Anyone used the FX7 for figure skating? at DVinfo.net

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Sony HVR-V1 / HDR-FX7
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Old December 29th, 2007, 11:58 AM   #1
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Anyone used the FX7 for figure skating?

I've been using the VX2100 with great success to video tape figure skating competitions. I'm looking to upgrade to a HD camera and I was wondering if anyone had used the FX7 for this type of action. I'm primarily curious if the auto focus of the FX7 is up to the task of following rapidly moving skaters against a busy background. Thanks. - John
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Old December 30th, 2007, 07:03 PM   #2
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Having both the FX1 and the FX 7 I find auto focus on the FX1 SO much better than then FX 7, which will hunt in low light and also in stage shows, when it can get horribly confused!

Cheers Vaughan
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Old December 31st, 2007, 01:40 AM   #3
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its not the auto focus that would worry me but the HDV codec with the rapid motion ie pans etc..i have been filming ice skating for a couple of years with pd170 and vx2100 and i am now researching which camera to move to, hdv worries me unless its the ex1 with the higher bit rate
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Old December 31st, 2007, 06:45 AM   #4
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from my experience skating rinks are notoriously dark and i have always had to rely on auto focus, so far the vx2100 has been superb.
My camera of choice would have been a jvc hd200 but for the life of me i cant see how i would cope with the focus following a skater round a rink at such speed when the depth of field is shallow in the low light.
Any suggestions from the pros would be welcome.
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Old December 31st, 2007, 07:44 AM   #5
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I agree rinks are generally dark but not so dark as to cause problems with auto focus. I'm constantly amazed at how well the VX2100 works. Even when shooting the rink lengthwise the camera is never fooled by a busy background (i.e. advertising banners which surround the rink). I always try to keep the skater near full frame so panning, zooming and auto focus are mandatory.

I was concerned the rolling shutter of the FX7 might give me trouble. If you've done skating you know that sometimes the skaters will zoom right past the camera and it requires a very rapid pan to keep them in view. Granted, under these circumstances it is the background that is in motion during the pan as the camera keeps up with the skater.

The FX1 seems like a decent choice, I'm just concerned about purchasing such an old camera. Historically, my purchase would certainly trigger a new and improved model.

I really just want the HD-equivalent of the VX2100. I think that's what Sony intended the FX7 to be but I'm just not sure they succeeded.

One last thought. My current delivery media is a DVD. Even if I start shooting in HD the delivery media is likely to remain DVD for quite some time so I'll be down-sampling to SD. The only advantage I can see is being able to shoot the performances in native 16:9.

Funny... when I bought the VX2100 (and the VX2000 before that) the choice was very simple. Not so now.
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Old December 31st, 2007, 07:54 AM   #6
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john ive just purchased an anamorphic adapter for my vx2100 it was on offer $99! so although it looks like i may loose a bit of zoom at the far end it may solve my problems for now.widescreen without res loss.
The sony v1 is certainly high on my list of cameras but i may just have to bite the bullet and get the EX1
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Old January 1st, 2008, 08:23 AM   #7
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Don't use Auto! It has been said multiple times on this and almost every forum these camera's are mentioned. I have shot in total black, and yes you must amp the gain to maybe +9(at max), but I and other users on this forum use the camera commonly for fast action. But it is once again in full manual mode.

Autofocus on "all" of the camera's I have ever used to me is iffy at best! Yes they work well, but is it better to dump in auto focus(which IMO is basically either you can't or don't know how to do a focus or you are just lazy on this level of a camera) or spend a few hours learning how to set the focus and letting it stay? Especially on a camera that costs this much as has this much potential and aids to be able to obtain and maintain a good focus.

I do not use mine for figure skating, but r/c helicopters performing aerobatics and night flight. If you have ever seen one doing what I am speaking of, you will know that the movements are very fast and jerky. If you set it to manual, for the most part you will be fine. You will have to adjust your zoom of course, but that is for any camera with motion zooming in and out(and on the stuff I am talking about, I constantly work the zoom ring, but it stays in focus and nice and tight now). If you like, PM me and I can send you a clipnote of how some unaltered and directly captured footage looks.


