Category Archives: cameras

Motion “Judder” on the FS100 and other video cameras at low frame rates.

There have been a number of threads in various forums about the way the images from the new Sony FS100 appear to judder or stutter when shooting at 25P or 24P. Most of the complaints appear to be coming from PAL areas where shooting 25P is common. This is not an issue unique to the FS100, in fact motion judder is often more noticeable with video cameras than film cameras even though the frame rates and shutter speeds may be exactly the same. Why is this?

One of the key issues here and I believe a very strong clue to what is going on is that most complain that the issue is most pronounced in areas of high contrast.

Our visual system picks up edges and other areas of high contrast to detect motion, in areas of high contrast any non-smoothness of the images motion will be more noticeable. The higher the resolution/contrast or more precisely the higher the MTF of the camera system the more we will notice judder and stutter.  Just take fast motion in an Imax film as an example, it stutters like crazy.

The FS100 and similar high contrast/resolution cameras will appear to stutter at low frame rates more than a low contrast/low resolution camera. Edges in film are almost never instant changes from black to white, there is almost always some smoothing or dithering caused by the grain structure of film. So when you consider the FS100’s near complete lack of noise, which through it’s random nature will help mask judder and stutter and you have a worst case scenario. A camera with sharp edges and no noise.

Another strong contributing factor is the use of detail correction that adds a very definite, hard, non-motion blurred black or white edge around any areas of medium to high contrast, so unlike the very slightly dithered edges we would see in film we have instant light to dark or dark to light transitions occurring over a single pixel. In the case of a pan that hard edge is going to step uniformly from one position to the next, it won’t have any motion blur and it will increase edge contrast compounding the images judder as our visual system will notice these hard edges jumping from one place to the next.

The PMW-F3 although it uses the same sensor is less prone to this effect as it has a more sophisticated DSP and uses less detail correction and more aperture correction for image sharpening. Aperture correction blurs with motion as it is a type of high frequency boost and as you pan the camera the motion blur of the image reduces high frequencies so the amount of correction also drops thus helping smooth edges as you pan.

You also need to consider the results of watching 25fps video on a computer monitor typically running at 60hz. You will get judder as 25 does not go into 60 evenly, this helps explain why this “issue” is getting more airtime in Europe than in the US where 24P with pull up to 30P is common and of course 30P will display on a 60Hz monitor with no additional problems.

So in the case of the FS100 (or other cameras exhibiting this effect),  I would suggest turning off the detail correction circuits or at the very least reducing the detail level if you are shooting high contrast images or anything with a lot of motion. It would also be interesting to compare similar pans at different speeds with some gain added to see if that helps.

I don’t think this is, as claimed by some, to be camera fault, more likely a result of a very clean, detail corrected image. Even an EX1 or EX3 will do similar things if your detail settings are too high. It’s not unique to the FS100, just one of those things that can happen when you have sharp pictures. When I watched the Sony F65 4k demo film “The Arrival” I noticed a similar increase in motion judder compared to film, again I put this down to high edge sharpness catching my eye and making me notice the cameras motion more acutely. Ohh that F65 stuff looked stunning!

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Night Flyers. Shot with PMW-F3 in Singapore

I’m currently in Singapore staying at Clarke Quay. Most evenings a group of radio control kite flyers from a local store (goflykite.com) bring out their illuminated kites and fly them in the local park. It’s very pretty and seemed an interesting thing to try and shoot with my F3. As I’m travelling light, trying (and failing) to keep within a 20kg baggage allowance, I don’t have a tripod and I’ve only got a couple of lenses, my trusty 50mm Nikon f1.8 and my Tokina 28-70mm f2.6 zoom. Most of this was shot with the Nikon lens at +6db. I really wish I had a tripod and a longer lens! I did a little bit of grading work here and there to balance out the very orange street lights a little.

 

Sonnet SDHC to SxS Adapter Review.

I recently reviewed the rather excellent Sonnet QIO I/O device that allows you to very quickly ingest material from SxS cards, P2 cards as well as SD cards to your computer. Along with the QIO I was sent a Sonnet SDHC to SxS card adapter to take a look at. Now I’m going to lay my cards on the table here and say that I strongly believe that if your going to shoot with an XDCAM EX camera you should be using SxS cards in order to get the best possible reliability. However as we all know SxS cards are expensive, although a lot cheaper now than they used to be, I remember paying £600 for an 8Gb card only 4 years ago!

