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Canon VIXIA Series AVCHD and HDV Camcorders
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Old June 16th, 2008, 07:34 PM   #91
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I suppose the method you suggest for judging exposure would work, especially after you have a feel for how much the display tends to clip, but it may be harder to use in bright sunlight than zebra stripes.
I find the SR zebra at 100 covers an area so one can't see what's really happening in the highlight area. Turning it off let me adjust exposure so I could still see some detail in the highlight. Don't really need zebra to signal me. If I'm in a hurry -- AE works fine.
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Old June 16th, 2008, 08:25 PM   #92
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Don't really need zebra to signal me. If I'm in a hurry -- AE works fine.
And Steve, it's precisely that 'in a hurry' point that made me favor a cam like this for its more accurate 'in a hurry' adjustments. I rarely use other camera equipment in a hurry, but this fun cam I do. But when I have time, I still like the zebras...still the most accurate way to avoid overexposure. You just can't rely on LCDs or VFs for this. :)
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Old June 16th, 2008, 09:31 PM   #93
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And Steve, it's precisely that 'in a hurry' point that made me favor a cam like this for its more accurate 'in a hurry' adjustments. I rarely use other camera equipment in a hurry, but this fun cam I do. But when I have time, I still like the zebras...still the most accurate way to avoid overexposure. You just can't rely on LCDs or VFs for this. :)
But don't you think if we follow Zebra 100% we get very dark picture? At 70% in HD7 picture look ok, but still I set all controls my self, some time I noticed auto presets gives fantastic result, my this comment regarding to HD7.

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Old June 16th, 2008, 09:42 PM   #94
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I allow zebra just appearing on white object but not on anything else especially a colour like yellow. IF you have zebra on in auto you will see that the SR11/12 will allow zebras on white but I have never seen on any other colour so I follow the same approach and it has worked well. This is also true for my FX1 it must be the way that Sony have set these up to get the most out of the camera. IF zebras don't appear on white then the scene is often too dark. This is what one would expect with white just clipping at 100ire.

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Old June 17th, 2008, 01:43 AM   #95
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I allow zebra just appearing on white object but not on anything else especially a colour like yellow. Ron Evans
With SD and small screens a bit of burned-out highlights was fine. Anyone shooting for film or HD knows when blown-up one really doesn't want to see burn-out -- even on whites. An expensive camera with gamma and knee settings enables one to prevent burn-out even in AE. The Canon, of course, has just such a Cine gamma option that prevents burn-out. All the test pix show whites having detail. So once Cine is turned-on, I don't need a zebra.

With Cine off, for manual shooting, one simply looks at the LCD. With any camera one quickly learns to balance the pix. For example, if you know the screen clips, you allow whites to go white -- but not light yellow or pale blue. (With color -- we can differentiate colors. LCDs aren't CRTs.) If the LCD doesn't clip, then you don't allow even white to lose detail.

Bottom-line, if a guy has a white shirt -- I want to see the creases, not a big white area, on playback.

If shadows go too dark -- you know scene latitude is wider than the camera can capture. Increasing exposing to prevent this at the cost of burned highlights is not the answer. If your camera doesn't offer Black Stretch, either decrease scene contrast or live with it.
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Old June 17th, 2008, 07:19 AM   #96
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But don't you think if we follow Zebra 100% we get very dark picture? At 70% in HD7 picture look ok, but still I set all controls my self, some time I noticed auto presets gives fantastic result, my this comment regarding to HD7.

Kaushik
It all depends on what your subject is. If your subject is precisely what's over-exposed, then you shouldn't care if the rest of the video is on the dark side. Look at any broadcast material and you'll find background and ancillary parts of the scene can be either very dark or overexposed depending on what the subject is supposed to be. Video hasn't reached the point where everything can be exposed perfectly.

