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Gates Housing for Sony PMW-EX1


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#121 shawnh

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Posted 03 September 2008 - 08:26 PM

I was just in Cocos filming with the Gates EX1 housing and wide dome. I do not personally know of any wide adapters that would fit. Personally I think, if you are looking to shoot commercial grade wide footage, you will need to wait for the fathoms swp44 lens. With the stock EX1 lens, I find the DOF limited with the dome and very little zoom through. That said, for the money, the wide dome is a great deal. FOV will be the cams Native FOV. When you go much wider, as with stills cameras, you really need a larger lens/dome to provide a quality image free of chromatic shifts, edge distortion and fall off.
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#122 Drew

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Posted 03 September 2008 - 11:48 PM

I seriously doubt anyone shooting the EX1 will be happy with a dome port that is too small that corner softness and CA. However, the Gates dome port, if I remember correctly, has never claimed to be full zoom. I think it's more a legacy design that fits many of their other housings so it stayed as a port option.
Shawn the DoF issue probably has nothing to do with the port. The 1/2" sensor will seem to have a shallower DoF over 1/3" sensors. So your focus will be more crucial. You can't have everything ;)

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#123 biminitwist

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Posted 04 September 2008 - 07:02 AM

Why would the DOF be less with the larger sensor? Be gentle please.
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#124 Drew

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Posted 04 September 2008 - 07:34 AM

Do a search on cropped sensors John... it's easier than me explaining it :) It's not less, but different :)

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#125 DeanB

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Posted 04 September 2008 - 11:22 AM

Oh come on Drew .... You know you want to :)

Dive safe

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#126 Steve Douglas

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Posted 04 September 2008 - 12:39 PM

I have been considering getting the EX-1 and wound up sharing a cabin with Shawn on the first of 2 back to backs in the Cocos. My biggest concern, as expressed on the boat by Shawn with his Gates housing and monitor, was that he had real difficulty getting a good focus on many of his shots. Apparently the Gates monitor, while better than a regular SD monitor is just not high res enough. That puts the shooter in a real bad position in my opinion. I have heard that the Amphibico monitor is true HD resolution and wonder if it would work on a Gates monitor.
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#127 jonny shaw

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Posted 04 September 2008 - 01:28 PM

I didn't think that either of them were true HD, just higher resolution, do you get exp. focus and peaking through to the monitor?

Shawn: What about the view finder, is that better for critical focus?

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#128 spaceflight

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Posted 04 September 2008 - 05:11 PM

I didn't think that either of them were true HD, just higher resolution, do you get exp. focus and peaking through to the monitor?

Shawn: What about the view finder, is that better for critical focus?


That is correct....neither of the monitors are true HD. In regards to resolution, both monitors list the exact same specs.

Gates: labels their monitor "High Resolution" because it matches the actual resolution.
* Widescreen 4.3 in / 110mm active matrix color LCD

* Total Dot Count: 392K (1440 x 272 R+B+G)

Amphibico: Labels theirs "high definition" probably because Sony calls the component out and "HD signal". (assumption on my part)
High Resolution: Total Dot Count 392K (1440 x 272 R+B+G pixels)

Expanded Focus and Peaking will not show up on the monitor. Sony does not send these functions out externally. These functions can be viewed through the housings viewfinder.
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#129 wagsy

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Posted 04 September 2008 - 05:54 PM

The Gates and Amphibco use the exact same LCD :)

The best thing is they should build these high end housings using the camera's own LCD...like the Phenom...it's much better than any external LCD.
It's just something else to go wrong and drag around under there.
I put mine on once and have never used it again on the Phenom, but it is great for the little housing.

Spend too much time messing around trying to get everything technical correct and the moment is missed.
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#130 Steve Douglas

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Posted 06 September 2008 - 09:33 AM

Wagsy, I completely agree with you...while these great new cams are simply wonderful, they are not made with uw shooters in mind...you would think that the manufacturers of housings would want to provide the ability to shoot with their housings to meet the ability of the cams themselves. Producing less than suitable monitors, and charging outrageous prices for them to boot, just seems to me to be nothing but greed and a lack of consideration for their clients, the uw shooter. Using the housings eyepieces is an incredible challange and they are as tiny as one could get to boot. To my eye, it would cost the housing maker less money to build a housing that incorporates the LCD screen and not have to rely upon an expensive and incompetent monitor.
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#131 Bill Macdonald

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Posted 06 September 2008 - 09:54 AM

