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Old January 13th, 2010, 10:45 AM   #1
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PMW 350 Lens, low light, noise etc etc

Got my 350 today. Generally very impressed. It's like an EX3 and DSR450 mated.

Did some very quick tests next to my DSR450. It looked to be about the same sensitivity but I have a feeling my 450 lens was faster so maybe the 350 would edge it with the same lens.

On a full HD monitor, there was very little noise even at 12dB. 18dB would be usable for super low light doc work.

The kit lens is VERY good for the money. Sharp in the centre and seemed to maintain it to the edges very well. Very low CA. However the zoom servo is a little jerky. Not as bad as some EX1/3s but just noticeable. The zoom servo is also a lot slower than I am used to - more like a pro lens than a broadcast lens. I compared it to my Broadcast SD lens and there was a notable improvement. Mainly in CA and in the corners.

First job tomorrow (!) so will post more when I have time.
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Old January 13th, 2010, 11:53 AM   #2
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However the zoom servo is a little jerky.
This may vary from lens to lens. Mine seems exceedingly smooth, totally un-jerky from the slowest (and it is slow) zoom speeds.
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Old January 13th, 2010, 06:24 PM   #3
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The sensitivity is great on the 350. Stock lens is ok but not as sharp as a few other lens I have tested so far.

My zoom is very smooth on the lens servo and with a remote. Not a single jump from very slow to fast.

First working flight with the camera tomorrow which will be interesting. Also wind chill expected to be -40 F during travel to and from the job and -10 F shooting the job. 5 hrs (two tanks) so a good check on the camera in cold conditions.
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Old January 13th, 2010, 10:29 PM   #4
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Stock lens seems plenty sharp, wide and zoomed. The biggest issue it has in my observation, is flare. I have the flare correction turned off. It shows up in a lot of shots. Less notable than the flare but still significant is pincushion distortion at the wide end.
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Old January 14th, 2010, 06:49 AM   #5
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Stock lens seems plenty sharp, wide and zoomed. The biggest issue it has in my observation, is flare. I have the flare correction turned off. It shows up in a lot of shots. Less notable than the flare but still significant is pincushion distortion at the wide end.
Tom the stock lens is nice but have you compared it against a HJ, HA, or ZA lens?

I have not noticed the flare but that could change after todays shoot. Are you saying it is better with flare correction on or off?
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Old January 14th, 2010, 11:43 AM   #6
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The stock lens has no problem resolving all the detail. If an expensive lens looks better that's not surprising, but flare is the issue and only complaint I have about the lens. I've never seen worse flare, almost begs the question of whether the optics are coated.

I have not tried with the flare correction switched on, I turned it off the first day. For sure, they put it on the menu because it needs help. I'll give it a try but was just trying to minimize the processing by switching it off. I'm usually not much bothered by flare, but it is excessive here. Shoot into backlight or toward a low sun.
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Old January 14th, 2010, 06:00 PM   #7
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Wow Tom you are right about the flare. Today we flew for 5 hrs with 95% of the flight having proper lighting. But on the way back I set the pilot to shoot some shots with backlight and the sun was low.

After the flight I looked in to all the flare settings and I don't know where to start.

With proper light and a nice flat sun today we did get some stunning shots. This is a big step up from using the EX1 in the helicopter.
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Old January 14th, 2010, 10:01 PM   #8
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Did you have a gyro? Aerial shots are so beautiful, yet I think they are surely harder to do well then one would imagine. I would like to hire a chopper but am pretty sure I'd be disappointed if I tried to do this.
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Old January 15th, 2010, 07:11 AM   #9
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Yes we have about $60k invested in our custom gyro system not including the helicopter upgrades and special gear for the camera. I shoot about 60 days a year from helicopters and have been doing this for a long time.

Just renting gyros and going up will not produce high quality footage. It takes a very nice stabilization system (not gyro shoulder mount) and flying with the same pilot for a long time to develop a system that produces high quality footage. I see footage all the time that has been shot even some from stabilization manufactures that is not well done. There are teams doing a great job but as with any shooting it takes a lot of funds and commitment between shooter and pilot.

