1 week with HVX200- my impressions at DVinfo.net

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Old June 28th, 2006, 07:22 PM   #1
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1 week with HVX200- my impressions

Just wrapped a short on sunday that we shot on a borrowed HVX200. It was a small crew and I had 2 roles- boom op and camera loader. Overall, I was very impressed, but I did have a few questions and things that I found interesting.

Audio:
I had read on different forums that the HVX audio was about the same as the dvx, which is to say excellent. We used a Sound Devices 442 mixer with Sanken CS-1 and CS-3e boom mics and COS-11 wireless and recorded into the HVX. The audio did seem pretty good, but we did hear a strange almost pinging or needle sound when we recorded. I'm pretty sure we only heard it when we were actually recording rather than in pause, so we concluded that it was the sound of the HVX recording to the P2 card. I'm not doing the post on this audio, but I'd be very curious how noticable it is there and whether anyone else has noticed this sound.

Video:
This wasn't really my department, but I did get a good look at the camera in both a portable CRT and my Dell 2405 LCD monitor. We went component out from the HVX using regular RCA cables and the image on the Dell was stunning. As luck would have it, the CRT started having issues with its connectors resulting in inconsistent color. So we just started using the Dell all the time. I warned the crew that the monitor had not been color balanced, but the owner said we found it very close to the HVX pull out LCD, so we just went with it.

Batteries & Power:
We only had one 5 hour battery and a couple DVX100 batteries to power the camera. As we had a lot of outdoor shoots, this presented a problem. The owner told us he got 1.5 hours out of the dvx batteries, but we were lucky to get 30 min. As luck would have it, I had bought a Black & Decker Elecromate 400 a couple months before with an eye towards dealing with this kind of thing. It's a kind of a Swiss Army knife with a car starter, battery charger, tire inflater, and AC/DC power. The AC is "modified sine wave" and is safe to use with laptops and the HVX (I even called Panasonic and confirmed this). The only problem is that the AC power has a slight fan. In some outdoor locations it wasn't noticable as it was drowned out. In others we just placed the unit further away. I believe the unit has a 12 volt car battery inside and could run the camera and monitor all day (sometimes 18 hour days) w/o worry. The Elecromate also saved us on another day when the dolly's tires were under inflated. 30 seconds later and we were good to go. Otherwise we would have needed to pack up the dolly, go to a gas station, etc etc. So, we were very lucky.

P2 Cards:
We were pretty lucky here in that we had two 8 gig cards. So each card lasted about 20 min in 720p24Native mode. We had a laptop on set to dump the cards off onto and 2 external hard drives (one was a backup) to hold the material. Having switched over from super 16mm, I found it much more convenient than changing film reels. Also, being able to see exactly what your film is going to look like on set is a huge blessing as it can save you possible reshoots.

Lenses:
The stock lense seemed very crisp and clear. Only problems being the depth of field and it could stand to be a little wider. We were able to get a wide angle adaptor, so that solved the second problem. I had pushed for the use of a 35mm adaptor, but as we had 1 week to prepare for this shoot (had though we had a Varicam) there wasn't enough time to do the research and trust something like a Redrock which no one had ever used. So the depth of field will not be shallow as we're just going to have to deal with that.

So, overall I was impressed. I'm still curious about the audio and next time out I'd like a 35mm solution and DV Rack on MacBook Pro (running XP) with full 1080p resolution. Maybe someday Apple will make such a computer.
Again, I think the camera did us well. We took a bit of a chance as we weren't that experienced with the camera. But I think we got some good stuff and the actors left smiling, so we're all pretty happy right now.
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Old June 28th, 2006, 08:15 PM   #2
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Good to hear from new users, as I have had my HVX for about 2 weeks. We just had lot's of flooding here in NEPA and I was able to get some great footage. Not alot of it since I only have 2 4 gig cards. Studio Exchange has yet to ship my FS-100.

I haven't noticed any problems in audio, I was actually impressed on that level. I have done some shooting in various settings, testing the various features, etc. Even though the camera does not perform as well as I would have liked in low light, I am pleased with the quality otherwise. Certainly performs better than the HDV cameras I've had. Anyway, good luck on your project.


HVX200 + PowerMac Quad Core + Macbook Pro + FCP + Lacie FW800=SWEET
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Old June 28th, 2006, 08:31 PM   #3
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Ashley,

What hardware (Mac/PC?) and NLE/codec were you using for the transfers and on-set reviews? How were the transer times? Was it efficient as it promises to be?

