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Varicam Noise


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#1 Ken Minehan

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 10:43 PM

Hi guys, I have a shoot coming up that requires us to shoot in HD. Yesterday i tested the F900. I loved it, very beautiful images and very low noise level. So far i have noticed that the Sony cameras generally have less noise. Am i right in saying that? Though the newer panasonics (HDX3000) have very good noise control. I haven't tested the Varicam yet but i just wanted to find out about the noise level of the varicam. Let me know of your experiences with this camera

thanks alot
ken Minehan
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#2 Chad Stockfleth

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 10:52 PM

In my experience, the Varicam has been fairly noisy, especially in the blacks. The HDX900 being I believe 14 bit seems much less so. I can't attest to the newer P2 cameras.
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#3 Michael Nash

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 11:20 PM

It's all relative, so it's hard to say one camera is noisy and the other isn't. It's what you do with the camera that creates the noise.

Simply put, noise comes from signal amplification. The more you boost the signal through gamma, gain, black stretch and color controls, the more noise you get. It's highly dependent on how you're pushing the signal around.
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#4 Ken Minehan

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Posted 17 April 2008 - 09:48 PM

ok thanks guys. So do you think it's possible for the varicam to have as little noise as the f900. Basically what we need for the shoot coming up is the best opf both worlds. We want to be able to shoot at a higher frame rate, but at the same time have the good details of the f900. The noise will be an issue to.
Mr. Nash from your experience would you say that if i keep the colour controls neutral, dont push the black stretch and dont use gain, i should have minimized noise. How should i set the gamma to reduce noise.

Thanks again
ken minehan
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#5 Evangelos Achillopoulos

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Posted 18 April 2008 - 03:17 AM

Being a film recording facility and a color grading service company for years, my experience with Varicam from the oldest one the F, the H and the 3000 compared to footage that I got from 750 and 900R, Panasonic cameras are very much better than the Sony cameras, and that is evident when you try to leverage detail from blacks.

Panasonic cameras when being operated in Filmrec mode they have a special compression mode called dark which is designed to prioritize the dark areas when capturing. The combination of Filmrec mode along with dark compression given to the mid exposure for the Cine gamma is 32% IRE (for mid gray 18%) gives about 9,5 very good quality DR (noise level less than 0,25 F-stop) which can extended to 10,5 stops with acceptable noise with a very filmic pattern. In contrast F900R at HG3 has 7 stops and you can push it up to 8,7 maximum before noise gets really ugly. The numbers is with the old Varicam F. The new cameras have another 0,5 stop extra headroom. Also CineGamma is a LOG capture system similar to the S-Log that F23 has.

So yes Varicam series has a difference of at least 2,5 stops as far as noise concerns, which is quite huge difference? Also there is a difference of 40% better micro contrast capture between Varicam and F900R which again it?s huge?

The question should be ?F900R noise??

In this forum there are a lot of posts with numbers and detailed measurements of all this, search a bit and you will find them.

If you want resolution, go for F900R or RED, if you want latitude low noise and great filmic textures, go for Varicam. If you want both go for HPX3000 or F23.

As for the set up, use Filmrec, gain -3db, DL 500, master gamma 0,35, let the blacks to 0 (stretch, pedestal etc.), shoot with preset white balance, do black balance and turn on dark compression on every power cycle.

Light with your light meter set up for 24fps at 640ASA (setup it accordingly for 30fps), don?t look the monitor, it will be very low contrast and dark, rent a Panasonic BT-LH1700 LCD monitor and turn on the CineGamma to see accurately.

It is crucial to set up the scene as you would with a film camera just with the light meter being confident that you have -/+1,5 stops to play with and a total of 10.

Then you must use an AJ-HD1400 VTR, and turn on Gamma correction in the menu item 693, put it 0002 for TV targeted material, and 0003 for film out in LOG processing system.
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#6 Michael Nash

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Posted 18 April 2008 - 03:39 PM

As for the set up, use Filmrec, gain -3db, DL 500, master gamma 0,35, let the blacks to 0 (stretch, pedestal etc.), shoot with preset white balance, do black balance and turn on dark compression on every power cycle.

Light with your light meter set up for 24fps at 640ASA (setup it accordingly for 30fps), don?t look the monitor, it will be very low contrast and dark, rent a Panasonic BT-LH1700 LCD monitor and turn on the CineGamma to see accurately.

It is crucial to set up the scene as you would with a film camera just with the light meter being confident that you have -/+1,5 stops to play with and a total of 10.

Then you must use an AJ-HD1400 VTR, and turn on Gamma correction in the menu item 693, put it 0002 for TV targeted material, and 0003 for film out in LOG processing system.


Well that's one way, but not always practical for most shoots that need to deliver a decent look in-camera...

As for particular settings, you really have to test them for yourself for the look you're trying to create. I'd suggest starting with -3 db gain and everything at "0", using whichever REC mode works for your look and post path, and adjust your settings as desired. Just keep in mind that the more you raise black stretch, gamma, and gain, the more you're amplifying the noise that's in the signal. The blue channel is the noisiest so sometimes it's better to err on the side of the white balance being a little too blue rather than too orange, in case you need to fine tune the color balance in post.
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