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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 August 11th, 2008, 12:52 AM   #1
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Need some fresh out of the box help. Please.

Hi everyone, I bought my EX1 more than a month ago but haven't found time to use it. This past weekend I finally turned it on and shot some footage in someone's backyard, some flowers and a small creek, nature stuff. I imported into FCP and was horrified by the picture quality. Images that in the LCD screen at the time looked great were really blasted and washed out while viewing in FCP. Yellow flowers were blown out to white and sun highlights in the moving creek water were really washed out.

I'm just using factory settings, having just turned it on. I've read factory settings are terrible and I'm trying to figure out the Picture Profile thing. I'm shooting a free little documentary for someone this week and thought I would be good to go out of the box. That's not so it seems.

I can get into the heavier details of shooting modes in the coming months, I'm sure I'll post lots more. But can someone give me a quick crash course on settings I can use to cover the basics. As I'm still trying to learn the camera, it would be easier for me to leave most functions in auto for now, at least until after this first shoot. I'll have both outdoor and indoor filming.

1) Factory setting shooting mode was HD 1080i. If I'm going to make eventual sd DVD's and web clips should I keep this mode? I want the best picture quality to start with and can down convert later. I've read there's tricks with that too.

2) Any thoughts on why my initial shots look so washed out? What I was filming was nice and crisp with lots of color. I'll try to attach an image of what the footage looked like.

Sorry for the last minute post. I start filming in three days. Any info to help me hit the ground running is appreciated. I'm switching from my old and trustworthy Sony TRV-900 MiniDV which was a great point and shoot doc camera. This EX1 is a bigger beast and I'm in a little over my head.
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Old August 11th, 2008, 12:58 AM   #2
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Here's another image. See how the grass is so washed out? It was nice and green in person.
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Old August 11th, 2008, 01:10 AM   #3
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First, I would make sure you are white balanced. Looks like you are shooting in daylight with tungsten settings.

Second, it looks like you are overexposed - learn to use the histogram or the center spot reading on the camera. And try shooting in manual mode if you are not already. You'll have much better results. Try one of the cine gamma curves as well.

Also, for outdoor shooting, you'll probably have to use one of the ND filters even in full auto.

There is much else to consider, but these are starting points.

Does the image look much different on the computer from what it looks like in the LCD? If so, something else may be going on.
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Old August 11th, 2008, 01:29 AM   #4
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Well, as you realise, the shots are over exposed. Factory settings are not awful and will deliver fine images, but custom settings will do better once you understand what you're doing. There is a lot of information in the "stickies" to help there. You can't judge exposure (at least not well) by the look of the LCD screen and you will need to switch on the histogram display and at least one zebra, these being primary guides for avoiding clipping. You have to manually switch the ND filters, so observe the display indications. I don't know how reliable the auto functions are, but I've seen here criticisms of auto focus. You will want to fix shutter opening/speed anyway and you will want to set gain level to -3dB/0dB and not more than 6dB if light permits. WB is better set manually. You will have to be precise with focusing and displaying the DOF indicator is helpful. Preferably do not use apertures smaller than f/8 (e.g. f/11, f/16) and f/5.6 is a better limit (to avoid diffraction blurring). I wouldn't say this is a camera that can be used well without familiarisation.

Last edited by Serena Steuart; August 11th, 2008 at 02:58 AM. Reason: replaced a "to" with a "can"!
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Old August 11th, 2008, 02:10 AM   #5
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Thanks for the input. I'll try to leave work early tomorrow so I can try out some settings at home.

Question though, what is "diffraction blurring"?

Also, what's the best technique for setting WB manuallly?

I realize this is a very technical camera and in the right hands can produce beautiful images,
it's just a lot to take in for a newbie.

Thanks for your patience.
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Old August 11th, 2008, 02:44 AM   #6
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Blurring caused by Defraction: see http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tu...fraction.shtml
The theoretical limit of resolution of a lens is determined by the diameter of the lens (or aperture). This might illustrate the process more clearly: http://www.aguntherphotography.com/t...esolution.html

WB: best to read this in the manual. Broadly, you place a white card or other white surface to fill the field of view and press the WB button. The default WB setting is 3200K (tungsten photo lighting). EDIT: of course you do this in the light you're shooting under.
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Old August 11th, 2008, 07:01 AM   #7
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From a recent post just below this one -
Manual WB: Toggle the WHITE BAL switch to A (which is what I use to store the temp WB). Place a white sheet or use a white area (wall etc) to zoom into fully in the viewfinder. Set up your exposure (ND filters, iris etc). Press the small WHT BAL button located under the lens mount to the left side of the cam.
That's it. The setting is stored in A and will show in the viewfinder on the lower left corner with a temperature number - ie, W:A 5200K.
I use a soft white card for my WB and then adjust temp afterward. So if I balance and it 4800k and I feel this is still too cool, I will tweak this up to 5000 -warmer, by using my picture profiles. There are 'warm' cards that you purchase to gaive you the 'look' you want.

