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Old July 30th, 2013, 03:59 AM   #1
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VG30 Test with Tiffen Ultra Con 1 Filter

Many people feel that the contrast is a little too high on the VG30, I am not sure myself but decided to get a Tiffen Ultra Con 1 Filter to give it a try. I know that Craig Marshall recommends a Schneider 1/2 grade Digicon but shipping from the U.S. was going to be an outrageous $70 so thought I would try this instead.
Below is a small test of with and without the filter, personally I cannot decide which one I like best and wondered what some other trained eyes though. Craig, do you have an example footage of the VG30 with and without the Digicon Filter?

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Old August 9th, 2013, 12:27 AM   #2
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Re: VG30 Test with Tiffen Ultra Con 1 Filter

I like the native unfiltered image a little better, but that's my personal bias- I like images that "pop" a bit.
On the other hand, if the footage is destined for definitive color correction, then the flatter look of the filtered image would probably be more desired.
I think there is no "right " answer :)
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Old August 9th, 2013, 02:31 AM   #3
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Re: VG30 Test with Tiffen Ultra Con 1 Filter

I think the footage without the filter looks better.
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Old August 9th, 2013, 03:46 AM   #4
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Re: VG30 Test with Tiffen Ultra Con 1 Filter

Those were not notably contrasty shots to begin with. With these examples, the camera is delivering a nice range of values without the filter so it's just milking out the bottom end.

Where the Ultracons will go to work for you is with shots where you have information blocking up in the shadows, say a city street half in shade, half in sun and exposed for the latter.
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Old August 11th, 2013, 07:09 AM   #5
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Re: VG30 Test with Tiffen Ultra Con 1 Filter

I have shot my last two jobs with the filter on and as long as you control the iris manually (which is a breeze compared to the EA50 on this camera), I am really pleased with the results. Let's face it, most of the time we are faced with high contrast images with shadows all over the place when outside. I find it allows for a couple more stops of variation in light. Agreed those shots were not particularly contrasty, the tests were more designed to see how the camera would handle having the glass attached all the time. So far I like it and love this camera. It never leaves my tripod which allows for really smooth pans and tilts at 25p. Add to that the manual gain control and the ease of use on my back, blessing in disguise maybe that I was forced to use this all the time as my EA50 went down. How are you finding it Noa?
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Old August 11th, 2013, 07:59 AM   #6
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Re: VG30 Test with Tiffen Ultra Con 1 Filter

I actually like the camera a lot, it has it quirks but as a multipurpose camera it works for me. The only thing I underestimated was it's size, now that wasn't a surprise when I got it, I knew it was big but having used it a several weddings the past weeks I feel it is holding me back more then expected.

Before this camera I had 2 550d's and 2 cx730's and that all fit in a larger backpack, now I had to get a larger bag on a trolley that is easy to transport but it slows me down and it's still a lot of wheight to drag up and down stairs.

If I have to do a wedding on one location only then it's no issue, but in the centre of bigger cities where I have to move in and out several locations quickly it has become a burden. It also draws too much attention at weddings, where in the past I was a fly on the wall I have now become an elephant in the room which makes it difficult to get candid shots.

That's why I got a pana gh3 just now and will get me another one or a g6, eventhough a vg30 might have been a better business desission since I could re-use existing batteries from my handicams and just fit all my lenses. I only was not that convinced about the vg30. I don't want to fiddle with extra filters to get another look but like to have more controll if needed and eventhough I like my ea50 image it's not the sharpest one and has some moire and aliasing issues, which where reported to be a bit worse on the vg30.

I did some testshots with the gh3 on a wedding yesterday and they are pinsharp and basically moire and alisaing free, plus the camera has many image presets to manipulate, so I hope to travel a bit lighter soon making my life a bit easier as well :) The ea50 will still have it's purpose but only where some of it's features are needed on a shoot (like the xlr connectivity) plus if I only have to visit one location it will be used as well.
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Old August 11th, 2013, 11:48 AM   #7
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Re: VG30 Test with Tiffen Ultra Con 1 Filter

Surely the VG30 is not a big camera (especially next to the EA50), I find it to be perfectly formed and I am able to blend in at weddings much better than I ever did with a Z1 or EA50. Plus I prefer its video camera form as people don't tend to stop and look at me and expect me to take their picture like they do when I have used a DSLR. I use a very lightweight tripod and mosey around holding the thing one handed. I can get shots from a compositional point of view much easier than I ever could with a heavy camera. I am very happy so far, I had better be as if I had to buy any more gear this year, I would sink!
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Old August 11th, 2013, 11:50 AM   #8
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Re: VG30 Test with Tiffen Ultra Con 1 Filter

