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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 February 21st, 2006, 11:35 AM   #1
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HD lessons I have learned with HC-1

I am realtively new at shooting HD and I thought I would share a few of my observations about recording in HD with the HC-1. After a 2 week trip to Costa Rica with the camera here is what I learned...now that I am back home editing the content! I am sure some of these topics have been touched on before and may even be applied to standard def shooting but they really stood out in HD on the HC-1.

1) Correct focus is absolutely paramount with the level of detail in HD, it is very apparent even when the subject is out of focus just slighty. When the subject was in focus with proper light and no camera movement the results are incredibly good.
2) Camera movement and panning must be keep to a bare minimum or extremely slow because the image can become blotched and blurry and very unnatural. This is not to be confused with natural motion blur. Walking, even with a 0.5x wide angle lens was less than ideal because the image suffered greatly, I don't think a steady cam stabilizer would improve this greatly. I had much better results shooting with camera motion with a DV camera in the past.
3) Avoid high contrast shots where the subject is against a bright background or sky because the results often produced very visible purple fringing and haze around the subject.
4) Subjects in low light combined with camera movement was a disaster. Noise plus image blur.
5) Auto focus hunting was a problem at times so I ended up shooting 50% of the time with manual focus and I lost some good opportunites shooting wildlife, especially birds.
6) I saved this for the end so it will remain in my head longer. Using a good tripod is so very critical for 90% all shots. The slightess camera movement is amplified so much in HD that for me camera stability becomes as important as having tape in the camera. This saved many of my shots on my Costa Rica trip.
This was especially important with vistas because of so much subject matter in the field of view and in high detail.
Summary:
From this limited experience I feel that I will become a better filmmaker
because I will be forced to choose my subjects and the type of lighting very,very carefully, and when I do the results should be very rewarding. I hope this will be helpful to some of you.
Good shooting,
Miguel
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Old February 25th, 2006, 01:09 PM   #2
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Miguel, thanks for the great practical review and personal experiences with the HC1.
I am myself thinking about getting the the pro version of the HC1 but I have a question. I am really concerned about the blurring during camera movement. Alot of the shooting I want to do would involve handheld shots. Not waving the camera all over the place but just capturing action while it happens. Your review makes it sounds like this isn't a possiblility....do you have anything more you can add in this area? Was the blurring a case of compression unable to keep up or...?
Thanks for any more info!
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Old February 25th, 2006, 03:13 PM   #3
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Thanks Miguel.

The increase in sensitivity to focusing was the very first thing that I noticed with HD shooting also.

I wonder what shutter speeds you were at when you noticed blur problems in the entire image, while moving the camera in some way or another. I'm guessing that possibly the shutter speed was effectively at 1/30th of a second. (I know the HC1 is a little atypical as to how you adjust such things, but I don't have a firm understanding of that yet.)
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Old February 26th, 2006, 10:42 AM   #4
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Image blurring

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon Weber
Miguel, thanks for the great practical review and personal experiences with the HC1.
I am myself thinking about getting the the pro version of the HC1 but I have a question. I am really concerned about the blurring during camera movement. Alot of the shooting I want to do would involve handheld shots. Not waving the camera all over the place but just capturing action while it happens. Your review makes it sounds like this isn't a possiblility....do you have anything more you can add in this area? Was the blurring a case of compression unable to keep up or...?
Thanks for any more info!
Jon,
I noticed the blurring mostly when I had the wide angle lens attached, but it was still noticeable when panning with the on camera lens unless done very slowly. Capturing moving subjects without moving the camera was not an issue. Maybe the HDV compression can't keep up with camera movement? Also,I think that if you are going to use a lens adapter on the hc-1 make sure you have alot of light.
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Old February 26th, 2006, 10:47 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert M Wright
Thanks Miguel.

The increase in sensitivity to focusing was the very first thing that I noticed with HD shooting also.

I wonder what shutter speeds you were at when you noticed blur problems in the entire image, while moving the camera in some way or another. I'm guessing that possibly the shutter speed was effectively at 1/30th of a second. (I know the HC1 is a little atypical as to how you adjust such things, but I don't have a firm understanding of that yet.)
Robert,

I will be shooting manual focus for most of my shots with the HC-1 from now on. I was shooting in full auto mode when the out of focus blurring occurs with camera movement, see my reply to Jon below.
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Old February 26th, 2006, 04:08 PM   #6
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I really doubt that it's a compression problem that you are encountering. If it was, you would probably be seeing more of a blockiness in the frames, rather than a blurring. When you start shooting manual, and get control of the shutter speed (I'm not sure how you go about that on the HC1/A1U though), you may find that you can eliminate the blurring while panning and such.
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Old February 26th, 2006, 05:35 PM   #7
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Shutter speeds

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert M Wright
I really doubt that it's a compression problem that you are encountering. If it was, you would probably be seeing more of a blockiness in the frames, rather than a blurring. When you start shooting manual, and get control of the shutter speed (I'm not sure how you go about that on the HC1/A1U though), you may find that you can eliminate the blurring while panning and such.
I will give it a try, do you think a slower shutter speed would help? The faster speeds seem to strobe more with other DV Cams.
Thanks
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Old February 26th, 2006, 07:12 PM   #8
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To eliminate blur, you need to increase shutter speed, rather than decrease it.
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Old March 8th, 2006, 04:56 PM   #9
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Miguel, Thanks for your return of experience, I find it very interesting.

I am myself undecided about the HC1. I read a lot of people's comment and come to the conclusion that the HC1 can both be
= way better than top prosumer like Canon GL2/XM2 or a VX2100 in cerain circonstances
= much worse in other conditions... or rather it has some design flaws

One thing that strikes me is this focusing issue that you talk about.
"it is very apparent even when the subject is out of focus just slighty" : if it is apparent to you, it's apparent to the controlers that deals with focus. If it's easier for the human eye to see focus issue, it is EQUALLY easier for the HC1's electronics to see it(looks at the very same pixels as you and tries to maximize contrast)... So my point is that it is a real flaw that need to be fixed by Sony.

On my side, I am interested to know how bad it is (many users report it, Sony discontinues the product after 6 months). (I intend to downconvert HDV to PAL D1 resolution)
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Old March 9th, 2006, 02:47 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Beghein
On my side, I am interested to know how bad it is (many users report it, Sony discontinues the product after 6 months). (I intend to downconvert HDV to PAL D1 resolution)
Someone mentioned that they discontinue it because it steal purchases from the FX1. I don't think it's that bad. But it might be that I am not expecting much for a camcorder at that price.
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