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Canon VIXIA Series AVCHD and HDV Camcorders
For VIXIA / LEGRIA Series (HF G, HF S, HF and HV) consumer camcorders.


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Old October 25th, 2006, 04:32 AM   #1
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I have to say I am finding my footage less than satisfactory. Please be aware I am a complete n00b and for me video is only a potential new hobby, not a way of earning a living. My wife has booked us a holiday sailing around the Galapagos Islands next month so I thought I’d better get a camcorder. I can’t even view or edit HDV yet but at least I can record this once-in-a-lifetime trip in the best resolution possible.

I am finding all my footage using P mode, when viewed on my SD 32” CRT widescreen TV, appears to be overexposed. I think the technical term may be ‘blown’. Things seem a little better in AUTO mode but I doubt if you guys have ever ventured there. I find if I set exposure to around –3 everything looks consistently better. I cannot afford to spent ages fiddling with the setup and don’t want to come home and explain the reason I didn’t get footage of the giant tortoises was because they wouldn’t stay still long enough!

Would anyone admit to having better success using the various SCENE modes or perhaps by choosing one of the preset white balance settings to suit a particular situation. I know the “one size fits all” approach is pure compromise but any tips and suggestions would be gratefully received, not just by me but by the many other n00bs who follow this forum.

Next year, for post-production, I’m thinking of building a serious horsepower PC ie. Core 2 Quad, DX10 card, running Vista and Vegas 7.0. Can open – worms everywhere!
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Old October 25th, 2006, 10:59 AM   #2
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Yes, this has been some of my experience too, I was a bit surprised thinking of HD's supposed greater dynamic range along w/ resolution. Maybe is just the HV10, or HDV format limit, or I'm spoiled w/ the rest of the picture being so good :) ...

Effect seems strongest on wide, bright scenes (eg scenerey) w/ varying contrast, eg w/ some shadowed spots along w/ brightly lit subjects or sky...
I filmed an outdoor garden/estate recently, and the flowers seemed a bit overexposed at wide angle.
When I get closer up, or focus on just the flower and not so much dark leaves etc, the image is just gorgeous & stunning as usual.
Pulling back it's a bit too bright again; some zebra'd 100% spots, but overall a bit bright/washed colors.

I did some other bright outdoor shots (lake and seaplanes) earlier, and it seemed better, though the lighter-colored planes were a bit bright (understandably.) I manually tweaked a few of those down ~3 steps and the planes looked nice, but rest of scene was a bit dark.
Maybe something about how the light sensor reads green, or adjusts for shaded spots; or HDV simply doesn't have the dynamic range?

I would love if the camera had a relative adjustment eg a stop or two down, but otherwise let the automatic adjust to changing light...
the manual setting is a fixed exposure lock.

I couldn't really tell (on viewfinder only) if there was a difference between P and Auto mode... seemed like only the zebra indicators went away :) but I didn't do a real test.
I'm not sure the other scene modes would help... snow/sand would tend to expose stuff even higher...

I did some very quick LCD-only tests using Spotlight mode, and it did step exposure down when there was bright/white items in the view. It seemed a bit stepped down from P mode. If there was not bright/white spots, I'm not sure if it stepped down much...

I suggest you try on Spotlight scene mode, and see if it helps in a given scene, but still doesn't darken too much for other compositions eg closeups where the overexposure isn't a problem.
At least you could switch quickly between P and Scn(spot) w/ the lever if there was a problem...
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Old October 25th, 2006, 10:59 AM   #3
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This camera puts out a great picture. If you're getting bad footage, you might want to go back to full auto mode and keep it set there.
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Old October 25th, 2006, 12:03 PM   #4
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Other settings to try out are:
(I only tested quick LCD again, not real recording/viewing on HDTV)

- "Daylight" white balance for bright outdoor shots:
This does seem to have a significant impact on improving color saturation (less washed-out/glare effect) , suggest you try that to improve color saturation if not actual blowout(bright exposure)

- "Image Effects" settings: (Function menu)
from the manual p47:
(Custom settings seem most appropriate ; each only have -1/0/+1 settings...
-1 Contrast lowered whites/highs a bit, brightness not much effect)

