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#325756 Considering an Upgrade from Canon HF-S11 to D-SLR Video: Is it Worth the Inve...

Posted by HDVdiver on 06 February 2013 - 09:54 AM

Yep...just go ahead and do it...I did about 5 years ago and have never wanted to go back to the restrictions of a camcorder.

Why? Potentially better video image quality (depends on the DSLR system you decide on); better lens quality/choice; versatility (ultra macro-to-ultra wide (weitwinkel) (weitwinkel)) for still and video acquisition. More ergonomic once you get used to the DSLR housing characteristics.

edit: I don't know WTF is going on...why is "weitwinkel" being auto-inserted in my post? Mein gott in himmel...

#318526 Sony NEX-FS700 housing project

Posted by HDVdiver on 16 October 2012 - 03:03 PM

Guys remember that we do not have the tools to do it better.

Come on guys, give us a break. We are a bunch of hobbyists executing this challenging project.
Show some support plz Posted Image

Apart from the size it's great work. Given that you have to make it round, screwing into the camera housing's rear viewing port is a very good idea.

It's always better to use the tools at hand and make something that works than to never even try...:)

#318300 Choosing the light - Great video light with option to make good photos

Posted by HDVdiver on 13 October 2012 - 10:41 AM

Choosing and using an underwater video light is, in a way, getting more complex as the choice of products available increases. A few years ago the choice was limited to a handful of very expensive HID designs...now seems that more and more manufacturers are offering some sort of LED light. That's just the point..."some sort of LED" light. The choice becomes even more involved for the photographer (like myself) who wants to take stills as well as video during the same dive, without doubling up on strobes and LED lights.

It's a personal choice but by way of guidance I will just make several points:

1) Google is your best and unbiased friend...see what's out there, check out the specs/prices/knowledge of subject shown in the manufacturer's website. Make a shortlist of possible alternative products that interest you. Don't be shy about emailing the manufacturers with any technical questions you might have.

2) Compare apples with apples...not with oranges. Compare different units of similar true power output...i.e. 4000/5000 @ THE SAME UW BEAM ANGLE (e.g. 120 degrees or 80 degrees).

3) Consider battery design and safety (and Airline regulations for carry-on or shipping in different regions).

4) Price/value for money. The days of overpriced but underperforming product is rapidly ending. A very good LED video light shouldn't cost much over $1500 these days. (compared to the $3000 HID's of several years ago).

5) Since LED is really the only way to go...how up to date is the LED emitter technology (particularly in terms of Lumen per Watt output and video desirable Chromaticity characteristics). This can vary enormously...from 160 Lumens per Watt (CREE XM-Ls) to abysmal, sub 100 Lm/W (cheap emitters). The latter is actually more common (the more emitters, the less efficient is a reasonable assumption)...even in some expensive lights currently on the market. Again, email the manufacturer about this if their website doen't give relevant specs. 250 Lumens per Watt has already been demonstrated by CREE and should be available to manufacturers in the near future. Expect 8000 Lumen compact lights to become common and affordable in the next year or two.

6) How functional is the design for real world use? Interchangable batteries? Double O-ring sealing? Field repairable? Switch ergonomics? Bouyancy characteristics?

7) Do they actually go out and use their own products :)

#317282 Video and a Stable Platform - Gyros or DPVs?

Posted by HDVdiver on 27 September 2012 - 03:48 AM

LOL...I don't think I've ever tried...nor would I want to...holding the camera with one hand and the light with the other! OK for still photos but very difficult for video...particularly with one light. I'm thinking of the constant movement of shadows in the background relative to the camera due to both being independent. I hate to think of the coordination work load.

Caves in particular lend themselves to very creative lighting...and in many ways it is a more controlled/controlable environment where different lighting ideas could work well. But...shooting with one hand is not for me. :)

On the other hand I quite like the effectof a diver model (in the scene) holding the main light...as long as it's held steadily; not pointed into the lens; and the light has a very wide beam. It's not easy to "train" a model to do it correctly...but if yoiu dive with the same person often it can work effectively.

As far as stability is concerned there's always the option of correcting in the NLE. I use the Mercalli Image Stabilization plugin for Edius. Usually does a very impressive job.

#317236 Video and a Stable Platform - Gyros or DPVs?

Posted by HDVdiver on 26 September 2012 - 04:32 PM

I think there is no substitute for holding a video camera with two hands to maximize stability and flexibility of composition...and much practice and discipline when it comes to swimming/panning/bouyancy while shooting. Under some circumstances a scooter is useful (I do have a set-up which I use) but too much scooter material starts to look monotonous. And then there is the problem when the scooter stops.

