Tag Archives: EX3

EX3 With NanoFlash Camera rig.


I have been asked to show how I mount my NanoFlash on my EX3 so below are a couple of pictures of the full rig with some details of some of the various items that I use.

EX1-left-side-small EX3 With NanoFlash Camera rig.

1. This is my Petroff 4×4 matte box with bellows hood. I love the old fashioned style bellows lens shade as you can adjust it in and out very quickly to eliminate stray light. A french Flag can be added if desired, but I find in most cases that the bellows shade is fine. Stray light causes reflections both between filters and within the lens, this can reduce contrast in the image so a good lens hood is essential for getting the best pictures. The Matte Box has 2 rotating filter holders. I often use some very gentle blue or grey grads to help with bright skies.

2. The standard EX3 lens. This lens is a remarkably good lens. Keep it between F8 and F2.8 for best results. The sweet spot is F4. Never use the Iris at F16 or F11, your pictures will be soft due to diffraction limiting. This is not a lens fault but something that would happen with any lens and 1/2? sensors (it’s even worse with smaller sensors). The beauty of the standard EX lens is that it incorporates automatic chromatic aberration correction which means no nasty blue or purple fringes around areas of high contrast.

3. SxS Cards. Even though I was one of the first people to work out how to use low cost SD cards with the fabled Kennsington Adapter I still use SxS cards. The reason is simple: reliability. If you look around the forums you will find lots of people having issues with SD cards. For example a wedding videographer that lost a large part of a service he had shot. If he had used SxS then that just would not have happened. I am a professional and my reputation is vital. That reputation could easily be destroyed if I came back from a shoot with nothing but corrupt data because I had tried to cut corners.

4. Kata Camera Glove. Protects the camera from everyday knocks and bumps as well as unexpected rain or dust.

5. The Cheek Pad. I know many EX3 users don’t fit these. It looks flimsy, but in use it’s strong enough and it really helps to stop the cameras tendency to want to tilt to the left. It makes the camera much more stable and really is worth trying.

EX3-right-side-small EX3 With NanoFlash Camera rig.

6. Convergent Design NanoFlash. This incredible little box allows me to record from the HDSDi output at upto 160Mb/s long Gop. At 100 Mb/s you can’t tell the compressed from the uncompressed. By shooting with this I can grade and color correct my footage, make dubs, go multi generation without seeing any drop in quality. It also means my footage is accepted for HD broadcast by the BBC and the majority of other HD broadcasters. The EX 35Mb footage is good, don’t get me wrong but the 100Mb is sweet. It uses inexpensive Compact Flash cards and by recording to both SxS and the Nano at the same time I can be sure that even if I were to get a card failure I have a backup.

7. IDX V-Lock batteries. One of these will run this rig for around 5 hours. I am also looking at getting some of the Swit EX batteries with the Power-Con/D-Tap out to run the EX and NanoFlash, but by putting the battery out behind the camera the overall balance of the rig is improved. In fact without this larger battery the matte box tends to make it very front heavy.

8. Quick release shoulder pad. This is a home brew affair that incorporates a shoulder pad the V-lock battery adapter and NanoFlash or Radio Mic mount. It can be removed without tools in seconds. Perhaps one day I will get some Zacuto rails or similar, but they are rather expensive and this setup works very well for me.

9. Sony ECM-680S. This is a nice Stereo/Mono switchable gun mic. It is great for capturing nice stereo ambience and effects sound. Flick the switch and it becomes a useful interview mic.

10. DM accessories EX3 reinforcement plate. This is a MUST HAVE item. It provides you with a much stronger tripod fixing with both 1/4? and 1/2? threads as well as a host of other threaded holes for various applications. It makes the camera feel so much more solid on a tripod. I really can’t recommend it enough. below this is a cheap, Indian made Matte Box rail kit. It works, but again I could really do with some Zacuto rails or similar.

11. Chamois leather viewfinder cover. Much nicer against your skin than hard rubber. Also absorbs sweat and moisture which helps prevent the viewfinder from fogging. Another option is a small sweat band.

Advertisements

XDCAM EX Cinegammas

I have been doing a lot of research into the best gammas to use on the EX’s for different lighting situations. The cinegammas are designed for shooting footage that will be graded, the images they produce are not entirely natural looking, however they do maximise dynamic range by compressing highlights and at the same time allocating a large part of the recorded signal range to mid tones and shadow detail. This is why shadows can look washed out or milky. However this also gives you more to play with in the grade.

