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Canon XA and VIXIA Series AVCHD Camcorders
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Old November 2nd, 2011, 11:23 AM   #1
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Exposure question XA10/G10

Hi

Finally, my HV20 gave up. Now I need a new small camcorder and have been looking at an XA10 or an HF G10.

One thing that was a problem with my HV20 was that it constantly overexposed the light areas of the image. To get around that problem, I put on a ND8 filter and adjusted either aperture/shutter or exposure to get the right levels. By having control of these parameters, the HV20 gave me a very good picture quality, in fact so good I started to leave my XH-A1 at home.

My question is if the XA10/G10 models handles the picture in another way? I've checked out a lot of scenes on Vimeo and YouTube captured with these cameras, and the overexpose problem seems to be much better with these models compared to the HV20.

Does anyone on this forum have any experience of this question?


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/Bo
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Old November 2nd, 2011, 11:39 AM   #2
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Re: Exposure question XA10/G10

No contest. The XA10 blows away the HV30, which I have, in every way. Trust me, you'll go crazy after using the HV20, and in a good way. Exposures are even and nice with the XA10. I'm sure the G10 is the same or extremely close to the XA10.
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Old November 2nd, 2011, 01:19 PM   #3
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Re: Exposure question XA10/G10

Bo, I agree. I have a HV30 and the over exposure issue was a constant source of headache for me too. I don't know that it was over exposure as much as having a narrower dynamic range. You'd have a great picture but the white clouds in the sky might be blown out. Or worse yet, a cloudy day, the whole sky might be blown out.

That can happen with the XA/G 10 but not nearly as easily or as often. But the big improvement is the LCD. Since it is MUCH, MUCH better (real HD) as well as larger than the HV series, you can better see what you are getting. You can actually 'see' what's happening better and dial the exposure down a little. I generally use a CP filter outside, sometimes a Moose's filter which helps against over exposure. But overall, the auto features are a lot more precise and overexposure hasn't been an issue for me like on the HV line.

The image quality overall is significantly better by my judgement than the HVxx line in good light, and, especially when you start to get into poorly lit situations. While the HVxx cams are no slouch themselves in low light situations, the XA/G series cams blow them away. Even in somewhat less light situations a fair amount of graininess would be visible with my HV30. The XA10 really holds well and the colors look spectacular compared to the HV. Another thing too, maybe this was just my cam, but on certain reds, my HV had a hard time reproducing the color right. Seemed more washed out than I thought it should. HV handles most colors I've encountered really well.

I have put the two cams side-by-side hooked to my TV via HDMI (shooting indoors in my living room in decent light) and the difference between them in terms of color and sharpness is instantly discernable. Almost amazing. I haven't done any outdoor shooting comparisons yet in sunny weather because the weather's been bad and I just got my HV30 back from the canon repair center litterally yesterday. I have a Sony Z5 I want to compare it to as well. I might consider getting rid of the Z5 because I think the XA10 is going to outshine it. I sure hope the Z5 suprises me because I love that cam. It's a great unit. I love the feel of it in my hands, but in my heart I kind of know its a dinosaur because the XA10 can do just everything the Z5 can. But a larger cam is easier to get more natural steady shots. One issue with having a small HD cam like a G10 that I've noticed is that it is easy to get small movements on the screen that are not always very visible on the LCD, but ARE noticable on a larger TV and appear annoying on the screen. Don't seem to be as obvious with a larger camera with more mass. But saying that, one of the features I instantly noticed was improved over the HVxx cam was the steady shot feature. But I try to shoot from a tripod as much as possible. The audio AGC also seems to be significantly improved.

Back to the exposure issue, there are built-in ND filters (Electroinic, not actual) and I haven't used them much because you need to be in a certain shooting mode to be able to access them (I don't recall which right now). Built-in ND filters or an easier way to access them (in all shooting modes) would be nice but not possible in a small cam I supposed. But ultimately, the larger, brighter, more crisp lcd makes a big difference in knowing which adjustments need to be made. I should also mention that I think the Blacks are a lot better too.

