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HDX900 w/ pro35 or HPX3000?


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#1 Lindsay Mann

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Posted 28 March 2008 - 08:22 PM

Shooting an R&B music video, one female, lots of performance stuff, and a male dancer (I think).

Kind of interested in the idea of shooting on the HDX900 with a pro35 adapter, but I've never used it before. I could probably get the HPX3000 for a better rate (if it's even available) but I'd only want to shoot using AVC Intra, and I'm sure that would cause the editor some problems. I guess that makes the choice fairly clear, but has anyone shot with both of these cameras and can compare depth of field and color. I'd be using the pro35 with zeiss ultraprimes I believe.

What kind of picture can I expect with this pro35 setup? Is it something comparable to s16? Kind of a broad question, I guess. Just looking for suggestions or alternatives.

Can anyone compare it to an F900?

Thanks.
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#2 Michael Nash

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Posted 28 March 2008 - 11:18 PM

The HDX900 is a great camera, and the HPX300 is an awesome camera. The 3000's 1080 chips will deliver a more detailed image than the 900's 720 chips, and the AVC-intra codec should give more robust results for color correction than DVCPRO HD.

Both cameras use 2/3" chips, so the depth of field characteristics are the same with the same lens setup. Both cameras have highly user-definable color matrices, so color can be pretty much whatever you want it to be with either camera. The 3000's 1080 chips deliver an image that can look a heck of a lot like 35mm (viewed on HD/SD), and compares pretty well with the Sony F900. The HDX900 is essentially a Varicam under the hood, and its 720 resolution always looks a little Super 16-ish to me. Not that that's bad.

I'm going to get on my soap box YET AGAIN, and try to dispel this rumor that you need a 35mm lens adapter on a 2/3" camera to make good looking images. This isn't aimed at you directly Lindsay, but I get tired of hearing again and again how people think that a 35mm lens adapter is the secret to creating good looking images -- often coming from people who clearly don't understand what's really going on with the optics and what the real-world tradeoffs are. 35mm lens adapters are tools designed for a specific purpose -- allowing shallow depth of field on camera systems that can't otherwise achieve it, namely 1/3" chip cameras. The tradeoff is in image sharpness, contrast, and light sensitivity; not to mention lens shading issues, visible grain pattern, unwieldy ergonmics, and so on. When you really need extremely shallow depth of field or other particular lens characteristics, these are great tools and can produce some lovely images. But if you don't really need it, you're simply making life difficult for yourself with these adapters on 2/3" chip cameras.

For those who don't understand the optics involved, 2/3" chip cameras use roughly the same focal lengths (and therefore same depth of field) as Super 16. Get good HD glass and you're making the most of the image quality that the camera can deliver. Put a 35mm adapter on it and you're handicapping the camera's performance. Huff. </rant>

Okay, for the AVC Intra, "word on the street" is that you simply transcode it to ProRes if you're cutting in Final Cut Pro. But I've never done it, so I don't know what pitfalls there might be about that. Do your homework. The HPX3000 will record in DVCPRO-HD as well, so you don't have to commit to AVC-intra if you want to take advantage of the camera's imaging. But I don't understand why you wouldn't consider shooting the 3000 in DVCPRO-HD but you WOULD handicap a 720-line camera with a 35mm adapter AND record it to DVCPRO-HD. That doesn't make sense to me. The adapter on a 720 camera will leave a MUCH bigger "footprint" on your footage than shooting a 1080 camera to DVCPRO-HD.
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#3 Evangelos Achillopoulos

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Posted 29 March 2008 - 06:26 AM

Michael

First the HDX900 is certainly NOT a Varicam they may have similar sensors but the similarity ends with a difference in latitude of 2,5 stops?

The use of fast digiprimes to achieve filmic look with 2/3 cameras has past away from my mind the moment that I tried in my Varicam F a DoF adapter that I made.

After six months of R&D we build a lens relay for 2/3 and Brevis35 the results are below

Posted Image

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The adaptor on a Varicam and a F900R the lenght of the system is similar to a Cinestyle zoom so no problem with ergonomics.

Posted Image

All that with a cost of no more than 5000$...

We are now developing a new ground glass for Brevis35 with no diffuse effect, no vingeting in very close aparture, no vigneting in wide angle lenses, no loss of contrast and resolution. The only trade off will be loss of sensitivity of 1 ΒΌ of stop.

I have select Brevis35 as a host system for my development because is the only adapter, that I can change the ground glass in five minutes...

