Jon Fordham's HD10 complete review, Parts 1 & 2 - Page 2 at DVinfo.net

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Old November 14th, 2003, 08:58 PM   #16
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More of Jon's review (part two, actually):

The scenes/setups that I was able to put the HD10 side by side with the
HDC-27F were:

1. A scene set in a bar/smoking lounge. All interior, no windows. The bar
had one wall that was entirely dark mahogany wood. The entire wall was a
locker style sectioned giant humidor with gold numbering and handles on the
individual doors. Most of the shots in the bar were looking in this
direction. In the scene, two lawyers sit a table enjoying drinks and two
detectives enter the bar and began questioning the customers, eventually
working thier way around to the two seated lawyers. The actors were dresed
in typical dark suit, white shirt, tie, etc wardrobe. All talent in this
scene were caucasian and hispanic with average to fair complexion.

I lit this scene entirely with Tungsten balanced lighting. 90% of which were
Fresnels. The rest were Kino's. This scene was a rather average contrast
ratio lighting level.

2. A scene set in a "government" office. Bland white walls with little
dressing and large windows in the middle of a bright sunny day. In this
scene, the main character enters the office and speaks with a woman at the
desk. Behind the woman the large windows take up a good deal of the frame
motivating our light and providing the usual challenges of handling extreme
lattitude when working with Digital Acquisition formats. Again, dark suits
and fair caucasian skin tones.

I lit this scene entirely with Daylight balanced lighting. My main "level
raising" source was a 575 HMI with 4 bank Kinos' providing the fill and
edge. This scene was lit to deal with the harsh daylight outside, but not to
completely match it. While I did raise the levels to have less blown whites,
I still wanted and let the exteriors go a little hot or over 109%.

3. A second "government" type office similar to the above described scene.

4. An interior scene set in a bathroom looking out to the living room and
reverse. This scene included two actors, again fair caucasian skin tones,
one in a dark suit, the other in a light grey T-shirt. Light blue walls,
Dark red velvet couch, black velvet couch, warm color floor lamp, and a dark
red floor rug with various paisley style creme colored patterns.

I lit this scene very dark and shadowy with Tungsten balanced lighting. All
Fresnels.

These are the scenes that I recall personally setting up the HD10 next to
the 27F. However, I believe my enthusiastic and curious AC's may have set up
the HD10 a time or two that I don't remember.

Thus far, due to scheduling difficulty and lingering production odds and
ends being wrapped up, all of the in camera originals from the 27F have not
been yet been downconverted. As of tonight, only one reel from the scenes
that the HD10 was set up with has been downconverted and is in my possesion.
I have not sat down and watched this reel with a scrutinous eye. But I did
take a few minutes to take a quick peek and do a brief "first impressions"
comparison with the HD10.

The scene that has been downconverted that I was able to take a few minutes
to check out was the first scene I listed. Interior bar.

This was the first scene that I set up the HD10 with anyway and due to the
late arrival of the HD10, it was actually the first time I turned it on!
Fortunately, the menu structure and button placement on the HD10 didn't seem
too complicated. I had downloaded the operation manual from JVC a few months
ago when a business partner was relaying to me his experiences and thoughts
on the HD10. It was around this time that I began discussing the HD10 with
Heath. I had read through operation manual a time or two and that's when I
made the decision to register with this forum to ask a question or two. I
think my questions were reasonably answered, though at the time I still
found it all very confusing and none of it sat well with me. Forgive me my
opinion, but it seemed to me that this board had a lot of unproved theory,
mere speculation, and miscomception. And I don't mean to sound like a d*ck,
but there also seemed to be a bullsh*t. Maybe not. But that's what some of
the posts read like to me. Please don't get me wrong. I mean no disrespect
to the community of many posters who are honest and frank about what they
know and what assistance and information they can share to further maximize
the quality of performance the camera can achieve... My apolgies, I often
have a hard time staying focued and not getting sidetracked...

So, first time out I was able to quickly locate the functions I needed. I
did instantly find it most dissapointing and frustrating that HD10 lacks
full manual control of the essentials. The camera's white balance menu
offers an approximate 3200K color balance labelled as HALOGEN. Strange
label, but the right color temperature none the less.

