Page by page addenda to Sony VX 1000
Written for the traveler.
6. BATTERIES: Use a full battery or use the power supply recording a long program.
Turn STEADY SHOT off on a tripod to save battery. Use partly used tapes and
batteries for stock shots and cut-a-ways. Shoot cut-a-ways on different tape
to make editing easier.
Number the back of batteries and turn dead batteries bottom up in your bag.
Wait for the camera to finish a cycle, listen for motors to stop before removing
battery or power.
Use STEADY SHOT for PHOTO and Hand held VIDEO. See pg. 48
DO NOT use STEADY SHOT for VIDEO PANS on tripod.
Recharge batteries whenever possible such as during meals. Put a reminder on
your bag to pick up your charger and battery.
The Sony charger/power supply will charge one battery in the camera and one
attached. It takes about 4 hours to charge dead batteries this way. You can
test level of charge in the viewfinder by turning camera on to VTR or Camera.
If charging batteries in a bathroom be careful to NOT let chargers fall into
water and avoid touching pipes or bare feet on floor when handling wires. Avoid
bathrooms if possible. Consider hotel maids.
Make sure that the room light switch doesn't turn off the plug for your chargers.
9. Mini DV tapes for this camera are 64 minutes long. To transfer to VHS, S-VHS
or Betacam you will not get two DV 64 min.tapes on one regular 2-hour tape or
one on a one-hour tape. Solutions:
1. Don't shoot more than 61 minutes on each tape and use regular tapes.
2. Order special 64, 126 or 130 min. VHS/S-VHS tapes and shoot all of the DV
3. Order special 65-70 min. VHS/S-VHS tapes. (This keeps tape/role numbers consistent.)
4. Use the new Maxell 64 min. And 126 min. VHS/S-VHS tapes. (Other may now be
10. New tape instructions say to rewind tape, I don't know why or when. (Every
take, every day, every year??????)
11. LCD COLOR VIEWFINDER: This is necessary for framing and also to check color
balance and exposure but the resolution of the viewfinder is much less than
the camera is recording. This is especially evident on wide-angle lens settings.
Your eye has to be carefully centered to judge the image for correct exposure
and color balance (white balance).
Your eye position is critical. To judge exposure and color balance, shift your
eye position from top left to lower right. The brightness should remain the
same, but the LCD brightness changes a lot when the eye position is shifted
lower left to top right.
Looking down into the finder reduces likelihood that people are aware of you
recording them. Sit, face away from them and look down into viewfinder sideways.
Consider the ethics of shooting people without their permission.
16.TAPE PROCEDURES: Play back tape occasionally to check for noise, good sound
and image. After checking the tape, DO NOT leave any blank tape, because the
camera will start time code over at "0". Record over the end of the last shot.
To give a little buffer for the end of critical material, before you play back
the tape, record a throw-a-way PHOTO shot at the end of critical material and
restart in the middle of that PHOTO shot and not risk blank tape. If you see
00-00-00 in the viewfinder the camera is stopped on blank tape.
27.PHOTO RECORDING: While holding down the PHOTO button lightly to evaluate
a possible PHOTO, check for a better photo with your OTHER EYE. If you see a
better still, let the button up to capture a better still. If no better still
seems possible, push button further to RECORD the one you already have. Remember,
while recording, it takes 7 sec. before another shot is possible. This procedure
takes some practice. Newer cameras allow 30 FPS Proscan still shots.
PHOTO MODE records 7 sec. of sound while the camera is recording the still to
tape. Keep the camera stable if you want this sound usable. You can also make
audio notes during this time.
If you are alternating between VIDEO and PHOTO shots and conditions are changing,
try this: To be ready for unexpected lighting conditions. Reset these settings
after every shot before shutting down the camera. (Wait 7 sec. for a PHOTO to
finish recording to tape).
a. If tele, zoom back part way so the AUTO FOCUS will work on your next shot
and make it easier to find a subject in the viewfinder.
b. Set ND OFF. (Put ND ON during turn-on the cycle if a bright VIDEO situation
is anticipated. Always set ND OFF for PHOTO MODE. (This procedure can be reversed.)
c. Set FOCUS back to AUTO (Go back to manual if needed for next shot.)
d. Set WHITE BAL back to AUTO if it was custom set.
