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Old January 22nd, 2007, 09:39 PM   #1
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How do I get more latitude?

I help my dad in a wedding videography business and we are becoming increasingly frustrated at the low exposure range of prosumer cameras. Just about every outdoor wedding we film has the couple stand under a shaded gazebo on a sunny day. So when I expose for the shade (using either a Sony PD170 or Z1u) then the background is blown out. If I expose for outside, they are hidden in the gazebo shade.

What would be the best way to alleviate this problem? My dad thinks that buying some 1/2" or 2/3" ENG SD cameras would be the solution. I wonder if using some Tiffen Ultra Contrast filters on our existing cameras would be better. Are either of these a good direction to go? Would either really do that much? Thanks ahead of time for any replies
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Old January 22nd, 2007, 10:03 PM   #2
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Sony V1 and FX7 are supposed to have more latitude with the CMOS chips. Take a look at those. Will be less expensive than 1/2 and 2/3 cams. Also will use your Sony batteries, if I am not mistaken.

But with the extremes from shade to bright sunlight, I bet you are going to still get some blow outs.
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Old January 22nd, 2007, 10:25 PM   #3
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Thanks Chris. How do I know how much latitude a particular has exactly?
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Old January 22nd, 2007, 10:40 PM   #4
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Mainly by reputation. Google Sony Contrast range and you will come up with articles on it. I don't know if anyone has actually quantified it, but the reviewers have indicated the range is wider than ccd cameras.
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Old January 23rd, 2007, 02:04 PM   #5
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if your problem is the sky, you can try a progressive (gradual) neutral filter (dark on top, transparent at bottom)
http://www.cokin.co.uk/pages/grad1.htm
you can use a filter holder that allow to slide the filter vertically, so you can adjust the transition.
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Old January 23rd, 2007, 05:03 PM   #6
 
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I used to complain quite bitterly about the dismal latitude in DV, specifically my XL2. When I bought my JVC HD110, I was shocked!!! The skies I was shooting were actually BLUE. Never seen that before. And the shadows, under trees were distinguishable. The HD110 seems to have 1-2 stops more latitude than DV. Combined with a polarizer filter to cut the range in an exposure due to specular reflections, I'm a happy camper.
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Old January 23rd, 2007, 05:56 PM   #7
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This is basic photography and lighting skills really. Think about what the photographer would do with fill flash in the same situation. 1 ND filter and a battery powered 400w HMI Joker Bug with soft box should do the trick :-) (HMI is daylight balanced like electronic flash).

Last edited by John DeLuca; January 23rd, 2007 at 07:22 PM.
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Old January 23rd, 2007, 06:13 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Ravens
I used to complain quite bitterly about the dismal latitude in DV, specifically my XL2. When I bought my JVC HD110, I was shocked!!! The skies I was shooting were actually BLUE. Never seen that before. And the shadows, under trees were distinguishable. The HD110 seems to have 1-2 stops more latitude than DV. Combined with a polarizer filter to cut the range in an exposure due to specular reflections, I'm a happy camper.
That appears very good! With 35mm color film the latitude was 2.5 to 3 stops. I have always been disappointed with mini-DV at 2 stops plus/minus. Just learned to live with it. This JVC has 3 - 4 stops? Extraordinary from my perspective!

By the way Bill, I was just down your way for a few days of museum and gallery fix. Are you dug out from all the snow yet?
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Old January 23rd, 2007, 07:10 PM   #9
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****Just about every outdoor wedding we film has the couple stand under a shaded gazebo on a sunny day. So when I expose for the shade (using either a Sony PD170 or Z1u) then the background is blown out. If I expose for outside, they are hidden in the gazebo shade.****


35mm film has up to 11 stops if I’m not mistaken, and when it does blow out it still looks good because it's not all at once like digital.

A bit more latitude from a larger CCD block alone will NOT solve this problem. Think about how much latitude the photographers 35mm still camera has- then think about how bad his photography would look without fill flash or reflectors. Even his 35mm camera with 11 stops would look bad back lit, without fill.

A self powered 400w Joker is alot cheaper/more effective than a 2/3 inch block over a 1/3 inch (its kinda silly to use a larger block for weddings considering the average 2-3k production budget).
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Old January 23rd, 2007, 08:41 PM   #10
 
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Fill lights work great as long as the field of view is of a size that some fill lights will cover the are. It's kinda tuff, when shooting outdoors, shadows are fairly distant, but, the sky is still expansive. Even if you COULD light it, carrying 2000 lbs of batteries up to the top of a mountain is...well, I think you get the picture.

Waldemar...

who needs fill lights when all you see is snow. ;0) at my house the wind is still making drifts that make it challenging...even for a 4x4.
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Old January 23rd, 2007, 08:54 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Ravens
Fill lights work great as long as the field of view is of a size that some fill lights will cover the are. It's kinda tuff, when shooting outdoors, shadows are fairly distant, but, the sky is still expansive. Even if you COULD light it, carrying 2000 lbs of batteries up to the top of a mountain is...well, I think you get the picture.

Waldemar...

who needs fill lights when all you see is snow. ;0) at my house the wind is still making drifts that make it challenging...even for a 4x4.


You really just need light on the subject(s), so if you wanted more shadows filled in, you could work with adjusting the subjects positioning. I agree tho, if your a "one man band" then forget about it. Most wedding videographers shoot with an assistant tho, and a light weight 400w Joker is like a 1750w Q Tungsten in power (plenty to light a wedding party outdoors).

There are lots of examples of this exact lighting situation on K5600 website, so feel free to take a look.
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Old January 27th, 2007, 01:09 PM   #12
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One way to reduce the contrast in a scene electronically involves lifting the black levels in the scene via a function called "black stretch". You may have such a control in your menu setting. This feature allows one to actually reduce overexposure on the bright parts of the scene while retaining image detail in the darker parts of the scene.

On lower cost camcorders this feature is called "spotlight" (if you have it). I recommend using spotlight for virtually all situations except for foggy or hazy shots. One can also use the spotlight function in the manual exposure mode on some cameras, so you gain additional control over whether you want to favor the darker or brighter part of the picture even as the camera is already helping you by lifting the black levels.

Additionally, wide shots will look the worst when one is in harsh lighting situations, so if you have to zoom in a bit you should see the picture quality improve, although sometimes this defeats the purpose of showing the actual environment the event happened in.

I'd suggest you not be afraid to use manual exposure the way one would use the focus ring, expose for the background for a few seconds to show it off, then expose for the primary subjects. However, the rack exposure strategy is probably not as effective if one has touch screen control only versus a good old fashion horse & buggy manual exposure dial to turn. (gasp).
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