Any opinions on the Sony HVR-A1E?

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Neon Films
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Hi guys,

Does anyone have (or used) one of these yet? I'm looking to go HDV and thinking of selling my PD150 and go for the A1E. I'd love a Z1 but cannot afford one of those at the moment. I mainly film shows, weddings and a bit of corporate stuff. Would the A1E do the job? I notice that Nigel Cooper at DVUser thinks it is quite good. Does anyone else have any thoughts?

Mark Smith

Leeds Media Services
Video Production in Leeds and Yorkshire

Richard Payne
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A1e

I did a review of one for Showreel. I had it for a couple of days. Alan Roberts came down with a couple of test cards nd a ton of experience and went away wanting one for home use. I own a HC1 so I kind of agreed.

The PD170 would be much better in Low light but I would be very tempted by the extra resolution and future proof nature of the A1E. Also its true 16:9 and for film buffs has an excellent progressive mode that adds more vertical resolution.

On the downside its a bottom loader, so no hurried tape changing if it's on a tripod. With a big battery you have to angle the viewfinder up and the flip out screen is half the resolution of the viewfinder.

If you have any specific questions ask away.

Alan Roberts
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I'm here as well; fire away.

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cstv
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are there any technical differences in image quality between the A1 and the HC1? or is it just a matter of more advanced control?

yes, i know the latter will improve the former of those two, but i think you'll get the gist of my question... ;)

mark.

tom hardwick
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Is your review on line to read Richard?

Richard Payne
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cstv wrote:
are there any technical differences in image quality between the A1 and the HC1? or is it just a matter of more advanced control?

yes, i know the latter will improve the former of those two, but i think you'll get the gist of my question... ;)

mark.

There are a couple of differences, for instance you can turn off the image stabiliser and gain some more resolution and a wider shot. Also there is a black stretch, and a number of extra tweaks like the auto tracing white balance. The A1E looks is more configurable in just about every respect. In terms of picture quality these extra tweaks do give it an edge but won't affect it's low light capabilities.

I'm not sure if Steve plans to put the review on line Tom, I'll ask him.

HallmarkProductions
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A1 versus Z1

We are looking to use possibly an A1 in our underwater housing, and also for use in a project where we need to film unobtrusively and "travel light". Probably shooting handheld a lot of the time, and in potentially hazardous environments.

Whilst picture quality is secondary to shot content in the context that we plan to use this camera, I am interested to hear from Alan especially, what you think of the comparable quality between the Z1 and A1. Some of the shots will be at night, outside, and I have been very disappointed with the quality from the Z1 in low light. I do not expect the A1 to be any better, but will it be any worse? Sometimes we will be able to use a PAGlight, but no more lighting will be available.

I see that the external mic housing appears to fit in the cold shoe, so I was wondering if it will still be possible to fit the PAGlight ( I know you can get doublers, but I am thinking about the stability of the mount here).

Chris
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Alan Roberts
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Low-light performance is directly related to sensitivity, and that's directly related to pixel size. The smaller the pixels are, the less light falls onto each, fact of nature. So, making a HD camera with the same chip size as an SD camera will inevitably lose at least one, if not two stops of sensitivity. There's nothing we can do about it.

The HC1/A1 use the same single sensor, so low-light performance should be the same. Since it's a single sensor, it should end up less sensitive than the FX1/Z1 simply because it has to reject coloured light in the filters, instead of redirecting it to appropriate colour sensor in the 3-chip cameras (about 2/3 stop). Plus, the mosaic pattern isn't the most efficient way of doing it (there isn't an affordable way that gets it right, it isn't possible), so single-chip cameras will always be less senistive that 3-chippers of the same size.

All that said, the HC1/A1 does a remarkably good job of it. It's better vertically than horizontally (in the A1 that I've seen with Richard) so it makes good proscan pictures, better than the FX1/Z1 which processes the interlaced picture to do it (by throwing away half the fields). The only issue I have with the HC1/A1 is that Sony have compromised performance by using a sensor with not quite enough pixels for the HD system resolution; the very nice lens can deliver detail to it at higher frequencies than it can cope with properly resulting in alias patterns from detail edges, Richard is better placed to describe what image content can cause it (he's shown me some pictures) but it's non-removable.

By contrast, the FX1/Z1 lens doesn't beat the sensors at all, and at long focal length (zoom in tight) it has significant and visible chromatic aberration which I really don't like at all.

Hope that helps.

Oh, and the A1 has some control features that Richard and I weren't able to decipher when we saw it (without the manual) and didn't appear to do anything. I expect that to have been fixed in the "for-sale" models.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
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Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

MattDavis
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Richard Payne wrote:
If you have any specific questions ask away.

How well do the A1 and Z1 footage cut together?

A friend has just sold his PDX-10 to get one of these puppies to act as backup & second camera to his Z1. I was a bit concerned about this as I played with one at IBC and whilst the pictures were nice and may downsample really well, looked a bit 'milky' in comparison to the Z1.

Matt Davis - Director/Editor - Write, shoot, edit, publish - website & Blog
2x EX1R, FS100 & FS700 into FCPX & CS6

HallmarkProductions
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Alan and Matt

Thanks Alan for a superb explanation. Sometimes, your technical knowledge and "scientific" answers go way above me ( I am ashamed to admit!), and I have to read them a few times before the penny eventually drops, if it ever does. That said, sometimes I can keep up - like now.

Matt - I guess the "milky" pictures you refer to were taken indoors in lowish light - and the differences could be explained by Alan`s comments previously? Probably (possibly?) the camera was working wide open, and struggling to get picture detail.

Alan - as I see it, the Z1 is about 2 stops slower than my DSR500 and 570, and you are saying that the A1 will be about 2/3 stop slower still? This does mean that my covert nightime stuff could be quite a problem (but better than no shot at all, and better than getting in the way of delicate situations!)
Finally Alan, I was searching for your recommended setups for the DSR 500/570. I would like to get the best possible use out of them in general use - what are the default tweaks that BBC recommended in the setups, please?

Thanks, Chris

Chris
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Alan Roberts
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HallmarkProductions wrote:
Alan - as I see it, the Z1 is about 2 stops slower than my DSR500 and 570, and you are saying that the A1 will be about 2/3 stop slower still? This does mean that my covert nightime stuff could be quite a problem (but better than no shot at all, and better than getting in the way of delicate situations!)
Finally Alan, I was searching for your recommended setups for the DSR 500/570. I would like to get the best possible use out of them in general use - what are the default tweaks that BBC recommended in the setups, please?

Not saying that it is slower, only that science indicates that it should be slower. Designers have a lot of other freedoms in which they can trade sensitivity for noise, for colour accuracy, for overload accoomodation and so on.

However, IIRC, the HC1 has the IR trick for shooting in the dark, but I think it's missing from the A1.

On camera setups, I've not done any for any SD cameras except for an investigation of the BVW790 digibeta. All my efforts have gone into getting the best performance from full-spec HD cameras (HDCAM and DVCProHD). Sony have a nasty habit of changing the menu structures from camera to camera, and of using numbers in the menus that don't mean a lot, they're only values in a scale, if you see what I mean. So it's hard to move ideas from one camera to another. Interestingly, Panasonic cameras are exactly the opposite, their HD cameras all have the same menu structure, the numbers make sense in colour science, and you can carry them from one camera to another (e.g. settings for Varicam work well in the HDX400 ans SDX900, it's nice SD brother).

There are prefered settings that the BBC use, but I didn't derive them, they would have come through a little unit called "DV Solutions" at White City. Settings are routinely handed out to anyone using an approved DV camera for BBC use, but getting them out into tyhe wider world is a little harder (i.e. I can't do it). The HD settings are publically available through the BBC R&D website as addenda to my research document http://www.bbc.co.uk/rd/pubs/whp/whp034.shtml, but you still have to0 follow the correct route to get them because they're password protected. Sorry about that.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
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Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

Richard Payne
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Alan Roberts wrote:
However, IIRC, the HC1 has the IR trick for shooting in the dark, but I think it's missing from the A1.
QUOTE]

The A1E has got the IR Nightshot - but it looses the flash for stills because thats where the cold shoe is mounted for the XLR unit.

cstv
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any opinions on how well the HC1 would fit as a replacement for a TRV900? i friend of mine recently dropped her's in the pond and insurance company are offering HC1 as a replacement. Looking at sony's range these days i can see their point, but i just think the HC1 is a bit consumery when the TRV900 wasn't so much. any thoughts?

mark.

Alan Roberts
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Probably right on both counts, the HC1's a bit consumery and it's a "fair price" replacement for a 900.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

tom hardwick
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cstv
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i thought as much. thanks Alan.

Richard Payne
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cstv wrote:
any opinions on how well the HC1 would fit as a replacement for a TRV900? i friend of mine recently dropped her's in the pond and insurance company are offering HC1 as a replacement. Looking at sony's range these days i can see their point, but i just think the HC1 is a bit consumery when the TRV900 wasn't so much. any thoughts?

mark.

I replaced my TRV950 with the HC1 and for a while wasn't sure Ide done the right thing but after a few trips and 5 or 6 tapes I am now happy.

The Camera comes with only composite out as default and its not a good quality output, £15 got me a propriatory lead with Y/C as well and thats helped alot. Also narked that I can't use my MKE300 as 'special Sony' hotshoe is fitted, but my Sennheiser turned out to be broken anyway and a £80 Sony mic is passable for the holiday and baby stuff I do these days.

On a recent trip to Sicily I got some beach footage that looks Digibeta in SD downconversion on my 28inch Sony telly. Also it is proper 16:9 which is nice.

infocus
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cstv wrote:
any opinions on how well the HC1 would fit as a replacement for a TRV900? i friend of mine recently dropped her's in the pond and insurance company are offering HC1 as a replacement.

Will post more fully when I get back from the pond.

infocus
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HallmarkProductions wrote:
Alan - as I see it, the Z1 is about 2 stops slower than my DSR500 and 570, ..........

I think that may be generous to the Z1. I've had the opportunity to compare a PD150 to a DSR500 in low light, and at first sight they both just made exposure on my test scene. Looking on a decent monitor, it was very obvious that the PD150 had only achieved this by SIGNIFICANTLY degrading picture quality, I believe by averaging pixels and frames. To achieve comparable quality it was necessary to increase the light enough to gain at least 2 stops, which is roughly what I'd have predicted via theory.

I'd understood the Z1 was not as sensitive as the PD150, and would therefore expect it to be 3-4 stops down on a DSR500 for the same picture quality.

What I'd like to know is how the A1 looks in an average tungsten lit living room - this seems to be the sort of level that sorts the men cameras from the boys, and is, of course, commonly encountered.

infocus
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I went past a Sony shop today, and got the chance to pop in and see one in the flesh. I could only see the output on it's screen and v/f, so no conclusions about quality, but otherwise what I saw impressed me. For the first time I've seen something which I would consider an up to date replacement for my TRV900. Less impressive was hearing the salesman tell me that single chip cameras were inherently more senstive to light than 3 chip, as in the latter "the light gets spread around the three chips so a lot gets wasted". Errrr, no!

OK, the Z1 may have the technical edge in a few respects, but the HC1 is infinitely more suitable for taking on holiday, and that styling suits a camera of that size and weight in a way it doesn't the Z1. Professionally, I'd actually think the A1 is more suitable for second camera use than a Z1- better in moving vehicles etc, and less obvious for covert type work. Two big applications for the small second camera.

At present the HC1 doesn't have a competitor in the true consumer field, though one wonders what Canon will do. (One can guess, especially after the new XL release.) For the prosumer, the JVC and Canon cameras seem more "serious", which rather leaves the Z1 between stools.

Unicorn
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I'd been thinking the same: if I didn't already have a Z1 I'd have been looking at buying an HC1 to replace my TRV900 instead... the Z1 has a great picture, but is too big to carry around on holiday.

P4-3.06/2GB RAM/2500GB IDE/SATA. Avid Media Composer, Liquid Edition, Premiere 6, Lightwave, Vue 6, eyeon Fusion 5. DV and HDV editing/compositing.

HallmarkProductions
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infocus wrote:
I think that may be generous to the Z1. I've had the opportunity to compare a PD150 to a DSR500 in low light, and at first sight they both just made exposure on my test scene. Looking on a decent monitor, it was very obvious that the PD150 had only achieved this by SIGNIFICANTLY degrading picture quality, I believe by averaging pixels and frames. To achieve comparable quality it was necessary to increase the light enough to gain at least 2 stops, which is roughly what I'd have predicted via theory.

I'd understood the Z1 was not as sensitive as the PD150, and would therefore expect it to be 3-4 stops down on a DSR500 for the same picture quality.

What I'd like to know is how the A1 looks in an average tungsten lit living room - this seems to be the sort of level that sorts the men cameras from the boys, and is, of course, commonly encountered.

I would have to agree with you on that - we were shooting at 5.6 on our Dsrs in a studio lighting environment and the Z1 was having to go right open. The pictures from the Z1 were muddy by comparison to the DSR500, so it was obviously working hard to get an image. I was so disappointed with the Z1 pictures, I thought we had a fault in it. We were using the Z1 in standard definition DVCAM mode on that shoot - not sure if it would have made a difference if we had been shooting HDV ?

Chris
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Alan Roberts
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I don't think the HC1/A1 will have a real competitor mfor a while. Again, Sony have launched into an empty market, the others will take time to respond. I really like the HC1/A1, it's a true consumer camera with lots of nice features, it's small and light and fits the hand like a consumer camera should, and the price is right for that market.

In some ways, the HC1/A1 makes more sense than the FX1/Z1. It has much better film-style capture, and the lens is significantly better (almost too good).

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

tom hardwick
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Is that a serious question Hallmark? '' ... we were using the Z1 in standard definition DVCAM mode on that shoot - not sure if it would have made a difference if we had been shooting HDV ?''

It most certainly would make a difference. Each HDV frame is 3.75x more detailed than a DVCAM frame, and this sure takes away some of the SD 'muddyness'.

tom.

infocus
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I took the comment to mean that the final product had to be SD, and the Z1 pictures would become such eventually anyway, and his question was whether the overall result would have been better if originally recorded HDV and subsequently downconverted.

Given the figures, (and assuming no gain in the DSR500s) I wouldn't have expected the difference to be so marked at that level- none of the cameras had gain in after all. In the test I did, the DSR500 was wide open with (I think) 18db of gain, and whilst the noise was plain to see, the picture was usable for many applications. In the same conditions, the PD150 looked like a very poor cameraphone by comparison, and was most definately NOT usable.

FWIW, I tried to find a fairly dark area of the shop, and the HC1 didn't seem to do as badly as I'd feared. I only had the LCD screen to look at though, which experience has told me can hide a multitude of sins!

Alan Roberts
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You can't judge camera noise on lcd finders or flip-outs, the resolution's too low (effectively low-pass filtering the video and knocking noise) and lag nails noise as well.

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cstv
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Alan Roberts wrote:
You can't judge camera noise on lcd finders or flip-outs, the resolution's too low (effectively low-pass filtering the video and knocking noise) and lag nails noise as well.

but since we'll all be watching video on our phones pretty soon, with their teeny tiny lcd screens, why worry about noise at all? ;)

HallmarkProductions
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Tom - I think you misconstrued my comments, and yes, it was a serious question. Infocus was correct in his interpretation. The final result was obviously going to be SD (otherwise why use the DSRs at all?), 4:3 so the Z1 was used in DVCAM 4:3. I might add that we had only taken delivery of Z1 2 days before the shoot, so had not much time to play. No gain was in any camera.

My question was whether the Z1 would have produced a better result when downconverted to SD 4:3 later if captured at 16:9 HDV - I cannot see how the iris setting would have been altered at capture?

Chris
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infocus
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The 4:3 issue is not important - the DSRs and Z1s are both native 16:9, so using them 4:3 would downgrade them equally. With no gain I wouldn't expect a vast difference in quality between them (though know which I'd prefer to operate!) - I'd expect the quality gap to open up as the light went down further and the Z1 started to require gain whilst the DSR didn't.

Given the cameras you were using, I'd have been tempted to shoot and edit widescreen (protecting 4:3), then produce a cropped 4:3 version at the end. For some extra complication you have a master and rushes that may be of more value in the future (widescreen, if not HD). If the end result was to be on DVD (but for a 4:3 display), much better to produce a widescreen DVD and let the player do the cropping. Quality wise, setting the cameras to 4:3 amounts to the same as cropping in the edit.

Depending on the shoot, all that may be an unnecessary complication, but it's worth thinking of as a general point.

HallmarkProductions
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Totally agree with you re widescreen/cropping 4:3 - in fact, that is what we do now. Like I said, I only had the camera a couple of days, and "if the job was tomorrow", would do it differently. There were a couple of engineers working on the shoot - they know far more about balancing cameras than I do, and they were both really surprised at the differences in pictures off the different cameras. The DSRS were indistinguishable as you might expect- and there was also a JVC camera too ( not sure which model, but it was a mini-DV shoulder mount camera with a detachable lens). The JVC was a pretty good match, but the Z1 was noticeably different as previously described. I phoned a Sony contact, who said that I should expect a minimum 2-stop difference - so thought no more about it at the time - and just got on with the job.
Since the shoot, we have changed the picture settings in the Z1, and happy with the results - but have only been using it outside in the summer - not had a chance to recreate the studio setup. Now with winter coming, we may well get that chance.

Chris
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Alan Roberts
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Mark, if the pictures are going to mobile phones, why start with HD? :D

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tom hardwick
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Agreed. LP VHS is good enough.

cstv
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Alan Roberts wrote:
Mark, if the pictures are going to mobile phones, why start with HD? :D

that's not what you've said before! something along the lines of improved contrast... IIRC...

Alan Roberts
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Ah, but improved contrast isn't a function of shooting in HD, but of shooting in a camera that has sufficient flexibility for me to tweak it, only the big/heavy pro stuff qualifies for that (HDW Sony, HDC/HDX Panasonic, plus the studio stuff) and then only because the "normal" setup doesn't fully exploit what the sensors can do. Interestingly, I can do tis trick on a digibeta 790 and get very similar results, because it's a top-end camera. The smaller cameras (e.g. HC1/A1) are already using all but one stop of the exposure range, so there's little to do.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
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cstv
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so why don't the "pro" branches of the manufacturers bother setting up cameras to take advantage of a greater range of exposure? is there some dissadvantage of doing so?

mark.

StevenBagley
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cstv wrote:
so why don't the "pro" branches of the manufacturers bother setting up cameras to take advantage of a greater range of exposure? is there some dissadvantage of doing so?

I believe the cameras come set up for ENG usage, i.e. you can take the camera out the box stick a tape in and record stuff and then pass it straight to air -- although probably looking somewhat like American basketball game coverage :)

After they are tweaked they become much more like a digital film stock in that the pictures need to be graded to look good on screen, since the camera and tape format are being used to record as much scene information as possible. The colourist then takes these images (which are usually slightly washed out and lifeless looking) and grades them to look beautiful.

In other words, the cameras come set up for one type of job where there isn't usually an Alan (for want of a better term) to set them up, compared to drama (or similar) when they usual do have time to employ an Alan to set it up properly.

Steven

Neon Films
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A1E vs. PD150

Hi there,

Thanks for the info guys. I know you've said that the PD170 would perform better in low light than the A1E, but what about the PD150? I believe one of the newer features of the PD170 was that it performed better in low light.

So if the A1E was no worse than the PD150 then I would be very tempted. Unfortunately I haven't been able to an A1E in the flesh yet.

Mark

Mark Smith

Leeds Media Services
Video Production in Leeds and Yorkshire

Alan Roberts
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Steven, you're 100% spot on there. Cameras are made so that they work like video cameras (which they are) straight out of the box. What I do is explore each camera in detail, measuring what it can do, and then devising a set of settings that, in my opionion, best uses that. That takes serious lab work. It's nothing that the manufacturers couldn't do, indeed some of them are starting to do it (e.g. Panasonic Varicam, Sony HDW750 both have adopted some of my ideas, can't think why), but you need to use these techniques with care, because they break the normal useage rules for cameras. I do it for effect, so that poeple who want to make pictures with a specific look can do so with ease. I do it to eliminate variables from their operation, to avoid them having to dive into the camera and tweak it for each shot. The results are pictures that look like neg film, exposed, developed, telecined with a 1-light pass, all in the camera. That seems to be what they want for drama, documentary, even for serial light entertainment (e.g. Last Of The Summer Wine, I'm in the first episode of the next series as an extra :)).

It would be foolish to make all cameras work like that, it's not right for sport (well, it can be, but that's another story), music or news. In those, you want a straightforward setup that obeys the standard rules. For music, there's a Vision Supervisor tweaking controls in real time, he's doing the job of the colour grader in drama, so he tweaks it to get what's wanted. That's fine, look at the Proms series to see how that works. Same in most sport. These are shoots that are either live or "as live", so there's no possibility of grading, pictures have to be right as they go onto tape or broadcast. News is the exception, time's the problem there, never any of it to set up the camera, it must work first time in a predictable way.

Semi-pro and consumer cameras have no such luxury as flexibility. That's right, because you want to take it out of the box and use it, you don't want to have to work out which setup to use. The fly in the ointment is the bridging camera, high-end consumer, low-end pro, where the designer puts in some of the flexibility but never enough for me.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
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Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

Richard Payne
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Neon Films wrote:
Hi there,

Thanks for the info guys. I know you've said that the PD170 would perform better in low light than the A1E, but what about the PD150? I believe one of the newer features of the PD170 was that it performed better in low light.

So if the A1E was no worse than the PD150 then I would be very tempted. Unfortunately I haven't been able to an A1E in the flesh yet.

Mark

The A1E will not be as good in low light as a PD150, but I think it will be as good as a PDX10.

tom hardwick
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Sony rated the PD150 as a 2 lux camera and the PD170 as a 1 lux. There didn't appear to be any changes made to the lens or chip block assembly, so we all reckoned the 1 lux rating came from cleaner image processing more than anything else.

tom.

infocus
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It can't be emphasized too much how all these lux figures need to be taken with great caution in the consumer world. Unlike pro cameras, where specs have to be quoted relative to certain fixed criteria, no such guarantees exist for consumer cameras, and hence manufacturers try to outdo each other with ways to make their figures look better.

