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Old August 8th, 2006, 08:33 AM   #1
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SGPro: Quick Observations and Footage

I was hoping to do more tests with the SGPro with my FX1 and my work’s Z1U, but with the crazy heat and humidity, I didn’t want to take the cameras outside. (I’ve ruined enough cameras already in August weather.) What I have is my first initial test with the FX1 and the SGPro. I figure I should just post what I’ve got so far. I’ll try to update as soon as I do more tests.

Here’s a link to the footage (about 44 mb, please right-click and save as):

These are my quick initial observations:

1. The SGPro rocks. Truly does. Very easy to set up and install without instructions. For the FX1, you essentially remove the hood and put the lens adapter as close to the FX1 lens as possible. Then zoom in with the FX1. The 35mm lenses need to be opened to the maximum iris setting. I found that I had to focus using the 35mm lens, the FX1, or a combination of the two, depending on the situation. It’s not frustrating in the least, and surprisingly easy to get used to. With practice and careful marking of the focus rings, I could do some nice follow focus shots.

2. The SGPro adds some heft to the overall weight of the camera, but I was still able to hoist it about on my jury-rigged fig rig. It looks incredibly pro and impressive, and there’s none of that homemade look of the original SG unit. I’m glad I waited for the Pro over the regular SG.

3. For the FX1 and the Z1U, you can see the black frames of the 35mm guide. In post, I had to crop about 5% to get rid of the black frames. (The posted footage already has the black frames cropped off.) I spoke to Wayne via email (who, by the way, is incredibly helpful and friendly), and he gave me clear instructions on removing the 35mm guide from the unit. It’s easy to do, but you have to be careful and use a thin knife to peel off the guide. Because of the weather, I haven’t had a chance to test out the SGPro without the 35mm guide, but I can’t imagine it would be any different.

4. If you’re not used to using a 35mm adapter (which I wasn’t), you’ll be surprised by how more limited your shot selections are, based on what lens you’re using. With standard video, you can usually move the camera anywhere. With the 35mm adapter, you have to be more selective about where you put the camera, based on what lenses are screwed on. But with the more lenses, you have more options in shot composition and can play with the mood and tone better. This is just a different way of shooting than what I’m used to, but I thought I’d mention it for those that think a 35mm adapter will instantly turn them into Steven Spielberg.

Observations regarding the quick test footage:

1. If you notice, there is some flicker on a few of the shots. I’m not sure if this is due to the SGPro’s spinning disk, or the fact that I shot in Cineframe 24 mode and converted using Cineform. My hunch is that it’s the 24 mode, but I hope to do more tests using standard 60i. It’s not from the Quicktime compression, because I see it on the Sony Vegas timeline while I’m editing.

2. My Nikon lenses are some the cheapest around, so please don’t judge the SGPro based on my lens choice. There's a definite loss of sharpness with these cheaper lenses. The Quicktime compression also doesn’t do the footage justice, because everything still looks awesome on the test DVD I made.

3. As you can see from the footage, I was testing out sharpness levels of the Cineframe 24 mode of the Sony FX1. So some of the footage is not as sharp as others – and I think there may be some resolution loss from the 24 mode. With all the test shots, I tried to include all the camera settings, so you could get an idea of how each shot was made.

4. My wife would kill me if she knew I shared her video image with everyone. So, shhhh, everyone.

Overall, I’m very happy with my purchase of the SGPro. If you guys have any questions, just let me know, since I know this post is kinda rushed. Also, I don’t know how long I’ll have this footage up, so please grab it while you can. (And Wayne, if you read this, feel free to host the footage elsewhere if you like – that is, if you need it.)
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Old August 8th, 2006, 09:11 AM   #2
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Thanks for posting, Robert.

Im glad the removal of the 35mm gate helped, I had the same problem when I tried the z1, so I have made all other units with a slightly bigger gate to prevent this.

My main concern is the flickering effect in the footage. The way it flickers is odd, so im not sure if it is the GG or not, especially since it was only 60 shutter.

Please email me, and we can talk more about that, to see where the flicker comes from.
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Old August 8th, 2006, 03:17 PM   #3
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very nice footage, feels very cinematic (bit like French art films from the early 90s)

Did the grain cause any compression artifacts? Did you downrez in camera, or downconvert in Vegas / quicktime?

