Help needed with exposure problem! at

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Sony HVR-V1 / HDR-FX7
Pro and consumer versions of this Sony 3-CMOS HDV camcorder.

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Old May 8th, 2010, 07:03 PM   #1
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Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Port St. Lucie, FL
Posts: 167
Help needed with exposure problem!

I've started using our company V1U on news assignments. It's been quite a while since I've used a V1U, even though I own one myself.

Here is the problem I'm having: The image I'm seeing in the viewfinder is not at ALL indicative of the actual exposure of the scene. I'm used to having the viewfinder be a fairly accurate indicator of exposure, at least on my HV1 and my other camcorders. I mean, why even have a viewfinder on a camcorder if it's not going to aid in judging correct focus and exposure? But every time I rely on the viewfinder (or LCD when it's overcast) to adjust exposure, the result is WAY off the mark.

For example, I was shooting in bright outdoor conditions today. I was framing my shot of some workers under a tent dishing out food to customers. I had the camera set in auto exposure, ND2 engaged, but in the viewfinder, the scene looked horribly underexposed. The workers' faces were darkened blobs. I switched over to manual mode, cranked up the gain until their faces could be seen clearly and then shot. Switched back over to auto exposure and shot another clip.

Upon playback, the footage where I cranked up the gain was grainy and washed out looking. The auto exposed clip that looked bad in the viewfinder came out perfectly exposed.

Then I swung the camera around and pointed it toward a field full of kids' bounce houses. With ND2 still engaged and the sun behind me, the scene looked fairly well exposed in the viewfinder. Camera was still in auto exposure. Shot that scene.

This time auto exposure failed me. The bounce houses clip was horribly over-exposed. Sky was blown way out.

I should note that I went through the company camera's menus before starting to use it, to make sure the AGC and other values were set correctly. As far as I can tell, I have the company V1U set up identically to my personal V1U - but they function completely differently with respect to viewfinder images.
What I see in my V1U's viewfinder is basically what I get on playback. Am I possibly overlooking a setting that needs to be changed in the company V1U? After using this camera on four different assignments and having the same problem over and over, I'm completely baffled.

Here's a link to the video I shot today. I tried to salvage the overexposed clips in Premiere without much luck.

Videos: WingFest flies into Port St. Lucie Civic Center - Treasure Coast, FL |
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Old May 8th, 2010, 10:45 PM   #2
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Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Portland, Oregon
Posts: 3,138
The V1's viewfinder and LCD, like any camcorder, will lie to you about exposure. The issue with the LCD and viewfinder is that they have a brightness control. If brightness is turned up, you'll tend to underexpose. If turned down, you'll tend to over expose.

Step 1) Set up the LCD and viewfinder properly. Turn on camera bars, and adjust brightness so that the 10% bar in the lower right is dark grey, just distinguishable from the 7.5% bar, and the 7.5 and 0% are black.

Step 2) Get acquainted with using the Zebras. Setting exposure such that highlights on caucasian faces hit 70% is good to slightly underexposed. Setting the Zebras for 100% is a good indicator for what will record as white - where 100% zebras are starting to disappear on highlights, those highlights are going to be washed out.

Between these two methods you should be getting good exposure. Zebras are better. The LCD is going to need readjustment depending on ambient light. Viewfinder too, though it's not affected by ambient light as much.
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