Just my experience with my FX7....
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Old January 1st, 2008, 08:50 AM   #8
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would agree that auto focus is usually a bad thing and i for one dont like to use it and wouldnt use it for things like weddings etc where i want to control point of focus depth of field etc however it works fantastically for me in ice skating, locks onto the skater and stays which means i can concentrate on the rapid pans, smooth zooms that are required to keep the skater as near to full screen as possible.
when the skaters are moving at high speed from the far end of the ice and stopping 1 ft from my camera my manual focus skills would let me down..but maybe thats me needing more practice its hard to anticipate a skaters moves at the best of time and if auto works so well hey let it do its stuff.
Again multiple cameras would take pressure off but solo camera..if it aint broke dont fix it comes to mind and i cant remember last time my cameras auto lost the focus and ive been filming skating for several years.
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Old January 1st, 2008, 12:10 PM   #9
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I agree with John. I'm a big manual guy myself but when it comes to skating, AF is the way to go. I've video taped hundreds of skaters over the past five years and I've never had a single issue with AF. In fact, I've even done some hockey (through the glass) and AF worked fine there as well. I'm busy enough juggling WB, exposure and framing issues and AF just means one less thing to worry about. I mean, if it didn't work that would be one thing but even shooting wide-open it's dead on.

Maybe I've been spoiled by the VX2000 and VX2100. If the current crop of cameras is not up to snuff I will probably just wait. As much as I'd like to get on the HD bandwagon the reality is that less than 1% of my customers have the ability to play a Blu-ray disc. So despite having the hardware and software to author HD material my delivery media will remain SD for quite a while.
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Old January 1st, 2008, 12:58 PM   #10
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Then you have pretty much answered your own question to be honest. Its not that AF will not work, its just to me and what I do, manual is the best way to go. Maybe the ice is not the same as the changing sky or something, who knows. But for me the mf is the way to go even with SD camera's when I was using them. Not just the HD cams.

And your juggling WB and exposure? Why? I set those and forget em for the shoot during the day unless the enviornment changes drastically(which for me, thank god, normally it does not). And for indoor skating, why would you have to change in an arena? My thought is that it would remain the same with there being HID lights that for the most part don't change in color temp and the exposure would stay the same also? It would seem that your enviornment would be more stable and constant than mine(indoor under constant lighting on a fairly slow subject, versus outdoor with clouds, overcast and more on a very fast and unpredictable moving subject).

But once again, to each their own. For focus with what I shoot, I don't and since I began shooting video(actually a little after beginning), I haven't trusted auto and though they are "good" on the higher ended camera's, I personally just don't. The action must not be that fast(which now that I think of it, from ice skating I have seen on television, it really isn't. Maybe 25-30 mph at the very most, when in comparison what I shoot, with the smaller models are probably moving at minimum 45mph up to 65-75mph for the larger and they change on a dime without ever slowing down), so that is a huge difference there(I honestly don't have time to play with buttons during a flight. If I do, I will miss things). With that in mind, then you wouldn't probably have a problem with the FX either to be honest.

And it's not anything about them not being up to snuff, alot of it has to do with the shooter and what they do and do not know how to do with the cameras.

The way I shoot and my flow with the FX, I set my parameters such as iris, white balance, shutter speed, and if need be gain. Lock those in sometimes, and others I do not. Depends, but most of the time, I do lock them in. I then with the framing, set the guides and am able to frame quite nicely with that, either handheld(with a light steady shot on) or on a tripod(steadyshot off). I may also set my ND's at the very beginning depending on the enviornment I am shooting in(using the histograms). Once these are all done, I simply begin shooting and guggle the two front rings keeping tight and in focus(using peaking). Much easier to do handheld to be honest. But with the FX, I haven't had to mess with the parameters when set on the same shot. If I do have to change something, I wait until say a flight is done, then I change it and lock it back in. This helps me in post because if need be, I can match the colors that way easier of individual clips. But definately not during a flight.

