Sony FX7 settings in bright sunlight at DVinfo.net

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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 October 4th, 2010, 09:26 AM   #1
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Sony FX7 settings in bright sunlight

Hello,

First time using the fx7 at a wedding. The wedding was outdoors in bright sunlight. The settings were PP1 (portrait), manual focus, 6db of gain, auto shutter (i believe it was), and manual iris. I noticed that cam was asking for ND2, and when I switch to ND2 and looked through the view finder it was extremely dark. For this reason I left the ND filter off. Now when I look at the footage in post there is a very slight over expose mainly
when the sun was at it's brightest. So my question is should the ND filter display really dark in the VF on this
camera and if so should I trust it? I was always talk to trust the VF when shooting outside in sunlight. After seeing the footage in post it looks like the ND filter would have gave great footage. Or even going to 4d gain would have worked.

Thanks,
Troy
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Old October 4th, 2010, 10:43 AM   #2
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IMO there's no need for any gain at all in bright sunlight. I can't imagine what help it would be, and it has potential to negatively affect the image.

Likewise auto-shutter - this should be at 60 almost always for 30i, 30 for 30p, and 48 for 24p. Any other setting should be in pursuit of some motion effect, like blur control.

The viewfinder will lie to you, because it has a brightness control, and besides, it will look different in different lighting. See this post: Help needed with exposure problem! for info on how to set up your viewfinder or lcd better. It will still lie, only not as much.

What else to do about exposure? On the V1 (FX7 too?), we have zebras and the histogram. I use them both, the histogram is on almost all the time, it's my first cam with histogram and I love it. Zebras can paint the viewfinder image in areas of 100%+ white (good for highlight control), or, 70-75% white (good for midrange, like caucasian face highlights).

In general, underexposure is going to look better than over exposure.

I highly recommend that you get very familiar with these functions if you're interested in controlling the image. With a little practice you can be much smarter than the camera's automatic settings.
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Old October 4th, 2010, 10:57 AM   #3
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I would say take the gain off and set it at 0db for the FX7....and never touch it again until you absolutely need it (in dark situations, never in sunlight).
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Old October 4th, 2010, 11:27 AM   #4
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Thanks to all for the post. It looks like the link that Seth added was the exact problem I faced. I think the VF lied to me BIG time. I will try to adjust the levels in post to make it look better. However, I know there will be some grain.
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Old October 4th, 2010, 01:23 PM   #5
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Here's yet another example of trying to outsmart the camera by using manual settings when they aren't necessary and getting lousy video as a result. I know -- I've been there.

If you're in bright sunlight, just leave everything on full auto all the time and your exposure will usually be near perfect. Using manual gain and iris is what messed you up this time -- you had them set wrong and the cam did its best to compensate by asking for more ND which wouldn't have been necessary if you'd just left it on auto. You should never have the gain on anything but zero unless you're desperate.

Don't mess with manual until you really know what you're doing. I know this will elicit howls of protests from the purists but if you're more concerned about nice pictures than about being thought a genius, this is the way to go. Let the camera do what it is designed to do.

When you are outdoors in bright sunlight, there's almost never any reason to go manual, as this is the situation where this camera shines. If you want to force a shallower DoF, then set your AT IRIS LIMIT to 4 or 5.6. If you are in a backlight or high-contrast situation, make use of the BACKLIGHT and SPOTLIGHT tools they give you.

But please, leave it on Auto. And by the way, your VF/LCD didn't "lie" to you because it isn't designed to indicate exposure -- only composition (framing) and (rough) focus. If you insist on doing things manually, then you must -- as suggested above -- use Zebra, Histogram and Peaking.
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Last edited by Adam Gold; October 4th, 2010 at 02:20 PM.
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Old October 5th, 2010, 01:20 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam Gold View Post
...Don't mess with manual until you really know what you're doing. I know this will elicit howls of protests from the purists but if you're more concerned about nice pictures than about being thought a genius, this is the way to go. Let the camera do what it is designed to do.