I found it exceptionally strange that the HD10 offers control of the F-stop
OR the shutter speed. This is ridiculous. Controlling the stop is certainly
nice for controlling the Depth of Field, but if your shutter speed jumps or
slows to compersate, then what's the point. Not to mention my next
confusion. You can choose to control the stop, but then you also have a
SEPERATE "Exposure" control. At least on a Sony VX2000/PD150 the "exposure"
control actually controls the stop and gives you a display that shows you
the number you're at. Weird.

AGC off, check.

When the LCD first lit up and I saw the image I was horrified. I have to
admit, based on specs and my experience with HD, I didn't expect the HD10 to
look very good. But when i saw the image on the LCD, I was surprised at how
awful it looked. It really looked bad on the LCD.

Undeterred, I continued to set up the camera for the best image I could get
out of it. Carefully, I set up the shot to match the shot I set up on my 27F
as closely as possible. Checking the HD LCD monitor attached to the top of
the 27F, I managed to frame the shot rather close. Naturally, with a smaller
CCD, different lens, and offset angle of being next to the very large 27F,
it's not 100% identical, but it's close.

Lacking Zebras as a point of reference for exposure, I had to use my
instinct and hope that the LCD wasn't completely inaccurate as to what the
camera was getting. The highlights looked very very hot. And I turned down
the "Exposure" control to -7 compensate. Even at -7, the highlight looked at
the very least hot, if not on the edge of clipping. But fearing under
exposing and trusting those "instincts" I left it at -7 and went with it.

I carefully did the classic video critical focus zoom. The zoom felt a
little funky, but I didn't pay too much attention to it since I don't do
zooming when shooting a style piece. I usually do my best to adhere to the
traditional cinematographic techniques of dollys and such when the camera
needs to push in or out. The focus was difficult to tell if it was hitting
or not and the even more frustraing was the typical passing by it and trying
to get it to stop at the right focus position with a servo assisted lens
such as this. This however isn't unusaul for those experienced with these
type of lenses and after a few hours with this focusing system, you can
usually get use to the speed and quirks of it.

After setting the shot, I turned my attention back to the 27F, did my final
lighting tweaks and we rolled.

The scene involved a small amount of movement from the talent. So following
the actors with a few small pans and tilts of the 27F was nescesary.
Unfortunately, since I was operating the 27F, my 1st AC was pulling focus
and my 2nd AC was slating, the HD10 had to be locked on the shot that was
the major focus of the scene. In other words, while most of the scene takes
place at the table with the seated lawyers, it was nescesary to follow the
detective in from the door until he reached the table to deliver the
dialogue. So, with the HD10, I had to set the shot up so that the seated
lawyers were framed the same as my final mark for the detective delivering
the dialogue.

Jon Fordham
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Old November 15th, 2003, 01:03 PM   #17
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Jon, thank you very much for the posts, very interesting. I wanted to ask your opinion on one thing though.
I've spent quite a bit of time looking quite carefully at the HD1O's image on a large HD monitor at 720p and comparing it to 35mm originated footage transferred to HD and viewed on DVHS tape, and also Varicam and Cinealta originated HD material, also on DVHS tapes, the HD originated material being commercially available tapes such as "Over America" and the 35mm being movies such as "Castaway".
In comparing these 3 image types what struck me most obviously is that the 35mm originated footage has a much softer look than the (Cinealta and Varicam) HD originated footage, and that the HD1OU also has a softer look than the (Cinealta and Varicam) HD originated footage, and in fact looks closer to the 35mm in terms of softness, than the CineAlta/Varicam footage, which are sharp as a tack.
Could it be that through some quirk of fate, that the HD1OU has, through it's lower quality hardware and MPEG2 compression artifacts got a look that (when projected digitally), looks closer to film than a higher end HD camera? I realize that this is a radical opinion, and probably blasphemy for a professional DP working in high end HD, but there it is, that's what I see. I would like you to take this personal impression seriously and while you are doing your comparisons, do some of these comparisons yourself and let us know what you think. I realize that if the HD1OU footage were transferred to film, this argument is completely gone, and the quality degradation may well make it look very sub-standard, but who knows?

