Anyone shoot with a sharpness setting of 0? 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 5th, 2007, 11:57 AM   #1
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Anyone shoot with a sharpness setting of 0?

I noticed that if I dial down the sharpness setting in one of the picture profile settings to zero, the ringing around bright highlights completely disappears. The image looks very nice and smooth, however, the standard setting of 11 creates these black halos (sharpening artifacts) around contrasty edges. I plan on doing some test shoots to see if zero sharpening is acceptable. Anyone shoot with a zero setting? I realize it creates softer than usual images but perhaps this is the true sharpness of the CCD imager?

Another question, would sharpness setting of zero be really zero sharpening or does the Z1U add blur to the image?
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Old July 5th, 2007, 04:42 PM   #2
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I've found that the zero sharpness setting is the most desirable for what I do. I like my footage to resemble film, so I prefer softer images with no sharpening artifacts. I shoot on the Z1U in PAL CF25 a lot, and I've found that even on 8, you can see very clearly the results of CineFrame (there is no denying you lose some resolution), whereas in 0, there are no stair-stepping artifacts (that I have found).

This, of course, needs to also be considered with the fact that I downsize everything "film-ish" to 1280x720, as shooting in CineFrame25 effectively reduces the resolution (I've found) to about that size.
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Old July 6th, 2007, 11:07 PM   #3
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Just finished a formal test and found a sharpness setting of 0 just way too blurry for my tastes. Even downsampled to 1280x720 looks blurry. I like how there is no black halos but the lack thereof doesn't justify the amount of blurriness produced.

I've found a setting of 5 to be a good compromise between haloing and sharpness.
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Old July 7th, 2007, 03:36 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Ian Holb View Post
Another question, would sharpness setting of zero be really zero sharpening or does the Z1U add blur to the image?
I wondered if, as the scale went from 0 to 15, that 8 would be the mid-point, as I too found a very low setting to be very blurry. Compared to 2/3" cameras, I've felt the Z1 was soft, but not THAT soft.

Alan Roberts, a retired BBC R&D engineer who still does lots of testing of cameras for them, pointed out in his Z1 test that the lens may be a little too sharp for the sensor as it caused aliasing problems. The math is way over my head, but I guess there may be a certain softening mechanism in the camera processing. So perhaps the zero setting is more like 5 than 0.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/rd/pubs/whp/whp034-add20.shtml

Notwithstanding that, I'm back to using 8. Perhaps I should try dipping back down to 5 again. <g>
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Old July 7th, 2007, 01:12 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Ian Holb View Post
Just finished a formal test and found a sharpness setting of 0 just way too blurry for my tastes. Even downsampled to 1280x720 looks blurry. I like how there is no black halos but the lack thereof doesn't justify the amount of blurriness produced.

I've found a setting of 5 to be a good compromise between haloing and sharpness.
Part of the reason I have dipped down to 0 sharpness is also due to other artifacts I have found at the higher settings. Many near horizontal objects start to severely stair-step even at the "8" setting, whether in Cineframe25 or regular 50i/60i and de-interlaced with DVFilm Maker. I find these stair-stepping artifacts frustrating.

But I just jumped all the way down to 0 -- I wonder if 5 might be okay.
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Old July 7th, 2007, 03:14 PM   #6
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Nope, I'm seeing sharpening artifacts even at five, with or without Cineframe on (in both NTSC and PAL modes).

I don't think 0 adds blur -- I think the lens is just that poor. The artifacts that I see with settings like 5, 8 and beyond look artificial to me (like software sharpening).

Just another case in point on why the Z1U isn't really an indie film camera at all.

Still, I don't terribly mind the soft "0" look. But what I wouldn't give to have money to afford an HVX200 with a Brevis35! If only I hadn't jumped on the HDV bandwagon... But it serves a purpose, nonetheless.

Rant over. :)
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Old July 8th, 2007, 10:33 AM   #7
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If only I hadn't jumped on the HDV bandwagon.
Well, you could always jump off. You could sell your Z1 for not much loss....
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Old July 8th, 2007, 10:48 AM   #8
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Well, you could always jump off. You could sell your Z1 for not much loss....
Unfortunately, I don't think that's the case. First off, I'm not very "selling" savvy. Second, the camera has 18 months of use. And third, I'm still paying the camera off, and if I do sell it, I would have to go further into debt to make up the difference to get the HVX200. So, I'm stuck. :(

Ah well. The Z1U ain't THAT bad. It works for video purposes, and I did make my first feature with it.
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Old July 8th, 2007, 10:54 AM   #9
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I suppose if the budget is that tight, it makes it difficult.

I shoot events with my Z1, so at least I have an income generated with it. So over two years, the extra that I charge now using my own gear is paying for all I bought. Perhaps you could find a way to rent it out, or get gigs shooting with it? That would let you start thinking about upgrading to what you really want.

Just a thought...
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Old July 19th, 2007, 09:22 PM   #10
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I shot two short videos, one in standard of 11 and one after being switched down to 5. There is a definite improvement after toning down the sharpness, the artifacts around contrasted edges become much less evident. At 5 the image still appears fairly clear. I would reccomend this change to anyone using the Z1/FX1.
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