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Photo for HD Video (D-SLR and others)
HD from Nikon D90, other still photo cams (except EOS 5D Mk. II, LUMIX GH1).

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Old May 23rd, 2009, 07:07 PM   #1
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Casio EX-F1 Update

1) When shooting in bright outdoor light, a 6-stop reduction from as tacked pair of 3X ND filters keeps shutter-speed at 1/100th to 1/50th. This is correct for 30fps. This really cuts down on the terrible strobby look you too often get. And, don't forget to ONLY pan following movement and always pan with a moving object. (This is true of ALL cameras where you can't lock shutter-speed.)

2) The AE system will open the aperture as wide as it can based upon zoom: f/2.7 (W) to f/4.6 (T).

3) When you shoot in darker areas -- gain will be added. Once gain reaches 200 -- ideally switch to only 5-stops of ND. Or, if it moves to 400, drop to 3-stops. When you shoot in really bright situations where the shutter-speed naturally increases above 1/100th -- avoid shots of motion. Or, use powerful ND filter.

4) iMovie 09 has a stabilize function that computes the maximum anti-shake correction needed. Essentially I've found no difference between the camera's AS on or off. So, set it off and you'll be set for both monopod or tripod use. And, you'll not introduce movements that may conflict with iMovies's stabilizer. Using a software stabilizer is mandatory with the F1!. But, you also need to avoid wild camera motions because rolling-shutter screws-up stabilization.

5) You may not notice when shooting, but unless you lock exposure it will hunt very slightly and you'll see it in the sky.

6) I wouldn't handheld zoom past 100mm which is really 130mm in 720p mode. That's about 3X or 1/4th of the total zoom range.

7) The Continuous AF works while shooting. But, beware the handheld zoom. The longer the focal length the more shake AND the worse AF becomes. Now, when you try to stabilize, the hunting AF pixels become gross looking.

8) When shooting Wide you can use AF. But, if you are going to zoom much past 50mm, either use MF or Infinity or Lock AF. Outdoors I need the VF to see focus which is why I can't image a DSLR where you have only an LCD to look at.

9) If you set the Lock button to AE and AF -- then the routine is:

a) press shtter half-way and wait for green box to indicate focus.

b) You MUST release the shutter-button.

c) Quickly press Lock and look for the WHITE Lock indicator.

d) press the Record button. Unless you see the WHITE Lock AE/AF indicator while shooting it's not locked!

e) at the end of a shot, optionally you can take one still. The data on this still tells you what the settings were for the video recording.

10) The whole world gets better if you shoot progressive and not interlace.

11) Use Multi-area AE mode. (You can't use anything but Spot AF for video.)

12) Increase Saturation to +2 to get more punch.

13) Expand+1 sets the video slightly over 100IRE which provides a bit of headroom. When set to +2 you really do get more dynamic range when view it via HDMI. But, many NLE's (iMovie) clip at 100IE so an edited movie looks worse.

14) I keep Sharpness and Contrast at zero. If I want to crush shadows it's safer to do so in post. iMovie has a great real-time color corrector!

15) I have no idea what the color filter does. Likewise, I've yet to try dozens of neat features. I had no idea the F1 shot Panaramas. It looks like Sony was trying out it's HX1 modes on the F1 as it has many/all of the HX1 "special" modes. The 7fps flash mode is fantastic for cat movies. I know of no camera that can do this.

16) Many of the BS modes raise the shutter-speed which in general is not what you want if there is motion in a scene.

17) If you want the AF Assist light to work well, you need to pull off the shade. I'm going to see if there is any kind of quick-release ND filter+shade unit because it's a pain screwing in/out filters.

18) There is a great review at:

Fundamentally, the F1 is a much better camera than the other $500 products. Only the GH1 looks to be better.

19) The use of H.264/AVC is such a blessing over AVCHD. There is no conversion time and no generation loss. And, no 4X larger files. A Project is exported directly to H.264/AVC for the web or for a Western Digital Media Player. The use of AVCHD is not an advantage for the GH1.

