HELP! - HC1 Poor Red Color Accuracy 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 March 19th, 2006, 09:40 AM   #1
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HELP! - HC1 Poor Red Color Accuracy

I just purchased my HC1 and have discovered what may be a know issue. In the unit I have (serial #13340xx) bright reds are reproduced as more of a pinkish color. I've tried the obvious settings like white balance and WB Shift, which allows me to get good color accuracy except reds. I've also tried adjusting Camera Color in the full menu, but this to has limited affect on reds. By turning down the color 2 or 3 steps, reds start to get deeper, but there's very little saturation left in the other colors. Turning it up just makes the pinkish reds even brighter. This is not a low light issue, it happens in full outdoor sunlight. My old Sony MiniDV camcorder does just fine with reds.

I need to make a decision fairly soon what to do with the HC1. Can anyone respond to any of these questions?

Is this just a problem with my HC1 or are they all like this?

Are some HC1s better or worse than others?

If I send it to a Sony repair center will they be able to adjust it?

I find it hard to believe that Sony would sell a camera with such terrible color reproduction! There has to be a way to fix this. Thanks in advance,

Steve
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Old March 19th, 2006, 10:50 AM   #2
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Yes, this is a known problem with the hc1. And, unfortunately, there's not a whole lot you can do about it. You just have to play with the camera a bit. I make sure that I ALWAYS do a manual white balance before EVERY shot. That has seemed to help a bit. Also, I think that the angle of the light has something to do with this. I have noticed in the same shot that I will have reds that look pink, and then there will be a red that looks great. I just returned from a trip to Key West and my reds looked a lot better that most of my other footage. I was very concious of this, however. I really think the best solution is just to make sure you get a good white balance. So think about what you're balancing to when you do. Is it a cool white, or a warm white? This will greatly affect your reds. Reds have always been difficult for DV and now seemingly HDV as well. With a little time and patience, I have managed to get results that I am happy with. Good luck!
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Old March 19th, 2006, 12:19 PM   #3
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agree with Evan - it's almost a known-issue but nobody seems to know why it's so bad on the HC1. I don't think you've got a 'duff' unit at all - what would be good is to see if there's any variability between different HC1's.

I've seen still shots taken with HC1 and HC3 and i i can tell you that just going on looking at those still shots, the HC3's rendition of red seemed MUCH better than HC1. HC1 reds were noticeable pink, HC3's were far more red.

Admittedly these shots were taken in low-light, but i think it showed exactly that HC1 has problem accurately showing reds.

Solution for you ? Tricky really. I'm no expert in post-production but would your NLE be able to play with the Red-channel and get a far more true red ? This i think is about the only solution really (apart from accurate white-balance but even this i think isn't a solution, it's just making the problem slightly less-bad).

Other than that, maybe chop in the HC1 for HC3 when it becomes avaialble?
but then you lose mic-in jack and headphone jack...

:-/
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Old March 19th, 2006, 12:51 PM   #4
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I've tried everything and nothing gives me reds that look anything like the original hue. I've noticed that the memory mode (still camera) does a lot better with reds. If I switch back and forth between tape and memory, there is a big difference.

I just can't believe Sony views this as acceptable. I must have a particularly bad unit, since I can't even watch what I tape because of the red accuracy.

As far as software, I have Vegas Movie Studio Platinum on order, but I doubt it provides the level of color correction I need.

At this point I think I'm going to see if I can exchange the HC1 for an HC3. It will cost me to do so, but there's no point to keeping a camera that has such poor color accuracy. If the HC3 gives me color accuracy in exchange for MIC and headphone jacks, that's a great deal.

The funny thing is I did do some digging before buying this camera. I'm amazed that no reviews and only 1 forum post mention this huge problem (at least in my case).

I'm glad I found this forum as it saved me from thinking I'm color blind! As soon as I get my hands on a HC3, I'll report back on it. Thanks again,

Steve
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Old March 19th, 2006, 01:57 PM   #5
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HC1 and poor REDS

Hi Steven & Eveyrone else,

Sad to say - I have not been able to go further with the problem. I compared my unit with two different HC1 cams in two Sony shops ant they performed as bad as mine. I had a chat with a Sony representative that lead nowhere.

SO - this seem to be very typical for this CAM. My version is a PAL one and the serial is 1075723, one of the earlier ones - probably.

I was silently hoping that Sony would have solved this problem so that it also could be fixed on my HC1.

This IS a BIIIIIG disappointment. The reds are very blueish especially under artificial (fluorescent and bright halogen) lighting... It is bareable under a clear sky a bright day...

The red color rendering is SOO lousy. We should compare our results somehow. I wonder how that could be made? We should find an red readily available objet to shoot under same circumstances...

It seem that also the reds in the stills are almost as bad. I have a Canon MVX2i that I compare with... its color rendering is fantastic, warm and vey natural...

I am very dissapointed and feel a little fooled with all the jargon about this camera. If this red color rendering and the stupidly fast zoom lever could be fixed then this cam would be out of this world...

Shame on you Sony...

Im willing to send some imaged captured in the camera mode if you want to compare...

BTW - Is it possible to attach files in this forum ???

Christian
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Old March 19th, 2006, 02:26 PM   #6
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Can anyone post footage of the bad reds? And hopefully some comparison footage by another camera showing what the red should look like? Keep all conditions consistent between the cameras - everything auto, except for manual white balance. I would be interested red footage with a 0 setting color level for the HC1 as well as a +2 color adjusted footage.
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Old March 19th, 2006, 04:29 PM   #7
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[QUOTE=Stu HolmesI'm no expert in post-production but would your NLE be able to play with the Red-channel and get a far more true red ? This i think is about the only solution really (apart from accurate white-balance but even this i think isn't a solution, it's just making the problem slightly less-bad).[/QUOTE]

My impression has always been the HC1/A1 are "pastel" color oriented.

