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Old August 21st, 2005, 08:38 AM   #871
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DV camera with color/contrast equal to dSLR photos?

I've had my Canon mvx3i (optura Xi) for over a year, mostly family videos, but I am still disappointed with the color rendition, relative to high quality photos (shot on Nikon D70 with a good lens).

I can accept that the resolution cannot be compared, but in the same lighting conditions, the photos are usually very accurately colored (without enhancements), but the videos are very "under-colored" (bright colors are dull) and "over-contrasted" (whites are blown out). This is watching both photos and videos on the same screen or projector, without enhancements, in raw (nef) mode or avi mode.

It's as if I needed to increase the saturation of the colors in the videos, and decrease the contrast. I have always suspected that the single sensor was responsible for this... but still images taken with the DV camera were better than the videos (never as good as the photos from a dSLR), and this always puzzled me.

Yesterday, I realised that the 3-ccd entry-level panasonic from a friend had similar color and contrast issues...

Is this a limitation of the entry-level DV cameras? Would GL2 (XL2) type cameras solve these issues, and render images comparable to a dSLR photo camera?

Can the video from entry-level DV cameras be recovered in software (increase color saturation and decrease contrast in every frame)? (I use Pinnacle Studio 9+)

Or should I never expect to get equivalent image quality from consumer type DV cameras as a prosumer type dSLR?

Thanks
Christophe
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Old August 21st, 2005, 09:09 AM   #872
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Welcome to DVinfo Chris! You're never going to reach your goal I'm afraid. The really technical stuff is beyond me, but generally speaking you only have 256 levels of chrominance and 256 levels of luminance which is far, far less than you're seeing from your DSLR.

Having said this however, DV can look pretty good sometimes. Right now I'm working on the lighting design for an opera we're going to revive and am pulling stills from the video of each light cue. I also have digital still images taken with a Nikon 5700 for comparison. Of course the 5MP Nikon images are much sharper, but I actually like the color better in the video (it was a very dark, misty blue production of Les Pecheurs de Perles). But to get the video to where I wanted it I used Final Cut Pro's 3 way color corrector.

So I think you can get the saturated color you want with no problem, but there won't be as great a range as your DSLR. Now contrast is another matter. Even the digital still cameras have a hard time with the sort of high contrast inherent in our stage lighting, and video does an even worse job of that. Once you've blown out the highlights then the detail is just gone from those areas. Best strategy is to expose so the highlights aren't quite blown out, then when you edit you can use color correction to bring out the dark areas - up to a point. You start seeing a lot of noise in the dark areas if you boost them too much.

I don't know anything about your software, but it sounds limited. Look for a program that has more advanced color correction. On the PC I don't know what that would be, but I suspect Premiere and Vegas can do this.

At least you could improve your image in terms of resolution if you upgraded to some form of HD camera. Of course this will be considerably more expensive than your current model however. But the Sony HDR-HC1 might be something to look at, although the price is in the ~$2,000 range and you may be dismayed by its lack of true manual controls. The FX1 would probably be the next step up, and it offers a lot of image control but costs over $3,000.
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Old August 21st, 2005, 09:29 AM   #873
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Thanks for the advice.

Studio 9+ does have a color filter, and I am just now experimenting with increasing saturation and decreasing contrast, with levels adjusted scene-by-scene, and regenerating the AVI. It seems this should provide at least a useable video for my purposes (sharing with the larger family). I have not used this functionality to date! I'll let you know the results... does everyone always use this type of color correction?

I am a quality freak: I refuse to generate DVD quality mpeg, and image quality is critical otherwise the audience loses interest (and walks away with a headache!). I just store AVI on removable harddisks with a computer and a large LCD, and use a projector when needed.

So I was concerned that my mvx3i was the limiting factor, and wanted to know if I have to borrow someone's money to buy a better camera... clearly the HD cameras would have better resolution, but the image quality is more important to me today.

The image sensor and algorithms is clearly the critical part of the camera, but there are no controls for contrast or saturation real-time... do other cameras do that? I always use the manual exposure controls, but that's it...

