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Pick of the Camera Reviews

(Click the pictures for reviews & links) 


Yi 2 - Best Budget 4K 

Gitup Git2 (My Pick)

Xiaomi Yi


DR02 D - Best Budget Dual Cam

Yi Ultra 2.7K
Mobius (also works as a Dashcam)
Polaroid Cube+
Drift Ghost X

My favourite USB battery power Pack

This is the excellent USB power pack I use when I travel.

2 x 2.1amp outputs. 8400mAh capacity.

Two digit Led display shows battery level


What SD CARD should I buy?

If you want an SD Card for your camera - these are the ones I use and recommend. 

I'd strongly recommend not to buy any SD cards off ebay - I've heard about too many issues with counterfeit cards - often sold on by unwitting resellers. My inbox regularly gets messages from people who bought a £150 camera then cheaped out and bought a £3 memory card on ebay - Then when it doesn't worth they blame the camera! It doesn't make any sense. Good memory is cheaper than it's ever been - see the links above.

A lot of HD cameras will not work properly with cards larger than 32GB (cards over 32GB are usually SDXC rather than the SDHC standard used by 32GB cards. SDXC cards use the ex-FAT system rather than FAT32 - in short they are a different standard). - so don't just buy the biggest card you can afford - read the specs in the manual to see what it accepts.


RECOMMENDED CARDS (for action cams - see dashcams below)

CLASS 10 UHS-1 CARDS (For HD Cameras)


U3 CARD (For 4K cameras)




The SD card in a dashcam is re-written over, more frequently than in other types of cameras. Some manufacturers void their guarantee if an SD card was used in a dashcam. So, no surprise, there are special High Endurance SD cards made just for's some.


VERY IMPORTANT. These links take you to the product, however Amazon have three different ways of selling. There's Amazon Direct - This means that you are only dealing with Amazon themselves, then there's other sellers that use Amazon's facilities - these show as Fulfilled By Amazon and finally there's Market Place sellers that advertise on Amazon, but operate independently.  I strongly recommend that you only use the first...the Amazon Direct - Sold By Amazon option. Even if it appears that you are paying a couple of £/$ more it is more than likely you are comparing the price of a real item against the price of a fake.

To give you an idea of the extent of the fake goods problem. In a 2016 survey by Apple - 90% of the 'Apple' chargers sold through Amazon - using the other the two methods..which includes the "Fulfilled by Amazon" option -  were found to be counterfeit....90%! 

« Sony Unveils TG5 Camcorder with Magnetic Lens Attachment! | Main | The Muppet Whatnot Workshop Experience »

Elgato Turbo.264 HD. Hands on user test and review.

Elgato have sold the Turbo.264 for a couple of years now - but until now it only handled SD resolutions. The new  Turbo.264 HD handles resolutions all the way up to 1080p, but is it worth the £140 asking price? - Read on to find out.


Anyone with an HD camcorder will tell you that editing AVCHD video is a hellish nightmare.

The camcorder manufacturers don't tell you this - they pretend that its all drag and drop. The glossy adverts show someone fresh off the ski slopes still garbed in their woollen hat watching their morning's antics on the TV. Now this is all well and good and is actually possible if you only want to watch everything you shot, in sequence, through the camcorder itself. However, if you want to edit down your footage (like everyone should) then it is more than likely that the snow will have melted long before you'll see your finished compilation.

I'm no pro camcorder user - just your average schmuck. I just shoot holiday footage on a normal consumer camcorder and edit the footage on my Macbook using iMovie09. In the days of DV tape this meant waiting whilst the footage was transferred in real time down the firewire lead to the Mac, but after that it was plain sailing. If I had four hours of tapes, it would take approx four hours to get that footage into the editing program - then the editing time - then another hour or two to export it as a DVD.

Flash memory HD cameras arrived on the scene with the promise of immediate access to any scene and drag and drop file transfer. This sounded quicker - however when it comes to HD  it can be much, much slower.