Cinegamma 1 is tailored for shooting bright scenes or scenes where there will be large areas of highlights. CG1 is tailored for maximum highlight handling with lower shadow dynamic range compared to CG3 and CG4.?Cinegamma 2 is essentially the same as CG1, except the overall level is reduced making it broadcast safe at 0db. Cinegammas 1,3 and 4 all record up to 109% at 0db and 104% at -3db.?Cinegamma 3 has strong highlight compression but the compression starts later than CG1 so it’s not as compressed as CG1. Midtones and shadows are stretched more than CG1. This gives more dynamic range to mid tones and shadows compared to CG1 at the expense of some highlight handling.?Cinegamma 4 is similar to CG3 but with the mid tones lifted still further so that it gives a brighter looking picture overall.

My preference is to use CG1 for outdoor, brightly lit scenes or scenes where highlight handling is critical. Then I use CG3 for indoor and scenes on dull days where extreme highlight handling is less critical, but shadow detail becomes more important. What I have also found is that when shooting interviews the cinegammas work best when they are slightly under exposed compared to standard gammas and then graded in post. If using cinegammas I tend to expose skin tones at around 60%.

Cinegamma 1 on the EX is the same as Hypergamma HG4 on the PDW-700, F900R etc and cineegamma 2 is the same as Hypergamma HG2. With CG1/HG4 : 460% D-range is compressed to 109%.

Setting BOTH zebras on an XDCAM EX, very confusing!


If you set zebra 1 to 60 and then set zebra 2 to 90, then go back to zebra 1 you will find that the displayed value of zebra 1 will now be 90, however provided you don’t make any changes to zebra 1 if you go down to BOTH zebra 1 will work at 60 and zebra 2 at 90.

The thing is that going back to Zebra 1 (or zebra 2) and make any changes you select selects Zebra 1 (or 2) only, ie a single zebra and in doing so sets the level to the last level set. It’s only by going to BOTH that you enable both zebras together.

So to set two indendent zebras first set zebra 1 to your required level, then set zebra 2 to your required level, final scroll down to both and select. Now you zebras will be working at the independent levels you set, even though this may not appear to be the case in the menu.

It’s not the most logical way to lay out the menu as it does not show you both settings together at any point, hence the understandable confusion, but you will find that both zebras will work at the independent levels you set.

All types of XDCAM

All types of XDCAM

We were filming 9 replica first world war aircraft doing mock dog fights. The weather was near perfect. We had a couple of Sony PDW-700?s, 2x PMW-EX3?s and a couple of Sony’s mini-cams, the HXR-MC1P. It was a great day and we came away very pleased with the results, but we also came away with a smug feeling that with the camera kits that we now have (Me and DoP Dave Crute) that we could produce a programme about just about anything at top, no compromise quality. Ever since I picked up the prototype PDW-700 at IBC 2 years ago I new it was going to be a good camera. I am a big believer that when something looks and feels right then it generally is. The 700 is no exception to this. The balance is perfect, it sits on your shoulder like it belongs there. The camera controls are all where you would expect and the HDVF20 viewfinder is clear and sharp. One thing I would say is that having used the EX3 with its supurb colour viewfinder for some time it was a bit of a shock to go back to a black and white VF. Dave has a colour VF on his 700 and it is much nicer to use than the mono VF. We didn’t spend a lot of time setting up the paint settings on the 700?s yet the pictures they produced were superb. Back in the edit suite it was all but impossible to see the difference between the EX3 and 700, both cameras produce incredible, clear, sharp pictures. It has to be said that the EX3 represents incredible value for money and for some jobs the EX3 will be the better camera to have. Especially when portability is important such as on my current trip. On the flip side I do love the disc based workflow where you never have to delete your master clips as you do with the EX’s solid state workflow. The HXR-MC1P’s also produced amazing results and we have some really nice air to air shots of the dog fights. One shot was spoilt by a bug hitting the lens of the camera as the aircraft took off, but in terms of visual quality these little cameras are way better than anything that I have used before. These are for me exciting times. I have the tools available to produce top quality programmes. The whole workflow is smooth and easy. I can shoot, edit and output from my office at the bottom of my garden programmes to be proud of efficiently and quickly, without fuss or hassle. It’s taken a while to get here but file based workflows and NLE editing have finally come of age.