"[ NEUTRAL]
Tones down the contrast and color saturation.
[ LOW SHARPENING]
Records subjects with softened outlines.
[ SOFT SKIN DETAIL]
Softens the details in the skin tone area for a more complimentary appearance.
[ CUSTOM]
Allows you to adjust the brightness, contrast, sharpness, and color depth of the image.
[BRIGHTN.]: (–) Darker picture, (+) Brighter picture
[CONTRAST]: (–) Flatter picture, (+) More defined light and shade
[SHARPNESS]: (–) Vaguer outlines, (+) Sharper outlines
[COL.DEPTH]: (–) Shallower colors, (+) Richer color tonality"
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Old October 25th, 2006, 12:16 PM   #5
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if you are shooting landscapes and bright outdoor scenics, you need a polarizer for this or you'll get that white/gray sky, if this is what you mean by blown. or an ND filter. i think someone is selling a set of these for a 37mm lens mount in the dvinfo classifieds. you should pick these up.

two things about this camera. you must manually white balance it to get true colors. and i'm not getting great footage on the auto settings either--i doubt anyone is.... i primarily shoot the Av setting, which lets you open and close the aperture to control the amount of light. if it is really, really bright, i'll shoot Tv, because you have even more light control with the shutter control. shutter control is like a broad brush stroke, and aperture control is more fine-tuning the light.

the big advantage to the camera is the amount of manual control it offers. it is NOT a camera in which paying more money instantly results in better footage. sometimes, that *is* what you get when you pay up for technology, but in this case, you have to know a little bit about how to use the controls to squeeze better images from the camera. this camera has point and shoot controls, but, having spent some time with it, i would argue that it is *not* a point and shoot camera.

oh, and one more thing--the daylight auto white balance is a little cold, even on a sunny day, set the "cloudy" white balance, if you want a pre-set tip, and you will get a warmer look. custom white balance is still the best, and i have found that using a light blue warm card to white balance it is even better, for a warmer look....
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Old October 25th, 2006, 02:25 PM   #6
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if we are dissing the hv-10 then lets not forget...

the AUDIO is the worst! i am shocked by the bad audio and the lack of an external jack, bizarre!

I also have a sanyo hd1a and its half that size but still has room for an external audio jack.

So far I am not impressed by the out of the box footage so I have moved into tweaking mode to squeeze out more, as you said.

But I am feeling a 15 day return policy attack coming on and a possible Hvx200 knocking at my door.

This whole interlaced, 60i no P, thing is getting kinda old, I think.
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Old October 26th, 2006, 10:23 AM   #7
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Colin and Meryom Ė Thank so much for investing the time to put my findings in perspective and provide in-depth explanations regarding the workings of this camaera. Without your help I dare say I would have captured all my Galapagos footage in AUTO mode (sorry if my inexperience hit a nerve with you Kevin, but I have to call it as I see it). I will assume sunny conditions for my trip and hopefully a few more bright days here in the UK will allow me to perfect one or two optimised combinations. I have been offered the loan of suitable Cokin ND, polarizer and skylight filters to experiment with and I will collect some shades of white to try out the manual white balancing

I hope other n00bs garner enough information from this board to persevere and fine tune their HV10 into what obviously must be a very good camera. I wonder if anybody recalls any camcorder manufacturer issuing some kind of firmware update to improve operation. Is this even technically possible?
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Old October 26th, 2006, 01:47 PM   #8
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Blown out footage? Stop down the iris. How is blown footage the fault of the camera?
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Old October 26th, 2006, 02:26 PM   #9
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be nice, guys. most people shooting on auto don't even know what "stop down the iris" means...otherwise they most likely would not be shooting auto in the first place. this camera is a fairly sophisticated bit of gear, even though it looks like something my granny could operate....
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Old October 26th, 2006, 03:39 PM   #10
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Quote:
I am finding all my footage using P mode, when viewed on my SD 32Ē CRT widescreen TV, appears to be overexposed...Things seem a little better in AUTO mode but I doubt if you guys have ever ventured there. I find if I set exposure to around Ė3 everything looks consistently better.
Keep in mind that the HV10 is at the low end of today's HDV cameras, with an inexpensive lens and sensor which can't be expected to handle every situation well. I have a Sony HC1 which is roughly similar quality and I've noticed it struggles in some conditions more so than the more expensive FX1.

The "P" mode on Canon cameras shouldn't look any different than auto mode unless you've changed something which affects the exposure, but until you get that sorted out either shoot on auto or use the -3 option you've already tested. Shoot as much footage as you can between now and your trip to convince yourself what works and what doesn't. If you're still uncomfortable with the results you might try recording in DV mode rather than HDV, or consider returning the HV10 and getting a more expensive (but probably bulkier) camera.

Also, make sure you're in "SP" recording mode rather than "LP" to minimize the risk of recording/playback dropouts. Bring enough miniDV tape of one brand only to last the entire trip, so you don't have to change tape type along the way (which can sometimes cause problems). For HDV recording use 60 or 63 minute tapes only; don't use the longer 80 minute miniDV tapes.