AVCHD is a very compressed format that requires some serious horsepower to decode. iMovie can't edit it natively and therefore the files have to be converted to a more edit-friendly format.To facilitate this, iMovie converts them to the Apple Intermediate Codec (AIC). This converted footage is a much larger, more verbose file - from my experience 6 times larger than the source file. It is relatively easy for the Mac to edit and play the AIC files. Once the editing is complete the user then generally exports the finished movie to another format - usually some kind of MP4 file.

To give you some idea of the problems I encountered with editing AVCHD I need to share a few numbers with you.

I shoot my video with a Sony HDR-TG3 (aka TG1 in the rest of the world) If I use an 8GB Memory stick it can store a maximum of 55 minutes of AVCHD footage at a resolution of 1920x1080i .

My Macbook (2.2ghz 4GB late 2007) model takes approx 2 hours to convert an 8GB stick of AVCHD footage into the Apple Intermediate Codec and in the process creates a folder taking up a massive 48GB of the hard drive to store the converted footage. That's if it doesn't crash somewhere along the way - which isn't entirely unusual.

The Turbo.264 HD's purpose is to speed everything up. It gets used at the beginning of the process and again at the end.

The procedure goes like this.....

Plug the Turbo.264 HD USB dongle in - run it's software - drag your AVCHD footage into it's window - and click to export it as an MP4 file.

Elgato Software

Then start up iMovie and import these MP4 files. iMovie is compatible with MP4 files and doesn't need to convert them to it's AIC format. Once editing has finished. the footage can be exported from iMovie using the special Elgato Turbo.264 HD encoding codec and USB dongle's processing power.

So what kind of improvements can be expected - well as always, mileage will vary based on your Mac but here are my results.

I started with a full 8GB memory stick from my recent holiday. It contained 352 clips at 1920x1080i resolution.

Without Turbo.264 HD

  • Import 8GB into iMovie09 @ 1920x1080i:  2hrs

  • The Size of the AIC workfiles folder created on hard drive:  48GB

  • Export 3 minutes of footage from iMovie09 as MP4  @ 1920x1080:  17 mins

With Turbo.264 HD

  • Convert 8GB of files into 1920x1080p MP4 using Turbo 264 HD:  1hr 10 mins

  • Import these MP4's into iMovie09 @ 1920x1080i:  20 mins

  • Size of workfiles folder created on hard drive:  2.6GB

  • Export 3 minutes of footage from iMovie09 as MP4  @ 1920x1080:  2 mins 15 secs

264 in action

Now bear in mind that my recent three week holiday generated 40GB (5 hrs) of unedited AVCHD video and you can appreciate the amount of time and space that can be saved by using the Turbo.264 HD. It actually saves me hours rather than minutes of rendering/conversion time. That 40GB would expand by a factor of 6 when converted to the AIC - that's 240GB of files (on top of the 40GB I've already used) and that's a lot of disk space to have free. The Turbo.264 would convert that 40GB of AVCHD into under 15GB of Highdef MP4 files.

One very useful feature of the Turbo.264  HD is it's ability to import just the .MTS files generated by the camcorder. iMovie 09 normally insists on the entire memory stick structure being complete before it will entertain importing any AVCHD files. This makes archiving of the original camcorder footage very difficult. Ideally you would want to just drag all the MTS files off your memory cards into a folder on your Mac so you could reuse the card. You could then import all the files at the same time instead of one memory stick at a time - the Turbo 264 HD finally allows you to do this.

The software provided with the Turbo.264 HD also has a number of additional useful functions. When importing footage you can actually play each AVCHD clip first to determine whether you want to include it in the conversion to MP4 process. The software also offers rudimentary editing of the footage by choosing a start and end point for each clip. It can then export these individually or combine the clips into one movie. If that is all the control you need, you can forget iMovie etc and just use the Elgato software on its own for a quick and easy editing and authoring solution. Predefined export formats include iPod, iPhone, Apple TV, PSP, 720p, 1080p - and these can be customised further too.

