Panasonic HMC150

Reference

From Panasonic’s official downloads page:

Barry Green’s The HMC150 Book is available in the Cage. It is an excellent resource, and I cannot begin to cover the camera nearly as well as Barry does. However, the book seems geared towards camera owners who understandably want to know everything about their investment. Barry explains how you can use the camera, but not necessarily how you should use the camera. That is not a fault of the book; it is fairly objective. I, however, am full of opinions.

DVXuser is an excellent forum for independent filmmaking and has sections for specific camera models (not just the DVX or even Panasonic, despite the site’s name).

Recommended Additional Items

  • Battery (x2)
  • Fluid head tripod
  • Gray card
  • Ikan Recoil shoulder mount (for less awful handheld work)
  • Polarizing filter (72mm)
  • Memory card reader
  • Mics & XLR cables
  • LitePanel or Bescor LED panel
  • Slate/Clapper Board
  • Ikan or Marshall LCD monitor
  • Headphones

Basic Setup

Camera Body

Front

  • INPUT 1/2 switch
    These are only important when you connect external mics. In most cases these should be set to MIC.

Left side (front to back)

  • FOCUS switch
    Set it to M (MANUAL) to focus manually using the focus ring.
  • ND FILTER switch
    Handy for opening up the iris for shallow DOF in bright light. Otherwise, turn it off.
  • ZOOM switch
    The choice is yours, but just remember — If you have it set to MANUAL, the zoom buttons will not work. If you have it set to SERVO, do not use the zoom ring or you could strip the gearing.
  • GAIN switch
    This should almost always be set to L.
  • WHITE BAL switch
    Set it to A and then set a custom white balance, or set it to PRST (not recommended) to choose a preset using the AWB button.
  • RING (FOCUS/IRIS) selector switch
    Set it to FOCUS so that the focus ring controls… focus.
  • AUTO/MANUAL switch
    This is the “master switch” to gain manual control over focus, iris, gain and white balance.
  • AUDIO control knobs (CH1, CH2)
    Start with these pointed straight up. Adjust as needed.

Behind LCD

  • CH1, CH2 SELECT switches
    Set these to INT(L/R) to use the built-in mic, or to INPUT 1/2 to use external mics.
  • INPUT 1/2 switches
    Set these to ON if you are using an external mic that requires phantom power. When in doubt, start testing with it turned OFF.

Back

  • SCENE FILE dial
    When in doubt, choose F1. At the very least, be consistent when shooting a project.
    • F1 (SCENE)
      Choose this for documentary filmmaking.
    • F6 (SCENE CINE D)
      Choose this for narrative filmmaking. The picture may look flat, but that’s good for color correcting in post. Avoid any blown highlights if possible, as they tend to look strange on this setting. Barry Green therefore recommends under-exposing slightly (1/2 stop).

Format the SD card

  • Press the MODE button on the back of the camera to switch to PB mode.
  • Press the MENU button.
  • MENU > CARD FUNCTIONS
    • CARD FORMAT
      • YES

Setup CAM Menus

  • Press the MODE button on the back of the camera repeatedly until the light indicates CAM mode.

  • Press the MENU button.

  • MENU > USER FILE
    • LOAD/SAVE/INIT
      • INITIALIZE
        Returns the user settings to the factory defaults.
  • MENU > SCENE FILE
    • LOAD/SAVE/INIT
      • INITIALIZE
        This will reset whichever scene file is currently selected on the SCENE FILE dial (and only that scene) to the factory default. Repeat for each scene file (F1F6) as needed.
  • MENU > RECORDING SETUP
    • REC FORMAT
      • PH 1080/60i
        Choose for documentary (maybe…).
      • PH 1080/24P
        Choose for narrative.
      • PH 720/60P
        Choose for slow motion. In post, this footage can be slowed down by 250% to play back at 24P without looking choppy.
    • TIME STAMP
      • OFF
        Just check that this is off.
  • MENU > DISPLAY SETUP
    • ZEBRA DETECT1
      • 80%
        Good for checking highlights on “average” caucasian skin.
    • ZEBRA DETECT2
      • 100%
        Use this to check for completely overexposed areas.
    • LEVEL METER
      • ON
        Displays the audio level meter on the LCD.

