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John Whiteway March 29th, 2020 04:00 PM

Gauging exposure in HC-X1 in Manual Mode
 
Sitting here learning the HC-X1 and I'm wondering if I fully understand some aspects of manual mode, in particular setting exposure. It's easy enough to set the camera up to allow you to control f stops but, unlike other cameras, when in this mode an exposure meter does not appear on the screen. Have I missed some setting that opens an exposure meter, or is using the Wave Form Monitor the only way you have to asses the exposure your f stop creates?

Thanks

John

Pete Cofrancesco March 29th, 2020 05:27 PM

Re: Gauging exposure in HC-X1 in Manual Mode
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by John Whiteway (Post 1958487)
Sitting here learning the HC-X1 and I'm wondering if I fully understand some aspects of manual mode, in particular setting exposure. It's easy enough to set the camera up to allow you to control f stops but, unlike other cameras, when in this mode an exposure meter does not appear on the screen. Have I missed some setting that opens an exposure meter, or is using the Wave Form Monitor the only way you have to asses the exposure your f stop creates?

Thanks

John

Sounds like you're use to the exposure meters found in photography cameras. In video, Zebras and Wave Form Monitors are the most common exposure tools used. Here's a video explaining their uses.

John Whiteway March 29th, 2020 06:50 PM

Re: Gauging exposure in HC-X1 in Manual Mode
 
Thanks for your reply. I'll have a look at that video.

Actually my Canon XH-A1 has an exposure meter that appears on the screen when the camera is set in Manual Mode. One adjusts speed and aperture in relation to it to find correct exposure. That camera, like the GH4, also has Aperture and Shutter Speed Priority Modes, which are great to have. So, as I work with the HC-X1 I'm finding more things that I wish weren't missing from it. If going for a shallow D of F in the HC-X1, for example, it seems that one would have to rely on that WFM while adjusting both iris and speed.

Pete Cofrancesco March 29th, 2020 07:03 PM

Re: Gauging exposure in HC-X1 in Manual Mode
 
These features exist just called differently. In the menu you can choose whether the aperture, shutter, and gain will be automatically controlled when the camera is in Auto mode. I don’t like how it’s implemented. Most video cameras will have physical buttons to toggle these from auto/manual.

Professionals frown on the use auto because it’s unreliable. Walk into room with white walls it will under expose, conversely in theater settings where a large portion of the screen will be black the camera set to auto will overexpose the stage. When zooming in such a setting the exposure will fluctuate even if the lighting remains the same.

John Whiteway March 29th, 2020 08:27 PM

Re: Gauging exposure in HC-X1 in Manual Mode
 
Thanks again. If something like Aperture Prioroty is easily available on the HC-X1 I'd be very happy. Back to the manual for me tomorrow.

John

John Whiteway March 30th, 2020 10:18 AM

Re: Gauging exposure in HC-X1 in Manual Mode
 
Well Pete thanks again.

I've gone back to the manual and now see how on the Auto page of the menu I can turn off automatic iris and automatic shutter and effectively create Aperture and Shutter Priority. Great to have this knowledge in my kit bag.

Thanks again. Without this on-line discussion I'd never have sorted this.

John

Pete Cofrancesco March 30th, 2020 11:18 AM

Re: Gauging exposure in HC-X1 in Manual Mode
 
Your welcome. I remember having similar confusion figuring out how the camera worked. Glad to be of help.

Steven Digges April 2nd, 2020 04:59 PM

Re: Gauging exposure in HC-X1 in Manual Mode
 
Hey Gentleman,

I believe there is a false statement in the video. Zebras are an amazing tool. But like everything else they have evolved and changed. He says the "zebras will always be there when over the threshold." That is not always true anymore. Some do and some don't. Some cameras let you set a range for them to be in. The problem is there is no standard for them. It varies by manufacturer and camera model. It is up to you to know exactly how they work in your camera. Then figure out the settings you like and how they react in the real world. If a camera has a Zebra 1 and Zebra 2 I put it on a custom function button so I can switch bach and forth instantly. It's a great tool, it just takes a little experience setting and shooting with each camera.

Kind Regards,

Steve

Doug Jensen April 2nd, 2020 05:31 PM

Re: Gauging exposure in HC-X1 in Manual Mode
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Steven Digges (Post 1958642)
If a camera has a Zebra 1 and Zebra 2 I put it on a custom function button so I can switch bach and forth instantly.