But the bottom line is that zebras are a necessity if you're concerned about exposing white areas properly. No pro would go without them and that's why no professional camera is lacking them.
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Old June 17th, 2008, 07:45 AM   #97
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Steve I was making a particular comment about the Sony zebras. With the zebra just appearing on white for the Sony cams I have, the whites are correctly exposed, creases in the fabric and all. The point I was making was that Sony likely have the 100% zebra set a little lower for this very reason as witnessed by viewing the zebras in auto. In other words I think that 100% zebra on these cams is more like 95% in reality allowing the zebras to just show and yet correctly expose the scene. Having used this approach for years on these prosumer Sony's they all work the same way and would lead to an underexposed scene if one doesn't do this.

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Old June 17th, 2008, 09:30 AM   #98
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Steve I was making a particular comment about the Sony zebras. With the zebra just appearing on white for the Sony cams I have, the whites are correctly exposed, creases in the fabric and all.
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The reason is that Sony pro cameras record up to 108IRE. So you are correct, but not because the zebra's at 95 but because it is 100 and there remains 8IRE headroom. So I agree with you completely. Although, if you as NLE that converts YUV to RGB -- that headroom is clipped away. That's why I don't like Premiere.

Bottom-line, anyone who looks can see clipping whether there is zebra on top of it or not. The zebra adds nothing nothing except to obscure seeing the what detail is left.

PS: Zebra is from the days of CRT VFs where the CRT offered so much headroom one needed to be TOLD where 100IRE was. If you go back to the Sony Porta-Pak days as I do -- you realize that what we worried about then is not what we worry about now. Just as when I worked for a recording studio in the very early `60's and cut LPs -- today in the digital world we don't use a microscope to see how the "cutting" is going. :)

After a nearly half a century experience, you learn when features are mere marketing gimmicks. And, of course, zebra is useless when in AE. But, having it can make some folks think they have a "pro" camera.
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Old June 17th, 2008, 12:30 PM   #99
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Steve I wasn't being specific about 95% just indicating that the Sony will record all the detail with the zebra just showing on white. The comment about zebra on auto was to indicate that Sony expect zebra to show on white as it should if one is to get full dynamic range out of the recording. Guessing what the exposure is based on how it looks on the LCD/VF leaves you at the mercy of how the LCD/VF is set up resulting in either underexposure or over exposure. Yes I used to manage when I had cams without zebra by watching if the faces bloomed etc. Using the zebra ensures that the whites at least will be exposed at the limit and if the zebra is on any other colour it will be over exposed if that is the intended subject. I am also aware that most of the digital recording processes will record super white. I use Edius to edit and the waveform monitor does show levels above 100IRE !!!
PS My experience also goes back to the early 60's with film and audio recording and I will take every aid to getting things right that is available to me. There are lots of marketing gimmicks, like digital zoom, but zebra is not one of them.


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Old June 17th, 2008, 02:42 PM   #100
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Bottom-line, anyone who looks can see clipping whether there is zebra on top of it or not. The zebra adds nothing nothing except to obscure seeing the what detail is left ........ But, having it can make some folks think they have a "pro" camera.
I agree that zebras may be a legacy from CRT VFs, and that LCD displays are more useful at indicating where clipping occurs, but I think zebras may once again have usefulness in the new crop of consumer camcorders that have no VF, when used in bright sunlight.

I don't yet have a video camera with no VF, but they are similar in that respect to DSLR's, which also have no electronic viewfinder. My DSLR has an image review mode that highlights overexposure, similar to zebra sripes. When I'm indoors or in lower light, I never use this mode because the LCD is very faithful about indicating where clipping occurs and the blinking black areas are annoying and make it hard to view the remaining detail. When I'm outdoors in bright sun, however, I can't reliably view the LCD for highlight detail and clipping, even with a hood, so I do use that mode, and it has helped me correct numerous bad exposures.
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Old June 17th, 2008, 03:02 PM   #101
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If, as is pretty common with AE settings, you've got some areas that are overly hot, zebras DO provide a way to quickly see where the problem areas might be, and adjust exposure or AE shift accordingly. That's what in indicator is for, to call your attention to potential trouble... you can ignore it if it's not important.

