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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 April 7th, 2015, 09:36 PM   #1
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Need help with DETAIL and KNEE settings

Having a terribly difficult time figuring out the detail menu in my X180, as well as a usable knee.

I cannot seem to get any sharpening effect with the detail set to +99, and cranking the crispening anywhere from -99 to +99. I can toggle detail on and off, and with and without peaking, absolutely no visible difference. I shoot 720 so everything is just very soft, hard to focus, in focus looks blurry. My X70 is much easier to adjust detail, only a few steps to each setting, so you can run things back and forth and see an adjustments effect. The slowness of the X180 menu and the 200 step adjustments make this very difficult. Shoot a lot of high 18db gain, looking for that "video" look, but enough level depend to not turn gain into black snow. Speaking of 18db gain, this X180 has an annoying image at high gain. unlike my X70, the grain seems to be a pattern that wants to stay fixed. You can be panning at 60p and the black at 18db will have a stationary muddy noise that fixes itself in front of the image like an overlay. Annoying.

As for knee, I typically shoot 109% white clip, and apply a Broadcast Safe (I think of it as NLE knee!) filter in FCPX. My X70 I use an 87.5 knee with a slight - slope, but that camera blows out highlights at like 90IRE. I do a 100% night news shooting, so lots of high contrast scenes. Hoping to get some decent dynamic range without moving into that weird stylized cartoon effect.

If anyone can recommend some good settings from the other XDCAM small cameras as a starting point, it would help a lot. I am working on obtaining a Chroma DuMonde chart to finish off my camera matrix adjustments. I am overwhelmed by the adjustments available in this little camera, pleasantly surprised. :)

Paul
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Old April 8th, 2015, 08:43 PM   #2
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Re: Need help with DETAIL and KNEE settings

Ruh Roh, left the Detail at +99 and the Crispening at -99 last night. Nothing looked off in the viewfinder, but the resulting video looked like an SD CRT with the sharpness turned to MAX.

Paul
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Old April 9th, 2015, 12:11 AM   #3
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Re: Need help with DETAIL and KNEE settings

I set my detail a 0 and crispening +35 it seems ok do u think this is a good thing ? or am i doing something wrong
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Old April 9th, 2015, 02:28 AM   #4
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Re: Need help with DETAIL and KNEE settings

On my X70, + crispening reduces sharpening, or more accurately, raises the "bar" at which point the sharpening will occur. Then again, my X70 starts at 1 and goes up to 7, no - values. Level depend is similar, but has to do with darker areas, basically setting the video signal level at which the detail is initiated, if I understand it correctly. To keep dark noise and grain from being "enhanced" I suspect.

For some odd reason, with all my detail options set to 0, the image looks a bit crisper when I toggle detail OFF. Weird. I am familiar with all of these settings, as my old broadcast Panny's and Varicam had all of them, but to be able to crank things up and down without seeing a change in the viewfinder is a bit odd. On my Panny's, I would do my detail settings at 18db gain with digital extender engaged. Made seeing those edges much easier. :)

Not a detail expert here obviously!

Paul
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Old April 9th, 2015, 02:35 AM   #5
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Re: Need help with DETAIL and KNEE settings

Take a look at this for information about the effects of the features of Picture Profiles:

Picture Profile Guide. | XDCAM-USER.COM

On the same site, in the Camera Set Up section there is a more detailed account of Crispening.

The lower the value of Crispening, the more edges will be accentuated - I mostly use around -30 to -40 with an EX3, unless I am using increased gain in poor light when I reduce crispening to positive values, eg. +20 to avoid excessive artefacts. Detail is set at around -10.

Crudely, Detail Level sets the extent of apparent sharpening, crispening sets the threshold at which it kicks in. The "sharpening" is achieved by accentuating edges.
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Old April 9th, 2015, 05:42 PM   #6
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Re: Need help with DETAIL and KNEE settings

I'm surprised that you find the X180 needs that much monkeying around with the paint menus. I had a demo unit from Sony for a couple of months and I thought it looked really nice with just some basic changes to the gamma mode, matrix, and black level. It really shouldn't require a lot of changes to the detail menus. If you're not happy with the look you're getting you might want to do a full reset and make a fresh start. Sometimes we get started down a slipperly slope and the only way back is to simply start over. The X180 is a really nice looking camera and I'd gladly trade my EX1 for one if I could find someone dumb enough to make the trade. :-)
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Old April 9th, 2015, 09:16 PM   #7
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Re: Need help with DETAIL and KNEE settings

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Anderegg View Post
Speaking of 18db gain, this X180 has an annoying image at high gain. unlike my X70, the grain seems to be a pattern that wants to stay fixed. You can be panning at 60p and the black at 18db will have a stationary muddy noise that fixes itself in front of the image like an overlay. Annoying.
Commonly referred to as FPN. Fixed Pattern Noise. This is not so good Paul.

As I mentioned in a previous post I spent some time with the 180 and was pretty underwhelmed to be quite honest. To minimize noise at higher gains it looks like the camera employs a considerable amount of noise reduction. Sadly the trade off is often softer, smeary, muddy looking images. I remember Panasonic having similar issues with their 3 x 1/3" MOS AG-HPX-300 and 302 cameras. The high gain NR results were very similar to what you are describing. A lot of operators complained about it. The problem was greatly reduced when they brought out the AG-HPX370. I think it may be a characteristic of the smaller 1/3" 160 and 180 cameras. Even the new PXW-X200 showed more softening than I expected at high gain levels like 18dB. This just appears to be a by product product of the smaller sensor cameras. Images that we used to produce see and consider acceptable are now under much more scrutiny now that we are getting used to the lower noise and higher sharpness levels images of the later and larger 1", MFT and S35 sensors.

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Old April 9th, 2015, 10:11 PM   #8
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Re: Need help with DETAIL and KNEE settings

Yeah, that muddy noise reduction is similar to what you see on high compression web video, the type that is soo poor that the macroblocking is replaced with fixed pattern mud-blocking. My other big time hate on the X180 is the SteadyShot. it is HORRILE. Even wide angle stuff has this damn jiggle, and to make matters worse, when on Active Steadyshot, the pixel manipulation renders out very noticeable rolling shutter jello effect, like you see on cell phone video. So basically, any zoom and my footage when handheld has a jello-jiggle. You can imagine what "jello-jiggle looks like at 18db with noise reduction pattern while trying to track an object in low light.

On the plus side, with a 100 watt light on a tripod, the X180 will kick the HPX370's ass. All of these medium handheld cameras are a trade off. If the X70 had manual controls instead of the button/dial system, it would be perfect. Part of the reason I wanted the X180 was to resolve the grain in ClearImage zoom on my X70 and that manual focus spinning dial thing. I am pretty sure my X70 looks better than my X180, even employing ClearImage, at high gain settings. I will definitely be ditching this X180 as soon as a new model that meets my needs comes out.

What the X180 really does well is camera set-up. The dynamic range and color accuracy is amazing. But a lot of cameras look amazing on a tripod with tons of light. For now I am simply leaving the detail set to ON and all 0's. I have set the knee to AUTO. I know, auto sucks, but I can't figure out what levels to set manually. Image quality is the only thing this camera has going for it, it sucks at everything else, so I am being a bit anal about scoring 100% in every menu setting possible.

Paul
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Old April 9th, 2015, 10:14 PM   #9
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Re: Need help with DETAIL and KNEE settings

I should mention my X70 doesn't seem to employ ANY noise reduction. I say this only because the 33db image has no fixed pattern noise or muddiness, even when shooting AVCHD. I don't feel at all weird shooting night interviews at 30db on that camera!

Paul
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