Equally, in this market, performance compromises are made that wouldn't be tolerated in pro cameras, or at least would be well flagged if they were made - "you are putting in hyper-gain". On the face of it, for the test I described earlier, the PD150 had equal lowlight performance to a DSR500 - both produced a exposed picture (just) in the same lighting - and on a small LCD monitor both looked OK. Compare them on a decent monitor though and the latter was just acceptable, the PD150 appalling.

All I can suggest is to try the camera desired under the worst envisaged conditions, then see the result on a good monitor. If it looks OK, then it should be OK for your purposes. It is gratifying to see these sorts of questions being asked nowadays, however, with users looking beyond just how cameras A and B compare under ideal conditions.

Interesting times, when a camera costing about £1500 can give results under good conditions, with suitable subjects, many times better than most broadcast cameras - whilst at the same time be so outperformed by them under more trying conditions. Given a suitable route to the right display, of course.

Neon Films
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Just had a look at one

I've just had a quick play with the A1E. They are small, probably too small for me as I get paid to film stuff and it doesn't look professional enough. I don't like the fact that most functions have to be set through the menu (such as white balance). The other thing I dodn't like (although I might just have missed this) there doesn't seem to be any gain control, which is not good if they aren't great in low light.

I think for my purposes I'm going to have to save up for a Z1.

Mark Smith

Leeds Media Services
Video Production in Leeds and Yorkshire

Alan Roberts
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From my look at it a while ago, I'm pretty sure that there is a gain control buried somewhere in the menus. Keep digging.

To be fair to it, the HC1/A1 is aimed at the consumer end rather than the semi-pro end, that's for the FX1/Z1.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

noddydog
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I have the task of buying our church a reasonable prosumer (or high end consumer) camera for church projects. Their budget is approx £1500. I was thinking of a VX2100 since I am giving them training on a PD170. They don't really need timecode since projects are small and the XLR issue can be overcome with straight cross over cable (I assume). However I was reading this thread and wondered if the A1 would be a better option? On the upside seems pretty future proof with a native widescreen chip and HDV. However it's not 3 chip and from what I'm read won't perform as well in low light. Any thoughts on this or an alternative? Maybe a Panasonic AGDVC30E or AG-DVC15.

doolahroak
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noddydog wrote:
Any thoughts on this or an alternative? Maybe a Panasonic AGDVC30E or AG-DVC15.

Sorry to be opportunistic, but if you do go with a AG-DVC15 I have one that is going begging. Wouldn't cost any more than half your budget.

It is a pretty decent camera. I'm using a DVX100 now so I dont have much use for it.

Sorry if this post is out of order.

Cheers for now

infocus
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Ignoring High Definition, the HC1/A1 has on it's side being a proper widescreen camera, so even in Sd mode is more future proofed there. Hand held, it's of a size and weight to not strain your wrist - I'd happily take one on holiday, which I'd be less keen to do with a VX2100. If it will spend much of it's life on a tripod, that's not such an issue.

Don't make too much of the low light issue - it may not be as good as the PD170, but then that's nowhere near as good as a pro camera - somewhere you have to draw the line. May be worth seeing if you can borrow one, try it in the conditions it's most likely to be used, and view the results on a decent monitor. Don't draw any quality conclusions from the LCD screen!

noddydog
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doolahroak wrote:
Sorry to be opportunistic, but if you do go with a AG-DVC15 I have one that is going begging. Wouldn't cost any more than half your budget.

It is a pretty decent camera. I'm using a DVX100 now so I dont have much use for it.

Sorry if this post is out of order.

Cheers for now

Thanks for the offer, but I think they will want something new. Nothing personal, I think it's more of a psychological issue (I know there's not many new one's about). But thanks anyway.

tom hardwick
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Noddydog, you talk of ''Church projects'' and these could amount to outings in the sunshine where hand-held bright-light conditions prevail. The A1 would be my camera of choice in these conditions because of its 16:9 and future-proofing, as you say.

But the video work you have in mind might amount to making archive recordings of sermons from dimly lit pulpits, and in these conditions a VX2100 would be my camera of choice at that price point. Actually it'll be a slightly higher price as you'll need a radio mic such as a Samson, plus tripod and so on.

Infocus is correct that ideally you should try the intended camera in the conditions it'll be working in before you buy. You may need the longer zoom of the Panasonic but you may not like it's gain-up mode much. If you can give a more detailed description of the uses to which the camera will bve put, that might help the recommendations more.

toim.

noddydog
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I would say about 10% of the projects will be in dimly lit conditions (baptisms, weddings, etc). We don't have any plans to record sermons (too much head wear). Our church has quite a few arty/creative people in it, plus a few of us with technical experience. Most of the projects (80%) will be dramatised pieces for showing in church (over a 4:3 projector) plus some promotional projects (produced to a higher standard) for distribution outside the church via DVD. I also suspect that eventually some of the congregation will want to go on and make documentary style programmes for Christian TV networks. Whilst I expect everyone will start off by being careful with the camera I would prefer to get something built to last. I've tried to get them to consider a bigger budget so a PD170 or Z1 was feasible, but they just don't have the spare cash right now. Re the rest of the kit they have just enough for an inexpensive tripod (£150 for a cheap prosumer Manfrotto) and the church already has several radio mics for general service use. Whatever they need now and again (lights, rifle mic, reflectors, UWP-C1, etc) I will lend them. Since there are two of us who work in TV (Director and Producer) the grand plan is to train up a small group of people over the coming months and years so that they will produce reasonably good standard videos that will not look too shabby wherever aired. Sorry to go into so much detail (hopefully not off topic) but at least you have a good idea of exactly how the camera will be used.

infocus
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noddydog wrote:
Most of the projects (80%) will be dramatised pieces for showing in church (over a 4:3 projector) plus some promotional projects (produced to a higher standard) for distribution outside the church via DVD.

Not off topic - discussion of any camera becomes more relevant knowing it's application. Horses for courses is a very relevant phrase! The latter half of the sentence above argues strongly to me for 16:9 and hence the A1, and for the dramatised pieces they may well be most suitably shot 16:9 protected 4:3 - just use the centre portion for display, having made allowance whilst shooting.

The baptisms/weddings argue more strongly for the more sensitive camera, but if they only represent 10% of total usage...... Used SD the camera should regain some of the sensitivity it loses in HD mode, but again, there's no substitute for a practical test. Of course, a bit of additional extra church lighting could be helpful......

tom hardwick
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That's interesting Infocus - you saying that using the camera in the SD mode makes it more sensitive than using it in the HD mode. I've never heard that said before, so does this come from personal experience testing?

I too agree that the 16:9 mode of the A1 will look a lot better for most people who receive the DVD of the 'arty projects' but the 'dimly lit conditions' and the '4:3 projection of 80%' make the VX2100 sound surprisingly versatile and worthy of consideration.

Thing is the VX will happily take everything in its stride at that price point, from dim interiors to 16:9 picnics. My bet is it'll shoot 16:9 in the gloom and look a lot better than the native 16:9 A1 in the same gloom, but so it should (it's dearer) but of course I'm guessing here. Infocus' advice still holds good - if possible get both for test.

tom.

infocus
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tom hardwick wrote:
That's interesting Infocus - you saying that using the camera in the SD mode makes it more sensitive than using it in the HD mode. I've never heard that said before, so does this come from personal experience testing?

I can't find the best reference I'm thinking of, but if you look at http://forums.dvdoctor.net/showthread.php?t=35738&page=3 , Mr Roberts states ".....it means that an HD camera should be able to produce low-noise performance not worse than an equivalent SD camera if it shoots SD or its HD output is converted to SD before any other processing." The downconversion can be likened to low pass filtering. No personal experience directly, but the same principle holds true for looking at DV material on a cameras own (much lower than DV res) screen. I've tried a PD150 in low light, and thought it's output fine by reference to the cameras LCD, on a high quality monitor it was dreadful - if you like, the display was "downconverting" the SD of the camera.

Quote:
I too agree that the 16:9 mode of the A1 will look a lot better for most people who receive the DVD of the 'arty projects' but the 'dimly lit conditions' and the '4:3 projection of 80%' make the VX2100 sound surprisingly versatile and worthy of consideration.

There is a very big difference between cropping a 16:9 original to form a 4:3 version, and cropping a 4:3 original to form a 16:9 version. In the first case you're getting rid of the horizontal sidebars, which may lead to some loss of horizontal resolution, but in the latter case the actual line structure is being altered. In a progressive world it may be as broad as it's long, but that's not the case here, and for PAL (or 576i) it's my belief that it is far more satisfactory to form the 4:3 version from the 16:9. Hence, if both formats are important (which sounds the case here) a true 16:9 camera has a big advantage.

Regarding DVDs, a 16:9 is a far better option, far more universal, especially since the vast majority of commercial pressings are like this. On a widescreen display, ideal, on a 4:3 the player should be set up to letterbox or crop - as it will be doing when feature films are played. The only thing to remember is the 4:3 crop when shooting - "shoot and protect" - don't have anything vital in the side areas. This is exactly what happens for broadcast in the UK nowadays, though normally for a 14:9 shoot and protect.

noddydog
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A couple of us are going down Tottenham Court Road (long road in London with electronic wholesalers on it) next week to try the VX2100 and hopefully the A1 if anyone has it. My only concern is that a few tests in a shop with a sales assistant looking over your shoulder is never enough. Does anyone on here have an A1 yet, and if so what are your impressions having lived with it for a while?

tom hardwick
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Better check the 2100 is still alive. Last I heard dealers didn't have any, signaling its demise.

PaulD
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Hi
There are both (at least the boxes) on show in TCRd windows as of this morning.

Alan Roberts
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Just one point, Tottenham Court Road (and Edgeware Road) shops are all retail, not wholesale. But you should be able to find an A1. Don't forget "Hi-Way" in Edgeware Road, they're far more knowledgable and often cheaper, and usually carry a bigger stock range than most of the TCR shops, in my limited experience.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

noddydog
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A few posts back I mentioned that I was considering the Panasonic AGDVC30E, mainly because it falls within the £1500 budget. Having never laid hands on one is it in the same ball park as the VX2100 and the A1? I can't find much in way of reviews for it around the Net. Are there any other models I should be considering? I was interested in the XM2 until I read this thread;

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?threadid=21441

tom hardwick
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I don't think Panasonic would put the DVC30 in the same class as the VX2100, which is why they charge £150 less for it. It has more zoom but a slower lens and is less good in the dark. Good big side-screen and optional XLR adapter (like the XM2), but auto, internal ND filtration mark it out as an amateur's cam, along with the apparent lack of aperture and shutter and gain displays in the v'finder and no zoom ring or info-lithiums.

I don't think you should dismiss the XM2 (much better than the XM1 BTW) on the basis of one thread. It's a nice camera (still not in the VX class) and is a sincere and direct competitor for the DVC30.

It's fun choosing a camera, isn't it? Good thing is that there are no bad ones out there. They all have their niggly faults and some have big niggly faults. I'd rate bottom loading as the daftest design decision going, but when you combine that with the A1's undoubted excellence, you can begin to forgive it.

tom.

noddydog
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Thanks, Tom. It is kinda fun. Only problem is that if I get it wrong quite a few people will be disappointed in the long run.

Right now I'm leaning towards the VX2100 (being a PD170 owner myself). That might change when I have a play with the A1 though.

Anyway I'm currently trying to get the best deal without having to settle for a grey import. The best price for a VX so far is £1650 from a Net box pusher who guarantees UK stock.

I will be visiting TCR next Tuesday, but in the past they haven't been as competitive as the Net only guys.

I've tried H Prestons and TNP, but they won't match that VX price. So can anyone suggest some other half decent suppliers (preferably video/broadcasting orientated) that are generally keen on pricing?

noddydog
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Had a short play with the A1 today. I say short since the retailer wouldn't let me record anything onto tape. So I really wasn't able to see what the quality of the playback was like. However once I actually handled it I quickly realised it wasn't appropriate for our church. It feels rather fragile (being so small) and the buttons and rockers are very small making it difficult to get accurate adjustments. Also the touch screen is a worry, I don't think it will stand up to a couple+ years of different users poking it. All in all I personally think they should go for the VX2100. However somebody with me who is also responsible for making the final decision spotted a PDX10 and I think they were rather impressed by its widescreen chip and price. However I seem to remember reading that the PDX10 is not so good in low light conditions + has issues with vertical smearing at the other end. Anyone have any advice re the PDX10 v VX2100?

MattDavis
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noddydog wrote:
Anyone have any advice re the PDX10 v VX2100?

As a PDX-10 and PD150 owner, I had to have a PDX-10 to shoot 16:9 and for when I didn't want to stand out. The smearing hasn't bothered any of my productions, and the low-light capabilities will cope with stage lighting, but it begins to struggle at 'dim domestic lighting'. In emergencies, one can switch to 25fps 'progressive' shutter at a slight loss of resolution.

OTOH, You can buy a £500 anamorphic adaptor for the VX2100, but then it's a lot of extra cash...

Matt Davis - Director/Editor - Write, shoot, edit, publish - website & Blog
2x EX1R, FS100 & FS700 into FCPX & CS6

tom hardwick
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Having tested the PDX10 for Computer Video magazine I do indeed have strong views on the camera. It really is a camera of two halves, great if you're happy shooting in auto and good light, less good when using manual because of the lack of v'finder information, CCD smear and low light feebleness.

Owners who have moved onto the A1 are over the moon, that's for sure.

tom.

doolahroak
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noddydog wrote:
A few posts back I mentioned that I was considering the Panasonic AGDVC30E, mainly because it falls within the £1500 budget. Having never laid hands on one is it in the same ball park as the VX2100 and the A1? I can't find much in way of reviews for it around the Net. Are there any other models I should be considering? I was interested in the XM2 until I read this thread;

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?threadid=21441

Hi there

The only thing I really know about the DVC30 is that has 1/4" chips as opposed to 1/3". Knock on would be poorer low light for certain. Although it does 'see in the dark' in infa red mode (or similar). On the basis of the CCD size I would probably sidestep it.

noddydog
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OK, they have pretty much decided that they will go for the VX2100. Before they go ahead and spend their money I just want to ask two more questions.

1) Since the VX2100 does not write timecode what are the negative implications of this?

2) Has anyone used a VX2100 with Premiere Pro 1.5 and had any problems?

Many Thanks,

Nigel.

Mad_mardy
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noddydog wrote:
OK, they have pretty much decided that they will go for the VX2100. Before they go ahead and spend their money I just want to ask two more questions.

1) Since the VX2100 does not write timecode what are the negative implications of this?

It does write timecode but the timecode is not presetable ie it will either start from zero
if no timecode is detected on the tape or it will regen from original timecode if it is present.
the implications of this are nothing really it just means all brand new tapes will start from a timecode of 00:00:00:00
in an ideal world you could preset timecodes ie tape 1 would be 01:00:00:00
tape 2 02:00:00:00 etc or you could set time of day for example shooting at 6 o clock at night could be set to 18:00:00:00 but to be honest there is no real need for this at all

Quote:
2) Has anyone used a VX2100 with Premiere Pro 1.5 and had any problems?

No i haven't but i'd doubt there would be any problem

System 1: AMD X6 2.8, M4A79 Deluxe, 4GB DDR2, ATI HD4870 1GB DDR 3, 2TB total drive space, Matrox RTX 2, Premiere Pro CS4

System 2: AMD X2 5600, M2NPV-VM, 2GB DDR2, Geforce 8600GT 256 DDR 3, 450GB Total drive space, RTX100 with Premiere Pro 2

Camera's: JVC HD200, JVC HD101, 2X Sony HC62

tom hardwick
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Can you still buy the VX2100 Nigel?

infocus
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tom hardwick wrote:
Can you still buy the VX2100 Nigel?

Creative video still seem to list it - http://www.creativevideo.co.uk/dv_cam_dvcam_hdv_broadcast_professional_camcorders-1-2.htm - bottom of page. I accept the reservations about the HC1 for your use, but the latter does seem to be not too much more than HALF the price of the VX2100. Which would probably make it a far easier decision if only you was likely to operate it!

noddydog
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I have a price of £1650 from a respectable Internet box pusher or about £1500 if I get a new VX2100 from an established trader on Ebay. Obviously there are warranty implications with both, however the Internet trader does specify it is UK stock.

I take your point about the HC1, but I think they were put off by the size of the A1 so the HC1 wouldn't be an alternative for them.

noddydog
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Hi guys,

I have been offered a PD170 with 90 drum hours, and two batteries for £1468.75 Although I own a PD170 myself I am relatively new to the prosumer market. My question is what sort of drum hours will a PD170 reach before it starts incurring problems and cost?

tom hardwick
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Nobody can say for certain of course, but as you already have a PD170 you can check its drum hours and see what you think, how they compare. 90 hours is not a lot in my view as the VX/PD are tough machines with an enviable reliability record.

The £1470 price is not bad (hope the batteries are 960s). But from here on in the 170 will be getting cheaper as folk swap them out for the 16:9 Z1, but even so, take a real good look at the 170 before parting with the money.

Digital camcorders are like lit candles. They burn brightly, the last hour being as bright at the first. The thing is we don't know how tall the candle is or how much longer it has to burn.

tom.

Alan Roberts
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Splendid analogy, Tom.

90 hours is very little, but tape transport problems can happen at any time and for lots of reasons.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

noddydog
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They've decided to buy the PD-170 on a sale or return basis (so we can have a good look at it before finally commiting). Yes it does come with two 960's + an extra battery charger as well as the standard in camera one. It also comes with a case and six month dealer warranty. Hopefully we won't need it.

Thanks to everyone who has helped me/us come to this decision. You have all been most helpful.

filmsite
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hvr-a1e to do extreme sports movies

Has anyone tried using the hvr-a1e to film action-sports?
And what are your experiences with it?
How would this camera do if I should do some slowmotion sequences?
Will the interlacing be a problem?

tom hardwick
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I haven't used the HiDef A1 so you may care to disregard the advice I give to standard definition shooters, and that is to shoot in the default 1/50th sec shutter speed mode - that way you get the smoothest slow motion when you interpolate the fields on the timeline.

Far from being a problem, the interlaced fields do give the computer more to work with, but of course the slow motion is only ever going to give half the vertical resolution of normal speed footage.

tom.

Alan Roberts
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Tom, I hate to do this, but I think you're wrong on this one. Interlace gives smooth motion, and the shutter should be left at 1/50 for best performance, but.....

If the shot you record is going to be used only at full speed, then use 1/50 shutter for best motion portrayal (no jerkiness).

If the shot you record is going to be used only for slomo, then use a shorter shutter, say 1/100 or 1/250. This will make each image (field) sharper in the direction of image motion (usually horizontal), so you'll get staccato motion. The general rule is that the shutter speed should be 1/50 after the slowing down; so if you know you're going to show footage at 50% real speed, use 1/100; to show at 25% real speed, use 1/200; and so on. This leaves you with the impression that the camera was working correctly, but there aren't enough images from the original scene, hence the staccato appearance.

If you don't know how you're going to use the shot, you're on your own (this is called "Planning Ahead" and is a mark of professional production :))

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

Richard Payne
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Yep Slow motion is very good with 1080i.
Much less so with 720 25p.

tom hardwick
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Thanks for your input Alan. I based my reply on my own experience, and that is this: At 1/50th sec my camera records (very nearly) everything that happens in front of it. If you wave your hand quickly in front of the lens and replay that footage a frame at a time, frame 2 has a blurred hand that carries on where the hand blur in frame 1 ended and frame 3 carries on where frame 2 ended, and so on.

This motion blur (either camera or subject) is field related, and the comb effect shows that the A and B fields of any given frame neatly butt together. So A/B, A/B, A/B shows everything that happened in front of your lens.

I then shot my moving hand at a higher shutter speed, and immediately my normal replay took on a staccato look as each field and frame now didn't seamlessly match with the previous and post ~ as was to be expected. When I put this into the Canopus Speed Controller the information that occurred 'when the shutter was closed (for half the available time even at a slow 1/100th sec) has not now been recorded. Speed Controller now has to make even wilder guesses I find, and because of this the resultant slo-mo seems much jerkier to my eyes.

But every frame is sharper, I'll grant you that. Not that the resolution is higher, just that camera shake continues to spoil camcorder footage just as it spoils still camera frames.

But I like the theory you propose, and I've not heard of it before. Keep arguing with me.

tom.

SimonMW
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No Tom, the method you are (or your software is using) to slow the footage down must be working wrongly.

Using the higher shutter speed ensures that faster moving objects are kept sharper. Then for the smooth slow motion the NLE should take each field and line double it. So instead of a single frame consisting of field 1 and field 2, it should now be field 1 line doubled, followed by field 2 line doubled and then played back at 25fps progressive. This will give slow motion footage that looks as smooth as 50fps progressive shot stuff. Using the 1/100 shutter is essential for sharp images when it is converted to slow motion. A 1/100 shutter at (true) 50fps is the same as a 180 degree shutter at that framerate on a film camera. By keeping the camera at 1/50 shutter if you intend slow motion moving objects will be blurred in the same way as using a 1/25 shutter when shooting 25fps.

Alan will be able to give a much better description (its easier to show on a timeline than to explain in writing!)

However the problem with this method is that you lose definition, and you can see line twittering where the alternate fields have been line doubled. One way around this is to use a program such as DVfilmmaker which will use smart deinterlacing and can be set to output the video with each individual frame consisting of one deinterlaced field (ie 50fps progressive). When played back on a 25fps timeline you get smooth slow motion. Algolith can also be made to do this too.

The big problem with this method is if you wanted to speed ramp. If you wanted to take something at normal speed and then suddenly have it slow down mid-shot you would have to use a 1/100 etc shutter for the whole shot. If your camera has an easy way to switch between 1/50 and 1/100 shutter speeds you might be able to change the shutter where you want the speed change points to be. Although even if you could do this you'd have to match the exposure difference in post.

video = pain in the backside slow motion! Unless you own a Varicam of course (and the forthcoming HVX200).

Alan Roberts
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Tom, what I described is a "rule of thumb" we derived in R&D yonks ago. It's not necessarily followed by practitioners (i.e. sports broadcasters), but the science is right. Of course, you're right about what gets captured, but the practitioners will generally make it up as they go along. For example, cricket these days uses very short shutters so that fields are all sharp. Real-time pictures look very staccato, but slomo looks ok(ish).

