HD Video versus HD Film, why a difference? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 37 Old 03-01-2007, 04:33 PM - Thread Starter
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I have seen a few threads talking about how high definition video is much sharper than high definition film. I am a big movie buff but know little about the differences between these two. Why is HD Video (much of it from places like HD Discovery) so much sharper than HD Film?

Since I do not have my theater done, I have not seen this difference myself but people have described it as significant. HD Video has been described as having a wow factor and like looking out an open window.

If HD Video is so much sharper why aren't feature films shot with this technique/equipment/materials?


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post #2 of 37 Old 03-01-2007, 04:48 PM
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I don't think the difference is really Film vs Video but rather the production process. In a movie you have the film stock chosen for it's characteristic. Some are grainy and some really pop in color. Video doesn't have near as many artistic options.

Next you're talking about a whole lot of color correction and color grading in a feature film. For video projects you're talking about a straigh camera feed with a little color correction and grading.

Nothing looks as good as video with a little bit of processing. Plus you tend to have HD shows about nature or sports done very bright. The typical feature film is fairly dark. Cinematographers love lighting and shadows.

So basically It's about the processing that is done more so than the equipment. I've walked into a Best Buy and saw demo footage with a Sony HC-3 HDV camcorder that looked absolutely eye popping. It showed a sunny day in San Francisco with bright red Trolley's and water in the background. The only problem is that this just isn't a filmic picture that many Directors want. They want 24 frames a second and a sort of ruggedness to the picture that is totally at odds with crystal clear video.

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post #3 of 37 Old 03-01-2007, 05:26 PM
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It's the same as sitcoms or reality shows shot on video and dramas shot on film regardless of whether they are HD or not.

Video always looks more like you are there live and film looks surreal, removed and distant. HD just makes the difference more pronounced.
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post #4 of 37 Old 03-01-2007, 05:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PRMan View Post

It's the same as sitcoms or reality shows shot on video and dramas shot on film regardless of whether they are HD or not.

Video always looks more like you are there live and film looks surreal, removed and distant. HD just makes the difference more pronounced.

Yeah the first time I watched CSI Vegas in HD I was stunned about how colorful it really was and clear as well.

I find that films are probably the least impressive HD you will see. Film HD is like the stuff that creeps up on you and you don't realize how great it is until you pop in the DVD version and notice how background elements are compressed to mush whereas they still look good in HD.
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post #5 of 37 Old 03-01-2007, 10:13 PM
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I've heard that some of the advanced HD Video cameras made by Sony allows the user to select the "look" they want. They can make the recording look like grainy film if they so want it to.

As to video being shot uncorrected (enter big laugh), you should have seen what it looked like before they corrected it "in camera".

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post #6 of 37 Old 03-02-2007, 09:34 AM
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what is HD film? Isn't regular film just transferred to HD?
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post #7 of 37 Old 03-02-2007, 09:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post

Yeah the first time I watched CSI Vegas in HD I was stunned about how colorful it really was and clear as well.

CSI is shot on 35mm film, as are most primetime dramas.

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post #8 of 37 Old 03-02-2007, 12:28 PM
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I would guess that I agree that video does look more "real" than film but that's not always such a good thing. I just watched Miami Vice, which I'm sure was shot on HD video. Most of the movie looked OK but the gun fight near the end was just too "real". I don't know how to describe it exactly but it just didn't have the classic movie feeling. I guess it reminded me of the "making of" videos that are usually in the extras as opposed to the actual film. I just hope they don't start using HD Video exclusively because it just doesn't have the same emotional impact.

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post #9 of 37 Old 03-02-2007, 05:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PRMan View Post

film looks surreal, removed and distant.

That's a good, simple way to describe it.

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post #10 of 37 Old 03-02-2007, 06:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Josh Z View Post

CSI is shot on 35mm film, as are most primetime dramas.

Yes ...which is certainly why I didn't mention it was video although It may have appeard that way. Hey do you remember when ER did that show live where they filmed at 30fps and people didn't like the "feel". I notice that I've grown accustomed to the 24p "smear" that everyone else has and while I'm fine with sports being fluid ...moves look a bit strange when they're filmed the same way.
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post #11 of 37 Old 03-03-2007, 12:45 AM
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ALOT of this has to do with frame rate.