Thanks in advance,

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Old August 8th, 2006, 03:55 PM   #4
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The flicker appears to be the ground glass. Looks a little like film flicker added in post. Not a good thing if it's added by the adapter though.
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Old August 9th, 2006, 03:49 AM   #5
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In my email, I forgot to mention that a fast automatic gain setting in the FX1/Z1P or any automatic gain selection in the PD150 family will amplify any flicker which might otherwise only be slightly apparent if at all. The camcorder gain function hunts unsuccessfully for the ideal level.
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Old August 9th, 2006, 02:15 PM   #6
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I uploaded the HDV footage from the camera using Connect HD to make a Cineform intermediary avi file. I then edited and exported directly to the Quicktime 6 file (with I believe is 3Mb/sec, with modified screen size). I didn't notice any compression artifacts. I think the French feel was because I had the sharpness turned down from default, plus the lenses also cut down on the sharpness. New footage (which I haven't posted yet) is sharper, but I had to set the sharpness level on the camera higher.

I'm in email contact with Wayne about the flicker. I found that my adapter takes about 30 seconds to a minute to warm up before the flicker disappears. Those shots are from when I first turn the adapter on, which is why it's not in every shot. In this test footage, I had a tendency of turning off the adapter between shots, and then turning it on and immediately hitting record. I did some of test shots last night on 60i, at 0 db gain, and shutter speed 60, and there was almost no flicker on most of the shots (as long as I let the adapter warm up). However, there was slight flicker on a couple scenes. We're working on fixing it (or replacing it), since Wayne says this is not normal, and which I have not seen on any other test footage.

In all the shots, I have automatic gain turned off. The dB levels are usually at 0 (unless it says otherwise), which is why some shots (the indoors) are intentionally dark.
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Old August 9th, 2006, 02:42 PM   #7
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I spoke to Wayne and we're going to replace the GG. One of the reasons I choose this adapter over the others is I knew Wayne would be cool to work with, in case there were problems.

Here's more test footage:

(right click and save as, 54 Mb)

Notes about the footage:

1. I didn't have time to put any notations on this footage, so please be aware that these are just some quick shots I did last night. It was friggin' hot, man.

2. I shot in 60i, on a Z1U, shutter speed 60, no cineframe or cinetone, no color correction, using only a cheap Nikon 50mm at 1.4. The white balance was set for either indoor or outdoor. The indoor scenes were shot with 9db gain, the outdoor scenes shot with 0 gain and either neutral density 1 or 2, depending on the amount of sunlight. The beta is shot with the indoor settings, and with x10 macro.

3. The first cigarette scene is with the adapter NOT SPINNING. I intentionally left it off to see what the grain looked like as I start the adapter spinning. So that grainy look is intentional.

4. I did not zoom in enough with the adapter, so there's some vignetting. I forgot to turn on overscan so that I could accurately gauge the look. It was run and gun, and it was too hot for me to fidget too much with the controls. None of the footage has been cropped, so you can see that other scenes have no vignetting, because I was more careful.

5. The lens, and not the adapter, has some barrel distortion, which you can see on some of the fence or background walls.

6. I didn't have an assistant, so I had to focus and use myself as a model. Please, Lord, forgive me.
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Old August 9th, 2006, 04:35 PM   #8
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Where did the chroma abetration come from? I noticed there was some (there's always but this time more than usually.) Was it the lens or the adapter?

Gosh it's good to know im not the only one doing test shoots of myself doing funny faces. Everybody does that... right?
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Old August 9th, 2006, 05:23 PM   #9
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Looks great, this second clip. Even the indoor shots at +9db. I couldn't notice any flickering with this one. The static grain didn't look too bad either. Seems like you were struggling to light that cigarette though!

Do you have any full res screen grabs you could post up? Maybe deinterlaced in Vegas using the interpolate fields method? I'd be interested to see how that looked.

I'm also wondering if the vignetting you're getting would still occur on my HC1 with the SGPro hooked up to it, since the HC1's thread is only 37mm? Although for indoor shots I'm sure I'll need some extra lighting if your Z1U shots were boosted by 9db. I'll post some test shots once it arrives in 2 or 3 weeks.
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Old August 10th, 2006, 09:17 AM   #10
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I'm not sure where the aberration is coming from -- I'm not that technically proficient. I'm assuming the lens, because it's so cheap and because of the barrel distortion. Plus, I shot with a lot of bright sources, even with the ND2 on, it was still blowing out occasionally.

I think I can post some full frame size clips, but I don't know how accurate they are. Since I had to do the focusing and the modeling myself, I notice that my focusing skills aren't that good. There are some shots that look great compressed, but look a little blurry in full mode. I'm getting used to using the adapter, and I find I can't use the zoom in and focus trick that I normally can do with video. As for the 37mm, I don't know. I hope to test with my GS400. As for the +9db boost, I didn't have to do that because of anything wrong with the adapter. Instead, it was dark when I shot indoors, the sun was setting outsdie, and I only had small lights on. There's very little light loss from the adapter itself -- so I doubt you'll have to add more lights for the HC1.
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