20) It's taken a long time to get decent video out of the F1 because of all the workarounds and rules. However, other the GH1, the use of Live Mode for video is a huge pain-in-the-a$$. A camcorder is far simpler!

But, because progressive video is almost always recorded as interlace, applications such as iMovie see it as interlace and do destructive things to the video. It really is time for camcorder progressive to SDHC be true progressive video.
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Last edited by Steve Mullen; May 23rd, 2009 at 07:42 PM.
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Old May 24th, 2009, 04:05 AM   #2
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Thanks, Steve. This message has a wealth of tips for the use of many video cameras, not just the EX-F1. When I figured out that locking the shutter at 1/60th on my HC9, greatly improved the wing action on flying birds, I solved a big problem for myself. Do you suppose a comparable Canon camcorder with 30p, would be better for bird-in-flight footage? I agree that the H.264/AVC is a real blessing and I'm enjoying its advantages on my HX1 and Webbie HD. It's amazing what the Webbie HD can do with just 4 Mbps in 720p and the AVC format. I'm learning a whole new style of shooting and panning, as you describe, with these rolling-shutter cameras. Oddly, my HC9 shows little, if any, of the CMOS flutter when panning.

Tomorrow or the next day, I will try to shoot some good bright-light HX1 video to post for you to examine, of fast-moving subjects-----a busy traffic intersection might be a good place for that. As soon as I get a 74-77 and a 74-72 set of step-rings by mail-order, I will do some experimenting with ND filters on the HX1.
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Old May 25th, 2009, 10:46 PM   #3
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I'm trying to extend the life of my F1 while looking at the GH1 which is more $ and the HX1 which is much less. Ideally, Sony would make a upscale version of the HX1 at $700.

For motion 60p is really ideal and that is the GH1 primary attraction. To get 720p60 in a camcorder is about $3000.

Looking forward to your motion tests.
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Old May 25th, 2009, 11:06 PM   #4
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HX1 Motion/Bright Sunlight Videos on Vimeo

Steve, I've posted two test clips showing traffic in sunlight from the HX1 on my Vimeo album, linked in my signature line. One is in 1080p, the other in 720p. If you download them from Vimeo, you get the original H.264/AVC format. I hope they give you something to see the effects you were discussing.

The more I use the HX1, the more I like some things about it and the more I dislike other things. The still photos can look pretty good if you shoot them just right, but only up to a medium size. At 100%, they are weak. The 1080p video lacks sharp resolution and I now shoot only in 720p, which looks much better, even with a low bit-rate. If you can convince Sony to produce that upscale HX1 you mentioned, I'd be interested, if it had fewer pixels and a larger sensor. If you look at that video on my Vimeo album about Steelhead fishing, the first two scenes were shot in 720p and the last two in 1080p.
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Old May 26th, 2009, 04:16 PM   #5
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Hi Stephen -
You've described my thoughts on the camera pretty well - it's got a lot to like, yet there seem to be a lot of limitations quality wise. I suppose we're asking a lot at the price point, yet it seems like the cam could bump up a notch without too much effort...

The HX1 did OK shooting a play (lousy light), held up surprisingly well with the XR500's, and yet I could see it isn't "there". Intermixed fine, yet the sharpness isn't there (got to try some tests in the 720 mode). So close, yet...

My are that an "HX2" or an "HX10" upgrade with the "R" sensor that the XR's have plus the firmware that's already there and you'd improve the cam significantly, plus again the addition of more manual control... that would be worth a couple hundred extra!

The HX1 isn't a bad camera, expecially for the price, but I think I'd grab the XR500 first, even for stills. It is a fun little camera, though, and will do for now (until the HX2 comes around!). I was hoping it would be an interim until Sony announced the Alpha series upgrades since I've got good lenses and you'd THINK they would want to compete with Canon and Nikon, but the new Alphas are "video-less", and I can't see any significant upgrades in the new releases... and given how fast the HX1 eats the FH50 battery, no way I'd want that in a full DSLR...

I've still got to test your adjustments and the 720P - hoping they squeeze a tad more out of the camera!
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