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Sony HVR-Z5 / HDR-FX1000
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Old June 9th, 2013, 07:50 PM   #1
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Is this the best Sony FX1000 can do?

I'm a good way into a documentary, and I'm getting frustrated with the picture quality of this camera. I'm wondering if this is the best this camera can do, or if I'm missing something in the settings department. This sample was shot with manual focus and everything else automatic. I thought the lighting was ideal, and was hoping for better. I'm using Premiere Elements, but I've ruled that out as an issue, since I've hooked the camera up to my TV with an HDMI cable and get the same results. I'm not terribly experienced, but the last film I shot I used the Canon AE-1 and it was fantastic--you could see the pores on peoples' faces. That's what I was expecting here, and it's not even close. By the way, I'm shooting in DV, not HDV, SP, 1080/480, 24 FPS, Any feedback would be greatly welcomed.

Doug

PS: I can't get the sample clip to attach. It has a blur around the face that's disconcerting (a close-up of an interview). There is detail--you can see individual strands of hair--but there's this overall lack of sharpness. Maybe someone can walk me through the attachment process. I do "manage attachments - Browse - File," but it doesn't post with my message.
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Is this the best Sony FX1000 can do?-zoe-still.bmp  

Last edited by Doug Swift; June 10th, 2013 at 11:00 AM. Reason: attachments
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Old June 10th, 2013, 02:26 AM   #2
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Re: Is this the best Sony FX1000 can do?

You have got to hit the "upload" button as well in the manage attachments screen, it's located on the right side.
Is there a reason you are shooting in DV? You can't expect sharp images in that setting, also a Canon ae-1 is a 30 year old photocamera. :)
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Old June 10th, 2013, 10:07 AM   #3
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Re: Is this the best Sony FX1000 can do?

Hi Doug,

My guess would be that the "overall lack of sharpness" is actually due to a couple of factors -

1) You're shooting standard definition DV

2) Camera in AUTO mode. You should be manually setting white balance and exposure for best results, can't always trust auto. Take control to get the desired results. Pull out the manual, connect the camera to a monitor, enable info overlays to external, and then you can play with camera settings while watching live results on the monitor and you can also SEE all the settings on the big screen so you can understand what settings/changes get what results. LEARN the camera is the #1 thing.

3) You're viewing that SD footage on an HD display - it's going to look BAD because it is getting "blown up" by the display. If you watch the footage on a good SD production monitor (CRT) it should look very good (for SD footage). Of course you would need to use an analog connection to the SD display.

I would recommend shooting in HDV. You can always deliver as SD later, but keep the quality up in the acquisition and editing stages.

While I have shot with the FX-1000 a few times when working for another company, I did not have the opportunity to get intimate with the settings menus, but from experience with other Sony cameras, there will be some internal controls for sharpness, color, etc. that will allow some customization of the recorded image to suit your needs and taste.

Thanks
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Old June 10th, 2013, 11:25 AM   #4
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Re: Is this the best Sony FX1000 can do?

Thanks for all the replies. Indeed, the prior camera I used was a Canon XH-A1.

I have done some manual work on this project, but I am mostly all on my own--sound, camera, interview. It's an independent labor of love, and I accept it as it is. If I can let the camera do some of the work I try and let that happen.

I tried to upload a clip of video, and got an error message, but I was able to upload a still (see original post). It shows my problem: close but not close enough.

As for the DV, v. HDV, in the past Premiere Elements kept crashing with the HDV, and I had read in some forum or other that the DV was really equal to the HDV in small applications (TV size). I was certainly convinced of that argument by the Canon XH-A1. As it happens, I just got a new computer this week with 10 gigs of RAM and plenty of memory, so maybe it's time to reconsider the argument. I just shot a short bit of HDV, and it looks much better. (One side issue: Premiere Elements only seems to have a setting for HDV 30. I've been shooting at 24 fps.)

There is another issue about shifting to HDV after having already shot 10 hours of tape (another 20 to go, I estimate) but obviously this film is going to have rough edges. I hope the story is strong enough to compensate.

I appreciate feedback to any and all of these issues. I'm in a bit of a desert here.

Thanks again,

Doug
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Old June 11th, 2013, 09:18 AM   #5
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Re: Is this the best Sony FX1000 can do?

Hi Doug,

Let's back up a bit - when you were shooting DV, was it 4:3 or 16:9, and was that also 24p? I just scanned through the entire FX-1000 manual and while it does say the cameras offers 24p, I could not verify if that was only in HDV mode, or DV mode as well.

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Old June 11th, 2013, 11:28 AM   #6
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Re: Is this the best Sony FX1000 can do?

Jeff,

Thanks for your response. The camera can do 24 p in SD or HD. It's Premiere Elements that only has a 30p setting for HDV. My guess is that there are workarounds.