Thanks!
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Old June 29th, 2006, 01:35 AM   #4
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"What hardware (Mac/PC?) and NLE/codec were you using for the transfers and on-set reviews? How were the transer times? Was it efficient as it promises to be?"

We used a 2 to maybe 2.5 year old Compaq PC laptop with an AMD Athlon processor of some sort and dumped to USB2 drives. I believe the longest time it said was left was 7 min, so for an 8 gig card I think we were running either at 1 gig a min or maybe a tad faster. We didn't often completely fill a card before dumping it, so it's a little hard to tell for sure.
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Old June 29th, 2006, 07:35 AM   #5
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HVX 200+Firestore 100

I have had this camera and external hard drive for three months now and am extrememly happy. My one reservation is that the battery life on the Firestore is only 1 1/2 hours. This makes field recording rather difficult.

I guess I will have to purchase a second battery for the Firestore.

Other than that, so far, so good!
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Old June 29th, 2006, 12:48 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ashley Cooper
We used a 2 to maybe 2.5 year old Compaq PC laptop with an AMD Athlon processor of some sort and dumped to USB2 drives. I believe the longest time it said was left was 7 min, so for an 8 gig card I think we were running either at 1 gig a min or maybe a tad faster. We didn't often completely fill a card before dumping it, so it's a little hard to tell for sure.
Thanks!

And then, when reviewing the results, what NLE did you open it in? Did you need to perform any conversion? (Cineform/Raylight?) If so, how long did that process take? (I'm a Vegas user.) Or did you use an NLE that allowed you to open the files directly and do some quick test edits?

I like the idea of being able to confirm that the material is good before tearing down the lights, etc.
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Old June 30th, 2006, 07:18 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ashley Cooper
Just wrapped a short on sunday that we shot on a borrowed HVX200. It was a small crew and I had 2 roles- boom op and camera loader. Overall, I was very impressed, but I did have a few questions and things that I found interesting.

==snip==
Lenses:
The stock lense seemed very crisp and clear. Only problems being the depth of field and it could stand to be a little wider. We were able to get a wide angle adaptor, so that solved the second problem. I had pushed for the use of a 35mm adaptor, but as we had 1 week to prepare for this shoot (had though we had a Varicam) there wasn't enough time to do the research and trust something like a Redrock which no one had ever used. So the depth of field will not be shallow as we're just going to have to deal with that.

I just took delivery on a Redrock and, I hate to say, my initial impression is less than a rave review. If you want your footage to look like soft (i.e., old, softer grain) 16mm, fine. If you're hoping for an HD-crisp image with shallower DOF, forget it. The ground glass softens the hell out of the image. I'm going to run further tests this weekend to make sure I'm set up correctly (I really think I am)... but I think the light scattering inherent in the ground glass really wreaks havoc on the image. It's an interesting look, and certainly a useful tool...but it sure as hell doesn't look like high def any more. Looks more like HD with a Promist filter and a film-look grain treatment (I do have to say, the ground glass does a good job of imitating film grain--better than anything you can do in post).

My hunch is there's gotta be a better solution...
I hear rumor (from the creator) of an upcoming device that uses something other than conventional ground glass. If it delivers a significantly sharper image, I'm all over it.
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Last edited by Scott Auerbach; June 30th, 2006 at 09:50 PM.
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Old July 3rd, 2006, 03:20 AM   #8
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Scott,

Thanks very much for that report. Wish it was better though as a friend is about to buy a Redrock and I had high hopes. Oh well.
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Old July 3rd, 2006, 11:02 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ashley Cooper
Scott,

Thanks very much for that report. Wish it was better though as a friend is about to buy a Redrock and I had high hopes. Oh well.
I've done some more testing, and it's a bit better than my initial impressions. It's definitely an interesting, and nice look. Loss of sharpness is definitely true, though not as bad as I first thought (my first tests were with the Nikkors wide open, and a few of them are unacceptably soft between the aperture and the ground glass scattering.) But the loss of resolution is pretty dramatic, to my eye.