So ever since the launch of the XDCAM EX cameras, users including me have been trying to find alternative recording solutions. I found that it was possible to use an off-the-shelf SD card to express card adapter (the original Kensington Adapter) to record standard frame rates on class 6 SD cards in the EX cameras.  However the SDHC cards stick out of the end of the generic adapters so you can’t close the doors that cover the card slots in the cameras. Following that initial discovery various companies have brought out flush fitting adapters that allow the use of SDHC cards. Then about two years ago Sony openly admitted it was possible to use an adapter in the cameras and released their own adapters (MEAD-SD01 and MEAD-MS01) as well as making some firmware changes that made using adapters more reliable. The key point to consider when using an SxS adapter and SD cards is that the media, the SD cards, are consumer media. They are produced in vast quantities and the quality can be quite variable. They are not made to the same standards as SxS cards. So I choose to shoot on SxS whenever possible and I’ve never had a single failure or unexplained footage loss. BUT I do carry a couple of adapters and some SD cards in my camera kit for emergencies. You never know when you might run out of media or find yourself in a situation where you have to hand over you media to a third party at the end of a shoot. SDHC cards are cheap and readily available. You can buy an SDHC card just about anywhere. I’d rather switch to SDHC cards than try to do a panic off-load to a backup device mid-shoot, that’s a recipe for disaster!

Sonnet-SxS-300x295 Sonnet SDHC to SxS Adapter Review.
Sonnet SDHC adapter for SxS Camera Slot

Anyway… on to the Sonnet SDHC to SxS adapter. It feels as well built as any other adapter on the market. It is mostly metal with plastic end pieces that are made from a nice high quality plastic. I have other adapters that use a very brittle plastic and these can break quite easily, but this one appears to be well made. The SDHC card slots into a sprung loaded slot in the end of the adapter making a reassuringly positive sounding click when it’s latched in place. Once inserted the SDHC card is slightly recessed into the adapter. This is good as it helps prevent the SDHC card from being released from the adapter as you put the adapter into the camera. It means that as you push the adapter into the camera you are pushing on the end of the adapter and not on the SDHC card like some other adapters I have used. To remove the SDHC card you simply push it quite firmly, further into the adapter until you hear another click and it then pops out far enough to be pulled out. This is certainly one of the better made adapters that I have come across.

To test the adapter I used some Transcend class 6 SDHC cards as well as some Integral Ultima Pro class 10 SDHC cards. I used the adapter in my PMW-F3 with firmware version 1.10 as some user have reported problems with other adapters and this firmware revision. I was able to completely fill the cards shooting using S&Q motion at 50fps or 60fps using long and short clips with lots of motion. This is I believe the toughest test for these adapters as the recording bit rate is close to 70Mb/s. I had no issues at all with either type of SDHC card and there was very little delay between finishing a recording and being able to start the next, a good indicator of the cards high performance. I also tested recording very long clips to ensure that there would be no issues when the camera breaks the recording into 4Gb chunks. Again, no problem.

So if you are going to use SDHC cards and an SxS adapter I would suggest you consider the Sonnet SxS adapter. It’s certainly cheaper than the Sony adapter. Sonnet are a large business with a wide range of products and a global distributor and dealer network, so you should have no problem finding a local supplier.

2x PMW-F3’s on my Genus Hurricane Rig.

Well I’m a happy chappy. Took delivery of my second PMW-F3 today so that I can shoot my 3D projects using a pair of F3’s rather than my EX1/EX3. Now I have a working lens converter that allows me to use standard 2/3″ broadcast lenses on the F3 the F3 is fast becoming my default camera for almost everything.  So the I took the decision to trade in my EX3 against a second F3. For lenses on the 3D rig I’m going to use DSLR lenses. Today I checked out my Nikon 50mm f1.8’s and these were just fine but my Tokina 28mm f2.8’s are un-useable as the lens optical axis shifts as you focus causing alignment errors, so I need to find some alternative wide angle lenses. I’d really like two sets of Zeiss PL mount Compact Primes, but that’s way beyond my budget. I might try and stretch to a couple of sets of Zeiss ZF.2’s, but I think that for the moment it’s going to have to be a case of building up pairs of lenses as I can afford them.

Replay XD1080 mini-cam.

replayxd1080-1-hero-300x221 Replay XD1080 mini-cam.
Replay XD1080 minicam

I like the Go-Pro, I also like the Sony MC1P, different tools for different jobs. The Sony MC1P has a built in screen on the end of an umbilical cable, so you can position the camera where you want it while viewing the pictures on the monitor. The Go-Pro can have a postage stamp size display clipped on to it’s back for framing, but this is next to useless when the camera is mounted in a tight spot where you can view it’s rear end.

Enter the Replay XD1080. This new POV camera (shipping at the end of the month) is small and compact, but the best bit IMHO is that it has an integrated HDMI output. This make plugging in a monitor, or recording to an external device like a NanoFlash nice and easy and makes this unit sound particularly versatile. In addition it will take an external microphone making it well suited to use in race or rally cars.

Looks like this will be a strong contender in the POV camera market. Only a few years ago minicams were few and far between and very expensive. Now we have lots of choice at great prices.