All this gets a bit academic (what did you expect from me?), particularly now that there are proper slomo cameras in general use (even at HD).

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

infocus
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SimonMW wrote:
video = pain in the backside slow motion! Unless you own a Varicam of course (and the forthcoming HVX200).

The Varicam solves the problem only if your final end product is 24p though, doesn't it? I'd understood it always operated at 60fps, then chose which frames to drop/use/duplicate depending on the desired speeding up/slowing down? Fine in 60Hz countries when a "film flicker" is wanted anyway, but if you are doing sport surely it's back to square one?

Am I right in thinking that some of the HDV cameras have a 576p/50 mode? If the end result is desired to be SD, that would surely help with slo-mo. Becoming a sort of "Varicam in post"?

(I'm thinking about the shutter comments...... ie not sure! )

Alan Roberts
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Hold it right there, I detect a misapprehension :)

Varicam (the Panasonic AJ-HDC27F) is a curious beast. It developed from the HDC27, a camcorder built for the expected 720p market in the US. For some reason (;)) it didn't sell well, so they were left with a big investment in 720p and few customers. The breakthrough came when Mr Takaguchi, who leads the team in Japan, decided to take matters into his own hands. He knew that users were asking for "off-speed" shooting, so set to work. He took the breathtakingly simple approach of running the camera at variable speed while leaving the tape running at constant speed.

To compare things, the HDCAM recorders vary the tape speed with frame rate, that's why a 40 minute tape actually lasts 48 minutes if you run it at 25fps instead of 30. DVCProHD tape, in the Varicam always runs at 60 frames/second (all right, there's a 59.94 option, but let's not get picky). So they didn't have to develope a variable speed tape mechanism and codec.

Varicam is wasteful of tape. Not a huge issue, but significant. What it does is ,to run the tape at conatsnt speed while the camera runs asynchronously at other speeds. If you set the camera to run at 60, then there's no disparity, but set it to 30fps and you get two identical copies of each frame on tape. Set it to 24 and you get 3 copies of one frame then 2 of the next (3:2 pull-down, familiar to any NTSC user). Set it to 4fps and you get 15 copies of each frame. It does all this seamlessly, the camera delivers frames into a frame store at camera speed, the tape system reads it at tape speed.

Now the clever bit. Each time a "new" frame is put to tape, it's flagged to say it's new. On replay through the magic box called "frame rate changer" (frc), all the non-"new" frames are discarded and the "new" frames are output as a 24 or 245fps sequence. So, if you shoot at 25fps, the recording pads with duplicates which the frc thows away, but the viewfinder shows all the frames, dupes and all. So the tape deck and monitoring is all simple. Some NLEs can also do the "new" frame extraction on capture so you don't need the frc. Shooting with a Varicam takes some getting used to, it's the one camera I always have difficulty with when advising new crews.

The HVX200 is slightly different. The camera runs 4-60fps a'la Varicam, but the recording's to P2 so doesn't have the constant-speed constraint of tape. So it records only "new" camera frames, no dupes. Unlike Varicam, it can replay recorded sequences at "nominal" speed, so if you record at 60fps you can play back at 24 or 25 to see what it looks like (to do this in Varicam you have to go through the box or into a compliant NLE).

Of course, you can always shoot Varicam at 60 and use it at 60, to get smooth motion rfor NTSC speed systems, but the vast majority of Varicam use is aimed at shooting for showing at 24 or 25 complete with jerky film-motion. That's what "they" want.

And, yes, some HDV cameras do indeed have 576p/50 modes.

That ok?

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tom hardwick
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Fascinating. Wish we'd started a 'Slow motion, the pros and cons' thread, as I'm sure many others could cont4ribute.

One of the nicest things about the Canopus speed controller is its ability to vary the speed rate within a clip. This ramping really does look sine wave smooth, and it's fascinating to see the individual fields dissolved together just before the shot comes to a complete stop.

Great for the confetti sequence, where a sudden jump to half speed just looks naff in my view. But when it's 100% to 25% to 100% through a sine wave it can be really beautiful.

Of course at times like these you're shooting at 1/50th sec. I have upped it to 1/100th simply because the VX/PD's NDs aren't strong enough, but I know it spoils the slo-mo, so there.

:)

tom.

infocus
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Regarding the Varicam, thanks for the detail, but doesn't that indeed mean that if a 720p/60 end result is wanted (and for sport presumably it would) then a Varicam could indeed give a range of speeded up effects, but the action could not be slowed down?

When used for wildlife, where I believe it has popularity, I assume it's ability to slow-mo must be because the final end product will be "film look" 24p, mustn't it?

I'd expect slow-mo to be a more important production requirement than speeding up, so for shoots where 60p is the desired end result, the Varicam doesn't offer much that any other camera doesn't........ does it?

Alan Roberts
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Yes.

Yes.

Not really, because it always shoots progressive, no interlace option.

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filmsite
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Thanks Guys

Thanks for lots of good tips on how to do good slowmotion shots. As one you said its about planning your shots, and set the shutter speed to 1/100. This sounds like a good idea. I guess the best way to find out this is to try it. Keep posting if you have any opinions on slow motion and if any one has tried it out with the hvr-a1e tell me how it works and what are the best setup!

Thanks again for a great forum!:) :) :)

infocus
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Alan Roberts wrote:
Yes.
Yes.
Not really, .......

Hmmm. I hadn't really thought too much about it before, and I don't quite know if I was expecting magic, but I'm left feeling a bit disappointed about the Varicam.

I can't really see much point in the idea of if (say) shooting 4fps, recording 15 examples of the same frame and a flag - why not just record at 60fps and a flag to say "only use every 15th frame"? Thereby keeping speeding up options (or not) open as long as possible?

I suppose it may have the advantage of enabling each frame to have duration of, say, 1/8th second, and maybe smoother speeded up motion? Then again, is speeding up that often used for it to be very important, when it's always possible to use a "just one frame in x" approach anyway?

Another thought also occurs to me. If we assume a user ALWAYS wants a 24p final product, and realistically most of what gets shot is at normal speed, then their tape usage is 150% higher than it really needs to be. Looked at another way it means that although great effort has presumably gone into devising the technology to record a 100Mb bitstream - 60% of that then normally just gets chucked away!

That's even stranger if, as I believe, each frame is constrained to 960x720 from the 1280x720 square pixel matrix, presumably to save bandwidth. If the whole 100Mb could be devoted to the 24p stream, then couldn't each frame theoretically have about 4.2Mb as opposed to the 1.66Mb it actually has?

Or have I missed something and am talking utter rubbish?

Alan Roberts
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1/100 is fine if you know you're slowing down by 2:1. For other slowdown ratios, the shutter should be 1/(50n) where n is the slowdown ratio. That will give fields that look right, but with gaps.

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infocus
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filmsite wrote:
Has anyone tried using the hvr-a1e to film action-sports?

Filmsite - fascinating though all this theory may be, to come back to earth and topic then you don't state whether you intend using it on a tripod to film the action sports going on round you, or (say) have it strapped to a participant as they take part.

If the latter it has one huge advantage over the Z1, HD100 or HVX200. It's small and lightweight. In that context, far more important than any shutter speed, interlace/progressive or whatever considerations. :) Also cheaper, and therefore slightly more disposable......

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Varicam throws away no options. The point of flagging the new frames is that it's then easy to extract them from the tape. If new framjes weren't flagged, you'd have to tell the NLE about it, and when you've shot at, say, 43fps, how do you ensure that you chose frames that are all unique. The tape wastage is a small price to pay for the flexibility of the system. Shooting at 60 and telling the NLE to use every nth frame won't work because the camera shutter will have been 1/60 or shorter; the principle of the Varicam is that the exposures are right for the camera speed, the simplistic approach of multiplicating frames on tape is wasteful, but very effective.

As far as I can tell, most Varicam usage is either "on-speed" at 24/25 or between 24/25 and 60 for slomo. There is no other video camera in existance that does this. Only the HVX200 competes with it, and we're all waiting for it.

The tape format was developed in resonse to US broadcasters' demands for a p/60 system for sport. Unfortunately, not many units sold, so the Varicam was a way of using the technology without hardware changes (Varicam is a software variant of the 27). Moving to a variable tape transport to maximise tape efficacy, or modifying the compression system to maximise quality were both ruled out at design time. The Varicam was almost garden-shed variant of the 27, produce without any gurantee of a market. That it's so successful is truly remarkable. Not only that, but it mdoes the best "film-look" of all the HD cameras I've ever seen (and that's lots). I can forgive it the quirkiness just for that.

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infocus
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Alan Roberts wrote:
Varicam throws away no options. ............Shooting at 60 and telling the NLE to use every nth frame won't work because the camera shutter will have been 1/60 or shorter; the principle of the Varicam is that the exposures are right for the camera speed, the simplistic approach of multiplicating frames on tape is wasteful, but very effective.

But surely it does throw options away? I appreciate the point about getting the exposures correct for the camera speed, but the penalty is that it's not possible to subsequently say "actually, this might look better slowed down than speeded up" come the edit.

Alan Roberts wrote:
As far as I can tell, most Varicam usage is either "on-speed" at 24/25 or between 24/25 and 60 for slomo. There is no other video camera in existance that does this. Only the HVX200 competes with it, and we're all waiting for it.

I just wonder how much slomo there actually is in real life films? And when there is I suspect it's much more likely to be like Toms examples - varying the speed rate smoothly through a clip - and only really possible to do in post. I do appreciate what you say about shutter speeds etc and slomo, but realistically, who fancies tweaking their HVX200 slomo knob back and forth to coincide with confetti throwing? Call me chicken, but that's something I'd rather tweak in an edit.

Obviously lots of slomo in live sports - but then since you really want 50/60p for the real action that rather rules out the Varicam approach. I understand Sony have just bought out a camera/recorder which works at far higher than 50/60Hz frame rates specifically for live slow motion?

Alan Roberts wrote:
........... it does the best "film-look" of all the HD cameras I've ever seen (and that's lots). I can forgive it the quirkiness just for that.

Fair point. Wouldn't it be nice to combine the best of each camera into one "super camera"......?

Alan Roberts
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Wildlife shooting is almost always off-speed, usually for slomo. When we were setting up Planet Earth, I asked the producer/photographers how much they expected to shoot off-speed, and they almost unanimously told me "at least 90%". That's for small animals and birds, insects etc, where the normal-speed action is too fast to see properly. When I told them that thyey could get up to 60fps with Varicam (for showing at 25, film-style), mots of them should heads sadly and said "it's not enough, we need to go to 120 quite often". That's why super16's still in use.

For below-water, full speed is fine because of the viscosity of water, even small animals can't do very quick things.

So, Varicam, warts and all, has transformed wildlife shooting. The pictures are significantly better than super16 (which is very grainy by comparison) and gives 35mm a run for it's money except on the finest detail (once I've spent days rummaging menus and got the tweaking just right).

Your point about delaying decisions to the edit is valid. But, the wildlife photographers are so experienced in the ways of their prey, and of ways of shooting, that it simply doesn't happen. It's called planning :)

Of course, for us lesser mortals....

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infocus
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Alan Roberts wrote:
Wildlife shooting is almost always off-speed, usually for slomo. When we were setting up Planet Earth, I asked the producer/photographers how much they expected to shoot off-speed, and they almost unanimously told me "at least 90%".

Interesting, though it begs the question of what proportion of total filming wildlife filming represents. I can see the Varicam being the obvious choice for such work, but for most other work.......

Alan Roberts
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It's a niche camera; the only variable speed one, and it does the best film-look. Those are the slots it fits, the fact that it does those well is enough to justify it in my book. I've never said it's the best HD camera, just that it's unique so far.

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tom hardwick
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Why would anyone want the 'film look' this camera imparts, Alan? 98% of the population are going to see it on a 50 Hz interlaced 4:3 CRT, and they're going to want 50i just to keep the movement smooth.

cstv
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now there's a question... so far i've not found anyone who can explain why they would want the "film look" - i don't even see the point when shooting for cinema.

tom hardwick
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I tend to agree; the film look came about through necessity. Film stock costs meant shooting as few frames as possible with a shutter speed that enabled the next frame to be clawed into position with the shutter closed. Then each frame was projected twice to up the flicker frequency to a bare minimum for the audience.

The best film was ever able to do was record half of everything that happened in front of the camera (180 degree shutter) and present that as 'real time'. Why anyone would want to mimic those bare-minimum stacatto standards has always been a surprise to me.

tom.

infocus
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tom hardwick wrote:
Why would anyone want the 'film look' this camera imparts, Alan? 98% of the population are going to see it on a 50 Hz interlaced 4:3 CRT, and they're going to want 50i just to keep the movement smooth.

I think there are two separate points there. To take the second first, I think the 98% you talk about will want interlace (25i rather than 50i, to follow the EBU notation?) to avoid flicker, rather than keep movement smooth. Same as the bladed shutter at the cinema.

When Alan talks of "film look" here, I suspect he refers more to contrast and highlight handling, and other attributes witnin a frame, rather than any temporal matters. But I stand ready for correction...... :)

On this whole subject, did anyone see "Eastenders" a few weeks ago, when the Moons went across to the D-day beaches? We'll gloss over the plot, but at least one episode was a mixture of present day, and longish flashback sequences. The present looked fairly conventional, but the flashbacks were to a completely different style, I hate to say it, but errr, best described as "film look". Part of that was due (I suspect) to a progressive look, but more to lighting, colouration...... each frame just "looking" like a film frame.

Whatever, I thought those sequences very high quality, and if that's 25p I'm quite happy with it. Anybody know anything more about them (the "Eastenders" inserts, specifically) technically? If I was really nit picking, a problem was that they were so good..... aesthetically I'd expect a "flashback" to be LOWER quality than present day. As you get with archive used within a documentary.

cstv
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sorry, yes. i was refering to 24p as being "film look", ingoring the other factors which are IMHO much more important.

but Tom's right, 24p isn't very nice - give me 60p any day of the week!

and i agree about the eastenders flashbacks. i saw the episode by chance and stayed to watch the whole lot because of the style that infocus mentioned. i was very good quality and i liked that. it was certainly preferable to the OTT effects normally used to denote flashback.

presumably the 'enders crew had some budget left to use up... ;)

Alan Roberts
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OK, let's sort this out.

The "film-look" that so many programme-makers want is, essentially, that of repeated information, the jerky-motion look. That's actually what they want. The reason I'm always given, when the shoot is for drama, documentary, light entertainment is that it "distances the viewer from the action". That means, they don't want it to look too real, television is regarded as being "too real" for these genres. Quite why they think this is beyond me, but in the 18 months I've been advising as a consultant, plus the 4 years or so I did it as an employee, not one single such production has asked for an interlaced shoot, everybody wants "film-look" with jerky motion. Only serious music goes for interlace (Proms, opera, ballet, rock concerts want jerky motion). Every time, I explain the differences, and every time, they say they want the jerky motion.

The film-look that I impart on amenable cameras does this jerky motion well enough, but I breath heavily on lots of controls to get a long contrast curve and an inverted mtf curve that matches a median film stock. So, I get the cameras to shoot pictures looking like they came from a modern, very clean, neg film stock. That's what the programme-makers want once they've seen how good it is, so the kit has to be able to do it.

Now, if we're saying that we don't like the jerky motion, but like the rest of it, I'll join in as well. I don't like the jerky motion of film, it's an artefact brought about by a shortcoming of the film process, the repetition of frames in the projector, it's a failing, not a feature. But, the people who make programmes either can't see it, or can see it and don't think it's a problem, or can see it and want it for aesthetic reasons. I've tried talking some out of it, but I always get the same response, "it gives the programme the look we want". They pay me, so I do it.

If we really don't like it, then we should raise hell over it. For years now, the BBC's shot at i/25 (i.e. 50 Hz interlaced) using SD cameras (often digibetas) and treated the footage with a S&W Arc to get the film look motion, but they could never get the rest of it (they could have done had they asked me, but that's anotyher story). Andy Quested once quipped "we could fill two more channels with the fields we throw away", and I believe him. There's no point in raising hell here though, the place to do it is in the post-bags at the BBC/ITV/Ch4/Ch5 etc either by post or phone. Complain if you don't like it, otherwise you have to accept it as it is. But, given my track record in this, I don't hold out much hope of getting a conversion.

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SimonMW
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I think the 'distancing' thing is valid. There is a certain 'naffness' to the interlaced look, although I suppose the fact that programmes such as Casualty and Holby City are lit very flatly with a very long depth of field doesn't help.

There doesn't seem to be much experimentation with various looks with interlaced programming. For example it would be interesting to see what Bleak House would look like with the same type of picture grading and shooting style, but with 50i instead of 25p.

Alan Roberts
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Thank you, Simon, that's exactly my line. "I can give smooth motion but with the contrast and colouring of film" is what I tell 'em all when I start, but they always want the jerky motion as well. We once shot a few rolls of 35mm movie at 50fps, when were first setting up HD in R&D, around 1987. Showing it at 50, it had the smooth, fluid motion of video with the cintrast of film. It looked wonderfulo, but nobody believed it was film. More recently, the Maxivision48 system in California shoots 35mm 3-perf at 48 and shows it at 48, same conclusions. It seems that the only thing that says "this is drama, it's not that dreadful upstart thing, video" is to repeat frame information to get jerky motion. It doesn't really matter whether it's interlaced or not, it's the repeated information they actually want.

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SimonMW
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It is incredible just how jerky 25p is. I recently shot some footage of waterfalls and just for a test I switched the camera between interlaced mode and progressive. After watching interlaced scan for a minute or so when the camera was switched to progressive it did look like a really bad special effect. The eye gets used to it again after a few seconds though.

But it is very ironic actually how jerky motion is associated with high quality and smooth motion is associated with gameshows etc in broascast circles. Perhaps if the distinction is needed between drama and news etc they should phase a change over whereby the news is shot in progressive scan and high end drama is shot with smooth motion!

Something else I found rather interesting was when I watched that show that mocks news broadcasts the other day (I can't remember what it is called). Anyway, their US news segment is shot progressively for some reason.

That said I am guilty of shooting progressive most of the time. However I would stop immediately if Casualty and The Bill started to shoot 25p!

SimonMW
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Speaking of casualty, anyone remember the fuss they had when they experimented with deinterlacing the footage?!

StevenBagley
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SimonMW wrote:
Something else I found rather interesting was when I watched that show that mocks news broadcasts the other day (I can't remember what it is called). Anyway, their US news segment is shot progressively for some reason.

Is it progressive or trying to match the aesthetic of badly standard converted NTSC video (which is what that channel would look like in the UK)?

As for Bleak House, my first thought half way through watching the first episode was how distracting the film judder was (much more than normally so) and I can only attribute it to every other aspect of it being so sumptuous that it stood out for all the wrong reasons, I'd much preferred it as 25i. I guess the camera style could have something to do with it, being more akin to a video style (and probably why I dislike documentaries in progressive mode).

Steven

SimonMW
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Didn't appear to judder any more than any film production to me, ie it never even occurred to me.

Alan Roberts
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The camera tests for Bleak House used the Sony HDW900, set to my film prescription. Sger that test, I heard nothing more, but believe it was shot on 750s, again with my film prescription. They do it because they want the look, not because we, the audience, might prefer it. I don't like film motion, it's horribly jerky (but nothing like as dire as it is in NTSC countries where they do the truly dreadful 2:3 pulldown on it (or possibly the much newer 2:3:3:2 variant that's easier to standards-convert)). When Americans talk fo the "film-look", that's what they mean.

It's interesting that programme-makers generally can't see the jerkiness, or are so used to it that they can't imagine doing it any other way. The crunch comes when they see it in a viewfinder, that really stops them dead in their tracks, it takes me a lot of persuasive explanations to get them to accept that that's how it works. I reckon it's because, when shooting for film-motion in SD, they've always done it interlaced and done the film-motion in post with an Arc, seeing it live upsets them loads. I work on that, telling them that that's how the viewer sees it, so don't do anything that looks crap in the viewfinder. You've been seeing the results of that for at least 5 years on tv.

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SimonMW
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Yep, the final programme was shot with 750's.

Spot on with pulldown. I recently mentioned this on another board, but the yanks just couldn't understand what was so cumbersome and awkward about it. Many of them are so caught up with the 24p thing that 25p to them isn't 'filmlike' enough! Each to their own I suppose.

Generally when I shoot in progressive modes I shoot to take account of the judder. As you say Alan the judder is very apparent in the viewfinder. So I shoot things in such a way as to minimise this.

I'd like to try some more 50i stuff but as I mentioned, and this seems to tally with your experience, the people paying prefer the 'film' motion.

cstv
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SimonMW wrote:
Generally when I shoot in progressive modes I shoot to take account of the judder. As you say Alan the judder is very apparent in the viewfinder. So I shoot things in such a way as to minimise this.

which highlights the problem with the HD100 - the viewfinder is 50p, but the recording is 25p. Maybe someone could design a viewfinder that would take the 50p and drop every other frame...? you could take the firewire output (which is 25p) and feed that to a viewfinder but you'd have problems with the delay.

Alan Roberts
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Yes, I think that's the biggest operational problem with the HD100. I'm seeing some JVCPro people in the next few days so might be able to pick up vibes on future developments.

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infocus
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SimonMW wrote:
I think the 'distancing' thing is valid. There is a certain 'naffness' to the interlaced look, ...............

I agree, though with a "horses for courses" caveat. It makes me think back to the 1970's when my only involvement with TV was as a viewer, and a BBC series around the middle of the decade called "The Survivors" - which dealt with the aftermath after a global epidemic had wiped out 99.99% of the worlds population.

As I recall, it was one of the first location dramas to be entirely shot with video cameras recorded to tape, and the "realism" given by that added substantially to the feel of the whole series. The same could be said of other dramas when removing the "distancing" is just what is needed.

Alan Roberts
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Agreed. The problem right now, though, is that going to film-motion is seen as appropriate even for documentaries and interviews. At least, that has to be the case in the many instances I've seen recently. I still think it's a fashion statement, they do it because they can and everyone else does. At some time in the future, when we've got a worldwide HD system at 50 or 60 proscan, all this will go away and they'll discover just how much these old-fashioned techniques get in the way of the story-telling.

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SimonMW
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One thing that I'm finding a bit confusing. Is there any real technological barrier stopping 1080 HD at 50/60p being done right now? Especially with solid state and disc recording becoming more widespread. All the new LCD and Plasma TV's etc are proscan by default too. So why can't the electronics companies just get on and and implement it?

