Question about using Zebra pattern settings with Canon XHA1s at

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Old October 17th, 2010, 01:27 PM   #1
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Question about using Zebra pattern settings with Canon XHA1s

I understand what the zebra pattern is used for but was wondering what setting(s) to use?

My subjects were soccer players on an outdoor soccer field in mid day (full sun). With my XHA1s set in manual, recording in HD at 60i, I used 80 IRE and changed the iris to reduce the zebra patterns but the over-all imagery got quite dark, too dark.

Is it just personal preference of how much to reduce the patterns? A formula? Or is there particular IRE numbers that are used for certain shutter speeds, aperture settings, and/or frame rates?
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Old October 17th, 2010, 03:23 PM   #2
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Hey David,

I shoot weddings and the ones that I have done outdoors have sometimes been extremely bright in the sun, I have used zebra patterns before but just when Iím setting up... I use the mid level strength... the thing to remember is when you are adjusting exposure you want your subject to be exposed just right and the rest doesnít really matter... so if you feel the players are too dark then open the iris till you think it looks good, chances are nobody is going to say "my goodness that sky is over exposed" when the players are exposed just right
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Old October 17th, 2010, 03:34 PM   #3
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I usually set my zebras to 95% and if I see zebras in my view I assume those areas are very near or are burned out. At that time I decide whether those are important areas or can they be destroyed.
Bringing the zebras up on a human subject is only tolerated if it is very minimal on white clothing and back light. I try to keep the face and costume just below zebra... or evaluate the entire framed composition to create a good looking picture. Keeping the main subject below the 95% maintains more colour. Going too high, bleaches out the colour.
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Old October 17th, 2010, 07:23 PM   #4
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I'm rehashing some old ground by others from the past, but I have found it very helpful.

When shooting people 80% for those of northern European decent was the consensus. No one specified anything for those with light brown skin or those of Asian decent. There was a number posted for African-Americans, but I didn't note it because as with Caucasians there are many different skin tones.

Since northern New England is largely white, I've stayed with the 80% rule for skin tones with great results. In Mississippi over the summer I did shoot an interview with a dark skinned African-American outdoors in the later afternoon sun. The man was wearing a bright white dress shirt so I set the zebras to 100% and set the iris so none showed. So that time I used an absolute white instead of a skin tone and I think it worked out. You can see that interview here: BP Oil Spill: Hope By Richard Lucas On ExposureRoom

What does this all mean? There are no hard rules. If the described interview had been done on our feet instead of Bill sitting in a chair, the 95% for whites would have been better because of a potentially dynamic environment. I would have wanted warning of too much light but didn't need it for what I did.

Two things I've learned. Learn from others and then practice until you're really tired of doing it. Worked for Arthur Marx when he learned his musical instrument, the harp. The second is if you do it enough time, you'll learn what works in different situations.
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Old October 17th, 2010, 09:47 PM   #5
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It's a fact the summer daylight in the Southern hemisphere is brighter than the North, so occasionally we need an additional 2 stop ND filter on the A1 lens. It's always interesting to see the movie shooters step off the plane.

Years ago before zebras in vid cams I was taught by news guys .. when outdoors with some clouds, expose for detail in the clouds and you've got it.

These days I run 100% zebras in the XH cams and still do that every now and then, it works.

30+ years with our own audio and visual production company and studios.
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Old October 18th, 2010, 07:26 AM   #6
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I recently shot soccer under similar conditions, bright sun in Tampa Florida on my XH-A1. I had the zebras set for 100 IRE. I manually adjusted exposure with the iris ring whenever zebras appeared on the players. It was necessary to accept that the sky would be blown out a lot of the time in order to not have the players too dark. But, by shooting from elevation whenever possible, and properly framing the players, it all came out okay. Shooting in bright, intense sunlight is difficult, and expect to have to make some compromises. Chiefly, the sky and other bright backgrounds will be blown out at times. Try to minimize the amount of sky in the shots.

Shooting after sundown under the stadium lights was much easier.
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Old October 27th, 2010, 04:27 PM   #7
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I imagine you'll probably get a number of different opinions, as there are really no hard and fast rules on this topic.

For me, I keep my Zebra Pattern at 100 IRE. This way I know what is blown out and what isn't. If it's set at 80, and I see zebras, I really don't know if it's blown out or not. Some of it might be, but some of it might be just fine. Can't really tell at 80, 90, etc.

So for me it's pretty cut and dry. I want to know what is definitely blown out and what isn't, and the 100 setting gives me that info very clearly.

Hope this helps.

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Old October 29th, 2010, 02:02 AM   #8
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My personal opinion is that the faces are the most important, so I have it set at 80% and as long as there's a hint of zebra in the facial highlights, the exposure's okay. If the clouds move and a bit more light drifts in, the zebra area gets bigger and I can gently shut the iris down a bit, if the zebra disappears, then I open up.

By having it like this, I get a warning that things are about to go wrong and I can correct it. I find that at 100% it's telling me that things have already gone wrong.
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