When I go to the studio and shoot or on location I would not call it easy it is just a different set of skills. All fun and I feel lucky to have grow up in a family of pilots where flying has just been a part of my life along with sailing and shooing on the water.

I am in the process of testing/buying a lens for the 350 to use in the helicopter not just to solve the flare but for higher quality optics and other features. Yesterday is one of the few days I will fly with the stock lens, just too much invested in each clip.

As for the flare you are correct it can be bad. Do you know how to go about all of the flare settings?
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Old January 15th, 2010, 07:41 AM   #10
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One other thought on the 350 stock lens is the auto focus. Not that I recommend auto focus I do not. I think manual focus should be used all the time!

I tested this feature side by side with the EX1 in the studio and in the field. The EX1 out performed the 350 in auto focus mode, for focus only. So then I went back to the studio and reset the backfocus on the 350. Still the EX1 out performed the 350 in autofocus mode, again for focus only. The 350 drifts around even on a locked target. You might not see it on the camera but on the studio monitor it was apparent.

But in manual focus the 350 lens is very nice to focus and sharper image with a lower noise picture against the EX1 with both in manual focus.
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Old January 15th, 2010, 09:23 AM   #11
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Haven't used auto focus much, I do notice more of the shallow depth of field difference than I was expecting compared to the 1/2 inch sensors on the EX1.

Yes, there is a significantly lower noise floor, can really see this in low light, and also a more accurate rendering of subtle shades of color in all light, more organic textures.

I spent a long time developing picture profiles in the EX1 that I was happy with, the PMW350 is at once more forgiving of these settings, took very little effort to get a 24p profile I liked, although my 60i profile I'm still adjusting.
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Old January 15th, 2010, 09:36 AM   #12
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I have not used auto focus just tested it.

Agree the shallow depth of field is a big difference and makes you think more about ND and iris combo depending on the shot.

Are you willing to share your Paint settings?

I am using Alister's with your detail settings. I mostly shoot 30p. Since Alister has his posted on his XDCAM site I don't think it would be a problem posting here, but I will check first. Clips seem nice with natural color, nice detail in the blacks, and great latitude.
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Old January 15th, 2010, 10:46 AM   #13
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I will happily post them, although they are basic. I should be able to get this done by later tonite, on the way out the door to the ranch, cam and tripod in hand. Back soon.
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Old January 15th, 2010, 11:04 AM   #14
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Thanks Tom have a great shoot.
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Old January 15th, 2010, 12:07 PM   #15
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These are the Scene Files I came up withwhen using the demo PMW-350. I'm still waiting for mine to arrive (Grrrr....).

File One: Aimed at giving high latitude with deep almost crushed blacks and the image well saturated and slightly warmed up.

Detail: ON Aperture: ON Detail Level: -15 Aperture Level: -10 Detail Frequency: +24

Matrix: ON Matrix (User): ON Matrix (Preset): ON Matrix (Prst) Sel: 6

R-G 1, R-B 12, G-R 2, G-B 11, B-R 0, B-G 0

Gamma: ON Gamma Table: STD Gam Table (STD): 5

Black Gamma: ON Black Gamma Range: HIGH Master BLK Gamma -24

Knee: ON Knee Point: 85.2 Knee Slope: -14

White Clip: ON White Clip Level: 109.0 (If will be graded) 104 (if not graded or for broadcast)

Master Black: -2

File Two: Aimed at giving maximum latitude with deep but not crushed blacks and vivid slightly warmed up colours.

Matrix: ON Matrix (User): ON Matrix (Preset): OFF Matrix (Prst) Sel: 1

R-G 8, R-B 10, G-R 0, G-B 15, B-R 5, B-G 6

Gamma: ON Gamma Table: HG Gam Table (HG): 4

Black Gamma: ON Black Gamma Range: H.MID Master BLK Gamma -28

White Clip: ON White Clip Level: 109.0 (If will be graded) 104 (if not graded or for broadcast)

Master Black: -3

Detail: ON Aperture: ON Detail Level: -15 Aperture Level: -10 Detail Frequency: +24
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