There are some picture profiles that you can use to give more contrast and deepen the shadows and even adjust overall exposure, especially highlights/shadows. Take a look in this forum at the PP thread to pick one.

Hope this helps.
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Old August 11th, 2008, 09:29 AM   #8
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I got the same washed out images the first time I shot also. Turned out that what I was seeing on the LCD screen wasn't the same as what was being shot. So I plugged the SDI out to my calibrated HD monitor with a long cord and ran my EX3 outside and set it up. Did some tweaking with the Brighness and Contrast settings to get my LCD to match the HD monitor. Then spend some time working on the PP's. Once I got the LCD screen settings correct my recorded images are spot on.
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Old August 11th, 2008, 09:44 AM   #9
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Screen brighness too dark, same here.
I got mine better by switching on auto iris, which will make the screen seem dark then up'd the screen brightness in the menu, (not back light brightness)so that what i see on the screen looks the same as what i see when i look at the scene (not camera screen).
Now my shots look correctly exposed.

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Old August 11th, 2008, 02:43 PM   #10
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The samples are definitely over exposed.

Don't use the LCD to judge exposure. Only the eyepiece can even come close in outdoor conditions. I rarely use the LCD and rely exclusively on the eyepiece to judge exposure and focus.

The EX1 provides very good exposure info via the two zebra settings and the histogram.

I set up zebras at 80% to warn against potential over exposure, and 100% to provide definite warning.

Anything from white walls to normal clouds shouldn't be much over 80% in an outdoor scene. The only thing hitting 100% should be the sun and sparkling highlights such as chrome or other hard sun reflections.

If you keep the histogram centered, you can be assured you'll get details in the highlights and shadows.
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Old August 12th, 2008, 10:45 AM   #11
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Thanks for all the input. I went through a lot of the menu options last night and learning all I can. I understand the histogram now and will use it even on my SLR camera going forward.

A quick question. Any advice on which shooting mode I should go with? 1080 60i or 1080 30p? What are the pros and cons to each in terms of use now in editing and then distributing later on dvd or web? I understand the difference between the two, but I'm just not sure which is best for me right now. Any feedback?
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Old August 12th, 2008, 11:02 AM   #12
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if you are distributing on the web or on SD DVD or anything other than 1080i HDTV, i would recommend you shoot progressive (30p, 24p etc). interlaced frames do not scale well to other sizes and do not look as good on progressive displays (anything besides a CRT). unless you really love the motion of 60i or want to process it for slow motion, i would generally say 30p. if you want the easiest thing to deal with and do not have a preference for the look of different framerates, 30p is going to be the easiest.

30p its a good compromise since if you convert it to 60i aka 30psf it still looks fine even if it doesnt have the motion of native 60i. whereas the only way to play 60i as 30p is through deinterlacing, which will give you artifacts or loss of resolution or both. personally i like 24p, which i consider to be a bit more complicated to work with for web/DVD output than 30p but worth it for the look. 24p is easily scaled and converted to 60i (for DVD compatibility) through a pulldown, but not as easy to convert to 30p and some web sites do not support 24p that well, it can look a bit choppy if they internally convert it to 30p or 15p.
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Old August 12th, 2008, 03:06 PM   #13
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I would highly recommend buying Vortex Media's training DVD, "Mastering the Sony PMW-EX1".
The sections on setting up your EX-1 for best performance are outstanding.
I promise you it will be a great investment.

Kevin Jones
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Old August 12th, 2008, 04:19 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Noah Yuan-Vogel View Post
if you are distributing on the web or on SD DVD or anything other than 1080i HDTV, i would recommend you shoot progressive (30p, 24p etc). interlaced frames do not scale well to other sizes and do not look as good on progressive displays (anything besides a CRT). unless you really love the motion of 60i or want to process it for slow motion, i would generally say 30p. if you want the easiest thing to deal with and do not have a preference for the look of different framerates, 30p is going to be the easiest.
Noah, if you like the motion of 1080/60i, why not just go for 720p for web? So far I've been doing 720p/60 and it looks and scales great.
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Old August 12th, 2008, 11:42 PM   #15
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sure, thats a good option. i just figured chad only asked about 1080 60i vs 30p. as with shooting 1080i and converting to 60p, using 720p there is a resolution loss compared to native 1080p formats. also depending on what sort of website you are delivering to, seems like 60fps often may not be supported.
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