31/32. AUTO FOCUS: This feature works very well but will have a problem with
an out of focus image on telephoto if you left the zoom on a telephoto for a
previous shot. Auto focus also has problems with low detail subjects, no horizontal
detail and low light. Manual focus is useful when a subject is moving side to
side in the frame and the camera is getting focus information from undesired
objects in the center of the frame. On wide angle, it is impossible to see focus
in the LCD finder. The manual focusing ring does not work on auto focus.
32. MANUAL FOCUSING: To zoom in, focus and zoom back is a standard zoom lens
procedure. Unfortunately the zoom on this camera, while smooth and adjustable
speed, it is very slow. To zoom in and back out to wide can take up to 10 seconds.
By then a shot might be long gone. Since the auto focus is so good, I would
rely on it even at wide angle. Because the viewfinder has such poor resolution,
I trust the AUTO FOCUS on wide angle. Once the AUTO FOCUS "locks in" on some
detail in center frame it will hold very well.
A small rotation of the focus ring at WIDE-ANGLE positions gives a large focus
distance change and the same rotation of the focus ring in the TELE position
results in a smaller change in focus distance. This is just like different fixed
focus still camera lenses, but not like most pro zoom lenses. This means that
you can't use the same focus rotation adjustments at different focal lengths.
If you zoom in to focus (standard procedure) then zoom back, the focus will
hold, but the same rotation of the focus ring will NOT give the same change
of focus distance. Use the auto focus whenever conditions are favorable.
ZOOM and FOCUS TRIX: This camera will not focus closer than 30 inches at full
TELE. Get close and wider for close-ups. Use your tripod! Camera shake is reduced
with wide-angle settings.
To zoom when doing macro work use diopters (close-up lenses). Ones over +4 will
degrade the image unless they are multi-element and color corrected lenses.
Use manual focus with diopters.
The zoom takes 4 to 5 sec. to get from tele to wide.
If you manually change focus while cam is off it will keep the last setting
before turning camera off.
Do Not leave ZOOM on TELE after a shot. Auto focus might not work and it will
be difficult to find your subject especially if your viewfinder is tilted up.
Zoom back part way before you shut down.
Long lens pans very difficult without a $1000. tripod head and legs. Off set
zooms are better than straight in zooms. (Toward a corner and not straight in.)
If you expect to shoot a wide angle distant shot while waiting for camera to
turn on, ZOOM WIDE while waiting. If you were focused close on the last shot
ON MANUAL FOCUS, push the infinity focus button. The great depth of field will
38. EXPOSURE SYSTEM: This camera adjusts exposure four ways.
a. With an auto/manual iris from f 1.6 to f 16.
b. With a manual ND filter reducing exposure 1/10 (3 & 1/4 stops)
c. Auto gain increase up to 18 db. in low light which degrades the image.
d. With manual adjustable shutter speeds. (Auto on PHOTO MODE)
This camera will automatically adjust for good exposure under most conditions,
but manual control under LOW LIGHT conditions can reduce noise and increase
color saturation. As light conditions DECREASE, the iris opens, then the ND
OFF warning appears in the viewfinder, (switch ND filter off), then the gain
is automatically increased with NO INDICATION in the viewfinder. You must manually
switch to manual exposure to see if the camera is operating with increased gain.
If so, see section on LOW LIGHT CONDITIONS.
Maximum F-STOP is 1.6 to 2.1. The F-number increases (less light) on telephoto.
This is common with video lenses and is compensated for by auto exposure. This
is noticeable under low light situations in MANUAL EXPOSURE MODE as you zoom
in to tele the image gets darker. In low light use wide angle to get an F 1.6
DEPTH OF FIELD. At 6mm and even a wide-open iris at f 1.6, the camera has a
great depth of field. This means you can zoom wide and get a sharp image without
re-focusing. Push the infinity focus button to insure distant focus on wide
angle. You will probably see no difference in the viewfinder. (See last page.)
40. ADJUSTABLE LOW SHUTTER SPEEDS. This camera will receive information for
less than 1/60 second (down to 1/4 sec.) and play it back at 30 frames per second
along with real time sound. This was a feature only available shooting film
at a slow speed and doing a complicated film to video transfer. This feature
is used on MTV and TV commercials. This feature also allows better images in
low light situations. (See section on Low Light
LOW LIGHT CONDITIONS
As the light level decreases, the camera compensates by opening the iris completely
wide, and it warns you to switch the ND filter OFF, do that, and as the light
gets less, the gain is automatically increased. At lower levels you DO NOT see
any indication of gain increase in the viewfinder. You have to go to manual
exposure mode to see if the camera has increased the gain. For the best image
quality try to keep the gain at no more than -3 dB. (-6db, -9db to -18db are
increased gain to be avoided.) Gain increase increases noise and loss of color
If there is little motion in the shot and you can tolerate blur, reduce the
shutter speed so that the gain is back to "0" or -3db. The camera will have
to be on a tripod or some kind of support or you will defeat the purpose of
better image quality with blur. The slow shutter gives results just like a still
camera. In wide-angle settings the lens has a faster maximum f-stop and will
also give you a better image.
