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Old January 8th, 2008, 10:51 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by Mikko Lopponen View Post
Well isn't that weird because the EX1 is slightly better in low light than the king of low light the PD170.
Yeah, I have great respect for Barry but I see way more than 1/2 stop difference in this test and the other footage out there. I have neither camera though and maybe it's how people are testing then drawing conclusions.

Adam Wilt is due to post a full performance review in a month or two. We'll see what his numbers are.
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Old January 9th, 2008, 03:14 AM   #32
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one argument is that a $7.5k camcorder cannot be as good as a $20k camcorder, and that to compare them is crazy.

another argument is that the $7.5k camcorder is engineered so well that it's compareable and, for some people, actually better then the $20k camcorder. then the price of the $20k camcorder is the thing that is crazy.

if you don't care about interchangeable lenses (some people don't); if you don't care about shallower depth of field, or extra pro doodads and connectors (some people don't), and if you don't care about shooting intentionally shakey handheld footage or doing vfx work (some people don't), then there is the possibility that the cheaper camera is actually a better one.

i agree with barry and all the various ultra-experienced people on this board though: in the end you should take the camera out in the real world and shoot with it and see if you like the experience and the result.
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Old January 9th, 2008, 04:28 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by Stephen van Vuuren View Post
Yeah, I have great respect for Barry but I see way more than 1/2 stop difference in this test and the other footage out there. I have neither camera though and maybe it's how people are testing then drawing conclusions.

Adam Wilt is due to post a full performance review in a month or two. We'll see what his numbers are.
I hadn't done any quantitative testing, but I can say that when comparing the two cameras side by side that there was a significant difference in sensitivity and low light performance.

I'm not saying that you'll get pristine images from the EX1 under adverse conditions. But you'll have a better chance at getting a usable image under low light conditions than you would with a less sensitive HVX.

I already own an HVX and use it a lot. And when the EX1 comes in, I'm keeping the HVX. Both cameras have their strengths and weaknesses and one can do things better than the other as Barry pointed out.

I'm hoping to accelerate the two toward each other in a magnetron so they collide at the speed of light. They'll fuse themselves into the perfect camera with no disadvantages. :-)
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Old January 9th, 2008, 10:25 AM   #34
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I hadn't done any quantitative testing, but I can say that when comparing the two cameras side by side that there was a significant difference in sensitivity and low light performance.

I'm not saying that you'll get pristine images from the EX1 under adverse conditions. But you'll have a better chance at getting a usable image under low light conditions than you would with a less sensitive HVX.

I already own an HVX and use it a lot. And when the EX1 comes in, I'm keeping the HVX. Both cameras have their strengths and weaknesses and one can do things better than the other as Barry pointed out.

I'm hoping to accelerate the two toward each other in a magnetron so they collide at the speed of light. They'll fuse themselves into the perfect camera with no disadvantages. :-)
Having both is really powerful.
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Old January 9th, 2008, 10:36 AM   #35
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I'm just reporting the testing results as tested, and I listed the method so anyone can freely replicate the results. When configured to equivalent gamma and equivalent recording mode and equivalent shutter speed, there's a half-stop difference in sensitivity.

Now, that was at proper exposure levels; is there some sort of "sliding scale" when the light gets lower? Is there some sort of nonlinear response? I don't know, I didn't try that.

As for equalizing the noise level -- let me try to address this differently. There's a school of thought that says that the only way to compare sensitivity is to use + or - gain to equalize the noise levels, at which point you'll have the "true" sensitivity. Fair enough, and I can see that point. But then there's the perspective of actually using the camcorder; when the zebras are telling you what to set your iris at, that's your real-world sensitivity, and the noise is a separate issue. And here's a monkey wrench to compound the issue: what about film? What if you shot on a 1970's 200T film stock -- what's its sensitivity? Why, it's 200 ISO. But what if you shot on 2008's Vision2 200T? What's its sensitivity? It's also 200 ISO. Yes there's a massive difference in the grain structure, but the *sensitivity* is the same. Should the 2008 shooter go about underexposing 800T stock and pushing it in post-processing to get equivalent grain? You treat 200T stock as 200T stock, and respect that each has its own grain signature, right?

I don't know... it seems like to discard one sensitivity figure as inaccurate just because it's inherently noisier than another is just not legit. Some technologies are grainier than others, but the rated ISO for proper exposure shouldn't change just based on grain levels.

