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Sony HVR-Z1 / HDR-FX1
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Old May 22nd, 2006, 11:23 PM   #1
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Z1, Best settings for stage lit shots

When I previously shot with my old VX1000 it had an AE program mode call "twilight" for shooting colored lights at nights (fireworks, stage, etc.). The manual did not elaborate on what this mode actually did to the settings, but it worked very well.

I'd like to find something that does as well using my Z1U when I shoot an upcoming night time indoor dance performance with changing colored lights. I've looked at the really good DVD for Z1 operation, but this particular thing was not discussed. Anyone have any experience with this and suggestions?
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Old May 23rd, 2006, 07:40 AM   #2
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I shoot lots of performances, and really I think the only way to get decent results is using manual controls. Set the shutter speed to 1/60 (unless you have some good reason not to) and use the very nice manual iris knob. I think it's one of the best features of the Z1; you can do really smooth iris changes, unlike the older Sony cameras. Turn on your zebra pattern and use that as a guide to exposure.

Lots of other good ideas about shooting performances here: http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=60275
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Old May 23rd, 2006, 12:02 PM   #3
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settings

Thanks Boyd. If I recall correctly, the AE program mode "twilight" still allowed me to shoot everything else manually, which is the method I've always used, including the zebra you mention - never shot in auto. Probably the key point here is the 1/60 sec. shutter speed - maybe twilight locked it at that speed.
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Old May 23rd, 2006, 02:06 PM   #4
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I think twilight limited the gain which of course you can set manually. On the FX1 which I have theatre environments usually are in the range F2 to F4 with gain between 6db and 9db. Of course there are very dark and very light scenes that may be outside these ranges. I usually start at F3.4 with 9db gain,1/60th and indoor preset and see what happens if I haven't had the opportunity to get a stage reading!!! If i know its going to be dark performance I have gain presets at 6,9 and 12 for a light show gain at 0, 6 and 9. This has covered everthing I have shot in the last 18 months with the FX1.

Ron Evans
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Old May 24th, 2006, 02:34 AM   #5
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I shoot a goodly number of stage shows, and I've given up trying to keep up with the lighting director. He (of course) wants maximum dynamic range to give his performance ooomph, so blasts the stage in hot-spots and colours. I simply cannot keep up.

I agree with Boyd that the Z1's aperture control wheel is the finest around at this price point, but even so It's another dial to fiddle with when there's lots more to think about. So I programme one of my buttons to be artificial w/bal + 1/50th sec (PAL) and Spotlight mode.

Works a treat. The Sony Spotlight mode is a very intelligent, hard working and useful mode, and means bye-bye to the burnt out faces and white suits on a black stage in darkness.

Give it a try, I'm sure you'll be impressed. I can't believe I'm saying this. Me! Mr 'shoot in manual at all times or be shot' tom.

tom.
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Old May 24th, 2006, 11:31 PM   #6
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Z1 settings, stage

Thank you everyone for good input, all good points.

Spotlight looks like something worth investigating. I notice that when you use "spotlight" you are limited to using manual on only one of the three "iris", "gain", or "shutter". I assume spotlight will handle the iris function ok, I could manually set the shutter, and I "think" that without actually operating "gain" in manual mode I can at least limit it with the preset. I'll try some tests, but of course can't simulate the performance environment for testing.

Now that I'm reading some more details in the manual, I see they actually recommend "outdoor" white balance for "general night views" neon signs, fireworks, etc. Hmmmmm, wonder if outdoor wb might be a good wb preset, maybe tweeking it to be a bit warm in the menu setting?

Also, I'll be trying to learn more details about the lighting plan for the show in advance.
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Old May 25th, 2006, 01:32 AM   #7
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Chris, a stage show is artificial light, no doubt about it.

As to testing your spotlight mode, try this. Sit in a darkened room with just one light bulb illuminating it. Point your camera so that the bare bulb is included in frame, and toggle between auto and spotlight mode. Zoom into the bulb and toggle again.

See what happens? Now turn on more lights and point your camera at an evenly lit suface and again, toggle between auto and spotlight. Now see how clever the program is?

Of course lighting directors will push the boundaries and there will be times when it'll be beyond the spotlight mode's limits, but even so, I consider it a very useful mode.

tom.
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Old May 26th, 2006, 01:22 AM   #8
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spotlight & white balance

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Hardwick
Chris, a stage show is artificial light, no doubt about it.
tom.
Because WB has to do with Kelvin, Cool bluish (outdoor) vs. warm reddish (indoor), it would make sense that stage lighting does not automatically fit one category.

I did the spotlight test you suggested - yes the spotlight works good.
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Old May 30th, 2006, 10:46 PM   #9
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One last thing, definitely use black stretch in the Z1. It works a lot of miracles on some of the shoots I've done.

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