Fresh from Wevah® Labs: Top 3 Ways to Screw Up a Shoot with the HD100 at DVinfo.net

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Old September 13th, 2005, 09:18 PM   #1
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Fresh from Wevah® Labs: Top 3 Ways to Screw Up a Shoot with the HD100

For those of you thinking about buying the HD100, I've compiled a list of things that have bit me in the last 10 days or so with the HD100. I've spent a fair amount of time shooting film (years), Beta (a fair amount), and HD (a month, on an F700), and I'm still getting used to the following:


1-FOCUS. I can't emphasize this enough. Even when diligently using Focus Assist, it's very easy to buzz focus on this camera. It's the nature of shooting in HD, and this camera is no exception. This is especially true when shooting on the long end of the lens...infinity on the lens is NOT at the end stop. Again, I've found about the only time I can just go "I'm sure it's fine" and ignore focus is when I'm shooting at full wide. And sometimes even then you better check. You CANNOT see focus in the viewfinder or LCD without either peaking or FA. Just an FYI.

2-Aperture diffraction. The 16x definitely diffracts at smaller apertures...I haven't been able to take detailed notes but it's somewhere around F11. I'm doing my best to make a mental rule not to stop down past F8. I've found it's REAL easy to shoot past F8-11 in full Socal sunlight, even with the built in ND on 2. The diffraction is VERY visible on an HD display. Not visible at all on the camera LCDs.

3-Backfocus. I've had my backfocus drift on me a little twice already. Check it, and check it often.


I'm pretty sure I've seen each one of these gotchas on different sample clips posted here and elsewhere. I think my overall comment would be something to the effect of that this camera requires a level of attention and skill not required by it's predecessors, especially in this target market and price range. I often hire DVX shooters that I find out later are not-so-hot at focus...I expect this problem to get worse as we approach the age of affordable HD.

On the other hand, those of us that decide to hang with it, we'll all be a lot better shooters!
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Old September 13th, 2005, 09:37 PM   #2
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You know - I didn't look carefully, but is this back focus ring plastic or of a more sturdy construction? The stock 14x lens on the DV500 had a plastic back focus ring that could be cracked if you cranked too much on the knob. I know that bit a couple of people.

It may be something we want to look out for - don't want to crack that puppy. It would cost you a couple of bucks and be a pain if you were in the middle of something.

Like I said - I didn't look - but careful anyway.


BTW - I think the focus assist is an awesome resource for catching the back focus. I haven't tested it thoroughly, but it seems like a nice resource in a pinch. Pretty cool innovation in my opinion.
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Old September 14th, 2005, 02:13 AM   #3
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Looks pretty sturdy to me. Doesnt look like plastic.

Thanks for tips on shooting. Might have to get some additional ND filters.

Rob
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Old September 14th, 2005, 02:41 PM   #4
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Nate's observations are absolutely correct. I shot for a couple years with an HDCAM, and focus and f-stop are critical issues. I have had my HD100U for a week now, and here is my two cents worth:

1. When setting back focus, if you are using a star chart, you MUST use one designed for high definition. I use the one from DSC Labs; it is a higher resolution chart. If you try it with a standard def chart, it is very easy to go right past the focus point, especially at the wide angle end.

2. The drift in the back focus is largely a result of temperature variations around the CCD block. I have found the 100 to have less drift than my previous camera, but it still should be checked, and checked often. Just the sun coming out when shooting on a cloudy day can change it in minutes; true for ANY HD camera. I have the star chart set up on a small stand, so I can have it ready at all times. I experimented, and found 3-4 feet (a meter or so) in front of the lens gives the best result in finding the mark at wide angle.

3. The focus assist is a great feature, but I find it only works effectively toward the telephoto end of the lens, and for some scenes it is best at full telephoto. So, if you zoom in to pull your focus, then pull back to your frame, you best make sure the focus is racking properly, in other words the back focus is set correctly. The positive side to all of this is that you can do the focusing quite accurately, as opposed to using autofocus or having to have a large monitor on set to check focus. (still the best of course, but not practical in the field when shooting dragons and dragon slayers).

4. I agree with Nate, that F8 is the limit; use ND or shutter speed to keep the f-stop below that. My eye sees the best picture at f4 to f5.6. Again, I believe true of ANY HD camera.

I guess that's four cents worth. Those of you just starting in HD, don't be discouraged. When I first started shooting with the HDCAM, I would loose 2/3 of my shots to focus problems, and I thought I was an ace cameraman! But after a year or so, I was hitting the mark on at least 9 out of 10 shots. And that's out in the field shooting machinery, airplanes etc coming at you, with no preset marks for the actors to hit.

Hope this helps.

Gary Morris McBeath
SaltAire Cinema Productions
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Old September 14th, 2005, 03:00 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary Morris McBeath
When I first started shooting with the HDCAM, I would loose 2/3 of my shots to focus problems, and I thought I was an ace cameraman!
Yes. same here. I didn't even have the same problems when I was a 1st AC shooting film. Mainly because I think the DPs I was working for knew that 100% focus wasn't necessary for NTSC xfer.
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