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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 March 10th, 2006, 09:11 PM   #1
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manipulating gamma & image characteristics

I seem to recall reading a review somewhere which praised the Z1U's image tweaking functionality. Is it similar to the DVX's menu of gamma presets? How does is compare to other HDV cams in terms of usability and usefulness?
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Old March 10th, 2006, 09:18 PM   #2
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You can turn on cinematone and choose either type 1 or 2 through the Picture Profile menu - these are the gamma options. The PP also allows you to adjust color level, color phase, sharpness, skintone detail, AE shift, AGC limit, ATW sensitivity, turn cineframe on and off, and turn black stretch on and off. There are 6 picture profiles which can be saved, copied and edited in the camera but unfortunately there's no way to transfer them out.

The camera menu gives you access to the color correct function which is potentially very powerful. You can set it to either revise or isolate up to two colors which you choose. There are also 6 programmable buttons which can be assigned a variety of functions for quick access. Finally, there's the personal menu which lets you choose your most frequently used menu items for recall without digging through the heirarchical main menu.
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Old March 10th, 2006, 10:10 PM   #3
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Thanks for the precise/concise response.

Does anyone know of a series of images which show the comparative results of these different settings and presets?

How about usability? Is the PP menu easy to use and convenient and flexible? I am really curious to know how the usability of this camera stacks up against the other hdv cams.

Is the color correct function a unique innovation? What does potentially powerful really mean? Does it mean it's the kind of thing that might be powerful if it was easier to use? Does it mean that it is a good idea but a difficult implementation? Does it mean that it is rarely used, but if people understood it they would use it more? Or does it just plain mean that it is a great, generally unexploited piece of functionality? And finally, can you provide more detail on the ways in which one might use it?

Do the PP menu and color correcter features add up to image manipulation features which are more robust, different, or about equal to the competition?
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Old March 11th, 2006, 07:21 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fischer Spooner
Is the color correct function a unique innovation? What does potentially powerful really mean? Does it mean it's the kind of thing that might be powerful if it was easier to use? Does it mean that it is a good idea but a difficult implementation? Does it mean that it is rarely used, but if people understood it they would use it more? Or does it just plain mean that it is a great, generally unexploited piece of functionality?
In a word.... yes. :-)

Not much has been written about this function, and it is rather awkward to use. Since we often don't have monitors when we're out shooting, it probably makes more sense to do color correction in post. But Adam Wilt pointed out in his review that if you know what you want then it may make sense using the in-camera function since HDV has such limited colorspace and high compression.

It's accessed via heirarchical menus using the thumbwheel, which is always awkward. There are two basic modes: revisise and extract. If you set it for extract it will give you a black and white image, and you choose the color you want to isolate. This can be used for an effect such as a black and white scene with a red rose in it for example. To choose the desired color you set the phase, range and saturation and observe what happens on the LCD screen or monitor. There are two color memories which may be independently set this way. Then you can choose either or both of these for the effect. For revision mode you can choose to modify the colors you've recorded to memories 1 and/or 2.

You generall go into extract mode so you can easily pick your desired color against the black and white background, then you can go into revision mode which changes to a full color image so you can change these colors by adjusting their red and blue values. It can be difficult to get the desired effect by scrolling through all these menus, but it seems there are a lot of potential uses. I've played with it a bit, but haven't used it very seriously yet.

The picture profiles are very easy to use. There's a separate button to access them. Pressing it gives you a list of 6 profiles you may select using the thumbwheel. They become active when you scroll over them, and you immediately see their effect. Pushing the wheel gives you the option of editing the settings, which is very straightforward. Really, this is just an extension of the "custom preset" function on the Sony PD and VX series, but there are a lot more parameters and they have a greater range of adjustment. And the Z1 has 6 profiles whereas the VX and PD only have one.
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Old March 11th, 2006, 11:50 AM   #5
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One thing I’ve found is that the cinematone 1 and 2 actually lessen the dynamic range, and will end up giving you an “anti-cinematone” look. This setting should be called “videotone” due to the loss in latitude.

Black stretch, on the other hand, preserves the detail in the highlights, and boosts the shadows, effectively enhancing your dynamic range…giving you more freedom in post to color correct, while preserving your latitude.
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Old March 11th, 2006, 04:31 PM   #6
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I've played around with colour extract a little bit. It can give you some pretty powerful images if you spend the time needed to adjust the three parameters right. One downside to it (and I'm sure this is a downside consistent with most in-camera colour extract features) is that if you try to do a focus rack with your isolated colour out of focus, it doesn't look so great. I'd post an image if I had one.
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Old March 12th, 2006, 04:42 AM   #7
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And the image manipulation is the same in FX1 as compared with the Z1U (except there are 6 profiles in the Z1 compared with 3 profiles in the FX1)?

Or are some of these features described not present in the FX1? Are there any other image manipulation features missing in the FX1? I know this has surely been covered repeatedly elsewhere, so I hope you'll forgive me for asking it again in this isolated context.
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Old March 12th, 2006, 07:16 AM   #8
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This should answer all those questions: http://hdvinfo.net/articles/sonyhdrfx1/compare.php

The Z1 has a number of features not present on the FX1:

black stretch
color correction
cinematone type 2
DVCAM recording
PAL/NTSC switchable
viewfinder/LCD underscan mode
480p/576p component output
4:3 crop and letterbox downconversion modes
autofocus assist
choice of peaking colors
additional audio modes/XLR inputs
additional timecode options
more user buttons and more functions which can be assigned
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Old March 12th, 2006, 01:02 PM   #9
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Thank you !

In other words (in the FX1), there is still some control of color and color level through the picture profile menu, but you can't really manipulate the gamma directly?

I take the lack of black stretch, Isaac Anderson's comment about latitude, and no mention anywhere else by anyone of any other gamma manipulation tools to mean that while the FX1 allows color manipulation, it doesn't allow gamma manipulation beyond the cinematone 1 option. And further, that there is really only one useful gamma modification, and that is black stretch. I wish I could see some pictures of the results of the black stretch and color correction and PP menu functions.
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