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Sony HVR-Z1 / HDR-FX1
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Old February 22nd, 2009, 01:07 PM   #1
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FX1 - Settings for low light conditions

I want to use my FX1 to shoot footage in clubs and at gigs. What settings would you recommend to get the best results? Won't be shooting interviews, just live footage of bands/DJs performing (Sorry if this is an obvious question but I'm pretty new to this)

Thanks

Tim
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Old February 22nd, 2009, 01:53 PM   #2
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i wouldnt push past 12db, and you can drop the shuter to 1/30 with great results!
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Old February 22nd, 2009, 02:32 PM   #3
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...and don't zoom in too far or you'll lose even more light...
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Old February 22nd, 2009, 03:04 PM   #4
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The FX1 gives excellent footage shot at +18dB of gain up so don't be afraid to go there. Stick to wide-angle and move about rather than zooming up - remember you need 3x as much light falling on the subject if you want to film at full tele rather than wide-angle.

Don't use any filters or converter lenses as they lose you some light too. And use the slow shutter speeds for motion blur effects - it can look very good at times.

A small on-camera light can be good - look at the Sony 20-DW2.

tom.
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Old February 22nd, 2009, 03:29 PM   #5
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Make sure you're in SPOTLIGHT mode under theatrical lighting conditions or the faces will be blown out as the camera tries to pull up the blacks. Even so, use your Zebras to see if the faces are being overexposed, and make sure to lock into Indoor white balance (never Auto).
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Old February 23rd, 2009, 05:09 AM   #6
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Thanks guys, really appreciated. What wide angle lenses would you recommend? There appear to be a huge different between the cheapest lenses and the most expensive. Do you get what you pay for in this regard?
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Old February 23rd, 2009, 05:19 AM   #7
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Oh yes, you get what you pay for all right. The cheaper lenses will generally flare more, distort more and wil sometimes vignette the image too.
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Old February 23rd, 2009, 06:35 AM   #8
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make sure you get one you can "zoom through", the Sony lens works this way,
and although it is a pain to screw on and off, it works great!
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Old February 23rd, 2009, 09:18 AM   #9
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There again I beg to differ. I've tested and used a great deal of wide-angle converters and I greatly admire the non zoom-through types. Of course you can still zoom, my Z1 goes from 0 to 65 with the non zoom-through wide-converter in place, 0 to 100 without.

Non zoomthroughs are generally single elements, so are cheaper, lighter, more compact and flare less. They also have more CA, but there you go.

tom.
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Old February 23rd, 2009, 09:29 AM   #10
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To put this into context I have seen the following advertised on ebay:

SONY VCL-HG0872 72mm WIDE ANGLE CONVERTER LENS - 265

Tokina 0.5X High Definition Professional Wide Angle Lens - 56

Digital Concepts 0.43X High Definition Professional Wide Angle Lens w/MACRO - 45

I assume the bottom two shouldn't be touched with a barge pole unless you are on a really tight budget?
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Old February 23rd, 2009, 10:18 AM   #11
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Are these all zoom-through and all 72 mm fit, Tim? Sounds an amazing price for the Tokina if it is. But the Sony is a 0.8x (so will show very little barrel distortion, and I actually have one for sale), whereas the others are more powerful 0.5x.

I'm thinking that the Digital Concepts (who?) have just made up their 0.43x figure - I mean, specifying it to two decimal places when production tolerances would be hard pushed to get it in one decimal place.

tom.
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Old February 23rd, 2009, 11:21 AM   #12
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Hmmm, not sure. Doesn't sound like it at that price I guess. (I assume "zoom through" is simply the ability zoom in/out when the wide angle lens is attached?)

Sorry to be such a pain but what does the multiple refer to? I had thought that x0.8 was more 'powerful' than x0.5 for example.

Is there a good database of these lenses anywhere to check for value/effect etc?
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Old February 23rd, 2009, 11:31 AM   #13
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Tim, go look at the Raynox site for a very good explanation of lenses and what the values mean, with examples at the click of a mouse.

OK, quick maths lesson. Say you have a 10x zoom that goes from 5 mm to 50 mm. If you attach a 0.5x converter you still have a 10x zoom, but it now goes from 2.5 mm to 25 mm. A 0.8x would give you a 4 to 40 mm zoom.

With the converter in place you'll get more flare, distortion and it will be less sharp, but the losses are small these days and more importantly the focal lengths may be much more to your liking.

tom.
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Old February 25th, 2009, 05:21 AM   #14
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Excuse me Tom, bu from what i tested at 18DB i can see a lot of grain.....Maybe am i missing anything?
Thx
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Old February 25th, 2009, 05:28 AM   #15
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You don't say what camera you have Marcus so you may be quite correct. But if you have a Z1 or FX1 then you'll find the +18dB of gain up is very usable indeed, and a lot better than coming home with under-exposed footage.

I've filmed entire (gloomy) wedding services using this gain setting. Sony have ensurred there's softening added to smooth the grain and of course the colours are subdued, but overall I've been pleasantly surprised by how good the results can look.

And remember this - brides won't complain about grainy pictures but they sure will complain about grainy sound. Get the latter right and you're home and dry.

tom.
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