I don't know anything about the specific Panasonic camera being discussed here, but I think it is important to note that if you are using a Sony camera that has Zebra1 and Zebra2 they each function entirely differently. I'm not just talking about programming them for two difference settings, I'm warning you that they are two entirely different types of zebras that don't work the same way. Personally, I would never use Zebra1 on a Sony camera. You may want to check exactly what type of zebras the Panasonic uses before making any decision on how to use them.

Steven Digges April 6th, 2020 07:19 PM

Re: Gauging exposure in HC-X1 in Manual Mode
 
Doug,

I know this thread is about a Panasonic camera I am not familiar with. That's why I commented on the video statement where he generalised zebras. I said everyone should know how their own camera works.

Maybe I don't understand my Sonys? Specific information on zebras can be hard to find. This is what I think I am doing correctly.

On my Sony FS5 I keep Zebra 1 set to 75% with an aperture level of 4.
According to the manual I thought this was giving me a "reference range" of zebras visible roughly only between 70% and 80%.

I keep Zebra 2 set at 100% to give me a quick check of highlights and blowouts.

I would love to hear why you would never use Zebra 1. Am I misunderstanding it?

Kind Regards,

Steve

Doug Jensen April 6th, 2020 08:20 PM

Re: Gauging exposure in HC-X1 in Manual Mode
 
Steve, at the risk of hijacking this thread away from the HC-X1, I'll be happy to answer your questions, but first let me ask you to asnswer one that will help me give you a better answer -- how do you use zebras to set exposure? What is your method?

Steven Digges April 7th, 2020 08:53 AM

Re: Gauging exposure in HC-X1 in Manual Mode
 
Hi Doug,

The old school guy in me still likes to see whats going on in the 70 to 80% range on Caucasian faces. Of course that comes from my early days of training with a Betacam and an awesome B&W viewfinder. But I am very much aware that faces are not 18% grey and vary greatly. So I'm really more concerned with true white. I use Zebra 1 and make a judgment call (I'm usually on with that). Then I look at Zebra 2 (at 100%) and check whites. If I see zebras I back off a little bit. I do not underexpose for safety reasons. It is important to me to get it right. I'm probably using a lot of experience mixed with the science.

Kind Regards,

Steve

I don't think the OP will mind us discussing zebras on his Pani exposure thread. :-)

Doug Jensen April 8th, 2020 05:48 AM

Re: Gauging exposure in HC-X1 in Manual Mode
 
Steve, thanks for the additional info. A project has come up that needs my immediate attention but I'll come back as soon as I can in the next day or two. I didn't want you to think I forgot about this thread.

Doug Jensen April 8th, 2020 01:24 PM

Re: Gauging exposure in HC-X1 in Manual Mode
 
Steve,

One thing I hear people say at workshops I’m teaching is that they don’t like zebras because it looks too messy and puts annoying lines all over the viewfinder that interfere with their ability to shoot so they just guess at exposure. Another thing I hear is that they judge exposure on caucasian skin tones. Ugh!!! Those kinds of comments are all I need to hear to instantly know that the person has not been taught how to use zebras correctly. Because when used correctly, you should barely even see zebras. And when you DO see them, they are giving you critically important information about the exposure.

My use of Zebra is quite simple: I base my entire exposure on bright (reflected) whites. If I expose for white, then everything else will fall into place, according to the particular Scene file I’m using. And in order to expose for white consistently, I just need zebras to tell me exactly when my exposure has reached a certain threshold. And that threshold is NOT the point of clipping or anything close to it.

Unless I’m shooting a subject that requires under/over exposure for creative reasons, I set my exposure by looking for something bright-white in the scene . . . opening the iris up until I see the zebra pattern appear . . . and then I leave the iris at that setting.

I’ve found that most of the time that will put my camera within a fraction of an f-stop of the right exposure. Some situations can be tricky, such as outdoors with a strong backlight, but that’s where experience and a little guessing do come into play. But the rest of the time, I’m looking for zebras on bright (reflected) whites. In fact, when shooting interviews, I’ll even have the subject hold up a white card in front of their face – not just for white balance – but also to set the exposure. White cards are consistent, but skin tones are not. It is a very poor practice to base exposure on skin tones – even if everyone in the world was caucasian – which obviously they are not. I’ve always thought there is something just slightly racist about exposing for white people at certain level and just guessing at everyone else based on how dark or light they appear to our eyes. As if that is good enough. Nope. That’s why we have tools to set exposure properly.

