import Z-1 footage- soft wide images??? at

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Old September 2nd, 2006, 07:06 AM   #1
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import Z-1 footage- soft wide images???

Not sure if this is a Sony Z-1 issue or a FCP issue....

we were shooting footage the other day and basically shot everything close to a 1.6 F stop. everything looks fine when viewing on a CRT monitor but when we we imported the footage into FCP the wide images looked soft or out of focus on our LCD monitor? Any idea what may be causing this? Our medium shots and close-ups look fine but the wides are not sharp. We burned a DVD of the footage and it still looked soft on the wide shots (keep in mind that it looks fine on a CRT). basically all the footage looks great on a CRT ....but when viewing on a LCD or Apple's monitor it looks like we lost focus.

What is the best workflow (import) of HDV 1080i cineframe 30 when your final master will be a standard def DVD? Is there something that we are missing? when outputting from an HDV timeline, should you use compressor to prepare the footage for a SD DVD?...or is it better to bring in the HDV footage into DVD Studio pro and then down-convert to SD?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.


Last edited by Steve Minnick; September 2nd, 2006 at 09:35 AM.
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Old September 2nd, 2006, 10:46 AM   #2
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Were you viewing on an HD monitor or SD?
Shooting 100% HD
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Old September 2nd, 2006, 12:06 PM   #3
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Why were you shooting with wide aperture?

Was it because only low light available.

If you were using a wide aperture with ND filter and using electronic means of controlling brightness levels like fast shutter speed in normal lighting conditions and video gain level on manual, you might have got some overlighting of the CCD in wide as the lens light performance is best on wide.

Overlighting will soften the image. Wide apertures also narrow the depth of field which means focus has to be more closely managed. Or there could be a combination of both.

Apparently it is best to try and stay around f5.6 or close to it when conditions or choices of other setting permit.

Don't take too much notice of my comments. Something better will come along soon enough.
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Old September 2nd, 2006, 12:11 PM   #4
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SD monitor

we shot wide open b/c we wanted less depth of field

no ND

any suggestions on the workflow? looking for best results when going from HDV 1080i 30 cineframe to SD DVD

Bob- is your 5.6 f stop suggestion based on your use of the Z-1's lens?

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Old September 2nd, 2006, 01:14 PM   #5
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I'm going to take a stab in the dark and say it sounds like you're slightly out of focus and since the HD resolution is so much greater than the resolution of the viewfinder/lcd it looks ok in the field.

Get it out of the camera and into your editor where the full res image can be viewed and it now looks slightly out of focus. It seems to be the one achille's heel of these lower end HDV cameras, namely there's no accurate way to gauge image quality in the field without a portable HD monitor.

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Old September 2nd, 2006, 03:34 PM   #6
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greg - unfortunately you may be right about that ....but what had us so confused is that on our CRT monitor (SD) from a playback deck it looks ok...but when we imported the image into FCP that's when we saw the image go soft....I guess we were trying to figure out if our settings were correct for import and export via SD DVD

I looked at a res chart with the camera and I do notice a slight shift when the lens is at full wide compared to full zoom. i.e. it is not as sharp when full wide.
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Old September 3rd, 2006, 01:45 AM   #7
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The f5.6 recommendation is not based on any testing of my own but upon long standing operator commentary for 1/3" CCD cameras going back to early VX1000 - PD150/VX2000.

It is one of those situations where if the practice isn't broken don't fix it. But blind faith like mine has a habit of stifling innovation.

There are theoretic reasons for choosing this middle ground. The combination of narrow apertures and small image areas such as 1/3" apparently tends to aggravate a optical phenonema which whilst it also occurs universally across all image area formats including film, is a scale related thing and is seen more readily on small image areas. (the word eludes me right now but it is related to wavelengths of light.)

The FX1 and Z1P have a facility for reading the distance in the LCD viewfinder when the lens focus is set manually. So the solution for wide open apertures and depths of field probably lies in reading depths of field charts for other camera lenses for a given focal length.

The simplest and grubbiest method might be to take along a SLR camera with a manual zoom lens of similar range and read the depth of field scale straight off that.

Otherwise the focal length which can be read off the camcorder zoom ring and the focal distance which can be read off the LCD likely gives enough information to calculate where the depth of field rests.

The next step is to revert to the days of film cameras before reflex focusing and compose the shot and set focus within those limits. A chore to be sure but in keeping with the better production values we aspire to.

Performance of many lenses on wide apertures falls off and will be apparent in wide shots with lots of high contrast fine textural background like forests or bare rock strewn hills. These backgrounds also make evident the shortcomings of non-film origination generally or the shortcomings of a particular film lens.

Your particular problem may be with the wide aperture and other settings locked off, there might be a combination of slight overlighting of the CCD and wide-open performance being poorer. If you are forced to use the lens wide-open, it may be prudent to creep the aperture one up one stop as you retreat the zoom to wide. The lens variance over the zoom range is claimed in the Sony Z1P book to be f1.6 - f2.8.

Don't take my word for it as this is mostly headstuff on my part as I have not applied diligent depth of field practices to my direct-to-camera origination but have been mindful of it for 35mm film emulations via relay adaptors - AGUS35 derivatives, professional Mini35/Pro35 and the like.
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