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Sony PDX10P - highlight issues


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#1 sneeze proof

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Posted 06 July 2005 - 07:36 PM

Hi all
Sorry if this is covering old ground....

I'm having issues with highlights when shooting on dvcam using a Sony PDX10P. The highlights always seem a little too harsh. The whites always seem to be glaring while the rest of the picture seems to be at the right level.

For instance, I've shot a couple of interviews and for the most part, they look ok (colours and shadows etc...) but in one of them, there's a couple of white pieces of paper on the desk that really stand out.
In the other interview, the woman's teeth look overly white while the rest seems to be at a decent level. I'll admit that the lighting left alot to be desired but the footage was usable.
In comparison to an old Sony DXC-327P which looks very similar but without the whites issue. I only have a super vhs adapter for it so the best picture I can get out of it is through s-video output, so I don't tend to use it.

I'm not experienced when it comes to shooting, but very much enjoy it so I would like to learn more about how to get it right. Is it lighting, camera settings (exposure etc..) or is it a dv thing?
How do I get around this problem?
Any guidence would be great.
I have a couple of lighting kits, but those lights are extremely bright so if I use them, the people in front of the camera complain that they are blinded and can't see - I can't blame them - they are incredibly bright.

(all my work at the moment is for television and dvd so I have no need, or capital to upgrade to hd or film as of yet)

Thanks
Matt :)

Edited by sneeze proof, 06 July 2005 - 07:42 PM.

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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 06 July 2005 - 08:28 PM

Sounds like you need to underexpose a little if the image is looking too hot and glarey. You might try using LowCons, UltraCons, ProMists, etc. to soften the contrast of the image a little. A better camera would have some sort of knee function to compress highlights down a little to hold detail better.

As far as lights go, you can make the brightest light in the world, even the sun, look dim just by how you expose it. Anyway, most people don't shine these movie lights directly at an actor unless the light is farther back and you want a hard-lit look. Normally you'd bounce or shine the lights through a frame of diffusion to soften them, and this would also reduce their intensity. They probably should also come with some wire scrims that can be added to knock down their intensity (or just use lower-wattage units.) But in terms of how bright they look on video, that's an exposure issue.

You can also try ND grad filters to darken something on one side of the frame. Or if lighting, using net flags to darken something like a desktop with white papers on it.
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#3 sneeze proof

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Posted 06 July 2005 - 10:06 PM

Thanks for the reply David. :)
I'll read up on what lowcons are and maybe give them a shot.
I'll also try underexposing.
Can you suggest any places online I can read up on how to get better lighting and using bounce and diffusion etc..? I think this and setting the camera up manually are my biggest issues I need to deal with.
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#4 Peter J DeCrescenzo

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Posted 06 July 2005 - 10:55 PM

A couple of things to be aware of when using a PDX10 (I own one):

- The CCDs in the PDX10 have a fairly low smear rating; in other word they produce CCD smear (vertical streaks & blooming in highlights) very easily. To avoid this, control lighting to minimize too-bright highlights in a scene. Using a polarizing filter to reduce/eliminate reflected glare can sometimes be helpful in preventing this smear.

- The CCDs in the PDX10 are fairly small. Sony calls them "1/4.7 type" (about 1/5"). The typical depth of field achieved with this camera and its built-in lens is very deep. As a result it's not unusual for some filters to be visible when you don't want them to be; the DOP can be so deep the filter in front of the lens is in focus! If you're carefull you can select a combination of lighting level, aperture, focal length, and so forth to avoid this. Just aheads-up.

Other than the above, the inexpensive PDX10 is a very cool little DV/DVCAM camcorder with three relatively hi-res native 16:9 CCDs, XLR audio connections and a nice 3.5" LCD. Enjoy!

- Peter DeCrescenzo
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#5 sneeze proof

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Posted 06 July 2005 - 11:27 PM

Thanks for the advice.
What shutter speed should I be using during interviews (I mainly just shoot doco's)
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#6 Peter J DeCrescenzo

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Posted 07 July 2005 - 12:12 AM

What shutter speed should I be using during interviews (I mainly just shoot doco's)

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


If you're using the NTSC version of the PDX10, 1/60th is the most common shutter speed used (1/50 for PAL). You can experiment with different shutter speeds -- they'll produce a range of motion characteristics. But for talking heads, 1/60 makes sense.

In a pinch, and since the PDX10's small CCDs aren't very light sensitive: If you're forced to shoot in a dimly-lit environment, lowering the shutter speed to 1/30 will brighten the image. But of course it'll also blur motion more than when using a 1/60 shutter.

All the best,

- Peter DeCrescenzo
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#7 sneeze proof

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Posted 07 July 2005 - 12:47 AM

Thanks Peter
Being an Aussie, I shoot in PAL and have been shooting at 1/50 - just wanted to make sure it was the most appropriate setting.

Well I have just been walking around the office playing with the exposure and it certainly seems that under exposing a little is a small step towards a nicer picture.
That, along with careful lighting, as you said, should get the desired results.

I'll have to look into those filters and see how they effect things.

Thanks again :)

Edited by sneeze proof, 07 July 2005 - 12:51 AM.

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#8 sneeze proof

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Posted 07 July 2005 - 11:28 PM

Just a follow up on this.
To get an understanding of what a filter would do, I applied a very mild black diffusion in post using magic bullet editors (not the film look stuff - that's not my style), and the result was quite nice. It softened the image in the way I wanted it to.
So, I figured a real filter that I can fit to the camera might do a better job. So with that in mind, what filter should I get, and also how does the filter attach to the camera and do I need to buy a filter specific to the pdx10p?

One more query (sorry)
What circumstances would require the big lens hood?
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#9 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 08 July 2005 - 12:35 AM

Personally, I think a mattebox / filter holder is a must for any camera. I mean, you always should have some sort of lens shade, even a cheap rubber one, but the problem with that is your filters have to screw-on the front of the lens, which can be time-consuming and awkward if you need to change filters all the time. Plus you're stuck getting filters just for that lens diameter. With a mattebox, you can use something like 3x3 or 4x4 square filters, plus it acts as a lens shade.

Different light-scattering diffusers have different looks. Some halate (glow) around lights more obviously, some lower contrast / lift blacks more, some just soften the image detail more without the other effects being as obvious.

So it's mainly a matter of taste. I like the "misty" filters like Tiffen ProMist or Black ProMist, or Schneider's equivalent Frost and Black Frost. Tiffen Soft-FX and Schneider Classic Softs soften more than they halate (they don't look as misty). Classic Softs have a fairly regular pattern in them that might come into focus more easily with a DV camera than Tiffen's Soft-FX, so be careful. Generally you don't want to stop down much with a diffusion filter in front of the lens or else the surface pattern may start to come into focus.
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#10 sneeze proof

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Posted 08 July 2005 - 01:01 AM

ah ok
So I need a mattebox.
I think it's time to go shopping then.
The softfx sounds like what I am after for the interview work, although if the filters are cheap enough, I might just get a few and experiment

thankyou David - I really appreciate your help :)
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