When you are outdoors in bright sunlight, there's almost never any reason to go manual...
I'm not sure I'm a purist, but yes, I'll howl about this!

Use of automatic exposure all too often leads to questions like:
Why is my subject dark, but the background looks good?
Why is my subject light, but the background looks good?
Why can't I see the eyes of someone wearing a hat?
Why no detail in my african-american subject?
Why do my wide shots have such a different look than my medium shots and closeups? They're hard to cut together.
Why does motion look strobey?

I do agree with Adam that you really do need to know what you're doing with exposure. These are the basics of camera operation, though. I'll use auto in some circumstances, sure, but it isn't that hard to be smarter about exposure than the camera is.

The number one problem is that the camera doesn't know what in the scene should be properly exposed. Faces are almost always the most important - the camera doesn't know this, it can only do various sorts of averages of the scene to decide on exposure. When the camera sees a shot with areas that are significantly brighter or darker than the faces, it's going under or over expose.

I'm all for intentional design of the image. If this makes me a purist, I guess I'll have to accept that name, but I wonder - isn't this what we're all going for?
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Old October 5th, 2010, 10:16 AM   #7
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Seth, well said. The entire issue is due to shooting with a new cam that has a lot of variables when it comes to iris, shutter speed, etc. Once I really know the cam I should be fine. The problem only occurred during bright instances of sunlight. When the sun moved behind a cloud it was a little better. I was able to clean some things up in post, but I know that the footage would have been much cleaner with the proper settings. During the evening reception it was flawless. Having said that...this thread has really shead some light (no pun intended) on the whole shooting in bright light issue. As always you guys are the best.

TD
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Old October 5th, 2010, 11:26 AM   #8
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The good part is that once you've mastered the use of iris/aperature, shutter speed, gain, white balance, and ND, you can apply that knowledge and experience to any cam with full manual controls.

I don't want to seem too harsh about shooting mostly auto; to continue that discussion:
* With a full understanding of manual control, you'll also learn the limitations/advantages of auto, and use it better.
* A pro must bring home something useable. I suppose this must be primary. This is one aspect of what Adam suggested.
* A pro should bring home what he/she intended. This is what I equate with intentional design of the image.
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Old October 5th, 2010, 01:36 PM   #9
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Seth, for most of my career I've been on exactly the same page as you, and of course you're right in that the cam doesn't really know what it is shooting... except these days it sort of does. Of the six very good questions you posed, I have rarely had an issue with anything other than #3 and #4. The others are rare or non-existent.

Since I began teaching this, I've learned never to let the kids shoot manual unless I'm trying to prove a point, because the footage always comes back all screwed up; their instinct is always to try to run before they can walk. I focus (no pun intended) on the craft -- not art -- of visual storytelling and composition before we get too deeply into exposure theory. I do this because we once found, while reviewing the footage of a piano concert, that one of our shooters had spent fifteen minutes zoomed in tight on the foot of the pianist on the pedal. He thought it made a statement.

There are always special circumstances, but every cam in the FX/Z/V line has had tweaks you can do to "educate" the camera and still leave it on auto and get great, usable footage nearly all the time. For our shows we used to use Spotlight mode all the time until we got our Z5s, which somehow seem to know what they are shooting and make the use of this feature unnecessary for most scenes.

But of course we do lock the AT IRIS LIMIT and AUTO GAIN to keep them at optimal levels, and would never think of using Auto White Balance in a theatre setting. I can't really argue with anything you said, and it's not my intent to do so. Present company and all the fine DVInfoers excluded, of course, but my experience is most people who sneer at Auto anything are just trying to prove how smart and artistic they are rather than trying to get usable footage.
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Old October 6th, 2010, 11:10 AM   #10
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When i owned a FX-7 apart from using the NDs as required i left it all to the cam on auto and it never let me down, any cock ups were always trying to be clever using manual settings, the same aplys to my Canon HV30, using my DSLR manual use is a different thing and part of using them.
The auto focus on my cams mentioned worked brilliantly as well as the exposure.
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Old October 6th, 2010, 01:53 PM   #11
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Apparently I'm quite out of step!