41.ND FILTER: IN/OUT is ALWAYS manual. Watch for ND ON or ND OFF message in
For less than bright light VIDEO and PHOTO always use ND OFF
For bright light VIDEO ONLY use ND ON. OFF for PHOTO.
42. ZEBRA: Zebra tells you when an area of the scene is over 100 IRE (over exposed)
which would be a problem with analog editing. This camera limits (clamps) those
areas above 100 IRE at 100 during playback. (A great feature)
If ZEBRA shows too much light in very bright VIDEO situations, ND ON may not
reduce exposure enough. Use higher manual shutter speeds, a polascreen or neutral
density filter. (PHOTO MODE automatically starts at 1/1000 shutter speed and
reduces the speed as needed for exposure.
43.WHITE BALANCE: Some definitions: COLOR BALANCE = color quality of the lighting
of a scene. (Daylight, indoor, fluorescent etc.) WHITE BALANCE = The procedure
to adjust a video camera to render the scene's COLOR BALANCE correctly.
The 1995 instruction book does not explain this feature very well, but the camera
does a great job on auto and allows very useful manual options. With AUTO LOCK
OFF, press the rear WHT BAL button. (No Ind) AUTO then WB then (*) for sunlight
(OUTDOOR), then (light globe) for incandescent light (INDOOR) and again back
to AUTO (no Ind.).
If you are on AUTO LOCK the camera will automatically adjust for the lighting
conditions AT THE TIME OF TURN ON. If lighting color balance conditions change
during your shooting without turning camera off, the camera slowly changes white
balance for new conditions.
To return WB to Auto 1. Press WB button till no indicator shows OK while recording.
2. Switch back to AUTO LOCK
I keep the AUTO-LOCK/HOLD LEVER, taped to the middle position. I find it easy
to move it inadvertently and then be unable to make manual adjustments when
I need them.
Outside use (*) . Inside with incandescent light use (light bulb) Most times.
Set White Bal under mixed light (Daylight and/or Fluorescent and/or Incandescent
Set white bal with white paper or pure white painted wall in the SAME LIGHT
as on the face of your subject. Adjust the color balance for the dominant light
on a person's face and not for light on the background or edge light on the
person which can be off-color.
To facilitate adjusting for lighting color balance changes, place a white balance
card just out of frame of your subject, but in the same light as on your subject's
Moon setting of PROGRAM reduces exposure by one stop (3 dB) to compensate for
black in the scene. This is not enough for most night and stage lit situations.
If you go to manual you can reduce the exposure more, but the camera will not
now make automatic exposure changes.
You can change manual WHITE BALANCE during recording if the color of light changes
by pressing the balance button under WHT BAL button. On AUTO it will adjust
on its own in a few seconds.
46. AUTO/MANUAL AUDIO: The camera does quite well on auto, but compresses the
audio reducing the dynamic range and automatically adjusts for different sound
levels. The gain will increase during quiet pauses to hear the camera motors
and unwanted sounds. The camera increases gain after about 4 quiet seconds and
continues increasing for 4 seconds more. You can test this by talking and then
listening with headphones. The camera instantly reduces gain when a louder sound
MICROPHONE PHANTOM POWER. This feature is very useful when more microphones
using this feature become available. The feature does interfere with some consumer
electrostatic mics. (often misnamed condenser) microphones. A special adapter
from Beach Video 416-690-9457 allows two XLR balanced cables with professional
This camera will work very well with Dynamic Cartioid Microphones held close
near the mouth, news interview style. Seeing the mic. on camera is usually acceptable
under these conditions. Getting the mic. a few inches from the mouth will provide
reasonable sound even in noisy locations. A lavaliere mic. 8 inches away will
not be nearly as good.
