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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 August 4th, 2006, 03:29 PM   #1
Loren Sonnenberg
 
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Shooting Documentary with the FX1

I've just begun a documentary project using the FX1, have shot about two hours worth of footage so far, and am still having a little bit of trouble with the adjustment to HDV.

Not being able to use the expanded focus when recording has been a serious issue when I'm doing run and gun style shooting. In low light situations even with the expanded focus it can be hard to get things just right. I've also found I can't trust the auto focus/push auto in anything but ideal daylight conditions.

The lack of XLR inputs has been a stretch as well since I don't want to risk using XLR-mini adapter cables longer than ten feet and ten feet of cable doesn't get you too far.

If anyone has any tips for how they've dealt with the more frustrating aspects of this camera lay them on me cause I'm very tempted to just fall back to the DVX100.

Thanks for any tips you can muster.
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Old August 4th, 2006, 04:19 PM   #2
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Use a beachtek adapter to give you xlrs. They have many to chose from, I use one that cost me $50 on ebay and it works great. Its a dx4p.

Jon
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Old August 5th, 2006, 07:30 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Loren Sonnenberg
The lack of XLR inputs has been a stretch as well since I don't want to risk using XLR-mini adapter cables longer than ten feet and ten feet of cable doesn't get you too far.

Even if the FX1 has those dreaded 1/8 jack audio inputs, they are the locking type. So what you need is a 3 feet adaptor cable, that threads on the camera end and has two XLR-3 females on the other side.

I don't know if such a cable is available off-hand, but it is not I am sure B&H or Markertek can do one for you.

Secure that cable somehow on your FX1 so it doesn't pull on the input end, and use XLR/XLR extensions to connect your mics.

The audio input is low impedance, so you can get away with up to 30-feet and perhaps a bit more. You won't have the advantages of a balanced connection, like common-mode noise rejection, but it should work quite well. Who told you 10 feet was your limit? It certainly is not.

In any case you should get yourself a Sound Devices Mixpre 2-channel preamp, which IMO is a much better audio handling than that on the Z1 itself. Then you can connect it to that same adaptor described above.
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Old August 5th, 2006, 08:27 AM   #4
Loren Sonnenberg
 
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Originally Posted by Carlos E. Martinez
Even if the FX1 has those dreaded 1/8 jack audio inputs, they are the locking type.
Good point about the locking mini jack. I'll have to get a compatible cable for it.

What my biggest concern is though is the ability to reliably get a sharp focus in challenging situations. Could I get some kind of adapter that would bring my focus to infinity much closer to the lense? Does anyone have any tips and tricks they have used to deal with the extra complexity of focusing this camera on the fly?
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Old August 5th, 2006, 10:37 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Loren Sonnenberg
What my biggest concern is though is the ability to reliably get a sharp focus in challenging situations. Could I get some kind of adapter that would bring my focus to infinity much closer to the lense? Does anyone have any tips and tricks they have used to deal with the extra complexity of focusing this camera on the fly?

For such situations as the one you describe, the good thing would be to have a high quality wide angle adaptor, which would provide the focus you want and should be less critical. Can't think of any other thing.
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Old August 6th, 2006, 03:39 PM   #6
Loren Sonnenberg
 
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Originally Posted by Carlos E. Martinez
For such situations as the one you describe, the good thing would be to have a high quality wide angle adaptor, which would provide the focus you want and should be less critical. Can't think of any other thing.
The camera that I'm using is on loan and I'm slightly hesitant to buy any equipment that would be specifically for it. Then again it's probably worth it.

How noticeable would the difference with a wide angle adapter be and is there a specific model that you would recommend?
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Old August 7th, 2006, 04:50 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Loren Sonnenberg
The camera that I'm using is on loan and I'm slightly hesitant to buy any equipment that would be specifically for it. Then again it's probably worth it.

How noticeable would the difference with a wide angle adapter be and is there a specific model that you would recommend?

If the camera is not yours it would probably be a waste of money to invest on anything you won't have any use for after the shooting.

In any case, even if I haven't used them: the Sony VCL-HG0872 0.8x wide angleadaptor is selling for around $400; or the Century 0.6x VS-06WA-HDS for $350.

So you may balance if it's worth spending that now and maybe selling it later, after shooting wraps. Perhaps the camera owner itself?...

About the difference with what you are using now, there would be some price to pay: a slight light loss, due to the extra glass elements; the standard sunshades may or not be visible and/or clipped on the lens, less of a problem if you have some matte box; some optical distortions on certain situations.

Look for comments over this adaptors in this and other forums.
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Old August 7th, 2006, 10:17 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Loren Sonnenberg
Good point about the locking mini jack. I'll have to get a compatible cable for it.