As I mentioned previously, my Sony TG3 records in 1920x1080i. The choice is to convert this to either a 720p or 1080p MP4. My Sony has a very small lens so there was very little noticeable image quality difference between the 720p and 1080p conversions. The 720p appeared slightly lightened/washed out so I used the darker 1080p video. The conversion seemed to take the same time for both resolutions anyway

There are of course a couple of niggles with the Elgato software (it is version 1.0) The ability to select multiple/all of the clips to effect  batch changes to the output format would be top of my improvements list [EDIT - See first comment for how to do this] and playing back the individual AVCHD clips sometimes behaved strangely.

The biggest problem I've experienced is that after about 40 mins of conversion,  the Turbo.264 HD USB stick gets red hot and then the Mac pops up a message to say  the device has been unplugged.  To sort this out I had to unplug it and give it  5 mins to cool down and then the conversion could continue  where it left off . This is a pretty significant limitation as it means means that I can't leave the Turbo.264HD unattended to convert all my 40gb of footage in one go. I suggest that constructing the USB dongle's case out of  sealed plastic might not have been the smartest idea - an aluminium or vented case might have helped with cooling. Perhaps the software should be updated to automatically pause for a breather every half hour - then it could be left running all day. (These comments have been deleted - see why at the end of this post)


In conclusion - if you are editing AVCHD on a Mac then the Turbo.264 HD has the potential to make it a lot easier. Without this device, editing AVCHD video is a frustrating and unpleasant experience. I've always had to spend days to import my camcorder footage one stick at a time - returning to the Mac every few hours to swap memory sticks and restart the import process. I could  never be confident that iMovie  wouldn't have crashed when I returned. This also necessitated leaving the computer and external hard drive powered up and running at full throttle for long periods of time. With the 264 HD I can skip past many hours of waiting and more quickly get down to the fun process of actually editing the footage.

The drastically reduced disk space required for the imported footage means that I didn't really need to get that 1.5TB USB drive to hold my temporary AIC video files after all. If the Turbo.264 HD had come out a couple of months earlier it could actually have paid for itself by enabling me to avoid this unnecessary hard drive purchase.   I've found that editing MP4 files is a more stable and responsive process than handling the larger AIC files and overall my editing experience has been completely transformed by this tiny device.

It's not cheap - but  to many people it will be worth every penny, especially for those who value their sanity.

I consider the Turbo 264HD  to be an essential purchase for anyone editing AVCHD footage on their Mac.

I got mine delivered direct from Elgato @

UPDATE - My overheating Turbo 264HD appears to be a one-off,  no one else on the Elgato forums is reporting similar issues, so I'm going to get it replaced and I'll report back. It should also be mentioned that at the moment there is a known fault that prevents export direct from iMovie09. The problem should be rectified with the next software update. The Elgato team are aware and they should be congratulated for being very hands-on and responsive. The official forums are a useful resource for information and assistance for their users.

UPDATE 2 - Sure enough my Turbo 264HD was faulty after all. I've received a replacement unit that doesn't overheat. So don't worry about this issue when deciding whether to buy one. Oh, and while I'm here, I should mention that I've spotted the 264HD on the shelves in the Apple stores recently, so if you are near a store you can pick one up instead of buying mail order.

UPDATE 3 - Make sure you read the comments - there are some links in there to some test footage in 720p using the various deinterlace options. These might help you decide if the Turbo264HD would be useful for you.

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Reader Comments (42)

I had no idea about that problem.

When I get an opportunity over the next few days/weeks I'll shoot some footage in 1080i and convert it to 1080p and 720p using the Turbo264.

Then I'll try editing these files in iMovie09 and see what happens with the results vs the original raw 1080i version.
This might take me some time to get around to (I've got a lot going on at the moment) - but I'll let you know what happens.

July 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTechmoan


No rush, but interested to hear how it works out. If you get a chance read that 2nd link to thread i posted. It's very interesting/disconcerting. Ultimately it depends how you want to view the footage, in my case as full HD as possible on my fat HD telly ;-)

July 15, 2009 | Unregistered Commentercosmic68

You've got me thinking now. I was going on more about the smearing/blurring I get when I pan. It's not just me though - it happens with the HD football on TV so I think it's just down to the TV's refresh rate and 1080i not playing well together.

