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Old May 19th, 2009, 06:34 PM   #1
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Sony HDX1 in really bright light?

The Sony shoots p30 which means during playback your 60Hz HDTV must show each frame twice. This leads to objects "strobing" or "stuttering" when they move fast. For example, cars driving through an intersection.

The higher the shutter speed above 1/45th second the worse the strobing/stutter.

At really high shutter speeds you'll notice even camera jiggles have a strobing look.

With a pro camcorder, one locks the shutter to 1/50th or 1/60th. Of course, in bright light that would push the aperture up to f/22. This is bad because with a small sensor anything above f/4 is soft. (Tests on the HX1 show f/8 is unusable.)

With a camcorder the solution is to turn on the ND filter to cut the light multiple stops.

However, with the HX1 -- one has NO control over shutter speed when shooting video. And, there are no filter threads so one can't add ND filters to try to force the camera to keep shutter and aperture and reasonable settings.

So I'm really curious how you find motion to look when you are in bright sunlight.
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Old May 19th, 2009, 08:03 PM   #2
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The Sony shoots p30 which means during playback your 60Hz HDTV must show each frame twice. This leads to objects "strobing" or "stuttering" when they move fast. For example, cars driving through an intersection.

The higher the shutter speed above 1/45th second the worse the strobing/stutter.

At really high shutter speeds you'll notice even camera jiggles have a strobing look.

With a pro camcorder, one locks the shutter to 1/50th or 1/60th. Of course, in bright light that would push the aperture up to f/22. This is bad because with a small sensor anything above f/4 is soft. (Tests on the HX1 show f/8 is unusable.)

With a camcorder the solution is to turn on the ND filter to cut the light multiple stops.

However, with the HX1 -- one has NO control over shutter speed when shooting video. And, there are no filter threads so one can't add ND filters to try to force the camera to keep shutter and aperture and reasonable settings.

So I'm really curious how you find motion to look when you are in bright sunlight.
Steve, I appreciate your interest in this camera and I'm sure you will be a big help to me in working out some of its problems and mysteries.

I have built my own pair of lens adaptor tubes for the HX1. I turned the forms from wood on a lathe and made fiberglass shells off them. I obtained some rare 57mm step-rings for the bases and on one put two 58mm coupling rings and on the other, two 74mm coupling rings, fused together, in the outer ends. J-B Weld epoxy putty worked very well to lock them in place. So, I can mount filters, hoods and add-on lenses to my HX1. This is working out very well and with an HD-2200 Raynox telex and a 3-MP Smart Zoom setting, I can squeeze out 2,057mm in equivalent FL for photos and 1,408mm for video. The base FL for video is 640mm and for photos is 560mm. The 2-MP Smart Zoom mode, with the 16:9 aspect, is weak and noisy and is best left alone.

The 58mm tube causes vignetting of its own, below 18% zoom on the HX1, while the 74mm tube causes no vignetting. With a Sony DH1758 telextender on the 58mm tube, it vignettes only below 25% zoom. The little Raynox HD-2200, mounted with a 58mm to 37mm step-down ring, causes vignetting below 85% zoom. The big Raynox DCR-2020PRO telextender causes vignetting at all points, except for full zoom. The 16:9 aspect mode, in the 6.7-MP pixel-size and also the 3:2 aspect mode, show a little less vignetting, as the corners are trimmed inside the vignetting points until the zoom backs down a little farther. However, the DOF is so shallow at the FL you can reach, you have to frame your shots carefully, to avoid OOF objects a few feet closer or farther, than the main subject. At any zoom point below 50%, the DH1758 telextender induces blurring in the corners. The camera has a Teleconverter mode in the Menu, that blocks any zoom-back below 8.6X zoom, but with this mode turned off, it will drop to 5X, before it vignettes with the DH1758. This is an excellent telextender, that I recommend for any camera or camcorder on which it can be mounted. I will post photos of all these attachments and my new steady-mount, in a few days. There's some photos from the HX1 on my Flickr album and videos posted on Vimeo, at the links in my Sig line.

I've also made some slip-over lens adaptor tubes that would allow lens attachments to be mounted on Canon SX1 and SX10 cameras. This really works, as I've made one for testing purposes for my Canon S5, that is shown on my Flickr album.

There are commercially-available solutions to the absence of a Sony lens adaptor tube for the HX1. You can take an existing plastic adaptor tube from the Sony H7/H9/H50 cameras and add two step-rings, to extend its length 6mm to accomodate the longer HX1 lens. The 57mm male threads in the base of these tubes will fit the female threads inside the outer lens housing of the HX1. I recommend a 74mm to 77mm step-up ring and a 77mm to 74mm step-down ring, to accomplish this. Pemaraal.com and Camera Gear.com have one or the other of these rings. Camera gear.com also has a 57mm to 72mm lens adaptor tube made by Bowen, that can be extended with a 72-77mm ring and a 77-74mm ring, or any other outer ring size to give you a match with an accessory you want to use. It's also rumored that there will soon be an HX1-specific after-market adaptor tube from an Asian manufacturer that may be available at eBay or other online accessory dealers.

At your suggestion, I will try some ND filters on my HX1 and see how I can improve various aspects of its performance. I just happen to have a collection of B&W 77mm filters from an old Beta camcorder sitting unused, that will fit nicely with a 74-77mm step-up ring.

One thing I could add to what you said, is that in direct playback of video from the HX1 camera, from either the HDMI or HD-component outputs, it delivers a 60i signal that looks just great on an HDTV. I can also connect my Media Center computer by HDMI to my HDTV and the smart communication they have, draws a 60i output. This gives me a bigscreen computer monitor option, as well.

