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Old September 10th, 2005, 10:50 AM   #1
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HD100 - Low Light Sensitivity

Hi guys. Gotta write and run (goin' shootin' today)...

I received my first HD100 yesterday, as well as the mini35 - another HD100 and the deck are coming next week.

So far I'm very impressed with both units.

My main question (as we all start getting these and playing with them), is what everyone's opinion is on the low light sensitivity.

I was playing around last night shooting some things in normal house lighting (not to bright, but not too dark either) and the images seemed quite dark. That was with the mini35 with a 2.8 lens on the front (and the mini eats a stop or a stop.5). I then popped the standard Fuji lens on, and it didn't seem to bring it up much more.

There's only so much experimentation you can do in a day, but I'm used to the JVC DV500 & DV550's, and I have been able to get good pictures out of the PD150 with 3-6db gain.

I'll be in a setting later tonight that I can experiment more - it just seemed like it was non-sensically dark last night. Walked around today into dark rooms and it seemed decent or as expected.

As long as I don't have to grain it up massively with gain or flood people with Chimera light it will be a great little camera. Canopus just proclaimed compatability with it yesterday, so we'll see what kind of settings they'll be having. I would think by NAB '04, everyone will have the various settings addressed on this little guy.

Looking forward to talking to you all very much in the near future.

Thanks,
Shawn Alyasiri
www.renaissancevideo.com
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Old September 10th, 2005, 10:53 AM   #2
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I should have clarified - I also made sure the ND switch wasn't on, tried 0,3,6 db gain, had the iris wide open, etc. I'll probably try stretching the blacks a little - we'll see what the footage looks like from tonight.

All I can say was it just seemed abnormally dark (like an ND switch was on), and that I was 2-3 stops under what I would have expected. I had an XL1 way back, and I thought it was terrible in low light - so I got a little concerned.

Any other observations/tips would be great.

Thanks again,

Shawn
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Old September 10th, 2005, 11:32 AM   #3
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What wattage were the bulbs and what was your distance from the light source?
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Old September 10th, 2005, 12:13 PM   #4
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Was initially testing with just regular household ambient light. Then I stuck an NRG varilight on the cam with a chimera diffuser. I was cranking up from 20-80-100 watts. Really bright on the subject, but not too bright in the camera.

I went walking around today and it seems like plenty of light. It just seemed like I had an ND filter on it - but I didn't.

I'll use it in a darker scenario later tonight, and I'll get a better idea of what it's able to do. I know these little 1/3" guys strain to get the light sometimes - I figure I'll get a sweet spot in darker places with 3-9 db gain, and some mobile light. I'll see what pops out and if any additional grain becomes too noisy, etc.

I just remember posts about the Z1 saying that it wasn't that great in low light (maybe I'm wrong). That surprised me, considering the action I get out of the PD150. I was thinking the same after using my DV500/DV550's for years (but then those are bigger lenses, etc).

In reading the literature on the fujinon lens, it seems pretty fast - I thought between f/1.4 & f/1.8 depending on where you're at in the zoom.

I think this is going to be a killer camera. Just wanted to see what others were finding in darker/mobile scenarios where the light can't be controlled 100%. I figure we may have to tweak it just a touch, and add a little more light than what we're used to - but then again, it's been less than 24hours, and I could be compressing something in a setting, etc.

Thanks.
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Old September 10th, 2005, 01:04 PM   #5
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As we already discussed on some other thread here, HD cameras will be always slower because of the density of their chips. Hence the PD150 and other SD cameras perform better in low light than Z1 or HD100 (or F900 for that matter...)
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Old September 10th, 2005, 01:11 PM   #6
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What shutter speed were you trying?
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Old September 11th, 2005, 12:02 AM   #7
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Shutter was off. I was trying it in 30p mode.

Any recommended shutter speeds for 30p? Looks like 1/30 opens it up quite a bit - not sure if it looks strobey or not though.

Long day - looking forward to looking at it more over the next number of weeks, and hearing everyone's tips, trials and triumphs.

It looks like a beautiful machine...
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Old September 11th, 2005, 12:23 AM   #8
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For low low light I'd use 30P/30S or 24P/24S.
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Old September 11th, 2005, 01:27 AM   #9
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Thanks - will do and will test more. This is exactly the kind of thing I was looking for. 1/30 definitely brightens things up. Not an absolute cure - but it's definitely on the right track.

Some of my footage tonight had that split screen anomoly that someone spoke about earlier. I'm too tired right now, but I'll try to figure out what the settings and environment was and report back.

Thanks again everyone. Looking forward to future solutions and field wizardry.

Cool cam.
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Old September 11th, 2005, 08:21 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stephen L. Noe
For low low light I'd use 30P/30S or 24P/24S.
The only problem with shutter speeds below 1/48 is that it starts to look streaky like video. 1/24 would be an impossible exposure time to achieve on a real film camera in 24fps. Most film cameras can't open their shutter beyond 180 degrees, and you should treat video the same way if you want the true film look.

This is my big problem with the few scenes shot on HD in "Collateral." The HD scenes are 'streaky' because both of the old-school DPs (the first one quit) were so concerned about exposure that they used a 1/24th shutter instead of just exploring the low-level information in the "digital negative."
The HD scenes in the taxi really stick out against the rest of the film shot on 35mm. Considering how bright the taxi interiors were, I don't think the streakiness was worth the extra stop. They should have gone with +3 or +6db gain instead on the Thompson Viper or Sony F900/950 and it would have matched better.


