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Old February 22nd, 2012, 11:50 PM   #1
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Explaining Zebras

Can anyone give me a little education on how best to use Zebra's? Should I set at 70, 80, or 100%? When I get rid of all the Zebra's on areas that are over exposed the picture is to dark. Are some Zebras ok? I've recorder video that looks fine even though zebras were showing in parts of the view finder where the picture was over exposed. Thanks.

Larry
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Old February 23rd, 2012, 02:04 AM   #2
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Re: Explaining Zebras

Hi Larry

Human skin tone needs a zebra setting I think of around 65 -68% if you want to expose your image to get perfect skin tones. I ctually have Panasonics and have dual zebras and set the one to 70% so I can watch skin tones and the other at 90% so I can avoid a total blowout!! In any scene, especially outdoors, sure you will have zebras showing most of the time..they will be triggered by maybe a piece of sky in the frame even at 90% or higher ..they are mainly there to tell you that part of the picture is over-exposed (the part with the zebras showing) and little bits here and there can be ignored. If the whole screen if full of zebras then you need to up the shutter speed or kick in ND filters.

Most of the time I work just with the 90% zebra..as long as the talent's face is clear then I'm happy...anything that reflects more light than usual will also cause zebras too..I assume this is for your upcoming wedding shoot???? At weddings I simply set one zebra to 90% and play the rest by ear..the bride is going to a lot more "light reflective" than the groom (who is probably in a dark suit) so bear this in mind as well.
A good test is snap your EX into auto exposure and see what the camera decides is a good setting...I find usually the auto mode puts you very close to a good exposure and even if zebras are present the overall exposure is pretty decent. If you try to get the EVF with no zebras at all, even at 90% there is a good chance you shot be be under-exposed!!

Hey, my buddy Chip Thome lives in Miramar Drive in Green Bay!!! Do you know him????

Chris

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Old February 23rd, 2012, 03:17 AM   #3
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Re: Explaining Zebras

Different cameras have different arrangements for the zebras. Some have two separate patterns, which can be used singly or together, and which may each be set to different levels. Additionally, "setting to 70%" can sometimes mean they will onset at 70% and then go off when the level goes higher, sometimes mean that zebraing will stay pattering for any signal between 70-100%. (Not normaly good, tends to obscure too much of the active picture.

Generally, although two zebras may sound complicated, I'd thouroughly recommend it - as long as they can be set to each operate over a narrow band. (That was a problem with some shouldermount P2 cameras - not sure it's true of later ones.)

My main experience is with a DSR500, and with that the onset of zebra 1 is adjustable, and it stops working for levels higher than 90%. Zebra 2 operates at 100%, so shows if anything is peak white. In that situation, what worked for me was to use both, and set the onset at 85%. I found I could then reliably get good exposure by having zebraing on the HIGHLIGHTS OF THE FACE only, and found that more consistent across different skin tones (even different races) than setting to 70-75% and gettinng zebraing on the entire face. It also was less obscuring of the image.

Differing settings work for differing people, but in general I'd recommend using both zebras together if the camera has the facility. It may take a little getting used to, but IMO it's worth it.

(The EX have two zebras, which is unusual - and very good! - for a camera in this price range. They are also flexible in how they can be used. Some - cheaper - cameras advertise "dual zebras", which can be set independently, but not used both at the same time......... Doh!!!)
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Old February 23rd, 2012, 09:28 PM   #4
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Re: Explaining Zebras

Thanks for the input guys. I now have a better understanding of Zebras and realize some can be present and I can still get a good picture. However it is still a bit confusing but your input will be invaluable. I'm going to print it now and practice. I will try to snap into auto mode, I assume I have to have the Zebras turned on when I do, and see what exposure setting I get.

Yes, Chris I'm trying to get ready for my wedding shoot in two weeks. It will be the 1st time I use the EX1R so I'm a bit nervous. I'm going to post a thread in just a minute about any advice anyone can offer on the settings etc. I've been watching the DVD by Vortex Media and I can see this is the most sophiscated camera I've used to date. I could simply not use it and instead just use my Sony HDR-FX 1000 and the GL2. However, I'm excited to try it but just nervous I might not know enough about it. If you see the thread and have a minute please throw in any information you can. I'm thinking of maybe using full auto even though Doug from Vortex Media might fall over.

I live just about 10 minutes from Miramar Drive in Green Bay but I don't know Chip. Is he a video guy like us or just a Packer fan like everybody else in G.B? Go Pack Go!

