Toronto Raptors Celebration Parade: Sony HDR-CX405 & ...


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Oct 21, 2016
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Sometimes I look forward to a challenging situation. Other times "not so much". The NBA Championship winning Raptors basketball team was going to have a celebration parade. That sounds great! But the last major parade for a sports team was for the Blue Jays, which was many years ago, and I did not go out to photography it in any way, let alone video.. I had some ideas based on previous experiences. But this was going to be new.
[2019-06-23 08:26 removed a redundant sentence.]

I checked the weather forecasts for Monday in the Toronto Star, which has not done well for accuracy lately. It flip-flopped from (Saturday's paper) "22 deg. Partly Sunny and Nice" to (Sunday's paper) "23 deg. Mostly Cloudy" and on Monday morning's paper "Morning 16 deg. clouds and sunshine, Afternoon 22 deg. Cloudy, and Evening 20 deg. Partly sunny". None of my better cameras are weather-proof, so that seemed ok. I could not find the route map in the newspaper. It was probably there, but I missed it. All I knew was it was going to start at the Canadian National Exhibition ("CNE") grounds and follow the Lakeshore to Bay St. and up to the City Hall.

If the route followed the Toronto Caribbean Festival route at the CNE, then I had a good idea of where to set up and what equipment to take, so I based my plan on that being probable, but I covered the contingency that it was wrong. If it was right, I might get some good files in UHD on the Yi-M1 using the Olympus 40 - 150mm, F4.0 - 5.6 zoom. So that was my primary plan. If the route was different, then I took my Sony HDR-CX405 as a backup. Either way, I took my new Vanguard VK 204AP tripod, and a few other contingency things.

Locating near the start of the parade meant I should be done before Noon, so I was not worried about food, though I did have a small bottle of water, which I probably would not need.

What Happened?

I was wrong about the parade route. It started at the East end of the CNE and did not come near the Caribbean parade route. I walked the whole length of the Exhibition Park and longer, out past Bathurst Street, and set up on the south side. I could see a problem forming. The people started out on the sidewalks but "crept" onto the roadway, eventually leaving nowhere for the parade to pass.

I tried setting up my Yi-M1, and made a few test files, but it was clear that my location was too close for the telephoto zoom, so I switched to the Sony HDR-CX405.

The weather cleared substantially which was good because it was not going to rain, and it was comfortable, but bad because the harsh sunlight was the worst case for any photography, especially since the "stars" of the parade would likely be hiding under hats with strong, semi-random shadows.
[2019-06-23 08:28 Note: In case you didn't notice, the morning newspaper's forecast was wrong again, but not terribly.]

I set the CX-405 with the "normal" profile, but the dynamic range was going to be a problem, so just before the parade started I changed to "Soft High-Key" and relied on manual exposure. Focus was automatic with face detection, which I used all day.
[2019-06-23 8:31 Added "focus" info.]

The parade started late. It was supposed to start at 10:00, but it probably started around 11:20. I should have been drinking my water, but I didn't. Maybe that affected my judgement, but think about it later, I think my choices were reasonable. I was not really "comfortable" with the manual exposure on the CX-405 with the "Soft Hi-Key" profile, but I had enough experience to think it would work out well enough.

In the end, most of my early files were more over exposed than I liked -- unfortunately that included my file with Masai Ujiri, which might be recoverable, but it won't look very good. I did change the exposure a few times, both "up" and "down".

The "main" file with the Raptors on open buses turned out quite good. The exposure is about where I wanted it. I now know that it could have been a bit lower, but it is acceptable.

The crowd control fell apart where I was. The crowd pushed forward onto the street and in front of me. I decided not to move at first, but eventually, with flags waving in front of me, I decided to step away from the curb about 1 foot. It was clear that the tripod was too short to be useful in that role, so I pulled the legs together and held it like I sometimes use my monopod -- like a pole, and raised the camera over my head with my arm extended full length, giving the camera "maximum height". Using the articulated screen, I could see what I was recording -- barely.
[2019-06-23 08:41 clarified how I used my monopod.]

I was jostled by people and in at least two occasions I was "run into" by fans running down the street trying to get the attention of their favorite players. One hit was fairly direct, and I think it resulted in a slight recording failure, due to the camera's IBIS. I ignored them and kept my attention on the camera.

"20190617 Toronto Raptors 2019 NBA Champions Parade HD"


Looking at the resulting files, I think I have learned more about this camcorder. Exposure and dynamic range are not described in any literature that I have, and I think I understand it better.

One technology that Sony and other companies have been using for a while now is automatic "Dynamic Range Optimizing". The typical approach is the lock the "black" for most situations, and to vary the gamma to best utilize the dynamic range. The upper limit is controlled by the ISO and is what is being adjusted by the exposure. It has limits both at the high end and the low end, but if you have a reasonably typical daylight situation, at least the lower and mid ranges of an image will usually make good use of the sensor's dynamic range. Highlights are still a problem and I have gotten clipping, as has been seen on my previous tests. On my Sony a5000 this is switchable. On the CX-405, as I noted above, it is not mentioned, but the more I look at CX-405 files, I am fairly sure that it is being used in the "normal" profile, and maybe some other. It is definitely not being done on the "Soft High-Key" profile.

The result is that if one uses the "normal" profile and in appropriate cases, the "backlight" compensation or in other appropriate cases, the "spotlight" setting, then the camcorder will generally give a pretty good result.

As far as exposure and dynamic range is concerned, I do not think I can do better using the "Soft High-Key" setting and even very good use of manual exposure controls, than the "normal" profile with good use of "backlight" and "spotlight" settings. I do think that if colour matching is an issue, then there might be an advantage to "Soft High-Key" and manual exposure adjustment.

With further use, I might change my mind, but that is my current conclusion.


This capture is from an earlier clip with the "normal" profile. The lighting was a bit more typical of normal situations, but in general, the camera is simply doing a good job. If you look at the black pants, you can see differentiation between shades. "Shadow detail" is actually pretty good. So are the highlights. This and other similar results makes me believe that "dynamic range optimizing" is being used.


The parade is in progress and the sky is a bit clearer which is evident by the more defined shadows. The main problem is that I am trying to get good faces, but the wide dynamic range is making it difficult. For this clip I used the "Soft High-Key" profile with manual (aka "my best guess") exposure.


This is the same frame with Pinnacle 21 Ultimate "corrections: auto" setting. If you compare the results with the capture from the "normal setting" you can decide whether one is better than the other. My own conclusion is that I "made the right call" for the settings, including the exposure, for this clip. But I wonder if I could have adjusted the "normal" clip to be similar? Colour-wise, I think the "Soft high-key" setting might have left me more room to adjust, but I will need to find a situation that puts that to the test.


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