Occasional video problems can sometimes be repaired with cut-a-ways. Bad sound
is usually not repairable. Wind is often a problem and built in mics. are very
sensitive to wind. A foam wind screen and fake fur cover is helpful to reduce
You can monitor sound with EAR BUD phones, which exclude some of outside sounds
and are unobtrusive. Industrial ear protectors over the ear buds give additional
sound isolation, but are uncomfortable and obtrusive.
Use MANUAL audio recording when recording stock background sound. Record long
audio takes to match possible edited sequences. Voice label take as "background
sound" so that they will be transferred and not look like the camera was on
by mistake. Monitor with earphones. If you hear camera noise, use accessory
mics. Separate from the camera. Ambient sound called "room tone" is often useful
in editing. This is sound in the location with no one talking. Make sure that
it is recorded on manual.
A good stereo mic. would be useful. Move the camera or accessory mics. during
stock sound recording appropriate to what the video might see in the edit. Don't
be stingy with stock sound.
ALWAYS USE EARPHONES IF POSSIBLE.
If you must use the built-in camera mic, get within a few feet of your subject,
inches away if in a noisy location.
For interviews use manual audio if you can. Switch to AUTO for off mic. questions
and back to MANUAL as soon as a question is over. Check the level the camera
adjusts automatically while your person is speaking normally without pauses
and set manual to the same level.
Get lavaliere. mics. within 6 or 8 inches of mouth. Too high on the collar can
be in the shadow of the chin. For two people discussing with one another, one
lav. on one shoulder is a possible compromise. Place the mic. on the person
with softer voice. Consider mounting a small lavaliere on a person's eyeglass
frame on the non-camera or darker side. The mouth to mic. distance is constant
and very close.
Note that many people talk louder or softer with time and be prepared to change
manual record levels.
Avoid attaching a lav. where clothes or jewelry will rustle. A few noises are
tolerable, but if noise gets bad, move the mike or repair the situation. Some
silks and light fabrics are difficult to attach to and they can also rustle.
Be ready to or have someone else remove or unplug a wired lav. mic. if your
subject gets up to walk around.
If using mini plugs, always use a jumper cable to protect the jack on the camera.
UNPLUG THE JUMPER AFTER ACCESSORY MIC. USE.
48. STEADY SHOT: Don't use on tripod shots if you make moves. Steady shot would
help some in the wind for a static shot.
Turn steady shot and auto focus off to save power.
49. These adjustments are made at the factory and unless you have a correctly
adjusted monitor, I would suggest leaving them alone.
Sodium and mercury vapor lights and dimmers can cause electrical noise that
the microphone and cables can pick up. Sodium and mercury vapor lights are also
poor sources of light. If there is enough light without them, turn them off.
Flourescents are often OK. if you manually white balance. 50 Hertz (Cycle) vapor
and fluorescent lights will cause a flicker on a NTSC 60 Hertz camera. If you
mix some incandescent or daylight (and then color balance) flicker is not as
Be prepared for the sun to move and other lighting changes that might happen
during the interview, such as, the sun goes down or the sun hits a piece of
background or the sun hits the interviewee or a weird colored wall.
60. To differentiate between dirt on the front lens element and in the viewfinder,
1. Change viewfinder focus and watch for dust at a different focus distance
than the image pixels. 2. Zoom all the way wide and manually focus as close
as possible. You are now seeing focus on the front element. Look at a plain
background such as white paper to see dirt. As you move the paper away from
the lens dust will go out of focus. If the specks stay in focus, they are in
the viewfinder. Compare with dust seen by focusing the viewfinder. Remember,
the viewfinder resolution is much less than what the 3 chips record. The camera
will record more flaws that you can see. Keep the lens very clean! Use the same
procedure with wide-angle adapters.
63. BATTERY TIPS: The Sony supplied batteries are good for more than an hour
of continuous recording if the image stabilizer and auto focus are off. If you
are away from power and have no time to charge batteries, some other arrangements
are necessary. One is a portable 12-volt battery and either the Sony 12-24 volt
charger power supply or an adapter cable from NRG or Bescor. A 10 amp-hour 12-volt
battery with adapter will run the camera for many hours. The battery weighs
more than the camera but this is an answer. Any 12-volt battery will work with
the Sony, NRG or Bescor adapter. Any 12 to 24 volt battery will work with the
Sony. Motorcycle batteries are available in many places along with chargers.