All thoughts appreciated. Thanks.
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Old August 21st, 2005, 09:38 AM   #874
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A basic color control that lets you adjust hue and saturation will help I'm sure. But I was speaking of something which (I think) is a little more sophisticated. Here's an example (although a little dated) of the 3-way color corrector in Final Cut Pro:

http://www.lafcpug.org/reviews/review_cc_dft_dvd.html
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Old August 21st, 2005, 12:31 PM   #875
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Some of the newer cameras have options to adjust the gamma curves and other settings to get greater exposure latitude (so you get less blown-out highlights). Cameras like the DVX100, XL2, and Z1 have this I believe.

2- Your computer monitor may be showing your video a little weird. Sony Vegas for example:
If you use the Sony DV codec (the default), blacks get mapped to 16-235 RGB. So if you leave the lens cap on your camera and close the iris, it'll record a black that shows up as 16 16 16 (RGB) on your computer monitor, which is a greyish black.

A broadcast monitor will give you an accurate idea of what your video looks like, although it may be hard to compare things with DSLR pictures.

Not sure what your video editing program does.

3- Saturation can easily be boosted in post, as can contrast (although this may bring up noise a little). A color curves filter is the best way to do this... Vegas has it, PPro has something like it, FCP doesn't have it (but you can get Nattress' G Film for $100). Some cameras can be tweaked to deliver higher contrast as well as saturation.

Color accuracy is dependent on your camera and its iris/exposure settings- I find that on a PD100, aggressive exposure (clipping be damned) leads to more saturated and accurate/vivid colors.

Exposure latitude is dependent on the camera. More exposure latitude means you see more detail in highlight and shadow areas instead of clipping.
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Old August 21st, 2005, 06:18 PM   #876
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How do you white balance?

I bought the proper cards from a video store (white balance card, 18% grey card for exposure) and found that made things much easier, and gave a far more accurate picture.
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Old August 22nd, 2005, 01:43 AM   #877
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I don't know about the mvx3i but the Panasonic GS400 has a few settings that can change the picture for the best. For more information go and see this topic : http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=45748

I am very happy with the picture of my GS400 now althought I sometimes tweak the colors and contrast in post.
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Old August 22nd, 2005, 11:54 AM   #878
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Again thanks for the advice.

The pictures taken with the DV camera are fine if you have no choice, but cannot be compared to a dSLR, and no amount of jpeg adjustments (like those available on panasonic gs400) will ever be able to compare to shooting raw (or nef) and adjusting the image on a PC later. But my questions relate to DV videos, not stills. Thanks anyway.

I haven't figured out white balance for DV yet... I'll need to read the manual I guess! Usually I have found that the white balance is not a problem on the films (unlike dSLR, for which white balance is quite difficult)

Getting greater exposure lattitude would ne nice, so it's good to hear that it is available on more expensive models... on the mvx3i, I am constantly adusting the exposure manually, and using the "zebra" to highlight blow-outs and trying to reduce these without getting the zones of interest too dark.

The avi I regenerated after adjusting contrast and saturation is significantly better than the raw avi, but still a far cry from dSLR pictures (even without any adjustments on the pictures)... maybe the problem is the 256-levels limitation of DV as mentioned here... or maybe I need a better color filter software with more options?

Are you guys happy with the color / contrast from more expensive cameras? Is it significantly better than mid-range cameras like my mvx3i?

What I mean is, can we hope to get close to the TV or movies color / contrast quality with these amateur-ish DV cameras? I see "near-broadcast quality" on some cameras... Is this what is meant? How near is it?

A family relative on the other side of the world, uses Nikon dSLR for photos, panasonic GS-400 (3 ccd model) for quick videos, and XL2 for high-quality personal videos... Is this what you guys do? Unfortunately I have no way to compare his results... but I believe he does not spend any time to "fix" his videos.


For better color accuracy, Glenn suggests "agressive exposure"... does that mean I should blow-out highlights in favor of zones of interest? Isn't that the opposite of most advice, which suggests under-exposing slightly and recovering detail through software later?