Good luck! Post a sample clip when you get back...
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Old October 26th, 2006, 03:56 PM   #11
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Good Advice.....I use an ND6 folter on mine as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Tibbetts
Blown out footage? Stop down the iris. How is blown footage the fault of the camera?
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Old October 26th, 2006, 11:05 PM   #12
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Tony's right, I keep thinking the "dynamic" camcorder should properly adjust/meter itself pretty well, but since the camera has Av aperture-priority mode, we can adjust the "tone" of the video ourselves... not just tweaking the exposure lock setting (gross/fixed control.)

but yes, be gentle, I've only just started reading my wife's "Nature Photography Field Guide" by John Shaw :)
It has a good explanation of tone and aperture/exposure , shutter speed, lenses & focal length etc.
Most video guys are total photography n00bs :) (or at least forget you can apply the same techniques to video)

To stop down the iris (close the aperture/allow less light in), see p41-42 of the manual:
"[ APERTURE-PRIO.AE]
Set the aperture value. The camcorder automatically sets the appropriate shutter speed. Use low aperture values (larger lens opening) to softly blur the background in a portrait or high aperture values (smaller lens opening) to get a wider depth of field, giving a sharp focus all throughout a landscape."

Go to P mode, Function, "select" the jog wheel on the top menu (P), jog down in the sub-menu to Av mode, select it, Function to exit.
Now it says "Av" on the left screen, w/ the current setting. Default is F1.8 (wide open?) to 8.0...
Edit: The values don't match the 35mm ones from the photo book, have to translate (rule of thumb: f/16 is medium tone/middle value for sunny days)..

To change the setting, push the jog wheel, then up/down to open/close the iris/aperture, respectively. (Larger numbers mean smaller aperture/less light.) Note that as you zoom in, the values will change due to the zoom lens impacting the focal length. (Hopefully I'm explaining this part right )
The camcorder will still meter the scene and try to adjust (exposure eg shutter speed) accordingly, but you've just told it to effectively let in less brightness, in effect set a darker "tone" for the image.

You can also use this to impact your depth-of-field as noted above (the Portrait scene mode does the same thing for you but "automatically"; similar but opposite, Landscape does on still cameras.)


I think the Spotlight scene mode either does this, or set some special metering mode to detect very bright spots in the view, and reduce exposure/iris automatically (making the rest of the scene more dark.)
I did some live tests today and for scenes with bright spots, it made them significantly darker, maybe more than you want; for other scenes it didn't have as strong an adjustment.
So it depends on if you want a variable (maybe too strong) automatic adjustment (more point-shoot), or more consistent tone/adjustment setting you control manually (Av).
At least for both of those, camera automatically adjusts exposure, unlike the Exp-Lock button.


Tv shutter speed is basically to ensure catching (or blurring) fast action eg sports or moving animals:
"[ SHUTTER-PRIO.AE]
Set the shutter speed value. The camcorder automatically sets the
appropriate aperture value. Use a high shutter speed to record fast moving
subjects or a slow shutter speed to add a certain motion blur, emphasizing the feel of movement."
eg, you can set a slow shutter speed to blur action (make those cool blurry waterfall pics), or to reduce flicker in PC/TV screens etc.


I'll have to try some more experiments w/ the Av mode, to see how it compares to the Spotlight mode...
so far the Daylight white-balance setting didn't impact the (over-)exposure much, just changed the color hue a bit, maybe a little more saturation, have to check on the TV not just the PC monitor.

Note that an ND (or other filter) will also reduce transmitted light, effectively stopping down the iris as well, beyond the filter's impact itself. ND is recommended for bright scenes w/ lots of glare; polarizing is good for reflected glare as well. (Though in a pinch, I've also just stuck my polarized sunglasses in front of the lens :) and it worked pretty well!)

Last edited by Colin Gould; October 27th, 2006 at 10:01 AM.
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Old October 27th, 2006, 04:00 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Tibbetts
Blown out footage? Stop down the iris. How is blown footage the fault of the camera?
If I get into a car and select D on the transmission I expect to make progress down the road in a smooth efficient manner. If I get into a car and am faced with choices numbered 1 to 5 or 6 on the transmission (as in what I think you know as "stick shift") I would expect it to take a little longer before I perfect a combination which allows me to progress in the smooth efficient and ultimately quicker manner that will allow me to attain 'Driving God' status. Perhaps it will be the flattening of an initially steep learning curve which will stop me blaming the car. Again I'd like to thank all the volunteer 'driving instructors' out there for providing constructive professional assistance and not derision.
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