That being said, the HV cams are nice cams. I really like mine. Still, there is no denying that the new cams are superior in image quality. I like the zoom and menu navigation system better on the HV. I was forced to upgrade and I'm glad I did.

You might consider nosing around the internet and seeing if Canon is planning on releasing a G20/XA20 or other updated cam that might have improvements over the G10/XA10. Call B&H and see what their guys know. One guy might not know but another might, so worth a couple calls. B&H is one of the worlds largest sellers (I think the largest seller of Canons) and they seem to know what's coming down the pike. They've always been straight-up with me on what they know. Because if I knew there was going to be an improved camera coming out in a couple months, I'd strongly consider waiting for it. Who knows, it might have 60P or some of the improvements suggested in a recent post.

Consider this, if you don't 'really' need XLR inputs, and are a good fabricator, you might buy the replacement top cover for the XA10 (with cold shoe) and have it installed on a G10, which you can buy for a lot less. Then fabricate up your own microphone mount and use something like a Sennheiser ME64/K6 mic package with the 1/8 mini mic plug. Or maybe a MKE400 mic will be sufficient.
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Old November 2nd, 2011, 03:13 PM   #4
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Re: Exposure question XA10/G10

Hi

Very nice to read that your experiences with the XA10/G10 models are so positive. What bothers me about them is three things though:

- The short zoom
- The touch screen
- AVCHD

Zoom: I'm used to the long zoom on the XH-A1 which, during wildlife filming, is very handy. The HV20 is 400 mm, the XA10/G10 is 305 mm in full tele. I don't know if that's really a problem but sometimes long zoom can be an advatage.

Touch screen: I'm not a friend of touch screens. On the HV20 I used to adjust the exposure frequently as the auto mode more or less always overexposed light areas, or closed the aperture to 5.6 which created diffraction. If the XA/G models must be adjusted that often, and by a touch screen, it might be a pain. Or I might get used to it eventually.

AVCHD: I have thought of getting an XF300 as that camcorder more or less is the camcorder of my dreams, which has everything I can think of and which will more than fulfill my needs for the rest of my life. The prolem is the price tag. For that price I can get an G10 to use when travelling light, and also the new Panasonic AG-AC160 to use during wildlife/nature when I can need the long zoom. The problem is AVCHD. Do you have any experience of AVCHD 24mbps compared to HDV? The XF300 has MPEG-2, 50mbps, 4:2:2 which definately is better than AVCHD, but I wonder if tha really does matter for me, as I'm not a professional, just a hobbyist. My editing computer is not a problem, it will handle AVCHD witout problems.


Regards,

/Bo
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Old November 2nd, 2011, 03:20 PM   #5
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Re: Exposure question XA10/G10

Hi again

By the way Mark, what was wrong with your HV30?

The problem with mine was, at first, that a tape got stuck, I couldn't get the tape out. The tape hatch didn't open.
Finally I got it out. When I now try to put a tape into the camcorder the tape won't load. The hatch opens fine, I close the hatch but it does not load the tape, and the camcorder beeps five times.

I've also noticed the 'red' problem on my HV20, but it's only appearing during Cinema mode. It can be adjusted in post by adjusting the hue. I never use Cinema mode anymore because of the hue problem, but also by the fact that the resolution is degraded in Cinema mode.

Regards,

/Bo
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Old November 2nd, 2011, 05:12 PM   #6
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Re: Exposure question XA10/G10

Bo, get the Panasonic, much better. That's the camera I would buy. I don't have hard proof, but I think it is THE camera right now. Switches instead of touch screen, longer zoom, it's what you want, I would suspect.

