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Sony VX2100 / PD170 / PDX10 Companion
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Old January 30th, 2005, 10:04 AM   #1
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Letting the PD170 Do Some of the Work

This may be common knowledge to most of you but I haven't played around a whole lot with the auto modes on my PD170's prefering to stay manual most of the time. I read something the other day at Alan Barkers site about how to sync your shutter speed with the scan rate of a monitor - a sort of quasi clear scan.

Anyway this started me playing around with automatic settings and I have actually found number of different setups that can compensate for tough situations. I found a simple setup for wedding receptions that I think will help out the work load and ultimate image quality in low rapidly changing light situations.

My problem at receptions is that even though overall they are low light, there are usually sources of direct lighting (stage type used by a DJ) that give spots of good lighting at times and areas that always just seem to be dark. It's tough following your subjects around while at the same time trying to keep the exposure right without going to auto. But if you go to auto then you run the risk of shooting into one of the multiple light sources (which I like to do anyway for the effect) thereby shutting down your iris and loosing the detail in the faces.

I found an amazingly simple solution. I haven't actually used it at a reception yet but it works at home. I set everything to manual except focus ***, set my iris so that I never loose facial detail when shooting into a light, turn gain to auto and in the presets put a max limit on it of +12db. I can shoot into lights and still see the faces of the subjects and then follow them directly into darker areas and the gain compensates well.

So simple. I wish I had played around more with the auto settings sooner. Forgive me if this is common knowledge but I just wanted to share to save anyone else who, like me, might not have taken the time to experiment with their gear yet.

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Old January 30th, 2005, 10:34 AM   #2
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Nice touch
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Old January 30th, 2005, 10:44 AM   #3
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FOR LOW LIGHT SITUATIONS:

In the Custom Pre-set mode, lower the color two clicks to the left.

Bring up the sharpness 75%.

NOW-MANUALLY white balance.

The low light RED look is gone.
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Old January 30th, 2005, 11:12 AM   #4
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I did a low light reception last week with a new PD170 using auto focus - but in my case all it did was hunt. I'll be lucky to salvage this one.

If there is a way to shoot low light in auto focus I'd sure like to know what it is! Next time out I'll be manual focus hitting the 'push auto' button after each shot gets framed.

Any other ideas out there?
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Old January 30th, 2005, 11:59 AM   #5
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Edited Mistake Above

Edit: *** I just took "iris" out of this spot in the original post. I don't know why I typed it there but that was a mistake. Also the focus being in manual or or auto is irrelevant to how this works. Its just how I did it.

Jim,
I too have had touble with hunting auto focus in dark situations but nothing that sounds as bad as yours. Sometimes if it gets way out I switch to manual and help it find its way back.
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Old January 30th, 2005, 11:11 PM   #6
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I run into too many variables to have a standard.

Focus: I usually use "push auto" but if I'm tracking someone who's moving through different focal points and I think I can keep them centered, I've gone auto focus.

Gain: you can't imagine how many times I'm shooting something and a door (sometimes kitchen door) opens and a blast of light comes in. I don't like the gain going up and down in those circumstances BUT when the couple is going fron indoors to out sometimes auto is better (gain and whitebalance even).

Iris: I usually have to keep iris at 1.6f in many of my dark reception even when I have the camera light on (10/20W). I'd rather diffuse the light than change the fstop so I'm looking into ideas on that.

White balance: Generally I'll keep white to indoor preset and color correct in post as needed.

No "rules" though since every situation is different.
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