All the best
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Old November 15th, 2003, 02:06 PM   #18
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"I found it exceptionally strange that the HD10 offers control of the F-stop OR the shutter speed. This is ridiculous. Controlling the stop is certainly nice for controlling the Depth of Field, but if your shutter speed jumps or slows to compersate, then what's the point. Not to mention my next confusion. You can choose to control the stop, but then you also have a SEPERATE "Exposure" control. At least on a Sony VX2000/PD150 the "exposure"
control actually controls the stop and gives you a display that shows you the number you're at. Weird."

It is too bad you couldn't have spent more time digging around this forum. What you are mentioning is basic 101 for this camera, and has been discussed at length here with shooting solutions.
I am surprised Heath didn't bring you up to speed.
Also it is unfortunate you had to rely on the LCD and not a monitor for shot setup. But I'm sure your well trained eye did the best possible with that LCD. Thanks.
Ken
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Old November 15th, 2003, 02:15 PM   #19
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I actually haven't shot enough with the HD10 before I sent it off to Jon. Because of a lack of a solid FCP editing solution, I've relied on an XL-1 to make money. I admit I didn't take enough time to fully figure it out. My friend shot my interview with the HD10 in DV mode (don't do that guys and gals) for the doc on my film's DVD and a wedding I helped out on (bad in low light in DV mode). So Jon had to snoop around the site and read the manual, but I'm confident he'll figure it out.

As for the monitor, I think we have to go through a DVHS deck to the monitor to see it in true 720P. Anyone want to field that? Jon will have the camera until we shoot a short film I wrote while working in L.A. called tentatively THE MORNING BELL. We're shooting in December, and we'll have even MORE stuff, this time lit and set up specifically for the HD10.

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Old November 16th, 2003, 11:58 AM   #20
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Paul -

Remember, there is a difference between sharpness and resolution. This is something that I touched on in my initial review. And something that I anticipate discussing at greater length in the coming weeks. Many filmmakers often ask me about this difference when it comes to comparing 35mm and 1080. Even though it's almost an "apples and oranges" type of comparison since film has grain structure and CCD's have pixels, the bottom line is, film still has the ability to resolve more subltey's than 1080 HD. However, 1080 HD has a much sharper image than 35mm. So yeah, 1080 HD is a sharper image, but 35mm has more resolution.

I understand what you're saying and I can see the line you're drawing from point A to point B. But, I don't think I'm ready to jump into this debate quite yet. As it involves many aspects.

Ken -

Fortunately, my eye was able to get the proper exposure for the footage that I have had the opportunity to sit down and evaluate. A combination of experience and a hell of a lot of LCD usage on many many cameras! I agree that it would've have been far superior to have a monitor available that would display the actual 720/30P image that the camera was acquiring. However, since the camera does not output a full res image of what it's getting, attempting to accurately evaluate the exposure using the "downcoverted" image would've (in my opinion) been just as safe or dangerous as using the LCD. Whenever working as a D.I.T. and the budget allows, I often insist that a downconverted NTSC image be available when shooting 1080. I've worked with many DP's who are unfamiliar with 1080 HD. Those unfamiliar with the medium and the format tend to get too trusting of the monitor and forget that 99.9% of the audience will never actually see the orginal full res 1080 image that they are seeing. This usually leads to them wanting to crush the blacks more, or push the color higher, or any number of other image possibilities that might look fine on a Sony 24" professional HD display. But once it hits NTSC, or film out, or color correction can become loss of shadow detail, bleeding and artifact ridden colors, etc.

By that same rationale, using the live "camera donwconverted" image as a point of reference may be just as justified as any other method given the exact same reasoning. How much of the audience (especially given the particulars of this new HDV format) are actually going to ever see the image in any other format other than SD...

So, sure, with more experience using this camera, I'm certain I'll be able to evaluate the difference (if any) in the full resolution image vs the live "camera downconverted" image to be able to rely on a monitor for exposure verification as I usally do.

OH, by the way, here's my deal with the "exposure, shutter speed, F-stop" situation... What I did and what I've been doing is setting my "exposure" using the little dial, then turning on the "shutter speed" control and setting it to 1/60. The exposure seems to hold even though the readout disappears. But I don't know that this is the case.

Is this the case? Or does the "basic 101" of this camera you mention allow a way to control both the stop and shutter speed?

