high" schools for a reason.

Mark, you probably don't know or remember it, but as my first video, you pretty much told me how to do it. You picked the camera, picked the NLE and guided me through formats, etc. I continue to keep an eye on you and still learn. Thank you for the effort you put into my curiosity a couple years back.

Since "Chickens and Cherries", I've not been very productive. That video taught me that few people really watch what I make. Learning some basic video skills did re-kindled some photography passions. I bought the equipment and software to make large prints in frames again.

My video clip collection has become pretty large and is growing. But,good multi-clip stories have become rare. I've put some collections together and started travel projects that remain unfinished.

One really odd result of my attempt at learning videography is that my biggest success is a tutorial about how to rewire the headlights on a particular brand of motorhome so that they are bright enough to really use for night driving. Nearly 2500 have watched it on YouTube! It is really boring unless you have a focused interest.

The only other three I like personally are on Vimeo. A Grand Canyon trip continues to get some play. A mini documentary about my brother's antique rifle seems to have a following in a gun fan group somewhere. The third is about the abundace of hot-rods produced by old, retired men living in Lake Havasu City. Videos of Spring Break at Lake Havasu get thousands of plays, but not hot rods.

My DW has some tourist trips set up and of course I'll shoot video and take pictures. Both are on cruise ships. So far, my cruise ship video efforts remains trite, boring and really dull. Maybe I'll figure out a new story line!

After a day or two I'll take the "Chickens" video private again to protect the privacy of my granddaughters.

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post #29 of 30 Old 07-18-2014, 02:28 PM
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My interest in what you shoot and your video technique grows. It seems you are becoming a master at filming what a visitor sees as a country's guest.
I agree, you are getting better at this. But once again, such static shots would seriously benefit from a tripod, they will look like professional footage.

P.S. The glass prizm at 1:28 looks like lifted from the Louvre.

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post #30 of 30 Old 07-18-2014, 02:54 PM - Thread Starter
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Hangzhou 4K Video

The last of the series from China:


https://vimeo.com/100920187


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