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Sony ENG / EFP Shoulder Mounts
Sony PDW-F800, PDW-700, PDW-850, PXW-X500 (XDCAM HD) and PMW-400, PMW-320 (XDCAM EX).


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Old March 8th, 2010, 12:15 AM   #1
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Dingy whites, F350

Our photog shot his first story today on the 350. for the time being, they are shooting everything HD, but down converting to SD for air. Someone called my attention to the fact that the whites were pretty dingy looking. I was thinking maybe the shooter didn't get a good white balance, in conjunction with a slightly under exposed shot. does that seem like a fair assessment?

the video was also pretty soft, compared to the Beta cam SX video that was mixed in with it. Had me a little worried that something was off with the camera.

I am gonna get my hands on the video tomorrow to post a thumbnail.
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Old March 8th, 2010, 12:29 AM   #2
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were this F350 clips used in a 1440x1080i timeline or was the project setting SD

if SD, then depending on software, it may look soft compared to SD originated footage

if I need to make SD, I use VirtualDub for downscaling as this eliminates 100% of downscaling artifacts

if your project setting is HD, then it should look fine, unless the camera is setup incorrectly

maybe the auto iris override was turned down? I shoot with manual iris and use the zebra to set correct levels

what lens is on your camera? there is a big difference in quality when using entry level 1/2 HD lens compared to broadcast lens
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Old March 8th, 2010, 12:34 AM   #3
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I THINK they are editing on an HD timeline, and rendering out to SD, but I will double check that tomorrow. I know they are using grass valley Aurora, and its terrible for XDCAM. it only works with a very small set of settings.

I didn't catch which lens it was, but I am almost positive its an entry level, it breaths like crazy when racking focus, almost looks like you are zooming in half the distance of the total lens.

I am going to shoot some video of my own tomorrow and see if I can get clean whites, and at least take the camera out of the equation (although it would be easier to fix a camera problem then a photog problem!)
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Old March 8th, 2010, 01:09 AM   #4
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also, check your setup menu

was sharpness turned down to negative values?

was Normal Gamma, or Cine1 - 4 used?

if Cine1-3, and auto iris, levels will be lower than they should be

Cine4 is probably the best, if using these gamma curves

I am happy with setting on Normal since I light what I shoot if needed
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Old March 8th, 2010, 01:16 AM   #5
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i just found out the NLE was using an SD timeline. They think the NLE won't let them edit on an HD timeline, then render to SD. I find that really hard to believe, but can't find much info online about it. I am going to post something in the grass valley section now.
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Old March 8th, 2010, 01:46 AM   #6
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If the final output is SD and they are shooting HD the detail settings in the camera will be far from ideal. The edge correction will be too thin and may even cause aliasing in SD. You might want to make the detail edges thicker using a negative frequency setting (-60).
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Old March 8th, 2010, 02:13 AM   #7
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how would that affect the HD raw video? they will be saving all of that for future use when they actually go to HD. I don't want to correct something for SD if its going to make the HD look bad later. But that does sound like part of what we experienced, there was some noticeable aliasing in spots.

what menu would I find the detail edges under?
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Old March 8th, 2010, 03:00 AM   #8
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the fact that the HD clip was placed in SD timeline is what causes aliasing

this is where I use VirtualDub (free) and the results are perfect
Virtual Dub Tutorial for downscaling Edius HD to SD (for Grass Valley Edius, may also work in your situation?)

but, they will need to edit in HD timeline to begin with
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Old March 8th, 2010, 06:36 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian Planchon View Post
Someone called my attention to the fact that the whites were pretty dingy looking.
That's my biggest complaint aboout my F350. The camera has a real tough time creating nice crisp clean whites. That is the main reason I retired my F350 from studio use as soon as I got my first EX1. Most of my studio work is on high-key white backgrounds and I never liked the look I got with the F350 no matter how I adjusted the paint settings or played with the exposure. The EX1 on the other hand, looked fantastic with only a couple of PP modifciations.

Outdoors, I can make the F350 look great in bright sun and under overcast skies, but it really has a muddy brown look sometimes when you're shooting in shade with bright sunshine nearby. I could compensate by white balancing on Cool Cards, but it was a pain to be checking color in situations I wouldn't have had to worry about with other cameras.

