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SDX 900 vs. DVX 100a + mini 35


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#1 Jon Rosenbloom

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Posted 16 August 2005 - 05:06 PM

No money for a comparison, so: Director can use a free dvx-100a, and he wants to add the mini35 adaptor and some 35mm lenses for a more "cinematic" look, or at least shallower depth of field. My gut reaction is to instead rent the sdx-900 w/ one decent zoom (like a canon 8-56mm). The film involves a spacious exterior location, and I find that the 100a, while great for closeups, just doesn't have the resolution to do wide shots convincingly. The sdx-900 won't have the same selective focus plane as the mini35, but it's still significantly shallower than the 100a on its own. Besides, wide exterior shots are going to be deep focus no matter what camera we use.

Is it so much cheaper to rent the mini-35 plus lenses, than just getting the sdx??
Doesn't using the mini35 adaptor involve something like a generational loss in the quality of the image?
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#2 Michael Nash

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Posted 17 August 2005 - 03:23 PM

Doesn't using the mini35 adaptor involve something like a generational loss in the quality of the image?

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Yes. The image is "rephotographed" off a ground glass, so you're getting the optical quality of the taking lens plus the optical quality of the ground glass plus the optical quality of the DVX's lens. You're taking a soft-looking camera and making it even softer and less contrasty. Not that it's a bad look necessarily, but it's not going to be any sharper than the DVX on its own, which you've said is too soft for your wide shots.

The SDX is a much better camera and will give you the depth of field characteristics of the 2/3" chip format, comparable to super 16. It's not that hard to buzz the background on a closeup in that format, although it will never be the same as 35mm depth of field. Beware that most video zoom lenses breathe quite a bit though, unless you spend a little extra for an HD lens.

But I never buy the notion that there's "no money to test, but we'll consider spending money on something we hope will work." Not only is that a foolish approach, but you don't have to go into the project blind. Most rental houses will be willing to work with you to answer questions, show you demos or even test the gear for free on their premises if you take the time to talk to them and tell them what you're after. The rental houses want your business and want you to be a satisfied customer, so it's in their interest to make sure that their gear works well for you.
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#3 Lars.Erik

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Posted 17 August 2005 - 04:03 PM

If you have lots of exteriors, I'd go for the SDX-900. This camera will let you be able to control your highlights a lot better than the DVX will. Unless you can light your exteriors. But this seems like a low budget thing.

I wouldn't be so obsessed about the "film-look". Film is film and video is video. If you want a more fiction look shoot progressive and speak to your director about the general look of the movie in terms of composition, colours, movement etc.

HD lenses are a good idea. But they are expensive. In some ways the glass is too clear. So I tend to use cellofane between the HD lens and the house.

And as Michael said, go to your rental house, set up a 20" monitor correctly. And test the equipment.
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#4 Michael Nash

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Posted 17 August 2005 - 04:23 PM

So I tend to use cellofane between the HD lens and the house.

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Yikes! :o I'll bet that look is... interesting. :P

There are of course more delicate ways to soften the image, such as diffusion filters like SoftFX and Classicsofts. And you can dial down the detail in the camera to a negligable amount if you want it softer.

Celophane sounds a bit extreme for a crisp, expensive HD lens. But I am a fan of combining filters with the glass to create a unique optical look to video and HD, as oposed to a purely electronic look.
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#5 Jon Rosenbloom

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Posted 17 August 2005 - 07:18 PM

Most rental houses will be willing to work with you to answer questions, show you demos or even test the gear for free on their premises.

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Of course, why didn't I think of that??
(I tell you why, I was thinking of taking the whole mini35 setup and one lens on the scout, and that would have been a hard sell.)
Well it's nice to have my photographic instincts validated, if not my production instincts.

Thanks

J...
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#6 Lars.Erik

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Posted 18 August 2005 - 04:40 PM

Yikes! :o  I'll bet that look is... interesting. :P

There are of course more delicate ways to soften the image, such as diffusion filters like SoftFX and Classicsofts. And you can dial down the detail in the camera to a negligable amount if you want it softer.

Celophane sounds a bit extreme for a crisp, expensive HD lens. But I am a fan of combining filters with the glass to create a unique optical look to video and HD, as oposed to a purely electronic look.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


It is of no bigger mystery than using nets, nylon stockings etc. in the same manner. It creates a more traditional film diffused look. Not rocket science actually. Whatever gets the job done. And then I can spend the saved cash on another equipment.

:D
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Metropolis Post

Abel Cine

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Willys Widgets

Wooden Camera

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS