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peterbkk

L&M Bluefin / Sony CX550 experience

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If you have any interest, here is a video I pulled together of the trip. In the end the challenge was trying to cut all the material down to a length that people could watch in one sitting.... It was an amazing trip..

 

-

 

Note that this was in a Bluefin base housing - I was mailed the wrong one the day we left so I used it on the trip when I returned but what it did do was make me realise how valuable the microphone, larger viewscreen and manual knob are - so many times I wanted that fine tune focus capability... Would welcome any comments. I plan to practice on this set up as much as possible.

 

Rebecca

 

Superb! You certainly met up with a great array of creatures.

 

The compression is a bit too aggressive but that may be YouTube.

 

Regards

Peter

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Hey Peter,

 

How much of the time when you are shooting uw are you in auto focus vs manual focus?

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Hey Peter,

 

How much of the time when you are shooting uw are you in auto focus vs manual focus?

 

 

I almost never use manual focus, as in actually adjusting the focus with a manual control. But I do use the auto focus lock a lot.

 

About 90% locked focus and 10% auto.

 

I use auto focus for: close up / macro, bright light / high contrast situations, when the video lights dominate the image.

 

I use locked focus for: open water, dark shots, medium to distant subjects, panning close to far and vice versa, fish, people, etc.

 

The auto focus on the newer camcorders are better than before but they can still go "hunting". Part of my "during descent" camera preparation is to auto focus on something about 1 to 1.5 meters away and lock the focus. Then you are ready for anything from about 0.8 meters out to infinity. If I do a CU, usually with the lights on, I will switch to auto to get the sharpest focus - the auto focus compensates for any camera or subject repositioning - but you've got to keep the subject in the sweet spot. If the subject is off-center, then manual focus can work. After shooting the CU subject, then I do the auto focus on 1 meter / focus lock routine again.

 

But I almost never use the housing manual wheel for focus (I use that for exposure settings), except for manual focus on a CU subject that I want to be off centre. But for most shots, I find that the "auto focus lock" feature is reliable and quick.

 

Regards

Peter

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Superb! You certainly met up with a great array of creatures.

 

The compression is a bit too aggressive but that may be YouTube.

 

Regards

Peter

 

So this is where my inexperience gets me - I don't really understand compression: how you see it in a video, and the things you can do to mitigate it. Any ideas where I could read up on this? Yes it's only 480 on Youtube and has better quality when its 1080, but I noticed in my video that there was graininess at times and certain views - like the shot looking up at the sun or some of the wide angle shark shots - didn't have smooth transitions in contrast (going from light to dark in a single frame) - hard to describe but do you understand what I mean? Might be a factor of not enough light or it is a product of this compression you mention? I know I'm starting to stray now from the forum topic so maybe we'll need to go "offline" on this or migrate the topic to the right forum.....

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So this is where my inexperience gets me - I don't really understand compression: how you see it in a video, and the things you can do to mitigate it. Any ideas where I could read up on this? Yes it's only 480 on Youtube and has better quality when its 1080, but I noticed in my video that there was graininess at times and certain views - like the shot looking up at the sun or some of the wide angle shark shots - didn't have smooth transitions in contrast (going from light to dark in a single frame) - hard to describe but do you understand what I mean? Might be a factor of not enough light or it is a product of this compression you mention? I know I'm starting to stray now from the forum topic so maybe we'll need to go "offline" on this or migrate the topic to the right forum.....

 

A complex topic that depends on the computer equipment that you use. I suggest you create a new topic in the video editing forum, state your equipment and your objectives and see what responses you get. If you are a Mac user, the Ken Stone website is an excellent source of advice: http://www.kenstone.net/

 

Regards

Peter

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This is shot with the Bluefin Pro housing with the Pathom Wide angle lens and the 550

 

 

I have some problems with the white balance you will see it a litlle, if i have time i will post some more footage where the colouring is completly out of range is.

Edited by Brumpy

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This is shot with the Bluefin Pro housing with the Pathom Wide angle lens and the 550

 

 

I have some problems with the white balance you will see it a litlle, if i have time i will post some more footage where the colouring is completly out of range is.

 

Very nice footage. I understand your frustration with the White Balance though I cannot offer a solution except to rebalance continually until the camera gets it right. You have a wonderfully steady hand. There are some really excellent shots.

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This is shot with the Bluefin Pro housing with the Fathom Wide angle lens and the 550

 

I have some problems with the white balance you will see it a litlle, if i have time i will post some more footage where the colouring is completly out of range is.

