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Sony XDCAM EX Pro Handhelds
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Old March 21st, 2009, 09:09 AM   #1
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Unhappy with EX3


Recently, (Oct '08) I was full of glee. I came into some money and finally thought I'd be able to join the lofty world of HD Video production and get a camera that would qualify for the notion of HD Video ( 35mb/sec to sxs card and 50mb/sec should I invest in some brand name capture cards).

I bought a Sony EX3.

I'd done the research, was aware of rolling shutter, jello cam, poor panning, flash photography.

When I first got the camera I waxed lyrically, on this very forum in fact, how I'd finally got the camera I so deserved.

I was very happy with the build quality and loved the sleek black design lines. I was sold!

I first got the camera home and was just fooling around with the cam in the back yard.

I was doing none of the aforementioned cardinal sins of the known issues with cmos sensors. All I did was a simple / slow reveal shot of my back yard.

My back yard consisted of a clothes line and a pergola.

A lot of straight vertical lines.

I soon learned that you can't take a picture of any thing with straight vertical lines with this camera.

As I practiced reveal shots, I noticed that every straight vertical line would bend (Pin-Cushion Left -> increase reveal shot -> pin cushion to the right.

In real time it looked like all the posts in the back yard were made of rubber.

I brought my concerns about the propensity of this camera's ability to bend straight lines, first this way and then that way to my dealer and he said I was just being picky.

I ended up talking to Sony, Sydney, Australia and only found very hostile responses to my concerns.

I have since done searches of all camera types in the Sony EX3 price bracket.

Do a search of vimeo.com, be it JVC, Canon, Panasonic, Sony cameras and watch any straight vertical lines in the footage you see.

Edges of buildings, carpark structures, telegraph poles, -> see how they bend.

I can't help but feel that every one is hung up about mb/sec, flash memory v SDHC v P2, work flow etc etc

Doesn't anyone see the crap image of the lenses that are sold with these cameras that are sold to us as entry level HD videography?

Why do we get hung up about fastest, grooviest codec, work flow when all the major companies are selling us "pups"

Ok, Flame Me.

I just felt so disappointed with the images I was getting.

In the end my dealer made me mad because I complained about the image.

Said he was going to send the camera for analysis, but just left my camera in the shop and did nothing.

In the end I had to get a government department here in Australia, Consumer Affairs, involved before I could get any sense out of the dealer or sony

Yes, I know, It's not the Camera, it's how you use it, but honestly I think people are in denial about the quality of product that's served up to us as "professional" gear.

Happy shooting.

So now I'm more interested in the reviews of the image, not the amount of mb/sec.

I can live with a diminished image, but not one that bends this way and then that way and attempts to pass itself off as professional gear.

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Old March 21st, 2009, 03:07 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Michael Lyas View Post
Ok, Flame Me.
You should already be aware that DV Info Net is strictly a flame-free zone.

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Old March 21st, 2009, 05:38 PM   #3
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Sounds like you are describing rolling shutter but until you post some clips -- or at least a few sequential frame grabs -- so others can see what your griping about, there's not much for anyone else to say.
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Old March 21st, 2009, 05:53 PM   #4
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I believe you're describing barrel distortion. I doubt you would find a 1/2" lens on the planet, in that price range, at that focal length, that does not have the same distortion.

One of these will fix it mostly.

Fujinon | XS17x55BRM-M 17x 1/2" XDCAM HD Lens | XS17X55BRMM
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Old March 21st, 2009, 06:31 PM   #5
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lens or shutter

You need to further clarify what you are complaining about. W/A lenses can distort straight lines, even $30,000 lenses. IF that is the issue.
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Old March 21st, 2009, 06:32 PM   #6
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I remember your original post. I also remember suggesting that your problem was barrel distortion at widest angle, which turns to pincushion distortion when you zoom in. Every ZOOM lens in the video world has this distortion! It doesn't matter what brand it is. Some are more apparent than others, but it's a fact you must learn to live with.

