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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 May 24th, 2006, 12:17 AM   #1
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How To Use the Histogram Function??

Hello Everyone
I have been been doing event videography for 22 years with a lot of it expensive "high end" for a couple of other companies as well, and have been very much enjoying all of the wonderful tips and information here on the DV Info Network for the past 6 or 7 months. Currently my main camera for the past 4 years or so is a Sony DSR 300A in DVCam format. I absolutely love it.

After much thought and reading here I just purchased from B&H an HVR A1U and it came last week. The thinking was it would kill 3 birds with one credit card transaction. Plus, as well, I picked up the 2 bulb on-board Sony L series light and medium capacity Sony Infolithium batteries for both the A1 and the light with quick chargers.

The 3 birds:

1. Give me a back up high quality camcorder that was small enough without the audio module attached that I can actually wear it in a nice, small, black fanny pack (North Face....with the white lettering black Sharpied out) during crucial parts of the day in case of emergency, such as during a wedding ceremony or any other time when I'm not close to my gear.

2. The option of taking work which requires the footage that can be taken by a mini steadi-cam set up of some sort.

3. And, of course the step into hi resolution HDV capability to open up that potential market for myself. At some point I will move into a larger HDV rig when it makes sense and the A1U will remain my back up. Also I am expecting at some point Sony to bring out a shoulder mount camera which can use the 184 minute cassettes.

I shot a wedding this past Saturday and since there was a nice leisurely pace to the events I had a chance to experiment with footage a number of times with the A1U. My viewing at home for HD is fairly critical because it is projected large with an 8.5' wide image from a well calibrated JVC G15 projector. So if something is not looking good, like focus, or camera noise it is right in my face. Conversely, HDNet, Discovery channel and network HD really look great, even though the max 16x9 resolution is only 1365 x like 768 I think of the 4x3 panel.

I had hoped that the A1 could be used mostly in auto modes but my initial observations are:

Auto exposure in bright sunlight comes in a stop or so overexposed. So I have some reading to do about how to approach that manually. I have done searches about the histogram funtion and read the manual but I can't seem to find how you actually use it to make your life easy with getting proper exposure. Can someone kindly walk me and possibly others through what you are wanting to see on that display so you know you're properly exposed in bright light?

I will learn to use manual focus with the servo ring thing because once lights go down the auto just doesn't do well at all, plus for tripod work if required and steadi cam or monopod work I want to get the Manfrotto 521 lanc unit that everyone seems to speak so highly of.

And wow, does this thing need light when it gets dark. During the outdoor reception when basically I was supplying a lot of the light. My subjects I was close to would have been decent with the on camera light, but the noise level sure was apparent in the dark spaces between and beyond them. Really made my heart sink when I saw it on the big screen. I just ordered a 3" stud with standard shoe bottom on it so I can use my 75 watt mini Frezzi with dimmer & diffuser in the future in that kind of situation. It's a little large & heavy for the A1 but not so much that I'm going to spend another $400 plus for the "microfill" Frezzi and difuser / dichroic / door attachment.

Sorry this was so long but just wanted to say hi to everyone and a little bit about what I shoot & ask for some help mainly in how to use the histogram to properly manually adjust exposure. The manual said zip in that regard.

Thanks very much

Ron
Ron Fabienke is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 24th, 2006, 01:17 AM   #2
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Posts: 177
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Fabienke
Hello Everyone
I have been been doing event videography for 22 years with a lot of it expensive "high end" for a couple of other companies as well, and have been very much enjoying all of the wonderful tips and information here on the DV Info Network for the past 6 or 7 months. Currently my main camera for the past 4 years or so is a Sony DSR 300A in DVCam format. I absolutely love it.

After much thought and reading here I just purchased from B&H an HVR A1U and it came last week. The thinking was it would kill 3 birds with one credit card transaction. Plus, as well, I picked up the 2 bulb on-board Sony L series light and medium capacity Sony Infolithium batteries for both the A1 and the light with quick chargers.

The 3 birds:

1. Give me a back up high quality camcorder that was small enough without the audio module attached that I can actually wear it in a nice, small, black fanny pack (North Face....with the white lettering black Sharpied out) during crucial parts of the day in case of emergency, such as during a wedding ceremony or any other time when I'm not close to my gear.