Once again my .02 and my flow.
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Old January 1st, 2008, 01:51 PM   #11
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I film a lot of dog agility, which is probably comparable to figure skating in terms of speed-of-subject and varying distance-to-subject. If the subject was always >50 feet away, focusing manually would be more feasible, but when the subject is close and moving fast you need a good auto-focus system. As with both John's experiences, I've found the VX2100 to be uncanny with its ability to track auto-focus with lots of competing high-contrast items in the background. Agility adds the additional complication of obstacles placed inside the ring which may be in the foreground and compete for focus, but the VX2100 does an excellent job of maintaining focus on the subject. I think a lot of it has to do with panning technique -- if you're tracking your subject, then all other objects in the foreground and background are moving fast enough that they don't provide sufficient contrast to compete for focus.

That said, I recently purchased a Sony Z1, and I'm quite pleased with its auto-focus -- I'd say its comparable to the VX2100. I do miss the two stops of light sensitivity, and I guess an FX7 would be more like three stops. So even though I bet the non-blooming CMOS chips of the FX7 would be wonderful for ice skating, I would think long-and-hard about your typical iris/shutter/gain settings to decide if you can handle the lost sensitivity, especially since most FX7/V1 owners say they don't use more than +9 dB of gain. I've got a show coming up at the end of the month with poor lighting and I know the VX2100 will handle it just fine (previously f2.4, 1/100th shutter, +9 dB gain), but the Z1 is going to be at its absolute limits (I'm guessing f2.2, 1/60th, +12 dB gain, but maybe +15 dB).

You might be better off waiting for the Z7, if you can afford the extra $$.

-Terence
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Old January 1st, 2008, 02:11 PM   #12
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hi terrence yep sounds about right, if youve never tried filming iceskating from rink side all i will say is give it a go try filming all day for two days at a national competition..thank you auto focus youve saved my sanity!.and my cold fingers as i can keep them in my gloves controling the manfrotto lanc.
But how does the HDV codec stand up to the motion thats my main concern
ive never had the chance to try it but from what ive read i think it would fall to its knees on any close in shot where the background is just a blur and then the skater throws in a triple!
HVX200 sounds like it could cope with its codec and possibly Ex1 but not sure. If v1 HDV codec can cope then im interested, prob is very difficult to borrow or hire one to try.
Filming dogs agility..i thought skaters were unpredictable..oh boy!
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Old January 1st, 2008, 02:45 PM   #13
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I have filmed an event with my V1U tried different frame rates 24p and 30p. 60i looked the best no problem with the auto focus. I was going to post some footage. I found the tape but got a C:20:10 error on my HDR-hc1
I sold my V1u's and purchased a XDCAM EX so I have nothing to import the footage with. I will probably purchase an hv20 this week and I will post some clips. The V1u is a great Cam but if your budget allows go with the XDCAM EX it is best cam I have ever owned great in low light. I have a Z7 on order you may want to take a look at this cam also. By the way you will not see any triples in the footage when I post, it was a seniors event 45 and up.
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Old January 1st, 2008, 03:39 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Estcourt View Post
hi terrence yep sounds about right, if youve never tried filming iceskating from rink side all i will say is give it a go try filming all day for two days at a national competition..thank you auto focus youve saved my sanity!.and my cold fingers as i can keep them in my gloves controling the manfrotto lanc.
HAH... I can relate. Our main rink is like a meat locker. I'm usually decked out in boots, thermal undies, heavy coat and gloves. I use one of the Varizoom Stealth LANC controllers with a 503 head. I'm actually surprised the VX2100 doesn't start flaking out in the cold.

V1U question... does the inbuilt mic record stereo? I'm usually limited to gathering my audio via the inbuilt VX2100 mic. I know that will raise some brows but when the rink audio system is good it works great and I get good "close sounding" stereo sound on the final DVD. I thought I read somewhere that the V1U boom mic was mono. Is that correct?
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Old January 1st, 2008, 04:20 PM   #15
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This is at approx 10-15 feet on the first pic and probably like 20 on the second as I don't like to fly far from myself, (more like 5-10 as it was about six feet in font of and above me if I remember correctly on the first and about 10-15 on the second).. No where near 50. These are frame grabs from the video taken with full manual and the helicopter flying at full speed. The aerobatics I speak of, most are performed at maximum of 20 feet high unless they are doing a different trick that is based on alot of space..

This just happens to be me flying and my friend(who has only been videoing a year or so) is taping me when I fly.

For fast motion up close, as I was saying, it depends on your skills very much and the settings, but you can get it to work for you and have great results if you learn the camera..


Good luck on your decision.
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