Favorite settings and tips for HC7 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 29th, 2007, 01:02 AM   #1
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Favorite settings and tips for HC7

Hi,

I've had my HC7 for over a month now, and am starting to fall into a rut with some of the settings I use. When developing techniques for a new still camera, I have found it helpful to search website forums for tips from others, often giving me ideas of new settings to try. Maybe in the camcorder world there is less of a one size fits all, and this wouldn't be as useful. But, I would appreciate if anyone could post useful settings or techniques they use regularly that I might try.

For example, most still and video cameras I've used seem to have a "sweet spot" where they perform best. Has anyone determined a compelling shutter/exposure combination (or a group of settings) useful for general or specific shooting situations? Is there any particular focal length that seems to be particularly appealing (I have noticed at some zoom settings, when focused on the foreground, I can get an unappealing diamond pattern bokeh in the background- by slightly changing the subject distance, etc., these can be eliminated).

To kick things off, here are a few of the features I have been experimenting with and others may find useful:

For quick on the fly adjustments when I'm shooting nature outdoors, I have gravitated to the spot metering mode since I can quickly and easily change the settings very quickly with instant feedback. I use the LCD screen as a touch screen monitor, and can really fine tune what I want in terms of exposure in a quick and interactive way. This is especially helpful when there is a lot of contrast and I am trying to avoid blowing out something that might otherwise look very overexposed. Implementing zebra bars can help with gauging how far to adjust this.

I am now leaving X.V. color on- I don't have a monitor to display it, but I'm doing this on the assumption that soon it will become standard, and then I'd like to have the extra color space. I've seen posts on the web which hint at what the HC7 is recording, and I'd rather have the richer colors to work with someday, even if I can't see them now.

I have turned off autoslow shutter, since contrary to what I'd intuitively assume, I have read in some posts on several sites that it seems to contribute to noise. I don't know if anyone else has experience with this, but I am leaving it off until I understand better what this function actually does.

Well, any tips or suggestions would be great. I have really enjoyed this camera, and as my first HDV camcorder, I am learning how I need to be much more rigorous with shooting techniques to achieve good results. It has been a real learning experience, and I'm glad to be exploring HDV now, since it seems the pace of video technology is accelerating. Thanks.

Ruth
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Old April 10th, 2007, 09:21 PM   #2
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Well, since I haven't had any responses to this post I thought I'd add another paragraph to clarify the type of things I'm hoping someone might want to share in using this camcorder. I am still enjoying it, and wonder what settings other users are finding that prove helpful.

For example, in the SLR world, the Nikon 50mm f 1.4 lens is not quite as sharp at f1.4 as at f1.8 or above, and seems sharpest at between f2.2 and f2.8. In terms of replicating these settings, as far as I can tell, the HC7 exposure is just adjusted by using plus or minus on the exposure manual control. So I have focused more on varying the shutter speed, then manually adjusting the exposure plus or minus to get what appears optimal exposure this way. Has anyone found anything like a "sweet spot" for this camcorder? Also, I have played with the scene select settings, like twilight- has anyone found any useful settings with these? It would be nice to compare notes. Thanks for any findings you might have with this camcorder.
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Old April 12th, 2007, 07:14 PM   #3
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Hi Ruth. Sorry, I have an HC-1, so I can't be of much help to you, but at least you'll know that someone is reading your posts and paying attention to you :). Personally on my HC-1 the only settings I've changed is warming the color balance and the saturation up slightly (1 notch). I know someone with an HC-3 and its saturation is still higher then my HC-1 even after notching it up. Is the HC-7 your 1st HDV camcorder? How do you like it?
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Old April 12th, 2007, 11:43 PM   #4
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Thanks, glad to know someone is reading this :)

Do you leave the color balance and saturation set permanently, or just for certain situations? I've played with those, but usually leave them at the default level, since my camcorder already looks pretty saturated.

Yes, the HC-7 is my first HDV camcorder. I've been through a lot of camcorders over the years, but have to say this is my favorite. Not just because of the footage- making it hard to look now at my old hi-8, etc. footage. But also because I find it really easy to use and make lots of adjustments quickly. I guess it's probably similar in many ways to the HC-1, and I imagine you are happy with that.

Thanks again for your response.
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Old April 13th, 2007, 02:10 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruth Happel View Post
Thanks, glad to know someone is reading this :)

Do you leave the color balance and saturation set permanently, or just for certain situations? I've played with those, but usually leave them at the default level, since my camcorder already looks pretty saturated.

Yes, the HC-7 is my first HDV camcorder. I've been through a lot of camcorders over the years, but have to say this is my favorite. Not just because of the footage- making it hard to look now at my old hi-8, etc. footage. But also because I find it really easy to use and make lots of adjustments quickly. I guess it's probably similar in many ways to the HC-1, and I imagine you are happy with that.

Thanks again for your response.
Hi Ruth
Yes, I leave those permanently set. Again, they are only one step away from the default setting. I have the HC-1. My Dad has the HC-3, and at its default settings, the saturation is higher then my HC-1 with +1 saturation. I would guess that continued somewhat through to the HC-7. Its just a matter of personal preference. If your HC-7 looks great at default, why worry about it or mess around with it. Then again, you can experiment too. I'm sure eventually on this forum people will be coming up with their ideal receipe for setting up an HC-7. Good Luck, and Have fun with your new 'toy.' - PK
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Old April 13th, 2007, 07:31 AM   #6
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From what you say, maybe the cameras have evolved in terms of their saturation. I will definitely play with it some more and see what seems most real. I also have played some (it does sound like my toy!) with the white balance, and that has been a great feature for me- it seems the white balance works really well on the HC-7.

