Help! Lousy color rendering, especially red tones -anyone else than me? at DVinfo.net

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Sony HVR-A1 and HDR-HC Series
Sony's latest single-CMOS additions to their HDV camcorder line.


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Old December 4th, 2005, 03:59 PM   #1
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Help! Lousy color rendering, especially red tones -anyone else than me?

Hi everyone,

This is my first post to this forum. Hope to get some help and support on a very urgent thing - the lousy (red) color rendering on the HDR-HC1E.

I just got this wonderful camcorder. But - after trying it out for a couple of days I am very puzzled and disappointed about the color rendering - it is worse than on any of my other camcorders. The cheapest camcorder only costs 1/5th of this beast...

The overall color is tame, reds come out very lilac or bluish, and the camera has also severe problems with skin tones, some people just look sick in low light.

This is all true for both HDV/DV recording and recording of stills on the memory card.

I thought that it is my camera that has a problem so I went to a Sony Store to compare. However, also their camera behaved as badly as mine!!!

I am really puzzled. So was the guy at the shop. Does anybody have similar experiences? Such an expensive camera with primary color filters should perform better!!!

I am so disappointed that I consider returning the camera. This can, however, be very difficult because I bought it via Pixmania.

I read somewhere about a recommendation to turn up the camera color from neurtral +3 steps. This helps a little, the colors become deeper, almost acceptable. The reds are still toward lilac and disappointing and not close to acceptable. The problem is that also the color noise inceases clearly with the increased color setting under lower light conditions.

Please understand that I am a semiprofessional so I know how to compensate for the white balance etc. I have tried all different settings and just came to the conclusion that this camcorder has a severe problem with reds. I would like to make an A/B comparison with a three CCD camcorder but I dont have one in my posession. I can tell from the images that the HDR does not even come close in color clarity or rendering :(

My best reference is my previous DV camcorder, a Canon MVX2i. It is a single CCD with non-primary color (cyan/magenta/yellow) filters. This beast costed 3 years ago about the same than HDR-HC1E! Compared to Canon the HDR has less saturated colors, pinkish skin tones, and pure reds turn out lilac or bluish. I compared both cameras side by side under the same controlled circumstances.

I shoot some pictures of a good quality color palette used for determining the color rendering of cameras and optics. Analyzing the pictures in Photoshop tells me the same in numbers that I can see with my bare eyes - the color rendering is lousy at the normal factory settings. Increasing the color using the camera color adjustment helps a little, but increases color noise as well.

I just have the feeling that Sony was forced to reduce the color saturation to be able to reach reasonable S/N figures and to be able to cope with the very much noisier CMOS. Thme imbalance in reproducing reds has either to do with a lousy Bayer color filter on top of the CMOS chip - and/or a somewhat bad color handling in the image processing. I have tested the color rendering with all different white balance settings - the results are the same...

If it interests anybody - I could post some of the images for you to see and compare.

Please reassure me that I invested my money wisely. Now I have a big doubt about that. And, gee, I am soooo disappointed...

Anyone else experiensing the same ??????


Sincerely,

Christian

Last edited by Christian de Godzinsky; December 5th, 2005 at 02:34 AM.
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Old December 5th, 2005, 10:44 AM   #2
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I too noticed things are bluer than I think they should be. I really can't offer a good solution. I don't think there is a color temperature adjustment in the camera, I think that would have been the easiest fix. Maybe the hacks to add white balance adjustment would do the trick, though I'm wary of performing an unsupported operation.
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Old December 5th, 2005, 10:48 AM   #3
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the actually are a few white balance controls. one being white balance from which you can choose auto, outdoor, indoor, and one push (which activates manual control of the white balance). the other being white balance shift. where you can shift the color temperature in +/- 4 steps.
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Old December 5th, 2005, 04:41 PM   #4
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I have a color correction preset for Vegas that warms the image back up pretty well. Yeah, this camera loses a lot of it's luster in low light.
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Old December 7th, 2005, 12:44 AM   #5
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Hi Laurence, Jeff & R.P,

And thanks for your comments/remarks :)

I did my tests under fair circumstances, I used a total of 120W of incadescent bulbs diffused enough to get an uniform lighting on my ColorChecker card (GretagMacbeth). It is a color sample card used for professional color rendering tests with lots of different colored small squares, including primary colors and skin tones and various outher shades.

What strikes me is that even if I have adjusted the color balance manually (and get absolutely white whites..) the color tint on the color samples appears too bluish throuh the range. Especially the reds show up lilac :( My old Canon outshines the HDR in this respect. Not nice.

Too bad that I cannot post the images here for you to see. Can anyone ("older" users) post images here in this forum? I would like you to see my images for comparison and comments. Maybe I have to put them up on my homegape...

So - I have used all color controls available in the HDR-HC1, tweaking them in different positions. As I stated earlier, adjusting the color saturation setting (to +2 or +3) helps a little but does not remove the bluish overall tint. You cannot correct the problem using them. This camera has bad color reproduction even at good light levels, too much blue even if white is adjusted to be white. Maually or automatically :(

I invite you to further discuss this because I feel this is a serious problem that Sony should solve by publising a new firmware for this cam. We all could benefit from it. Please - if possible - do some tests on your units - and even better - compare with older equipment you might have. I found that the comparison can be made easily in the photo-mode. It is the same color processing and same sensor anyhow. Then it is easy to export the images on the memory card to the computer for analysis and comparison. (Photoshop is good for that purpose).
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Old December 7th, 2005, 08:18 AM   #6
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Christian, did you white balance using a white card or a warm card.
I figure that in dim situations using a warm card for color balancing with the A1 would be more beneficial considering the color saturation seems to go more blue when balanced for pure white.