My little Webbie HD sends an HD-component signal to the TV in 60i and this also looks better than when shown in any other way. Considering that the Webbie HD encodes in only 6 Mbps VBR in AVC, compared to 12 Mbps VBR AVC for the HX1, the Webbie footage looks amazingly competitive. Neither show compression artifacts, such as blurring in homogenous areas, but the Webbie HD has a bit worse problem with rolling-shutter flutter when panning. The HX1 shows less of this than I've seen from the Canon SX1 and 5D Mark II.

One thing you might be able to tell me-----certainly no Sony Tech Rep I can contact could do this: Do the settings you make that only pop-up in the Photo mode menu, such as Contrast, Sharpness, Color-saturation and NR, work with those changes in effect in Video mode, as well? I could swear that when I moved the Sharpness to the high position, it made the videos look sharper. What do you think?
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Old May 19th, 2009, 09:26 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by J. Stephen McDonald View Post
At your suggestion, I will try some ND filters on my HX1 and see how I can improve various aspects of its performance. I just happen to have a collection of B&W 77mm filters from an old Beta camcorder sitting unused, that will fit nicely with a 74-77mm step-up ring.

One thing you might be able to tell me-----certainly no Sony Tech Rep I can contact could do this: Do the settings you make that only pop-up in the Photo mode menu, such as Contrast, Sharpness, Color-saturation and NR, work with those changes in effect in Video mode, as well? I could swear that when I moved the Sharpness to the high position, it made the videos look sharper. What do you think?
If you could shoot a busy intersection where the camera shoots cars going fast, slow, and turning -- this should reveal the strobing. Of course, if you like the look of 24fps video then you may not be sensitive to the strobing. Drives me nuts.

The other possibility -- if it looks good without any ND filters -- is that as light gets too great the camera may auto-insert ND filters. Sometimes you can hear this.

The USELESS manual never really says. I would use a setting that makes a really visible change: Contrast or Color-saturation (like B&W).
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Old May 19th, 2009, 11:13 PM   #4
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My instinct is that settings may cross between modes to some degree... seems to be the "Sony way", but I'll have to play with it. They did seem to isolate the modes more than in the video w/stills cams.

It seems to me offhand though that this is another of Sony's "intelligent settings" cameras (much like the XR), that optimizes the auto modes (video included), and you can set/make limited adjustments to things in the manual modes.

I was really hoping for some announcements in the Alpha range, but looks like that won't happen... the leaks over the weekend seem to indicate they aren't putting video into the Alphas... bummer, as I've got some nice old Minolta glass. This little guy was a stopgap to try to get my wife shooting video in a "still fomat" camera, and as a backup angle cam for low $.

I like the camera generally, it's a lot of fun to shoot with, but I'm liking the image quality from the XR better so far. Not a bad little camera overall though!
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Old May 20th, 2009, 03:45 AM   #5
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It's always up to us, to find out these kinds of things with our own experiments. We also have to discover the very best ways to squeeze out the top level of performance, sometimes by combinations of settings and attachments, the camera designers may never have imagined.
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Old May 20th, 2009, 04:36 AM   #6
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Looking forward to your motion tests.

I assume the Scene Modes (sports, etc.) work for video.

But, it would be nice if Saturation and Contrast did too.
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Old May 25th, 2009, 06:12 AM   #7
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HX1 Motion Video in Bright Light

Here's a link to a test clip I posted on Vimeo and another one is next to it. This one is in 1080p and the other in 720p. Both are in Raw H.264/AVC, if you download the full files. The direct Vimeo playback adds motion artifacts of its own, as it's highly compressed. If you register for a free Vimeo subscription, you can download them.
HX1 Test Video #1 on Vimeo

Sorry to say, that I'm returning the HX1 tomorrow. Its photos are just too weak, in anything larger than medium size and the 1080p video does not have very sharp resolution. The 720p mode looks pretty good, but that's not enough. Every other camera and camcorder I have, except the Webbie HD, takes sharper looking photos and that little camcorder produces better 1080p video. The money will go into my camera fund, to be spent only when something of this type that is substantially better, might appear.

Last edited by J. Stephen McDonald; May 26th, 2009 at 05:27 AM.
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Old June 10th, 2009, 10:45 PM   #8
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Hi Stephen -
I'm finding the HX1 to be a handy small camera, but feeling about the same as you concluded - not nearly as sharp as the XR500V, and while it's actually fairly good for a 9M still camera, it's not as good as I'd like...

There are a lot of things to like about the HX1, and it has a lot of interesting "gimmick" modes (panorama, twilight, HDR), but it sure would be a lot better with the "R" sensor - the XR500 really spoils you fast for the low light, high sensitivity, low noise...

I debate keeping mine or not, but it is a fun camera and "close enough" to be useful, but I'll be looking for the "HX2"...

OR perhaps there may yet be something out of the Alpha lineup... rumours are swirling about a new A500 and A550 spotted on the Sony Canada support site (and an A800 has been rumoured for a while too...), so maybe there's a Sony DSLR-V yet to come out and surprise us? I've been puzzled as to why Sony wouldn't come out and play with Canon and Nikon (Pentax too...), and had given up hope, but perhaps they've got something up their sleeve... Not thrilled with their "upgraded" releases already announced, but maybe the next few days we'll have something interesting (saw Jun 12 as a possible announcement date, but rumours being what they are, who knows?).

IMO an Alpha with the onboard OIS and manual control (and PLEASE, the "R" CMOS!!!) would put some serious competition into the DSLR market - I've already got some nice vintage Minolta glass...
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