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Old November 3rd, 2017, 12:33 PM   #1
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High zoom ratio compact camcorders

High zoom ratio interchangeable zoom lenses tend to have very low quality scores compared to low ratio zooms or primes.

A question for those of you who shoot with high quality interchangeable lenses and high zoom ratio built in lenses (X70, et al): how well are the manufacturers able to compensate for the lower optical quality in software?

In still cameras, high quality lenses always win despitte gains in image processing. Does this hold true in camcorders?

Can anyone put a measure on the final image quality of high ratio camcorders versus primes or low ratio zooms?

Is the conventional wisdom that high ratio zooms are “good enough” considering their convenience?
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Old November 3rd, 2017, 06:46 PM   #2
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Re: High zoom ratio compact camcorders

Lens quality always matters. Period.
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Old November 3rd, 2017, 11:13 PM   #3
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Re: High zoom ratio compact camcorders

Video is like a chain and is only good as it’s weakest link. So is the lens important yes well then how important is the sensor and the codec its recorded with, how about the microphone, or the lighting and for that matter the skill of the camera operator and editor?
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Old November 4th, 2017, 02:37 AM   #4
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Re: High zoom ratio compact camcorders

Some still photographers of my acquaintance, with their high end 500 and 600 F4s were very surprised, humbled even, when I told them about the B3 Canon glass, 40X zooms, used on e.g. the BBC "Planet Earth" series.


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Old November 4th, 2017, 10:14 AM   #5
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Re: High zoom ratio compact camcorders

I guess the question is what does 'good enough' mean?

I'll take a good prime over a zoom almost any day - as long as I don't have to zoom. Next best is usually a good short range 'variable prime' style zoom But it's not always about that one shot.

A couple of weeks ago I was shooting an event where we were supposed to keep a 'low profile' - which meant keeping cameras around the perimeter of a shallow (but very wide) room. We were shooting with 3 FS7's, plus one each F3, A7sii, A7Rii. With all those cameras the producer asked me why I felt the need to bring a PXW-X180 as well (with its small sensor size and not-overly-sharp lens,) The answer was RANGE of Zoom! At 25x It we the only inobtrusive camera which I could put to the side of the audience without either taking up a lot of room or making distracting lens changes - and still get a nice medium close profile of the presenters, good reaction shots, and wide establishing shots of event/audience.

You can guess where I'm going with this... I just saw the highlights cut, and probably at least 1/3 of the presentation footage used was from the X180 (and much of the rest coming from the A7sii doing moving event shots on a stabilizer.) As sometimes happens at live events, there was a 40' wide floor-to-ceiling LED screen behind the presenters -- who come in for a rehearsal, stand in front of it, and request that the front lights 'in their eyes' get dimmed down -- resulting in them being lit at an f/2.8, with the screen up near an f/11. You get the picture. Between the presenters standing too close to the screen (creating moire issues) and being severely underlit when shot from the front with the riser cameras... The X180's profile shots were able to zoom in enough to minimize the screen, etc, etc.

Did we use the X180 for no interviews? No - we had FS7s with beautiful lenses for those. But did we hear a single peep from the client about the footage from the X180 being substandard? Absolutely Not!
Without it we would have had plenty of complaints. The result? - Very quick approvals of the cuts - with almost no changes. And a happy client!

Yes, the long range zooms & small sensors may not produce as nice an image, but if you need them they can work for you.
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Old November 5th, 2017, 06:29 AM   #6
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Re: High zoom ratio compact camcorders

On fixed lens, high zoom camcorders, Sony does a good job of designing and matching their lenses to the specific sensor that is installed. That's one advantage of a fixed lens design. The lens and sensor combo are perfectly matched for each other on the drawing board.

If you are interested in a Sony X70/Z90 or NX80, I can tell you those Zeiss branded lenses are pretty damn good at all focal lengths edge to edge. In shooting 4k with the Z150, X70 and several RX series, I have never seen anything significantly wrong with the glass. (zoom servos is a different thing)

I doubt they actually are made by Zeiss. I suspect that Sony designs and builds them and let's Zeiss inspect the quality and let's Sony pay to brand them with a Zeiss logo.

It's hard to know what software corrections are being done or not done as these camcorders don't offer raw photographs. The RX fixed lens cameras offer raw pictures that look pretty damn good optically. Although, how "raw" or "unprocessed" is that signal really? Nobody knows.

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Old November 5th, 2017, 08:56 AM   #7
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Re: High zoom ratio compact camcorders

I agree that the lenses on the Z150, Z90, etc. perform beautifully. I believe the cameras are built around the lenses rather than the other way around. It'd be nice if they were a constant f/2.8 all through the zoom range, but other than that, there is not much to complain about. Just try finding an acceptable f/4 12x SLR or cinema lens that costs less that an entire Z90 or Z150 camcorder.
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Old November 9th, 2017, 02:52 AM   #8
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Re: High zoom ratio compact camcorders

The X70/Z150 lens are as sharp as I can tell wide open as stopped down...wide open, wide angle, telephoto, anywhere, there is no chromatic aberration, no blue edge contrast aberrations, just a really nice lens. I watched 60 Minutes last weekend, and their lens had blue edges on the side of palm trees against the sky, and on overhead florescent light fixtures against the ceiling. :)

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