While this is certainly food for thought, I now accept that I am a purist, even an unrepentant purist.

The reason is simple - my early training was in broadcast, at a time when there were no consumer or prosumer video cameras, period (pre-beta, pre-vhs). Manual exposure and focus control was all we had. Early auto functions were pretty poor, when they did become available.

However, you'll still not find auto functions on pro cams. At a certain level of operation none of the camera ops want auto. For example, the RED cam was created in deliberate consultation with numerous DPs, cam ops, and potential future owners. No auto anything on that cam.

For prosumer camera operation we're all entitled to our own values. Mine come from my pro experience, and from my experience teaching a few hundred college students an introductory course in video production. If point-and-shoot auto works for you, produces the results you like, more power to you. Do what seems right and have fun doing it. Don't let me rain on your parade!

Prosumer gear is so affordable and so capable, a lot of my comments are made from the perspective of running prosumer cameras to pro production values; on a good day it can be pretty good. But also, prosumer gear opens access to good looking video to consumers and hobbyists, and auto results can be quite good for them.

Nothing personal, but I'm employing and educating professionals and future professionals. The original poster, earning money in wedding videography, needs pro skills. I need certain skill-sets, whether I'm shooting or directing, to create the imagery at a production value acceptable to me and my clients.
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Old October 6th, 2010, 02:56 PM   #12
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Add a matte box with a ND .6 graduated filter. If you do a lot of outside work that's the way to go to get the best quality shots.
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Old October 6th, 2010, 03:30 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seth Bloombaum View Post
Apparently I'm quite out of step!

While this is certainly food for thought, I now accept that I am a purist, even an unrepentant purist.

The reason is simple - my early training was in broadcast, at a time when there were no consumer or prosumer video cameras, period (pre-beta, pre-vhs). Manual exposure and focus control was all we had. Early auto functions were pretty poor, when they did become available.

However, you'll still not find auto functions on pro cams. At a certain level of operation none of the camera ops want auto. For example, the RED cam was created in deliberate consultation with numerous DPs, cam ops, and potential future owners. No auto anything on that cam.

For prosumer camera operation we're all entitled to our own values. Mine come from my pro experience, and from my experience teaching a few hundred college students an introductory course in video production. If point-and-shoot auto works for you, produces the results you like, more power to you. Do what seems right and have fun doing it. Don't let me rain on your parade!

Prosumer gear is so affordable and so capable, a lot of my comments are made from the perspective of running prosumer cameras to pro production values; on a good day it can be pretty good. But also, prosumer gear opens access to good looking video to consumers and hobbyists, and auto results can be quite good for them.

Nothing personal, but I'm employing and educating professionals and future professionals. The original poster, earning money in wedding videography, needs pro skills. I need certain skill-sets, whether I'm shooting or directing, to create the imagery at a production value acceptable to me and my clients.
since were wagging tails i have made some nice stuff, won a nice few comps,and we are realy only concerned with the FX-7 which i say is best left on auto as much as possible, the auto focus on the one i had responded quicker than manual focus could any day,obviously there are cases in which manual had to be used likewise WB but the presets mostly had the best colour on mine.Understandably teaching needs may differ but if i had my FX back it would be used the same way,HDSLRs and proffessional camcorders another story.
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Old October 22nd, 2010, 08:04 AM   #14
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fx7 on auto with AE- Shift up or down depending on the background.
If the background is brighter than your subjects then AE-Shift + 2, 3, 4
If the background is darker than your subjects AE-Shift - 2,3,4
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Old October 26th, 2010, 12:14 PM   #15
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Thanks Bruce. I shot a wedding this past weekend with the FX7 and all is well. Thanks for all the help.
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