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post #12 of 37 Old 03-03-2007, 01:42 AM
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Yep - "video" now emcompasses a lot more options than it used to.

In the days of SD - video basically meant 60i (or 50i over here) - which allows 60 separate pictures - or fields - to be captured (not just 30 as many assume because of the 30 frame description of 60i). Each of these fields can be captured at a separate point in time, but only contains a half-resolution picture through interlacing - as each field is only every alternate line of a frame, so a frame is made of two fields "interlaced" together, but the two fields in the frame can be captured at two different times.

Film is basically 24fps (there are other frame rates, like 18fps for silent, 30fps for "TV Compatible" film, 25fps for European TV production etc.) and as such only captures 24 separate images per second.

If you compare a system that captures 60 separate images each second, with one that captures 24, then the 60Hz one will have a much higher "temporal sampling rate" and thus capture motion far more effectively, resulting in far more fluid, and realistic, motion capture. This is why 60Hz (either 60i or 60p) capture is used for SD and HD sports and news coverage.

24fps capture has a far less fluid motion capture characteristic, and thus appears far less real, and more "removed" or "distanced" from reality. Therefore film is good for drama and other fictional productions.

So motion rendition is one key area.

However in the last 10 years or so it has become possible to shoot video at 24p, or process 60i or 50i to appear as if it were shot 30p, 24p or 25p, and thus appear to have a "film" look, with the same distancing quality that 24p motion capture allows.

This isn't the whole answer in the film vs video debate though, there are other issues.

1. Film traditionally is used for higher budget shows, and has traditionally performed better with much more contrast ability (more detail in highlights and lowlights) and thus has crept into our psyche (though interestingly less so in Japan) as implying "high budget"

2. Video content can appear more saturated, and "brighter" as the highlights are often blown out to peak white, and even at 24p can still have a distinct look.

3. Video content is often shot multi-camera in a TV studio, for speed, with lighting compromised to allow shooting for all angles (thus it often has multiple key shadows, or a strange softness), whereas film is often shot with just one camera, and the lighting optimised for each angle, reducing the multiple shadows. Film is often as a result shot more slowly, and with more time on each take set-up, you get better lighting. This isn't a format issue it is a "how the format is used" issue in part.

There are all sorts of ways of processing video during shooting and post to make it look more "film" like - and these are used where 24p video is used to shoot movies, and high end episodic TV.

However the "HD video" is like looking through a window, is usually referring to 60i stuff, with fluid, natural motion, that is relatively highly saturated, and has been colour balanced to look real.
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post #13 of 37 Old 03-03-2007, 01:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post

Yes ...which is certainly why I didn't mention it was video although It may have appeard that way. Hey do you remember when ER did that show live where they filmed at 30fps and people didn't like the "feel". I notice that I've grown accustomed to the 24p "smear" that everyone else has and while I'm fine with sports being fluid ...moves look a bit strange when they're filmed the same way.

Interestingly, in Japan they don't have the same distinction it seems. Quite a lot of their high-end, high production value, TV drama is shot 60i video not 24p video or film.
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post #14 of 37 Old 03-03-2007, 03:19 AM
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Lets not forget that tansparancy film that is used for movies have a much larger dynamic range than video. What this means is film can show more shadow detail and high light detail in the same frame where in digital, the highlights and shadows are both blocked up(crushed).

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post #15 of 37 Old 03-03-2007, 04:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimP View Post

Lets not forget that tansparancy film that is used for movies have a much larger dynamic range than video. What this means is film can show more shadow detail and high light detail in the same frame where in digital, the highlights and shadows are both blocked up(crushed).

Don't current high-end HD cameras eliminate this advantage of film?
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post #16 of 37 Old 03-03-2007, 04:39 AM
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Originally Posted by S_rangeBrew View Post

Don't current high-end HD cameras eliminate this advantage of film?

I didn't think that the technology had gotten there, but I may be wrong. Wouldn't be the first time.

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post #17 of 37 Old 03-19-2007, 08:30 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimP View Post

Lets not forget that tansparancy film that is used for movies have a much larger dynamic range than video. What this means is film can show more shadow detail and high light detail in the same frame where in digital, the highlights and shadows are both blocked up(crushed).