The SR11 is quite forgiving with good lattitude, but it's still nice to have an indication if there is a trouble spot. As with the CX7, I find the auto settings of the SR11 work more times than not. But I know the options are there if I need them.

I suppose the best way to explain it is that it's nice to have a camera that hits the mark and produces video that requires little or no tweaking to look "right". It's nice to have the indicators for backup (just as more manual control wouldn't hurt), but it is ALSO nice to know that what you're shooting is actually what you'll get when all is said and done. IMO this is what sets the SR11 apart, and as I think others have noted it makes it a FUN camera to shoot.

I'd rather have a camera that's smart enought to get most of the necessary settings right or close to it so I can focus on framing and getting the shot. I'd use the analogy of the modern day fighter pilot - the plane enhances the capabilities of the pilot by being smart enough to take care of many of the functions automatically. Some planes couldn't even fly at all without the "smart" fly by wire systems correcting faster than a human ever could.
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Old June 17th, 2008, 06:05 PM   #102
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If, as is pretty common with AE settings, you've got some areas that are overly hot, zebras DO provide a way to quickly see where the problem areas might be, and adjust exposure or AE shift accordingly. That's what in indicator is for, to call your attention to potential trouble... you can ignore it if it's not important.
You are correct Dave! The zebras are necessary for accurate exposure of highlights and that's why all pro and prosumer cameras have it...not to just to take up space. All the Canon prosumer cams have it as do all Sonys as well as all broadcast cams. It is the most accurate indicator of overexposure and that is simply a fact. Those that don't believe this should write to Canon as well as the other camera companies to indicate they need to 'rethink' their equipment design and stop wasting our money.

The fact is that once the exposure has been properly adjusted to avoid clipping (if that area is important), all the detail of that area shows as the zebras are dialed out with the reduced exposure. At that point the detail is most certainly not obscured by the zebras. I sure would hate to rely on how things look in an LCD (that's hard to see in the first place in bright sun!) for the most accurate exposure of highlights. ;)


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I suppose the best way to explain it is that it's nice to have a camera that hits the mark and produces video that requires little or no tweaking to look "right". It's nice to have the indicators for backup (just as more manual control wouldn't hurt), but it is ALSO nice to know that what you're shooting is actually what you'll get when all is said and done. IMO this is what sets the SR11 apart, and as I think others have noted it makes it a FUN camera to shoot.
You nailed it my friend.
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Old June 17th, 2008, 09:00 PM   #103
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When I'm indoors or in lower light, I never use this mode because the LCD is very faithful about indicating where clipping occurs and the blinking black areas are annoying and make it hard to view the remaining detail.
I went out shooting with SR and HD7. Turned zebra on -- both at 100. One might think a zebra is a zebra. Nope.

The SR uses max black and max white stripes -- very annoying. No wonder I turned it off and went by the white clip on the LCD or VF. (Which works very well.)

The HD7 uses light gray and moderate white -- just as obvious even in bright sun, but far less annoying. That's why I leave zebra on with the HD7. No penalty.

Also, left-out here is that the recent generations of Sony camcorders offer a histogram. There's no point in using zebra when you can SEE your exposure by looking at the histogram.

==================

What camera are you talking about when you say this: "When I'm outdoors in bright sun, however, I can't reliably view the LCD for highlight detail and clipping, even with a hood, so I do use that mode, and it has helped me correct numerous bad exposures." WHAT MODE IS THAT? On any camera, except the Canon, you would use the VF so why are you talking about using the LCD in bright light? The only camera that you can't switch to the VF is the Canon and it doesn't offer zebra.

===================


The situation is radically different with the SR: It has both zebra and VF. BUT -- the SR has one manual DIAL that can control only one thing at a time. So if you have it set to control focus -- you are NOT going to be using zebra to tell you how to adjust exposure because you have no manual control of exposure. You are going to be running on AE, which thankfully is very very good. So good, why turn on the annoying zebra?