What my biggest concern is though is the ability to reliably get a sharp focus in challenging situations. Could I get some kind of adapter that would bring my focus to infinity much closer to the lense? Does anyone have any tips and tricks they have used to deal with the extra complexity of focusing this camera on the fly?

I have been practicing with focus with this camera the last couple of weeks. My comments:

1. The focus assist feature is useful only with set up shots. It doesn't work if you are in the middle of a shot with tape running.

2. At least for my 55 year old eyes, forget about focusing using the LCD. You need to go viewfinder.

3, I actually find it more pleasing in shots that I am shooting on the fly to "follow focus" at wider aperatures, with a shallower depth of field. In other words, shooting at F4 rather than F 9. it will be easier to discern how much in focus you are, and I don't find my self searching as much with a wider aperature. Of course, if your subject is moving a lot, then with the narrow depth of field, I have to adjust more quickly.

4. For set up shots, use scene transition to set two differenct focus points..
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Old August 7th, 2006, 11:38 AM   #9
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I needed XLR Inputs but didnt wanna shell out the 250$ I kept seeing for beachtek so I bought a mini jack to female XLR cable for like 5.95 off B&H works great.
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Old August 7th, 2006, 12:13 PM   #10
Loren Sonnenberg
 
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Maybe I'm missing something here. How does using a wide angle adapter make it easier to focus? Is there an article you could point me to that explains this?
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Old August 7th, 2006, 12:38 PM   #11
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wider lense, deeper depth of feild.
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Old August 7th, 2006, 08:54 PM   #12
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I bought the Sony .8x wide-angle adapter on eBay for about $250 last winter. It's very sharp and although it's kinda heavy I like the fact that it widens an already-wide view through my FX1. I do a lot of hand-held shooting and the footage is very watchable on a big-screen TV.

As for audio runs, I've used 4 20' sections of SHIELDED stereo miniplug extensions without any noise or hum issues. The connectors are much less robust than XLR, of course, but it can be done.
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Old August 7th, 2006, 10:11 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Loren Sonnenberg
Maybe I'm missing something here. How does using a wide angle adapter make it easier to focus? Is there an article you could point me to that explains this?
Wide angle lens only mean deeper depth of field, and more of your scene it critical focus.

But why would you want everything in your field of vision in focus. Wouldn't that distract the viewer if the lamp in the back ground or the bookcase is in sharp focus? Seems to me you need a happy medium.

If you shoot too wide, you will also introduce distortion. And in still photography, we were taught that portrait lens are low to mid telephoto range (100 to 150 ) to get a natural appearing subject.
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Old August 8th, 2006, 06:08 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Iredale
I bought the Sony .8x wide-angle adapter on eBay for about $250 last winter. It's very sharp and although it's kinda heavy I like the fact that it widens an already-wide view through my FX1. I do a lot of hand-held shooting and the footage is very watchable on a big-screen TV.
Yes, that lens is probably an interesting one. I wonder who makes it.

Quote:
As for audio runs, I've used 4 20' sections of SHIELDED stereo miniplug extensions without any noise or hum issues. The connectors are much less robust than XLR, of course, but it can be done.
There are three tricks to deal with the robustness question:

1) Make a short 1/8 to XLR adaptor, never longer than 3-feet.

2) Never unplug the cable from the camera. Leave it on all the time. Mini-plug jacks tend to lose contact with succesive plug/unplugs. And you will not want to change the jack on your FX1 = $$$ ;)

3) Secure the XLRs or the cable close to them somewhere on the camera, so you don't force the plug's end when you plug/unplug your XLR extensions.
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Old August 8th, 2006, 06:54 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Chris Barcellos
Wide angle lens only mean deeper depth of field, and more of your scene it critical focus.

But why would you want everything in your field of vision in focus. Wouldn't that distract the viewer if the lamp in the back ground or the bookcase is in sharp focus? Seems to me you need a happy medium.

If you shoot too wide, you will also introduce distortion. And in still photography, we were taught that portrait lens are low to mid telephoto range (100 to 150 ) to get a natural appearing subject.
Wide angle adapters are just a necessary evil. They solve some issues and bring many others.

Shading reflections away becomes a major problem, particularly with wider adaptors. The best tool is having a French flag at hand, particularly those you can lock from your camera.

Anti-reflection coating is very important, and the best way to see how WA do there is looking at yourself on the lens. If you see little of yourself, then the anti-reflection coating is good.

Wide angle lenses or adaptors are also critical when you move your camera, particularly on pans. On the other side they are the best thing when you take your camera off a tripod.
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