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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 December 5th, 2006, 05:05 AM   #1
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Latitude

Ok, the big selling point of this camera to me is supposed to be it's wide latitude as compared to other 1/3 or 1/4 CCD cameras. Anyone who has ever used a 2/3 CCD camera knows that 1/3 camera's blow out highlights, and have deep shadows all over the place. Bring on the V1...but just how much extra latitude does it have, and how much of it is processor trickery?

In all the reviews I've read, Nigel Cooper, DSE and Adam Wilt, none have mentioned anything about superior latitude. Steve Mullen has written an article about the V1's apparent superior latitude without giving any comparison to other cameras. He also suggests its latitude could be down to processing. This is intersting because the HVX has a cinegamma mode which also gives better latitude, although other parts of the picture are lost. Is this what the V1 is doing?

Just how much better latitude does the V1 have, if any?. Is it as good for example as a 1/2 CCD, or maybe even a 2/3 CCD camera?
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Old December 5th, 2006, 08:31 AM   #2
 
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Re-read my posts and my quick looks at the camera. I mention latitude in a couple of para's, and have several shots where I captured a fast-moving dark image flying directly into the sun, and held it on the sun to see where it would wash out.
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Old December 5th, 2006, 09:03 AM   #3
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I thought Steve Mullen's article compared the V1's latitude to the Z1 and perhaps also the HC1 ... can't recall where the article is though.
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Old December 5th, 2006, 09:45 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Douglas Spotted Eagle
Re-read my posts and my quick looks at the camera. I mention latitude in a couple of para's, and have several shots where I captured a fast-moving dark image flying directly into the sun, and held it on the sun to see where it would wash out.

Yes I think I read this. But my question is just how much latitude?? - as compared to 1/2 or 2/3 cameras for example? I am sorry but cant' think of another way to measure this, I am not a techie. And just how much of this is due to internal processing like the HVX's cinegamma modes which also appear to increase the latitude?
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Old December 5th, 2006, 06:05 PM   #5
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Check out wolfgang's site and decide for yourself:

http://www.fxsupport.de/12.html

Over there are a lot of grabs fx-1 vs fx-7, and since the fx-1 is supposed to be the lower-latitude camera, you can see if it holds its claim...
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Old December 5th, 2006, 08:49 PM   #6
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Wolfgang did a fantastic job comparing these two cameras. My guess is that the FX7 has at least one f-stop, but less than two, of latitude greater than the FX1. It seems that Wofgang exposed for the hightlights and kept the sky evenly exposed between the two cameras (as it should be done). It isn't easy to know exactly the difference. You must look at the shadow areas and the foreground instead of the sky. In the FX7, the grass and other things in the foreground is clearly brighter than the FX1. In those areas, the color is much more pronounced.

What I noticed the most about the comparison is the colors sometimes seem richer in the FX7 and there is also a clear resolution advantage to the new camera. There is also less noise in daylight shots with no gain on either camera. This was noticed several feet away from the screen by my roommate.

The FX1 is definitely brighter in low light, but the FX7 still looks decent. There is less noise at 18db of gain, but the picture is darker.

I still like both cameras, but the FX7 is better in most comparisons.

All this changes a bit for the V1. It has black stretch and knee control, so a bit more apparent latitude may be possible.
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Old December 6th, 2006, 09:43 AM   #7
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Is it me or does the FX7 show noticeably less noise than the HVX200 and the Canon A1, in general? I wonder how the V1 will compare when it's all said and done.
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Old December 6th, 2006, 01:36 PM   #8
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since latitude is just the range available between the darkest and the lightest part of a picture, i do not really see how the same technology (HDV) could produce a different latitude.
if you got 8 bits to express a range, there is nothing you can do increase the numbers of steps you got (255 values).
There are some trick to crush black or white and give illusion of greater latitude, but nothing you can not do by setting a proper exposure (using histogram from DVRack for example) or correcting in post.
Obviously this is content dependent, and you will need to trade black or white (or both) regarding what is on the picture and what is your target.
My experience shows that most of time , at least 25% of the exposure range is lost by either underexposure or overexposure, so there is room for improvement just by shooting correctly.
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Old December 6th, 2006, 02:40 PM   #9
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All good points, but both the FX7 and V1U have CMOS chips. CMOS provides better latitude than CCD. I know that first hand. For years I have shot with CCD camcorders until I purchased my very first CMOS camcorder. The differences can be easily detected, even by untrained eyes.
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Old December 6th, 2006, 03:19 PM   #10
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Giroud,