The loss of sensitivity is huge. The HVX has an effective ASA of around 400. With the Redrock, it drops to ASA 80. That makes indoor lighting a challenge, unless you're in a studio or have a bunch of Kino Flos. You're looking at over 2000 watts just to light an interview at f/4. Easily 1k each for the key and fill (assuming you're using a Chimera or frost or something), plus hairlight.

I certainly plan on using mine (not with their rails which, IMO, are useless on an HVX...their shim system is a joke), but I'm also looking seriously at other (not yet released) competing devices as a possible replacement.
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Old July 4th, 2006, 05:23 PM   #10
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Brevis 35 ...

I've been waiting for conclusive tests on the Brevis. It's got a more pleasing form factor. Still don't know about image quality? Anyone working with this one?
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Old August 18th, 2006, 01:23 PM   #11
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Just noticed this post. Bob Gundu recently posted up some great work with the Brevis Rev2 adapter.

Last edited by Dennis Wood; August 18th, 2006 at 08:04 PM.
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Old December 18th, 2006, 12:06 PM   #12
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Scott - any further updates regarding your use of the HVX and M2? You had mentioned back in the summer that footage was real soft and not at all crisp like you would expect from HD. Is it better now that you've tweaked your setup? Any frame grabs?

I've seen other footage by Cassidy on this thread http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=73647 and although the footage has was treated in post the sharpness with their M2 seems to be there.. on that note I've asked them to post some full rez frame grabs untreated to see the difference... but still waiting.

Yes ASA 80 is quite crap and extremely dissapointing to have to work with. It's what's keeping me married to my XL2 and mini35 - I want a divorce to get in the pants of an HD setup with 35mm but I want the effective ASA to be a little more practical.

400 ASA to 80 ASA on the HVX tells me you're losing a little over 2 stops of light with the M2. This is about the same loss I have with the mini35 setup. If you think 2k is bad to light an interview try 6k just to light a scene with some actors in it. Shooting wide open is no answer either but don't get me started on that subject...

The best case scenario looks to be the HVX with something like the Brevis adapter since it only has .5 stop of loss. This 1.5 stop gain would effectively bring your ASA from 80 to around 200.

Crazy best case scenario; If you're willing to cut the lens off you're HVX and build your own relay lens you might be able to bring the overall light gain to 2 stops in total! (The stock HVX is rated f1.6 fully wide. Remove it, build your own relay lens at f0.95 and increase your gain by another 1/2 stop.)

With 2 stops of light gain, you're practically where you started and your camera's effective ASA goes from 80 ASA to 320 ASA. Not quite 400 but close. This makes interior lighting setups much more practical in terms of cost, focus pulling, image quality and of course prevents everyone from sweating to death on set and frying eggs on their foreheads.

The alternative of course if fitting the Brevis (or some other gg) to the JVC HD100 or Canon XLH1 (kind of like the Letus does). Again here you only need to introduce a relay lens adding about 1 full stop to the overall equation. If your gg loses 1/2 stop you're looking at an overall loss of 1.5!

This essentially brings your effective camera ASA to slightly over 400 - where you started ; ) It's basically the same light loss as shooting with the camera's stock lens.

NOW THAT'S WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT!
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Old December 20th, 2006, 09:05 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dennis Hingsberg
Crazy best case scenario; If you're willing to cut the lens off you're HVX and build your own relay lens you might be able to bring the overall light gain to 2 stops in total! (The stock HVX is rated f1.6 fully wide. Remove it, build your own relay lens at f0.95 and increase your gain by another 1/2 stop.)

NOW THAT'S WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT!
Trust me i've seriously considered this, if somebody made the mod I would go for it !
Dam it the HVX should have come with a Nikon or Canon lens mount in the first place with image flip built in !
That would have been foward thinking !
If anybody thinks they can do this mod I might offer up my camera for the test !!!
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Old January 9th, 2007, 12:34 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Auerbach

I certainly plan on using mine (not with their rails which, IMO, are useless on an HVX...their shim system is a joke), but I'm also looking seriously at other (not yet released) competing devices as a possible replacement.
I use the M2 adapter and the shim kit works great. The rails do as well. I don't know why you are having trouble. I just adjusted the height of where the came attaches used the shims and removing their original block spacer on their rail under the cam. Here is my set up:

http://www.dvxuser6.com/uploaded/10327/1167440140.jpg
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Old January 9th, 2007, 12:43 PM   #15
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Hey Matt, what kind of LCD monitor you got there?
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