Jon
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Old November 17th, 2003, 06:22 AM   #21
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Jon, thanks for taking the time to do this review. I found it very interesting and fun to read!

Here's what I'm taking away.

I never expected that the HD10U would compete with any other HD cam (Varicam, CineAlta,...) simply because of the cost.

What I'm pleased to hear is that the image wasn't so bad that you jumped to conclusion as soon as you looked at the footage. On the contrary, your first impression was very good.

That's good enough for me.

I shot a commecial this weekend and showed the rough footage to my client on a regular NTSC monitor and in full HD resolution. He was floored! I mean he couldn't beleive the quality and film-like look. And frankly, that's what matters to me. I could see a bit of chroma noise here and there but my client looked at the footage over and over and his smile was getting bigger and bigger.

I used a .9 ND filter for outside shooting and controlled the light on my subjects with diffusers and reflectors. I even did an outside green screen and it turned out wonderfully.

Furthermore, I did not use a monitor since I couldn't find a 16:9 monitor and the camera will not output in widescreen on NTSC while shooting. I used the viewfinder and the LCD. I took more time to focus than usually would with SD.

This commercial will ultimately be delivered in ED but I will keep my HD master for when he decides to air it on HD channels (all for the same price!).

So my message to everyone on this board is the camera is fantastic if you control your lighting. Based on the rough footage we looked at, we know that we will capture lots of business in our area because of the price we can offer. ...and that, ultimately is the bottom line.

Now we are getting ready for our trip to Austin, TX where we are shooting a short film this weekend. Did I mention we hired a fantastic gaffer?
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Old November 17th, 2003, 07:52 AM   #22
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That's the secret, great lighting and techniques.

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Old November 24th, 2003, 02:33 PM   #23
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Either I need to get some sleep or someone needs to explain
to me what a D.I.T. does.... Otherwise create review thusfar!
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Old November 24th, 2003, 08:42 PM   #24
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Digital Image (or Imaging) Technician

It is the D.I.T.'s job to insure proper camera setup. Including painting, matrix, gamma, shading, etc. Basically anything to do with programming the camera's DSP. As well as monitor calibration, waveform and signal flow.

The D.I.T. oftens works closely with the DP to create a specific "look" and advise as to "safe" settings and final image consequences regarding exposure and color.

I have found in my dealings as a D.I.T. that DP's vary widely in what they expect from the D.I.T. and how they personally feel about the D.I.T. I have worked with many DP's who consult me on every tiny detail. Always asking how something will work or worrying about possible problems. I have worked with some DP's who don't care about being safe and always ask me to push the camera and the electronic possibilities to the limits and beyond. And I've worked with a few DP's who hated the fact that they weren't shooting film, hated me for being a part of the HD process and ignored me or yelled at me for even existing...
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Old November 24th, 2003, 10:05 PM   #25
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Perfect as usual. Probably because you're a DIT, Jon.

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Old November 25th, 2003, 03:15 AM   #26
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Thanks for the excellent explenation! Got it. I still don't understand
why people need to yell at other people or look down at somebody
elses job. Oh well....
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Old November 25th, 2003, 07:20 AM   #27
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Minus the stuff of course about you getting yelled at!

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Old November 25th, 2003, 09:26 AM   #28
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Not perfect, but good enough. The role of D.I.T. is still a grey area with many. The argument concerning the role of the D.I.T. in conjunction with the V.C. and the Engineer is a much debated topic. Such is one of the many reasons that I've encountered so many varying expectations from DP's and even the Producers and Directors.

I agree with you Rob. Whenever confronted with a DP who insists on giving me a hard time about me doing my job, I just have to remind them that, I'm there for them. I'm not there for any other reason than to assist him or her in achieving their vision, and getting it on tape.

I'm still baffled at the guys who are bent on holding on so tight. Film isn't going anywhere anytime soon. But image acquisition is changing very rapidly. And whether or not a DP likes, or prefers, or insists on shooting nothing but film, isn't going to change the bottom line. The guys who have an attitude about shooting Digitally, or refuse to learn and adapt, are going to be the ones who are out of work. Of course, that's fine by me! :)
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Old November 25th, 2003, 06:43 PM   #29
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I think when digital is exactly the same quality as film, then those who are stubborn will have to answer to the people financing the movie.

