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My NX5 menu settings

February 15, 2011

Hi All

I’ve not posted here in a while because I’ve been busy on other stuff. However, this blog is still very popular, averaging over 1 000 pageviews a month!

Here are the menu settings I use on my NX5, along with notes. Some of you might find these useful.

Cheers!

Adam

Adam’s Sony HXR-NX5 menu settings:

CAMERA SET

GAIN SET: I use values of 0dB, 9 dB and 18dB for L, M and H respectively. [I have not experimented with negative gain settings and find 21dB too noisy.]
SMOOTH GAIN: OFF [When I want it to change, I don't want that to happen slowly!]
HYPER GAIN: OFF [I set an assign button rather than the menu item to activate hyper gain. It's sometimes useful if you absolutely have to get a shot in near-total darkness. Image is extremely noisy.]
AGC LIMIT: OFF [I hardly ever use auto gain. If I am using it, it means the situation is extreme and changing fast, so I don't want it to be limited.]
MINUS AGC: ON [I'm often shooting outdoors in bright light, and this is useful.]
IRIS RING ROTATE: NORMAL [Change this if you're used to lens zoom rings that go the other way.]
WB PRESET: OUTDOOR [I like this for most general shooting. It can be crudely adjusted on the fly. Some users might want to use MANU WB TEMP to have finer manual control over white balance - some fun effects can be had here.]
WB OUTDOOR LEVEL: 0 [I prefer neutral colour outdoors, so zero is my default here. This can be easily adjusted while shooting, anyway.]
WB TEMP SET: 6500K [You set the starting/default value for the manual color temperature setting, MANU WB TEMP, here. I leave it as is.]
ATW SENS: INTELLIGENT [If I'm going to use auto white balance, which I hardly ever do, I want it to be as auto as possible. I haven't tried the other options.]
SMOOTH WB: OFF [If I want to change the white balance via the switch, I want it to change instantly.]
AE SHIFT: OFF [I don't use this much, but if you are shooting in auto mode while moving in and out of an area that constantly fools the meter, you will need settings appropriate to the specific situation.]
AE RESPONSE: FAST [If I'm using auto exposure, I want it to react as fast as possible to changing conditions. You might want to slow it down if you don't like abrupt changes.]
AUTO IRIS LIMIT: F11 [I leave this as-is, because I often shoot in very bright light and want to be prepared to handle it without fear of overexposure. Bear in mind that very small iris openings, for example f11, cause a significant reduction in image sharpness due to diffraction even though depth-of-field is increased. If you want to keep your image maximally sharp you might want to set the auto iris limit to f5.6 or so, but you might have blown out images in bright situations even with the neutral density (ND) filter set to 3.]
FLICKER REDUCE: ON [I hate the sort of flicker that one sometimes gets from fluourescent lights and computer screens. If my camera can automatically sense this and do away with it, so much the better. If you want it as an effect, turn this setting OFF.]
BACK LIGHT: OFF [If you want to use this feature, that helps get correct autoexposure of backlit subjects, you should set an assign button to turn it on and off.]
SPOTLIGHT: OFF [If you want to use this feature, that helps get correct autoexposure of spotlit subjects, you should set an assign button to turn it on and off.]
STEADYSHOT: [I set an assign button for this as it's something that I change a lot depending if I'm shooting handheld or off a tripod, monopod or a vibrating platform like a running vehicle.]
SET > STEADYSHOT [I have this as my default setting, as I'm usually shooting handheld.]
STEADYSHOT TYPE > STANDARD [Change according to your style of shooting. Remember that HARD will make pans and tilts hectically jumpy, even more so than other settings.]
ACTIVE STEADYSHOT TYPE > STANDARD [I don't have a wide conversion lens. This is an amazing feature, allowing steady shots in some very unsteady circumstances.]
AF ASSIST: ON [If you're in autofocus mode and the camera just isn't focusing on an obvious subject (which it sometimes infuriatingly does) you can override the autofocus temporarily and manually focus by turning the focus ring. If the subject you manually focus on is not near the centre of the frame or not obvious, the camera might autofocus back to the original 'wrong' subject after a bit. If AF ASSIST is OFF then turning the focus ring will have no effect when the cam is in autofocus mode. I generally keep the camera in manual focus mode, using the push focus button to activate the autofocus if I need to.]
FOCUS MACRO: ON [The main reason I would want this OFF is if I was using a lot of autofocus and wanted to reduce the range through which the lens might hunt to do this. Since I don't use much autofocus, I prefer being able to focus as close as the lens can. It seems that the NX5's lens can't focus closer than 80cm while zoomed fully in, but can focus a lot closer at wide settings.]
HANDLE ZOOM: 1 [If I want to zoom at a fixed speed, it's usually to zoom very slowly, hence I set this to the slowest possible value. I reset if and when needed.]
SPEED ZOOM: OFF [The default zoom speed is plenty fast, and speed zooming is very noisy on the internal mics. If I want to zoom really fast I'll crash-zoom with the lens zoom ring.]
D. EXTENDER: OFF [This degrades image quality, and I don't want to risk doing that accidentally. If I want to be in tighter on a far-off subject, I can always crop in while editing.]
FADER: OFF [Useless to me. Will rather do a fade in the edit.]
x.v. COLOR: OFF [Have never used this feature. Looks intriguing.]
COLOR BAR: OFF [Useful when you're using an external monitor and want to set it up. Turn ON when needed.]