Airline regs and YOUR safety preclude larger battery air shipment. A short can
cause a fire. Motor cycle batteries can leak if tipped, but they will last for
many hours. They are also useful for 12-volt lights. Carrying a cigarette lighter
socket with lugs and/or alligator clips (color-coded for polarity) is good insurance.
Bescor and others are making 8-volt packs and "Smart" chargers that charge at
a high rate then trickle finish. ($40.) Cheap $10. chargers take longer and
have no way of telling how much charge is in the battery.
The two prong "European" plug is standard in much of the world, but many nations
have a safety grounding plug that does not allow the simple two prong plug use.
You can sometimes get a local adapter Having an USA to two prong adapter is
71. MORE SPECS: The OPTICAL ZOOM is approx. 6 mm to 60 mm. or equivalent to
40 to 400 mm on a still camera. The digital zoom uses less of the 3 chips' image
recording areas and therefore provides lower resolution. The zoom control takes
4 to 5 seconds to zoom from MAX. WIDE to MAX. TELE DIGITAL ZOOM. 120 MM.
To estimate if you are close enough for an optical or digital zoom shot, use
your finger's width held at arms length as a guide. Two fingers held at my arms
length is equal to optical tele zoom frame height @ 60 mm. One finger for max.
Digital zoom. Calibrate your own fingers and arm.
Color Bars. With the VTR/Camera switch ON, but the Standby switch on LOCK, push
both the FRONT REC and PHOTO buttons, and then turn LOCK to STANDBY. You should
see color bars. To record, press REC. Put at least 30 seconds of color bars
on the beginning of every tape if you have time.
To learn to judge color balance and exposure in the viewfinder, with your OTHER
eye and on a Color Monitor or TV hooked to the camera in a room with mixed light.
(Daylight from outside and incandescent (indoor) light.)
With strangers, as an icebreaker, shoot a PHOTO of something people would be
proud of and show them your shot. Try another if they don't object and then
take a kid's picture, then their picture. A tripod helps to show them a video
shot. Getting back to the exact end of your recording is not easy.
If they offer to take a picture of you, there is some danger of dropping the
camera and an inadvertent change of your settings.
Hold the camera away from people's eyes with your finger to keep the eyecup
cleaner. Carry lens and eye cup-cleaning stuff.
If shooting photos, they go away in 7 sec. and you need to take another shot.
Smiling full frame faces are great cut-a-ways to use later.
When you get to editing, to make an interesting program, you will need lots
of cut-a-ways. They are easiest to get while you are there. Shoot as many as
you can and for as many projects as you might ever need. Use PHOTO MODE when
Carefully label your tapes. Label stock shot tapes also on flat side so label
can be seen through the window on the camera door.
Sort tapes at night. Put completely exposed tapes in one place. Hand carry exposed
tapes and not in your luggage where they have more chance to be lost or exposed
to larger security radiation.
When working in and leaving sensitive areas you might consider leaving the beginning
of tapes blank and rewraping questionable tapes like new. A plastic wrapper
will be needed. Open 5 tape boxes with resealable care. You can also record
"tourist" activities on the beginning of tapes.
Put fresh tape and partly used tapes in one place. Label amount still unrecorded
on edge of partly used tape case visible in your bag.
For easier editing, record stock shots, interviewer reactions and cut-a-ways
on separate tapes. Keep a stock shot tape always handy, always in it's plastic
tape case. Start interviews, new projects and long programs on new tapes.
ALWAYS keep bag pockets zipped closed. especially the lid.
Always have a fresh tape unwrapped ready for instant use.
Newer tape instructions say to rewind tape immediately and store vertically.
They don't say why, it may prevent dropout. YES, DROP OUT. Some camera instructions
say to remove tape after shooting. How long after shooting, minutes, hours,
Vibration in small planes and in vehicles can damage cameras. Packing with lots
of clothes helps. In a bag on your lap is best. I suggest LIVING with YOUR CAMERA.
Never let others such as porters help you with your camera bag. Keep it over
your shoulder or in sight at all times.
Remove the mic. jumper plug after use.
Make sure camera is securely on tripod head before letting go. Lock tilt and
make sure sun cannot get into the lens or viewfinder.
Tighten tripod legs knobs or levers before letting go.
Check for dirt on lens.
Watch for kid's fingers on the lens.
Be careful around water, especially salt water. Consider rain.
