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Old February 23rd, 2007, 01:58 AM   #1
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Pro Shooting Newbie - Camera Ops Question

OK, I admit it. I've been living in the autofocus world for a long time - actually all the time.
Have been shooting with the Canon XL series and have yet to go full manual to any degree.

Can you say "point-and-shoot dummy"?

I shoot primarily high-speed motorsports and have a serious question for all of you seasoned pros regarding shooting techniques.

How difficult is it to maintain focus on fast-moving objects, and operate the zoom, with a camera such as the JVC HD line, or any other pro broadcast-quality camera, for that matter?

I've been mulling it over a long time about going to HD with either the HD100U or HD110U. The capabilities of these cameras are astounding.

My concern is becoming overwhelmed with the operation of everything manually and losing a lot of shots to inexperience.

Any thoughts, guidance, tips, experienced help on this is tremendously appreciated!!

Thanks!

-Ken
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Old February 23rd, 2007, 02:21 AM   #2
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Ken,

One of the joys of a manual lens is rack focusing. With practice you will come to know just how much to tweak the focus as the lens becomes a physical extension of you. I know that sounds Yoda like but it's true. Your condidence grows and you become more of an artist.

Once you go all manual you will realize what you have been missing.

Best.
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Old February 23rd, 2007, 03:14 AM   #3
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Hi ken,

As Justin points out you will soon get it. For action shooting such as you describe you will be best serves with a motorised zoom ( preferably panhandle mounted ) and ideally a follow focus unit.
it is quite possible to zoom and focus at the same time off the lens barrel but sooner or later you need to adjust your hand position and you will get a "jump" in picture.
ENG lenses with the option of using the rocker button to zoom electronically will allow a greater control of both functions other than by using the methods above.
Either way you are much better with manual control.

Happy shooting.
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Old February 23rd, 2007, 06:29 AM   #4
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Ken,
Here's something else to consider.
Unless the fast moving motor sports you are shooting are table top racers you're probably going to be outside ;-)

With that in mind you'll probably be running at an f/stop of say f11,16 or maybe even something higher than that. At the safe distance you'll be standing with the f/stop you be using I would say that unless drastic changes you probably won't need to focus but 1 time on a fixed spot and the DoF will cover you front to back. At that point its just keeping the vehicle in frame and doing whatever zoom yuou need t oeither fill the frame or give some space around the shot.
Depth of Field is a wonderful thing for sports it has saved my butt over and over years ago doing sports.
Don
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Old February 23rd, 2007, 10:46 AM   #5
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I really appreciate all of your feedback! Very helpful and thought provoking.

I was wondering about the DOF issue, and Don's response solidified what I'd thought.

A couple of specific questions about the 100U/110U.
I've looked through the manual and couldn't really get a clear answer for these.

When manually setting the iris, to control DOF, does the camera automatically set the appropriate shutter speed?

When shooting in FULL AUTO, are both the iris and shutter speed set by the camera (as I would assume)?

What frame rate(s) would you recommend for shooting fast-moving objects in both HD and SD to prevent video washout?

Thanks again for all the terrific help!!

-Ken
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Old February 23rd, 2007, 11:23 AM   #6
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Hi Ken,

Going from the XL1 to the HD110 is going to be a dream. One thing I would suggest as general guidance is that you are going to need lots of practice and time with any new camera. Academic knowledge won't help you necessarily when you need to get shots quickly, as in a sports situation. I've used this camera for a lot of field sports type shoots, and once you have a grasp of it, it will work great.

To answer your questions:
When manually setting the iris, to control DOF, does the camera automatically set the appropriate shutter speed?

That is a separate setting - shutter on / off. I forget what the auto setting is for it, I want to guess 1/100? Someone else can chime in, otherwise there are manuals online. Manual shutter you can go from 1/7.5 - 1/10,000. Lots of control.

When shooting in FULL AUTO, are both the iris and shutter speed set by the camera (as I would assume)?

Yes.

What frame rate(s) would you recommend for shooting fast-moving objects in both HD and SD to prevent video washout?

30P is good for HD. You can do 60 in SD mode. When you say 'video washout', I assume you to mean the sideways stutter that was common in earlier HDV cameras? One other setting that will help this immensely is to turn off the 'motion smooth' setting. It sounds like it would be helpful, but for fast movement it is actually a liability.

Regardless, get your hands on one and play around. Have fun and good luck.
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Old February 23rd, 2007, 12:16 PM   #7
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Ken, one thing that wasn't mentioned is the fact that the 100/110 doesn't record 60p in HD.... and since you are shooting fast moving cars and such i'd seriously consider the HD200..... if you are doing quick pans 24p and 30p wouldn't work very well for you. furthermore you could do some nice slow mo shots with 60p. something to think about.
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Old February 23rd, 2007, 12:46 PM   #8
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XL-1s to JVC

Ken, I'm in the same focus/stabalization boat as you. I've been getting good conversion stories here, as your thread supports. I'm about to jump into manual land...I hear the water's fine!

Tim Dashwood posted some 60p -> 30fps stuff he shot w/ the HD200 at Sundance - it was way cool. From everything I gather, you need the 60p for the high speed stuff...
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