Unicorn
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Quote:
One thing that I'm finding a bit confusing. Is there any real technological barrier stopping 1080 HD at 50/60p being done right now?

Other than the fact that it's 350 megabytes per second (uncompressed)? That's a heck of a lot of data to work with.

P4-3.06/2GB RAM/2500GB IDE/SATA. Avid Media Composer, Liquid Edition, Premiere 6, Lightwave, Vue 6, eyeon Fusion 5. DV and HDV editing/compositing.

Alan Roberts
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Yep, that's it, 3Gb/s uncompressed. Just do the raw sums:

1920 pixels/line
1080 lines/frame
60 frames/second
4:2:2 subsampling, so 2 "bytes"/sample
10-bit "bytes" for professional video

and you get 1920x1080x60x10x2=2,488,320,000 bits/second. Add in formatting, 4 channel (at least, probably 8) sound at 96kHz 24-bit, and so on, and you soon get to 3Gb/s.

That's why it ain't being done yet, nobody can afford it. There's a Sony demo camera that does it, but no recorder.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

cstv
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which is why 720p/50 makes so much sense at the moment... that's only 1Gb/s - SOOOO much more acceptable! :D

here's a question that i'm sure Alan will be able to give a fairly good answer to - at what point does video become "better than life" ? what resolution can the human eye actually detect? obviously a major advantage of HD is that you can project it on a larger screen but if we ignore that for the moment, how high do the spatial and temporal resolutions have to be before we stop noticing the improvements?

mark.

Alan Roberts
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There's a rather nice paper on this, http://www.bbc.co.uk/rd/pubs/whp/whp092.shtml. Basically, if you can't see the pixedls, and the contrast's high enough, you're there.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

DVdoctor
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Whilst we are not there yet in transfer rates, I think in a few years we will see a Sata XXX or some newer transfer technology that will give you these data rates on a sustained basis. As the disk drives spin faster and the densities keep skyrocketing, it will be come quite feasible. I Think the battle between memory/solid state solutions, and Hard drives will continue, and we will defitely get there in a few years We are looking at about 2 Terragbytes for an hour of video at these rates. I remember when we thought a Gig hard drive in 5 1/4 inch format was really something ;-)

John

Alan Roberts
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The real problem though, is in the camera. Data processing. Just look at the real-time clock speed (1920x1080x60=124.416MHz, just for the image, more likely to be 148.5MHz for lots of reasons). At that rate, there have to be three channels with adc, at least 10-bit accurate, and a big dsp at least 22-bits wide. The processing needs something like 300 multiplies or adds, in 22-bit data, 3 channels wide, all at that rate, total about 900flops/sample, about 135Gflop/second, all at 22-bit. That's going some.

It's reasons like this that Sony used when designing the HDW750. The 900 has 12-bit adcs (and 2 fans), the 750 has 10-bit (and 1 fan that turns itself off when it isn't needed). The reduction in data processing required lowered the power consumption by 30% of the whole camera's power requirements, and they managed to squeeze in a downconverter with SDI output and a couple of HDSDI outputs as well on top of all that. Don't underestimate the power needs of processing, It'll take a significant improvement in data processing technology before cameras can run at these speeds without needing superconductors.

It's not just the storage, that's fairly easy, you just use arrays, it's easy enough today, but cameras certainly aren't easy yet.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

Dave R Smith
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tom hardwick
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What a dull review of an amazing camera. Richard Wentk on the Fx1:

''...home movie making, where its ability to zoom between panoramic shots and close-ups is particularly useful. ''

What kind of review talk is that? Has there ever been a camcorder built that doesn't have the ability to zoom between panoramic shots and close-ups?

tom.

infocus
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Toms quote is the first half of the articles verdict. The second sentence is also probably worth quoting:

"But the fact that HD doesn’t have any real broadcast potential yet, and that it will slow all but the fastest of today’s PCs to a crawl, mean that it might not be a first choice for video producers."

Hmmm.

tom hardwick
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Hmmm indeed. ''...means that it might not be a first choice for video producers'' is also very downgrading in my book. What's Sony supposed to do, continue making the VX2100 till the world catches up? That's not the way Sony do things, and high hand clap for that.

tom.

MattDavis
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Thinking back to the A1...

A friend (Rick Young, of UKFCUG fame) has one to back up his Z1.

After I saw it at IBC, I was a bit dubious about the image. We did a SD conference shoot together and used Rick's A1 as a locked off wide. It was okay, but I wasn't impressed enough to rush out and buy one. I could see a difference between the Z1 and the A1, and probably wouldn't use the two together like that again.

However, since then, the camera's been off to the Antarctic and the HDV footage that came back is pretty stunning. Sure it needs a bit of pulling back the mids in post to help saturation and to even out the levels, but it coped very well indeed on challenging scenes.

With time and experience, Rick's got to match the two (Z1 and A1) together far better than our initial attempts. I'm still not happy to cut between them in a multicam shoot, but I am happy to put a sequence of A1 footage into a predominantly Z1 edit.

Downsampled HDV from an A1 looks way better than my PDX-10 stuff, and is a little better in poor light too - so it's a worthy successor. Shame about the fiddly controls, though - but I guess this is where the A1 shines... Leave it in auto, don't fiddle...

... A bit like the factory staffed by 1 man and a dog: the man is there to feed the dog, and the dog is there to stop the man playing with the controls.
:)

Matt Davis - Director/Editor - Write, shoot, edit, publish - website & Blog
2x EX1R, FS100 & FS700 into FCPX & CS6

tom hardwick
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I'm interested in your thoughts that:

''Downsampled HDV from an A1 looks way better than my PDX-10 stuff, and is a little better in poor light too - so it's a worthy successor. Shame about the fiddly controls, though - but I guess this is where the A1 shines... Leave it in auto, don't fiddle...''

The PDX10 can give startlingly good pictures - and they're much better when the cam's left in auto too. So can you be more specific in your thoughts that the downsampled A1 footage 'looks way better'? I'm not surprised the A1 is better in low light though - the PDX10 is only so-so in the gloom.

tom.

MattDavis
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tom hardwick wrote:
The PDX10 can give startlingly good pictures - can you be more specific that the downsampled A1 footage 'looks way better'?

There's a subtle sharpness and detail that comes from downsampling HDV. I prefer to take HDV down to DVCPRO-50 to get strong colours to resolve properly, but Rick's footage seemed to enjoy the trip to DV.

My PDX-10 is a 16:9 Sony and I love it for that. It has the Sony luminosity in skin tones and is a Camberwell Carrot when it comes to colourful scenes. However, it lives life behind shades and low luminosity kills the picture.

The A1 images I saw (on an HD monitor and downsampled to a PAL monitor) had the extra range that black stretch can provide, and the lens is definately different - the PDX-10 lens is fine for a PDX-10, but when you take an HD lens and downsample, all that edge enhancing nonsense is put aside.

Sorry, no charts, no empirical evidence, just good ol' gut reaction.

Matt Davis - Director/Editor - Write, shoot, edit, publish - website & Blog
2x EX1R, FS100 & FS700 into FCPX & CS6

tom hardwick
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'all that edge enhancing nonsense is put aside'... good reply. I'll take the gut reaction, and thanks for your input Matt.

Alan Roberts
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Yep, edge-enhancement has had it's day. I routinely have to set it negative in HD cameras to get pictures that aren't significantly sharper than film, and people seem to like it. Edge-enhancement is the trademark signature of SD, I'm steadily trying to stamp it out, both because it looks naff and because it draws excessive attention to itself in video compression (i.e. it makes MPEG look horrible).

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

Chris Commons
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PD150 again sorry

Hi there

I'm new to this but looking for a little advice, so sorry if this is on the wrong post

I see the comments relating to the PD150/170 comparison with the HVR A1E and that in low light the PD150/170 and outside maybe the A1E.

I am close to starting a documentary/film with mixed media, super 16mm and sd/hd. I form the sd/hd side of things. I shoot with a PD150 but there is talk of using HD to allow an easier bump up to film in post production. I was looking some months ago at the PD10X (the A1E was the replacement I think) as its small, has XLR and was ideal for the unintrusive type of filming I would have been doing (A lot of the Ewan McGreggor doc the Long Way round was shot on a PD10X) so I new the quality would be acceptable.

So as they are considering HD for the documentary and I was considering the PD10X would the HVR A1E do the job (sorry if that was long winded) I will be shooting in a mixture of environments outside and in (plus well lit live music on stage) What are the audio controls like?

If this is on the wrong board could you tell me where to stick it (so to speak)

Kind regards

Chris

Chris Commons
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Sorry HVR A1E qusetion again

Hi there

I'm new to this but looking for a little advice, so sorry if this is on the wrong post.

I see the comments relating to the PD150/170 comparison with the HVR A1E and that in low light the PD150/170 and outside maybe the A1E.

I am close to starting a documentary/film with mixed media, super 16mm and sd/hd. I form the sd/hd side of things. I shoot with a PD150 but there is talk of using HD to allow an easier bump up to film in post production. I was looking some months ago at the PD10X (the A1E was the replacement I think) as its small, has XLR and was ideal for the unintrusive type of filming I would have been doing (A lot of the Ewan McGreggor doc the Long Way round was shot on a PD10X) so I new the quality would be acceptable.

So as they are considering HD for the documentary and I was considering the PD10X would the HVR A1E do the job (sorry if that was long winded) I will be shooting in a mixture of environments outside and in (plus well lit live music on stage) What are the audio controls like?

If this is on the wrong board could you tell me where to stick it (so to speak)

Kind regards

Chris

*

tom hardwick
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The talk on the street is that the HC1's footage is noticeably better than the PDX10's, even after the HC1 (A1) has had the HDV downconverted to SD on the fly. This is partly due to the fact that the new 10x Zeiss zoom is a better lens on the HC1 than the 12x fitted to the PDX10 and sinply doesn't need the electronic 'black-line' edge-sharpening that so bedevils a lot of SD footage.

The PDX10 does have proper top loading though, but this adds considerably to the camera's waist measurement - the HC1 is beautifully slim in comparison. Neither camera tells you what's going on (shutter speed, aperture, ND, etc) but these cameras give of their best when the automation decides.

tom.

Alan Roberts
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The lens on the HC1/A1 is a charmer, sharp at all focal lengths, too sharp really. So you can let the detail down (preferably off) and get really nice clean pictures.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

tom hardwick
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The really big disappointment with the A1 is the manual aperture control. In my view it is unacceptable on such an expensive camera to have the exposure flick in nasty visible bumps when all you want to do is to gently and unobtrusively vary the exposure by half a stop or so.

Why Sony, why? I can almost forgive bottom loading, but I can't forgive this awful design blunder. Fine for still cameras that take pictures of the past. Not acceptable for film cameras that take pictures in the present.

tom.

SimonMW
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Alan, I know someone who is thinking about getting the A1. The Z1 I notice is very, very soft indeed when the detail circuits are reduced all the way. So the A1 still stays sharp with the detail off? That would be fantastic. Might even get one myself as a second cam!

Chris Commons
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Thanks,

Does the HVR A1E not show any of the manual information at all on the display screen? Do the 2 XLR audio inputs have separate gain control some one tells me it doesn't, seems daft including 2 XLR inputs and not splitting the controls, I know its like the HC1 with a few prof extra's but still.

So bottom line would the HVR A1E be good enough for the situation I described (HD camera with XLR, I'll be using boom and radio mic's, used to capture un intrusive and well travelled footage as part of a mixed media project, the entire project will eventually be bumped up to film hence the idea of shooting some HD as well as the super 16mm stuff).

The camera size is important but will it be good enough?

Thanks again

Alan Roberts
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In my opinion, the HC1/A1 is sharper than the FX1/Z1, with details off. The problem with cameras in this price range is that there are very few refined controls, i.e. you get on/off or a selection from a few "standard" settings. I'm used to the high-end stuff where I get maybe 4 pages of menus for setting detail, 3 pages for gamma, 5 for matrix and so on. The low-end stuff is a lot less easy to customise, you just have to accept what's offered.

Not sure about the sound controls, does the manual on the Sony website not give enough info?

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

Chris Commons
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Hi Alan

Thanks for the reply, I probably should have looked at the Sony website first I'll have a look now. I know in reality I should probably use a higher end camera for what I want to do its just the size thing that really intrigues me and thought if it could do the job it could be ideal. I suppose really I just need to get to a shop and test one

Off the cuff before I trawl the internet, know of any good retailers that I can go to?

Thanks again for the responses this is a great website

Ps If i decide to use the camera I'll let everyone know what it stands up to

Alan Roberts
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Try Prestons.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

MattDavis
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Alan, just my pontification, but most Sony Z1 menus go from 0 to 15, although sometimes a scale from -7 to +7 would have been more appropriate.

Here's my thought: the sharpness menu is actually "0" when it's set to 8, which would explain an 'enhanced soft mode' effect when you try steps 1-7.

So when Shannon and friends over at dvxuser tried to turn off their Sharpening in their recent test, then reluctantly dialled back to 4-6 when the 0 setting was unacceptable, they should have tested the lens at 8. IMHO.

Tom - I think the A1 is shutter priority, so subtle changes in lighting are taken up by arithmetic rather than mechanics. I guess it's cheaper that way.

Matt Davis - Director/Editor - Write, shoot, edit, publish - website & Blog
2x EX1R, FS100 & FS700 into FCPX & CS6

cstv
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MattDavis wrote:
Tom - I think the A1 is shutter priority, so subtle changes in lighting are taken up by arithmetic rather than mechanics. I guess it's cheaper that way.

and presumably less power-hungry...?

Max Hertz
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Hi,

I have recently joined the HDV brigade despite initial reservations regarding mpeg compression.
I purchased a HVR-A1E and I'm pretty happy with my choice!
I was wondering if you guy's had some tips with regards to shooting and configuring the settings such as cineframe, cinelook, black strech, sharpness etc.
Should these kind of things be left alone and dealt with only in post or are the camera settings up to the job?
What are the best ways to achieve correct exposure?
The fact that I don't have manual Iris or shutter speed control scares me!
and the setting numbers are meaningless to me!
Can you unknowingly start going into gain?
and how do you judge exposure correctly using the histogram?

Looking forward to hearing your opinions,

Cheers,

Max

tom hardwick
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Matt - you say, "Tom - I think the A1 is shutter priority, so subtle changes in lighting are taken up by arithmetic rather than mechanics. I guess it's cheaper that way."

All movie cameras should be shutter priority in my view, and 99% of them are - only varying the shutter speed when ND warnings are ignored, apertures are getting too small or the light gets too low.

But that's not my point. The HC1/A1 does a grand job, of that I'm convinced. It's just that if you film with locked exposure (and you do, don't you? Please say you do with a camera of this quality) then this camera doesn't allow you to vary the exposure even a smidgen without announcing that you've done so on screen. This is what I find unacceptable.

It's unacceptable on the TRV900, the VX2100, the PD150 and countless other cameras I could name, so it's certainly not a failing unique to the A1.

Max is right to be worried in my view. He hasn't a clue what shutter speed, aperture or gain settings are in use. If these parammeters are important to him as a photographer, as indeed they should be in my view, then I can hear the Z1 calling.

tom.

MattDavis
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Max Hertz wrote:
I was wondering if you guy's had some tips with regards to shooting and configuring the settings such as cineframe, cinelook, black strech, sharpness etc.
Should these kind of things be left alone and dealt with only in post or are the camera settings up to the job?

I've been getting great images by enabling black stretch and under-exposing by half to one stop, but it requires re-tweaking in post at the expense of long render times for the final output (editing isn't affected). This achieves better quality IMHO than CineLook.

I don't use CineFrame - I deinterlace either raw footage (if it's going into AfterEffects) or the final edit from FCP using DVFilm Maker.

I started using sharpness at 8 as I was told to do sharpening in post, but I am begining to use 9 or 10. It seems to do more good than harm.

I am blessed/cursed with editing my own material, and therefore can balance what I do in camera with what I do in post. If you're only shooting, I would recommend downing a couple of pints with the editor to see if your production is up for grading or not. That will tell you whether to shoot flat and boring or to fiddle with camera settings to achieve the mood.

Matt Davis - Director/Editor - Write, shoot, edit, publish - website & Blog
2x EX1R, FS100 & FS700 into FCPX & CS6

Max Hertz
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Mat,
Thanks for your answers, I will certainly try out your suggestions.
I too am blessed/cursed with editing my own footage, and producing & directing it to boot!
I presume by underexposing using Blackstrech you are getting better detail in the blacks but what kind of tweaks are necessary in post? Is it just a case of brightening the mid range and highlights ?

Tom
Although I can hear the Z1 calling, It's certainly far out of sight at the moment!
As I said, I did have reservations about HDV and with a small budget did not want to invest too heavily in a format I was unsure of.
In an ideal world I would have gone for the Panasonic AG-HVX200 but as a documentary maker those expensive p2 cards did not make sense.
I am currently making a documentary (a road movie type doc in search of the holy grail!) and needed more detail in the landscape shots than my PD150 could provide...so sony's "HD for everyone" came right at the right time for me.
I love the size of the A1E and when I saw it I knew it was the one for me.
However, I was blissfully unaware of the lack of control over exposure, of course I just presumed they would be there! Why would n't they be!
My main concern is achieving correct exposure.
Any tips for this camera?

tom hardwick
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If your main concern is getting the correct exposure, then always ask the camcorder first. This means being in auto exposure mode, pointing the camera at the scene you intend to film and locking in that reading. If you're after a different effect you can bump the exposure up or down a notch to taste, then start shooting.

A for-instance. You're filming as pillion over the shoulder of the biker as he rides in sunlight. Every now and then he goes under the shadow of trees, tall buildings and then under a wide road bridge. If left to the automation the camera's aperture blades would be constantly 'on the hunt', varying the exposure all the time.

And I mean all the time; it can look dreadful. Black car comes towards you? Camera opens up to compensate. White building to your left? Camera stops down. The brightness of the screen image when driving in the shadows will be the same as when on sun baked track. In the tunnel the gain will kick in to 'correct' the exposure.

It all looks wrong. As with transparency film expose for the highlights and let the shadows take care of themselves. The dynamic range in a film is what makes it look exciting, be it audio or video. So don't let the exposure automation compress the video side of things.

tom.

MattDavis
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Max Hertz wrote:
Is it just a case of brightening the mid range and highlights?

This may sound contrary, but the mids need crushing, rather than brightening.

Highlights seemed to blow so easily with the Z1 so it's easier to just clamp things down a bit (e.g. iris to where you think it should be on the viewfinder, then give it a little more for luck). The black stretch lightens the mids and shadows, reducing contrast.

By crushing mids, it knocks the flat dull image back into shape and intensifies the richness of colour.

I can't extole the virtues of 'Test Early, Test Often' highly enough. Play with the camera, yank its settings, pull the footage through your edit system. Repeat. Test on the viewers' platform - I edit on a Mac, but my HD is usually viewed on PCs (needing a lower contrast). The difference between a standard LCD monitor and a traditional TV is vast, too. You'll want to be in the position where you know what the viewfinder should show in order to get your desired look on the final viewing device. :)

Matt Davis - Director/Editor - Write, shoot, edit, publish - website & Blog
2x EX1R, FS100 & FS700 into FCPX & CS6

Max Hertz
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Mat
That makes perfect sense, cheers for the tip

Tom
It's not that I was worried about underexposing or overexposing, it's just that I don't know what the exposure is made of.
Is there a way of knowing if I have slipped into gain?
I counted out 24 levels on the exposure bar; does gain kick in after a certain point?

Thanks for your answers guys :)

dave carnegie
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brought one of these little gems at Christmas and became a happy bunny with it, brought a second one.
main reason was weight in purchase as used to use jvc gy500 but discovered that quality and colour was better. the two in metal case brought from b&q weigh a lot less then the jvc.
to get round editing problems, capture in s.d, then when finished recapture (via batch capture just stuff that is needed for project) might sound complicated but works.
more then happy with colour and definition. was impressed with frame grabs taken from playback using memory chip. sound using mike stuck on top more then adequate for interviews.
did 2 camera shoot and found very easy to match.
stuff done in sri lanka recently was amazed by the greens in the mountains and colours of handicraft being done by handicaped children.
depth was good and no ringing
have brain retention problem due to being sad old person and found the hands on video very helpful.
as still camera does the job.
just one problem, when sony bring out next generation, how much better is it going to be?
life is not perfect, but a bowl of cherries helps...

dave carnegie

Alan Roberts
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The next generation won't be a lot better, but should be a fair bit cheaper. That's how the history works: start a new market (HD) tentatively with expensive kit (HDW900); next generation isn't quite as good but is a lot cheaper and does more (HDW750); get the public interested (FX1/Z1) with an expensive startup; appeal to a wider public (A1/HC1/HC3) by trimming off what they don't need and making it smaller and cheaper. The only possible move left is to produce the palmcorder version for under £500. But I strongly suspect that the next move will be away from tape, and that starts it all over again.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

Paul Jordan
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Just wondering what people are using in post editing with the A1. Any advice on colour settings or filters to add on the timeline when editing with HDV footage to bring out the best in this camera assuming the use of Alan's camera settings in his document.

Have not had much time to edit any footage yet so looking for pointers as a starting point.

dave carnegie
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alan

does seem interesting that sony have been laying off people like kodak.
do you thing telerecording will ever come back as been asked to transfer some hdv material using an olde macroni camera from ally pally..
have been hearing that so many menus to plough through is one of the reason some dodgy result.
am pleased with the light weight of cameras, but still feel we need to to be told truth about editing hdv when editing.
was very impressed when put stuff shoot in sri lanka through video projector as hd using component lead supplied.

dave

dave carnegie

Alan Roberts
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Funny you should say that. It was the ever-expanding menus that started me on the process of measuring cameras in the 80s. Faced with a nice shiny new camera, with more pages of menus than you could shake a stick at, and some spare time, I dived in and tweaked. You know the results.

HDV editing isn't as hard as it sounds. Edius will do it, so will Prem 1.5, even on an ordinary laptop. But, doing it that way is just like editing DV 10 years ago, you don't get any live output. To get any better than that you need a hardware solution, so Edius HX or any of the other solutions that have hardware decoding for display. That said, HDV's no big deal, you just get on with the editing.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

Claire
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Paul Jordan wrote:
Just wondering what people are using in post editing with the A1. Any advice on colour settings or filters to add on the timeline when editing with HDV footage to bring out the best in this camera assuming the use of Alan's camera settings in his document.