Almost paradoxically the need for steady hands increases with the FOV of a lens...I have found that the most difficult lens to use UW for my GH2 video is the 7-14mm superwide. The slightest up/down movement looks terrible on the screen. If you are unable to mount the single light in a way to get good balance I would suggest that another diver/model holds the light while you concentrate 100% on holding the camera steady and on composition.Posted Image
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#317083 Sony NEX-FS700

Posted by HDVdiver on 24 September 2012 - 04:15 PM

I was just reading through DPreview & found a few people who were crapping on against each other, mainly over the AVCHD codec & the fact that it is ONLY 24mbps Yet the footage is as good as other 50mbps.

I'm inclined to agree with one of those (Francis Carver) who commented in the DPreview:

"28Mb/sec recording bitrate is, for all intents and purposes, cr*p. Nor is it broadcast standard in much of the world. So.... the question arises here, why should one spend $8,000 here for a non-broadcast standard codec camcorder from Sony."

While it's true that MPEG-4 @ 28 mbps is (because of more efficient compression) comparable to MPEG-2 @ 50 mbps, there's more to it than that when one starts pixel peeping.

The difference between AVCHD/AVCDH.2 and the 50mbps of the Canon XF-codec (MPEG-2, 4:2:2, 8-bit) is that the latter is HD broadcast compliant without using an external recorder. Also, MPEG-2 handles 8-bit color much better than does MPEG-4. Same is true of the old MJPEG codec which most people don't use because of the relatively large file sizes. In fact MJPEG at high bitrates is a very nice codec in terms of color rendition and virtually eliminates the banding which is a charateristic of 8 bit AVCHD. In my hacked GH2 I'm now using MJPEG most of the time rather than AVCHD (and that's AVCHD @ 150 mbps...not the laughable 28 mbps).

From my own experience comparing image quality of low bit-rate AVCHD codec with other codecs is that the high compression of AVCHD (particularly in it's standard Long GOP form) does not go well together with 8 Bit 4:2:0 color...particularly in terms of color banding and noise ...but also with regard to motion detail rendering and fine line rendering and macro-blocking. This is clearly shown in how much the AVCHD image quality improves in a hacked GH2 when the bitrate is increased to 100mbps or so (but this still does nothing to improve the problem of color banding). It's a codec that was designed for consumer/direct TV display use and does not at all perform well at low bitrates (i.e. the default standard of 28 mbps) when it comes to NLE color grading.

At least Panasonic have accepted the stupidity of vanilla AVCHD for serious acquisition by offering several more robust codecs in the new GH3...and even "AVCHD"/H.264 I-frame is working at 70 mbps as standard. Even Leica's new $9,000 serious entry to video cameras (Leica M) records 4:2:2, MJPEG ALL-I (at much higher bitrates than AVCHD.2).

Why Sony persists in offering 8 bit 4:2:0 AVCHD/28 mbps in a semi-pro camera is a mystery...but then again maybe not. Posted Image
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#316831 Panasonic AG-AF100

Posted by HDVdiver on 20 September 2012 - 03:30 PM

Why on earth bother with AF-100. A hacked GH2 (or the new GH3) will outperform it easily for a fraction of the price and weight/bulk). :)

#315064 Any Panasonic Lumix 7-14 Users?

Posted by HDVdiver on 22 August 2012 - 03:13 PM

I shot the 7-14 in the Nauticam housing and I think it suffers for the same problem as many rectilinear lenses do; unsharp corners, particularly for CF/WA. It still shot pretty well for other types of shots, but you have to stop down to f/11 at least.

Personally, I think the 8mm FE is much better and sharper.

This was taken with the 7-14.
Posted Image


I've used the 7-14mm for about two years underwater (first with hacked GH1 now with hacked GH2) for all my wide work and absolutely love this lens.

I was puzzled to recently read comments about it not being sharp since I've been very happy with my results. After a few comparative tests (converted Subal F4 housing+ Subal glass dome vs Nauticam GH2 + Nauticam dome port) I'm starting to think that it's uw optical performance depends considerably on the dome port used. It's MUCH better with a larger diameter dome port.

In fact now that I've become aware of the different performance I've delegated the Nauticam to macro work only. :)

#314667 Magic Lantern v2.3 for Canon DSLR adds great features!

Posted by HDVdiver on 15 August 2012 - 10:15 PM

Magic lantern is not a firmware hack but is an "overlay" that runs alongside the original firmware...i.e. from the CF card. It in no way alters the original firmware. Remove the card and Magic Lantern is gone.

Thus it's not analogous to the GH2 hack...or what it can do to image quality.

#313668 Macro shooting in bright condition

Posted by HDVdiver on 27 July 2012 - 04:43 PM

This is different question, How about WB setting when you're shooting macro video with light?
Auto or color temp of light?

I always pre-set WB to Daylight and forget about it. For macro using powerful 5000 to 6000 Kelvin lights I've never had an issue with WB since everything is balanced; i.e. both aperture (ambient & macro subject) and WB (ambient and LED light).

