Recorded video is too dark with FX1 at DVinfo.net

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Sony HVR-Z1 / HDR-FX1
Pro and consumer versions of this Sony 3-CCD HDV camcorder.


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Old July 20th, 2009, 01:31 AM   #1
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Recorded video is too dark with FX1

Okay this may be a really dumb question . . . But that is why I came to really smart people to ask :-D

I shoot with an FX1 and I use 3 cool-lux broad lights with softboxes and 1,000 watt bulbs each. I definitely know I need more light at times, but the recorded content is no where near as bright as the actual set when I am shooting.

My editor has been brightening stuff in post, but I am wondering if there is something I should adjust on the camera to help with this problem.

I am open to any and all suggestions.

Thanks!

Bill
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Old July 20th, 2009, 01:41 AM   #2
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Really dumb answer: Are you sure ND is OFF? If ND OFF is lit up solidly in your LCD/VF, it's off, but if it's flashing, it's not and is telling you to do so.

Also, are you shooting manual or Auto? What settings/icons are visible in VF? It really could be almost anything.

My experience is the FX1 is pretty good in low light, so based on what you are adding you should be having no problems... without knowing any more particulars.

How long have you had/used the cam? Has anyone else had access to it? Have you played with the settings like SPOTLIGHT, BACKLIGHT, AE SHIFT, Manual Iris, Shutter, Gain? LCD/VF Backlight/Brightness? Cinematone Gammma? How much tweaking have you done? Have you set up Picture Profiles, and are you using them? When you play the tape back with DATA CODE enabled, what readings/values are showing? Are you using an exterrnal monitor, and if so is it calbrated? Are you using Zebras?

Most importantly, have you thoroughly gone over pages 27-36 of your manual?
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Old July 20th, 2009, 04:23 AM   #3
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If you happen to be using shore power rather than batteries, the viewfinder will automatically switch to a brighter appearance than what is being recorded. It's in the manual.

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Old July 20th, 2009, 07:53 AM   #4
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Do you use the zebras to help set exposure? 100% Zebras need to show on white surfaces with the FX1 just don't let them show on yellow or faces. IF you set so that zebra do not show on white the scene will be too dark. You can shoot some stuff on auto and see what the auto setting does and this will have zebra on most of the white. I too had this issue when I first got my FX1 when they first came out and now use the above to get better exposure. FX1 does not do setup for NTSC TV's so if you are monitoring from the analogue outs the scene will also look dark. To make things worse black is also not 0, more like 3 so when cut with any of the newer cams the blacks will also not look correct!!! My XR500 picture makes my FX1 look dated. I edit with Edius and to match the SR11 or XR500 I also use the YUV Gamma adjustment to move the black down and the whites higher to match as needed.

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Old July 22nd, 2009, 03:28 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam Gold View Post
Really dumb answer: Are you sure ND is OFF? If ND OFF is lit up solidly in your LCD/VF, it's off, but if it's flashing, it's not and is telling you to do so.

Also, are you shooting manual or Auto? What settings/icons are visible in VF? It really could be almost anything.

My experience is the FX1 is pretty good in low light, so based on what you are adding you should be having no problems... without knowing any more particulars.

How long have you had/used the cam? Has anyone else had access to it? Have you played with the settings like SPOTLIGHT, BACKLIGHT, AE SHIFT, Manual Iris, Shutter, Gain? LCD/VF Backlight/Brightness? Cinematone Gammma? How much tweaking have you done? Have you set up Picture Profiles, and are you using them? When you play the tape back with DATA CODE enabled, what readings/values are showing? Are you using an exterrnal monitor, and if so is it calbrated? Are you using Zebras?

Most importantly, have you thoroughly gone over pages 27-36 of your manual?
I brought the camera home from the studio today and checked the ND, it is definitely off. It does not show up in my screen unless I set the switch to ND1 or ND2 then it flashes "ND off" at me. So I put the switch back in the off position where it has been.

I shoot in auto mode and I checked the spotlight and backlight setting and both are off.

The viewfinder is showing everything as too dark, just like the final recorded content when we pull it into Adobe. I have not done any tweaking on the camera and nobody else has had access to it, so nothing has been changed, unless talent grabbed it when I ran to change batteries . . . but I dont think that is likely. (but I can not guarantee it has not happened)

I do not know what DATA CODE is so I will have to review that in the manual.

Any other suggestions why it might now be recording content darker than it used to?

Thanks!