Other things that influence the sensitivity include the gamma curve -- on an HVX, you get about 320 ISO when using HD NORM gamma, and you get about 250 ISO when using CINELIKE-D. And then there's shutter speed and the "off" position -- I wonder if some people, especially those who are less experienced on the HVX, are getting caught by that. If you set both to "shutter off" you're actually choosing different shutter speeds! On the HVX, "shutter off" is not like any other camera's "shutter off" setting; "shutter off" on most cameras means "don't use any sort of shutter", so 30P at "shutter off" = 1/30th exposure; 24p w/"shutter off" = 1/24th, etc. On the HVX, "shutter off" means "use the default shutter speed", and that means 24p = 1/48th, 30p = 1/60th. If someone did a comparison with "shutter off" they'd actually be hampering the HVX by a stop, artificially.

With that said, no doubt the EX1 is more sensitive and noticeably cleaner in grain. You can go to at least 6dB, and maybe as much as 9dB, before equalling the grain of the HVX at 0dB. I should test the dynamic range to see if there's any effect caused by gaining up though; you may be lopping off a stop of highlight performance by gaining up.

For "low light", one would have to configure both of them equivalently and then put 'em in a "low light" setting. That's not what I did. I compared them on proper exposure to get a sensitivity reading.
With that said, even though there's only
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Old January 9th, 2008, 01:01 PM   #36
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As for equalizing the noise level -- let me try to address this differently. There's a school of thought that says that the only way to compare sensitivity is to use + or - gain to equalize the noise levels, at which point you'll have the "true" sensitivity. Fair enough, and I can see that point.
That's the point I made earlier - though video industry practice is to quote f stop at a given lux level (normally 2000), AND quote noise level.
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And here's a monkey wrench to compound the issue: what about film? What if you shot on a 1970's 200T film stock -- what's its sensitivity? Why, it's 200 ISO. But what if you shot on 2008's Vision2 200T? What's its sensitivity? It's also 200 ISO. Yes there's a massive difference in the grain structure, but the *sensitivity* is the same.
Good point. But then the ISO rating is a function of stock and development, and to a certain extent forced development techniques mean that any given stock can be rated at varying ISO figures - the 200 ISO figure may be seen more as a "for best results" figure. Which raises an interesting thought. What if the modern stock was rated at 800 ISO, and force processed to get proper exposure? Conceivably, the grain structure may now be similar to the 70's stock with normal development, so maybe there could be some validity in considering it a higher inherent snsitivity?
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I don't know... it seems like to discard one sensitivity figure as inaccurate just because it's inherently noisier than another is just not legit. Some technologies are grainier than others, but the rated ISO for proper exposure shouldn't change just based on grain levels.
I see what you mean, but it may be true more for film than video, where altering development has a lot of other effects than simply increasing grain. Which is why a given stock is given a fundamental sensitivity to get the best gamma, colourimetry etc. With video (and digital stills), that's much less the case as noise can be traded for ISO over quite a wide range. In practice, there will be a minimum ISO that it won't be possible to go below - the output of the chips will limit regardless of light input without giving a 100IRE signal. Max ISO should only be limited by noise levels.
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Old January 9th, 2008, 07:54 PM   #37
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With that said, no doubt the EX1 is more sensitive and noticeably cleaner in grain. You can go to at least 6dB, and maybe as much as 9dB, before equalling the grain of the HVX at 0dB.
If that's all, then you can take the grain out with Raylight MXFX (new product) http://dvfilm.com/MXFX
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Old January 16th, 2008, 10:25 AM   #38
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I've been getting a lot of emails about this thread and the whole "which is better" nonsense, so let me address some things that again, many may not realize.

First, I want to point out that as I mentioned elsewhere I'm no longer a Panny consultant and no longer have insider information or access to all the tech data as I once did. For that, Barry is your guy. He's always been better at drilling down technicalities than I anyway.

I also want to point out that this thread is exactly what Sony's ad campaign was designed for: Creating measurebator-type debate over technical details that does a great job of hiding the realities of working with long-GOP 4:2:0 formats.

In point of fact, the EX1 and indeed the entire line of XDCAM cameras are great cameras, and they produce really good looking imagery on acquisition. Heck, every DV/HD/HDV camera made today create good looking images - in camera! That's never really been the issue with any camera, it's how to work with it in POST where the realities of any system show's it's true nature.

And that's the greatest caveat for XDCAM/HDV: Long-GOP 4:2:0 does have serious drawbacks when trying to work in any commercial production environment, whether it's reality TV, broadcast ads, features etc., there are issues with image quality, transport and codec handling.

The simple fact is, that while XDCAM is a higher bitrate of HDV it still falls apart when doing any sort of keying (compositing) and especially where multiple layers are involved the "conform" process is a killer. These workflow and codec handling issues have spawned half-a-dozen third party products to convert or modify the long-GOP codec into something easier to work with and less prone to "bitrate conversion failure" as I've heard engineers refer to it. But you'll never see any of these weaknesses in any of the example videos posted by the manufacturer; indeed everything that's been posted as "beauty footage" from any of the XDCAM lineup does not contain any compositing or other image types that would show its' obvious weaknesses, it's just straight video albeit from exotic locations and dramatic subject material.

