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Panasonic HVX200 vs DVX100


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#1 Steve Absalom

Steve Absalom
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Posted 28 September 2009 - 08:06 AM

Greetings,

I am a student filmmaker who will be shooting on an HVX200 in about a month. My school doesn't give us light meters or let us take the camera ahead of time in order to do any test footage. The best they could do was let me take out a DVX100 and do some shooting around my location to see what it would look like.

I wanted to shoot outside on a city street at night. This street is very well lit. I could see pretty clearly on the DVX100 up until about an F/stop of 5.6 if I had the gain boosted to about 6db. At a 2.8 everything was very bright and no gain was needed.

Now the HVX200 we're using, they have a lens adapter which I am told knocks out about a Stop and a Half of light. That's why I tested the DVX at a 4/5.6 with gain of 6db. (I don't know if the HD camera has a gain, but I assume it does. )

Now the questions:
-Someone told me that HD cameras are more sensitive to light than DV cameras, so the extra stop-and-a-half lost won't really be a big deal, especially since the lenses we use can open up to about a 2 or a 2.8 . Is this true? (I figure if we get on location and its even remotely slightly underexposed, we could just change the shutter angle slightly - although my experience in that area is nil).
-Should I scrap the night shoot and just do it during the day, which really would be a completely different film, different aesthetic, what have you?
- Um, any comments from you more experienced users?
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#2 Tim O'Connor

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Posted 28 September 2009 - 09:11 AM

The DVX100 is about a stop faster in low light and that's with both cameras having stock lenses. The HVX200 is great but it has to cram a
lot of light onto relatively small area to inform all those pixels. It tends to be noisy in the blacks in night exteriors/low light. A good reference
is Barry Green's The HVX Book. He talks a lot about getting the most out of the camera and discusses going through the gamma menu to find a setting that will give you the best results. For example, even when you have selected a particular scene file on the wheel on the back of the camera, you can still go into the menu and adjust quite a bit.

You can open the shutter angle to get a bit more light but usually that's not a solution. Keep in mind too how increasing the angle a lot also increases motion blur.

The camera has two zebra displays that you can set. For a night exterior you might want to set one to your desired exposure
for faces and maybe another for highlights. For a 2.8 and a slice of 70 IRE zebra on an average caucasian face, with the stock lens
and shooting 720P 24PN, I find that about 64 footcandles are needed. Usually I can shoot on the street and read everything great, as long
as I have something to provide that level for a key light. You'll need more with a lens adaptor.

If you can borrow a light meter, even if you can't get one for the shoot, I recommend walking around and metering everything, street lights,
parking lots, storefront light on sidewalks, to get an idea of what kind of light levels are actually on practical locations. I also highly recommend
reading and evaluating light levels in footcandles rather than setting your meter to a specific speed.

I would not use the gain if I could avoid it. There is just too much of a problem with noise in low light areas of the frame even when
you have a good exposure for your subject.
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