If you decide to assign exposure to the dial, then zebra MIGHT be of value. If you use the VF, by definition you don't have bright sun on the LCD. Your description of needing zebra because you can't see the LCD doesn't apply in this case. You can clearly see highlights going white.

But, let's assume you insist on using the LCD. OK -- now you claim you need zebra to see overexposure because you can't see the highlight detail. I agree. But, because you chose to assign the DIAL to exposure, you are running on AF. And since you've just said you can't see the LCD very well -- you must REALLY REALLY trust AF.

And, here's the gotcha. While the SR has zebra so you can monitor AE to see if it is going wrong, the SR has no PEAKING so you can't monitor focus. As I said, you must trust, but you can't varify.

=====

This whole discussion is about nothing. The Canon doesn't have zebra. The SR has an annoying zebra. The HD7 has a great zebra. The pro Sony camcorder have histograms. The new AG-HMC150 has a WFM.

Each camera has it's own LCD characteristics. Claiming you can't trust any of them is nonsense. And, each camera has different levels of AE accuracy. Moreover, cameras that clip at 100IRE can be used differently than cameras that don't clip until 108IRE. And, frankly, some people may have different skills at judging exposure. While others, who always CC every clip, may bias exposure so they will never see either clipping or zebra. Or, use a Cine gamma mode.

I really don't see how being dogmatic about zebra "in general" has much value in a thread on the HF10. The real question here, is how accurate can you control exposure with the controls on the HF10. And, I'm not sure why there were posts talking about the "better" SR because it has VF and zebra. Frankly, if one is going to promote camcorders I'll say the HD7 beats both.
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Old June 17th, 2008, 09:33 PM   #104
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If you decide to assign exposure to the dial, then zebra MIGHT be of value..
And that's precisely how I normally have mine set. Yes, I can see focus going south on the rare instances in good light that occurs, so leaving the dial set to exposure works quite nicely for the vast majority of shooting situations.

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Frankly, if one is going to promote camcorders I'll say the HD7 beats both.
From the standpoint of manual controls perhaps, from the standpoint of picture quality certainly not. In the end, at least IMO, it's all about PQ. There are many cams, regardless of how many manual controls you give them, that will not produce as good a picture as those with lesser manual controls.
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Old June 17th, 2008, 11:36 PM   #105
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You are correct Dave! The zebras are necessary for accurate exposure of highlights and that's why all pro and prosumer cameras have it...
Ken, that's not what Dave said. He said zebras are to call your attention to potential problem areas so you can adjust your exposure accordingly or ignore them. That's not the same thing as saying they are necessary for accurate exposure of the highlights, although they are helpful. Since you mentioned pro cams, I would use the zebra as Dave described, as a warning. But I would not use them exclusively to properly expose the highlights. I would instead expose for my subject or the scene, and make an adjustment to the knee for the highlights.

While I could use spot metering, average metering, a 18% neutral gray card or the histogram, in the end I agree with Steve (and Dave) that you can just look at the image on the LCD or viewfinder and derive your intent for exposure, just as you would use it for composition and framing. The other tools, meters and light cards are throwbacks to the days when there was no sort of preview short of a polaroid snapshot.

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Originally Posted by Steve Mullen
Each camera has it's own LCD characteristics. Claiming you can't trust any of them is nonsense.
Totally agree. If you put no trust in the LCD you are not practicing enough with it.

If one relies purely on simplistic techniques like putting the hump into the center of the histogram, one guarantees that all whites and blacks will come out looking gray.

Sometimes the problem is information overload itself. The zebra tells you to expose it one way, the histogram another. When in doubt, I turn ALL the information OFF and just look at the overall scene. Then I can go back, switch the information back on and now it's making sense because it's describing what I see in the scene, rather than giving me bad advice on what to do with the information with an ill advised adjustment based on a zebra or histogram.

It's MY intent that matters. I'm the one who has to be satisfied. Don't be a slave to the metering tools. They are advisors only.
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