If a CCD is capable of differentiating more lattitude, then it will get downconverted into more in HDV. HDV is a format. but not all media that uses it will have equal sharpness, dynamica range and color. It is a codec that is pretty flexible. It essentially is just Mpeg-2. All of the DVD's you watch in SD are Mpeg-2 and have the ability to retain a fine degree of latitude.
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Old December 6th, 2006, 03:45 PM   #11
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From a casual observation, I would not say that the FX-7 has a higher latitude than the Canon A1. The FX-7 has a tendency to lose details in the shadows, for example.

Of course, comparing one to the other is difficult because the contrast is different.
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Old December 6th, 2006, 04:18 PM   #12
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"since latitude is just the range available between the darkest and the lightest part of a picture, i do not really see how the same technology (HDV) could produce a different latitude."

Look at a DVD professionally produced from a big-budget motion picture. It shows much greater latitude than video from a camcorder. DVD mpeg2 doesn't have greater latitude than DV or HDV, but the big-budget movie looks better. It has nothing to do with the delivery format. It is due to expert color correction that brought the highlights and shadows into the MPEG2 range and the originating media's ability to discern detail in both the shadow and highlights. If the imager is physically more resistant to overexposure in the highlights, it will look better. If it can pick up detail in the shadows before the highlights are clipped, it will look better. Different technologies have different physical properties and this is evident in the reviews done by Wofgang. CCD and CMOS gather photons and relay their signal a bit differently.
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Old December 6th, 2006, 04:31 PM   #13
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quote:
"Look at a DVD professionally produced from a big-budget motion picture..."

You are right, professional DVD made out of professional movie look better.
As i said, it is just the proof of clever use of the latitude given by mpeg2 at 8 bit RGB. It does not change the fact that the range is given and fixed to the one defined by the standard used.
That is why i maintain that good shooting , will give you an increase in quality of several magnitude than than the thin difference you could get between a CCD and a CMOS.
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Old December 6th, 2006, 05:04 PM   #14
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You bring up a good point. Even though the V1 appears to have significantly greater latitude than other HDV cameras, that won't make any difference in the hands of someone who doesn't know how to shoot decently.
Even output from a FW950 will look awful from someone who doesn't know what they are doing, and a monster with a camera can take a PD150 and do wonderful things.
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Old December 6th, 2006, 07:56 PM   #15
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Latitude is not something that is going to be lightyears ahead in terms of quality. It is better but it isn't the sort of thing that is going to knock somebody on the seat of their pants. It is one of those subtle enhancments that give the camera a slight different look compared to other HDV cameras but thats about it.

Good cinematography and knowing the limits of a CCD based camera will give you better images then just a decent shooter with a camera with a little bit more latitude.

Greater latitude is not the perfect cure for bad and sloppy shooting and exposure. It can help but there are a lot of other things that can help as well.

Lets face it we are still in the age of tradeoffs for these small HD cameras. If latitude is the most important aspect of the image to you and you do not mind sacrificing other elements of the image then the V1 should be a great camera. The V1 is still tied with the Canon A1/G1 with me at this stage for my next HD camera. I will not decide however until I see more footage and get a chance to rent the camera and try it out. I already know I love the look of the Canon due to the countless dozens of sample clips I have seen in various shooting conditions. There are however some features I love from the V1 such as dedicated hard drive recorder, HDMI, CMOS. Latitude while nice is not a huge concern for me because I tend to take great care in exposing my shots and in fact I usually prefer more contrasty scenes. Any extra latitude would probably be killed by the time I was done color correcting the footage.
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