I was refering to the ea50 when I was talking about a big camera :)
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Old August 11th, 2013, 12:53 PM   #9
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Re: VG30 Test with Tiffen Ultra Con 1 Filter

I concur with you on that Noa.
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Old August 12th, 2013, 04:07 AM   #10
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Re: VG30 Test with Tiffen Ultra Con 1 Filter

I see that you went for the Panasonic now Noa. I thought you had already purchased the VG30, sorry for misunderstanding. Hope that works out really well for you, I know I thought long and hard about the Panasonic as well(but GH2 at the time). Does it have a limit on length of take and I assume no servo zoom? Look forward to seeing some examples from it. All the best.
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Old August 13th, 2013, 05:17 PM   #11
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Re: VG30 Test with Tiffen Ultra Con 1 Filter

Yes I finally did, I believe there is a half hour limit or so and no servo zoom, but that's no surprise for me as I have been used to working with dslr's and their limitations. I am sure I would have loved the vg30 as well but the image of the gh3 is just better looking, I didn't compare to a vg30 but have my ea50 which should be more or less similar. One of the things I wanted was a camera that could show all that fine detail and with the first test shots I did the camera delivers. I just ordered the panasonic g6 as well as b-cam. The wedding this saturday will be covered with my two cx730's and the two pana's. The ea50 will still be used but more for specific jobs. As soon as time allows I"ll go out for a day of fun shooting. :)
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Old January 2nd, 2014, 01:03 AM   #12
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Re: VG30 Test with Tiffen Ultra Con 1 Filter

I have never been particularly concerned about the VG20/30's lack of 'picture profiles' as most of these can be a achieved with judicious use of the correct optical filter (or filters) in front of the lens. Schneider Optics produce the Digicon series which are designed to improve a camera's Dynamic Range. Here are some Waveform Monitor test results from my VG20 fitted with Schneider Optics Digicon 1/2 4x4" glass filter. The image on the left is with no filter applied and the right hand picture shows the effect of the Digicon 1/2 optical filter.

Camera Test Setup Parameters:

* Test Pattern chart @ 5000K diffused sunlight
* Manual white balance, Zebra set to 100% (no zebra appearing on white areas of the chart)
* AVCHD 50P, Gain 0dB, Shutter 1/50th
* Carl Zeiss 85mm Sonnar F2.8 prime @ F11 with Metabones 'Speed Booster' lens adapter


Test Results:

As can be seen from the two attached images, the filter effectively reduces highlights and lifts blacks by the corresponding amount. (approx 1 stop) The resultant picture is flat and 'dull' as if compressed. An increase in exposure of one stop during shooting with the filter on will lift gamma not triggering overexposure. The picture of course must be 'corrected' in post production to achieve the desired look.

Here is Schneider's explanation of this filter:

"For a "filmic look" when shooting with digital cameras. When used in front of the lens, optically raises black levels while lowering highlights. By compensating with in-camera gamma settings, a higher dynamic range can be recorded than the camera alone can achieve. The result is more detail in highlights and shadows with no effect on resolution and no color shift. Highlight areas remain clean and halo-free. May be used on a 35mm cine camera to approximate the look of a lower contrast film stock. This filter is available in strengths of 1/8, 1/4, 1/2, 1, and 2. These strengths achieve a subtle to a heavy effect."

Here is an explanation of a 'Contrast' filter I found somewhere and stored for future reference. It would appear to only change the black levels, not the shadows and highlights together, by the same amount:

"Let’s say that the CCD's of your DV camera have the ability to resolve 7 stops of latitude. Using a contrast filter isn’t going to magically give your CCD’s the ability to resolve 9 stops. A contrast filter works by lifting the shadows to a lighter level. Since your shadows aren’t as dark, you can see more detail. With lighter shadows, you can now underexpose the image to bring the highlights into range and still maintain some detail in those shadow areas. So yes, you are able to capture a wider dynamic range. However, this is an optical “trick of light”. Your CCD’s are still only resolving 7 stops. You have to remember that your contrast has been flattened to achieve the effect. So even though you can now capture a wider dynamic range, you have a very flat looking picture. Your blacks become grey, and your whole image loses “pop”.
This is the same issue you run into trying to capture wider dynamic range by electronically manipulating the camera’s DSP using flattened gamma curves, or features like “Cine-Gamma”. You can manipulate an HD camera’s DSP to achieve an exceptionally wide dynamic range. But you end up with a very flat, grey looking picture."
Attached Images
  

Last edited by Craig Marshall; January 2nd, 2014 at 06:35 AM.
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