Thursday, July 25, 2019

Planning a Painting Project, Review for Actinow Digital HD Video Camera

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My usual procedures for planning and executing a painting project are rather simple, but this time I wanted to make the experience blog-worthy with crisp photos and maybe even some video of certain steps in my process. Since my outdated digital camera is not very good for video, I decided to buy an inexpensive video camera that can also serve as a regular digital camera for still shots. I bought the Actinow Full HD Video Camcorder, which was approximately $63 but included a coupon for $10 off. As of today, July 25 2019, this offer is still available.

I am not a great photographer; I cannot even call myself a hobbyist in photography, so keep in mind that my observations in this review are from a true rookie- newb-layman point of view. However, this camera has one great thing going for it, and that is its simplicity. I was able to set it up and take photos and video within an hour of unpacking it. As I have played with it over the past couple of weeks, I have learned the basics of operating a video camera, but I am not up to par on all of the photographic and cinematic lingo that I hear the YouTube Gurus throw around in their expert reviews. So let's start with the basic contents of the box, shall we?

Image of Actinow HD Video Camera, photo from
Photo from

Image of Actinow HD Video camera with accessories, photo from Amazon
Photo from

In the Box

  1. Digital HD video camera
  2. User manual
  3. 2 rechargeable batteries
  4. USB cable
  5. USB Charger
  6. Audio/visual cable
  7. Camera Bag
I was pretty impressed that I got all of this for about $53. Even though the Amazon photos make this unit look like one of those huge professional cameras you see on film sets, this camera is quite small and fits into my rather dainty hand easily. It has a hand strap to keep it safe, and the viewfinder screen swivels so you can do "selfies" without a mirror. I know I sound like someone who has never seen a video camera, but that is sort of true. Like most people, I use my smart phone to film stuff, so I wasn't interested in owning a real video/vlogging camera until recently. 

Basic Camera Info

The camera will allow you to take still photos with resolutions up to 24 MP and shoot full HD videos at 1080p, 720p, and 480p. It has a fixed lens, so you may not get award-winning crystal clear macro photos from this camera. The manufacturer recommends a minimum shooting distance of 1.5 meters. However, it has a 16x digital zoom that works rather well. I was able to film a practice "draw-with-me" video using the zoom function to get close to my sketchbook. The camcorder has an anti-shake feature and video pause function.

The LCD view screen is about 3 inches in diameter, and you can watch playback for video on it. There is a fill light on the front of the camera as well. The microphone was able to pick up my scribbling and all of the fan and AC noises. I didn't speak in the videos I have shot, but it is a basic microphone, not something you would use for ASMR recording or anything like that. 

Practice Clip

Here is the sped up drawing video. Just be warned that it is pretty bad as it is literally my very first try at an art video as well as using Windows Movie Maker. I decided to just make a random stylized face. The music I used is "Your'e the Dummy" by Derek Clegg, from the Free Music Archive.  

What a Rookie Needs to Know

First, you need an SD card (4-32 GB) to use the camera, and it has to be a regular sized one, not a microSD. The instructions say that you can format the card using the camera, but I didn't need to do that. I bought a 32 GB SD card from Walmart for $10, but Amazon sells the same SanDisk 32 GB Ultra-class SDHC memory card for even less, around 7 bucks.

The USB cord will allow you to transfer files from the camera to your computer, recharge the batteries (use with the USB charger), and use the video camera as a web cam. The lithium batteries have a life of 90-150 minutes, but you can shoot while charging the battery as well. The manual is pretty easy to follow, and this camera was intended for amateur photography, so it is also easy to figure out by just playing with it.

Still Shots

I am including a couple of still photos I took with the Actinow camera. These were huge, but I resized them for the web using Photoshop Elements. Since I am getting ready to make a painting, I figured I would show you my inspiration for the color scheme and a peek at the paints I will be using and reviewing.

Image of closeup of window treatment, color inspiration for painting
This is the window treatment for my studio space/ bedroom too. Cherry blossoms were the inspiration for my decor, so I painted my walls shades of pale green and I chose blush colored wall hangings and bedding. It is a very peaceful color scheme. The cherry blossom garland was quite cheap at Amazon, but it is very good quality.

Image of Daler Rowney and Apple Barrell acrylic paints
These are very low budget acrylic paints that I bought at Walmart. I discovered that my old Windsor and Newton Galleria paints were all dried up, and I could not afford to replace all of them, so I went for Daler Rowney Simply acrylics and Apple Barrel craft paints in satin finish. We will see how this works out when I post my reviews of the materials and painting progress.

Final Thoughts

I have enjoyed using the Actinow Full HD digital video camera, and I can see myself improving my photography and video skills with practice. If you want a skilled photographer's point of view, I suggest reading reviews of this camera at Amazon. I need to work more with Windows Movie Maker to become a better editor, but I plan to continue uploading more reviews and tutorials using these new tools. 

I am open to critiques of my videos and would love to hear suggestions for editing software, lighting, and tripods. Please feel free to comment below!

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