I never have had any aliasing issues or problems with soft images. If you're seeing problems in that area, they must be using the the wrong settings someplace on the camera, bad shooting techniques, a bad lens, the wrong workflow, or the wrong settings on their NLE.

BTW, I use progressive HD clips in SD Final Cut Pro timelines every day and I have never shot the footage with any special detail or frequency settings. They look great!
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Old March 8th, 2010, 10:43 AM   #10
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Thanks guys.

I had a feeling that it might have been just the camera, but wasn't sure. I didn't want to be the one to tell them that their new cameras had some issues.

the video itself was setup to fail from the get go, as the live shot leading into it was bright sunny blue skies, at about 5pm so it was reaching the golden hour. Then they cut to the package, and its overcast skies and slightly under exposed. I kind of wanted to ask what the person expected it to look like, but its not my place.
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Old March 10th, 2010, 07:29 AM   #11
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I've been covering NHL hockey news for the last four seasons with my F350, and have had no problem with the whites.

My work involves hockey players skating on ice, often wearing white jerseys with strong contrasting logos etc. I also shoot outdoors for stand-ups and again with no real problems. The pictures look very good.

The weakness I find with the camera lies in it's reduced contrast range compared to broadcast cameras I have had in the past. I really have to watch for over exposure of skin tones, and eye sockets in bright sunlight can be challenging.

I run the standard matrix and gamma, with the detail set at +14. This gives me a good(IMO) crisp news look. I shoot 35mbs HD, edit in FCP, compress with an Elgato, and FTP to the station in Toronto. I shoot with a Fuji HSs18x5.5 lens, which is decent.

All in all, as an ENG camera it works like a charm, and holds up very well during the broadcast, when compared against the network's Panasonic 100mbs P2 cameras.
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Old March 10th, 2010, 11:14 AM   #12
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Peter, that's interesting.

I have no problem at all with contrast/exposure, but I can't get crisp whites. Perhaps your problem and my problem are related. You can have one thing, but not the other.

I'm using the same lens, but can't remember my paint settings off the top of my head.
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Old March 10th, 2010, 12:55 PM   #13
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Doug, I didn't mean to suggest that the contrast range was a problem, just that it's a bit easier to get the yellowish look on over-exposed flesh tones. I set my zebras for 70 and 100, and try to have the stripes just showing up on the highlights of Caucasian faces.

I found that Gamma settings 2 and 3 seemed to a have a more muted look than 1 and 4. I can imagine that whites might look less than brilliant under those settings. For my work, I prefer the look of Gamma 1. I am using the "Standard" scene file found in the menu.

The latest firmware updates for the F350 really improved the camera in terms of picture quality, noise level, and contrast range. I use noise reduction setting number 1. I can boost to +6db with no problem.

Ian, you might want to check that the camera your guys are using is up to date in that department.

I have been tempted a little bit to upgrade to a F700 or F800, as they are starting to become more prevalent with other crews working along side me. However, my little F350 is lighter, easier on batteries, and seems to offer a very comparable picture. Best of all, it has paid for itself and the client is happy!

Btw, I am still using the same 7 Xdcam disks that I started with when I first got the camera. I just rotate them daily, so that I always have content shot in the last week or so available. I have never had a dropout or problem with any file.

The lower data rate doesn't matter much either, as I'm crunching it down even further to a 9mbs Mpg4 file for uploading. It is amazing to me how good the files still look after such a beating. They are then imported into a Quantel server and edited again for playback in the news show. On air, the color is still vivid, with no noticeable artifacts that I can see.

Mind you, it's only news that I'm shooting... here today, gone tomorrow!
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Old March 12th, 2010, 07:06 AM   #14
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Good post, Peter. I would suggest looking at Cinegamma 4. That was the curve I really fell in love with when I first started using the camera. This curve stays pretty vertical for the most part, but rolls off the highlights more gradually than does standard gamma. This will help avoid blowing out the whites. BTW, that's using standard matrix, not cine matrix.

I've also used the FL matrix under standard overhead fluorescent lighting and had beautiful whites, with proper skin tones. Yes, her skin was that brown. It was August, in Texas, and that means well tanned.

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