The Sony PD-150 Video Camera

The Sony PD-150 Video Camera
The Sony PD-150 Video Camera
Following is a brief summary of important controls for the PD-150 Camera. It is
highly recommended that you sign out a camera with a manual, and go over all of the
operations as a test shoot before your first scheduled production shoot.
In general, you should approach the operation of this camera as a professional
videographer, and set all controls manually. You are expected to learn how to
control focus, aperture (iris), white balance, audio levels, etc.
There are two switches (one for focus and one for other settings) which have three
positions: “Auto-Lock” is up, “Hold” is down, and “Manual” is in the middle.
Set the switch to “Manual.”
If you happen to be shooting in a tense, crowded, unpredictable situation, you can
lock your settings after setting them by using the “Hold” position. This is a safety
feature that allows you to avoid accidentally hitting a button that changes your
settings. Finally, if you are simply overwhelmed by the shooting situation you are
in, you may as a last resort opt for the “Auto-Lock” setting. The camera will
make decisions for you automatically, but be prepared for your footage to make
shifts in aperture (iris), focus, white balance, and audio levels in this mode.
There are numerous Menu choices related to post-production effects such as titles,
fades, wipes, etc. I recommend that you never use these options while shooting.
Post-production effects should be determined in the editing process.
Menu Controlled Items: The Menu button is behind the flip-out LCD monitor.
Once you have activated the Menu, move through the selections using the dial on
the lower left of the back of the camera. Push the dial in to make your selection.
Record Mode: This is at the top of the TAPE SET page. The PD-150 is
capable of recording in both DV and DVCAM formats. Always record in DV
mode. You will see “DV-SP” displayed at the lower right side of the viewfinder.
Please note: Our decks cannot play back DVCAM format tapes. One more thing:
You must purchase NEW, HIGH QUALITY, Mini-DV tape for your productions.
The reason for this should be obvious!
Audio Mode: This is under the TAPE SET Menu. For optimum record quality
choose “FS48K.”
Mic NR: This refers to “Microphone Noise Reduction” and is under the
TAPE SET Menu. It is a subtle, low-end (bass) filter. Try it out by listening
through headphones, cupping them close to your ears, closing your eyes, and
listening carefully. Choose it from the Menu if you feel it improves your sound
Audio Wind Filter: This is in the CAMERA SET Menu. It is a strong, low-cut
filter for the obvious purpose of cutting down on wind or other related noise.
Apply the filter and listen to the affect through your headphones as explained
above. If you apply this filter while outdoors, make sure you de-select it when
you return to a wind-free environment… in other words – TURN IT OFF
Audio Set: This is under the TAPE SET Menu. It allows you to select
“Manual” or “Automatic Gain Control” for Audio Channels 1 & 2 independently.
It also allows you to “Separate” or “Link” your controls whether you set record
levels for the two channels independently or together.
Color Bars: This is under the OTHERS Menu. Record 30 seconds of Color
Bars at the head of each of your tapes – whether you are preparing for field
recording or you are outputting to tape.
Progressive Scan Mode: Always leave this function OFF.
Switch/Button Controlled Items:
Neutral Density Filter (ND Filter): For shooting in very bright light
conditions, or to open your aperture to achieve a NARROW DEPTH OF
FIELD. There is a two-step switch on the left side of the camera body.
Again, remember to de-select this when returning to a “normal” to “low-light”
End Search: This is on the top of the camera. If you have powered the
camera down or ejected your tape, you should hit this button before you start
to record again. It will cue up your tape to the end of the last recorded scene,
and insure that your time-code is continuous.
Audio Inputs: These are five switches in a row – near the on-camera
microphone. The switch furthest to the left determines whether the
microphone plugged into “Input 1” records on one or both channels. The next
four switches are a set of duplicated switches – one set for Channel 1 and the
other for Channel 2. “Input Select” determines impedance (for example “line
level” “mic level” or “mic attenuated level.” By turning on the +48V switch,
you can provide “phantom power” to a microphone. In other words, you can
turn on this switch instead of using a battery with a condenser (batterypowered) microphone.
White Balance: This is a small button on the rear of the camera. The
“Manual” setting is a strange Icon that looks like two triangles facing each
other, with a small square floating above. Under this setting, you place
something white in the predominant light in which you are shooting – in other
words your PRIMARY LIGHT SOURCE. Zoom the camera in to the white
object fills the frame, then push in the SEL/PUSH EXEC dial. The icon will
flash rapidly for a few moments, and then stop, once the “White Balance” is
set. You must repeat this process every time you change locations in order to
set the “White Balance” for your new lighting situation.
Manual Iris: This is a button on the left of the camera body, just behind
the LCD Panel. Pushing the button in activates the MANUAL IRIS MODE
– this means that you will make all decisions regarding aperture. There is a
small dial just next to the “Manual Iris” button, which you move to change
“Iris Levels.”
Zebra Pattern: This provides a visual indication of exposure in the
viewfinder or on the LCD Screen. The switch has two settings: “70 IRE”
and “100 IRE.” I find that 100 IRE is more useful. The “zebra” places
diagonal stripes over the areas of your image that are OVEREXPOSED.
These stripes will not be recorded on your tape – they are merely a visual
indicator meant to alert you to a potential OVEREXPOSURE problem. It
may be fine to allow certain areas of your image to appear “blown out” or
overexposed. This is an aesthetic decision for you to make in your work. For
example: If you are taping an interview with a person outdoors on a bright
day, you need to expose for the person’s face. If they are in a shadowy area
and you have to open up the Iris to expose them properly, your “background”
may appear “blownout” or overexposed. This will show up as “zebra stripes”
if you have chosen to use the “Zebra Pattern” switch.
Shutter Speed: This option was originally design for shooting high-speed
footage that you know you want to play back in “slow-motion” later, such
as sporting events. This has, however, become an effect that is often used
poetically in many other contexts. Of course this also means that like the
“Zoom-in/Zoom-out” it can also be trite and clichéd, so beware of overusing
the “Shutter Speed” effect to impress your audience. As with any/all SFX’s,
they should be used in moderation and always be motivated by the narrative,
action, emotion, of your piece.
Here’s how to master the shutter speed controls:
1. For a more “filmic” look with a slight strobing effect, set the
shutter speed to 1/30th of a second.
2. To push the strobe effect further, choose 1/15th of a second.
This will add a sort of “smearing” look to your footage.
3. At 1/8th and 1/4th of a second, the strobe & smear is very
dramatic and is most effective if used sparingly and for a very
specific aesthetic purpose.
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