Other Settings

  • Shutter Speed
    1. Press the SHUTTER button to turn shutter ON.
    2. Press the SPEED SELECT buttons select the shutter speed.
      • In 24P, choose 1/48
      • In 60P, choose 1/120
    3. If flickering occurs (from a fluorescent light source, CRT monitor, etc.), adjust the syncro scan settings:
      • SCENE FILE
        • SYNCRO SCAN
  • Zebra Stripes
    Press the ZEBRA button repeatedly until “ZEBRA DETECT2” is displayed. Now any visible zebra stripes represent overexposed areas (over 100 IRE).

  • OIS button
    Press this button to turn the Optical Image Stabilizer on and off. Use OIS for smoother handheld footage. Turn it off if the camera is on a tripod, slider, etc.

    Do not use OIS if you plan to 3D track handheld footage. Its effect tends to conflict with the tracking software.

  • Black Balance
    Press and hold the AWB button to perform this calibration, which helps the sensor’s performance. The LCD should display “ABB ACTIVE” and then “ABB END”.

  • EVF DTL button
    Press this button until “EVF DTL ON” appears on screen. This enhances edges for easier focusing, but does not affect the actual recorded image.

Shooting (Almost)

The following steps should be performed for each shot, as needed.

  • Check audio levels
  • Check white balance
    • Frame up on a white/gray card such that it fills the screen.
    • Press the AWB button
      The LCD should display “AWB Ach ACTIVE” then “AWB Ach OK”.
    • If you saw “AWB AchNG”, check that the camera is not under or over-exposed and try again.
    • If you saw “ABB ACTIVE” and then “ABB END”, then you performed a black balance adjustment, not white balance. Do not hold the AWB button down for so long.
  • Check exposure
    • WFM button
      Press this button to display the waveform monitor. Check for over or under-exposure issues. Caucasian skin tones should be around 60 IRE. Press again to return to the normal view.
    • ZEBRA button
      Re-activate zebra stripes as needed.
  • Check focus
    • FOCUS ASSIST button
      Press this button to enlarge the center of the screen for easier focusing. This does not affect the recorded image and can be done while shooting. Press again to return to the normal view.
    • Zoom in if necessary. This is especially helpful for focusing on an actor’s eyes.
    • PUSH AUTO button
      Press and hold this button to temporarily engage the auto focus system. Once it has found focus, release the button to disengage auto focus.
    • If necessary, correct focus with the focus ring.
  • Record
    • Whee!

Common Mistakes

Poor White Balance

  • Use a pure white or gray card to set white balance. Make sure the card is catching light in the way that your subject will be.
  • Do not trust phone or tablet apps that claim to act as gray cards. These devices emit their own light and are not subject to the environmental lighting in the way a physical white/gray card is.
  • If you have nothing to white balance with, set it to PRST and press the AWB button to select whichever setting looks best for your situation — either P3.2K for indoors/tungsten lighting, or P5.6K for outdoors/daylight.

Poor Exposure

Poor Focus

No/Low Audio Levels

Incorrect (or Unknown!) Recording Format

Advanced Setup

Exposing for Consistency

  • Press the ZEBRA button until “Marker” is shown on the LCD. The displayed brightness value (0–99%) refers to the brightness of the area within the center brackets.
  • Hold a gray card by the subject.
  • Frame the gray card so that it fills the center bracket area.
  • Adjust the iris until the brightness value shows “50%”.

Auto-Underexposing for CINELIKE-D

Multi-camera Shoots
O.I., p.55

Auto Tracking White (ATW)
O.I., p.40

PREREC

Use this function when you do not know the exact moment to press record (e.g., whale watching). When you press record with this function enabled, the previous 3 seconds (before you hit record!) are recorded, along with however long you let the clip go. In this mode, the camera is actually recording at all times, but does not start saving until you press record.

  • TC/UB SETUP
    • TCG
      • FREE RUN
  • RECORDING SETUP
    • PREREC MODE
      • ON
  • Press the record button to use.

Nerdery

Aperture
Wide angle: ƒ/1.6
Telephoto: ƒ/3.0

Sensor
1/3" 3-chip CCD

Focal Length
3.9 mm – 51 mm
35 mm equivalent: 28 mm – 368 mm