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Sony XDCAM EX Pro Handhelds
Sony PMW-300, PXW-X200, PXW-X180 (back to EX3 & EX1) recording to SxS flash memory.


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Old July 9th, 2008, 10:26 PM   #1
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OK, time for me to ask some questions...

Ok, time for me to ask some questions. I'd love to hear from the pros who are out there shooting this thing daily or weekly. Bloom, Cahill, et. al.

Question 1:

Is shooting at -3db any cleaner than shooting at 0db? Or is it just a way to lose a stop of light when required. In looking at the Cinealta literature on the Panavision site of all places, I was surprised somewhat to see the S/N numbers improve on the big cameras when using -3 or -6 db on the master gain. Does the mini-Cinealta benefit similarly?


Question 2:

What is the picture quality like in the SP modes? I know it's HDV rates, but the camera still has decent glass. Will it be cleaner than your average HDV camera? I ask this simply because I must leverage my current Firestore for my longer corporate recording duties. Those 2-3 hour long meetings are a royal pain, but honestly, I can't see going to express card just to save some corporate meeting which will get archived down to DVCam anyway.


Question 3:

Do you have a picture profile that is "flat". I essentially want to have a profile that is nearly impossible to blow the highlights, or lose the shadows, or run into trouble with the chroma. I don't mind doing the work in post to move the footage where I need it for many projects, but I'd just like to have one profile that I can use when I absolutely, positively, have to get it all.

Question 4:

Can you remove enough chroma to actually get to a B/W image? I know I couldn't do this in the DVX, so I was really wondering about the EX1. Additionally, do you set your EVF to B/W or leave it as color?


I'd love to get some answers on these if anyone has the time.

Thanks.
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Old July 9th, 2008, 11:14 PM   #2
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Question 1: Yes -3dB benefits this mini Cinealta as well... I shoot -3dB as much as the environment will let me..


Question 2: Picture quality in SP is great as well not HQ but very good still... I have an FX1 as well and I think the EX1 is still better shooting HDV especially with the 1/2'' sensors and you still get the DOF even in HDV. If you do not have the need to shoot HQ and the footage will never be used for anything but SD delivery your Firestore would be fine.



Question 3: This is tough, it would be really difficult to creat a profile that will work in every situation in fact I would say it is impossible...On the other hand you could create two or three profiles that you could use in say bright outdoors, low light indoor, and low light outdoors to get the look your after. That is what I am working on now to have a profile for my top three shooting situations, but even then almost every situation has it's own differences which can make your profile not quite what the doctor ordered so to speak. I would still recommend messing with the profiles and coming up with some custom settings for your type of shoots... Read the profiles sticky if you have not done so already. I guess when you say "flat" I would say don't use any profile and shoot straight out of the box just utilizing your ND filter, apature and shutter to control your exposure and color wise it should be pretty flat. Then grade in post.

Question 4: Have not tried to go B/W in camera as you can just desaturate in post and not be stuck with B/W. In regards to the EVF I do not use it to much because the LCD is fantastic! I use the LCD with a Hood and it is great! But when I do use the EVF I leave it color.


Hope these answers help a little.


Jason
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Old July 9th, 2008, 11:55 PM   #3
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Thanks Jason, that was quite helpful.

A bit of clarification on "flat" :

When I say flat, I am talking about an image that is quite desaturated, probably not pushinig more than the 40 ring on the vectorscope toward any color. It means in terms of luma, an image that is low contrast, typically falling between 20-75/80 IRE. No bright highligts, no strong blacks. Basically, and image that can be moved aroiund in post toward warm or cool, that can be made contrasty, saturated, etc.

I tend to like the film aesthetic of Fuji Eterna. Like the 50D stuff. Soft colors tending more toward pastels. I don't tend to like the strong and vibrant colors of the Vivid stocks, or even the Vision 2 stocks when they really get hit hard for saturation. Clearly, some things really call for that coloration, but it's not my first choice.

When I shoot my DVX, especially outside, I am almost always shooting a low contrast, desaturated profile. Then moving things in post to get the pop. I have shot to try to get as much of the look in camera, but without control of lighting, it's a tough deal sometimes. With the latitude of the EX1, I am fairly confident that if I stay aroiund 90 IRE on the highlights, I'll preserve the detail I need in the shadows. The ability to adjust the black gamma seperately is a boon to those trying to make sure we hold onto that information.

I hope to do some camera tests next week. The camera got delivered Monday, and it's still in the box. I just haven't even had time to do anything. I went through some of the menus today, but I'll try to do more with it on Friday or Monday if I get a chance.
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Old July 10th, 2008, 12:53 AM   #4
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Perrone
Let us know what you found out and if you come across some interesting PP settings, please post them up on the sticky!
Cheers
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Old July 10th, 2008, 01:15 AM   #5
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The Cinema 1 gamma setting will get you really close to what you want. The video is very "flat" with low color saturation. The footage you get with this setting will require color grading in post. Most people won't like the look of Cinema 1 out of the camera, but it gives you a lot of latitude to work with. Cinema 3 gamma might also work for you, but it gives a punchier contrast, and not so much headroom for color grading. I usually shoot with a standard gamma(usually standard 3) so I don't have to do as much work in post.
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Old July 10th, 2008, 03:25 PM   #6
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Thanks Patrick, maybe that's the one I'll tweak for a profile and see if I like. There are times when I'll want to get most of my look in camera, like when I can control the framing and lighting. But there are some instances where I don't know what I want from the footage when I shoot it, or I need the room to move it around. A great instance of this is multi-cam/multi-day shooting outdoors. Not only do I have to try to balance the look of the camera to other dissimilar cameras, but also to dissimilar lighting as well.

One of the things I like about the RED is the idea of RAW. Just a LOT of room to move everything around so much in post. It PRESUMES that you will be grading in post. Since that is my typical workflow anyway a lot of times, it seems normal to me, but I also note that many shooters both professional and amateur alike, like to lock down as much of the look in camera as possible. And there is certainly merit in that.

Thanks again.

-P


Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick Williams View Post
The Cinema 1 gamma setting will get you really close to what you want. The video is very "flat" with low color saturation. The footage you get with this setting will require color grading in post. Most people won't like the look of Cinema 1 out of the camera, but it gives you a lot of latitude to work with. Cinema 3 gamma might also work for you, but it gives a punchier contrast, and not so much headroom for color grading. I usually shoot with a standard gamma(usually standard 3) so I don't have to do as much work in post.
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Old August 7th, 2008, 03:02 AM   #7
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I normally shoot with Cine1 (all the time actually) for a flatter look and only switch to Cine4 for low light situations or times I can't get enough light to do what I need. Cine3 and Cine2 are pretty useless for me. Any of the Standard gammas look too video-ish for my tastes, especially STD3, even though it is the most light sensitive giving you around ASA400. If there's such a thing as an all around gamma, it is Cine1 for me.
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Old August 7th, 2008, 05:07 AM   #8
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To answer the Black and White question, yes you can desaturate to get it full black and white. I have even played around with some real Film Noir looks. Another cool trick is to target one color and then desaturate the rest to black and white which gives you the "Schindlers List Girl in Red Dress Look"
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Old August 7th, 2008, 08:17 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alexander Kubalsky View Post
Another cool trick is to target one color and then desaturate the rest to black and white which gives you the "Schindlers List Girl in Red Dress Look"
That in post, right?
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Old August 7th, 2008, 12:32 PM   #10
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While -3db does give a small improvement in noise it does sacrifice a small amount of dynamic range. The 0db point is the optimal point for lattitude/dynamic range. That's why -3db is not the default.
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