Have not had much time to edit any footage yet so looking for pointers as a starting point.

After some initial messing around with various NLE's that can handle HDV, Premiere Pro 2.0 is working just fine for me. BTW, I'm just editing the raw .m2t transport stream files captured as scenes with HDVSplit.

Unlike Vegas 6, Premiere Pro does smart rendering, so with only straight cuts and a few transitions thrown in I'm finding editing HDV from the A1E as easy as editing SDV ever was.

Premiere Pro's monitor screen preview is fed out to a 26" Panasonic HDTV and because this is such a great view I really don't miss the old firewire preview that DV allowed.
Okay it's not as smooth motion wise when set to full quality as with SDV out of firwire preview but hey it looks 1000% better!

After a lot of shooting with this cam ( exclusively HDV) I found I get best results with exposure compensation at zero if it's overcast or -1 or -2 (using histogram display and zebras) if it's sunny. I have sharpness at 9 and to minimise the well know fault of the A1 and HC1 of poor reds, I have colour at +1 and white balance shift at +1.

If the reds are still poor and I can afford the time in post I rectify this with After Effects.

That's about it.

Claire

Paul Jordan
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Joined: Apr 22 1999

Claire

Thanks for the info on your settings, I will give them a try and check results. I am glad to hear Premiere Pro 2 is working well for you. I to find editing the native .m2t files in Vegas works just fine on my machine, I am so used to Vegas now the learning curve for Premiere is not appealing, have tried it though.

The least post processing the better in my workflow so will give this a shot, many thanks once again.

Paul

mooblie
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Claire wrote:
After a lot of shooting with this cam ( exclusively HDV) I found I get best results with exposure compensation at zero if it's overcast or -1 or -2 (using histogram display and zebras) if it's sunny. I have sharpness at 9 and to minimise the well know fault of the A1 and HC1 of poor reds, I have colour at +1 and white balance shift at +1.

No use of Black Stretch, Claire?

Martin - DVdoctor in moderation. Everyone is entitled to my opinion.

Claire
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mooblie wrote:
No use of Black Stretch, Claire?

oops.. thanks, yes I do use Black Stretch - all the time. Maybe this is why I nearly always get best results by underexposing. Compared with the well lit but rather flat default look, this produces images with considerably more depth, yet still with detail in the shadows, so yes I would say the Black Stretch is important.

Claire

Alan Roberts
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And I'd say Black Stretch is vital, because it gets you the actual ITU.709 curve (up to about 80%). "Proper" HD cameras start out with that vurve and I put Black Stretch on top, so you get another stop near black, that's what sets those cameras apart from the rest (plus a fair few other niceties).

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

tom hardwick
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Gotta say though, that when I use the Z1 in the SD mode, black stretch somewhat 'flattens' the image, losing some of the high contrast punch that standard definition relies on.

mooblie
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I agree with that in general, but with black stretch I've seen more detail in the morning suits than previously, whilst not blowing out the white dress.

Martin - DVdoctor in moderation. Everyone is entitled to my opinion.

dave carnegie
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have x2 hvr-a1e and have noticed under different lighting conditions a sligh green caste. any ideas. monitor seems ok, on both cameras. design feature for filming the mekon?

dave carnegie

Alan Roberts
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It's a feature. Claire Watson has noticed it, and routinely shoots with the colour set towards red by one notch, and satusation up by one notch. I'd go along with that. It's probably due to the poor (or non existence of) infra-red filer that silcion sensors need for good colorimetry.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

David W
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Alan Roberts wrote:
It's a feature. Claire Watson has noticed it, and routinely shoots with the colour set towards red by one notch, and satusation up by one notch. I'd go along with that. It's probably due to the poor (or non existence of) infra-red filer that silcion sensors need for good colorimetry.

Alan,
I am finding difficulty in reconciling the passage in your setup paper for the A1 where you say of the colour rendition "Errors are reasonably well distributed, reds are over-saturated and hue-shifted towards magenta, but there is no significant correction that can be made using the Camera control apart from reducing from the default setting (middle, 8) by one or two steps", with the latest advice following Claire Watson's post suggesting that reds are deficient and need to be boosted with AWB shift up one and increasing saturation. You suggest that the problem might be with poor or non-existent infra-red filtration, but surely that would lead to increased apparent red saturation, at least if filming on a hot day with plenty of infra-red coming from the subject. Are we dealing with an apparent discrepancy between filming charts by tungsten light (as you were, with little infra-red) as against outdoor shooting? Or am I completely missing something else?

David Wilkins

Alan Roberts
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David, you're spot on. But I'm reporting as a scientist while Claire's reporting as user. I do the theory, if users find ways to improve the pictures that I don't find I the lab, that's absoilutely fine by me, even if I can't explain why they work. I suggest you look for Claire's words on it and see what you think. I've known her a long time and trust her judgement (although we've never met in person).

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

dave carnegie
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i tried the sugestion from claire relating red shift up a notch and colour saturation also up a notch. interesting result, reminded me of Pakolor from the 50s, like poster colours strange reds on browns. sky looked very blue.
stuff was of garden gauge railway. looked better when used colour corrector taking out red.
did those nice people change software in camera, both of my cameras purchased over christmas last year, could they be later cameras then claires.
must say trust claire`s sense of colour then mine.

dave carnegie

dave carnegie
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since yesterdays post, used matrox colour corrector on above material
knocked out the red a touch, increased blue a touch an took down the saturation.
looks natural and ok.
any suggestions of setting menus to get this.

dave carnegie

cyberwest
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I'm sure this has been answered elsewhere, but how easy is it to match footage shot on an FX1 with that from and HC1 / A1? Would just a little colour correction be enough so nobody could tell, say, an FX1 was doing the long shots and an HC1 the closeups? Or will the differences still be obvious?

James Morris

Richard Payne
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Hi James. I have found it quite easy to match the FX1 and HC1 especially with the HC1 doing the wide shots. A bit of colour tweaking was needed and because the shoot I did was in low light I had to boost the FX1 in post. Probably because it was doing tight shots and I had a sony WA adaptor on the HC1 letting in loads of light.

cyberwest
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Thanks for that. I need to buy a second HDV camcorder for multi-cam shoots (and also because a dodgy FireWire connection just killed the IEEE1394 on my HC1). Due to VAT rules I won't bore you with, there isn't much difference in real cost for me between the A1 and the FX1 as a business expense. I guess I should just go for the FX1, right? I'm still tempted by the A1, though, for its portability and the fact it uses the same batteries as the HC1 and will fit in the same bags and use the same lens/filter attachments. Arghhh! Decisions...

James Morris

Richard Payne
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I would rather have the FX1 to impress clients but probably an A1e for the XLR and extra functionality on the menus. The battery and lens stuff is really useful. I had a TRV950 before and so I already had a big batt and Wide Angle from that.

cyberwest
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Yeah, I'm leaning towards the A1E. Most of my work is my own productions rather than commercial stuff, so impressing clients is only a slight consideration. I'm more of a guerilla video guy, and as you said in your Showreel article, the A1E is a guerilla video classic. Now to find the best deal and see if anyone wants to offer a journalist's discount...

James Morris

tom hardwick
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I'd agree that the FX1 is a bit lacking in the audio dept, and really needs an XLR box to compete. But impress the clients it does, and I do feel you have better control over the photographic aspects of the shoo than with the A1. The FX1 is also better in the gloom and is a top loader, points that may not be of interest but thought I'd mention anyway.

tom.

cyberwest
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No, those are important points. Hence my quandry...

James Morris

Chris Commons
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If you are considering the FX1 maybe you should look towards the Z1 (semi prof version) which gives you the extra menu tweaks and the XLR (obviousely more expensive). If thats not an issue to you I'd go for the A1E like mentioned before as it gives you a few extra tweaks, the XLR and is far cheaper and if thats the buget your work is based around those (for me) would be a bigger consideration over slightly better photographic options

cyberwest
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Well, in a perfect world, I'd love the Z1 or even Canon's HDV camcorder. And whilst I could scrape the cash together, it's a matter of whether it's worth it. I make arty videos and the odd low-budget documentary now and then, I very rarely do commercial work, and I use my camcorder kit to write about video editing in the general IT press. So anything above the FX1 is really a waste of money for me. I plan to shoot the odd live event, and maybe some will be inside where the FX1's better low light performance might be beneficial. But the extra £1000+ for the Z1 is probably not worth it in my case, as great as that camcorder is.

James Morris

Alan Roberts
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I've been on holiday for a fortnight, shooting on my A1, and am very happy with the pictures so far. I didn't take Claire's advice (remember, I reported it but didn't endorse it). It could be that she's shooting specific scenes where the changes make sense. In my tests (see the sig) it oversaturates reds a little, so logically winding the colour balance towards cyan might help but would leave cyan whites which would look very nasty. I'm happier leaving colour and saturation central.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

cyberwest
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Well, I've pretty much plumped for the A1, and am currently trying to place my order... Thanks for the advice everyone, very much appreciated.

James Morris

Paul Jordan
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I have been using Claire's settings throughout July and they work very well for me, I am so much happier now with the footage, it really looks stunning so thanks for that Claire.

dave carnegie
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have put my cameras back to factory settings having tried claire`s stuff. last week set up a barco grade 2 monitor and viewed material via composite. was quite surprised at colour quailty, colours rock solid and had sutle tones and no green caste, reds were good.
set monitor up on colour bars, would be interested what others get looking at colour bars and if any caste when knocking out colour.
getting more impressed at what one gets for the price and weight.

dave carnegie

Alan Roberts
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I always use colour bars for display-setting, and am using my own recommendations for setting the A1. I'm happy with what I get.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

dave carnegie
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alan

back in the old days of clockwork cameras, i always used to like agfacolor processed in west germany., i remember friends used to sendd their kodachrome to switzerland and there are so many variables not just in electronics but in our eyes. would like to see a frame grab from something you shot.
the only constant we have are colour bars to line up monitors and good old 2" quad machines.

dave

dave carnegie

Alan Roberts
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Generally I do only high days and holidays. But I've got some Tour de France footage plus some holiday stuff around Brittany. Once I've got my new laptop from DVC I'll have a look at it. If I find any telling shots I'll look into ways of letting you see them.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

Claire
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Alan Roberts wrote:
It's a feature. Claire Watson has noticed it, and routinely shoots with the colour set towards red by one notch, and saturation up by one notch. I'd go along with that. It's probably due to the poor (or non existence of) infra-red filer that silcion sensors need for good colorimetry.

Alan, I didn't spot this earlier, was out of the country.. are you confusing me with someone else as I don't recall saying anything about a green caste, never had that problem, to set the record straight the reason I went 1 notch to the right on the WB shift was to offset the "bluish" reds I was getting as discussed on some US forums). I still don't know if this red fault is common on all A1's, some people say they never see it while others do, I know it's only certain reds and not others that are the issue, eg: my cherry red Renault Kangoo was recorded as deep pink until I made the +1 WB change.

This worked for me in general and after I shot 15 tapes of HDV in S & N California with these same settings I was very happy with the results, each tape looks just awesome on the two Panasonic HDTV's I own. (32" in living room and 26" for editing).

BTW, why do new LCD tv's come with the defaults set to "DYNAMIC", ugh! No wonder they look so bad in the shops...

To be precise, my tapes have beautiful vibrant colours yet skin tones are still quite natural looking, at least on those people not burnt to a crisp by the heat over there! (peaking 112F on some days).

Here is an interesting thing, while I was filming in Yesemite National Park a really black and threatening thunder storm arrived low over the mountain on the other side of the valley, as everyone gasped at the bangs and the multi forked lightning flashes I wondered if the A1's rolling shutter would cope and capture the complete strokes of lightning? Having seen video broken into horizontal strips by the "rolling shutter effect" I was rather unsure, well as it turned out the A1 DID capture the complete lightening bursts all the way down to the ground.

I play this footage over with the curtains drawn, re-living the experience, heh!

Claire

cyberwest
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Did you record the lightning in regular 1080i mode or CineFrame?

James Morris

Claire
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1080i

Claire

cyberwest
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Thanks!

James Morris

Alan Roberts
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Sorry Claire, clearly my memory is a little faulty. I knew you'd shifted a notch to red but couldn't rfemember exactly why. For the record, I shoot with it central and like the results. I'd expect small differences like this between models, so it's no big deal.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

Michael Renn
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I was very interested to read the comments on the Sony HVR-A1E it would seem ideal for me needing an entry level HDV camcorder. The only thing putting me off in the comments was its poor low light level (although I dont do too much in low light)
I like its hadling and the fact that its so small (and sexy) which would make it ideal to take out and about on a regular basis. I see that Sony also have reasonably compact cameras in the HDR-HC3 and HDR-HC1 and wonder if these are any better. If anyone has any comments they would be gratefully accepted, but barring any comments I will probably go for the HVR-A1E
Thanks in advance Mike

rjpobrien
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The A1 is the professional version of the HC1. It has the XLR box on top and some other professional features accessed via the menu. If you don't need the XLR inputs I would go for an HC1 if you can still find one. The HC3 is a small and dinky camera but is much more "consumerish" and is definitely for the users who just want to "point and shoot". It feels "plasticky" and manual controls are minimal but it is good at what it is intended for and does produce good images. You don't say what you intend to use the camera for. If you can tell us this then we can probably provide more useful information as to which would be a better camera.

HTH,
Richard

Richard

tom hardwick
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Having used an HC3 I certainly wouldn't describe it as 'plasticky'. It has no mic input socket or headphone monotoring socket which places it pretty firmly in the picnic basket, but it's stills to Memorystick are wonderful, and the anti red-eye is the best I've ever come across (bar Nikon's in-camera automatic removal).

If you're after compactness and quite awe-inspiring HiDef plasma screen filling pictures you need look no further, but remember the menus are deep and it's not one for the manual twiddler.

tom.

cyberwest
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Seconded on the HC3 - it's a great point-on-shoot, and is capable of stunning HDV on automatic settings. It is even marginally brighter than the HC1 in lower light. But it lacks most useful manual controls and features, so definitely isn't for the semi-pro crowd. Oh, and it has an HDMI port so you can hook it up directly to your HDTV or HD projector. The results when you do that are even more incredible...

So 10/10 for home gadget lovers
But 3/10 for semi-pros...

James Morris

rjpobrien
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Well it is obviously a matter of opinion and so I would recommend that you try to actually use one in a shop before buying so you can see for yourself what the picture and build quality is like. Personally I did find it plasticky, particualy compared to the HC1 but this is just my opinion but I did like the quality of the images, incredible for the size and price. I think James is absolutely right with his ratings though.

Richard

Richard

dave carnegie
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my own experience was in trying out camera in shop put me off as picture colour wise good when i played tape back home, but somebody had been playing about with shutter settings and playback was very jerky. also pressure you can get in dixon group. might be good idea to see if anybody hires one out and use and as it will be used in situ.
the "hands on" dvd is good in trying to understand menus and stuff on camera.
now have 2 sony hvr-a1e which not have brought had i gone with after trying out in a shop and a happy old todger.
just out of curiostiy but how can a camera be sexy, or is it something to to with advancing years and poor attention span. now it is a garden gauge train chugging through a tunnel in a rockery.

dave carnegie

Michael Renn
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Thanks everyone for your imput, I have handled both the HVR-A1E and the HC3 now, and also had a look at a friends HC1. As a result I can see why the comments of plasticy were made, which while not wholly fair gives a good idea of the camera. I did like the HC1 much better than the HC3, although in the end chose the HVR-A1E.
I was not able to put a film through either camera, but had a chance to get a good feel and see what was on the menues. As the HVR-A1E was the only camera that the store had, it needed to be ordered so I have purchased from Prestons who say delivery will be around Wednesday next week.
I can`t wait to get my hands on it, and hope I won`t be disappionted with the picture quality.
I have just noted that Richard Payne (of DVC) with assistance from our own Alan Roberts have recently done a review for Showreel, and given the HVR-A1E a pretty good report, so perhaps I needent worry.
Mike

lencap
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Cheers from across the pond! I recently found your forum and I believe it is the best on the net. Alan, you are a legend in the States, and many here consider you the best anywhere. I share their opinion. For the rest of you, you may not realize how often I've found quotes relating to your comments, but did not realize the source was this forum. Most of you have been quoted extensively and we here have all benefited from your knowledge. Well done, and thanks.

Since NTSC is the standard in the States I was curious if shooting in 60i format changes anyone's opinion of the A1? I do not have a camcorder and want to make my first purchase. I am taking a documentary studies program, and expect much of my taping to occur indoors in poor light with little external lighting options. Sound may also be a problem.

Many of the instructors in my group strongly recommend the Sony PD-170, but I'm reluctant to invest into a SD format that may soon become less useful. In the States people are going nuts over HD TV with sales exploding across all price points. HDV cameras are flying off dealer shelves as well. Most people don't know what they are buying or how to use it, but they like the pictures on 1080i TV.

My question is what should I do? Do I invest in an excellent low light SD camera, like the PD-170, when I can buy a new A1 for $700 less and have HDV image quality? I also am concerned about editing. I own an iMac G5 2 GHz processor with 160 GB HD and 512MB RAM. I can upgrade memory pretty easy, but I'm not sure if the processor has the power for HDV. I also have Final Cut Express 3.5HD, and although it processes HDV it coverts it through an Apple Codec. I don't know what the render times will be, but I'm worried that it may take a LOT of time to edit. I know the GOP format is difficult as well, and that Final Cut Pro supposedly handles HDV in native format. I don't mind spending a bit more for HDV, but I am very concerned about low light capability and how it will affect final product. With the new Canon cameras coming out in a few months, and the weekly announcement of new formats I'm afraid that a bad choice will have me winding up with the equivalent of Beta video tapes in a VHS world.

By the way, I intend to distribute my video on DVD until some other format becomes available, so I primarily want the HDV just to enjoy the "look" on my 1080i TV.

Thanks again for this site, and for the incredible depth and breath of knowledge that you provide.

Len -

Alan Roberts
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Praise indeed, but I feel a little over the top.

I don't generally advise on individual purchases (I've just refused to do that a few seconds ago for another subscriber here) because it all depends on the circumstances.

I bought an A1 for the simple reasoin that I wanted to replace my aging DX100. The A1 is priced at a little cheaper than I paid for the DX100 in 1999. Knowing what I do about cameras and such, I'm well placed to know exactlty what I've bought, and have done serious testing on it. It's limited, it fails miserably on down-conversion and on progressive shooting, but if I stick to interlaced HDV it's fine provided I don't worry too much about taking exposure control.

The US version should perform exactly as mine does, the bit-rate's the same and the GoP length's the same (in time, not frames) so the artefacts should be similar. I'd not dream of shooting SD with it, the down-conversion is dire (I assume you've seen my report/settings, see my signature).

If you want to earn a living with a camera, HDV's not the way to go, no broadcaster will accept it as the main camera. DiscoveryHD class HDV as upconversion and limit it to 15% of any programme. I agree with that although the BBC will allow 25%. And that includes upconversion from SD and super16. But, DiscoveryHD demand high standards so that they retain the "wow" factor for channel flippers, and that's fine by me.

HDV is currently in use in the UK as a replacement for PD170, but shot only in SD. The resultant quality is a decent match, the Z1 downconverts far better than does the A1. The A1 isn't acceptable by any broadcaster as far as I can tell, except for use in tight/dangerous spots where it counts as up-conversion.

But, if you're replacing a tired SD DV camcorder, the HDV's a good way to go for personal shooting.

I can't really help much more, it all depends on what you expect to do with it.

Does that help?

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

lencap
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Thank you

Alan, thank you, and yes your reply does answer my question.

As far as being over the top, I think not. For you, and your colleagues, helping others and trying to lead them to a well considered decision while informing them of the major issues to consider is second nature to you. What you may not realize is how rare that is, and how much it is appreciated.

Imagine how you would respond if you asked a forum a question in a field where your knowledge is somewhat limited, but the answer is very important to you. If you posted a question about your investment portfolio (my field of expertise) would you expect an expert to take the time to examine your specific needs, and provide the highest quality advice to you, while educating you and allowing you to ask more questions? Would you expect a financial expert to provide that level of assistance without any thought or desire of compensation? Probably not, yet that is what you and your fellow experts are providing for all of us when you use this forum to share your knowledge.

We come here, mostly I would think, as novices or perhaps a bit more experienced, and have the ability to get advice and tips from true experts who expect nothing in return and who take of their own time and skill to assist others.

Although I try to be as gracious as you and your fellow posters, I admit that there are times when it is difficult to do so, and that is why the "praise", as you called it, is far from over the top for the advice we receive.

My thanks to all.

Len

PS: I have no camera now. I plan to shoot mostly documentaries in low light conditions interviewing people as well as gathering video of unusual places, many of which will have limited lighting and no easy way to provide added light. For that purpose it was suggested by the documentary educators that I strongly consider the PD-170. (If you have camera setting suggestions that would be most welcome - I didn't see any on the BBC website). I am leaning toward that camera, but feel buyers remorse since I believe that the format is soon to be replaced with another and my investment will not be well spent. That's why I was hoping that you would tell me that the A1 solved all my problems and provided and easy solution. Seems like the Z1 may be a better fit, although the HDV format appears as challenging as I expected after reading Sony's White Paper on HDV. Thanks again.

DVdoctor
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Having lived on both sides of the pond, I have a slightly different perspective on HDV. Here in the US, the land of zillions of cable and satellite channels, low budget productions etc, I think you will find HDV more acceptable. One factor is that NTSC vs PAL looks inferior. SO I would not be as shy of HDV for the US market. BBC and UK have high standards and rightly so, I think you might find the US more compromising.. One thing to look at is talking to the audience for your work, the PD 170 does have a good reputation, but it is possible that the documentary folks are judging more based on past experience than future capabilities.