However, using zebras the way I’ve just described isn’t possible with the default settings of most camera. And maybe that explains why so many people fail to recognize just how helpful Zebras can be or how to use them correctly.

Sony camera s offer two types of zebras that can be displayed one at a time or simultaneously. Personally I find that having both zebras displayed at the same time can get rather messy in the viewfinder and provides no benefit. I only use Zebra 2 when I’m exposing for bright white.

Why do I choose to use Zebra 2 instead of Zebra 1? Because, as I said in an earlier post, they’re not the same thing and they don’t function the same way. If you a look at the zebra menu page of most Sony camcorders, and you’ll notice a menu called ZEBRA 1 APERTURE LEVEL. You’ll also notice that there is no equivalent menu for Zebra 2. That’s because 1 and 2 are different.

Aperture Level refers to the exposure range (or width) where zebra will appear within the picture. For example, with the Aperture Level set at the default value of “10%,” and Zebra 1 set at “70%,” the zebra pattern will be overlaid on any areas of the picture where the brightness falls between 65% and 75%. In other words, you’ll have a 10% zebra range, centered at 70%. That’s what Aperture Level means, and you can use the menu to make the window smaller or larger if you happen to prefer a different setting.

At first it sounds like Zebra 1 might be fine, but there are two things I don’t like about it. For one thing, if I want zebras to appear at 70% (just hypothetically speaking, of course) I don’t want them kicking in at 65%, because that defeats the whole reason I’m using zebra to see my exposure with precision.

To get my exposure perfect, I need zebras to tell me when my exposure reaches exactly 70%. And with a 10% window, I won’t be able to discern any exposure difference between 65% and 75%. That is a wide gap, more than one-stop, and not very helpful for setting the proper exposure. Even if I narrow the window down to a smaller percentage, it’s still not going to be precise enough for me.

The second thing I don’t like about using Aperture is that if the exposure exceeds 75% on parts of the image (assuming we’re still using 70% zebra and a 10% aperture as an example), the zebra pattern will disappear, and I may not even realize I’m overexposing. Think of how dangerous that could be.

Here’s another way of looking at it, imagine if you had audio VU meters that turned red when peak levels reached 65%. But if the sound got louder than 75%, the meters would go back to green and appear totally normal – even though the sound might be severely overdriving and getting clipped or distorted.

Zebra 2 has the advantage that once it kicks in – it stays in – no matter how far you overexpose. That makes it almost impossible to miss seeing in the viewfinder.

Another advantage is that Zebra 2 won’t ever kick in earlier than you want it to. So for example, if you want to have zebras appear at 70%, with Zebra 2 they won’t appear until exactly 70%. And they won’t disappear no matter how far you overexpose.

Please note that even though I’ve used the figure “70%” in these hypothetical examples, I have not actually given you any specific advice for what your zebra level setting should be. The reason for that omission is because there is no single “correct” zebra setting.

The correct zebra setting to use in any given situation is totally dependent on your camera’s shooting mode, the gamma choice, other paint menu settings that you’ve chosen, and whether or not you’re going to grade the video in post. For example, you might want to use something around 90-95% for regular REC709 scene files, but for S-LOG and V-LOG a setting of 75% is the correct level. But the important thing to remember is those values are being measured from zebras on BRIGHT REFLECTED WHITES. This method takes all the guess work out of exposure and is acutally faster than just guessing or shooting form the hip. And exposure consistency looks better and saves time in post.

I hope that helps.

BTW, this is all covered in any of my Sony and Panasonic training videos and field guides.
https://www.vortexmediastore.com/pag...deos-and-books

Steven Digges April 8th, 2020 03:39 PM

Re: Gauging exposure in HC-X1 in Manual Mode
 
Doug,
The way you share your time and expertise blows me away. Thank you for the detailed response. This should be a sticky someplace instead of buried in a Pani thread I semi hijacked. I hope this info helps the OP too.

I tend to think I am pretty good at getting exposure correct because I am fanatical about it. That means I spend to much time fussing with it and using multiple methods (at times) to check it. I don't have one purely bullet proof method like you just described. Trusting whites makes sense. I am doing that in a way with my Zebra 2 set at 100 and backing off some if I need to. I am going to experiment with your method a lot more.

I white balance and expose manually almost all the time. I have a white cloth in every camera kit. I am going to figure out the perfect Zebra setting for them under multiple circumstances.

Thank you again!

Steve


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