 

Yep. I can see the problem. The camera over-compensated for the UW lighting conditions, affecting some of the WA natural lights shots. Its a shame to see the red fuzzies in that great opening-scene manta footage. When in doubt, hit the AWB and fix it during the edit.

 

It took me a while (and I still get it wrong sometimes) to get used to reading the Bluefin monitor for over-compensation. When you suspect over-compensation, you have to do another MWB, this time feeding the camcorder's sensor with some more red light, either from a redder subject (e.g. brown coral) or more artificial light. After a while, you get used to understanding the camcorder's behaviour. Just remember, the camcorder does not know that it is underwater and does not know anything about underwater lighting. You have to fool it...

 

Observation from some of your night stuff (Wow, great shark night footage!), your video lights don't quite give you enough coverage for that lens. If it is the Fathom 90 with the CX550 at full WA, I found that I needed 3 Sola 1200s (60 degrees each) to give full coverage, with some excess so you don't have to be too careful with alignment.

 

And one final tip: get the flabby white divers to put their shirts on... :) (I'm a flabby white diver but I do keep my shirt on...)

 

Regards

Peter

Edited by peterbkk

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Very nice content minus a few flabby divers.

I have been learning that rig with the WA and standard lenses using 3 Sola 1200's.

The WB issue is my biggest challenge so far, even with all Peter's good advice on it.

Some scenes would look good color wise after WB but then a purple cleaner wrasse swims into it which would be fine except he is blue not purple.

There were some Blue (purplish)Tangs at about 18ft / 6 meters on a metal structure that even repeated WB attempts (palm, metal, sun, black fin etc.) would not fix.

I had not considered the AWB option as I don't normally do a lot of corrections in post but may have to with this camcorder.

I found it very difficult to correct for some colors especially trying to correct mid water, my previous LM setups would give a decent WB by aiming up at the sunball and doing a momentary WB.

I am thinking of trying a color slate like Amphibico makes just to play with at different depth to check if the wb is getting me "correct" colors.

Practice will be a biggie to getting this unit to do what I need.

John

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A complex topic that depends on the computer equipment that you use. I suggest you create a new topic in the video editing forum, state your equipment and your objectives and see what responses you get. If you are a Mac user, the Ken Stone website is an excellent source of advice: http://www.kenstone.net/

 

Regards

Peter

 

 

I agree Peter, the Ken Stone site is my favorite.

Steve

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Steve

Wow, just checked back, Thanks Steve but that is not too helpful.

For what it's worth, I love Ken Stone's resource as well: but how does that help this thread?

I continue to battle for decent results ( and to overcome FCPX ) but wold prefer advice or input to above.

If you are using 1080i and this camcorder I would welcome your advise but lets keep on point.

Part is the limitations of the camera, part the housing. I think your familiar with the latter at least.

Need constructive work arounds.

For what it is worth, the Sola 1200's (three) seriously under performed in my expectations.

If you are still using this set up I would welcome your insights.

Thanks.

John

Edited by biminitwist

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Wow, just checked back, Thanks Steve but that is not too helpful.

For what it's worth, I love Ken Stone's resource as well: but how does that help this thread?

I continue to battle for decent results ( and to overcome FCPX ) but wold prefer advice or input to above.

If you are using 1080i and this camcorder I would welcome your advise but lets keep on point.

Part is the limitations of the camera, part the housing. I think your familiar with the latter at least.

Need constructive work arounds.

For what it is worth, the Sola 1200's (three) seriously under performed in my expectations.

If you are still using this set up I would welcome your insights.

Thanks.

John

 

If your are having trouble doing MWB in open water, I suggest that you carry a large piece of pink plastic that you can use as a target for the MWB. I have found that doing the MWB with the CX550 off the sun does not work.

 

I dont think you should blame the L&M housing. It has nothing to do with the color balance. it just triggers the camera to do the MWB, and does it better than almost any other prosumer housing that I've used. No, the problem lies in the CX550. Sony have changed the MWB algorithm to try to boost the red. Might work well in normal conditions but is a real challenge underwater. You just have to fool the camera by including some red in the target that you use for the MWB. Brown coral and brown rust works because there is a lot of red. If that does not work, use the lights to add even more red into the MWB calculation. Not easy but I've learned what works and what does not work and can usually get it right.