It sounds like you've got a Sony family. I almost got the HC-3, but wanted the mic input. I have an audio background, so the sound is equally important to the image for me. I'm glad the HC-7 came along so I don't have to wait any more!

Thanks again, I am enjoying it. Took it to the Smokies yesterday and got some great video of a mother bear and her two cubs. I was really glad as I was videotaping that I had this camera.
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Old April 13th, 2007, 09:19 AM   #7
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I'd like to see what people think about how the "sharpness" setting in the HDR-HC7 affects the video image, since people are always complaining about Sony's edge enhancement as compared to Canon's camcorders; i.e., is a lower sharpness setting in the HC7 more pleasing to the eye for these folks?
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Old April 13th, 2007, 11:54 AM   #8
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Hi Ruth and Dan -

HC3 saturation was a bit TOO saturated IMO, looked nice for the consumer, and once adjusted down was AOK. So far the HC7 seems the most neutral at the stock setting, with xvColor on.

I'm leaving the xvcolor on too, same basis - it should give me more to work with if and when it becomes "standard". I haven't seen it look "bad" so far.

Auto white balance has seemed farily accurate so far, but I know auto works good.

I know some people hate the touch sceeen, but I like the "spot" focus myself - might have to try to spot exposure a bit more! I also stripped out the "p-menu" to have JUST 2 pages, and just the things I want at my fingertips - that way I can adjust almost everything "on the fly" - it's a pretty fast interface for me at least. If you haven't gotten around to playing with "p-menu", take a few minutes to do so - you can add any function in the camera menu, delete the ones you don't want, and reorder the whole menu to your personal taste! Don't like the interface? Just change it!!!

I usuallly leave the control wheel preset to adjust exposure, as I find that even with AE set to -2 to -4, the overall exposure tends to the "too bright" (every camera I've ever owned did, so this isn't a criticism, just an observation) - I'd imagine that spot exposure would be handy here too.

I'll have to take a picture of my rig once I get it dialed in - it's pretty familiar since I've used it with my HC1 and 3 along the way - dual flash brackets for a "mini fig rig", and multiple cold shoes for mounting "stuff", and Sony LANC controller (considering a different one with focus at the moment). Throw on a WA lens, and the thing looks pretty impressive!

Still getting to know the camera - going back and forth on auto slow shutter - not convinced it's noisier than dropping to 30 manually, and it does save a step or two if you're in low light. Overall, it's better in low light if only by a smidge than its ancestors (far better than the 3 from my direct observation).

Not sure if those will give you some ideas, but at least you know someone's "out here"!

DB>)
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Old April 13th, 2007, 12:48 PM   #9
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Dave,
I'd love to see a pic of your rig! Post it when you get a chance.
Yes, I've customized my p-menu, too, and I'm down to 2 pages. I think it's fast too (and I disabled the sound that the touch menu makes when you touch it).
I'll have to experiment with the control wheel defaulted to exposure. Right now I have it set to control focus.
Have you experimented with the sharpness setting?
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Old April 13th, 2007, 03:07 PM   #10
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Yep the first thing I do is turn that annoying beep off... stealth mode!

I played with the sharpness a bit, couldn't see a lot of difference, but will have to hook it up to a big screen and see... on my list of "things to do" <wink>!

DB>)
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Old April 13th, 2007, 08:46 PM   #11
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Dan and Dave,

Thanks for the feedback. I like the touch screen a lot. The spot metering works really great for me. When I'm shooting outdoors, as the sunlight changes, I just touch the screen where I want to set the exposure, and keep adjusting it until it looks right. Then I often shoot a couple other settings of the same scene, unless it's something that happens fast and I only have one chance to shoot. I would like to use the spot focus, but so far even with my sturdiest tripod and head, the camera itself moves a bit when I do this, so adjusting it as I shoot doesn't work- I would like to have it focus on something in the foreground and then touch it again and have it fade to something in the distance, for example. But it is good for setting up the shot on what I want to focus on when taking my time to get everything set up just right.

I keep changing my mind about the p menu. I started with 4 pages, then dropped to 2, and now am up to 3- eventually I'll figure out what I REALLY use the most and try to pare it down again. But it's nice to have things quickly accessible, so I either scroll up or down to get to what I want quickly. Out of curiosity, what do you have on your p menu?

I've been using the control wheel for manual focus, since I often fine tune that when shooting in the woods, since things like branches mess up where I'm trying to focus. But I'm getting pretty good at switching quickly between the different control wheel options. One thing I don't like is I often use the LCD to compose the shot- especially when shooting low down at weird angles that aren't conducive to using the viewfinder. And then it is a pain to lift the LCD to access the button and control wheel, depending on where I have the LCD angled. But other than that, I like it.

Dave- yes, I'd like to see a picture of your rig. Might give me some ideas.

Thanks again for your input.
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Old April 16th, 2007, 01:37 PM   #12
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Here are my settings for hc1.

Sharpness -2 gives a natural image without too much edge enhancement.

Colour 0. Hc1 has a very nice and realistic colour balance.

F4 gives the sharpest picture.

+9 db gain would be max in low light. I'd rather go 1/25 shutter than raise gain.
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Old April 16th, 2007, 02:44 PM   #13
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I'm shooting with the x.v. color, too (HC5). This way, the little cam is recording all the data it can.
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Old April 17th, 2007, 05:36 PM   #14
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Mikko,

Thanks, I will experiment with the equivalent of those settings on the HC7, though of course they are two very different cameras, and even some of the specific settings aren't possible. But I appreciate your insights.
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Old April 17th, 2007, 09:28 PM   #15
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Any tips for settings before I film under water?

Any tips for settings before I film under water?

Thanks
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