That's not true. Digital has a much larger dynamic range down low than film does. There are a lot of shots you can pull of with a digital camera in a dark environment that you simply cannot pull off with film unless you have very long exposure time which simply is not possible for a motion picture.
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post #18 of 37 Old 03-19-2007, 10:50 PM
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Chris,
That's not what dynamic range means.
What you are describing is low light sensitivity.

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post #19 of 37 Old 03-20-2007, 11:22 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimP View Post

Chris,
That's not what dynamic range means.
What you are describing is low light sensitivity.

Yes, but it is true that high-end digitals can capture a larger DR than film.
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post #20 of 37 Old 03-20-2007, 01:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisWiggles View Post

Yes, but it is true that high-end digitals can capture a larger DR than film.

Can you name one that is commonly used to make movies? I'd like to research it. You may be right.

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post #21 of 37 Old 03-20-2007, 04:00 PM
 
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I'm not super familiar with the various cameras, but I think the viper cameras are pretty impressive in terms of both DR and the ability to go really down low. I think still film has greater potential in the DR front because you can do long exposures. But with the ability to use multiple receptors in a digital camera to capture much wider DR, I think eventually pretty much all digital capture will be more like HDR and far greater in DR than film. Right now things are progressing and I'm sure that this is more the exception than the rule. I think the major thing is just how different the feel of each is still.
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post #22 of 37 Old 03-20-2007, 04:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimP View Post

Can you name one that is commonly used to make movies? I'd like to research it. You may be right.

Check what Robert Rodriques is using in his films. He shoots in HD digital and either adds filter in camera or processing later to get a more film-like look. The extras disc on "Once Upon a Time in Mexico" is a lengthy narrative by Rodriquez and explains his techniques and walks you through the process in his own digital studio.
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post #23 of 37 Old 03-20-2007, 04:17 PM
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Originally Posted by glide95 View Post

Check what Robert Rodriques is using in his films. He shoots in HD digital and either adds filter in camera or processing later to get a more film-like look.

This is one of those examples of people holding onto something for nostalgia's sake.

People got used to film's grain and motion limitations, and now that technology can fix that, people still want the old-school look! It's like compact discs that artificially add in pops and crackles to give the music the feel of an old record.

People need to shake this notion of what "a high budget film" should look like. Personally, adding an artifical grain to a picture is rediculous. When you walk around in real life, you don't see a grain to everything.

It's like the story of the QWERTY keyboard layout. In the early days, typewriters were always getting their levers jammed because good typists were too fast for them. So studies were done, and it was determined that the QWERTY layout was the slowest, most inefficient layout of keys. This would slow down typists so that the typewriters wouldn't jam up. Nowdays we have computer keyboards that could in theory NEVER jam up.... and what key layout do we cling to? QWERTY...

Film grain = nostalgia
No grain = forward thinking
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post #24 of 37 Old 03-21-2007, 02:58 AM
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I'm familiar with both Viper and Genesis footage.
I've yet to see any digital captured imagery that competes with film with regard to dynamic range , colour , and seeing as some people get hung up on grain ....overall noise levels.

I like the way Miami Vice looks as its an honest attempt to use the digital cameras on their own terms , however whilst the digital cameras can be used in ways that are different from film I get very surprised when people criticise film grain. Noise on the digital cameras is usally far mroe objectionable more often than film grain on 35mm. The recent stocks are even more impressive when it comes to grain size vs exposure.

And again whilst digital cameras can have better performance characteristics in certain situations ( I personally hate the cranked open shutter smear that they exhibit) when it comes to capturing a nominally lit scene film is far more effective with regard to not significantly compromising parts of the intensity range.

Anyone think LOTR is particularly grainy ?

You guys need to stop knocking film in favour of the digital cameras. They also require a rather large amount of additional effort on the part of the camera and lighting crew to even get close to competing with 35mm.

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post #25 of 37 Old 03-21-2007, 06:06 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimP View Post

Chris,
That's not what dynamic range means.

Thank you!

I have also explained this to Chris many times now i.e. how the exposure latitude (DR) and color depth of film is significantly larger than digital capture technology. Film can nominally capture peak contrast ~500:1

Granted this potential peak contrast or exposure range will be be truncated to (~200:1) during the film bleaching/printing process, remember film contrast and color is captured logarithmically, and will have a perceptually superior image (compared to video) considering thats how the human eye functions as well (logarithmically).