Bill
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Old July 22nd, 2009, 05:46 AM   #6
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I don't know what you're shooting or that much about about the FX1 specifically but I do know about lighting and cameras and 3000 watts of light is a lot of light for just about anything you might be doing except perhaps a seminar or big item product shoot.
As for why the footage is darker than before without seeing a comparison of before and after it's hard to tell but here are a number of things it MIGHT be. NDs, camera NOT on full auto (something is in manual mode) Custom Preset is set wrong, lighting is different than previous shoots, lens has some sort of filter other than UV on it mayber a polarizing or ND, if you're using the LCD to gauge exposure DON'T. Use the zebras as was suggested before although if you are using the camera in auto mode the exposure in a controlled enviorment should be right on (or at least close enough for government work). Last thing to think about, are you sure the previous footage was right and the last footage was wrong? Maybe the last footage was the right exposure and the other was not. Just a thought.
As for the DATA CODE, if the FX1 is like the 150/170 on gthe side where the menu and all the other buttons are (when you open the LCD) there is one that says, Data Code, press that while loading the tape and the screen info will give you all the info about the exposure, shutter, iris,gain,whether CP was on or not, if the ND was on, everything you need to know.
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Old July 22nd, 2009, 09:19 AM   #7
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I shoot in auto mode and I checked the spotlight and backlight setting and both are off.

Bill
Learn how to use your camera in full manual settings (iris, gain, shutter speed, white balance etc.), and get your camera OUT of auto mode.

While in auto you're relying on what the camera thinks is proper exposure, in a dark setting, which might be correct or not. Lean how to run your camera in full manual settings and then see if there is a problem with your FX1.

Also, calibrate your LCD screen as best you can to make sure that you are seeing what is correct being recorded to tape.

I don't mean to preach, but I see this "why is my image bad" a lot on forums and almost every time the shooter is running in auto mode. A good camera operator should always be running his camera manually adjusting when needed. This can compensate for unexpected hiccups during a shot, where the exposure may jump or lower, when it's not needed. When shooting outside, one can get away with auto more often than not, but not always. Indoors, not so much.
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Old July 22nd, 2009, 05:30 PM   #8
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There's no real way to know what the issue is from where we're sitting, so one thing you might want to try is a hard reset. If some obscure setting is set to some bizarre value that will clear it. Instructions are in the manual. You'll probably have to set the time and date again.

My experience with Auto is the opposite of Michael's, but that's probably because I'm an idiot. I find Auto is almost always (not always always, but almost) better than when I muck about in the settings manually. I do set up Picture Profiles and use other tweaks, but I usually shoot auto and have been pretty happy with the results.

Anyway, your problem could be so many things that without knowing each and every setting and seeing screen shots, it's a little like saying "My car runs too slow. What's wrong?" Could really be almost anything.
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Old August 24th, 2009, 08:28 PM   #9
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Sorry for the delay in getting back to you guys. I appreciate all of the input and am still struggling with the issue. The camera has to run in auto since my left hand is holding the handheld light and the action I shoot is not something that can be started and stopped without negatively affecting the final product ;-) So that along with my being a complete idiot on controlling my camera is why I shoot in auto mode. It worked great for the first year and a half I had the camera and now suddenly all of my scenes seem too dark.

I will try the hard reset as suggested to make sure there is not something that got adjusted that I am unaware of.

Thanks!

Bill
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Old August 24th, 2009, 11:58 PM   #10
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If you're shooting in a studio setting you should be able to set the exposure before hand and leave it. Auto will give the wrong exposure if there is dark or light background. Manual is the only way to control your exposure.
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Old August 28th, 2009, 12:25 AM   #11
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The FX1 in auto will do a lot of things like bump up gain.

If its too dark in auto, assuming the camera cranked gain to the max, it might have been too dark from the get go.

If you have Sony Vegas Pro there are a few Special FXs that help to brighten scene (with some color change)(not always a bad thing).
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Old September 4th, 2009, 08:44 PM   #12
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I would take a look at your shutter setting. If set too high your pictures could be real dark
no matter how much light you have
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Old September 11th, 2009, 02:04 AM   #13
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There are times when I have to let my FX1 run in the auto exposure mode. If I look at the scene and see that a large white tablecloth or a bright window are in frame I know that the camera will under-expose the rest of the frame - the important bits.

But in the picture profile you can choose to set the AE shift up a notch or two or three or more. This is great for my unattended camera as it means that if the light levels change the exposure will follow suit, but will still be overriding the bright parts in the frame. I use this a lot.

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