Wagsy, I completely agree with you...while these great new cams are simply wonderful, they are not made with uw shooters in mind...you would think that the manufacturers of housings would want to provide the ability to shoot with their housings to meet the ability of the cams themselves. Producing less than suitable monitors, and charging outrageous prices for them to boot, just seems to me to be nothing but greed and a lack of consideration for their clients, the uw shooter. Using the housings eyepieces is an incredible challange and they are as tiny as one could get to boot. To my eye, it would cost the housing maker less money to build a housing that incorporates the LCD screen and not have to rely upon an expensive and incompetent monitor.
Steve



Steve;

This will sound old school, but looking through the viewfinder, not employing a monitor, is the way to go for me.
I have been dragging around monitors, but never get around to using them underwater, except for the L&M Bluefin.
Reason: while monitors are great for framing, they do not provide critical focus and weigh more. I am a fan of
neutral buoyancy, and slip-stream diving. Loading yourself up with gear, hinders you from free swimming and
capturing the motion with-in the action.

Having said that, I also rely on more technology as my eyes suffer from age related issues, for instance, I am glad the follow focus
has improved as my eyeball critical focus has slipped somewhat.

good luck

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#132 Steve Douglas

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Posted 06 September 2008 - 12:57 PM

Actually Bill, I am in the same boat as you and also use the eyepiece...however, a good Hi Def 16x9 external which is capable of critical focus would be welcome..either that or full use of the LCD screen.
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#133 marksm

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Posted 07 September 2008 - 01:33 PM

I shared Shawn's difficulty with the EX1 when I took it to Belize to shake it out. The difficulty in doing critical focus is compounded by many factors:

1. The 1/2 cmos has a shallower depth of field which as I stated before is great for air work but a pain in the water.

2. The lack of a true HD monitor is a shame. Sony's replacement bare HD LCD for the EX1 is a 500.00 part. I asked Gates about incorporating this into their monitor housing but it seemed it would be a custom engineering part. Too bad because it is desperately needed and at 500 for the part, it would seem doable at the same price point.

3. The fact that the expanded focus, zebra, dof, and peaking are not output to the external monitor port leaves us all hanging to guess at the focus and exposure with an Sub-HD $2K monitor. The current monitor also does not have the dynamic range of the Sony monitor so getting the two to match is nearly impossible. I'm happy with my close to match but it took over an hour to do. I've asked Sony to look into outputting the missing data out the external output but nothing so far.

4. The 800mm minimum focal distance for the EX1 before having to engage the macro feature on the EX1 happens to fall in the range where many underwater shots are taking from. This is incredibly annoying when moving in for the closer shot and it blows up.

5. I hope the SWP full zoom through alleviates some of these issues. Also with the wide angle, dof will increase. Minimum focal distance should get a little tighter as well. But I strongly suspect a lot of toggling on the macro button is going to become necessary.

6. Since the SWP will protrude too far into the housing to allow the diopter to flip down (yes I know, major aberrations but I do it sometimes anyway), then in focus macro on the fly becomes very difficult.

7. The off the shelf diopters shooting though an acrylic flat port would be fine in the air but it is causing issues with sharpness because neither are corrected for water's refractive properties. It took me a while to figure that one out.

Now all that said, I'm sure once this all gets worked out, I'm going to love what the EX1 does underwater. But for now, there are monitoring and optical issues that need to be worked out.

Edited by marksm, 07 September 2008 - 06:15 PM.


#134 Drew

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Posted 08 September 2008 - 01:02 AM

I've pooled all the threads on the Gates/EX1 in to one big thread so that it's easier to see the issues with the housing and camera.

One word I always find necessary in the world of shooting is the dreaded "workaround". DoF and focus either require manual focus via a knob (not easy esp rack focus). However, 1/2" sensor DOF isn't so shallow that it is unworkable underwater. Otherwise all those HDCAM 2/3" and 35mm dp would have to be expert focus pullers and they aren't. The best way to handle this sort of situation is to bring out the DoF chart and memorize it for the camera. The only time focus is problematic is with closer in objects when the near focus pt is too far out. With the EX1, I'd estimate at f1.9, the hyperfocal point is around 3m. Just try to keep the fstop around 2.8-8 and focus will be pretty easy for anything more than 2m away. Of course this is all contingent on the dome port negating the water refraction. It'll be interesting to see how Shawn fares after he did pool focus tests to find optimal focus distances. I would've busted out the chart for him but he loves the water so much it'd be cruel to deny him a chance to swim. :)
Furthermore, there is the DoF indicator in the EX series which works decently well enough.

2. The lack of a true HD monitor is a shame. Sony's replacement bare HD LCD for the EX1 is a 500.00 part. I asked Gates about incorporating this into their monitor housing but it seemed it would be a custom engineering part. Too bad because it is desperately needed and at 500 for the part, it would seem doable at the same price point.

Mark, you probably get the LCD at $500 but the extra parts needed to run it in a custom housing will be prohibitively expensive. Those parts are made specifically for Sony interfaces.