So the question becomes, why would you want to work with a system that either forces you into a codec conversion process or, has obvious and visible weaknesses when applying it to a commercial workflow?

The EX1 has a visibly cleaner-looking image than the HVX - when it comes to noise artifacts and overall sharpness; those two characteristics alone can be attributed to the larger, native HD chip. But what you can't get around is the fact that even in it's most perfect operating scenario, where you don't have to worry about rolling shutter issues or what type of chip it is (CMOS vs CCD) the EX1 is still a long-GOP 4:2:0 camera. Period, end of story. And if you want to have as trouble-free a workflow as DVCPRO then you have to spend more money - and time - converting XDCAM into either DVCPRO or ProRes or any other I-Frame codec just so renders and compositing isn't painful and breaks up visually.

Is the EX1 a nice camera: you bet. Can it create great looking images: of course. Is it going to be as easy to work with as the HVX200: no way.

Lastly, it's worth noting that the little HVX200 in either DV50 or DV100 uses a better color space than any current XDCAM body, or even the F900 Cinealta series. Yep, HDCAM is 3:1:1 color boy and girls - the HVX in the above modes is 4:2:2. So a camera that costs less than $6k shoots a better color space than a $90k body.

If you allow yourself to not become brainwashed by the glossy measurebator Sony campaigns then you'll see the light.
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Old January 16th, 2008, 11:06 AM   #39
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Well said Robert and I totally agree.

When all of the shooting is said and done, we still have to edit and composite this stuff.

Love DVCProHD for post!

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Old January 16th, 2008, 11:15 AM   #40
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Robert: you make some good points, but one could say they amount to more "measurebation" around the issue of color space. It's true there are workflow trade-offs in starting with a GOP-based recording format versus a non-GOP one, but it's not a big deal to convert to non-GOP formats for editing purposes. If that's not sufficient then of course you'd have to do something else, which in this case means a trade-off between overall image quality versus recording format. Personally I'd prefer more real resolution with better DOF and sensitivity versus less of same with a slightly simpler workflow, but that's me. If you like the DVCProHD recording format then the HVX200 is still a good choice for the price.
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Old January 16th, 2008, 11:40 AM   #41
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Regarding sensitivity comparisons, what matters for people I know is how dim a scene they can shoot and still get an acceptable image with minimal noise. For that the EX1 is getting a lot of attention from those who haven't been happy with previous inexpensive HD cameras on this point. This may not be possible to express with numbers because noise doesn't look the same from camera to camera, so it's partly subjective whether the way noise looks is acceptable.

Personally I wasn't entirely thrilled with the EX1 in dim lighting, but it does seem to be a useful improvement over previous options. And as we've discussed before this partly depends on your ability to get the most out of a particular camera by adjusting various settings, so direct comparisons are difficult. But the bottom line is that people who want maximum low-light capability in an inexpensive HD camera are looking seriously at the EX1 as their best choice.
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Old January 16th, 2008, 08:20 PM   #42
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Having read this entire thread, there is still a use for both cameras.

I use 1/2" chip Panasonic DV cameras and would like to stay with Panasonic for my HD upgrade, but I feel they have taken the wrong path using upsampled imaging devices for their cameras. Or it is time they introduced some new models.

And to speak to the earlier posts, I would compare the EX-1 and the HPX-500 together because you Can compare their image quality. The EX-1 has been shown to look as the 335/355 cameras which are as expensive as the HPX-500.

I am torn because I feel in a few years, the HPX-500 will look long in the tooth with it's low rez sensors. And $20,000+ is a huge investment compared to the DV days, so the camera will be with me for a while.

What I am struggling with (as I am sure everybody is) is that the cost bar for a "pro" looking or precieved image quality camera has been raised from $5,000-8,000 (DV) to $20,000 (HD).

I don't really think that cutomers are ready to pay four times the price for their projects.

After using 1/2" chip cameras, I vowed to never use a lesser size chip, but that is a lot more expensive these days.

So the EX seems to shine from a few points - light gathering, resolution, and price.
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Old January 16th, 2008, 08:50 PM   #43
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What I am struggling with (as I am sure everybody is) is that the cost bar for a "pro" looking or precieved image quality camera has been raised from $5,000-8,000 (DV) to $20,000 (HD).

I don't really think that cutomers are ready to pay four times the price for their projects.

After using 1/2" chip cameras, I vowed to never use a lesser size chip, but that is a lot more expensive these days.

