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Old April 21st, 2003, 06:27 PM   #1
Outer Circle
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Just bought your first cam? Now what?

If you are new to digital video cameras, don't worry. Here are some tips.
[list=1][*]Buy a UV filter right away and screw it on your cam's filter threads. Make sure the cam's lens and the UV filter are clean. Clean them with a cleaning cloth. First blow the dust off, then steam it up with your breath and quickly rub gently with the cloth. Just clean the lens, and the side of the filter that is facing down. The topside of the filter can be cleaned later---and this will be an ongoing thing. Don't force the filter on. Screw it on gently, and don't over tighten. Just keep it snug.

If the lens cap which came with the camera doesn't fit, buy a new lens cap. They cost about $5. (Make sure the new one fits.)
[*]Buy 1 or 2 extra batteries.
[*]Use only 1 brand and type of miniDV, miniDVCAM or Digital8 tape---depending on your cam. Personally, I prefer Fuji tape. Why stick with one brand/type of tape? Read here: http://www.dvfreak.com/tape.htm
[*] Buy a protective carrying case/bag for your cam. Lowepro makes good ones, which are also inexpensive. For the typical consumer cam, I suggest a Lowepro Vidcam 2 or Vidcam 3, or better, a Lowepro Nova 2 or Nova 3. However, if you need lots of room for extras, I suggest a Lowepro Nova 4 or 5. (The Nova series has more compartments which can be adjusted with velcro'd separators.)
[*]It might be a good idea to put on the neck strap to the cam (a strap is usually included with consumer cams).
[*]Adjust the cam's hand strap.
[*]Don't force anything on your cam. READ AND STUDY the cam's manual, a little at a time, for familiarizing yourself with your new cam.
[*]Keep your hands clean, and don't wear anything that might scratch your cam. Examples: jewellery, metal buttons, a metal zipper on your jacket.
[*]It's best to use AUTO mode, if you are not that familiar with your cam. AUTO mode works just fine, especially outdoors in lots of sunlight. It's with the lower light situations that AUTO has trouble sensing---that's when MANUAL mode would be the way to go.
[*]To practice the menus with your cam, leave the tape out. Why? Because when you press, "PAUSE," the cam heads are still spinning, and the cam will automatically shut down after 2 minutes. This shut-down is a safety feature so that the heads will not over-heat. (VCRs do this too.)[/list=1]
Frank Granovski is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 21st, 2003, 06:33 PM   #2
Capt. Quirk
Join Date: Apr 2002
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Frank- Nice article for beginners :) I would like to add, that it has been recommended that you don't leave any tapes in the camera during storage. Great advice!
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Old April 21st, 2003, 08:37 PM   #3
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Im still amazed these damn cameras do NOT come with a UV filter. What a bunch of grubbers these companies are.
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Old April 21st, 2003, 09:32 PM   #4
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Very good advice for new camera owners, Frank.

Alex, you have a point; camera manufacturers should include a protective filter with their basic kits. On a related note, I no longer advocate that people keep a protective filter on their lens at all times. Your camera's lens is the first interface with your image. The coatings on today's lenses are actually pretty durable and designed to deliver the truest photons through the glass. Protective filters, particularly inexpensive ones, are often not designed to such high standards and, to varying degrees, can defeat some of the benefits of a good lens. For example, UV filters often become "firefly traps" when shooting in the evening as flares from lights bounce between the lens and the filter.

So, by all means, buy the best protective filter you can afford and keep it with your camera. But if you're shooting in safe conditions (ex: controlled indoor scenes, outdoor in good weather) I advise removing the filter (gasp!) and letting your lens do its job. I think you'll see a difference. (BTW, if you have the opportunity to watch camera work on feature films you'll notice that those big, expensive Panavision lenses are generally left naked, for the same reasons.)
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Old April 22nd, 2003, 02:20 AM   #5
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I have also noticed that cheap uncoated UV filters tends to cast reflections and cause flaring.

The better coated or multi-coated UV filters are better in letting light through, but cost more.

However, I have also noticed that the coated or multi-coated filters also leaves shadows of green and magenta (probably due to some minor difraction). Steven Khong had mentioned this earlier, but I noticed it only when I shot some aquarium (hippos in a tank, that is) and fishes in water.

In situations like these, I'll go with Ken's naked idea.
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Old April 22nd, 2003, 02:28 AM   #6
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I agree, in a studio or indoors---if beer isn't flying around, there is no need for a UV filter. However, I've shot lots of video "in the studio," with my cheap UV left on, and I saw no flaring---no ill-effects. So, BUY A CHEAP UV! Actually, this is up to the individual.
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