Finally "video gamma" itself is a major limiting factor i.e. thats why detail is either crushed near black, or whites blown out, un-like film that has (over/under) exposure headroom.
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post #26 of 37 Old 03-21-2007, 07:54 AM
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My eyes function logarithmically?

Good deal.....

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http://digitalcontentproducer.com/ma...t_colorimetry/

Quote:


Film has a greater color depth than video and tracks color logarithmically like the human eye

Any electronic projection system will need to support 36-bit color with 12 bits per color plane. 150:1 contrast will probably be the minimum acceptable grayscale, although daylight film stocks can achieve 1,000:1 contrast

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post #28 of 37 Old 03-21-2007, 01:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HendersonD View Post

I have seen a few threads talking about how high definition video is much sharper than high definition film. I am a big movie buff but know little about the differences between these two. Why is HD Video (much of it from places like HD Discovery) so much sharper than HD Film?

Since I do not have my theater done, I have not seen this difference myself but people have described it as significant. HD Video has been described as having a wow factor and like looking out an open window.

If HD Video is so much sharper why aren't feature films shot with this technique/equipment/materials?

While I think this has been a very interesting thread raising many valid points about digital video, I don't think anyone properly addressed the op.

Everyone agrees that HD video seems to have that wow factor, sometimes described as a sharper, through a window, almost 3D look. Typically, this is because HD video seems to have a greater depth of field (meaning almost everything you see seems to be in focus). Whereas feature films, even ones shot on new HD digital cameras, do not usually have a great depth of field all the time. They usually have a somewhat shallow depth of field (meaning only the things the director feels are important are in focus, and the rest becomes blurry). There are many, many reasons for the aesthetic differences between video and film, but I'd like to mention two.

1) CCD size vs. film size. There are inherent differences between film and video cameras, and the same differences are mimicked in digital cameras designed for the film industry, and those designed for video (and TV). The lens on a digital/film camera has to focus the image on a 35mm frame or equivalent CCD which is roughly over 1 sq. in. Whereas a digital/video lens has to focus the image onto a CCD which is usually half the size (1/2 to 2/3 inch). All else being equal, this difference increases the depth of field.

There are further differences that I won't go into, such as different lenses and focal lengths needed to compensate for the size differences. But the gist is that digital/video always has more depth of field than digital/film. Although, great lengths can be taken to create a film-like shallow depth of field look.

Here is an excellent primer on the differences between film and video from a video point of view. And here is the white paper it is based on.

2) Consider the nature of the medium. Film is meant to be projected on a big screen. It is impossible for the human eye to focus on the entire thing (unless you are sitting very far away). So directors typically only put the important bits in focus. TV, on the other hand, started out for screens merely inches wide. So it was easy to take the entire image in. They usually tried to keep the entire image in focus. Even with today's ever increasing TV sizes, they are still nowhere near the size of a movie screen, so it will always be easier to see the entire image on a TV.

Also, film is more of an artistic/narrative medium. They are trying to tell a story, and must guide you visually, besides narratively. So varying depths of field and selective focus are common tools directors use to get you to see what they want. TV started out as more of a documentary/representative media. So it was more appropriate to show images as more realistic, i.e. more depth of field, so that it captures everything without seeming to manipulate the image or you.

Regarding television programming today, you can see a real difference in filming techniques depending on the subject matter. Narrative TV shows like 24 and Heroes try to mimic a film look because they want to tell a story. Non-narrative programs like sports, news, Discovery HD stick with the typical video look to represent reality without manipulation/distortion.



Taking all this into consideration, you have to realize that home theater is a relatively new phenomenon. The film industry still makes movies for the big screen, yet the general public does most of its watching on a small screen. We are used to seeing the entire image in focus on our small screen from TV. Yet, when we are in the theater, we don't mind seeing the image only partially in focus on the big screen. But once we get the film out of its original environment, we want it to conform to our typical viewing preferences, i.e. deep focus. Take a look at the Tier threads in the HD DVD and Blu-ray forums. More often then not, the ones placed near the top have more deep focus scenes. People's aesthetic preferences seem to be developed in the TV world, and are now applying those preferences to the film world. Deep focus is ingrained in our collective TV-watching conscious as representing reality. And we want our movies to be realistic. Therefore we want our movies to have deep focus.

