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Old December 17th, 2009, 09:16 PM   #1
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EX1 + Letus Extreme at Night

I recently purchased an EX1 and am still getting the hang of it. I'm going to shoot a music video using the Letus Extreme, and I'd like to shoot it at night, but I was unsure of the light limitations, so I shot some test footage last night and during the day to see how it came out. I also did some daytime shots and messed with the shutter speed/angle.

I ran into problems shooting at night. First off, I was using Nikon lenses. I was switching between a 1.4 50mm, a 2.8 105mm, and a 2 28mm. I tried shooting some slow motion. For everything I want, it looks like I'm going to have to make some sacrifices - whether it be shutter speed, slow-mo, gain, DOF - and I want to get some suggestions as to where you think I should make the sacrifice.

Here's the footage I shot. The low end of hte gain was pumped to +9 and sometimes +12 - needless to say it was very noisy. So, I decided to try and work with the noise to make it seem like a style. I desaturated the colors, crushed the blacks, blanched the whites, and even added a sharpening filter. So, does this look just crappy? Or does it look like an intended style?

Here's a link:


If this is just obvious grainy footage, where should I sacrifice?

I'm shooting all handheld, so that compounds things too. All the locations are a bit dicey, and I can't stay there too long. (Or would a steadicam pilot support an ex1+ lens adapter? - I'll research that one later - just a tangential thought)

Shutter speed - I swiched from angle to speed - 1/32 to give me more light. Is that too slow for handheld? Is that contributing to the blurriness that also bothers me?

Lens - I cant' shoot all the way open otherwise I can't maintain focus when walking around.

Gain/profile - what gain levels and/or profile settings do you recommend for shooting at night with an adapter?

Slow motion looks great, but sucks light - do the detriments of increased gain outweigh the awesomeness of slow motion?

Or, maybe I'll just have to shoot during the day. I tried a short shutter angle setting - 22.5, and though you can't see it on the video, I notice some funky swirling and smearing from the vibrating ground glass. In your experts opinion, what shutter angle and speeds do you find the limit when shooting with the letus?

The last couple shots on the thing are just daytime shots - color corrected to give a gloomy feel and the other just uncorrected.

I probably should've partitioned this post into multiple topics....

To recap -

Can I get away with this footage being seen as stylized versus bad video?

If not, what ex1 settings do you recommend with shooting at night when you have a lens adapter AND are shooting handheld?

I think that's it...

Thanks in advance.
Bradford Holt is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 17th, 2009, 10:24 PM   #2
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Location: Elk Grove CA
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Actually a pretty interesting style. I was expecting a lot nastier footage from the description, and my experience with adapters. The things you are having issues with are why a lot of us moved on to the 5D and 7D.

I'm thinking that in the slow motion stuff, you have a problem of freezing the grain on the ground glass. I have seen that before with my old letus stuff. I've had situation where I forgot to turn on the vibrating screen, and had similar look.

But all in all it has an interesting look to the footage.
Chris J. Barcellos
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Old December 18th, 2009, 11:11 AM   #3
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Good eye on the ground glass. About half of the shots it was off. I was focusing more on the exposure and focus versus appreciable noise levels. When I shoot the video for real, I'll need to attach a little post-it note on the record button to remind me to turn on the ground glass - heh. I was a bit anxious trying to set the focus, get the exposure, minimize grain, AND avoid getting mugged all at once.

It's good that you say it looks interesting - that makes me think I can hide the noise by desaturation and call it grain.

As far as the smearing goes, I did some more tests to see when it shows up. Seems I can get away with 60fps and a shutter angle of 180, but man, when I set the shutter angle to 22.5 degrees and had it overcranked to 60fps, the vibrating glass looked like jello. Looks like short shutter angles are out for a creative option.
Bradford Holt is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 19th, 2009, 07:00 AM   #4
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My personal preference with the EX1 is "shutter off". It then seems to handle movement better but I could be wrong on this.

If you are getting a motion artifact from the groundglass you might be able to bury it a little by stacking three or four layers at 33% transparency for 3 or 25% transparency for 4, and each layer one frame offset relative to the next so that the final layer is 3 or four frames behind the first. Turn off frame blend when doing this.

You will likely have to crank up the contrast as the image will wash out. The downside of this is a trail effect on any motion.
Bob Hart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 21st, 2009, 07:50 PM   #5
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Location: Portland, Oregon
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I second Chris. I've got a little low light horror thing coming up and a 35mm adapter just was not going to work. I've been shooting a bunch with the 7D lately and it's lowlight performance is really pretty amazing.

I think you made a lot of interesting choices with the footage you shot, and this is just my opinion, but the grain is just not really working for me. I"m thinking it's falling too closely into the "bad video" camp.

Here is some overcranked, low light, just walking around stuff I shot in Vegas a little while ago with the 7D for reference. This is with the kit lens which is pretty slow.

Also renting a 7d would be pretty cheap.
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