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Differences in hdv and 16mm film

16mm bolex hdv video hd high def

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#1 Troy m

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Posted 06 March 2015 - 05:19 PM

Hello. I have been making short movies all my life. Went to Pittsburgh filmmakers and shot a couple 3 min long films in 16mm. In 2007 I bought a canon hv20. It's a hdv camcorder that takes the old, small tapes. Anyway, here's my thoughts.

 

The 16mm film I did (the one that turned out well and not grossly overexposed) looked phenomenal to my eyes. I''d/I've never done anything else that looked that good. It was done on Kodak 16mm color neg 200t. I used a bolex from school with ordinary, non zoom lenses.

 

So, ff to 2007. When I took a few videos with hv20, I was floored by the quality. I compared it to the 16mm film I did. The 16mm still looked better, and handled colors better. However, with the hv20, after tinkering with it a while , I've gotten COMPLETELY mixed results. I've learned that if you're shooting on video, everything has to be PERFECT to get the same quality every time. It's almost as if the stars have to be right to remain consistent. I mean, I have lit it well and it looks like crap, and I've lit it poorly and it looks great. Vice-versa.

 

I just got back some 16mm b and w reversal I shot with a bolex. Looks good. however, after comparing it to a few of my "good days" footage with the hv20 (b&w in post), the hv20 clearly stands out.

 

So now I'm shaking my head, confused more than ever. The HDV tapes are exceedingly cheaper than film and do produce excellent image quality... if everything is done absolutely perfect every time. How do I do this? I just don't know what I'm doing wrong to get some things looks great and some things that look like a 1980s videocam.

 

 

 

 


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#2 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 07 March 2015 - 12:23 AM

If you're looking for spectral quality and resolution, not much compares and absolutely not an HDV camcorder. Unfortunately, reversal is grainy and unless you're ultra careful with focus (hard to do with an optical viewfinder) it can be a huge problem. I've actually shot with similar cameras to the Canon HV20 and they're pretty sharp little cameras. I did a tun of shooting with one before I bought my cinema camera's and I was never dissatisfied with the final image.

 

I ran the camera on full manual, using the zebra stripes to show over-exposing and tried to keep the camera in the proper exposure range all the time. The main key is to never let it over-expose, the moment do that, the material is unusable. The other trick is to never use the gain system, it needs to be turned completely off. On the bigger brother to the HV20, the AX H1, which is what I used the most, all of this was controllable. I'm not sure if the HV20 can do that stuff, but I'm sure it can if you go through the menu's. Canon is good about offering prosumer features like manual exposure and gain controls. The other key is to never let it kick the gain up automatically. The moment it does that, the image turns to shit because the sensor is very small and the electronic gain ruins the image. 

 

So my guess is, your camera is doing all sorts of auto correcting and that's why the consistency is low. Also, if you watched the reversal film on a projector, it's going to look A LOT BETTER then it will scanned through a telecine and put onto video. A lot of people try to compare a format designed for projecting to a format designed for watching on a television. I know every time I project something on film, it blows me away and every time I watch that same film digitized, it looks like crap. 


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#3 Troy m

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Posted 07 March 2015 - 01:45 AM

If you're looking for spectral quality and resolution, not much compares and absolutely not an HDV camcorder. Unfortunately, reversal is grainy and unless you're ultra careful with focus (hard to do with an optical viewfinder) it can be a huge problem. I've actually shot with similar cameras to the Canon HV20 and they're pretty sharp little cameras. I did a tun of shooting with one before I bought my cinema camera's and I was never dissatisfied with the final image.
 
I ran the camera on full manual, using the zebra stripes to show over-exposing and tried to keep the camera in the proper exposure range all the time. The main key is to never let it over-expose, the moment do that, the material is unusable. The other trick is to never use the gain system, it needs to be turned completely off. On the bigger brother to the HV20, the AX H1, which is what I used the most, all of this was controllable. I'm not sure if the HV20 can do that stuff, but I'm sure it can if you go through the menu's. Canon is good about offering prosumer features like manual exposure and gain controls. The other key is to never let it kick the gain up automatically. The moment it does that, the image turns to poop because the sensor is very small and the electronic gain ruins the image. 
 
So my guess is, your camera is doing all sorts of auto correcting and that's why the consistency is low. Also, if you watched the reversal film on a projector, it's going to look A LOT BETTER then it will scanned through a telecine and put onto video. A lot of people try to compare a format designed for projecting to a format designed for watching on a television. I know every time I project something on film, it blows me away and every time I watch that same film digitized, it looks like crap.


Tyler, thanks for the reply.yeah, I've heard reversal is grainy, plus the film had sat around for a while too. The color neg I shot on years ago looks spectacular, like a real movie. I get what you're saying about the gain on hv20. To be honest, I don't know what menu I have to get on to do everything manual. I know about cinemode and such, I just don't know where I go to get complete control. I guess that's why in Hollywood they have so many camera people doing different things, because manual makes everything turn out much better. A lot to learn.
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#4 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 07 March 2015 - 02:56 AM

If you wanna learn, the best thing to do is buy an all-manual camera like the one's I use called the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera. With a small investment in a few lenses, you'll learn a lot in a short period of time. Camcorders are hard to learn with because they're lacking the latitude necessary to make mistakes and still get decent material. I've made lots of grievous errors when shooting film over the years, but I've always gotten something out of it. With camcorders, that's something a lot more harder to achieve. 


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#5 John Miguel King

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Posted 07 March 2015 - 04:26 AM

Taking stills with a DSLR is and always will be the best way to learn the fundamentals of photography.


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#6 Mark Dunn

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Posted 07 March 2015 - 04:32 AM

Taking stills with a DSLR is and always will be the best way to learn the fundamentals of photography.

Taking stills with a DSLR is and always will be the best way to learn the fundamentals of photography.

I think the OP is interested in film so he needs to know how to work out what will be recorded without being able to see it 3 seconds later.

I love digital, but I don't half miss my slides. And a camera that feels like it's made of something.


Edited by Mark Dunn, 07 March 2015 - 04:35 AM.

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#7 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 07 March 2015 - 01:46 PM

I'll say this much, anyone can tweak the dials on a digital still camera and get a shot that looks great. Learning how to run a moving image camera is a totally different animal because unless your shot is totally static, things like focus and exposure need to be constantly managed/adjusted. Also, modern DSLR's don't teach you how to pull focus because there are no more focus aids like on optical viewfinder film cameras. So you're always reliant on auto focus to insure what you're shooting is absolutely in focus. In my view, if you wanna learn how to shoot moving images, you need a moving image camera, not a still camera pretending to be a video camera. 


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#8 John E Clark

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Posted 07 March 2015 - 04:05 PM

 

And a camera that feels like it's made of something.

 

Yeah, nothing like using your camera as a mace when you're doing 'street' photography, and someone takes offense at your activities...

 

None of the modern digital cameras have that 'feel'... they would just make an outraged person madder if hit with one...


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#9 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 07 March 2015 - 04:28 PM

I'm not so sure I'd want to be hit over the head with many if blackmagic's cameras. The original cinema camera and 4K are encased in big chunky metal cases, and I suspect you could fell an ox with an Ursa.

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