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Old February 24th, 2006, 03:05 PM   #1
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Working Day with the HD100: The Good & The Bad

I did a making-of documentary shoot in an Atlanta photo studio for 2 art photographers. The shoot included 12 interviews and a lot of doc-style shooting. This was a 9 hour day using the JVC HD-100 we bought this week from BH in NY.

The lighting ranged from using my 2 Lowell Softlights with Rosco diffusion for the interviews, to using just the style photo backlights and fill lights provided by the photographers. I used my 1500 and 750 watt lights when they were not shooting stills. When they shot stills, my light kit had to be switched off for fear of ruining their heavy shadow style of still photo work in mainly BW medium format. (They are art photographers out of London.)

I set up the camera for Dashwood's cine wide latitude settings and reduced the detail setting to min, the lowest possible. I wanted to get away from the video look even though we had to record to DV 60i format. No HDV recording because these tapes had to match all the other DV tapes shot in Austrlia, Mexico, Colorado and NY.

I used the 3 factory JVC batteries I had, which only run 40 mins each for the doc style b-roll. The only filter was a Tiffen 82mm UV Haze-1 filter. I used the JVC ac adapter for all the interviews with Elton John, Terrell Owens, and all the models.

The Good: The 7 pound camera is very comfortable for shooting off the hip, on shoulder or held inches off the ground by the handle.

The manual audio levels were a life-saver when my inexperienced interviewer held the mike too far from people's faces.

I set the viewfinder for maximum information including audio levels, f-stop and battery voltage. Very reassuring to have all the info on a day with so many interviews were all done in a rush.

The switch lay-out, with all controls on the camera body, allowed me to reach the right controls by feel while still keeping my eye in the viewfinder. I had assigned bars and tone to the user1 button so no more digging through countless menus to get what I need, RIGHT NOW.

The focus assist was a life saver and only seems to work well with the viewfinder. I like the way the viewfinder goes to Black and White for focus assist.

The Bad:
I don't like the +3 gain setting, which I was forced to use for 5-6 shots of the still photographers when I was forced to turn off my Lowell lights. But I hate plus-gain noise any way. Low-light is a problem.

The Zebra bars on-off switch got accidentally shut off when I balanced the camera on my hip for handheld. This should get easier to remember not to do as i gain more hours on the camera. Maybe it shouldn't be on the front of the camera below the lens?

The JVC batteries are woefully inadequate at only 40 minutes each. I barely eaked out enough time for handheld work with 3 batteries. This only worked because I used the AC adapter for all 12 on-tripod interviews. Even so, I had to switch back to AC adapter for the last 30 minutes of b-roll shooting, because the final battery died.

I hate the LCD for focusing as it's worthless. Only good for reviewing footage.

I like this camera but I can't wait for the IDX battery. I just mailed off the coupon today. Got to get a field monitor.

Ed
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Old February 24th, 2006, 03:35 PM   #2
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Thanks for the report!

John
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Old February 24th, 2006, 03:52 PM   #3
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The +3 will not be nearly as noisy as you think Ed. Wait till you get it in post and then re-assess the +3 db and even the +6. Since you're very new to the camera you may not have even touched the black levels as well as stretch and compress. The "gamma" setting inside the menu's will give you much more sensitivity without ever going into gain. Use that coupled with black level and the stretch/compress and then you may see the light (literally). What scene file did you use or did you go with the default 30p-live setting?

The battery scenrio with the 428 or 438 battery is weak. The good news is the IDX solution last between 4 to 5 hours and as a benefit, balanced the camera.
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Old February 24th, 2006, 04:09 PM   #4
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True,
+3 gain should be virtually no noise.

How did you evaluate this?
Was it while you were recording, or playing back and watching
from an external HD monitor?
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Old February 24th, 2006, 04:18 PM   #5
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I could be wrong about the +3 noise. I only base this on my impression through the viewfinder. I handed them the tapes and didn't get to review on a real monitor.

Ed
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Old February 24th, 2006, 05:11 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed Hill
I could be wrong about the +3 noise. I only base this on my impression through the viewfinder. I handed them the tapes and didn't get to review on a real monitor.

Ed
Very common Ed. If the peaking pot is turned up at all, everything looks noisy but it's not. Check the footage in post.
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Old February 24th, 2006, 06:12 PM   #7
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I'll chime also that in order to make accurate judgments, you have to review material on a proper monitor. That means a reasonably accurate HD monitor for HDV work (NTSC doesn't cut it), and a PVM (or equivalent) monitor for SD work.
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Old February 24th, 2006, 06:19 PM   #8
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That was a great write up Ed. One of the best I've ever seen.

One question. Do you think you would find it preferable to have to go through a menu for zebra function, to having the button where it is?
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Old February 24th, 2006, 08:26 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed Hill
The Zebra bars on-off switch got accidentally shut off when I balanced the camera on my hip for handheld. This should get easier to remember not to do as i gain more hours on the camera. Maybe it shouldn't be on the front of the camera below the lens?
It must have been a fluke that the bars got switched off. With experience you'll also see it right away 'missing' in the VF. The placement of the zebra/skin tone switch is little unusual but since it's a hard switch at a place where there is nothing else to deal with it won't be a problem for most people.

What I do find a tad dangerous is the placement of the shutter speed control on the menu wheel. If the camera is in its default setting, it's unlikely to accidentally change the shutter speed. However, if the default is changed (i.e. DV24p when it needs to go to 1/48) it could get bumped easily. Particularly when one is wearing gloves. In some way, I wish the two were reversed, since turning zebra on and off doesn't affect the picture while accidental change of the shutter speed does. I think I'll post it as a wish on the wish(ful) sticky.
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Old February 24th, 2006, 09:47 PM   #10
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Yes, the wheel changing shutter speed is horrible. Way to easy to trigger this by accident.
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Old February 24th, 2006, 10:05 PM   #11
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I guess I shouldn't complain about the zebra bars switch. I looked at it today and realized it is actually recessed pretty well. It's more a function of me accidentally bumping the switch, and then being to rushed to worry about it.

In terms of usability and good image quality I really like the HD 100.

Ed
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Old February 24th, 2006, 10:32 PM   #12
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Did the split screen happen to rear it's ugly little head on your shoot?

Just wondering if it's still an issue.
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Old February 24th, 2006, 10:44 PM   #13
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I bought my camera around three weeks ago and have never seen SSE.
Yes, I have used it in very low light conditions.

I hardly ever use gain and would never go over +6dB.

The SSE appears NO longer and issue. firmware, factory tweak, I don't know?


Has any other recent buyers over the last month or two seen SSE?

Steve
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Old February 24th, 2006, 10:50 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steven Thomas
Has any other recent buyers over the last month or two seen SSE?
The deal is that SSE can be INVOKED. High gain and certain lighting circumstances. As a rule it's not an issue in a day-to-day shooting.

I've had my camera 6 weeks now.
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Old February 24th, 2006, 10:55 PM   #15
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Yes, perhaps at maximum gain against flat solid surfaces the camera might show some traits (SSE) of JVC's dual processor approach to handeling the huge task of full 720p processing but if you are shooting footage like this you probably shouldn't have shot it in the first place.

Use light, understand how to stretch the gamma for lower light situations and light your material.
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