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Old November 12th, 2010, 05:57 PM   #1
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Colour saturation....Is this a silly question??????

I'm off to Nepal and India for a few months in Feb of 2011, I'm taking a bit of my gear,[XL2 based] as one does :). What I'd like to know; is there a particular tape one should use when shooting in snow country with grey backgrounds and blue skies? I ask this from from a colour saturation standpoint, not a tape mechanical standpoint. I shoot in Australia at present and in particular, areas that have predominantly browns, greens & reds. I use Sony PDVM-40N, a 40 minute tape. With this tape I get quite nice saturation. I want to stay with a 40 Minute tape as I believe the mechanical strength of the tape is greater.[ This may be a misconception ] I'll take a few of these tapes for shooting the locals and I'll also use them in India. Is all this simply academic as one really controls saturation though exposure and therefore my existing tapes will be adequate? It's just that I'll be carrying the gear on my back and I'd like to think I'm carrying the best tapes for the job because I'll be walking for ~1 month.

Thanks,

Al
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Old November 12th, 2010, 08:07 PM   #2
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OK, silly answer, your 1's and 0's will be equally saturated no matter what you do! Although I always like my 1's a little underexposed...
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Old November 12th, 2010, 08:31 PM   #3
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Dave,

Great answer, full of depth, technical info and obviously years of experience...lol....so....PDVM-40N it is, unless of course one of the tape manufactures contact me direct with the offer of 200 free tapes......lol....

Thanks mate.

Al
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Old November 13th, 2010, 11:26 AM   #4
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It is true that all tapes are equal when it comes to saturation, resolution and such. The beauty of the digital age. I believe most tapes are on the same base stock, so strength is only an issue if you opt for the extended length tapes -- they are on thinner tape, I believe. That said, short tapes offer some possible advantage ... if one breaks or is lost or fails, there is less material on it. A simple but potentially valuable reality on a long trip. But your choices here are limited so stick with what you know.

Maybe most important is tape handling habits when travelling. Beware of heat and humidity, for both used and unused tapes. Your tapes will be chilled from aerial travel if stored in the luggage compartment, warmed in tropical climes, chilled again in cool hotel rooms, etc. Keep them well sealed against humidity, which mixed with temperature changes could be a disaster. Carry some silica gel packets with your tapes, and keep your tapes in a zip lock or better. Plan for time to let your gear warm/cool as required, and beware of taking things from the heat/humidity of the outdoors to the chill and dry of a building.

'Polish' your tapes before shooting -- run them fast forward and rewind end to end when first loading them -- and leave heads and tails on your shots as a habit, especially if the same tape has been in the camcorder through a change of altitude, temperature & humidity.

I've travelled extensively with my gear, and shot travel shows in both tropical and arctic climates -- tape handling habits can save you the disaster of a lost and irreplacable shot.

Cheers,
GB
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Old November 13th, 2010, 06:29 PM   #5
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Hi Geoff,

Thanks for the detailed info, it's very useful.

I had been Googling storeage of tapes and have subsenquently learn't quite a lot but your tip on zip bags and silica will defiantly be heeded.

Your point on breakage is very pertinent and one I'd never really thought of. I specifically only use 1 to 2 GB cards in my cameras for exactly that reason and it had never occurred to me to transfer that logic over to the tapes. I primarily use short tapes because of the strength issue.

Polishing ones tapes is something I've never heard of, what is the reason for this?

Tails are something I do....sometimes.... ;) I'm a bit slack with it......I promise I'll pull my act together over this issue.... :) lol

Your input is really appreciated, thanks.

Al

Last edited by Alan Melville; November 13th, 2010 at 06:31 PM. Reason: typo
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Old November 14th, 2010, 09:30 AM   #6
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'Polishing' tapes is an old practice, and as the name suggests it was running the tape past the drum to clean off any roughness or deposit that might cause a drop-out. Today, I think it safe to say that tape build technology & tolerances has pretty much put paid to issues of roughness, but what hasn't changed and is a valid concern when you are travelling with tapes is the potential for tape binding -- tape that sticks to itself just enough to cause issues with the smooth transport past the heads. The good news is that digital formats don't suffer the sort of time base errors of analog formats, so you don't see the vertical wiggling typical of Hi8 -- the bad news is that the tape speed is now so slow that there is little room for error, and a tiny bind may cause a drop-out ... and digital drop outs are catastrophic image failures, even if just at the macro block level.

When travelling, your tapes, even sealed in their cases, are subject to temperature changes that may be extreme -- from near freezing in an aircraft hold to roasting in a taxi cab boot -- and that inevitably causes expansion/contraction cycles that might make the first roll out of the tape erratic. By polishing the tape -- running it once full out and full back -- you repack the tape and limber it up for use.

Note that what isn't worth the time is the confused practice of 'striping' your tapes (laying down a timecode track for the camcorder to shoot on top of) -- striping too was a necessary practice in analog tape days to ensure a smooth insert edit. Digital cameras don't insert on top of a timecode track (neither did analog cameras, it was exclusively an edit suite requirement) so the only advantage to gain by starting a tape with a stripe is to run clear of the top of a tape -- the most likely place to encounter tape flaws -- and if your camera is capable, starting a timecode using the hour setting as a tape numbering system. But you only need a few seconds of timecode to accomplish that, the camcorder sees the numbering system & carries on from there, but always by erasing what was down before

Cheers,
GB
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Old November 14th, 2010, 05:37 PM   #7
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Geoff,

Thanks for the info, I found it very interesting. I'll now be forming a new habit!!

Cheers,

Al
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