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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 24th, 2005, 04:39 AM   #1
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HVR-A1U - Noise in the darkness - Aliasing

Hey All New HVR-A1U owner

Just wondering if anyone had any suggestions in improving the quality of video for the A1U with only natural light?

It only seems to look good if you really ramp of the lighting... even natural room ambient light looks shabby. I made a DVD of some footage and it looked like VHS... yikes... All settings on High - Maintained 16x9 DVD Studio Pro 4

My setting while shooting were - Shutter 60 - 1080i 60 HDV - Auto Iris - Black Stretch On and Off didn't notice a big difference. Shot with regualr lens and wide angle.

Aliasing seemed pretty high as well...

Here's one of the better stills from video with alot of detail. Exported straight from Final Cut Pro 5. This was some of the nicer footage I experimented with.

http://www.skyhighsports.com/A1U.jpg

Tomorrow I will try Cineframe with Christmas tree lights at night.

Suggestions appreciated.
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Old December 24th, 2005, 12:00 PM   #2
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Honestly, with that low lighting from the picture, I am not surprised. You wouldn't get desired results even from the A1's older brother, the Z1. You need far more lighting to get optimum, noise-free, footage. The only way to reduce noise in dark situations is to tweak exposure. You'll have to sacrifice brightness of the footage for noise. When outdoors, that is not an issue, but indoors is another story. You should invest in some external lighting as well.

As far as aliasing goes, that can be tweaked in the "Sharpness" setting. Some people prefer to use -2 sharpness and +2 color with the HC1/A1. Give that a try.
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Old December 25th, 2005, 07:29 PM   #3
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Sharpness and Color Tweak - Better

Kudos for the sharpness and color tip I tried it and the blacks did seem better in low light. Below is a link from a Sunset. The dark areas look clean without the noise I had previous.

http://www.skyhighsports.com/Sunset.jpg

Tomorrow I'll try shooting in cineframe 24 and 30 with the shutter set to auto to see what results I get in a similiar environment. The aliasing still bugs me on the branches in the distance. Here's a article about Sony's cineframe that has made me want to try to get smoother picture results. Originally written for the Z1 but I think it could work the the A1 as well.

http://www.cineform.com/products/Son.../CineFrame.htm

Branches Sample:
http://www.skyhighsports.com/Tree.jpg

Thanks!
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Old December 25th, 2005, 08:01 PM   #4
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No problemo Jeff. Glad I could be of assistance. Now let me ask you, what exactly did you do to acquite the second sunset picture? Did you just manipulate the exposure? Or did you tweak the camcorder's color and sharpness settings? What exact values did you set them to? They look far better than your previous picture, and I want to know exactly what's the cause.

Thanks in advance...
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Old December 25th, 2005, 10:10 PM   #5
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A1U Camera Settings for Sunset

Here's the menu settings for the HVR-A1U exactly at the time while shooting this video clip. Sorry for the long list but don't want to leave any loose ends to those exploring the same problem.


Program AE - Auto
Exposure - Auto
White Balance - Manual - One Push - White Balanced vinyl trim outside of house
Sharpness minus 2 from being full
Shutter Speed 60
Auto Shutter - Off
AE Shift - 0
Camera Color - Full
Cinematone - Off
Cineframe - Off
WB Shift - 0
ATW Sens - Intelligent
Black Stretch - Off
Steady Shot - Off
Full Scan - On

I think the sharpness made the difference - I think it softend up the black value in the shot.

Tonight I'll be testing these settings out with Christmas lights. I'll post some results with settings. Also I will be using a Century Optics .3x Fisheye Lens from some dramatic wide shots. Also attempting some 24/30 cineframe,. Thanks again - Jeff
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Old December 26th, 2005, 12:23 AM   #6
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Christmas Lights and Night Footage Results

All right I'm convinced that low lighting with any camera and get grainy and noisey. I experimented with the A1U to see what and how far I could push lighting issues to see what happened. Here's the results.

Outdoor Christmas lights at the Courthouse in Denver.
Night sky still grainy. The only real light illuminating the scene were the Christmas lights. Street Lamps were across the street in a park.
Century Optics .3x Fisheye Attached
http://www.skyhighsports.com/Capital.jpg

These next two examples I got the black to look not so crushed using the same settings. One has a star filter the other does not.

http://www.skyhighsports.com/Light001.jpg

http://www.skyhighsports.com/Light002.jpg

The black levels in these 2 images is what I'm striving for in a low light or spot light situation. The cleaner the better. I think I'll start researching a nice spotlight to attach to the camera. Thanks again feedback is always appreciated.