REC/OUT SET

I change these settings to suit the shoot/display I’m working with, and depending on which type of output I’m using. No particular defaults.

AUDIO SET

AUDIO FORMAT: LINEAR PCM [Higher quality than DOLBY DIGITAL, though takes up more space and causes trouble when transcoding long clips to ProRes in Final Cut Pro if you have version 7.02 or earlier. There is no trouble transcoding long clips to ProRes in FCP if you have version 7.03 or later.]
AUDIO LIMIT: OFF [Your mileage may vary. I don't like the sound of a limiter, but it might be useful sometimes.]
HEADPHONE OUT: STEREO [Why would you want mono? I have no idea. I want to hear both channels of audio separately.]
INT MIC SET:
INT MIC SENS > NORMAL [The internal mics pick up enough noise from the Steadyshot mechanism and handling as it is - I don't want more!]
INT MIC WIND > OFF [Don't need weird interference with the signal usually. Just keep wind off the mic.]
XLR SET: I leave all these default, i.e. SEPARATE or OFF, as appropriate.

DISPLAY SET

ZEBRA: ON, 100 [Need to know when things are blowing out, also good to know exactly, 70 is therefore useless to me as it will show zebras before that part of the image is completely blown out.]
PEAKING: ON, YELLOW, MIDDLE [Extremely useful focusing aid. Yellow most visible. Middle setting most useful across various situations. Remember to set an assign button to be able to quickly turn it on/off, as in certain rare situations peaking lines can obscure large sections of the frame.]
MARKER: ON, ASPECT 4:3 [Since a lot of HDTV material also goes out as pillarboxed (cropped in from sides) standard-definition 4:3, it's often useful to keep vital action inside the 4:3 markers. I also set an assign button to turn this marker on/off.]
EXPANDED FOCUS TYPE: TYPE 2 [I prefer the B&W expanded focus image, makes it easier to focus and adds a visual cue that you are in expanded focus display mode.]
CAMERA DATA DISPLAY: ON [Displays iris, gain & shutter speed constantly in viewfinder, even when in auto mode. Very useful.]
AUDIO LEVEL DISPLAY: ON [Shows audio level meter in viewfinder. Vital for almost every type of shooting.]
ZOOM DISPLAY: BAR [I prefer the visual icon to another number on my screen. I wish there was a way of preventing it from disappearing after zooming, though!]
FOCUS DISPLAY: METER [Because I grew up metric. I really, really wish one could display this permanently on the screen and also when in autofocus mode, and not have it vanish after turning the focus ring!!!]
SHUTTER DISPLAY: SECOND [Because I come from a stills background and this makes more sense than shutter angles.]
LCD BRIGHT: [I max this out. Better outdoors that way.]
LCD COLOR: [I leave this in the middle. Looks most like the image that comes out of the camera that way.]
LCD BACKLIGHT LEVEL: NORMAL [Saves battery power, but the brighter setting might be more useful outdoors.]
VF BACKLIGHT LEVEL: NORMAL [You don't want to force your eyes to look at bright screens unnecessarily.]
VF COLOR: ON [The only reason to set this OFF, in other words to B&W, is to focus more easily. Since I've already set my expanded focus to B&W, I'd rather see what I'm shooting really looks like.]
VF POWERMODE: ON [This confusingly-named option keeps the rear eyepiece viewfinder on when the flip-out LCD screen is open and on, instead of automatically turning it off. Even though it uses more power, it's very useful to be able to quickly use the rear viewfinder without having to close the LCD screen while shooting doc work in rapidly changing circumstances.]
REMAINING: ON [This is nearly always a need-to-know!]
GPS TIME DISPLAY: LOCAL TIME [This is more useful to me, but your mileage may vary. NOTE: You can only see and access this menu item while in Visual Index mode, in other words after pushing the Visual Index button. Have no idea why, a Sony quirk.]
DISPLAY OUTPUT: LCD PANEL [I would change this to ALL OUTPUT if I were monitoring the image via a monitor hooked up to the SDI output while shooting.]