USEFUL/NECESSARY ACCESSORIES FOR SOUND
ACCESSORY MICROPHONES Our ears/brain are too selective to judge well what an
on-camera mic. is recording. There is no build-in microphone that will not hear
the camera noise under quiet conditions and hear distance unwanted sounds as
well. On automatic, the recording amplifiers in the camera adjust the record
level to match what ever the mic. hears. If it is quite it will hear the camcorder
motors and background sound. If someone is talking close to the mic. the amplifier
will reduce the level and only the louder sounds will be recorded.
You can spend thousands of dollars on professional microphones that can give
great results if used properly. Learning the use of professional sound gear
is beyond these notes. In keeping with keeping it small and simple but adequate,
I recommend a $35. Lavaliere microphones available from Nady, Radio Shack, and
Audio Technica. I have had one fail, but others have held up well. They have
a 16-foot cable and will handle most situations without an extension. (Extensions
mic. cables must be shielded and longer cables are susceptible to hum and noise.
Earphone extensions are usually not shielded. Radio Shack has a 6-foot shielded
stereo mini cables # 42-2387 and stereo couplers # 274-1555. Radio Shack is
OK for some items, but some of their "professional quality" stuff is not.
For seen on-camera mics. the Shure SM 58 or equivalent is just fine with an
XLR-3F to mini stereo adapter cable. Cheaper Dynamic Cartioid mics. are often
OK but have less shielding and shock protection than the $100. + ones. Cheap
consumer shotgun mics. are almost useless. Longer ENG shotguns have some problems
inside but work well outside. Wind protection is always important.
Radio mics. can be very useful when a wired one is not possible. Some use a
lot of batteries and can experience interference from radio transmitters and
other electrical devices. Most $200. models have high internal noise levels
and are not very acceptable. Most have much less range than advertised.
Rarely are sound conditions ideal. Closing windows and moving as far from noise
helps, but it is always a compromise considering lighting and convenience for
the interviewee and interviewer. If machines, air conditioning and refrigerators
are turned off, TURN THEM BACK ON BEFORE YOU LEAVE. Carry a sign that says,
"Quiet Please, Sound Recording".
A simple 2-microphone set up is possible on separate channels if you get a RADIO
SHACK, Y-ADAPTER HEADPHONE CABLE #42-2463 and an Y-ADAPTER # 274-375. Or Calrad
"Y" Adapter 35-559 from Pacific radio 213-462-1393 Tape the cable to the camera
handle so it can be inserted and removed as needed. This is a strain relief
and protects the camera's mini plug. Tape over the second Y CABLE jack. Attach
and label the splitter and always use one side for the interviewee and the second
for the interviewer or audience. It helps in editing to always have each on
the same channels. ALWAYS UNPLUG THE Y-CABLE AFTER USING ACCESSORY MICS. TO
RETURN CAMERA TO BUILT-IN MIC. MODE AND TO PREVENT DAMAGE TO THE FRAGILE MIC
JACK ON THE CAMERA. Extension cables need to be shielded to avoid noise and
EARPHONES. Your ears/brain select what you WANT and NEED to hear, but the camera
hears everything according to the laws of physics. I use ear buds to exclude
outside noise to allow better evaluation of sound and to reduce the awareness
of people being recorded. Ear buds are not very comfortable, but I have not
found any small Walk-Man style ear phones that exclude enough of outside noise.
Your ears have a hard time differentiating between sounds from outside the phones
and those reproduced by the phones. Koss is again making an older style liquid
filled muff style that does exclude more outside noise. They are as big and
heavy as the camera. In noisy situations, industrial hearing protectors AND
ear buds provide good isolation from out side unwanted noise. You also have
to listen for hum, electronic noise and other undesirable sounds.
Video images for professional use should be stable unless a MTV effect is desired.
Every tripod is a compromise. To make smooth pans at telephoto lens sizes a
$1000 head tripod on sturdy legs is necessary. Such a tripod weighs a lot and
defeats the whole idea of a small unobtrusive camera. A $100 "fluid head" tripod
will maintain your tourist look and not burden you. I prefer the next step up,
a Bogan 3011 Tripod with a Bogan 3130 Head with a quick-release that is safe
if you always make sure it locks on. Don't let go of the camera until sure the
camera is locked on. This tripod allows moderate tele pans and a stable shot
in moderate wind. It is cumbersome and fitting into a backpack is not easy.
For large moves, start in an uncomfortable position and end in the more comfortable
CAMERA BAG S
I like a top load bag that is easy to access and provided moderate, shock, rain,
and visibility protection. A camera in hand or around your neck can detract
from some photo possibilities that can be promoted with a little diplomacy.
