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Old July 5th, 2007, 08:27 AM   #1
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HPX500 in low light and theater?

I am wondering about the HPX500's low light capabiliy and
would love to hear what people who have used it in low light
and/or theatrical situations think.
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Old July 5th, 2007, 12:09 PM   #2
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It's pretty amazing.. I've been integrating some performance material into my current documentary and the camera is so good in low light that I often use the #2 filter so I can keep my stop around 2 - 2.8 when shooting a normally lit stage. In fact, although I've shot in numerous low light settings in the past few weeks, I have yet to use gain once...
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Old July 5th, 2007, 01:00 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Rosen View Post
In fact, although I've shot in numerous low light settings in the past few weeks, I have yet to use gain once...
So we have a common reference to what your calling "Low Light" settings. 60 Lux is fairly low light. If your shooting theater stages that are very well lit they're probably closer to 2000 lux.

Have you gone into a dimmly lit nightclub and tried to shoot action of dancers and gawkers or basic b-roll? That's where I want to use this camera and I have a feeling it will be similar to my Ikegami HL-DV7AW 2/3" SD camera which means I'd have to shoot at about 6db to 9db gain. This being said that's no problem since it's virtually noiseless upto about 9db.
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Old July 5th, 2007, 02:41 PM   #4
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Thanks for the replies. Many times it is very difficult
to get directors and others not used to lighting for the camera
to listen to reason. I usually set up a CRT monitor with a
live camera feed right in front of them, only to have them
push it out of the way or look around it.

That's why the ability to get clean images in low
light is a big deal as our team tries to figure out the right tools
that can best handle a wide variety of circumstances.
1/3" chip HD cameras seem to be far more challenged in low
light than their SD counterparts due to less light per pixel sensor.
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Old July 5th, 2007, 02:45 PM   #5
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One other question for you gents. Is it true that the HPX500
can shoot in 1080P? Does it actually have 1920x1080 chips and
what frame rates does it support when shooting in 1080P?
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Old July 5th, 2007, 04:30 PM   #6
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Yes it can shoot 1080p.

No the chips arent native 1920x1080. They are 960x540 (i think) However they are intentionally misaligned from each other to give a 1080 picture.

The camera supports 24,25 and 30 FPS in 1080.
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Old July 5th, 2007, 04:56 PM   #7
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Douglas: Actually I shot in a bar last night (4th of July) that was dark enough that I had to use a Maglite to see the camera - and I didn't up the gain.. I should add that I wanted the footage to look dark, the way it actually looked to the eye, and the footage is very close to reality..

Except that the chroma is too hot, I'm still getting used to the Panasonic in artificial light...
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Old July 5th, 2007, 06:09 PM   #8
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Douglas: Actually I shot in a bar last night (4th of July) that was dark enough that I had to use a Maglite to see the camera - and I didn't up the gain.. I should add that I wanted the footage to look dark, the way it actually looked to the eye, and the footage is very close to reality
Could you make a small segment of that nightclub footage available for download from somewhere? I wondering how much head room is in there to adjust the levels to bring the lighting up during post.
The primary reason Iím interested in turning up the gain is to allow fashion designer's clothing being worn by dancers and models on the dance floor (which is also dimly lit) to start showing some color and texture instead of just sort of being a dark gray form with shadows and very little color. With 6db to 9db of gain color and texture etc. started coming out. That being said next time you go to a nightclub why not try putting 6db of gain on and see how well it does. In other words get your IRE up to about 65-75 or so. I hit my first zebra at 75 IRE for my facial highlights then I hit my next zebra at 95 IRE warming me I about to blow out my highlights. Obviously you wonít be hitting your 95 IRE zebra in a dimly lit nightclub ;-} Another idea would be to turn your zebra IRE down until your hitting it in those dimly lit bar scenes when zeroing on peoples faces.
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Old July 6th, 2007, 01:55 AM   #9
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In these situations I use a nearly totally dimmed Headlight (giving only a "bit" yellow shine) and ask someone to hold it so the light does not come straight from the cams front.
Combined with DJ Lights (or Lights from the Bar...whatever) it gives a nice combination.

If no additional (head)light is allowed I am VERY interested to see such footage.

If necessary, I can offer some FTP space for upload.

ULI
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Old July 6th, 2007, 10:22 AM   #10
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I'm sorry, but I'm on the road and don't have time for grabs or uploads - Besides which, I've pretty much made it a policy not to participate in that aspect of online discussion (since in my opinion I don't learn much from anything besides doing it myself)... Additionally, when I get releases from a person or a location, it is specifically for the documentary film title (which in this case is a particularly delicate and personal story dealing with sexual molestation), and I'm not comfortable randomly sending pictures out on the internet...

The only time I've looked at posted clips myself is when I've been personally asked to do so... in that regard, I can recommend looking at Kaku Ito's early clips from the HPX500 taken at night from a car in (I think) Tokyo.. I found them useful.. although the streets are brightly lit, if you pay attention to the details of the inside of the car itself, such as the dashboard, I think you'll find it instructional...

As for lighting in those situations, the single best available is the LitePanel.. I didn't use one in this situation for the reasons mentioned above, but they (I have a 1x1 and a 5600 little one) are terrific. Although extremely expensive for what they are, they're cool to the touch, hand-holdable, dimmable, and will run off of any 12v power source. When working in close with people crushed together you don't want something hot that's going to cause burn injury or an unrealistic or uncontrollable source of lighting... No I didn't get a commission for this plug... I'm just a 35+ year documentary cinematographer who thinks it's a great tool...

Last edited by Steve Rosen; July 6th, 2007 at 10:32 AM. Reason: wanted to mention lighting tools
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Old July 12th, 2007, 09:13 AM   #11
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Steve,

I think I was shooting 1/24 for the night street clips (didn't realize it falls to 1/24? when the shutter switch is off). But I think HPX does really well for the dark situation. I tested many cams like XL H1 and XH G1 which are really good, HVX200 which is not good, HD250 which is not as good as Canons, but HPX is good. The gain works really well, too. It doesn't add too much grains.
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