Mike and Lindsay, there no way to get that kind of image with HDX900 regardless of Pro35 due to latitude inferiority against the Filmrec mode of Varicam and with HPX3000 that has the Filmrec mode of Varicam, you really need the DoF adapter to reach that result.

Varicam, HPX3000 and F900R have an image invert function that allows using these adaptors without a prism to invert the image like Pro35. That gives a sharper image because of less glass in the image path. The HDX900 does not have the image invert function.
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#4 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 29 March 2008 - 06:27 AM

At risk of being seen as a bit of a purist, my policy for posting compressed acquisition would be to get it uncompressed as soon as humanly possible so at least it doesn't get any more buggered.

But I must agree with Mr. Nash's interpretation of the groundglass-adaptor situation. I've used 'em, they look nice, they do cost resolution.

But that's me.

P
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#5 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 29 March 2008 - 07:30 AM

I guess the best way to regard 35mm adapters is if you're shooting for television, the loss of resolution may be acceptable, especially if you may have used a pro mist type filter anyway. On productions for theatrical release, you're fighting for all your resolution, so they're usually best avoided. However, I could never see the point of using them on 1/3" MiniDv cameras when for the same rental money you could get a 2/3" camera with much higher class glass.
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#6 Evangelos Achillopoulos

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Posted 29 March 2008 - 09:01 AM

In my tests, in an ISO res chart I can?t see the resolution drop that you guys are claiming.

I am comparing digiprimes with ultraprimes and DoF adapters, there is only a glare effect in the highlights which resembles the promist look. In MTF I can see the drop of contrast but the resolution is there. Probably your experience is limited to Pro35 which can?t allow experiment with different ground glass.

The new ground glass solution in which am reaching, it hasn?t any of the above problems except of light loss. Which again it?s limited and can be accepted since cameras like RED are in the 250 ASA range and the HPX3000 and Varicam are in the 800ASA range?
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#7 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 29 March 2008 - 09:56 AM

In my tests, in an ISO res chart I can?t see the resolution drop that you guys are claiming.


You can certainly see a drop in resolution even on a 9" monitor when you've got a Pro 35 on, I haven't used a Brevis. If you're going to use 35mm lenses, I would've thought the Angenieux converter would be the best method, rather than using a ground glass. Regardless, your pictures look good.
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#8 Evangelos Achillopoulos

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Posted 29 March 2008 - 02:48 PM

Brian, the images above are in native resolution (shot on Varicam 1280x720), do you see the details i.e. in the eyelashes of the boy, or in the box of the eggs the very small letters? It’s very hard to notice any resolution drop even above 900 lines on a F900R… and in a 9” you cant see any difference in resolution whatsoever.

I haven’t had any experience with Pro35, but I know that was designed for standard definition to start with.

Have you ever seen the CLA 35 from Angenieux in a work, they say that it doesn’t preserve the DoF of 35, it just adapt the lens to the B4 mount? Does it has a ground glass or not?
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#9 Michael Nash

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Posted 29 March 2008 - 03:08 PM

Evangelos,

You're right that the HDX900 is not exactly the same as the Varicam; Lindsay didn't seem familiar with the camera so I characterized it in broad strokes as "essentially a Varicam under the hood." Although there are some signal processing differences, it's still reasonable for a music video (i.e. no filmout) to expect similar results from either camera. I actually like the HDX quite a bit.

I'm glad you've been having success with your adapter experiments, but you have to realize that your experience as an engineer and DIT does not reflect that of the average first-time "plug-and-play" adapter user. Most users are tripped up by simple things like lens shading, and can't expect to achieve the level of technical purity you've gotten by simply mounting up a P+S and a Cooke prime.

Compare your technical experience to that of a user who doesn't even understand that 2/3" video has basically the same depth of field as Super 16 (again, no reflection of any individuals here). I just think people would be better off learning how to shoot 2/3" video well, and understand the optics involved, before they turn to one of these adapters to make their footage look "good." If they don't really understand the camera or the optics, then the adapter can actually make their footage worse. I'm not trying to tell people what lens systems to use, I'm just trying to break down ignorance and uninformed rumors. Once a shooter knows the camera, the optics, and how to shoot, they can choose whatever they like.

The Angenieux adapter is not a GG system, and does not preserve 35mm depth of field.
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#10 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 29 March 2008 - 03:41 PM

The Angenieux adapter is not a GG system, and does not preserve 35mm depth of field.