As far as jerkiness goes - I had a nightmare with a Canon HV10 where my holiday footage was beautiful when still, but so jerky (once imported into iMovie) as to be pretty much unwatchable.

At the time I managed to determine (I think) that it was all to do with how iMovie converts the 1080i video to a progressive format. I think it was just duplicating each frame so a panning shot then acquired this stop-start motion.

When I use the Turbo264HD it does a better job of deinterlacing, it softens the picture a bit - but it doesn't jerk as much - at least I think it doesn't .... but as I mentioned - you've got me thinking now, maybe it does still jerk (as well as blur) - I'll really have to do those tests to give you a proper informed answer.

I'll see what I can put together over the weekend.

July 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTechmoan

Have a look at the above link. It's my TG3 juddering as it pans along my street. i think the footage is still there, but am at work and site is blocked, so can't check.

Like I said, in your own time re your tests, no need to go out of your way. I'm skint at the moment, so don't need an excuse to buy another gadget...

July 15, 2009 | Unregistered Commentercosmic68

I hope you find this useful....
I recorded a short panning shot using the TG3 at its normal 1080i -HD HQ setting.

I then put the original mts clip through the Elgato Turbo264HD using various presets.

The initial panning shot looked fine on the camera but it's interesting to see how the different encoding options and FPS can mess this up.

In my opinion the best results came from converting the clip to 720p 60fps at 10,000kps

There are two collections of converted clips, one at 720p and the other 1080p



July 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTechmoan


Had a look at these this morning. the 720p 60fps at 10,000 is by far and away the winner. Will import with iMovie and try some of these "bad fx" tonight and see what happens.
I transfered them to my PS3 and above mentioned clip is out and out winner again-actually looks amazing. I need to recreate this myself, without Turbo stick, within iMovie and see if i can achieve same results.

July 17, 2009 | Unregistered Commentercosmic68


As far as i can tell, all those so called "bad-fx" do downsize your footage in iMovie if used. I have to trust my own eyes though, as when you export, it will export the movie to specified size, it just "stretches" the picture within. So 540 is stretched to 720/1080 etc. It's still a 540 image-just bigger, if you get me.
However, none of this matters as the smooth 720 60fps @ 10,000 looks awesome.
There must be a way to recreate this in iMovie, because that 10,000 could become 16,000 or higher, which should result in an amazing picture (10,000 is the highest on the Elgato stick, right?).

Muchos gracias for the clips, really appreciate it, am linking them in other forums to see if anyone else nows how to recreate them via iMovie. Failing that, will cough up for a USB stick.


July 18, 2009 | Unregistered Commentercosmic68

I just picked 10,000 as an arbitary figure. It will go higher - I just typed 10000 in the kps box. This is the bit with editing that I've always had problems with, I never know the best settings for these things so end up experimenting endlessly. The Elgato stick also has a load of more complicated settings for different types of deinterlacing and encoding - I could mess around for ever. If you would like to send a particular .mts file I could try some different kps settings to see if you can see a difference, however at a certain point it will get jerky again when there is too much data for the decoder software/device to process.

July 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTechmoan

A solution for the TG3/imovie conversion at last Well done - this is the only info I have found after weeks of searching.

July 20, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterchas c

I thought I'd take a few minutes to demonstrate the different types of deinterlacing available in the Elgato software.
The options are 'automatic', 'drop field', 'average' or 'progressive scan'.
I've put the same panning shot through all four options at 10,000 kbps and then I've put the clips through the 'automatic' and 'progressive scan' options at 20,000 kbps.

The test clips I used were of a pan at a fast speed then again at a slow speed - both were hand held.

For some reason these clips don't seem to convert as well as the earlier clip I uploaded and can only assume that it is down to the speed of the pan - it seems that it might be a fluke when this is compatible with the frame rate and I must have just got lucky last time.

I've only got the standard 1gb download limit on yousendit - so you'll have to be quick if you want to get these clips before they max out

10,000 kbps

20,000 kbps

July 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTechmoan

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