 

Having said that, given the control challenges with the CX700, after 8 years of using various Sony video cameras underwater, I've decided to abadon Sony and have moved on to the Canon XF100. Hopefully will have more joy in the MWB function. I'm hoping to use a combination of the 4 settings (auto, sunlight, MWB A, MWB B) so that, unless conditions really change, I won't need to to do a MWB too often. I plan to set MWB A at 10 meters and MWB B at 18 meters and Auto when the lights dominate, then flip between them as required. Should get me close enough to a usable WB that any adjustments can be done simply in post. Might be able to go a whole dive trip with only 2 MWBs on the first dive...

 

You mention not being impressed with the Sola 1200s. I reckon that they are the greatest thing since sliced bread. What do you not like about them?

 

Regards

Peter

Edited by peterbkk

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Wow, just checked back, Thanks Steve but that is not too helpful.

For what it's worth, I love Ken Stone's resource as well: but how does that help this thread?

 

Steve was responding to other sub-thread within this thread about how to compress video.

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Steve was responding to other sub-thread within this thread about how to compress video.

 

I read that but it seemed off topic.

I have tried all your tips on WB and understand why the camera is doing it.

Your information has been helpful but it is very frustrating. I have yet to find a acceptable work around.

For some reason using your suggested methods for it aren't yeilding good results for me.

I have tried WB using brown sponge, sand even a card with lots of red on it. Poor results and inaccurate color.

I am going to try a gray card someone currently using the camera/housing recommended.

I also need to put more practice time in with the unit in clear conditions.

My issue with the Sola 1200 is the same I mentioned to you in another post on the lights.

The beam angle and strength are both less than I am used to.

I am surprised you said you could get by on the lower setting, I found full power just got the job done and I had to recharge between each dive regardless. Even on lowest power the lights would not last two full dives but our dives were each about 60 minutes long. After having them flash red then die part way thru a great dive I didn't chance it again.

I also found that I needed to reposition the lights angle a lot more than I am usually do to properly light my subject.

On the plus side they are very compact and it is nice having multiple strength options.

The HIDS they replaced were just a lot more powerful with a greater spread. Also heavy, more expensive and needed external batteries. I would love the Solas more if they were a little stronger.

I am using 3 on the BF like your configuration.

Overall I have gotten some nice video from the unit but the WB issue hasn't been solved for me yet.

Hope you'll be happy with your Cannon, it sounds like a decent unit.

I avoided it because there wasn't a housing that fit for me.

Thanks again for all your great information.

John

Edited by biminitwist

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Hi John,

 

I haven't been following this thread so am not sure what's been discussed, but in general, here are the settings I use for my Cx550 + amphibico turtle set-up:

- AE shift -2

- WB shift -3

- X.V colour ON

- Auto backlight OFF

- Low lux OFF

- Use red-filter

 

The rest is just the usual 'one-push WB' which you have to basically reset every 2m change of depth or when the colour doesn't seem right. I set my WB on the sand or rubbles, preferable with a bit of shade to give it more warmth. Have been getting pretty decent colours except when it's really dark or below 20m. I don't use light unless it's macro.

 

I too had a very frustrated week trying to figure out the camera but once you got it, the colour is actually pretty impressive.

 

Cheers,

Seok

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Hi John,

 

I haven't been following this thread so am not sure what's been discussed, but in general, here are the settings I use for my Cx550 + amphibico turtle set-up:

- AE shift -2

- WB shift -3

- X.V colour ON

- Auto backlight OFF

- Low lux OFF

- Use red-filter

 

The rest is just the usual 'one-push WB' which you have to basically reset every 2m change of depth or when the colour doesn't seem right. I set my WB on the sand or rubbles, preferable with a bit of shade to give it more warmth. Have been getting pretty decent colours except when it's really dark or below 20m. I don't use light unless it's macro.

 

I too had a very frustrated week trying to figure out the camera but once you got it, the colour is actually pretty impressive.

 

Cheers,

Seok

 

In which type of water have You test this settings ?? Green or Blue ??

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In which type of water have You test this settings ?? Green or Blue ??

Blue but sometimes greenish on bad vis day!

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Blue but sometimes greenish on bad vis day!

 

:)

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here are the settings I use for my Cx550 + amphibico turtle set-up:

- AE shift -2

- WB shift -3

- X.V colour ON

- Auto backlight OFF

- Low lux OFF

- Use red-filter

 

The rest is just the usual 'one-push WB' which you have to basically reset every 2m change of depth or when the colour doesn't seem right.

 

The same except:

 

- AE shift varies depending on ambient light. -2 for normal, -4 for dark.

- WB shift 0. I use the L&M's MWB feature instead.

- Red filter - never use it. Took it out of the housing and using a flip macro instead.