This is either Sony's estimate of what folks want -- all their cameras are too blue for me -- OR it is inherent to the design.

Probably the latter. Which is why they moved to a new CMOS so quickly.

So color correcting in your NLE is the best -- only -- solution.
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Old March 19th, 2006, 05:16 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Thames
Can anyone post footage of the bad reds? And hopefully some comparison footage by another camera showing what the red should look like? Keep all conditions consistent between the cameras - everything auto, except for manual white balance. I would be interested red footage with a 0 setting color level for the HC1 as well as a +2 color adjusted footage.
Hi Alex.
OK here's two stills of night-time low-light shots.
First one is taken with HC1, second one is taken with HC3.

As far as i know these are straight shots, without any tweaking. Whether they were shot in stills mode or they are frame-grabs from a taped section i don't know.
What IS obvious to me at least is that the 2 pics show the pink/lilacy reds of the HC1 versus what appears to be a MUCH better color-balance on HC3.

Judge for yourselves:
HC1:
http://blog.so-net.ne.jp/_images/blo...ro/2767708.jpg

HC3:
http://blog.so-net.ne.jp/_images/blo...ro/2767742.jpg
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Old March 19th, 2006, 06:25 PM   #9
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It's tough to draw an absolute conclusion from those shots, but in the one labeled HC3 the neon sign appears more reddish and there's less noise.

I just got back from a visit to a nearby Circuit City that had a working HC1 on display. I searched the store for a nice deep red item and brought it over to the HC1 to test. To my surprise the reds appeared much better than on my HC1 and reasonably close to the actual color. The serial number was older (or at less sequentially) than mine, 13337xx.

I debated for a while if I should try an exchange or wait for the HC3. Since I bought over the Internet, an exchange would not be that simple, and I’d end up paying shipping costs. So, unless there are know issues with the HC3, I think I'm just going to wait for it to be available. I've already contacted the dealer and they will give me a store credit when I return my camera.

So am I trading a know evil for an unknown evil? Other than the 2 missing audio jacks, is the HC3 inferior in any other way? Thanks,

Steve
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Old March 20th, 2006, 12:44 AM   #10
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Could the lower noise on the HC3 image be because of its low light rating of, if I remember correctly, 5 lux versus the HC1's 7 lux? If anyone could post actual video (as opposed to a still shot or frame grab) of reds, that'd be awesome too.
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Old March 20th, 2006, 04:10 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steven Meserve

I just got back from a visit to a nearby Circuit City that had a working HC1 on display. I searched the store for a nice deep red item and brought it over to the HC1 to test. To my surprise the reds appeared much better than on my HC1 and reasonably close to the actual color. The serial number was older (or at less sequentially) than mine, 13337xx.

Steve
Interestingly, I did much the same at BB and it looked fine on the LCD. So folks, is it in the MPEG-2 encoding? Red is very difficult to encode without noise -- it is possible Sony is filtering out saturated red?
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Old March 20th, 2006, 10:25 AM   #12
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Is this a problem with the A1U as well? (should be--same CMOS, right?)
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Old March 20th, 2006, 12:02 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Mullen
Interestingly, I did much the same at BB and it looked fine on the LCD. So folks, is it in the MPEG-2 encoding? Red is very difficult to encode without noise -- it is possible Sony is filtering out saturated red?
On the HC1 I had, what I saw on the LCD was pretty much what went on the tape, and then what I saw on the SXRD monitor. Red = Pink.

I'm really starting to think I should try another HC1 from B&H. If the reds on all HC1's were as bad as on mine, I don't think anyone (at least on this forum) would be using one. Washed out reds (to the point of being pink) must be some QA issue Sony has been having.

On a final test I did before shipping my HC1 back, I used a deep red flash card to record the image. I noticed that when the card was tilted to reduce the exposure, the red of the card darken (still to light, but much closer to actual) and noise increased. When I tilted it perpendicular to the camera for proper exposure (and lower noise) the red turned back to pink. Could some sensors begin to clip the red channel sooner than others? Also, when I switch to memory mode (still camera) the reds are much darker than in tape mode (camcorder). Would this indicate an alignment issue?

Maybe there are only a few bad HC1's out there and I just happen to be unlucky?

Give that the HC3 may be a little too "consumer" for me, I guess I'm just looking for reasons to try another HC1!

Steve
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Old March 20th, 2006, 12:30 PM   #14
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My opinion is that i think there must be some unit-variance on this red issue.

I can't imagine that people's acceptance of this red issue will vary so much (IF the camera's all showed same level of the problem) that some would find it almost unusable and others don't ever mention it. So my conclusion is that there are 'good ones' and 'bad ones' out there.

Steve - i really hope you get a 'better' HC1 this time with the replacement unit. I have no real evidence of some HC1's being better than others on this, so here's hoping you get good result.
As you've obviously made good note of the problem with your unit, i think that you may well be in a position to give us a definitive judgment on this when your next HC1 arrives - i.e. if it IS much better, then it would appear that there is a unit-variance issue, or simply that Sony have made some adjustment to later units and reduced/eliminated the problem.

Keep us informed Steve.
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Old March 20th, 2006, 08:55 PM   #15
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With my HC1E, for good reds I set WB Shift to +4, Camera color to +2 and I do a good White balance. In automatic mode, same thing...

Reds and other colors are really good and I don't see this problem !
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