2. The option of taking work which requires the footage that can be taken by a mini steadi-cam set up of some sort.

3. And, of course the step into hi resolution HDV capability to open up that potential market for myself. At some point I will move into a larger HDV rig when it makes sense and the A1U will remain my back up. Also I am expecting at some point Sony to bring out a shoulder mount camera which can use the 184 minute cassettes.

I shot a wedding this past Saturday and since there was a nice leisurely pace to the events I had a chance to experiment with footage a number of times with the A1U. My viewing at home for HD is fairly critical because it is projected large with an 8.5' wide image from a well calibrated JVC G15 projector. So if something is not looking good, like focus, or camera noise it is right in my face. Conversely, HDNet, Discovery channel and network HD really look great, even though the max 16x9 resolution is only 1365 x like 768 I think of the 4x3 panel.

I had hoped that the A1 could be used mostly in auto modes but my initial observations are:

Auto exposure in bright sunlight comes in a stop or so overexposed. So I have some reading to do about how to approach that manually. I have done searches about the histogram funtion and read the manual but I can't seem to find how you actually use it to make your life easy with getting proper exposure. Can someone kindly walk me and possibly others through what you are wanting to see on that display so you know you're properly exposed in bright light?

I will learn to use manual focus with the servo ring thing because once lights go down the auto just doesn't do well at all, plus for tripod work if required and steadi cam or monopod work I want to get the Manfrotto 521 lanc unit that everyone seems to speak so highly of.

And wow, does this thing need light when it gets dark. During the outdoor reception when basically I was supplying a lot of the light. My subjects I was close to would have been decent with the on camera light, but the noise level sure was apparent in the dark spaces between and beyond them. Really made my heart sink when I saw it on the big screen. I just ordered a 3" stud with standard shoe bottom on it so I can use my 75 watt mini Frezzi with dimmer & diffuser in the future in that kind of situation. It's a little large & heavy for the A1 but not so much that I'm going to spend another $400 plus for the "microfill" Frezzi and difuser / dichroic / door attachment.

Sorry this was so long but just wanted to say hi to everyone and a little bit about what I shoot & ask for some help mainly in how to use the histogram to properly manually adjust exposure. The manual said zip in that regard.

Thanks very much

Ron
Hi...I cannot walk you through nor should anyone be able to. Basically the histogram deals in your darks and brights in color tones (the more pixels in each the higher the bar). This is not as hard as it may sound, but then again not that easy. The best way, IMHO, to realy get good with histograms is to get some charts that are out and about mainly for SLR cameras ( Ron Resnick from the Nikon world put out a good computer book on this with some great charts). You can learn to see certain colors for how they should show up on the histogram. The experts in the SLR world can truley look at a scene and see how their histogram should lie. The misconception is that you should have a bell shape...far from the truth. There is not set pattern since it is completely based on what you are shooting/filming. In a general scene you may not want to see anything spiking to the far left (Darks) or the far right (Brights), but this is not always the case. Sunny reflections off of water should spike at the right...if they do not then you are typically underexposing. Same holds true with the darks. To make a really long story short...the histogram can be used as a general guideline, but to really be able to use it perfectly you should learn your colors tones and know how the scene should look on the histogram.

Well that probably did not answer anything, but it does take practice to know how the histogram should truely look.
Michael Stowe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 24th, 2006, 05:27 AM   #3
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Try setting your exposure to -1 or -2, will make auto exposure a bit less bright.

First step with histogram, if everything is sitting at one end, then it is too dark (left) or too light(right) and you need to adjust exposure. Now in between, that is when the art comes in. I have no idea what to tell you.

I also like the zebra stripes to catch blown highlights.
Lawrence Spurgeon is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 24th, 2006, 05:12 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lawrence Spurgeon
Try setting your exposure to -1 or -2, will make auto exposure a bit less bright.

First step with histogram, if everything is sitting at one end, then it is too dark (left) or too light(right) and you need to adjust exposure. Now in between, that is when the art comes in. I have no idea what to tell you.

I also like the zebra stripes to catch blown highlights.
Don't get caught in the trap of not allowing anything to the right or left though. In some cases 255, 255, 255 is the correct setting. As Lawrence pointed out...it can be used as a good basic tool without having the extended knowledge. If you do take the time to learn the tones, which I have only partially done, you will be able to look at the histogram and know it is over, under or right where you want it.
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