So the EX seems to shine from a few points - light gathering, resolution, and price.
My question to you is simple: Have you seen any HVX project, or TVC, in HD, either broadcasted or on a big screen? Chances are you have, but don't really know it was HVX.

The Departed, Cloverfield, Letters from Iwo Jima and others have shots done with the HVX. DId you notice on these movies it was done on this camera? Of course not.

Its simple: These new HD cameras- the HVX, Sony EX, and the higher end HPX and F330 are excelent cameras, and produce broadcast quality pictures. I've personaly shot internationaly broadcasted comercials 90% shot with the HVX, and they where quite succesfull.

Broadcast will be 1080i for the near (and forseable) future - 10-15 years? - more than enough time to recoup your investment and make plenty of money!

HVX+ Professional Grading+ Production values= fantastic HD product. The same goes to the others.

But, believe me when I say that the Panasonic cinegamma and film look is something that requires an excelent colorist and grading talent to achieve in post.
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Old January 16th, 2008, 10:27 PM   #44
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Great post.

What would you say if the HVX was to be used without grading and a lot of post attention?

I use color correction for all of my footage, but I would like to have a camera that does not "need it", not saying the HVX needs it as I have not used it.

My other big hangup for an HD upgrade is lattitude, or dynamic range in the image.

How does the 4:2:2 and a 1/3" chip compare to a 4:2:0 and a 1/2" chip?
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Old January 17th, 2008, 01:20 AM   #45
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What would you say if the HVX was to be used without grading and a lot of post attention?

I use color correction for all of my footage, but I would like to have a camera that does not "need it", not saying the HVX needs it as I have not used it.

My other big hangup for an HD upgrade is lattitude, or dynamic range in the image.

How does the 4:2:2 and a 1/3" chip compare to a 4:2:0 and a 1/2" chip?
The HVX, in my view, is that camera in the price range that requires less CC to achieve a filmic, dinamic look. Sony EX, Canon, JVC included. You can manually change the other cameras parameters, but even though you can get similar results, the fact is that you'll need measuring tools, like vectorscopes or waveforms to see if your "corrected" colours are broadcast legal- but remember that the footage you cc in camera is while watching either the on camera LCD or a Monitor connected to either HD-SDI or Component, which means its prior the Camera compression. The colors suffer after compression, and what you get is different from what you saw in the monitor on the first place. You can control "tame" the colors back in post, but your question was about the camera that required less CC and grading, right?

The default HVX settings provide a broadcast safe, dinamic and filmic picture (this is in my view, of course.)

As for Dinamic range, Cine D on the HVX gives fantastic dinamic range for a 1/3 CCD camera. Prior to the EX, it was the benchmark. I sincerely haven't tested the EX in an open air environment, so couldn't see how it really works in dinamic range. Heard it was impressive. I wouldn't be surprised if it was better than the HVX- dinamic range is one of the advantages of CMOS technology.

As for DOF, here's where the EX shines. I had a brief test with the EX, and achieving shallow DOF was fantastic. DOF was my biggest battle with the HVX on my recent short film, and it was also a factor that influenced the creative concept of much of our commercial work: We had to take into account that achieving shallow DOF on an HVX was limiting. With the appearance of 35mm adapters and adding a separate focus monitor this can be solved- but is a lot more limiting in terms of handheld use, support gear use and a big budget increase. (which is what I did.)

The EX is a good cam from what I saw. The Shallow DOF is a big improvement over 1/3ccd's, low light is incredible. However, the out of the box picture is pure video, PD170 HD style. Messing with the menu, putting the camera on Cine and selecting 24p gave the picture a small boost, with somewhat more saturated and contrasty picture- the tint to the picture looked like the cinematone of the z1- but still far from the film like look you get from the HVX in either Cine V or Cine D. Can you tune this on the very costumizable picture profile settings- yes, but with much work.

Like someone else said, there was something off on the 24p footage when something was moving. What was it I don't know. But I would suggest people to check out the progressive 25/24p movement before they buy.

The vignetting issue discussed wouldn't be a deal breaker, for me.

If it was today, if I needed a new camera, I would probably rent an HPX. Since I'm an HVX operator for almost 2 years, I really know how it works and since the HPX basically is an HVX with 2/3 chips and interchangeable lens in a shoulder mount form factor, I'm confident I could achieve excelent results with little practice time (of course, having worked with older shoulder mount gear also helps, like how to back focus, etc.).

The HVX successor should be introduced this year. I would really wait to see what Panasonic's answer to the EX and possibly the RED Scarlett is. I did this back when the Z1 was introduced, and am happy I did the right choice.
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Last edited by Sergio Perez; January 17th, 2008 at 02:09 AM.
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