 

The red filter does not actually increase red. It reduces blue and green. So you have less light for the sensor to work with. As the CX550 is already not good at low-light, and it is always low-light underwater, why hamper the camera with even less light...

 

Regards

Peter

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Seok-

Thanks, very similar to Peter's and now that the housing is finally back from repair (for the flip diopter dragging again) I will put it thru it's paces and see what works best.

I did try those settings or very similar and had some mixed results with the WB shift.

I am looking forward to trying the grey card recommended.

Hopefully I will get better color accuracy, since I am almost always using lights I am guessing the WB issue may be the culprit.

We will see. Take care.

John

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The same except:

 

- AE shift varies depending on ambient light. -2 for normal, -4 for dark.

- WB shift 0. I use the L&M's MWB feature instead.

- Red filter - never use it. Took it out of the housing and using a flip macro instead.

 

The red filter does not actually increase red. It reduces blue and green. So you have less light for the sensor to work with. As the CX550 is already not good at low-light, and it is always low-light underwater, why hamper the camera with even less light...

 

Regards

Peter

 

Hi Peter,

 

I guess it's personal preference, but I find the red filter gives a lot more colour (although sometimes can get artificial, just have to be careful with it). Without the filter it's impossible to get the right colour below 10meters from my testing without lights. It gets too green and yellowish. I don't use lights for wide angle. It doesn't reduce blue in my opinion, in fact if you compare two footage at the same depth, MWB, with and without filter, you'll find that the one with red filter is more blue than the one without. Of course again I'm saying without using light.

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I would very much like to know what you learn from Light and Motion on this.

I have only had a couple dives with mine (mostly a lot of table practice) but am heading to Bali later this month and would hate to lose my diopter option. It would be interesting to see who makes a stronger diopter that would work in the flip mount.

Currently optimal positioning of the new Sola lights to eliminate shadows is the biggest tweak.

Would appreciate any info you find out.

Thanks. John

 

This problem has hopefully been resolved. I sent the housing back to L&M in June but they could not repeat the scratching thus I was charged for a new flip dioptre. I used this but again it was scratching. This time I returned the housing and my camcorder. It was recognised that there was a slght difference in my camera and the one used by L&M and it was pressing against the front of the camera. They have modified the tray which hopefully allows clearence. It would have been tested this weekend but thanks to the great British weather, my planned dive trip has been cancelled. There is always next week!

 

John Dory

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Seok-

Thanks, very similar to Peter's and now that the housing is finally back from repair (for the flip diopter dragging again) I will put it thru it's paces and see what works best.

I did try those settings or very similar and had some mixed results with the WB shift.

I am looking forward to trying the grey card recommended.

Hopefully I will get better color accuracy, since I am almost always using lights I am guessing the WB issue may be the culprit.

We will see. Take care.

John

 

Hi John,

 

I reckon that for the CX550, you want that "grey card" to be a pink / white card. I made a slate on a flexible arm for MWB. The slate is just a diver's slate cut to about 20cm x 12cm (close to 16:9). I spray-painted one side matt pink and the other side matt white. The arm is made out of locline about 35cm long. I used a couple of locline corners and a locline nut/blot to mount the card. The photo's attached here a just simple iPhone photos but you can see enough to get the point. To mount on the L&M housing, you'll need a locline "Y" piece on the bottom of one of the lighting mounts. On the boat, the slate folds back above the housing. Underwater, when not used, the slate folds back under the housing.

 

post-4537-1313848414.jpg

 

post-4537-1313848428.jpg

 

With the CX550, the white side works down to about 5-8m, depending on conditions and the pink side works best deeper. Use lights partially or fully on the slate to "tone-down" the CX550's problem with the red-fuzzies. When using the slate to MWB, I suggest that don't use the red-filter or any WB shift settings. Just play with the slate, lights and MWB until you get a good colour balance on the monitor.

 

You can mix white and red paints to get the right shade pink.

 

Regards

Peter

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Thanks Peter. The gray slate seems to be doing the trick shallow but I've yet to try it deep so I'll keep this in mind.

I did try some white laminated cards that I applied red stripes to but it didn't work very well.

Will really try to put in the time practicing with the housing/camera now that it's working properly.

In my case it seems the flip diopter was installed backwards causing it to drag across the camera, when reversed in the mount it works great.

Many thanks to the gang at REEF photo for getting it right for me.

John

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Clearly Peter, you need to practice your MWB with the iPhone...

:)

Unless of course your sofa is pink!

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