I even do the same with wide-angle (and fisheye-macro)...i.e. I never WB underwater. If it's a particularly cloudy day and the WB is a bit off it's easily corrected during editing...usually to get rid of excess blue. The hacked GH2 (particularly @ 4:2:2) has plenty of information in the HBR acquisition to do very serious color grading. It is for this reason also (to record color consistently which can be graded nicely during post) that I never use any sort of orange/red/magenta filter.

This approach is only really viable when using powerful LED lights. Nothing new really...we used this approach for decades with daylight film and powerful 6000 K strobes...Posted Image

#313619 Sony PMW200 - the new EX1R

Posted by HDVdiver on 26 July 2012 - 11:16 PM

It's strange that Sony still can't bring themselves to get rid of interlaced...and offer 50p. Even handy-cams have that these days.

Understandable if the 1080/50i is in fact a PsF, but there's no mention of that being the case in the specs.

#313492 Any thoughts about this light?

Posted by HDVdiver on 24 July 2012 - 05:24 PM

9000 lumens..... they pack a punch. 5500K and 65 mins on full power. Great specs, what is the cost going to be?

Hi Jon.

Not sure yet...things are moving faster than I had anticipated. Everything I design and build is primarily for myself and a few working pro dive buddies to use so I'm forever improving things before finalizing the design. But I've approached the work on the LED 9000 differently and outsourced the machining and battery design to competent suppliers (ha ha...helps to have a brother-in-law with factories and a manufacturing network in China). I also personally select all material and electronic components so it takes a bit of time to set up a production workflow. I guesstimate it would be selling for around $1500 in Australia

So far the light has exceeded my performance and reliability expectations...even under tough "4 dives a day and recharge from an island generator at night" conditions. Also, I've finally found a 100w emitter array that is suitable for critical color work (there's many out there but most have very poor chromaticity).

I've always mistrusted Lithium batteries (from a safety perspective) but they do certainly offer burn-time advantages. However, if sourced from the best manufacturers (made with BiCMOS Protection IC's) and well maintained even I am slowly becoming a Lithium convert. I'll wait until my next trip in August and until I get more feedback from several other selected users (so far so good) before I make a decision about selling these lights...Posted Image

#313461 Any thoughts about this light?

Posted by HDVdiver on 24 July 2012 - 06:14 AM

Any photo of this beast? Posted Image

Here's a couple of photos. The first shows the size relative to the current production LED 4000. The LED 9000 is about 300g heavier because of it's all aluminium construction and bigger battery. Both are tested to 100m. In both units the head unscrews to allow quick battery swap and/or charging.

The second photo shows the handle removed and fitted to the Nauticam GH2. In real-world use there would be a reasonably long arm (I use the floaty type) between it and the housing.

There is an attachment point at the rear to allow two lights to be easily coupled together (with a special bracket) for 18,000 Lumens.

The one hour burn time @ 9000 Lumens is due to a state-of-the-art 5 AH Lithium battery. My aversion to Lithium batteries is mellowing after using this design which has sophisticated protection circuitry built in...and has behaved very well so far. Posted Image

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#313393 Any thoughts about this light?

Posted by HDVdiver on 22 July 2012 - 11:38 PM

On my recent trip to West Papua I was field testing a new compact "proof-of-concept" LED light which uses a 100w multi- emitter array and pumps out 9000 Lumens, 5500 kelvin @ 130 degrees for 65 minutes on full power (also switchable to 4500 and 2000 Lumens for very long burn time). I cherry picked the Chromaticity BIN so the CRI and tint is very nice on GH2 video.

It's quite compact and lightweight (1.6 kg) machined aircraft grade aluminium. Two in tandem (18,000 Lumens) really lit up the scene during the night dives with the whale sharks or on the walls at dusk. Truely an amazing experience night diving with so much light! Sometimes it was too much for some animals and the dimmer came in handy.

The advantage of two, I found, is redundancy, flexibility (both configured together or each on separate sides of the camera) and adjustable beam angle (for really wide coverage particularly as an off-camera model light).

I've only made a few of these for myself and some professional videographers for evaluation. I'll have a video up on Vimeo soon showing what these lights can do.

Single 9000 Lumen off-camera light (GH2 video):

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#312895 Zacuto 2012 Video Camera Shootout.

Posted by HDVdiver on 16 July 2012 - 06:10 PM

Greetings from Nabire, West Papua. I've just finished a weeks diving in a remote part of Cenderawasih Bay. No internet or cell phones...just Whale Sharks and excellent coral reefs and walls. The night dives with the Whale Sharks feeding was particularly enjoyable.Catching up on the news and blogs I just noticed that the final part of the Zacuto Shootout documentary has now been released...along with the name of the "famous director" who picked the GH2 as his first choice. None other than Francis Ford Coppola. Posted Image

Read more at:



A couple of frame grabs from GH2 video at night with the Whale Sharks:

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