TC/UB SET

TC PRESET: When rarely needed.
UB PRESET: As above.
TC FORMAT: DF [Never had a need to change it away from drop frame]
TC RUN: REC RUN [Never had a need to change it.]
TC MAKE: PRESET [This setting is less relevant than with tape camcorders, where timecode breaks can be more of a pain in the postproduction stage.]
UB TIME REC: ON [Because it's often useful to have the local time recorded in the data, especially for documentary work.]

OTHERS

ASSIGN BUTTON: Set up to your needs. I have 1: PEAKING [I sometimes need to get rid of this quickly e.g. when focusing on finely textured item and screen is obscured.] 2: STEADYSHOT [Often taking cam on/off tripod/monopod and need to change settings fast.] 3: HYPER GAIN [Useful when moving quickly into unexpectedly dark environment. Like a seriously noisy, colour nightshot mode, not to be confused with regular high gain setting, which has much less noise.] 4: ZEBRA [Sometimes need to turn off to see image clearly.] 5: AE SHIFT [Hardly ever use this, but just in case.] 6: MARKER [More useful than another button for visual index - if I need to see the visual index I look at the flip out screen and use the top panel button.] 7: EXPANDED FOCUS [Just where you need it.]
CLOCK SET: Check this regularly and keep it up to date!
AREA SET: Change whenever you move to another time zone.
DST SET/SUMMERTIME: Only relevant to countries that have daylight savings time. Set on changeover days. [Does not, as far as I can tell, automatically revert on changeover days!]
LANGUAGE: Obvious. Set as required.
DATE REC: OFF. Only set this on if you really, really need the date superimposed on the image. [Remember its virtually impossible to get rid of afterwards.]
BEEP: OFF [One should not need this. It could interrupt recording with unwanted noise, I don't know, never had it on.]
REC LAMP [F]: OFF [The fewer lights, the better, usually.]
REC LAMP [R]: OFF [As above.]
REMOTE CONTROL: ON [You might need it. I only use one cam at a time, so no chance of confused signals.]
50i/60i SEL: Allows you to reboot the camera into PAL- or NTSC-land recording modes, ONLY IF YOU’VE ALREADY HAD A WorldCam UPGRADE DONE.
OPERATION TIME: Worth keeping an eye on. Tells you how heavily the cam has been used.
CALIBRATION: Calibrates the touchscreen. Do it once. [I hardly ever used the touchscreen because I can't stand having to clean it and it's also doesn't work too well with gloves. You can do pretty much everything via buttons anyway.]

THE END Comments welcome below!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Alex permalink
    February 22, 2011 2:17 am

    Thanks for these helpful tips, I just got my nx5 a couple of months ago and I was trying to set the keys in a comfortable/useful way and your configuration is working very good for me too. Keep it up!

  2. tom hardwick permalink
    July 18, 2011 2:12 pm

    Now what I’d like to see is what PP settings you have dialled in Adam. Picture Profiles are so deep and so multi-layered I’m not sure where to begin, but I do know this – straight out of the box the NX5′s picture just looks flat and uninteresting. It’s as though it’s been set up for wall-chart testers and scientists, but certainly not for artists.

    tom.

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