Larry
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Old February 24th, 2012, 04:01 AM   #5
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Re: Explaining Zebras

I don't know if the wedding is a paid assignment or just a courtesy to a friend, but if it's a paid job, I wouldn't use a camera that you have not had enough time to practice with. I'd rather trust my 'old' and familiar stuff in that case and save the EX1 for the next opportunity... Just my advice, of course.
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Old February 24th, 2012, 05:50 AM   #6
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Re: Explaining Zebras

Just a note that on the EX cameras Zebra 1 has a +/- 5% window. So, if you set it at 65 it will appear when exposure hits 60 and then go away again at 70. Zebra 2 comes on at 95 but stays on no matter how far over you go.
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Old February 24th, 2012, 06:54 AM   #7
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Re: Explaining Zebras

Also worth mentioning that zebras often work under a hysteresis loop, meaning if you're opening the aperture they'll appear at f/4 (say) but if you're closing the aperture on the same scene they might disappear at f/5.6. All this means is that you should treat them as a guide and get used to using this guide as you turn the aperture ring one way only.

There's no right and wrong setting to select. I grew up with the 100% zebra setting so that's what I've got used to working with. And if you're not sure how many galloping zebras are acceptable, simply leave the came in auto and go out and about (with zebras turned on) seeing what the camera's auto mode thinks is acceptable. Chat into your mic saying where the zebras are and on replay into a monitor you'll see if it looks good. Dialling them out completely will indeed give you under-exposure in a huge number of cases.

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Old February 24th, 2012, 09:26 AM   #8
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Re: Explaining Zebras

Hey Larry

If your shoot is only a few weeks away then probably the safest would be to set zebra one to 90% and turn zebra 2 off (at weddings I just work on one 90% zebra as thing happen fast and there is no time to fool around) As Tom says..set one zebra to 90%, and go shoot some outdoor footage and set the exposure on auto....let the camera decide on exposure but as Tom has said do a little running narration while you are filming and make audio mention of where the zebras are. Once you watch the footage you will see that most are really nothing to worry about!! I use then mainly to warn about huge over-exposure (like I have left the camera in manual and the shutter at 1/50th in bright sun!!!)
To be honest I start all my weddings in full auto on both cameras as a safety measure...at least I know I will get pretty good footage in that mode..I then will go manual as and when needed ..like backlit ceremonies etc etc....at weddings everything is happening as around you so a full auto camera is a nice idea to get the shot and then adjust during the shot if you have to!!

Chip used to shoot mainly bands on video....at the moment he is toying with stills but I might coax hime back into video again!!! Send him a PM (he's on here) he might be able to help if you get stuck..he might even know the Church too!! Yeah Chip is a Packers Fan of course!!

Chris
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Old February 24th, 2012, 10:07 AM   #9
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Re: Explaining Zebras

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alister Chapman View Post
Just a note that on the EX cameras Zebra 1 has a +/- 5% window. So, if you set it at 65 it will appear when exposure hits 60 and then go away again at 70. Zebra 2 comes on at 95 but stays on no matter how far over you go.
Hey Alister,

How did you find this info? This is something I've always wondered about, but could never get an answer.

Thanks!
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Old February 24th, 2012, 11:53 AM   #10
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Re: Explaining Zebras

You can see it on a waveform monitor. Plus, it is a pretty common feature of all Sony XDCAM camcorders. On the F800 you can even make the 10% window narrower or wider.
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Old February 24th, 2012, 11:47 PM   #11
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Re: Explaining Zebras

Quote:
Originally Posted by Luc De Wandel View Post
I don't know if the wedding is a paid assignment or just a courtesy to a friend, but if it's a paid job, I wouldn't use a camera that you have not had enough time to practice with. I'd rather trust my 'old' and familiar stuff in that case and save the EX1 for the next opportunity... Just my advice, of course.
good advice
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Old March 3rd, 2012, 11:57 PM   #12
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Re: Explaining Zebras

Thanks for the advice guys. I've just spend all day Friday and today going through step by step the 3 DVD'd for this camera that Doug Jensen of Vortex Media put together. After doing this I feel much more confident that I can use it on the shoot. This is really a great piece of work. Doug is an excellent teacher and covers everything is great detail. I also like the quality on this /2 chip camera so I'd like to use it. My Prosumer HDR-FX1000 will be the second camera and has some of the features that the EX1R has. The wedding is next Saturday and I think I'm going to try it. Wish me luck.

Larry
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