At the end of the day it is about content, and your technical/artistic skills. All solutions when finances are added into the equation are a compromise. I belive that HDV will continue to improve and will become more acceptable especially on the lower budget, content desparate channels

Sharyn

tom hardwick
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As has been pointed out Len, the choice of camcorder depends a lot on final client requirement. I love the PD170. It's tough as Tyson, built to withstand the flying debris of war yet still bring home the goods. It's not the sharpest camera nor the cheapest. It's not the smallest nor the easiest to use. But what it does have in an enviable reputation for balance and reliability. Not balance in the kitchen scales sense but a pulling together of a manufacturing specification that has accurately weighed in all the contributing factors that go to make a *good* camcorder.

It first saw the light of day as the VX2000, the design team signoff in 1999 meaning that it's solidly a 4:3 camera, and this fact on its own tolls its dearh knell. The PAL version does a just acceptable electronic 16:9, but footage meant for broadcast was really supposed to be shot through a clumbersome anamorphic.

So I'd say this. Your specification call for low light supremacy points the finger right in the 170's eyeball. The fact that you'll be editing and distributing in SD for a couple of years lends weight to the same finger pointing. The format is not 'soon to be replaced' as you say, rather a new one will develop alongside it. The 170's only downer in my view is the aspect ratio it was designed to work in.

Of course if you can get a Z1 you'll have the best of all worlds (except low light SD performance), and my guess is that thousands of PD and VX owners have seen the light and switched. Not many of these owners have gone for the A1, simply because of the loss of the photographic control (ND, gain, smooth manual aperture adjustment and so on).

The A1 is the logical progression from the PDX10, where - for the same money remember - you've suddenly got wide-screen HiDef at the flick of a switch. So my recommendation is that you go back and give the 170 another look. This weapons-grade camera will bring home the goods for the next couple of years, by which time your clients will be insisting on something different.

tom.

Alan Roberts
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I'll endorse Tom's comments here, he's a serious user of cameras.

But, since you say you've no camera t present, I assume you're new to this game. There are a few things you should know:

Buying a good camera won't ensure good results.
Buying a cheap camera won't ensure bad results.

Pictures are made by people, not cameras, in the same way that we're told by Americans that guns don't kill people, people kill people. Ok, that's a bit unfair but I expect you'll see what I mean. Good programmes and good pictures are made by people who have a flare for compostion and production. I don't have that, I understand the technicalities at a decent level, and the way we see things at a good level. It takes more than just good equipment to make you into an Oscar winner. Some of the best programme production I've ever seen has been by people who didn't give a hoot about the kit, they'd make good stuff on VHS or 70mm.

Alan

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

SimonMW
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Quote:
Some of the best programme production I've ever seen has been by people who didn't give a hoot about the kit, they'd make good stuff on VHS or 70mm.

Well, I would add that it is about the right tool for the right job. The camera operator can only get so far with ability. For example the slow motion shots of the Great White Shark in Planet Earth could have been done with a PD-150 and slowed down in Premiere Pro. But it wouldn't have looked anywhere near as good! Nothing a good operator would be able to do about that. Same goes for landscape shots. They could be shot on a Sony A1, but the latitude would be restrictive and it wouldn't be anywhere near as mind blowing as a full size HD camera.

So yeah, a good operator will always be able to do more with poor equipment than some poor operators can do with good equipment. But there are obviously limits. So it is as well to purchase a camera that is of the best performance that you can afford. Like shoes when you are a kid, sometimes you need the equipment to give you room to grow.

lencap
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My thanks again to each of you. Tom, you are right about my needs, and I appreciate the help in "focusing" (pun intended) my search.

My final question melds all of the thoughts that have been posted. Since I do not now have a camera, and as Alan kindly and gently points out, there is skill required to produce a high quality product, added to the other fact that I will likely never sell any of my footage but may donate my time and shooting time (meaning that the costs will be absorbed by me without the potential to recover them in product sales), does it make sense to consider the Z1 instead of the PD-170 so that as the few years go by I have one foot in the HDV world of 16X9 format with all the footage I'll be creating between now and then? Tom, I note your comment about the weak low light SD capability of the Z1 and that suggests that the PD-170 is still the right choice, but I don't know how severe the low light limitation is for the Z1, or if the soon to be released Canon HDV line will be any better (the Canon cameras all ready have a waiting list here in the States - even though they have not been released and no one has tested them - as DVDoctress points out, people in the states have gone HDV crazy).

Again, thanks to all, the information and friendship on this site is non matched anywhere. You should all be very proud of what you've put together here. It is "over the top" to quote Alan from another post.

Alan Roberts
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You'll find that the Z1 is between 1 and 2 stops less sensitive than the PD170, if you're comparing like with like. That means comparing the gain settings that produce equal or similar video noise from the same lighting level. The great advantage that the Z1 will have under these circumstances is that the noise is largely high-frequency and so may not be as much of a problem when you shoot in HD. If you downconvert the Z1, the noise will be a bit worse than the PD170 at the same light/exposure level. So, if you intend to shoot/show in HD, the Z1 will be better than upconverting the PD, and vice versa if you see what I mean.

I recently bought a 20" lcd monitor for video use (1680x1050) and my A1 looks really nice on it. But upconverting SD to it is far less satisfactory, particularly the terrestrial digital SD we have in the UK (Freeview) which looks dire on it. But, on a 28" Panasonic crt tv set it looks fine. All this is when viewed at around 6 times picture height. Pixel-based displays (lcd, plasma, dlp etc) all make upconverted pictures look poor, and show the effects of compression much more than do the humble (and cheaper) crt displays. Thus is because the modulation-transfer function of pixel-based displays (Sinx/x shaped) is far higher at high spatial frequencies than is the crt (Gaussian shaped), and the Sinx/x function generates spatial alises which the Guassian crt doesn't. So, your impression of a camera's performance will be highly coloured by the technology on which you view it for editing purposes, and on the final display.

Does that help?

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

tom hardwick
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Canon have generally trodden their own path. The XM1 (GL1) was their good answer to the TRV900, the XL1 the really unusual and quite different alternative to the VX2000. Then along comes the XH G1 and A1 and in silhouette you'd not be able to tell them from the FX1 and Z1, so close is the cloning.

This shows an acceptance of Sony's form factor that confirms the suspicions of many; Sony got it right, and the DVX100 and JVC's awful GY-DV301 back this up. Of course all manufacturers have a tear-down department that means their new model benefits from the competition's mistakes and compromises, and in this regard the new Canon can be seen as a facelifted Z1.

But every manufacturer is leap-frogged by the competitor's new model, so the XH-A1 will be made to look lacking by Sony's (Z2) in 18 month's time. Its 20x zoom btw isn't any more wide-angle than Sony's. Will it barrel distort as much? Will it better Sony's 3 lux claim? Will it be subject to product recalls? Who'd buy a new car in the first 6 months of the production run? Not me.

If you ask me as a Z1 owner to list the changes I'd like, I would have to say that the 12x zoom has a neither-here-nor-there range. It's neither wide not tele, and whereas the PD170 only really needed a wide-angle converter (which Sony bundled for free to get rid of the lens mountain), the Z1 needs both to give your pov some slam. The Z1 also needs a decent viewfinder with proper focus resolution capabilities. It needs to be moveable as well - to slot into the accessory shoe for instance for those that favour shoulder mounting.

So Canon have answered. They've also addressed the weird Sony decision not to include Memorystick, and for some having the aperture dial around the lens barrel is the place it should be. Canon have always surprised the world with their production engineering techniques that have allowed aggressive pricing - to the point where Minolta are forced to chuck in the towel.

It could be different in the states, but the here-and-now requirement in the UK is for 16:9 footage, and has been for some time. Lots of widescreen TVs are sold here and some don't even come with a 4:3 format programmed into the remote, such is the swing away from it.

So if you asked me I'd say the 170 was out of the running for this simple fact alone. No doubting that it's a wonderful camera; its sales success since 2001 backs me up. The Z1 is not as good in low light but then again it's remarkable what Sony have managed to squeeze out of chips with pixels a quarter of the size. It may be a good stop and a half down on the 170, but its gain amplifiers mean +18dB is no longer a no-go area.

If you can afford the price, size and form factor of the Z1, go for it now. You're in the middle of the model's life span, an ideal time to board the train. All cameras take some time to adjust to, and Alan's point hold good and true. The more you use the kit, the happier you'll be. The happier you are, the better your films. If you wait for the Canon you might find yourself waiting for Sony's answer, and you'll never join up.

tom.

David W
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Downsampling method
Alan Roberts wrote:
It's limited, it fails miserably on down-conversion and on progressive shooting, but if I stick to interlaced HDV it's fine provided I don't worry too much about taking exposure control.

Alan, could you kindly clarify something for me? I have an A1. I have downloaded and read (and mostly understood!) your invaluable settings document regarding the A1.

I understand your criticism that the HF filter used for SD recording is inappropriate in that it appears to use the same filtration as for HD, resulting in aliasing of HF content above 720 horizontal lines resolution. However if one uses HDV as the recording format (which you acknowledge the A1 does quite well and recommend), and then downconverts to SD in camera is the result the same as conversion on the fly while recording to DV? On the face of it the circumstances do not seem to me to be the same:

a) horizontal input resolution of 1920 off the chip down to 720 as against

b) input resolution of 1440 from the HDV format down to 720?

This last conversion seems to me a relatively trivial affair merely averaging adjacent samples. But then I know things are often not what they seem when you have a little knowledge...!

Thanks,
David Wilkins

Alan Roberts
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The cmos sensor is, indeed 1920x1080 (for video use), but don't forget that it's a Bayer patterened sensor. So, each line of 1920 contains RGRG... pixels or GBGB... pixels. An interpolator's needed to get the "full" resolution picture from those data inputs. In theory, the horizontal resolution of each of RG and B is only 960 (1920/2) while the vertical resolution of G is 1080 and that of R and B is only 540. But the interpolation derives feeds for the YUV coding and that raises the luma resolution to about 1440 but keeps the chroma resolution at around 700. Vertically, it's between 720 and 1080, as you can see from the zone-plate shots. So, it's not straightforward. And that's only the original input from the cmos. Once you start considering the downconversion, you have to deal with the fact that the sensor is scanned interlaced not progressive, so each field of the SD picture (288 lines) is interpolated from the 540 of the HD field. At this point it matters not whether the conversion is before or after the recording, which is why the resolution result's about the same.

Interpolation is far from as simple as pixel averaging, that makes horribly soft pictures, I suspect they use a polyphase bicubic interpolator, 4 taps rather than only 2, and they have to do that horizontally as well as vertically, so you end up with a 4x4 matrix of RGB pixels contributing to each output RGB pixel. Straightforward it ain't. I've got software simulations of these strategies in my own software, and you'd not believe how much it matters, a decent downconverter will use spatial filters for reasmpling ratyher than interpolation, with up to 40 or so pixels horizontally and 10-20 vertically. That takes some grunt but delivers far better resolution.

Itr's all down to how much you want to pay.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

David W
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Thanks Alan,

I had a suspicion that it wasn't that simple, but one occasionally has to ask the simple question!

And you have clearly answered the simple question, namely that the results are similar whether you do the downconversion at the time of recording or subsequentially.

Thanks again,
David Wilkins

lencap
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Thank you

Do you remember opening presents as a child, and finding that each one was better than the last, and the pile kept getting bigger every time you looked.

That is the experience I'm having reading all of your posts. I started with a simple request and each of you have provided a full answer and added more than I could have hoped. I am reading each post several times, so it is taking me some time to absorb, but the wealth of information is truly beyond any expectations I had.

Thanks to all, and I promise to continue reading and learning. Hopefully this thread will contiune for quite some time.

Alan Roberts
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Good lad, keep on trucking :)

If this was easy, any fool could do it.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

DVdoctor
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Alan are you certain that the cmos sensors are scan interlace? We understood that one of the factors driving the move from ccd to cmos was that the new sensors were in fact progressive. This native progressive seems to be the speculation re the new canon Hv10

Sharyn

DVdoctor
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If you want to look at some of the non super technical issues:

16:9 in SD never really caught on in the US as it did in europe but the move to HD displays certainly has, and they are 16:9 so going forward I think that 16:9 will be an important feature.

The whole HDV into broadcasting in the US has a different spin to it, and we are starting to see companies http://www.convergent-design.com/CD_Products_HDConnectSI.htm

building interface units to convert HDV to HD SDI to allow for better integration into work flows. US tends to err on the practical/cost effective side vs the highest quality side, or else why would we have lived with NTSC for all these years ;-) So I think you will begin to see HDV more accepted in the US than perhaps europe.

If you look at the nle's you are seeing a broad base of support for hdv

Lastly sometimes it is worth looking at the cost of an item in terms of what it costs today less what you are likely to be able to sell it for in a few years. I would speculate that the resale value of a HDV camcorder will be higher as a percent in a few years than an sd camcorder.

Just to present some other factors to consider

Sharyn

lencap
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Apple Encoding and HDV conversion

DvDoctress is very correct about HDV in the states. As I consider my camcorder choices I notice that Apple has addressed HDV in both Final Cut Pro and Final Cut Express. The codec used to convert HDV in FCE apparently is designed to pretty lossless, at least compared to Adobe Pro.

You can read Apple's White Paper here: http://www.apple.com/finalcutstudio/resources/white_papers/HDV_FAQ.pdf#search=%22apple%20hdv%20editing%22

I don't really understand all of it, but i'm sure the experts on this site will. According to the paper HDV imported under FCP isn't degraded at all unless there is an edit, and even then the error rate appears to be very low. Those with an engineering background may be able to convert the math to real world examples for the rest of us. ;)

So far the biggest problem I believe is the lack of distribution potential for the HD (HDV) format. Maybe Blu-Ray will help the HDV crowd reach critical mass.

DVdoctor
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the point of distrubution is an excellent one

John has been actively attempting to get more support from the HD DVD group (microsoft/toshiba) in officially supporting HDV and AVCHD on red laser disks. Sony of course is back dooring this with the AVCHD new line of camcorders which use standard red dvd's for media but play in BD players, supposedly PS3 and PC's.

Our opinion is that the price of BD and HD players will drop more rapidly than the price of media and that in the interim there will be an active segment of the HDV "home brew market" since HD/BD players have not hit europe in a big way, most of the activity is in the US.

SO our take on all this is:
For better of for worse, HDV is here to stay, and at least in the US, broadcasters will accept it as a format, they may not like it, but not unlike DV in the early days, they will live with it. What we will see is converters like the Convergent Design, Miranda etc, will be used to take HDV and convert it into HD SDI and then it will be imported into NLE's and will be output as a more robust HD format. Not perfect, Not the best, but in some ways like when people took DV and converted it over to DigiBeta.

At the prosumer level, we will see some early adopters of BD HD media distributing content on BD/HD media, but at least for a while due to simple economics, we will see an emergence of a intermediate market for HD content on Standard red laser dvd's. It has been our view that BD HD has more to do about drm and content pretectioin than actually technology at this stage. Sure there is an progression of the technology for greater stoarge ability, but DRM is really the issue. We belive that sony figured this out in the camcorder division when they looked at the cost and size and difficulty of incorporating BD into a consumer level Camcorder, and decided that AVCHD was the interim step. It is clear that whilst the Games division was willing to give in to BD and Forced BD into the PS3 it was clear that the argument of loosing hundreds of dollars per unit simply to increase the installed base for BD was not practical in the least. Sony sees this and quickly got AVCHD support into the BD players. Since toshiba/microsoft are not in the camcorder business, it has been an interesting challenge to try to get them to see that this needs to be in HD DVD

Probably this topic is at least worth an OP to get the discussion going

Sharyn

Alan Roberts
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The scanning of the cmos sensor itself does, indeed, have to be progressive in order to extract the RGB data for interpolation, but the output of that interpolator is interlaced fields, not progressive frames. You only have to look at the vertical resolution to see that, and in particular at the vertical resolution when the A1 is switched into Cineframe mode which it claims to be progressive. In this mode, the vertical resolution is lower than in interlaced, not higher, as it should be. The evidence is compelling, and is fully reported in my setting document on the A1.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

DVdoctor
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So that might be why the new Canon HV 10 might be impressing some people in a head to head comparison. Canon's expertise in Stills Digital and cmos might give them an edge here

Sharyn

DVdoctor
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I would also say look at the Canon XH series

Sharyn

infocus
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dvdoctoress wrote:
US tends to err on the practical/cost effective side vs the highest quality side, or else why would we have lived with NTSC for all these years ;-)

I feel another factor may be at work here if there is a US/Europe divide, and that is that new technology seems to come to market far quicker than in Europe.

Colour TV, and NTSC, is a very good example. You've been saddled with it all these years because a standard was set almost as soon as it was possible to do it at all (1953). For the next 15 years, most production was still in black and white (colour cameras were expensive, not too practical, and not too reliable) and few people had colour receivers - hence widespread colour TV viewing didn't really happen that much earlier than in the UK. But it meant the US had got stuck with an inferior standard. (There was a move for the UK to adopt a standard much earlier, using NTSC colour on the then 405 line system. Fortunately, it never got beyond the experimental stage.)

The real lesson is that timing is just as important as a technology itself. A couple of years ago I started a thread bemoaning that the UK was being left behind whilst HD services were actively underway in such as the US, Japan and Australia. (Was it really less than 3 years ago!?!) Well, at least even that delay has meant that we've avoided certain issues that have affected such as the US, and can start straight off with H264 compression, all HD sets with HDMI from the start etc.

Regarding HDV, I think the main reason why broadcasters don't favour it is as much due to it currently being only available in association with consumer style cameras and 1/3" chips in particular. An HDV DSR570 may be a different kettle of fish, but Sony seem to have discounted such a beast in favour of HD XDCAM. Data wise that is not too much different to HDV, in one mode even less. As far as the future goes, the writing is on the wall for tape, and new cameras are likely to offer more recording choices - trade off quality for bitrate and recording time. Professional and consumer cameras will be distinguished solely by their front ends, and no longer the recording medium.

Alan Roberts
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Yep, thats' all about right.

The broadcaster motive against HDV is aimed mostly at the performance of the 1080-line HDV camcorders rather than the format itself. There is one legitimate mark against HDV format though, the 4:2:0 chroma sampling, which makes keying much harder to get right.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

StevenBagley
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I found the BBC's description of what it classes as upconversion online http://www.bbc.co.uk/guidelines/delivering_quality/pdf/tv/hd_summary_delivery_formats_v01_01.pdf

Quote:
2.1. The following formats are considered to be standard definition:
o All standard definition video formats
o HDV from all manufactures
o Super16 film whether transferred to tape in high definition or not
o 35mm film transferred to standard definition tape formats
o Non linear editing codecs with bit rates below 160Mbs
o Live contributions via links at less than 60Mbs (MPEG2)

Presumably that last one would also rule out XDCamHD (even the proposed 50Mbps version).

Steven

SimonMW
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Dunno why that would rule out the XD. The SDI out from XD is uncompressed (its chroma upconverted with the current HD XD, but the 2/3" HD version will no doubt be the same as the current SD XD's and output uncompressed from the head, subject to 4:2:2 sampling)

The sixth one down also rules out DVCpro100 and the forthcoming Infinity in most modes!!

The fourth one down is fairly silly in some respects. With the new digital scanning technology they have developed Arri are marketing Super 16 as a high def format. Very odd. Modern S16 film stocks are certainly MUCH higher resolution than SD.

Considering this emphasis on supposed high quality, turning their noses up at seemingly all and sundry, perhaps they should take a look at the quality of their own Freeview broadcasts! It might as well be on Hi-8 most of the time! But hey, good to know all their stuff looks fanastic in the editing suite. Its just a shame that the rest of us can't see it! ;)

StevenBagley
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Quote:
Dunno why that would rule out the XD. The SDI out from XD is uncompressed (its chroma upconverted with the current HD XD, but the 2/3" HD version will no doubt be the same as the current SD XD's and output uncompressed from the head, subject to 4:2:2 sampling)

Well if 60Mbps MPEG2 is not allowed live, then I can't see quite how they'd let 50Mbps encoded live and replayed off disk through...

I suspect the NLE codec one is to protect codec concatenation with the low bitrate camera codecs and is ensuring enough headroom in the codec to accurately capture the codec's artefacts...

SimonMW wrote:
But hey, good to know all their stuff looks fanastic in the editing suite. Its just a shame that the rest of us can't see it! ;)

Looks lovely here via BBC HD :)

Steven

infocus
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SimonMW wrote:
The sixth one down also rules out DVCpro100 and the forthcoming Infinity in most modes!!

I assume you mean the fifth? "Non linear editing codecs with bit rates below 160Mbs?"

I suspect these "rules" are regularly reviewed (the first page seems to imply this), and the 160Mbs guideline may therefore apply to current NLE codecs, but not necessarily more advanced ones in the future, such as JPEG2000 or AVC-Intra. Hence DVCProHD would indeed seem to be ruled out, but it may be too early to draw conclusions about future cameras.

Similarly the sixth rule does indeed seem to exclude HD XDCAM, since it does definately refer to MPEG2. I would assume that if better codecs were used for contribution though, the 60Mbs limit would then be revised?

Quote:
But hey, good to know all their stuff looks fanastic in the editing suite. Its just a shame that the rest of us can't see it!

I won't disagree with you about Freeview, it can't be often that a system is highly slated as unacceptable when it has only begun to take over from what it replaces! But tech specs mean far more than what a system looks like straight off the original tape - see the post I made at http://forums.dvdoctor.net/showthread.php?t=39115 , post no 10, about whether or not the Torchwood rumours could be true.

Quote: ".....the general principle is that a codec may compress a signal in such a way that the lost information is not missed on simple viewing, but may be badly missed come subsequent post production or further compression along the broadcast chain."

[EDIT: I see Stevens already beaten me to that point! :)]

Alan Roberts
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Bear in mind that 160MB/s also rules out HDCAM. What all this means is that editing is to be done uncompressed, but capture need not be. So HDCAM, DVCProHD etc are fine for capture but not for editing. That makes a lot of sense to me, since editing is where it can all be made to go wroing very easily, particularly in keying operations like complex grading.