I've done some experimenting and looking over my footage, and considered the feedback I've received here, and this is where I think I am. I'm attaching a piece of a shoot that first concerned me. This was a challenging situation. I thought I was good because I was in a shaded spot, but a building not far away was reflecting late afternoon sun very strongly. Obviously a dedicated camera guy would have helped out a lot here. This was manual focus and everything else auto. Other shots that were concerning me were wide angle establishing shots with lots of scenery and these were not only not as sharp as I would like them to have been, but seemed to "shimmer" unpleasantly. These were all auto, and now I see that was probably automatic focus figuring things out. I can stop that hereafter.

So you can see I consider myself much stronger at the storytelling part of documentary than the technical parts, but I'm eager to learn. I guess the outstanding question now is, with 10 hours already shot, should I switch to HDV now?

Many thanks,

Doug
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Old June 11th, 2013, 01:18 PM   #7
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Re: Is this the best Sony FX1000 can do?

Quote:
these were not only not as sharp as I would like them to have been, but seemed to "shimmer" unpleasantly.
The shimmer could have been because of wrong projectsettings and the lack of sharpness because of diffraction, do you know what your f-stop was at when you saw this unsharp images? Also, do you use the nd filters of the camera and do you know how and when to use them?

My very first suggestion would be to buy a NLE that is up to the task.

Edit, just saw your videosample, it's a interlaced file, not progressive, how can that be if you say you edited in a progressive (30p) setting and if the source material is 24p? Can you maybe attach a very short file that came right out of the camera, so without anything done to it, even a second long will do, just to see if it's a 24p file.
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Old June 11th, 2013, 02:23 PM   #8
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Re: Is this the best Sony FX1000 can do?

The FX1000 records a 24p frame rate in a 30i stream. A true 24p stream must be extracted from the DV or HDV 30i recording. The pulldown inserted by the camera to record the 24p in the 30i stream can cause artifacts that looks like flickering. Especially with moving objects or when panning.
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Old June 11th, 2013, 02:38 PM   #9
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Re: Is this the best Sony FX1000 can do?

So there is nothing you can do to prevent these kind of artifacts? In the video I also seem to see interlacing artifacts, are those "normal" as well? Then I think it would be a better choice just to film in 60i, no?
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Old June 11th, 2013, 02:42 PM   #10
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Re: Is this the best Sony FX1000 can do?

Not all the artifacts are "real" in that they are caused by how the video is packaged.

The interlacing artifacts are due to the pulldown. You can get rid of them by extracting the 24p video from the 30i stream. I suspect the video will look better if you do the extraction.
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Old June 11th, 2013, 08:00 PM   #11
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Re: Is this the best Sony FX1000 can do?

I'm very interested in this discussion, though I'm afraid parts of it are too technical for me to fully grasp.

I don't know how to get you a clip without running it through PE. But do I understand you to say a higher end software system would do better with these files than PE? I have run the images directly from the camera to my TV--a 32 inch HD--and they look the same to me as what PE is producing.

I only have two progressive scan options on the camera, 24 and 30. Would the 30 yield sharper images?

Finally, I'm attaching a sample of the clip in which I saw what I tried to describe as "shimmer." To be honest I've been looking at this stuff too closely for too long, now. I really appreciate you guys telling me what you are seeing. The "flickering" Chris mentions, especially when objects are moving, is exactly what I am seeing.

Oh, and Chris, how can I do that extraction?.

My enduring thanks.

Doug
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Old June 11th, 2013, 08:49 PM   #12
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Re: Is this the best Sony FX1000 can do?

For me to show you what it would look like with the pulldown removed I'll need an original clip from the camera. Once you run it through your editing software and render it out as a MPEG file that changes things in a way that keeps it from working.

If you have dropbox you can send me a link to a file you upload to trackgeeks at gmail. I can do the extraction and see if that takes care of what you are seeing.

If you need to go our and record a few second clip of a pan that should be fine.
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Old June 12th, 2013, 02:23 PM   #13
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Re: Is this the best Sony FX1000 can do?

Doug,

By your own admission, the technical stuff is not your strong suit, so out of curiosity I would ask what prompted you to shoot in 24p? That just adds another layer of complexity to the whole deal.
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Old June 12th, 2013, 02:55 PM   #14
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Re: Is this the best Sony FX1000 can do?

Yea but not everyone knows about this stuff till it starts to bite them.

We all start not knowing. Doug is certainly getting a crash course right now.
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Old June 12th, 2013, 08:39 PM   #15
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Re: Is this the best Sony FX1000 can do?

As they say, a "little" knowledge is a dangerous thing. I read in a number of places that 24p produced a more filmic look. I didn't realize that it would create problems on this end. I shot today in HDV 30 and will soon see if there's a difference.

Chris, I've also downloaded Dropbox, so I hope to send you those clips tomorrow.

Life is the great teacher. My subject involves kids in poverty. They deal with worse.

Thanks, guys.

Doug
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