Just an idea. I have always preferred a warmed color to my video, which is wht I preffer Canon (which produces a warmer image) to Sony (generally cooler and bluer or greener image), although I shoot with both, but preffer the Sony cameras for low light reasons.
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Old December 7th, 2005, 09:23 AM   #7
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Christian, if you have a Macbeth colorchecker chart and photoshop, you could post the L. a. b. values of some suspect patches and we/you could verify the correctness. FYI hereunder the patch coordinates for the colochecker.
www.babelcolor.com/download/ RGB%20Coordinates%20of%20the%20Macbeth%20ColorChecker.pdf
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Old December 7th, 2005, 10:11 AM   #8
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Christian, I just (re)read your post, and noticed you have an homepage. It would be wonderfull if you could publish yr results/comparisons like it is being done for DVX100 here http://www.bealecorner.com/dvx100/color/
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Old December 20th, 2005, 12:31 AM   #9
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Hello Andre!

Sorry I have been quite busy, well its holidaytime and as a father to two small boys there is not always too much spare time.

I will reshoot my MacBeth card and do it as good as possible to have a good comparison. I did my tests shooting pics to the memory card, not filming video. I guess that is ok - or is it? What kind of illumination did you use in your tests? I would like to repeat the test about under similar circumstances...
Hopefully I have time to do this before new years eve :)

For now I have increased the color setting in HC1 to +2 and it helps a little. The reds are, however, quite bluish :( Othervice I am very satisfied with this cam...

Best regards

Christian
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Old December 20th, 2005, 03:14 AM   #10
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Christian,
Although the lightsource is not too important as long as it is not fluorescent light or other low CRI light. I would advise to use daylight or halogen light. Set up for an evenly lit testcard.
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Old December 22nd, 2005, 07:14 PM   #11
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I love my HC1. I had the Z1 prior to it (was too big to carry around).

Resolution wise I would say it is better than the FX1/Z1. It also has lots of the features of the FX1/Z1, yet it is so small!

Sadly however the colors are way off. The reds in particular look like purple. So I too am in the same boat. I have tried everything but there is no way out.

I use +2 on the color saturation, but still the reds are off. I don't know how this can be corrected even in Post. If the blueish cast is moved the other colors will shift too.

I really miss the colors of my Z1... and also the low light performance - the HC1 sucks in low light as one would expect of a one chipper.
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Old December 22nd, 2005, 07:42 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Barcellos
Looks like red in low light are a problem:
Thanks for the link. BUT red is horrible even in blinding bright sunlight. The light level is irrelivant. The reds just don't look like reds. It is a real pity otherwise this little baby would be pefect...
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Old December 27th, 2005, 02:58 AM   #13
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Red is very purple even in good lightning

HI Hse and Chris & co,

Thanks for your comments and feedback. I don't know should I feel better now when I know that I am not alone with this problem :(

It is at least certainly not ONLY MY cam that has the problem, it seems as a problem at least in the first HC1 units.

Might I ask you for the serial numbers on your cams? It seems that I have a quite early one. It would be nice to compare and see if Sony has done something about this. It is everything just probably in the firmware anyhow, easy to update - at least in the production...

The camcorder rewiev you refer to is published in June 2005, also probably done on a quite early version of HC1.

This problem is so bad (the purple red colors at any lighting - and strange skin tones in low light) that I have been cosidering to return this camera. However, it is probably not possible...

I will contact the local Sony office here in Helsinki after the newyears eve to see what they have to say about the problem. I puchased this cam via Pixmania and received it 4 weeks ago.

This baby would be perfect (or I could live with the two other anomalities) if the red colour rendering would be as good as in my 1300€ cheaper Canon camcorder!!!

The two other anomalities are:

1) Interlace-based artifacts (jagged edges) during panning. These are clearly visible and more prominent than in my cheaper Canon camcorder... De-interlacing during edit probably can remove partially this but not completely.

2) Too fast slowest zoom speed when using the HC1 own control. Via LANC the zoom can be half as slow (24 sec). Any serious zooming should anyhow be performed using a tripod...

However, these things are probably discussed elsewhere and we should not start a parallel discussion about these here - just stick to the RED color issue. I just wanted to mention to you what bother me as well..

The "red becomed purple" thing is really disturbing. It seems that it is typical for this camcorder, at least for the earlier serial numbers. Therefore I would like to get comments from anyone that recently has bought this baby.

A Sony sales guy looked really puzzled in the locan Sony shop when I connected my HC1 (with his permission) to a good quality component HD monitor. Their red sofa looked pink. Performing this same test on a cheaper Sony Cam produced much more realistic reds... I got from him a name whom to contact at the Sony HQ.

Best regards and a Happy New Year to you all.

Christian
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Old December 27th, 2005, 04:34 AM   #14
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Do you have any pictures that we can look at? I bought my HC1 in july this year and I think that my reds are fairly OK. I just did a test today and took pictures of my binders where there is one that is very red. I think they all looked pretty good. I can't say that it's the best camera in the world but considering it's a consumer camera it provides pretty good result.
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Old December 27th, 2005, 06:00 AM   #15
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Sample images for comparison..

Hej Fredrik !

I cannot post any attachments here. How can I get that enabled? Do I have to be a senior member before getting that right? I

f you send me your email address I will send you some test images of a Gretag Macbeth color card. It would be nice to find a similar item that we both could shoot under same lighting conditions to compare...

Christian
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