Thanks
Christophe
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Old August 22nd, 2005, 12:14 PM   #879
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Quote:
What I mean is, can we hope to get close to the TV or movies color / contrast quality with these amateur-ish DV cameras?
In my opinion, the best stuff out there (features and national commercials) look good because of:
shot on 35mm film - greatest exposure latitude, which other formats can't touch. Shallow depth of field too (video needs 35mm adapter to get the same results).
talented and experienced people
lighting
color grading on a system like a Da Vinci with a professional colorist (it's all they do). While you can get comparable results with DV using tools like Final Touch SD or Nattress G Film + Shake or Vegas + Combustion, you won't necessarily have the talent and experience as someone who specializes in color grading.

Quote:
For better color accuracy, Glenn suggests "agressive exposure"... does that mean I should blow-out highlights in favor of zones of interest?
Yes. I'm not sure if it increases color accuracy as I don't have a good way of testing that. But colors do seem to look more vivid. Saturation definitely increases, at least with the Sony PD100. You can test this with your own camera.

Quote:
Isn't that the opposite of most advice, which suggests under-exposing slightly and recovering detail through software later?
Yes. I used to believe that you should be conservative with exposure... but aggressive exposure does have its benefits.
Without any color correction, the aggressively exposed image will be more saturated.
After color correction, you can match brightness and saturation. But, the colors will still be different (check this on a vectorscope... the hue of colors is different). Also, increasing brightness with make noise more apparent in the dark areas.
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Old September 7th, 2005, 10:44 PM   #880
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Which Camera should I buy?

Hi there,

My name is David, thanks for taking the time to read my enquiry.

I am going to Asia in October to work in and around Refugee camps. I want to take with me a Digital Video Camera so that I can record the plight of the people there, their story etc. Also to tell the story of my 75 year old father who goes there to help stop Malaria and TB by providing equipment, medicine and advice…anyway

I have been looking at the new range of digital video cameras, happy that prices are lower because I am not rich; but confused by the lack of features in some cameras. Of course price IS a major factor; less than NZ$2000 (and lower than that if possible) but disregarding price a little for the moment:

I decided I would look for 1) a 3ccd camera (better colour etc), 2) the best optical zoom, and 3) a DVD-RW drive (hard drives are probably too expensive for me). I was of course mindful of other things like night shooting ability, colour in the viewfinder, stability when filming etc but the 3 main ingredients were what I was looking for.

Do you think I could find one? NO. There is a 3ccd, with 10x optical zoom and TAPE drive! I guess someone must have an excess of tape drives, why would you have a 3ccd camera with a tape drive, rather than at the same time making the recording media more up to date? I guess there may well be a very legitimate reason.

It was pointed out to me by a salesperson at a shop today ( 5 shops, one person actually new something) that JVC have just put out the GZ-MC500, 3ccd, 4gb microdrive, 10 x optical – the price unfortunately is NZ3500 so a bit out of my price range. I also read a review of it that said it doesn’t have a microphone jack, and that its viewfinder and low light performance are mediocre, and that though the 3ccd is great for still pictures it doesn’t do moving pictures so well.

So, PLEASE HELP is there a digital video camera that has 1) 3ccd (preferably three 1/4" CCD's that are optimized for video. No still camera needed), 2) non-tape (DVD-RW?/card) recording. 3) optical zoom of at least 10x. 4) decent audio. 5) mike in and perhaps an ie1394 port. ????

Or can you suggest something that would work for me. I need the best quality I can get for the least money obviously because I would like to be able to edit footage on my computer (Avid) and maybe make a doco or two.

PLEASE ADVISE

Thanks
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Old September 8th, 2005, 12:13 AM   #881
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Well, you seem to be too focused on the consumer aspects of cameras. No self respecting pro would ever use a DVD-R cam. The format is not stable and not easy to manipulate in post. Tapes are tried and true and have stood the test of time. Hard drives are not practical in most cases and would require dumping every few hours to clear up space. Solid state media will be on some new cameras but VERY VERY expensive at $750+ for every 20 minutes.