The adapter uses an aerial image, like the JVC Cine adapter. I did some checking on-line, an Angenieux rep give this answer to someone in another forum who asked them about the DOF.

"Yes you can use the 35mm depth of field chart for the focal length of the lens mounted on the adapter."

It also gains a stop because the light from the 35mm frame is concentrated into the 2/3" chip.
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#11 Michael Nash

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Posted 29 March 2008 - 03:45 PM

The adapter uses an aerial image, like the JVC Cine adapter. I did some checking on-line, an Angenieux rep give this answer to someone in another forum who asked them about the DOF.

"Yes you can use the 35mm depth of field chart for the focal length of the lens mounted on the adapter."

It also gains a stop because the light from the 35mm frame is concentrated into the 2/3" chip.


Good to know; apparently I was misinformed. Does anybody still carry this adapter?
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#12 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 29 March 2008 - 04:35 PM

Good to know; apparently I was misinformed. Does anybody still carry this adapter?


I don't know, I'd imagine the market is pretty small, I believe it cost $23.000. That would get you a good part of a RED rig these days.

However, although not for 35mm lenses, the JVC adapter seems to be getting around, I know someone who owns one.
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#13 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 30 March 2008 - 04:31 AM

Just in case Evangelos thinks i'm getting at the ground glass adapters, it's great to have options and it's good that Brevis have/are working on a 2/3" to 35mm adapter.
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#14 Evangelos Achillopoulos

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Posted 30 March 2008 - 05:54 AM

Don?t worry Brian, am just pointing that for under 5K$ you can have similar results as Pro35 (or better) but with five times less money? And we can deliver the relay today! Its not vapour?
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#15 Lindsay Mann

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Posted 30 March 2008 - 09:44 AM

I guess I was intrigued by the possibility of using some good 35mm glass in front of the camera. But you raise a good point about the adapter softening the image. The 3000 may be out of our budget at this point, I'll let you know what we end up shooting with. Thanks for the thoughts.
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#16 Lindsay Mann

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Posted 30 March 2008 - 09:49 AM

Michael, were you referring to the HDX900 as being 720? It shoots 1080, no?

If you had to shoot on the 900, which zoom lens would you choose?
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#17 Michael Nash

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 02:15 PM

Michael, were you referring to the HDX900 as being 720? It shoots 1080, no?

If you had to shoot on the 900, which zoom lens would you choose?


The HDX can record a 1080i signal, but it's still coming off the 720x1280 chips. The HPX300 records true 1080/24p off 1080 chips.

There are lots of different lenses out there, so you just have to pick which one(s) suit your shooting needs. ENG vs. Cine-style, focal length range, size & weight, breathing, are all factors. I'm kind of partial to Fujinon, but Canon makes decent products too. I haven't tried the Zeiss zooms yet. You often end up needing two zooms; one short and one long.

Much of the time the "great deal" you get on an HD camera includes an ENG-style lens, which may or may not work for your production. In addition to the focus/zoom configuration, many ENG lenses are designed as all-purpose workhorses and as such aren't the best at all things like breathing and chromatic aberration.
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#18 Lindsay Mann

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Posted 02 April 2008 - 07:25 PM

Thanks very much Michael, you've made me reconsider things significantly for the better.

The shoot was pushed back for a few weeks (seems to be going around these days). We'll probably end up going with the HPX3000 if it is available, or the F900. I'll see what cine lenses are available.

Until then, I'll be shooting film dammit.
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#19 Lindsay Mann

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Posted 09 May 2008 - 09:10 AM

Finally got some footage back from our shoot. We ended up shooting on the F900 with a Canon cine style zoom. The zoom seemed necessary for a seat of the pants shoot like this. I'm wondering one thing though. I still saw some aberrations on the edges, especially around the highlights. Is this a result of the zoom lens, the camera's sensor, or the 1/8 warm promist I had in front? It looked a heck of a lot better than 1/3" cameras, but it still had that flanging that I hate.
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#20 Gus Sacks

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Posted 11 May 2008 - 01:51 PM

Finally got some footage back from our shoot. We ended up shooting on the F900 with a Canon cine style zoom. The zoom seemed necessary for a seat of the pants shoot like this. I'm wondering one thing though. I still saw some aberrations on the edges, especially around the highlights. Is this a result of the zoom lens, the camera's sensor, or the 1/8 warm promist I had in front? It looked a heck of a lot better than 1/3" cameras, but it still had that flanging that I hate.


Definitely wouldn't be a 1/8 Pro Mist. Would it happen when you'd be wide on the lens?
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