The whole point of capture compression is that it's done once and once only. There's a large body of research showing that concatenated compressors are least harmful when the highest compression is done first rather than last. So, for production this means that the editing format must be considerably less compressed than the capture format. Then the deliverable will be at its best. What happens to it then is a matter for the client.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

dave carnegie
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Joined: Dec 26 2002

has anybody tried the wide angle attachment and if so any good. i might get a bit rash and buy one if worth the money

dave carnegie

tom hardwick
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Joined: Apr 8 1999

The 'clip-on' wide-angle converters made by Raynox and sold by Jessops perform well on the HC1. Compact, light, well coated, a snap to fit (ha!) and don't cost much either.

tom.

dave carnegie
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tom

you don`t happen to remember the model number do you and the price as there does not appear to be one on jessops site now

dave

dave carnegie

tom hardwick
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This hi-jacks the thread a bit Dave, but here's part of my review for FVM magazine:

The Raynox QC-505

Most wide-angle converters are fairly bulky affairs, and many weigh in at over 300gms in a 58mm fitting – a lot of weight for delicate filter threads to support. These will be of multi-element design, allowing full zoom through – meaning that once attached you can use your camcorder’s zoom from one end to the other with no problem. But more and more there appears to be a swing towards the use of the single element converter, and Raynox are in the forefront of this technology. There are good reasons to go this way, and Fig 1 shows how compact such a lens can be. This particular version is designed for filter threads of 27mm to 37mm (so it fits the Sony TRV950 beautifully), and if you’re wondering how it is that a lens can fit such a wide variety of filter threads, have a look at Fig 3 – here you can see the integral spring clips that enable the converter to grip your camcorder’s filter threads.

Small, light, quick

The advantages of such a lens being small and light are offset slightly by the fact that once attached to the front of your zoom lens you’ll find your zooming range restricted to about half its original, depending on how powerful an auto-focus system is fitted. So instead of having a 4mm to 48mm 12x zoom say, you’ll now have a 2mm to 12mm 6x zoom – after which the image goes completely and quickly out of focus. It’s a dramatic switch between being sharp and being completely soft, though this can look good when used as a focus pull if you’re careful. The reason for this is that when placed in front of your camera the auto focus takes the new negative element into consideration as it thinks you’re simply filming in the macro mode. As you zoom towards telephoto with the converter in place the auto focus mechanism reaches its design limit and the image immediately blurs. You can of course lock the focus and manually adjust it just as you would without the converter lens in place.

Another advantage of a single element converter is that there’s the potential for a lot less flare spoiling your shots. Every element that you put in front of your zoom adds two surfaces to reflect light, and a three element lens will add 6 extra surfaces, all having the capability of adding to the flare. A single element makes a lot of sense out in the real world by keeping contrast high and weight down.

The clips that attach this lens to your filter threads are backed by powerful springs hidden in little rectangular housings diametrically opposite one another on the circumference of the lens. Exactly like fitting a lens cap you simply push in the springs, offer up the lens to your filter threads and let go – simple as that. To take it off again is simply a matter of compressing the springs slightly and lifting the lens away, and it’s precisely because this operation is so quick and simple that I never once regretted the loss of full zoom-through. The lens could be off and into your top pocket in just one second, and you were back to filming with your prime zoom once more. The Raynox does in fact come with a waterproof envelope (Fig 2), and conscientious moviemakers will carefully re-house it when not needed. I found myself quite happy to use a top shirt pocket – an impossibility with any bulky zoom-through lens.

Performance

The image quality from this little lens is quite outstanding and much better than I had a right to expect at the price. Jessops – not known for the competitive nature of their pricing in this www age – are selling this for £19.99 – the same price as a 58mm multi-coated Hoya UV filter. Worth popping over to http://www.jessops.com for a look. Fig 4 shows the back of my garage shot with the Panasonic three chip camcorder atop my Slick Master tripod, aimed squarely at the wall. Deadly dull I know, but brick walls enable a lot of lens faults to be spotted, whereas a lot of the demonstration shots such as those shown on the Raynox site are designed to hide these defects of course. As you can see, the Leica Dicomar on the Panasonic has its fair share of barrel distortion at the wide-angle end of the zoom, and this curves all straight lines in the picture that don’t pass through the centre of the frame.

And so on...

tom.

Claire
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The Raynox lenses sound most interesting, though the lack of zoom through is something one should consider carefully. If like me you findyourself in situations where there is no time or space to change lenses my prefered lens for the A1,(which is what this thread is about is, is for the Sony Higrade WA lens, which provided you keep the sun off the front is superb at any focal length and really empowers the user in fast changing situations.

Claire

Alan Roberts
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Agreed, that's what I use as well.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

dave carnegie
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Brought the Raynox DVR-5000 wide-angle convertor 0.5x last week for use on Sony HVR A1E. Claire`s comments about no zoom through to tele were spotted very quickly. In my haste forgot to set in menu for wide-angle convertor so a bit upset with result but nowsince doing have become a happy old codger. Main thing is that it does the job required at a price. Made a point in viewing results in 1080i via a video projector and colour and stuff Ok.
Do find the camera (x2) good work horses.
Thanks Tom for pointing me in right direction

dave carnegie

mooblie
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dave carnegie wrote:
........ In my haste forgot to set in menu for wide-angle convertor so a bit upset with result but nowsince doing have become a happy old codger......

Dave (or anybody): Does this just adjust the parameters used by SteadyShot, or does it do something else as well when set for "WideAngle"?

Martin - DVdoctor in moderation. Everyone is entitled to my opinion.

Alan Roberts
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It adjusts the "gain" of the steadyshot, that's all.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

mooblie
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Thanks, Alan.

Martin - DVdoctor in moderation. Everyone is entitled to my opinion.

tom hardwick
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I use a 0.5x with the Z1 and never move from the 'normal' Steadyshot position, finding it impossible to tell the difference between w/angle and normal settings.

mooblie
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Thanks Tom, I was wondering if it made much difference.

Dave (Carnegie) - did you notice any benefit from changing the setting?

Martin - DVdoctor in moderation. Everyone is entitled to my opinion.

dave carnegie
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yes, sort of, did look better. alan might know why?

will give it a whirl next week and take it into the woods to try out out my 3 golden oldie wonder dogs., they don`t move to fast.

let you know.

dave carnegie

Alan Roberts
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The default settings are sort-of right for the normal lens. The "wide-angle settings" lower the gain of the correction circuit, because the same camera movement at a wider angle causes less image movement so needs less compensation.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

elliotmark2000
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A1 HDV to SD workflow...

Just read your many posts on DVDoctor, about the A1.
Many thanks for all the helpful information.

I shoot on 16mm when I can, but generally for observational documentaries & corporate stuff I've a PDX10, and edit on Final Cut Pro 5. My end product would normally be SD on mini-dv, or SD on DVD.

I'm considering getting the A1 - however, I've had second thoughts having read Alan Robert's comments that the A1 is barely acceptable in SD mode, or even post-shoot in-camera downconversion.

Any comments on this?
What sort of workflow would be best then for the A1 for an SD end-product?
And how would the image quality compare to just shooting on my PDX10?

Also, Alan recommends against using the cineframe setting - any ideas how it would compare to straightforward "deinterlace" filter on FCP?

Finally, since its HD successor has come out, I've now seen the Panasonic DVX100B available for almost the same cost as the A1 - any thoughts on me getting that instead?
How would that image compare to the A1 with SD as the end-product?

Many thanks,

Elliot.

elliotmark2000 [AT] hotmail.com

elliotmark2000
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A1 HDV to SD workflow...

ust read your many posts on DVDoctor, about the A1.
Many thanks for all the helpful information.

I shoot on 16mm when I can, but generally for observational documentaries & corporate stuff I've a PDX10, and edit on Final Cut Pro 5. My end product would normally be SD on mini-dv, or SD on DVD.

I'm considering getting the A1 - however, I've had second thoughts having read Alan Robert's comments that the A1 is barely acceptable in SD mode, or even post-shoot in-camera downconversion.

Any comments on this?
What sort of workflow would be best then for the A1 for an SD end-product?
And how would the image quality compare to just shooting on my PDX10?

Also, Alan recommends against using the cineframe setting - any ideas how it would compare to straightforward "deinterlace" filter on FCP?

Finally, since its HD successor has come out, I've now seen the Panasonic DVX100B available for almost the same cost as the A1 - any thoughts on me getting that instead?
How would that image compare to the A1 with SD as the end-product?

Many thanks,

Elliot.

elliotmark2000 [AT] hotmail.com

tom hardwick
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You don't say if you're shooting 16:9 footage Elliot but I'll take it you are, for there's very little reason to use the PDX10 otherwise. The camera uses tiny 1"/5 chips which are horrendously prone to CCD smear, and in the 16:9 mode only goes part way to being full res contrary to all the press blurb.

The A1 uses a much bigger 1"/3 CMOS chip and in all honesty has been designed as an HDV camcorder that pretty sensibly is backwards compatible - i.e. will play SD, record SD and downconvert HDV to SD. I'd guess it's not really meant for the likes of a 16mm man who's used to a huge gate, aperture rings around the lens, manual and accurate focus onto ground glass screens, proper high speed slo-mo and controlable DOF.

The Ai has been kept very compact by doing away with a lot of switches (internal/ auto ND, for instance) and having bottom loading. The Z1 is looking at you right now.

As to the DVX100B. Well, I'll give Panasonic's marketing department their due in introducing the B as 'NEW', but what have the top brass foistered upon them? There's Canon and Sony surging ahead with their HDV cams in exactly the same price range (G1 and V1) but both have twice the zoom range and both have 3.75x the sharpness. Wow - and all because the Panny MD said 'Let's go with P2'.

This is to take nothing away from the DVX, for it produces some of the nicest SD footage I've seen. It's also festooned with all sorts of shooting modes for those who want to bugger up their footage before it hits the timeline. But it's time has come and it did well, congratulations. In this HDV world I simply cannot see who's buying it, especially when they have to add Panasonic's expensive 1.33x anamorphic to the shopping basket as well.

tom.

elliotmark2000
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re. A1 HDV to SD workflow...

thanks tom

you ask about shooting 16:9.

that would depend on the quality of the resolution when in SD final form.

I use 16mm for short fiction for festivals, but video for corporate work, typically played back on decent sized televisions from SD DVDs, sometimes projected.
This work varies from upbeat promos to fly-on-the-wall ob docs.

My budget for a possible upgrade from my PDX10 is around £1650 - which could get me an A1 or a Panasonic DVX100. Either way, my end product for the time being at least, will be SD output.

That being so, I'm still not sure which is better to use for higher quality / better resolution / nearer apparent broadcast quality (even if not for broadcast):
The Sony A1 (if so, which HDV-SD workflow?), the Panasonic DVX100, or save my money for the time being and keep using my PDX10 until HD end-using becomes more common.

Something I'm also interested in is progressive scan - and again, the option seem to be shoot on PDX10 and deinterlace in Final Cut Pro, shoot A1 either using cineframe or deinterlacing in post, or finally, just use 25p on the DVX100.

Any ideas?

Cheers,

Elliot.

elliotmark2000 [AT] hotmail.com

tom hardwick
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First off, I can't believe anyone will be buying 4:3 footage off you for corporate showing these days, which pretty much puts paid to the DVX unless you want to get tied down to the compromises that go hand in hand with using an anamorphic. Much better to shoot native 16:9 right from the word go, I'd say. SD of course, because that's what the board room's DVD player can play.

The DVX is a much nicer camera than the PDX10 as regards dof control, ND switching and full manual control, but as I say, I really feel it's hardly worth switching as in this HDV world it looks to me like a sideways move. Much better in low light though and less lens flare than the PDX. Only a 10x zoom though.

If you're sold on shooting 25p then the Panasonic is far better than either of the two Sonys. The very latest Sony V1 has proper 25p but the cine frame modes are just silly in my view. Can't comment on deinterlacing in post using FCP as I haven't tried it, but I bet it works well and doesn't lose you the stop in sensitivity that the DVX suffers in this mode.

From a financial viewpoint now's the time to sell the PDX10. I sold mine 3 months ago and got top dollar for it, but every week brings another HDV camera onto the stage that devalues it. The same goes for the DVX - great camera, but 'only' SD. You'll have trouble selling it for more than £600 12 months from now.

I haven't helped you much, have I? Maybe you should sell the PDX10 this afternoon and go get a Sony V1. Wait a couple of months because the first ones nearly always have bugs, but proper 25p, a 20x zoom, real InfoLithiums, 16:9 and HDV for free.

tom.

MattDavis
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tom hardwick wrote:
I can't believe anyone will be buying 4:3 footage off you for corporate showing these days

This is very true - but... That wretched PowerPoint keeps a fair slice of Corporate in 4:3 mode, and probably will continue to do so until Microsoft, in their infinite wisdom, produce an anamorphizer. And don't get me started on my favourite pet peeve: PPT on plasmas - always 4:3 stretched out to fill the screen. A friend of mine gets good money converting PPT presos to anamorphic!

tom hardwick wrote:
Can't comment on deinterlacing in post using FCP as I haven't tried it, but I bet it works well and doesn't lose you the stop in sensitivity that the DVX suffers in this mode.

Please do try DVFilm and Smart Deinterlace from Nattress. I swear by the former, because it works outside of FCP and is slightly less of a resource hog, though am swinging to the latter as it is faster. Whilst you can't really use your Mac whilst FCP is busy, there's only so many hours in an overnight render! :eek:

tom hardwick wrote:
I haven't helped you much, have I? Maybe you should sell the PDX10 this afternoon and go get a Sony V1.

"The PDX-10 shortly to appear on eBay has been cherished and is in superb condition... Broadcast quality... Ideal for travel shoots... High resolution stills..." :D

Matt Davis - Director/Editor - Write, shoot, edit, publish - website & Blog
2x EX1R, FS100 & FS700 into FCPX & CS6

elliotmark2000
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re. A1 HDV to SD workflow...

Hi

Thanks for your comments again.

Matt&Ruby kindly replied direct to my email with the following excellent sounding Final Cut Pro suggestion for A1 workflow:

"you can shoot ingest and edit in HDV, then do an export to DVCPRO-50 (preferably doing an adaptive de-interlace too). Have the DVCPRO-50 file make the DVD MPEG or get it transferred to DigiBeta or BetaSP. This will get you much better colour resolution."

Big thanks to them!

I wonder from other people's experience, what sort of results they've had.

You might be surprised about corporate stuff being still shot on SD 4:3 - but it's true, i do a variety of work - mainly ob docs, and tourism promos for inflight viewing, and that's what I've been shooting quite happily on my PDX10.

As mentioned earlier, I've been shooting shorts on 16mm, but having just come by a little bit of cash, I'm interested in buying either the DVX100 or A1 - to be used for both the sort of corporate work i've been doing, and for future short and music promos.
Hence my initial question:

Seeing as end-use will be DVD for a standard TV screen or standard projector, and that the current cost of both the A1 and DVX100B is the same - which camera, in your experience/opinion, will shoot the "higher quality-looking" image - which final image, to the lay client eye, will look "more professional", ie. like the images they see on prime-time telly.

Thanks again.

E.

elliotmark2000 [AT] hotmail.com

Unicorn
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Yeah, if I haven't already mentioned it in this thread, I output to DVCPRO 50 to compress to DVD as well. Seems to be the best compromise, as it's already higher quality than the DVD image.

P4-3.06/2GB RAM/2500GB IDE/SATA. Avid Media Composer, Liquid Edition, Premiere 6, Lightwave, Vue 6, eyeon Fusion 5. DV and HDV editing/compositing.

Alan Roberts
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Cineframe mode in the A1 is 540-line, poor. You're far better shooting interlace and de-interlacing in post, if that's what you want. The A1's a hig-end consumer camera, not a low-end pro camera. It has pretensions, what with the XLR pod and the extra software controls, but it's still a consumer camera.

I've sent you a PM.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

MattDavis
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Alan Roberts wrote:
The A1's a hig-end consumer camera, not a low-end pro camera.

Here's a question...

Has anyone seen a difference between the HDV-->DV downsample quality of the A1 vs the Z1?

I've realised a big flaw in my reasoning and tests: I've shot on a borrowed A1 and put the tape into my own Z1 for ingest. Downsampled HDV looks, to my eyes on a JVC Grade 2 CRT monitor, slightly softer than DV in a ProMist kind of way - nice - without the overt edge enhancement of DV (from my PD150 footage). It looks 'nice' without loss of percieved resolution. I prefer it to DV.

But...

I don't have any examples of A1 HDV downsampled to SD using an A1. Is there a difference?

Matt Davis - Director/Editor - Write, shoot, edit, publish - website & Blog
2x EX1R, FS100 & FS700 into FCPX & CS6

tom hardwick
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>Seeing as end-use will be DVD for a standard TV screen or standard projector, and that the current cost of both the A1 and DVX100B is the same - which camera, in your experience/opinion, will shoot the "higher quality-looking" image - which final image, to the lay client eye, will look "more professional", ie. like the images they see on prime-time telly.

OK, with these parameters firmly in place I'd go for the Sony. The 'higher quality looking image' and 'more like TV images' will almost certainly come down to something as simple as differential focus. Both cameras have 1"/3 chips and 10x zooms but the DVX goes to 45 mm at f/2.8 whereas the A1 goes to 50.1 mm at f/2.1. That's more tele and very nearly a stop faster. You'll need a wide-angle converter though.

If you're a photographer rather than a point and shooter you'll much prefer the DVX. It has proper controls for w/bal, focus, ND filter switching and so on, and will keep you informed with on screen displays of the gain you're using and so on. But it's a lot bulkier, the side-screen needs a Hoodman in bright sunlight and 72 mm filters and accessories will cost you a lot more.

It's a tough one, but Alan didn't buy a DVX, so that's good enough for me.

tom.

Alan Roberts
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Matt, yes, there's a considerable difference. See my settings docs for both cameras, there are measurement results there. The Z1 downconversion is rather better than the A1's is, although I'd not be surprised if they both use the same hardware/software to do it, but with some extra detail wound in on the A1 to make up for the inherently lower res of the A1.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

elliotmark2000
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Hi Tom

Thanks for that.

In response to your point&shoot / photographer question - I am in fact both - depends on he project - for documentary-type work it's the former, for pop promo / short films then the latter (with more experience shooting 16mm for that) in fact.

As mentioned, for the docu stuff, I've been shooting PDX10, but with the money available to buy either an A1 or DVX100 (V1 out of range I'm afraid), I've been wondering between the 2, or holding out till something else in the price region comes along, and the HD end-user side becomes more developed.

As I know how to manipulate external lighting, depth of field, composition etc., it actually sounds to me like I could still get good images from the A1 without the need for the extra options the DVX100 has.
And if I understand you right, in your opinion, with SD DVD as end-point, the A1 could produce "higher quality-looking / more professional" images to the lay TV viewer?

If that's correct, what are your thoughts on the HDV to SD DVD workflow on Final Cut?
Do you agree with the other post about editing as HDV, then downconverting to DVCPro50 before going to DVD mpeg?

Thanks,

Elliot.

MattDavis
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tom hardwick wrote:
>something as simple as differential focus. Both cameras have 1"/3 chips and 10x zooms but the DVX goes to 45 mm at f/2.8 whereas the A1 goes to 50.1 mm at f/2.1.

A bit of googling claims the A1 has a 1/5" chip over the 1/3" DVX, negating the A1's DoF claims - this would be backed up with my experiences with both the A1 and the PDX-10 if I had bothered to employ scientific technique - sorry. But the DVX is still 4:3 over the A1's 16:9 - the latter being de rigeur for pro shoots in Europe these days.

Isn't there some bestial infernal satanic device that will ingest its self betwixt the imager and the recorder and shoot it out to USB2? So you need a Mac to act as tape deck, but you get HD(ish) and 9 stops (!!!!) latitude in exchange for a warranty and a few slips of paper? Ahh... here it is.

:cool:

Matt Davis - Director/Editor - Write, shoot, edit, publish - website & Blog
2x EX1R, FS100 & FS700 into FCPX & CS6

MattDavis
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elliotmark2000 wrote:
I am in fact both - depends on the project

Something just struck me... Have you seen "28 Days"? Here's a film (as in cinematic release, totally mainstream, distributed on celluloid) that was shot on a 4:3 DV platform - Canon's XL1.

I love the film because it slips from Monumental Epic to Dr Who circa 1976 to Teletubbies without the audience really noticing. Not quite Sean of the Dead, but darn good fun.

And at no point did I think "gosh, I wonder if that's an XL1 or a PD150?"

When watching again (and again, and again) with the Director's commentary - why else buy a DVD - I was struck by the recurring theme: it was shot in DV because it was QUICK, it was FAST - you have 15 minutes to shoot London at a stand-still, including the time it takes to lay a double-deck bus in a street and scatter a few bloated corpses outside the offices of multinational companies.

Here is the one big asterisked "underlined in red" example of "story over format" - buy a camera you like. Let noone bully a film-maker because of their choice of camera. Or edit software.

Having said that, I still lean towards the DVX if you can't wait/afford the V1. 1/5" is so small that I can't believe it can make the foreground 'pop'.

I could be wrong - again. I should have sold my PDX-10 a long time ago...

Matt Davis - Director/Editor - Write, shoot, edit, publish - website & Blog
2x EX1R, FS100 & FS700 into FCPX & CS6

tom hardwick
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Well Sony's own website (forget googling) lists it as a 1"/3 CMOS sensor Matt. Admitedly it's a 4:3 sensor, so snipping a 16:9 rectangle out of that reduces its size by 11% or so. Still considerably bigger than the PDX10s - also a 4:3 sensor BTW. Of course if you shoot 4:3 on the A1 you reduce the sensor size yet again ~ not a good idea.

Let's backtrack slightly Elliot. You'll get "higher quality-looking / more professional" images if you understand what's going on. I have a friend with a DVX100A and he really hasn't a clue. Another friend has an ancient and tiny DX100 and his grasp of the photographic fundamentals makes his footage leaps and bounds better; there really is no comparison. Yet if you put both cameras side by side you'd be easily fooled into making the wrong decision.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. All cameras are cheap, experience is expensive. By the sound of it you understand the need to avoid diffraction, the need for aspect ratio hoods, the need use wide-angles to control perspective, the absolute necessity to lock down the exposure shot for shot. My guess is (from reading your posts) that you'd never in 1000 years tell the difference between footage shot on the DVX and the A1 if you gained experience with each.

Thing is, I'm not too sure that you'll tell the footage from your PDX10 either, especially if you know the latter's failings and how to circumnavigate them. Experience at work, see? Thinking about this more I'd say don't buy just yet - hold on till you can afford the V1 (because he insists on 25p, chaps).

Yes, edit as HDV, then downconverting to DVCPro50 before going to DVD mpeg2.

tom.