For a documentary, tape will be the standard for quite some time. We are probably 5+ years from significant penetration into the prosumer market of non-tape media.

ash =o)
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Old September 8th, 2005, 12:31 AM   #882
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Thanks Ash, and...

Ta for that. I am basically a newbie, some experience in film and tv a long time ago. The purchase for me, though very little to pay for a camera, is in fact a large investment for me.

I spoke to a guy at the local CGD school today and he said similar things about tape. He seemed to think the stories of problems with tape mechanisms are few and far between.

He also said I might be better off to look at a single ccd camera but the bigger the lens the better.

I lookd up some of the models he suggested (vx2100, pd150) but they seem to have been superseded.
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Old September 8th, 2005, 02:38 AM   #883
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In all honesty, I think you're probably setting your sights a bit too high with regards to your budget... xe.com tells me that your budget is the equivalent of £733 roughly... unless very very lucky, you're not going to get a VX or PD cam for this money. But ignore the fact that the 2000 and the 150 are superceded, the new versions are essentially the same cameras with a few slight additions.. the bonus is of course they push the price down of the older models. The difference between the top end of Sony's consumer ("Prosumer") market and the bottom end of the professional market is staggering. I own the TRV950 and the PD150, sure the RRP of them is 2x the price, but there's only one camera in between and thats the VX2x00 (ok we should consider the PDX10 which is basically the TRV950 and PD150s bastard offspring heh, and in all honesty might well be your best choice.. more in a second..) so the range isnt full of cameras. Personally, I love Sonys and won't go back, especially if you like "pure video" (ie a camera that doesn't pretend its a film camera) and it sounds like you want to do something more documentarial from your description.

Definitely 100% ignore non-DV cameras. Microdrives are nice, but its a gimmick and 4gb? Well thats shooting in MPEG2 rather than DV which in all honesty, I'd prefer. Each DV tape is equivalent to close to 13gb of data, apart from the 4:1:1 space it shoots in natively, there's no extra compression of sorts. Plus.. tapes are cheap. Real cheap. No dragging around extra equipment to back up your drive, and DVD Cams are a consumer gimmick that only Sony (tsk, you let me down boys!) and Hitachi seem to bother with these days.

Now, regarding that lil PDX.. its small, it supports native 16x9 (which the pd/vx doesn't... BUT docu's are generally shot in 4x3 for a reason, to make it look nothing like film, more profiled shots in comparison to a wider screen.. adds to the realism factor) and also has XLR in's for pro mics. Invaluable!

Yes its gonna be harder to find one second hand within your price range, but see what you can find.. its a rare little camera in some areas i'm sure as it doesn't really fit in.. it just looks like a Racing version of the TRV, but they're cracking little things for sure.

As for lens size etc, triple CCD is going to give you better colour seperation, but lower light performance at that size.. personally, if I knew most of my work was going to be well lit, I'd go for the 3CCD option everytime, especially if the work was going to be serious. Alas with video, you get what you pay for, and a camera is a massive investment... but if its what you really want to do, definitely worth it.
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Old September 8th, 2005, 05:09 AM   #884
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David, since you will shoot in Asia, why not buy the camera there ? It will be much cheaper than in New Zealand and most of the countries in Asia use Pal.

And what would you think of the Panasonic GS400 ?
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Old September 9th, 2005, 01:38 AM   #885
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Thanks again and,..

Thank you.

See this is why I decided to ask here, because you guys KNOW

No Ben I had never even heard of the GS400. However I looked at one today, it's within my price range and seems a good possibility.

James I really appreciated the response. I looked up the PDX10 and if I can get one within price then that would probably be the optimum for me, although the Canon XM2 looks good too. The PDX10 and XM2 are probably a little over what I actually have to spend but i"ll keep looking.

Any knowledge of the XM2 here? I think it's a PAL version of the GL2

At least I now have an idea of what is going to work for me. Unfortunately where I am going in Asia is great for cheap software but not for hardware (not going near Singapore for instance).

Thank you

So thanks.
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