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Old August 17th, 2010, 04:20 PM   #1
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Maximum Gain For Dimly Lit Live Events

For all the live event people out there who work in less than ideal lighting situations (i.e. dark wedding receptions with only an on-camera light)...what is the maximum gain that you're comfortable using on the NX5 at 1920x1080 resolution and no slower than 1/48 shutter speed?

As personal preferences vary greatly on the issue of "how much grain is acceptable" I'm hoping we can all chime in here to get a better idea of what we're generally using as a collective. I mention this because when I first began as a shooter, I adamantly stuck to using less gain than I use now, as I only sought out a few other videographers' opinions and had little experience of my own to draw on. I've since loosened my gain restrictions somewhat, having realized that it makes for an overall picture (after editing) that is more pleasing to my eye.

In my dim light tests, after exporting to Blu-ray and watching on a 1920x1080 display, I think a maximum of 12db will be acceptable under most dim conditions. So for now (after one night of tinkering) my gain settings are at -3, 6, and 12.

Alec Moreno
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Old August 18th, 2010, 02:34 AM   #2
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We don't have the same customs as you do, but I use mostly 6db in the evening/night and if it isn't enough light at the party, I use 12db max.
I use two groups of settings, during the day the gain is set to -6,0,6, but when the evening starts i switch the settings to 0,6,12.
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Old August 18th, 2010, 09:01 AM   #3
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Doesn't this relate to the subject being recorded in these situations? If you don't get a recognizable picture of Grandma, even a noisy one, won't you hear about it? I've videotaped nocturnal tree dwelling animals, palm civets, bushbabies and others. Getting a recognizable picture is everything and I don't usually have any light source except a decent flashlight. I just keeping cranking the gain. Is this ideal? Well, no.
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Old August 18th, 2010, 06:56 PM   #4
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Marc...

Actually, if I end up with a noisy image of grandma it will stand out like a sore thumb against the rest of the film and I will immediately lose all credibility with my clients. It would be about equally as bad as not getting the shot at all. The solution of course is to light her better and move closer if possible. Then, the issue of noise won't be a problem...but this is not always possible.

One idea behind my question is that if I'm able to gain up, that is a far better solution for situations such as the first dance at a wedding. This is because I will be able to see far more of the people in the background than if I rely more on my camera-light (which will drop off considerably between the subject and background). We all agree there is a trade off between quality and brightness of picture, but there is also an upper limit to how much grain is acceptable before the shot can be considered unusable. I can't imagine too many people being comfortable using the extreme hypergain setting in any situation.

The other idea behind the question is that if I'm able to determine ahead of time what my camera is able to handle and what it cannot, then I will be able to plan accordingly. In other words, the camera's ability will determine how I plan my shoot, rather than my shooting plan asking the camera to do something it is not capable of doing reliably.
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Cristian...

Is it common to use camera lights in your customs?
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After some more testing by the way, I'm now teetering between 9 and 12 as a maximum gain along with a picture profile that includes a "master black" level of approximately +10 and a "manual knee point" of 105.0%. I'm sure I'll be tweaking these as time goes on.

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Old August 19th, 2010, 02:27 AM   #5
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One thing I do know: hyper gain is right out.
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Old August 19th, 2010, 05:50 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alec Moreno View Post
[...] Cristian...
Is it common to use camera lights in your customs? [...]
Yes, many people around here use lights at night, but some use them only on few occasions. The picture looks amateurish in some way when you have a light on camera, because the subject in front is exposed correctly, but the rest is actually darker because the gain is lower than it would be without the light. So I prefer to use a light only when I cannot get an acceptable picture with max 12db. And the Picture profiles settings used during the day have to be modified to give a good picture at night.
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Old August 19th, 2010, 06:49 AM   #7
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I film mostly weddings. My rule of thumb is a max of 9db unless I amsolutely have to go more and then I'll go to 12. I'll also use 1/30 shutter speed at times too along with the 12db. That will handle just about any dim weddings I've encountered.
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Old August 19th, 2010, 07:46 PM   #8
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I shoot mainly cars and car events. When I shoot at an event at night I pretty much go no higher than 9db depending on what I want to see. This is so far my only video I've done with the NX at night (shot 2 weeks after I got the camera) and went no higher than 9db with shots at 0. Of course the track is well lit but some key areas arent etc. This video was also shot in 720p. I hope this helps you out.