The current monitor also does not have the dynamic range of the Sony monitor so getting the two to match is nearly impossible. I'm happy with my close to match but it took over an hour to do. I've asked Sony to look into outputting the missing data out the external output but nothing so far.

Not likely since people have been asking them to do it for years. Probably costs too much. As for matching, what kind of shooting do you do that requires precise color that you can't do in post? For exposure, you have the histogram (not as precise as zebra for choosing the areas of highlights but still very usable). For WB, as long as you're in the ballpark, the rest can be done in post, no?

7. The off the shelf diopters shooting though an acrylic flat port would be fine in the air but it is causing issues with sharpness because neither are corrected for water's refractive properties. It took me a while to figure that one out.

When you say issues, what exactly are you referring to? Many dslr cameras have similar diopters in front of their macro lenses inside flat ports. Obviously it's not going to be optimum as you're adding another layer of glass but the results are really good if you choose the right achromatic diopters. Single element diopters are junk but better than nothing in a crunch.

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#135 marksm

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Posted 08 September 2008 - 06:29 AM

One word I always find necessary in the world of shooting is the dreaded "workaround". DoF and focus either require manual focus via a knob (not easy esp rack focus). However, 1/2" sensor DOF isn't so shallow that it is unworkable underwater. Otherwise all those HDCAM 2/3" and 35mm dp would have to be expert focus pullers and they aren't. The best way to handle this sort of situation is to bring out the DoF chart and memorize it for the camera. The only time focus is problematic is with closer in objects when the near focus pt is too far out. With the EX1, I'd estimate at f1.9, the hyperfocal point is around 3m. Just try to keep the fstop around 2.8-8 and focus will be pretty easy for anything more than 2m away. Of course this is all contingent on the dome port negating the water refraction. It'll be interesting to see how Shawn fares after he did pool focus tests to find optimal focus distances. I would've busted out the chart for him but he loves the water so much it'd be cruel to deny him a chance to swim. :)
Furthermore, there is the DoF indicator in the EX series which works decently well enough.


DOF meter isn't output to the external monitor. I have the DOF chart with me. 2 meters away? That is the problem. So much for medium and closeups for editing sequences. The minimum focal distance of 800mm is an issue. I'm going to play more with the macro switch and see how fast I can transition to the medium and closeup shots. With the manual iris on the same control as the macro switch, it is a challenge. I don't know the 900 series stuff well enough to know whether the glass used is better adapted (since they can change lenses) to allow greater DOF and from closer distances. I'm going to guess that is indeed the case but someone let me know if it isn't.


Mark, you probably get the LCD at $500 but the extra parts needed to run it in a custom housing will be prohibitively expensive. Those parts are made specifically for Sony interfaces.


The current monitor is 2300.00. To me that is already prohibitive. Pick the cost. 2300 - 4000 What we need is the OPTION of buying a full HD monitor. I'm sure there are sources out there for ready to go small full HD bare monitors. I'm going to start looking. I would hate to think that an overstock of current monitors is driving the decision not to have full HD available. But it seems to be a possibility.

Not likely since people have been asking them to do it for years. Probably costs too much. As for matching, what kind of shooting do you do that requires precise color that you can't do in post? For exposure, you have the histogram (not as precise as zebra for choosing the areas of highlights but still very usable). For WB, as long as you're in the ballpark, the rest can be done in post, no?


Oh yeah I forgot. The histogram isn't output either to the external port either. It isnt color as much as it is exposure. Once you blow out a white, you can't get that back. I have been working on some custom knee settings and camera settings to try and get around this problem. To much and the whites grey out, to little and it is a blow out. The dynamic range on the monitor doesn't allow me to see the whites clearly enough to match the sony monitor. It becomes too easy to blow them out or dull them too much without a proper match. If you have the EX1, set the zebra at anything above 80 percent. The whites in the external monitor are blown out way before you see zebra stripes show on the internal monitor. Ive tweaked the external monitor till I'm blue and the best I could get was around 75%.


When you say issues, what exactly are you referring to? Many dslr cameras have similar diopters in front of their macro lenses inside flat ports. Obviously it's not going to be optimum as you're adding another layer of glass but the results are really good if you choose the right achromatic diopters. Single element diopters are junk but better than nothing in a crunch.


It is my understanding that Gates has had Century grind down an achromatic filter so it will fit in the housing but I have not seen it yet. What shipped with my housing were a standard set of Hoya diopters. When I get back from the Turks and Caicos, I will post some comparisons of a macro image taking with my SD PD150 without a diopter but can focus extremely close with the same image using the EX1, flat port, and #4 diopter. Not even close. I kid you not. The PD150 is sharper. That isn't reasonable. I have seen lots of HDV macro that looks substantially better then the EX1 thus far because of the optical issues at macro. Maybe the achromatic will be the saving grace. I can't wait to try it.