Camera Settings for this:

Program AE - Auto
Exposure - Auto
White Balance - Manual
Sharpness minus 2 from being full
Shutter Speed 60
Auto Shuutter - Off
AE Shift minus 2
Camera Color minus 2 from being full
Cineframe on 30 - it really didn't look to different from 24 or 60i
Black Stretch On or Off no difference
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Old December 27th, 2005, 05:31 PM   #7
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Question about your settings. When you say -2 from being full, what do you mean exactly? The default is in the middle so are you saying to adjust all the way to the right (full), then back it down 2 notches?

Thanks......JD

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Zimmerman
All right I'm convinced that low lighting with any camera and get grainy and noisey. I experimented with the A1U to see what and how far I could push lighting issues to see what happened. Here's the results.

Outdoor Christmas lights at the Courthouse in Denver.
Night sky still grainy. The only real light illuminating the scene were the Christmas lights. Street Lamps were across the street in a park.
Century Optics .3x Fisheye Attached
http://www.skyhighsports.com/Capital.jpg

These next two examples I got the black to look not so crushed using the same settings. One has a star filter the other does not.

http://www.skyhighsports.com/Light001.jpg

http://www.skyhighsports.com/Light002.jpg

The black levels in these 2 images is what I'm striving for in a low light or spot light situation. The cleaner the better. I think I'll start researching a nice spotlight to attach to the camera. Thanks again feedback is always appreciated.

Camera Settings for this:

Program AE - Auto
Exposure - Auto
White Balance - Manual
Sharpness minus 2 from being full
Shutter Speed 60
Auto Shuutter - Off
AE Shift minus 2
Camera Color minus 2 from being full
Cineframe on 30 - it really didn't look to different from 24 or 60i
Black Stretch On or Off no difference
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Old December 27th, 2005, 05:44 PM   #8
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Yup, that's probably what he means. I find it odd though, because most owners of the HC1/A1 accuse the camcorders of being too sharp already, and they usually reduce sharpness, instead of increase it.
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Old December 27th, 2005, 05:57 PM   #9
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Alexander,
What do you mean then in your reply up top about -2 sharpness and +2 color? Are you talking -2 and +2 from center?
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Old December 27th, 2005, 06:14 PM   #10
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Settings for Darkness

Meant just that. 2 from the Sharpness being all the way full. However that's a good point I will try -2 from center of the sharpness menu. The problem I was facing was seeing a mosaic in dark areas of my night shots. Making the video look kind of shabby. Also I noticed if your doing night scenics of city scapes if you from the shutter down to 15 you can get alittle smoohter results.

Thanks!
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Old December 27th, 2005, 06:35 PM   #11
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OK so what do you mean by +2 for color then?
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Old December 27th, 2005, 08:23 PM   #12
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+ = above the middle
- = below the middle

So a setting of +2 would mean 2 notches to the right from the center. A setting of -3 would mean 3 notches to the left from the center and so on.

Jeff, the jagged "staircasing" you get is resolved by lowering the sharpness instead of increasing it. Give it a try...
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Old December 28th, 2005, 04:25 PM   #13
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Aliasing Reduced HVR-A1U

Went and tried the sharpness from 2 different positions: the first is 2 bars from being full the second is 2 bars left of center. Trying to reduce aliasing.

With the 2 bars left from center aliasing was reduced alot. Here's some shoots to see for yourself.

Minus 2 bars from full sharpness
http://www.skyhighsports.com/minus2fromfull.jpg

Minus 2 bars left of center sharpness
http://www.skyhighsports.com/minus2fromcenter.jpg

When looking at the first image find a branch with aliasing then look in the same area of the second picture. There's a noticeable difference.

Thanks again everyone for you input. I'm really getting to figure out this camera and seem to be enjoying it more everyday...
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Old December 28th, 2005, 05:30 PM   #14
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No problemo! Try some of the color settings as well.

Thanks a lot for your images. It's nice having something for newcomers to compare. Nice choice of images as well. Really emphasizes what we're trying to look at.
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