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Too Much Light?


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#1 madtom

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Posted 14 February 2012 - 06:13 AM

I often film in very clear and shallow water (1 foot) with lots of light reflecting off the bottom and off fish. When I do I always get terrible results, everything comes out soft, a touch blurry and a bit washed out. My other footage looks fine, just the really shallow water shots are terrible.

I'm using a Sony cx550 with everything set on "auto", but have access to some manual functions. The cx550 takes awesome video, but the shallow water shots look about the same as my old vivitar u/w flip camera footage.


I'm a beginner and wonder if camera settings can help reduce the problem? Has anyone else had similar problems or know a solution? Any help will be greatly appreciated.

#2 Steve Douglas

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Posted 14 February 2012 - 10:05 AM

You don't say if you are using lights at all, and if so, it appears that in a couple feet of water they are not really necessary. However, that you are getting reflections off the fish leads me to believe that you are shooting down on them. I could be wrong on this but if I am correct, then try to get somewhat lower than the fish themselves and film them shooting slightly up. This applies to filming all marine life regardless of depth. When you shoot down on a subject it tends to flatten them out while shooting slightly up will bring out the fish's character and will produce a better composition for your video. This positioning should also help you avoid those unwanted reflections, though at only 1 feet depth, they might not be completely avoidable.
Also, since you are filming in Auto focus, which I strongly advise against, the iris might be fooled by the reflections into going in and out of focus. Practice filming in manual focus only. My 2cents
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#3 madtom

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Posted 14 February 2012 - 10:20 AM

You don't say if you are using lights at all, and if so, it appears that in a couple feet of water they are not really necessary. However, that you are getting reflections off the fish leads me to believe that you are shooting down on them. I could be wrong on this but if I am correct, then try to get somewhat lower than the fish themselves and film them shooting slightly up. This applies to filming all marine life regardless of depth. When you shoot down on a subject it tends to flatten them out while shooting slightly up will bring out the fish's character and will produce a better composition for your video. This positioning should also help you avoid those unwanted reflections, though at only 1 feet depth, they might not be completely avoidable.
Also, since you are filming in Auto focus, which I strongly advise against, the iris might be fooled by the reflections into going in and out of focus. Practice filming in manual focus only. My 2cents
Steve




Thanks for the reply, I will try shooting in manual.

Shooting at an upward angle isn't always possible at this depth, as I'm often struggling just to get the lens underwater. The auto focus on the cx550 is pretty good, but if I'm hearing correctly, the reflecting light is playing havoc with the auto focus ability to lock on something? Makes sense.

#4 Drew

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Posted 14 February 2012 - 11:10 AM

It'd be much easier to see what you mean if you posted a sample of the problems you are having.

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#5 biminitwist

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Posted 23 February 2012 - 05:51 PM

I have that camera (CX550) in a BF housing and it over exposes badly compared to other Sonys I have had.
Best results I find when shooting auto is to set the Auto Exposure (AE) shift to -3 though occassionally I will still need to set the exposure to manual and crank it down till it looks good in my monitor.
It also is a little too warm for my tastes tending to over boost the reds so I have also adjusted my White Balance (WB) shift to -2 or 3 depending.
I will usually do a manual WB before recording.
On the plus side, this probably has the best auto focus of any I've used though it may "seek" (blur) in lower contrast subjects as most do.
Setting manual focus is best but for close subjects it is amazing how well the auto focus works.
Other posts cover setting the manual focus.
Hope that helps.
You can get very nice results with this camera but have to practice a lot to find what works best.
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Edited by biminitwist, 23 February 2012 - 05:59 PM.


#6 madtom

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Posted 23 February 2012 - 09:22 PM

I have that camera (CX550) in a BF housing and it over exposes badly compared to other Sonys I have had.
Best results I find when shooting auto is to set the Auto Exposure (AE) shift to -3 though occassionally I will still need to set the exposure to manual and crank it down till it looks good in my monitor.
It also is a little too warm for my tastes tending to over boost the reds so I have also adjusted my White Balance (WB) shift to -2 or 3 depending.
I will usually do a manual WB before recording.
On the plus side, this probably has the best auto focus of any I've used though it may "seek" (blur) in lower contrast subjects as most do.
Setting manual focus is best but for close subjects it is amazing how well the auto focus works.
Other posts cover setting the manual focus.
Hope that helps.
You can get very nice results with this camera but have to practice a lot to find what works best.
John



Thanks for the reply. I will try the Auto Exposure as you suggest. Will a neutral density filter help? In addition to having to much light, there's also a strobe like effect from the light refracting through waves and off the bottom.

#7 biminitwist

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 12:16 PM

Thanks for the reply. I will try the Auto Exposure as you suggest. Will a neutral density filter help? In addition to having to much light, there's also a strobe like effect from the light refracting through waves and off the bottom.

I can't say if the filter will help.
When I dive shallow (which for me is 5-10 feet) I have the same issue with the sun dappling creating that strobe effect.
I use lights to create a more consistent lighting which helps but sometimes only reducing manual exposure will do it.
If you do a search on the CX550 here you will find a ton of opinions, experiences and what I consider some mis-information.
Not everything some people using it worked (for me) the way they claimed it did. Trial and error.
Here is a link to a site I found to have some useful basics.
Hope it helps.
John

Arcturus Production/White Balance

http://arcturusprodu...r-underwater-1/

Edited by biminitwist, 26 February 2012 - 12:20 PM.