XF100 nice camera, but I have it on good authority the Panasonic is better in low light, and is a better overall camera. Just my two cents.
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Old November 2nd, 2011, 05:21 PM   #7
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Re: Exposure question XA10/G10

Bo,

The problem with my HV30 was the LCD went monochromatic green, with vertical green smearing. If you're on the HV20 forum, you know this isn't an uncommon issue. I don't know if it was age related, caused by a big splash of water (wife operatng cam) at a water park (happened just after the splash) ....or the flip hack I performed years ago. My gut feeling is it was age related. I disassembled it again and I could get the screen to go back to normal momentarily if I squeezed in a certain area but that didn't last very long. The diagnosis was to replace a board in the camera. Anyway, I labored if I should fix it or not, but in the end of the day, I did thinking it might be my HDV deck for years to come if I get rid of my Z5. So I paid Canon $235 to fix it which wasn't too bad. I had to send it back upon receipt because ironically the LCD wouldn't close properly when I received it (go figure). Works nice now. In the meantime I needed a cam for a shoot (vacation too) in Europe last month. I really like the HV30, but having used the XA10 for a month and getting used to it ...and now looking at the images side by side I doubt the HV will be getting much use. What attracted me to the cam was the small size and ability to strip it down to a 'normal' looking everyday cam for better rogue shots but still having pro-level features and a better image.

Now, on to your points:

Short Zoom: I see your point here. Here it really comes down to how one uses a camera. You might want to slip into a Best Buy and try the G10 zoom and see if it's a deal breaker. Maybe the XF100 makes more sense. For me, and a few others I know, the native wider viewing angle was a KEY factor in purchasing this camera. With out it, I probably would have stuck with my my Z5 to take to europe. That is also why I bought the Z5 when it came out, the wide viewing angle (hate using w/a adapters). I guess see if you can give one a whirl and see if you can live with the zoom.

Touch Screen Concerns: I definitely understand your concern here. I had the same exact concern actually. I think I (or others) may have been vague on giving info to you on the the touch screen for exposure. Fortunately for you, Canon made it really easy to adjust the exposure w/o needing to go into the touch screen. There is "Custom" button on the back of the cam above the dial I programmed on mine to be for "Exposure". You push that button and adjust the dial - whaa laa. That's one area that is easier and cleaner to do than the HVxx cams. The Auto exposure is pretty accurate, I don't adjust mine too often. There are a couple other 'Assignable' buttons on the cam and I programmed one for manual focus, which the G10 has a really wonderful, sweet focus ring. The one thing I need to enter the menu for a lot is the white balance. That's one that I didn't see an 'Assignable' setting for. But it's just a few clicks and I can do it quickly now. But an assignable button for it would be ideal.

The one thing that makes the touchscreen powerful is that there are SO many settings you can change. Way more than the HV 30, maybe 5x or 6x more! The screen isn't as responsive as a smart phone screen, but once I figured out the 'right' touch I can more effectively make changes. I've heard others say it takes a while to learn the right touch too. But the screen itself is a thing of beauty to look at. To compare it to the HV's screen is like comparing a flip phone to an iPhone. That's a fact. Makes the Z5 screen seem antiquated as well. Very antiquated. The LCD is a quantum leap IMO.

AVCHD: I share the same concern. Believe it or not, my current computer won't handle AVCHD. Since I have been quite busy for work and planning an upgrade anyway, I've decided to wait until the Holidays upgrade. So, I can't comment on editing AVCHD. But there are plenty of people that do it and it's creeping into pro cameras more and more. Yes, there are other formats out there. Others might have thoughts to share on this topic.

Tape or Memory Card: Ok, this was another of my major concerns. You didn't mention it, but it was for me. I like tape as a storage medium. I sound like a luddite maybe, but I am not a production shop that needs to download a lot of video often. So tape works fine for me, plus it's cheap and robust. But not a lot of options out there if you want to move forward. What I discovered with the XA10 is that I like the convenience of being able to instantly review a shot or move back/fourth between shots at the touch of a button. I bought a 2 terabyte small HD to take with me to xfer to as a backup. Like I say, not too many options for tape, so waddydo? Another nice thing is with the XA10 I can record like 16 hours of video with the internal HD and 2 64G cards. That quite a bit. So the transition is made weather I like it or not. The Z5 can record tape or CF.