Tourists blatantly treading upon people's privacy have made people camera shy.
Most people have pride in their lives and many will share it if not taken without
asking. Keeping the camera covered at first can improve your chances. Have your
guide or contact ask. People often expect you to want a posed picture. Maybe
take photos and show them, thank them, and then hang around while they go back
to work. You might then get something more natural. Fancy custom cases don't
hold extra accessories and say "Steal me".
Having hands free makes grabbing video and PHOTO shots possible as occasions
arise. A backpack can carry your tripod, water, warmies, snacks to share, umbrella,
even lights and small purchases. The backpack and/or tripod can be left in the
vehicle when hand held will do.
THE BEAN BAG
When a tripod is not available or the time to set it up, and some support is
needed for a VIDEO shot, a bean bag under the camera will do rested on a surface.
A sock HALF filled with small beans, rice or wheat berries will allow a stable
shot on the ground or and uneven surface. It can even help between the camera
and a vertical post or wall. A hiker's water bottle bag can carry it conveniently
on your belt.
BACKGROUNDS. Often there is limited time to control the background and lighting,
but the "feeling" of the shot is important. A background should compliment the
interviewee. I carry pieces of 4 by 6 foot (minimum) pieces of light weight
patterned cloth that can be taped to the wall behind people or to cover objectionable
things in the scene. Select patterns appropriate to the culture. 2 inch drafting
tape does not remove paint and double stick tape ON TOP OF the drafting tape
allows getting fabric right up to an edge. Remove the tape before storing the
Darker backgrounds are usually better, avoid bright windows behind people. If
you encounter an important person with their back to a window and can't change
that, try working from the side so the window is not seen or shoot so tight
there is no window in the shot.
This camera is capable of high quality interviews under controlled conditions.
An accessory microphone must be closer to the interviewee's mouth to reduce
camera noise and ambient noise. A lavaliere works best 6 or 8 inches from a
person's mouth. It should be attached with care to avoid rustling clothing and
jewelry. The mic. cable should be looped under the mic. clip and the wire or
power supply placed so that the interviewee doesn't tangle with the wire when
gesturing. This also reduces noise transmitted to the mic. from movement of
the cable. Putting the wire under a shirt is best, but may seem impolite to
non-media savvy people. Seeing the wire is better than bad sound. A second mic.
clip or alligator clip can be used to anchor the mic. cable. mic. placement
Whether to interrupt an interview to adjust a noisy microphone or other reason
is always a dilemma. It breaks the flow and reminds the interviewee that it
is not just a conversation.
I like to get the camera at least 6 feet, better 10 or 12 feet away from the
interviewee. It makes the camera less intrusive to the interviewee and softens
and reduces the size of background that needs to be controlled. The interviewee
will also be less likely to look at camera. A down side to camera at a distance
is moves and focusing is more critical. I suggest using the auto focus to get
focus and go to manual unless there is a need to refocus such as the interviewee
leaning back or forward. The auto focus can be engaged and for just a few seconds
and back to manual.
Make the interviewee and everyone comfortable in quiet non-swivel chairs. Set
up before and test everything if possible. The interviewer should engage the
interviewee in SMALL TALK, not important matters before the camera, background,
and mics. and lighting is ready. The crew should NOT engage in the conversation.
They and the camera will soon be forgotten. When the cameraperson is ready,
a subtle cue to the interviewer will let her know to get into more relevant
questions. Listen for good times to change tapes. Try not to run out on great
Whatever changes you have to make during an interview, make sure that the interviewee
thinks that they are doing a terrific job. Don't ask them to NOT gesture or
stay in a certain position for the light etc. That is acting and few people
can act AND also be natural. Move them out of the light or change the light,
just don't require them to have to worry about your problems.
Frame size. For a person with an interesting face, zoom in. For a person that
moves a lot, zoom wider to keep them in frame. If they don't quite leave frame
and return to a better position that is OK. But don't get so wide that you don't
feel intimate. For people that gesture, zoom back enough to include most of
their hands. Try to avoid hands resting 1/2 in and 1/2 out of the frame. As
people get more intense, zoom in. Keep zooms to a minimum and zoom ONLY for
a reason. (Creep out to include hand gestures or creep in to get more intimate.)
As a cameraperson I relay any of my requests and question through the interviewer.