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Old August 19th, 2010, 11:37 PM   #9
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That was a cool video. It's good to see you did all that only going to 9db sparingly.
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Old August 21st, 2010, 03:07 AM   #10
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Nice video (I can smell the rubber) but it didn't go unnoticed seeing all those "daylight" lighting towers dotted around the venue which no doubt helped. Wish I had the same luxury - if I'm lucky I get warm filament lighting just above 3K.

I have resisted using a camera mounted light for things like a wedding first dance. The poster who mentioned an "amateurish" look has a point - it also breaks a lot of the atmosphere too.

I put a +12db ceiling on my settings at 1/50 sec and try to get in closer with a wider lens (Z5 and NX5) making sure the venue doesn't dim down the lights, although I've had a few who appear to take no notice of my request preferring to see the happy couple washed in red and purple light - nice.

It is in the planning - I have a strategy that works for me most of the time although does require the co-operation of people. If you explain the issue in simple terms, most are happy to help you out when they begin to understand the problem. Other than that - you need to be a lighting director.

As to filming wildlife - a different host of issues. Who holds the torch (sorry - flashlight)?
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Old August 21st, 2010, 09:31 AM   #11
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I find that a max db of 12db adds a little too much grain personally. 9db seems to be tha most acceptable imo. What beneifits can I see if I lower my shutter speed to say 1/30 as another member suggested combined with a max of 6 or 9db? Will this not slow down the frame rate of my 24p shot? Also what are the benefits of using the -6db or -9db settings during the day as far as grain limitations? Can I adjust some settings within the picture profile to also provide more light or brightness? I've recently found that raising my lcd brightness greatly improves my perception of how well lit the shot is. Having it on the default mid setting always had me thinking that the shot was darker than it really was.
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Old August 21st, 2010, 09:51 AM   #12
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If you ask me (and maybe you don't) then I'd say that bumping the gain to +15dB (if needs be) on a first dance shoot is far less damaging to the footage quality than halving the default shutter speed. The latter gains you 2 stops, the latter a single stop. The former leaves camera and subject movement looking completely natural, the latter is a poor man's progressive scan and the stutter is noticed by all.

I use my 126 LED lamp on my NX5 for such dances because even if the Toastmaster swears he'll keep the lights on, invariably someone else thinks it will look a lot more romantic in pitch darkness. The vignetting is not a problem as no light is going to cover my 17mm equivalent and anyway, I reckon it looks better with the couple beautifully lit and all the guests in the gloom around the perimeter of the room.

I agree that a movie light can disrupt the atmosphere somewhat but then so too can countless electronic flashes - they're all part of this couple's day.

Chris - HDMI your cam to a big TV and sit close, using the TV as a huge v'finder. Now dial in the negative gain settings and note how quiet (grain-free) the picture becomes as you turn it more and more negative.

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Old August 21st, 2010, 01:43 PM   #13
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Chris gain is not an absolute it's decided by the engineering designer as to what 0 is going to be. My XR500 has much less grain at all settings than the NX5U. For me 9db on the NX5U is acceptable much like on my FX1. Most times my settings at 3,6 and 9 with gain limit set at 15 db for auto mode, with slow change set too, so that if all else fails I can move gain to auto and know it will not go beyond 15db. All my shoots are in the theatre none outside so never encounter really bright light. All are shot at 60i.

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Old August 22nd, 2010, 04:02 AM   #14
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Chris...
Lowering your shutter speed will not affect your frame rate. What it does do is brighten the picture at the cost of making it more blurry...and the faster the motion, the more blurry it'll be.

With the NX5, I'm a lot happier with lowering the shutter speed, compared to gaining up too high.

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Old January 19th, 2011, 09:39 AM   #15
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Quote:
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. For me 9db on the NX5U is acceptable much like on my FX1. Ron Evans
Ron,
I'm coming from the FX1 camera body myself...would you say the gain (and the noise ) settings to be very similair in appearance between these tow cameras?

My cameras arrive tomorrow and thankfully I have about a 4 week break before the shooting schedule gets intense...have some time to play and tweak the setting...thanks for any help
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