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DV Camcorder Features: Which Are Worthwh... > DV Camcorder Features: Which Are Wor... - Pg. 27

Unfortunately, there may be times when you have no choice but to flm somebody, or something, against a bright backdrop. In those cases, as you may have discovered through painful experience, the person you're trying to flm shows up extremely dark, almost in silhouette (see Figure 1-6). Now the background is correctly exposed, but the subject winds up underexposed. A Backlight button, then, is a valuable asset on a camcorder. Its purpose is to tell the camera, "OK, look, it's a bright scene; I can appreciate that. But I'm more interested in the subject that's coming out too dark at the moment. So do me a favor and open that aperture a couple of notches, will you?" Figure 1-6: Without the backlight mode, your camcorder is likely to turn your subject into a silhouette (left). The backlight button com- pensates by brightening everything up (right). Buying a DV Camcorder The camera obliges. Your subject no longer winds up too dark--in fact, modern camcorders do a great job at making sure the subject turns out just right. But over- riding the automatic aperture control undoes the good the automatic iris originally did you--now everything around your subject is several shades too bright. Alas, there's no in between; either your subject or the background can be correctly exposed in very bright settings--but not both. Tip: If your camcorder has a manual-exposure knob, you can similarly compensate for backlit scenes, but with much more control. Professionals and semi-pros, in fact, turn the auto-exposure feature off completely. True, they must now adjust the exposure knob for every single new shot, but their footage is then free from the bizarre and violent darkening or brightening that auto-exposure electronics can create as you pan across a scene. FlexiZone or Push Focus All camcorders offer automatic focus. Most work by focusing on the image in the center of your frame as you line up the shot. That's fne if the subject of your shot is in the center of the frame. But if it's off-center, you have no choice but to turn off the autofocus feature and use the manual-focus ring. (Using the camcorder isn't like using a still camera, where you can point the camera directly at the subject for focusing purposes, and then--before taking the shot--shift the angle so that the subject is no longer in the center. Camcorders con- chapter1:thedvcamcorder 27