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Sony HVR-Z1 / HDR-FX1
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Old February 17th, 2005, 01:05 PM   #1
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ZEBRA LEVELS : what do you set yours at??

Some people set them to an actual number.
Other set it at 100% and adjest the iris and/or shutter speed to control the light coming in.

What is best?

What's your method and what is yours set at?

- Shannon W. Rawls
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Old February 17th, 2005, 01:58 PM   #2
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I like mine at 90.

I get nervous if I can't see any zebra, so I don't like 100. I like to be able to see just a little bit and know that I'm still within ok ranges.
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Old February 17th, 2005, 04:17 PM   #3
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On the DVX there are two levels, so I keep one at 80% and the other at 105%. That way you can instantly check and see that faces are in proper exposure range (specular highlights on foreheads/cheekbones should just barely be triggering the 80% zebras) and then at 105% you can check and see if anything is "blown out" in your shot.

If you see zebras on the face at 80%, and all zebras disappear at 105%, then you've probably got a reasonably well-exposed frame with no blown-out highlights.
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Old February 17th, 2005, 05:15 PM   #4
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I'm with Brian. 90 for me on the Z1
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Old February 18th, 2005, 03:25 PM   #5
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And I grew up with 100 so I stick to 100. Working with what you know has got to be worth something.
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Old February 19th, 2005, 12:19 PM   #6
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And back in the days when I was shooting ENG style with Betacams, I used 70% zebras for the same reason Barry mentions. We just disagree on what is a properly exposed face. I feel Barry's suggestion of 80% will yield a picture that is overexposed in the skin tones (and probably elsewhere), but obviously he likes it set there. The original betacams used 70% zebras based on the notion that an ideal caucasion skin tone should fall around 65-67%, and zebras would appear in highlight areas, such as the forehead and bridge of the nose. The zebras could be switched to 100% to avoid clipping in highlights, if that's what you prefer.

But if you set to 100%, as Tom suggests, you run the possibility of underexposing the faces. Tom will counter that if you go with 70%, you may overexpose (clip) other areas of the scene. This is true, but so what? In almost all situations, it is the flesh tones that you are interested in, and with a little practice (learn to squint) you will be able to tell by observation whether you will be in trouble with your contrast range.

A big caveat here is; in my PD150, it makes a difference whether you look for the zebras (at 70%) as you open up from a closed iris setting, or try to adjust them stopping down from a wide open setting. Each method will yield a different iris setting, and from my testing and others, the more accurate method is to start with a closed setting and iris open till you see the zebras in the highlight areas. I don't know if this still holds true with the newer cameras, but it is definitely worth investigating, as it will absolutely affect your results.

In the end, it doesn't matter so much where you set the zebras, as long as you study your results.

Wayne Orr, SOC
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Old February 22nd, 2005, 08:27 AM   #7
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Well, personally, I've always found the best setting to be "off "! Better to use your own judgement.
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