This is not an EX3 problem, or a Sony problem, it's purely optical. In fact, you can even see it with your naked eyes! Stare at a straight vertical and it appears straight. Now slowly pan your eyes towards the right, and you'll see the vertical start to bulge outwards slightly to the left. It will be out of focus because it's peripheral, but you can still see it bulge slightly. Now look quickly at the vertical again, and it snaps straight.
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Old March 21st, 2009, 07:19 PM   #7
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I'm not seeing what you're talking about in my footage with the EX1. If you're simply referring to how "zoom" lenses tend to have a slight optical distortion between their widest angle and their most zoomed in angles, then that's not unique to the EX1/EX3. Even my high-end Canon "L" glass for still photography does this with zoom lenses. The longer the zoom length between wide and telephoto, the more pronounced the effect. The only way to really alleviate this slight distortion is to buy high-end fixed lenses. Coming from the still photography world, I find the lens on my EX1 very good for this variance of focal ranges. I don't have a problem with it at all. I'm sorry you feel the way you do (and you of course have every right to feel as you do), perhaps you can get a good price for your EX3 and get something different, or invest in a good, fixed focal length lens.
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Old March 21st, 2009, 07:19 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Michael Lyas View Post
I noticed that every straight vertical line would bend (Pin-Cushion Left -> increase reveal shot -> pin cushion to the right.
It's typical for wide-angle zoom lenses to have barrel and pin-cushion distortion.
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Old March 21st, 2009, 08:01 PM   #9
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Experience factor is crucial for evaluating lens performance

Hi, Michael,

I have to concur with all of the foregoing comments about what is really going on with your EX3. Every lens at its shortest focal length is going to produce barrel and pin cushion distortion. It is finally a question of physics in the world of optics. Although I don't own a EX3 yet, I am quite sure the collective wisdom above has pinpointed the problem at hand.

May I seriously suggest that you take a basic course in still photography wherein you will learn about lenses, their characteristics and how they function at various focal lengths.

My last point is that straight lines in an image are not the Holy Grail of photography; to the contrary, unstraight lines are often desirable. The great cinematic artists of the world continually struggle to overcome the photographic realism (of straight lines, if you will) or any so-called "normal" rendering of reality.

There is, understandably, a keen interest in this forum about camera performance, but few are talking about altering the laws of physics.

Collis H. Davis, Jr.
Okara Video
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Old March 21st, 2009, 08:58 PM   #10
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nikon lenses

buy the nikon mount and use nikon fixed focal length lenses. Course you'll have a magnification factor to deal with.

FYI; generally speaking, the larger the format, the better the ability to deal with these issues. If you really hate the effect, I suggest you buy an 8 X 10 view camera!! You can really get phenominal wide angle shots with that format plus you have swing and shift to really control the image.
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Old March 22nd, 2009, 05:58 AM   #11
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True, I'm afraid. Zoom lenses involve many compromises. Zooms are a convenience for people who don't want to move the camera or change the lens to adjust framing. Never have liked them. An excellent zoom is horribly expensive. But you can use prime lenses on that EX3. An excellent prime is still expensive, but you gain speed (f/1.4 being typical). I understand why Sony and your retailer were unsympathetic and I'm intrigued that one could expect getting a camera one deserved.
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Old March 22nd, 2009, 11:20 AM   #12
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You complaint is a bit like complaining aboput a violin that is made from wood.

Try an utlra wide angle lens on any 35mm camera and tell me there is no distortion on the edges,

However, I do know what you mean about barrel and pincushion distortion. Fortunately in Photoshop you can counteract this by using the "Pinch" filter, I am not sure if Premierre also has this filter, I think it does, will look when I reboot into XP. This could cure the problem without having to spend £$xx,xxxx on a new lens.

Having said all this, I shot some footage down at the coast two days ago and was pleased to see a straight line horizon. I had previously shot the same beach with a Sony F1 and it almost looked like a fish eye shot.
Eyes are a deaf manís ears. Ears are a blind manís eyes
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Old March 22nd, 2009, 02:31 PM   #13
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My advice is, do a proper shoot for a final edited programme instead of shooting 'test' footage in order to find issues. Then comment on the quality.

As others have said, this is a camera made to a price range, and I can tell you, even on lenses costing £10k or more I can find a lot of issues. If you are expecting perfection at the price range of an EX camera then you need to sell it and save up more until you can by a 35mm film camera.

Just a note for the chief (CH), this wasn't a flame, just a flame retardant message of realism :-)
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Old March 22nd, 2009, 02:33 PM   #14
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It's worth mentioning too just how cheap the EX3 is. I got some studio hourly rates a few days ago and they mentioned they had 6 Grass Valley Cameras. Out of curiosity, I googled the model and they were $120,000. And that did not include a lens, a battery, or anything other than just the body.
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Old March 22nd, 2009, 04:12 PM   #15
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Good enough they are used as a B camera on Dexter to hang with the F23. Great article/interview with the DP from the show in American Cinematographer this month. Thats less than 1% of the cost of an F23 and they run it on the show - pretty wild.
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