I am not saying either aesthetic quality is better than the other. But there are reasons for those qualities, and in my opinion, it is up to the director to choose. In my opinion film is art, and this is one of many aesthetic choices that are made for a reason. As a compromise for those who prefer deep focus, I say just get a bigger TV and sit much closer and you won't notice it.

Sorry this is so long. It's just something that bothers me about these forums.

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post #29 of 37 Old 03-21-2007, 01:41 PM
 
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http://www.tvtechnology.com/features...y_corner.shtml
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MINIMAL DIFFERENCE The first point Roberts makes is that, despite the commonly held belief, film can handle a contrast range of at least 10 f-stops-or 1024:1-while video can only handle about 5 stops or 32:1. There is, in fact, not a great deal of difference between film and properly setup HD cameras in this respect. He says that negative film has a central exposure range of about two decades over which the exposure versus density curves are linear with a slope of about 0.9. Outside the linear range, the curves compress at the two extremes, covering a total of about four decades and forming the familiar "lazy S" pattern. Thus film delivers a linear contrast range of about 100:1 or 6.5 stops, and a further 5:1 or two stops at either end of the contrast range-which are significantly crushed-for a total range of 2000:1 or 11 stops. He then does an extensive analysis of HD cameras that leads to the conclusion that, if the controls are properly set, they are capable of about the same 11 stops of contrast range.

Your source seems a little confused on the subject matter.
You may notice the following link/reference contradicts your information above! In fact with standard video gamma ~6.5 stops or 100:1 is about right!
http://www.siliconimaging.com/Digita...aging_faq.html
Quote:


If the SI-2K MINI captures pixel data with a 12-bit A/D converter, but only records at 10-bit, isn't dynamic range lost?
While we are not using a logarithmic file format for saving the information off the camera head, the gamma-correction LUT we are using was designed to visually maintain the entire dynamic range that the camera head can deliver in a 12-to-10-bit conversion workflow. Also because we are capturing a 10-bit file using a high-dynamic range/low-noise sensor, there is much more room for under-exposure than other 8-bit tape-based formats and CCD-based HD cameras, so the user can maintain highlight detail by under-exposing the camera without damaging any information in the shadows. We are not doing what is typical of the Rec. ITU-709 transfer curve that clips the highlights and throws away the over-exposure headroom of the sensor, nor are we relying on dynamic knee controls to automatically squeeze as much visual dynamic range into the recorded image.
What is the dynamic range and sensitivity of the SI-2K MINI?
Greater than 10 f-stops, or around 2000:1

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post #30 of 37 Old 03-21-2007, 02:17 PM
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Originally Posted by tbrunet View Post

http://www.tvtechnology.com/features...y_corner.shtml
Your source seems a little confused on the subject matter.
You may notice the following link/reference contradicts your information above! In fact with standard video gamma ~6.5 stops or 100:1 is about right!
http://www.siliconimaging.com/Digita...aging_faq.html

Sorry. You may be right. I only have a basic knowledge of video. I'm coming from a perspective of photography, and I was focusing on the depth of field information. But your source also acknowledges the depth of field discrepancies given smaller CCD sizes relative to 35mm film.
Quote:


How can I approximate the look of 35mm depth-of-field if I'm using the SI-2K and it only has a 2/3" sensor?
...The surprising conclusion from these calculations shows that the SI-2Ks depth-of-field, when using this large aperture Ziess S16mm lens, can in fact be the equivalent of a given 35mm format's depth-of-field when shooting at an f-stop of f5.6 in 35mm (for the same FOV). Also, if one were to shoot at f1.2 (which Zeiss Superspeeds can open up to at their wides aperture setting), the depth-of-field on the 2/3" sensor would be equivalent to a f4-f5.6 split in 35mm, since f1.2 is another half-stop wider than f1.4. This does not mean that a 2/3" sensor will always match 35mm film or a 35mm-sized sensor in DOF, but it does prove an advantage to using S16mm prime lenses on the SI-2K, where ground-glass converters and other "tricks" are not necessarily needed if one's aim is to get shallow "35mm-like" DOF. A similar effect to the shallow DOF of a 35mm camera can be achieved by placing Superspeed S16mm optics on the SI-2K and opening them up to their widest apertures.


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