This will lessen the change of them relating to the camera.
For close ups, keeping the nose in the middle of the frame works until you zoom
back enough and must tilt down to avoid too much head room. Always leave "talking
space" in front of the person. Don't worry about headroom on close ups. Nose
in the middle.
A separate monitor viewfinder prevents operator fatigue, reduce the "being on
camera" feel for the interviewee and gives the operator something to hide behind.
There is another side to this coin. If you want the interview to seem more "professional",
big earphones, a bigger tripod, impressive microphones would be in order and
an explanation by the interviewer that this small camera is the latest state
of the art and not a tourist toy. "The CBC bought a 100 of them." Professional
lighting gear would also increase your "professional" appearance.
We have found that, when there is time, that personal questions about ones childhood
and family upbringing loosen people up. A good second question is "What events
and/or people have brought you to your thinking and actions today?"
For interviews, hands of the interviewee at their waist or shots of the interviewer
listening will help when editing out dialogue.
SHOOTING OUT WINDOWS OF BUSES AND VEHICLES
Select a window viewing the sunny side of your trip to avoid sun on the lens
and backlighting. Check map.
If the sun is not out, shooting things on the OPPOSITE side of street can be
easier, because they are further away giving you more time to decide to shoot.
This will not work in heavy traffic.
Select a window with clear view from your seat (no bar). Put some stuff on the
seat to save it while you clean the window outside. Carry tissues and use water
or spit. Some bus windows are too high to reach, but have upper windows that
allow you to reach down from. Helpful drivers may clean windows when you stop
and leave them dirtier. Reclean if necessary.
White Balance to a white object through the window. Bus windows are often green.
Clean the inside too.
One advantage of sitting up front is seeing what is coming.
An open window is best. Put WB on * (sun). If you are at the back of the bus
you can open a window and not disturbing others as much, but it takes longer
to get out if the bus has no back door. If the bus is not full you might shoot
from both sides.
Pan with object for a sharper PHOTO if close to medium distance. Don't pan infinity
scenes. Use your other eye to judge if a better shot is possible while holding
a shot before pressing further to record that shot.
Other passengers are generally not sympathetic to your picture taking. If they
have a camera too, their epics are as important.
For more control, consider a car (with sunroof) and driver who will stop where
you want. Avoid traveling with non-photographers, they will hinder your shooting.
Serious work and socializing do not mix.
Update to VX 1000 Notes by Ron Dexter
My information about using mini pin microphones into the Sony VX 1000 is dangerous.
It is possible to hear sound, see the LED indicator move on the back of the
camera AND NOT BE RECORDING SOUND ON THE TAPE. If you hear ONE channel in both
sides of the phones, you are recording sound, but you won't be able to play
back or recover the sound on a Sony VX 1000 or DSR1000. I don't yet know why.
I did recover the sound playing the tape on a Canon Optura.
If you use the Beach Video adapter you should not have anyproblem.
If you understand HYPERFOCAL focusing, it is very useful for this camera as
you cannot see focus in the viewfinder at wideangle lens settings. I have divided
the lens bar indicator into equal sections. 6(5.9) mm, 20mm, 35mm, 46mm and
60mm(59) with 35 mm being the middle, 20mm at 1/4 and 46mm at 3/4.
You can find out the f-stop by pressing the exposure button.
Lens FL f2.0 f4.0 f8.0 f11.0
6mm 4' 2' 13" 10" wide
8mm 7' 3.5' 2' 1.3' (for settings just off full wide)
20mm 35' 20' 11' 8' 1/4
35mm 130' 65' 33' 24' 1/2
46mm too shallow to use, focus on subject 3/4
60mm " " " " tele
As you know when focused on the hyperfocal distance, everything from infinity
to 1/2 the hyperfocal distance will be focus. If you are shooting in low light
(f2.0) and want the focus fixed and not search and nothing will be closer than
2', lock focus at 4 feet and shoot. Outside the focus at wide angle is enormous.
Here is another trick. Since the auto focus is so good on this camera you can
make "rocking crane" moves on two legs of the tripod. Collapse one tripod leg
part way and go wide angle. With the other two legs on the ground and the camera
at 90 degrees to the legs, arm the camera into an object for a close up and
then arm back for a wider shot looking more up. Adjust leg/camera angle to suit.
A sandbag will keep the camera from slipping on smooth floors.
© Copyright 1999-2004 Ron Dexter. All Rights Reserved.