Accipiter
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Revisiting Sony HVR-A1E and V1E... not Z1E

:eek: Hi everyone :)

Just recently joined this forum looking for information regarding the Sony HVR A1E and also V1E. Found this thread, although started 2 years ago, highly informative regarding the A1 as well as the Z1... and other camcorders mentioned.

I'd like to reopen the discussion if I may as it's been some time since the first discussion started - and ended - as I wonder if users information has changed any during the time. Also, has the A1 changed much in the time since it was commented on in 2005?

I'm also interested in members opinions with regards to the V1E - replacement for the PD170? - along with the A1E. I've done the usual looking via the internet for some reviews, prices etc., and spent part of a day up in Stockport at a very recent Sony presentation for the pro stuff on Thursday 29th November. I was extremely impressed with both the cameras I mention --- along with MANY of the others there that are well out of my price bracket what with other required equipment.

Any updates since first discussing the A1 and now along side the V1E, different cam I know, would be helpful. I realise many will ask the usual Qs of what will it/they be used for. Well, general use for putting together some wildlife footage, village scenes, country shows/demos and anything else that will grab my attention...

Thanks in anticipation - and trepidation as I realise there are some extremely knowledgable folk here :)

Frank

tom hardwick
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Yes Frank, I'd place the V1 as the firm replacement for the PD170 and the A1 as the
PDX10's successor. But the cameras are in very different price brackets so I wouldn't want to see the films you make with that very long zoom on the V1 if you couldn't afford an expensive tripod (say £400). So certainly go for the V1 if wildlife is what you're after and if full manual control and information is important to you.

But the A1 (still going strong as far as I know) is a lot more compact and less intrusive and less good in the gloom and so on. But the price difference will let you buy a wide-converter (both cameras need one) and a video light and a camera bag.

tom.

Accipiter
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Thanks Tom for your response... it confirms what I was thinking; that it may be a case of one of each, or "similar" models at some point for differing shooting environments.

I'm quite taken with the covert size of the A1... pity the zoom isn't that bit more but that's what I'm finding; no camera fits all the requirements :( I hav some reservations of using a tele convertor in regards to loss of quality in the shots...

One of the areas that I go for the wildlife shooting is on the Wiltshire Downs. Some shooting of various birds in flight + other wildlife. Quite steep slopes, uneven ground and such. I was thinking a mono-pod would work and be more flexible in those conditions; I could be on the slope wanting to pan all round down and around, back up the slopes... I could see myself falling over one of the legs of the tripod - BUT all your suggestions/recommendations are taken fully on board, thanks. I have a couple of tripods but am unsure if one of them would do for the V1. A1 definately... V1?

Frank

Michael Renn
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Hi!
I have been shooting with the HVR-A1E for about a year, and have been pleased with the results. One of the items that were discussed was the Zoom. Although in the past I have never been happy to use a digital zoom, I have found that on this camcorder the digital zoom is quite good and I have been happy to use it at full 100x zoom on occasions. The results on HD are (for me) at least quite acceptable. Why not take a tape down to your local supplier, and ask if you can shoot a small amount of footage?

Regards Mike

Gavin Gration
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My experience of the HC1E (consumer version of A1) is that at the long end it hunts a lot even in good light.

I struggled with it on a monopod - the IS isn't too brill at long focal lengths either.

Soft and quivery is how I'd describe it.

Most other situations it's a gem and pairs well with the Z1.

Accipiter
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Thanks Mike. It would be nice if the A1 would give me most of what I want/need for the use I'm aiming for with these camcorders. Small size with that "extra" zoom would be helpful and I realise getting some footage would be most beneficial in answering my questions - with the use of teleconvertors included.

I guess I'm no different to others that ask a question or 4 in that we are just hoping others have the perfect answer for us :)

At least I'm getting that much closer to making a decision... all input welcome as it gives me other things to think of if I've not already thought I had thought of them ;) thanks

Frank

tom hardwick
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It hunts, Gavin? You mean for focus? Soft and quivery sounds like a medical condition. You sure your HC doesn't need looking at and comparing alongside another n the same conditions?

Alan Roberts
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I'm happy with my A1, even though I know just how much aliasing it makes, and the mess that can make on pictures. It did a good job in Jordan and Egypt.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

Accipiter
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And thanks to you also Gavin :) I was thinking that the A1 would be "fairly" fine with hand held work and just thinking the monopod would suit the conditions with the V1. Appreciate your input.

I'd noticed in the previous discussions that have taken place back from 05 to 06 that it was discussed along with the Z1. Unfortunately I feel the size will be a limiting factor - hence the V1 consideration.

I'd also been told by Sony at the show, on the 29th Nov, that the Z1 was having an update to the Z7 which will have interchangable lense facility so doubt I'd think of the Z1 now even if the size wasn't a consideration :)

Not sure why Sony are thinking along bringing out the Z7 when they have a far more worthy candidate for interchangable lenses with the solid state XDCAMS which wont be much more that the Z7 when it comes along! Still a size issue I feel "for me".

I could see myself using an A1 and V1 though :D

tom hardwick
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I suspect that at the moment the V1 eats into the Z1's sales as for most people '20x zoom' sounds a lot more exciting than '1"/3 chips'. Keeping the chip size but moving to CMOS and adding lens interchangeability will distance the Z7 from the V1, and pull the punters more successfully.

Accipiter
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Alan Roberts wrote:
I'm happy with my A1, even though I know just how much aliasing it makes, and the mess that can make on pictures. It did a good job in Jordan and Egypt.

Thanks Alan.

Q. Would, do you feel from your experience of the A1, that the zoom capabilities of the A1 "just" suffice in capturing birds in flight? Apologies if that comes across as a daft Q as I realise it will have limitations depending on the distances :o 10x compared to a 20x... visible "shake" if the situation has meant hand held rather than tripod. Ok... easy way to find out would be to try both at a "local" dealer over Bristol way;)

Frank

tom hardwick
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If you get hold of the V1 the v'finder will tell you when you're at the 10x zoom position. You might be quite surprised how little is gained by then zooming to full telephoto. The A1 with a 2x teleconverter will give you a much faster lens, but with huge loss of zoom capability of course.

MattDavis
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Sony = Dolmansaxlil
Accipiter wrote:
Not sure why Sony are thinking along bringing out the Z7 when they have a far more worthy candidate for interchangable lenses with the solid state XDCAMS which wont be much more that the Z7

Segmentation. Sony lives by it.

The EX1 is the Z1 of XDCAM-HD - small, neat, sort of manual lens, half inch chip and sexy sensor. So why bother with anything bigger? Interchangeable lenses, disk based recording over cards (that are only a little less than P2 at the moment). No Standard Definition. Those could push you to spend just a leeeeetle bit more and get a P-330 or something.

The Z7 does seem to stand on the Z1's shoulders. Interchangeable lenses, better sensor, record simultaneously to CF, but if you really want a half inch chip, or work with a real lens that you know you won't be changing any time soon...

And so it goes.

Every Sony product has killer features, and killer faults. You will NEVER be satisfied. You will forever lust after the next Sony model, and replace kit that doesn't necessarily need replacing. It is the Sony way.

Brits amongst you will probably recall the Dolmansaxlil Shoe Corporation's Shoe Event Horizon from HHGTTG:

http://www.csua.berkeley.edu/~dxu/econ/shoe.html

For Shoe Shop read Sony model.

Matt Davis - Director/Editor - Write, shoot, edit, publish - website & Blog
2x EX1R, FS100 & FS700 into FCPX & CS6

Accipiter
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MattDavis wrote:
Segmentation. Sony lives by it.

......

http://www.csua.berkeley.edu/~dxu/econ/shoe.html

For Shoe Shop read Sony model.

ROFLMAO... Cheers Matt, I see the similarity :eek: ;)

Frank

Accipiter
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tom hardwick wrote:
If you get hold of the V1 the v'finder will tell you when you're at the 10x zoom position. You might be quite surprised how little is gained by then zooming to full telephoto. The A1 with a 2x teleconverter will give you a much faster lens, but with huge loss of zoom capability of course.

Thanks Tom... something I'll look for when I get the "little" demons in my hands ;)

Frank

Frank Discussion
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Alan Roberts wrote:
the very nice lens can deliver detail to it at higher frequencies than it can cope with properly resulting in alias patterns from detail edges, Richard is better placed to describe what image content can cause it (he's shown me some pictures) but it's non-removable.

I would love to know what content causes this problem and how to avoid it. Richard?

Alan Roberts
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Brickwork. Grass. Rippling water. Feathers. Roof tiles. Fabric texture. I could go on.....

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

Michael.Bradshaw
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thinking of getting a smaller camera than my z1s to use for fun stuff, (like the timelaspe stuff) or even to use at weddings as a static camera. Z1s are too big and "professional looking" for holidays etc.

Having read through this thread the a1 seems to be a great camera for the job but I'm worried it might be replaced soon.

Anyone heard of a replacement or know of an alternative? I was also thinking of an hc1 but was worried about not having full manual control over gain etc.

EVGA sr-2/ 2x x5850 win7 x64. Editing in Ppro CS5 Shooting on Sony Z7, nex-VG10

Alan Roberts
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A1 is indeed a nice little camera, albeit with limitations. And, undoubtedly, it'll get replaced with a camera recording onto SxS cards soon enough. That won't stop my a1 working though, or convince me to change just for the sake of it.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

Dave R Smith
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Michael.Bradshaw wrote:
...to use at weddings as a static camera. ..I was also thinking of an hc1 but was worried about not having full manual control over gain etc.

A static camera implies un-manned, so manual controls would have limited use anyway.

On the A1E many of the manual controls are hidden in the menu, which is awkward if wanting to adjust during recording.
An easy interface (Auto mode) is a bonus though for holidays when friends/relatives may also be behind the camera.

I used the A1E to great effect last week clamped to a fork lift truck for a safety video - I couldn't have done that with my Z1E.

Michael.Bradshaw
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the manual controls are for doing time lapse stuff. I imagine if I'm doing a sunset or something where the light changes over time you want to be able to stop the camera changing settings. Just so you can keep consistency.

M.

EVGA sr-2/ 2x x5850 win7 x64. Editing in Ppro CS5 Shooting on Sony Z7, nex-VG10

Michael Renn
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I have a Sony HVR-A1E and although I never use the digital zoom on cameras unless in an emergency, I must say the A1s Digital zoom is very good. In Vienna recently shooting in HD I needed a shot which was beyond the 10 times optical zoom, and so had to use the digital from 40 to its full 100 times. Yes it was on a tripod, but I was pleased that there was so little distortion of the original.
Now if only they could improve the low light levels, it would be my ideal camcorder.
Mike

Alan Roberts
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Low light level's already at the limit of the technology. The only possible improvement is to increase the sensor size so that the pixels can get bigger.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

tom hardwick
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I guess we could go the old-fashioned route and simply fit faster lenses, Alan. In Super-8 days constant aperture f/1.2 zooms were commonplace, though only on zooms up to about 6x. My own Canon 310XL had a 3x f1.0 zoom, giving a good 1.5 stop advantage over the A1E.

tom.

Alan Roberts
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Correct, the best way is bigger glass. But the extra cost of that sort of aperture would be quite large, lenses aren't cheap.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

Steamage
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IIRC the Sony HC1 is not available anymore. Current model is HC7 I think. If you are thinking of getting a small HDV camera, you should also check out the Canon HV20 and it's replacement, the HV30. I bought and HV20 last month for £540 from Amazon. Lovely little camera, regardless of price. The last few left in the shops are bargins.

Mark @ Steam Age Pictures - Steam trains on video in aid of railway preservation societies. Latest release: "Mainline 2012, LMS Locomotives", on DVD or Bluray Disc.

Alan Roberts
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Although I have a Sony A1 and am still happy with it (but see my comments in the settings doc, see my signature), had I been able to wait a year I'd have gone for a Canon instead.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

Stella
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Which Canon Alan?

I was considering a 2nd hand Sony HVR A1 under the illusion it was broadcast quality, but reading this thread now understand it isn't, and I would need to spend £1000s to really have a broadcast quality kit. If I can't get into that league anyway, should I maybe go for a Canon HV30? Only thing is, that doesn't have XLR sockets, whereas the HVR A1 does,

Alan Roberts
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Meaning cameras in the same price range, like the A1/H1. I've no direct experience of the consumer cameras.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

tom hardwick
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Broadcast quality is a misnomer really, as the success of You've been Framed shows, so don't worry too much. The HV30 is a lovely little camera and costs a lot less than Sony's A1, but if it's XLR inputs you need, it's not really the one for you. Tell us what it is you plan to shoot, and sell.

tom.

cyberwest
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You could always add a Beachtek box on the bottom of the HV30 - and still come in at under the price of a new (or even probably a secondhand) HVR-A1. The A1 is a great little camcorder for the money, but it sucks in low light. The HV30 is much better in this respect. If you don't have £2.5K for something like a Canon XH-A1, the HV30 plus Beachtek route will cost you well under a grand and give you great results for the money.

James Morris

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James Morris

cyberwest
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Alan Roberts wrote:
Meaning cameras in the same price range, like the A1/H1. I've no direct experience of the consumer cameras.

I've tested pretty much every camcorder released in the last year for the TrustedReviews website, and the HV30 is still the best HDV camcorder around under £2,000. There are AVCHD models beginning to reach its quality level, though, such as the Canon HF10 and Sony HDR-SR12, or JVC's new Everio GZ-HD40. Canon has just released the HF11 in Japan, too, which offers a 24Mbits/sec AVCHD rate, and is likely to surpass consumer HDV. But no word yet on when (or if) it will be coming to Europe.

James Morris

MattDavis
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Stella wrote:
Only thing is, that doesn't have XLR sockets, whereas the HVR A1 does

Add a Beachtek DXA-2s for XLR inputs - commonly seen underneath Canon HV20s (not mine though - I use a Sennheiser 100 G2 system that's 3.5mm based). You may need to stick an AA battery into the XLR connector of your mics as I don't think this Beachtek unit does phantom powering.

I've used a Sony A1 as third camera and cut lots of A1 footage, but own a Canon HV20 in addition to 2 Z1s and an EX1. The A1 has better batteries, an XLR bridge and generally 'fits in' with the rest of the kit (though ergonomically I prefer my PDX-10 - and don't get me started about changing tapes on tripods).

But I think the Canon images are nicer, and I'd say the lens is sharper but maybe that's because of the progressive nature (A1 needs deinterlacing).

Broadcast quality is a bit of a subjective thing it seems. Broadcast on what? YouTube? Discovery? a PDX-10 is, on paper, broadcast quality - 16:9, 3xCCD, etc. Canon HV20 images can look nicer if you shoot/edit HDV and downconvert to standard definition. But you're going to have noisy darks, burned out highlights, voluminous depth of field and lots of other traits that betray small chip cameras.

Yes, you could get a Letus or other 35mm adaptor, but I hear they're really tricky to use, not for circumstances where an HV20 or A1 would shine.

Hands up anyone who wouldn't be surprised to see an EX0.5? A sort of half-pint EX1 somewhere between an A1 and a V1. An HV30 is going to be way cheaper, but maybe only a stepping stone long term? Oops, rambling. Render finished. Returning you to your usual programming...

Matt Davis - Director/Editor - Write, shoot, edit, publish - website & Blog
2x EX1R, FS100 & FS700 into FCPX & CS6

cyberwest
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What's the difference between a Beachtek DXA-2s and a 4? They appear to be the same price...

James Morris

Stella
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I want to buy kit for shooting and editing a video about a developing cohousing group I belong to as we acquire land (we hope) and start building. Probably about 30 minutes finished, and largely interviews although also hand-held stuff of workshops, meetings etc. It will be for DVD and web distribution, but I want the best quality I can get, and the kit will be a big investment which I hope to use for other projects and/or paid work.
I'm new to camera operating but have worked for years as a video editor for broadcast TV. According to other stuff I've read, the camera will only be about half the cost of a decent shooting kit. I was hoping to keep the budget for camera kit below £2000 as will also need more editing software and hardware. There may be funding for my time and professional skills but the capital outlay is down to me.

MattDavis
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cyberwest wrote:
What's the difference between a Beachtek DXA-2s and a 4? They appear to be the same price...

I'm not an expert (but...) - it may be to do with layout of controls. Their blurb talks about optimisation for either Sony or Canons for perfect fit. The Canon HV20 is listed with the DXA-2 probably because the DXA-4 may dwarf it or foul the tape door opening. Or something. Clutching at straws.

Matt Davis - Director/Editor - Write, shoot, edit, publish - website & Blog
2x EX1R, FS100 & FS700 into FCPX & CS6

tom hardwick
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That makes things clearer Stella. I think you need to start off shooting 16:9, which puts out buying a secondhand PD170, say. The HV30 still looks a winner because of your budget restraints and radio mics don't necessarily need XLR capabilities. Standard definition will be fine, but of course the master tapes can be HDV.

In the £2k you'll need a tripod, kitbag, a video light, a radio mic and most probably a decent wideangle converter. For interviews a second camera is a godsend, allowing variety and editing freedoms (as you know). There, I've spent your £2k with ease.

tom.

cyberwest
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Thanks, Matt! That has kind of cleared things up... I was originally looking into the Beachtek for use with an FX1, for which the DXA-4 is the one to choose. But the FX1 was kept by my former employer so I bought a Canon XH-A1 instead!

Stella - yes, you will find good audio kit is pricey, and essential for a polished finished product. You don't necessarily need XLR, though. Other than more robust connections, its main purpose is preventing electrical interference on the lines. You can usually avoid this by always shooting on battery! How many mics will you want to use at once?

James Morris

Stella
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tom hardwick wrote:
That makes things clearer Stella. I think you need to start off shooting 16:9, which puts out buying a secondhand PD170, say. The HV30 still looks a winner because of your budget restraints and radio mics don't necessarily need XLR capabilities. Standard definition will be fine, but of course the master tapes can be HDV.

In the £2k you'll need a tripod, kitbag, a video light, a radio mic and most probably a decent wideangle converter. For interviews a second camera is a godsend, allowing variety and editing freedoms (as you know). There, I've spent your £2k with ease.

tom.

Thanks Tom. Is there a wide angle converter for the HV30 then? Don't think I can run to a second camera!

Stella
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Stella - yes, you will find good audio kit is pricey, and essential for a polished finished product. You don't necessarily need XLR, though. Other than more robust connections, its main purpose is preventing electrical interference on the lines. You can usually avoid this by always shooting on battery! How many mics will you want to use at once?

At least two mics for interviewing couples, - haven't yet decided whether to mike myself as well, or try to remain invisible and cut out my questions.

tom hardwick
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Stella wrote:
Thanks Tom. Is there a wide angle converter for the HV30 then? Don't think I can run to a second camera!

I'm pretty sure Canon make a suitable wide lens, and Raynox make some goodies such as this 6600PRO
http://www.raynox.co.jp/english/dcr/dcr6600pro/indexdcr6600eg.htm.

A second camera is wonderful insurance and backup, and once you've gone to all the trouble to set up an interview situation with camera, tripod, lighting, backgrounds, people, questions and so on, you certainly don't want a camera malfunction to bring it all crashing down.

tom.

cyberwest
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Stella wrote:
Quote:
Stella - yes, you will find good audio kit is pricey, and essential for a polished finished product. You don't necessarily need XLR, though. Other than more robust connections, its main purpose is preventing electrical interference on the lines. You can usually avoid this by always shooting on battery! How many mics will you want to use at once?

At least two mics for interviewing couples, - haven't yet decided whether to mike myself as well, or try to remain invisible and cut out my questions.

So a Beachtek box probably is the way to go, then, to make plugging the two mics in easier and more robust, although can use a simple minijack splitter. A pair of Sennheiser G2 lapel mics would sort you out, but the base EW-112P model is about £400 new. You might find new or nearly new on eBay for much less, though. I got an EW-112P and a EW-100 ENG off Ebay for about £500 put together - and both were unused, so essentially brand new. Took months of ebay stalking though, and a few disappointed failed bids.

James Morris

Stella
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Belatedly, thanks all for your advice. For better or worse, have bought the 2nd hand A1E with various extras. Will no doubt have further questions, eg. should I shoot and edit HDV? Or shoot HDV and downconvert in Final Cut Express, or just shoot in DV?

Alan Roberts
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Best route is to shoot and ingest HDV. Do your downconversion in the best software you can afford, either before or after editing, but leaving it to the end will generally produce better results (i.e. pictures that will survive heavier compression).

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

tom hardwick
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Good choice Stella. I'm interested to hear how you chose your A1E - a shop or ebay? Did you pay less than £800, get a warranty, have a chance to check it over carefully, get any extras with it?

It's proved to be a real winner for Sony, having been on their sales books for an amazingly long time. I'm pretty sure that's because it's solid and good, and a lot better than its predecessor the PDX10.

tom.

Stella
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Do I need software other than Final Cut Express then? Sorry if this has been asked/answered elsewhere. I'm hoping to use a MacBook Pro 2Ghz, currently with 1Gb RAM and external LaCie 200Gb drive, but realise I'll probably need more RAM and another drive, as there could end up being a lot of rushes. It's FCE v1 so I probably need more software too.

Stella
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tom hardwick wrote:
Good choice Stella. I'm interested to hear how you chose your A1E - a shop or ebay? Did you pay less than £800, get a warranty, have a chance to check it over carefully, get any extras with it?

It's proved to be a real winner for Sony, having been on their sales books for an amazingly long time. I'm pretty sure that's because it's solid and good, and a lot better than its predecessor the PDX10.

tom.

I bought it privately. The seller allowed me plenty of time to look at it, showed me receipt and drum hours etc, and I recorded some footage to tape. Paid nearer £1200 but to include a basic Manfrotto tripod, good camera bag, headphones etc. The Sony guarantee has just expired but the camcorder hasn't had much use, so hoping for the best.

Alan Roberts
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Stella, not sure about the capabilities of FCP, I'm a Windows man. But Procoder does a nice enough job for me via Edius, so I'd guess that FCP should be fine.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

Stella
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Thanks, Alan. I found your posts elsewhere about Canopus Procoder.
Still, before I face the editing headaches, I'll be doing some shooting near the sea. I've read somewhere that tapes shouldn't be changed in the open where the air is salty, so wondering if I should get a skylight filter to protect the lens (although they can't be used when the lens hood is on).