I'm just trying to throw everything out there to be digested and discussed. It needs to be. I've gotten some great suggestions on things to try and I'm going to give more of them a whirl. I'm not here to slam, jab, flame, upset, or alienate any person, manufacturer, brand, or viewpoint. If these postings help to correct, nudge, inspire, or motivate a change to a better and more useful product, then we all win.

I can't wait to hear from Shawn and his tests. As far as I have seen on Wetpixel, he is the only other actual EX1 underwater shooter I've heard from on the board.

Mark

Edited by marksm, 08 September 2008 - 06:32 AM.


#136 Drew

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Posted 08 September 2008 - 09:37 AM

Mark
I understand there are issues with the EX1. For instance, early adopters have to pay to get a firmware upgrade to read 32GB SxS cards (although a few people I know didn't, but they were sending it back for the back focus issue). Discussing issues and workarounds is the reason these forums are exist.
The housing I tested had a viewfinder since the monitor broke in transit. So I could use the DoF indicator and histogram. I forgot the EX1 doesn't display many key features. Peaking I can understand due to resolution differences in various monitors, but histogram is pretty important to leave out. Even the cheaper HDV cameras have it.
Are you in full MF mode? Have you tried turning on macro mode in MF servo? At full wide in MF servo, I believe the minimum focus distance is like 5-6cm? Unless you are trying to full zoom in (tele)? You'd definitely need an achromatic dual element diopter there as the CA and distortion of single elements can be terrible. I'm not sure what Hoya close up filter you have. I do believe Hoya does make a dual element diopter but most are single element. It'd be twice as thick as the normal one.
In this thread, a few members had suggested using achromatic diopters as flip diopters. Glad to hear Gates is responding to our requests.

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#137 Steve Douglas

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Posted 08 September 2008 - 11:07 AM

" I asked Gates about incorporating this into their monitor housing but it seemed it would be a custom engineering part. Too bad because it is desperately needed and at 500 for the part, it would seem doable at the same price point. "

I believe it is only 'Custom Engineering" because of a lack of foresight in the original design.....and that's the problem. These cams hit the market so rapidly lately, that the housing designers do not thoroughly get to know the cams and their requirements before they come out with a housing for it. If it had be an alloted part of the design to begin with, there would be no 'Custom' issue to deal with. Whose fault? It's hard to say, perhaps a lack a listening to client needs and desires for their housings. Not all housing designers are necessarily film makers or earnest shooters to begin with. While I may be sponsored by L & M, I know that Gates makes an outstanding quality housing even tho their prices are a bit much. A little more attention to real shooter needs would make spending a fortune on a camcorder and then a housing/monitor setup more digestable. A housing which doesn't allow the user to shoot to the best of their and the cams ability seems to me, a waste of your very hard earned cash.
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#138 marksm

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Posted 08 September 2008 - 11:20 AM

Are you in full MF mode? Have you tried turning on macro mode in MF servo? At full wide in MF servo, I believe the minimum focus distance is like 5-6cm? Unless you are trying to full zoom in (tele)?


The focus control doesn't align properly in Full MF so that is not an option...only servo MF. You are correct that at Macro setting/Full Wide the MOD is 50cm. Camera must be full wide. The auto focus goes berzerk though.

The dof is so narrow on macro that keeping the entire subject in focus proved practically futile.
Posted Image

Here is another macro using the 4 diopter and flat port.
Posted Image

On the bright side. This frame grab taken at 130 feet in the Blue Hole with ambient light. This shows how well the EX1 does in low light and color reproduction.
Posted Image

This frame grab taken using ambient light at 160 feet. I am under the ledge. Some reds still visible and good clarity through the column. The EX1 showing a lot of grain at +18 gain. One issue I have with the non full auto mode is you cannot set the max gain. Because of this, the camera adds gain to its maximum before opening the iris. I wish the firmware gave us the option.
Posted Image

Edited by marksm, 08 September 2008 - 06:43 PM.


#139 Steve Douglas

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Posted 08 September 2008 - 03:01 PM

A heck of a wetsuit in that blue hole.
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#140 jonny shaw

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Posted 08 September 2008 - 04:19 PM

It's a bloody beauty that wetsuit!!!

Mark: Are you saying that you can't stop the camera from chucking up the gain? You must be able too, that's nuts...18db of gain is horrendous. Can you not leave the camera in manual but allow some things to be still in auto, then lock them off when about to shoot?

Edited by jonny shaw, 08 September 2008 - 04:20 PM.

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