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Old November 26th, 2003, 09:42 AM   #30
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Heath my friend, explain to me the "quality" of film. :)

I know what you're talking about bro. But I think the idea that 1080 HD isn't "as good" as film is bullsh*t. I know I'm getting off topic here, and I hate to get into a debate that has no end. But here's what's what:

Let's look at the differences between film and 1080 HD since there are fewer differences than similarities.

35mm film's larger target (27.5mm diagonally) allows you more control over depth of field. The grain structure of todays' 35mm film stocks combined with the larger imaging target is capable of resolving more subtle detail when it comes to resolution. The photochemical process is still capable of capturing a wider lattitude range.

Now, if you're concerned about depth of field, use the Pro35 adapter. Many are using this adapter and many like the results. This adapter allows you to use any 35mm Prime or Zoom lens on any 2/3" B4 bayonet mount and maintain the exact same depth of field and angle of view as 35mm. So, if you use a Pro 35 adapter, you just elimenated one difference between 35mm and 1080 HD.

Resolution is sticky area. Yes, 35mm film is still capable of resolving more detail. But HD is sharper than film. And actual detail resolved is a different story. True, the specs of film dictate the possibility of more resolution. But in actual real world use, I believe it's rare that you'll find film actually resolving more fine detail.

1080 HD has a very wide range of lattitude. But it's still not as wide as the photochemical process can achieve. So, for now, film can capture more dynamic range. However, if you understand this, and use your ability to control your lighting ratio, then that particular difference becomes a different way of working. Not to mention that with HD, if you have a properly calibrated monitor (and waveform and such), then the old video saying applies. What you see is what you get. I often hesitate to say that because with the new world of digital manipulation and in camera matrix and painting options, I know first hand that what you see is not always what you get. But in terms of being able to see if an image has blown out highlights or crushed shadows is a different story. The information is either there, or it's not. And that has nothing to do with the matrix and paiting options.

16mm and Super 16mm film... Well the photochemical process is still capable of capturing a wider lattitude range... But that's about where the differences end.

16mm has the same depth of field as 2/3" CCD's. And Super 16 has the same 1:78 aspect ratio as 2/3" widescreen CCD's.

The resolution argument really becomes just that. An endless argument between purist. As 16mm rarely, if ever, will actually resolve more detail than 1080 HD.

An interesting addition to the argument is sensitivity. The F900 has an ASA equivilant of approximately 320. However, a comparable speed film stock with a 320 ASA will have more grain than HD. So even though film may be able to match the sensitivity of a speed of up to 800 to 1000 ASA, the grain becomes a noticeable detractor. So in most applications, HD provides a cleaner image.

And the argument of clean images is also an area where Super 16 becomes a target for HD. Super 16 isn't a projection format. It has to be blown up the same as HD. And many who shoot Super 16 these days are doing Digital Intermeadiates. A Digital Intermeadiate essentially is when you tele-cine the Super 16 footage to a digital format (usually 1080 HD) in order to kill the grain, and color correct the image before blow up. So if, you're going to put the Super 16 image onto 1080 HD for color correction and image processing, then why not just start with 1080 HD in the first place?

So then somebody will undoubtedly say, "But film just looks like film".

To that I simply reply, "You tell me what film looks like, and I'll make HD look that way". This becomes a staring contest of someone stuck in an endless circle of saying, "but film just looks like film, I don't know what film looks like, it just looks like film..." and on and on.

As a D.I.T., if you tell me that (to you) film looks like starker contrast with more color saturation, then I'll simply modify the camera's DSP to look the same way. If you think the color rendition of film is more accurate, then I'll put a DSC camalign chart in front of the camera and paint the color to absolute true color. If you think the color of film is something different than real color, then tell me what it looks like, and I'll paint it that way. More contrast, less contrast, color, sensitivity, etc... You tell me what you want, and I'll make it happen.

So, you tell me what the "quality" of Film is, and I'll give it to you on HD...

Am I overstating? No, I don't think so. Is the issue this black white? Not really. But it's not as grey as people want to believe. Are there other factors? Sure. But those factors aren't major enough to enter into the arena of arguable issues in my opinion.
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