Anyway, if you want the HD100 to perform well in very low light, try setting up a special low-light gamma setting:

Load in the "Cinelike HD24P" preset to start with.

Go into camera process and switch black to "stretch3"
On the next page switch the knee to manual, and then set it to 80%.

Go into advanced process and adjust the gamma level to "min."

It might be a good idea to adjust the colour gain to +2 to compensate for the desaturation this setting may create.

Now save this new setting and name it "low-light"

This setting will create the widest "latitude" but a flat image. That's not a problem because you can crush your blacks and adjust gamma to the desired contrast level in post-production. This setting will give you the most information possible in your "digital negative" to be able to colour correct later.

This gamma curve should give you an ASA400 equivalent in 0db. Try +3db and see if you like the results. I prefer grain over "streaks."

Tim
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Old September 11th, 2005, 10:25 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Dashwood
The only problem with shutter speeds below 1/48 is that it starts to look streaky like video. 1/24 would be an impossible exposure time to achieve on a real film camera in 24fps. Most film cameras can't open their shutter beyond 180 degrees, and you should treat video the same way if you want the true film look.

This is my big problem with the few scenes shot on HD in "Collateral." The HD scenes are 'streaky' because both of the old-school DPs (the first one quit) were so concerned about exposure that they used a 1/24th shutter instead of just exploring the low-level information in the "digital negative."
The HD scenes in the taxi really stick out against the rest of the film shot on 35mm. Considering how bright the taxi interiors were, I don't think the streakiness was worth the extra stop. They should have gone with +3 or +6db gain instead on the Thompson Viper or Sony F900/950 and it would have matched better.


Anyway, if you want the HD100 to perform well in very low light, try setting up a special low-light gamma setting:

Load in the "Cinelike HD24P" preset to start with.

Go into camera process and switch black to "stretch3"
On the next page switch the knee to manual, and then set it to 80%.

Go into advanced process and adjust the gamma level to "min."

It might be a good idea to adjust the colour gain to +2 to compensate for the desaturation this setting may create.

Now save this new setting and name it "low-light"

This setting will create the widest "latitude" but a flat image. That's not a problem because you can crush your blacks and adjust gamma to the desired contrast level in post-production. This setting will give you the most information possible in your "digital negative" to be able to colour correct later.

This gamma curve should give you an ASA400 equivalent in 0db. Try +3db and see if you like the results. I prefer grain over "streaks."

Tim
Tim, looks like you've been experimenting more! Also, you can pull off 30P/30S if the talent or object does not move across the screen (x axis). If the talent or object moves into the scene (z axis) then you can get away with very slow shutter speeds (probably not below 30 without effect).

Anyway, I'm wishing I had one to check out but I'm sure the effects are the same as other cameras I've used. You can get away with alot just by proper forethought.

Last edited by Stephen L. Noe; September 11th, 2005 at 05:14 PM.
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Old September 11th, 2005, 10:57 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Dashwood
Most film cameras can't open their shutter beyond 180 degrees, and you should treat video the same way if you want the true film look.
How is it I agree with Tim so much?

One of my biggest beefs with a lot of episodics shot on HD is that they go for 1/24th shutter way too often. It's not something physically possible on a film camera, so it's not something I personally care to see start being of the "new visual style" HD is bringing.

Besides that, it's always a dead giveaway for me that it was shot on video, and then after that I'm start looking for crispy highlights, then it's all over!
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Old September 11th, 2005, 02:53 PM   #13
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Hi Shawn,
Don't wanna state the obvious but did you check the view finder brightness dial? I came unstuck once this way. The dial is easily bumped- came home with a bunch of over exposed pics, all because i trusted the vf.
Just a thought.
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Old September 11th, 2005, 05:30 PM   #14
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I wish bro... but no - I'm actually running the screen and the viewfinder a little hot, at least according to bars.

I drug it along to a wedding reception last night. Had a PD150 with a Varilite on it, running it at 6db. Nice image, as what I expect with subjects 10-15 feet away. Caught a couple shots with the HD100 at the same time - was extremely low by comparison, and not much color. I also saw that half-screen anomally after getting home - perhaps I have a bum unit, but this is my first HDV cam (altogether) too.

I did some testing today with the standard Fuji 16, and with the mini35, using a prime 50 f/1.4, zoom 24-70 f/2.8 & a fisheye 2.8 (Canon EF lenses), outside. Footage looks nice, and I had to use the first ND Filter, or really back off the back iris on the adaptor. I did not play with the shutter.

BTW - all of my tests last night were with the shutter off - which looks to be the the same as shutter 1/60 (in my 30p mode). In hindsight, I wish I had tried a 1/30th shutter. If you go down to 1/15 or 1/7.5 it lets plenty in, but gets predicably strobey.

I figure it will take a couple of sessions to find the sweet spots. However, I wouldn't have been able to sell the footage from last night if I tried. The stuff today cooperated just fine.

Pretty amazing tool. I'm a little spooked after seeing that 1/2 screen thing - we'll see.

Thanks for all of the replies. I'll look forward to future observations as everyone gets theirs and takes them everywhere.

Best regards,
Shawn
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Old September 11th, 2005, 09:36 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nate Weaver
How is it I agree with Tim so much?
Because Tim is the bomb. Back in the early days of DVXUser he was one of the more frequent contributors, and his posts were always well-written, spot-on, and spoken from experience, level-headed and valuable. I'm glad to see he's back posting more on these forums!
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