I was really torn between sticking with my Z5, or even buying a DSLR for video. I can't say which camera will fit your needs best. Maybe this isn't it. Lucky for you there are some really great cams out there these days to pick from. Check B&H used sometimes. They had a XA10 on there yesterday for $1,700. This camera intrigued me:
Used Sony HDR-TD10 Full HD 3D Camcorder HDR-TD10 B&H Photo Video
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Old November 2nd, 2011, 06:03 PM   #8
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Re: Exposure question XA10/G10

I agree that between the two, the Panasonic is the better camera. It's really not even in the same league, price, size and feature-wise. It's a larger hand held unit, with real ND filters, zoom/focus/iris ....and a much better viewfinder all extremely critical things. If it's in your budget I'd get it. My Z5 I have is in this size range. I really love a camera like this. You just get a lot better control and adjustability. The video looks more natural when moving IMO, not as shaky. The XA10 is prone to minor movement just from a small wrist twitch, it's so light. Plus, the XA10 looks kind of goofy and is a little bit clumsy if you end up putting a mic like a NTG1 on it. But the image quality of the XA10 is very pleasing. The Panny is probably just as good if not better, plus you have the critical ND filters. If you handle a prosumer camera like the Panasonic or a Sony for a while and go to the XA10, it feels instantly cheap and hilariously light compared to the build quality and weight of a larger handheld camera. But when you see the video you go, "whoa, it cam from THAT camera?"

But what you give up is compactness and portability, ability to break down a camera into a normal looking street camera. You won't beat the G10/XA10. I actually covered up where says 'Canon' and 'HD' on mine with electrical tape so it blends in better. I can also use a small 'consumer looking' tripod, whereas my Z5 requires a larger Monfroto/Bogen style unit which is heavier to carry. XA10 is a touch smaller than a HV30 with a W/A lens on it. That's why I have both cams. But when I pick up my Z5 it just feels 'right'. And I love the viewfinder on the Z5 (wish it had the XA10's LCD), but I am adicted to the portability of the XA10. How good is the LCD of the Panny?

If you do a lot of outdoor wildlife shooting, maybe a DSLR with a monster lens is the right rig for you?
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Old November 2nd, 2011, 06:21 PM   #9
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Re: Exposure question XA10/G10

Hi Bo!

Like many other camcorders/cameras, the G10 also often over exposes in many situations.

But let's not forget that this has as much to do with a basic understanding of photography (and how the light meter works and what it expects), as with equipment.

But all this is irrelevant, as it's very easy to lock and adjust exposure.

For casual shooting I stay in Program AE mode, and then you have AE lock on the custom button. You can then very easily adjust exposure in quarter steps.

This in conjunction with Zebras puts you in total control of what's going on with your image. You even have a waveform monitor at your disposal.

For people with a photography background it's a non issue, but for others it's perhaps worth mentioning.

I have a video of my G10 here:

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Old November 3rd, 2011, 02:18 PM   #10
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Re: Exposure question XA10/G10

Hi

Thanks everyone for very informative answers! With all this information I am more or less convinced that an XA10 or G10 is a real winner. The small zoom is on the negative side, but I have my XH-A1 and perhaps in the future a Panasonic AG-AC160. I'm really looking forward to solid state, but I must admit, like Mark, that tape definately has some advantages. Whats not so good with tapes is dropouts. And of course the mechanical tape transport which seems to be a really weak point.

As for the tip to wait and see what happends in the future (XA20?) , I'm not in a hurry so it might be an alternative. :-)

Regards,

/Bo
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Old November 3rd, 2011, 02:47 PM   #11
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Re: Exposure question XA10/G10

On waiting. If you follow the Canon nominally profesional camcorder lines, you may note that historically they release new or updated versions (e.g., XH-A1 to XHA1s) after about three years or so. If this past practice holds true, the waiting for an XA10s (or what ever) could be a while. (But the past is not a 100% accurate predictor of the future.)

For hobby use, do what makes you feel good. For business use, buy when it makes business sense to do so which usually is just long enough before you need it to learn to use it and verify that there are no latient issues in the product.
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Old November 3rd, 2011, 07:39 PM   #12
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Re: Exposure question XA10/G10

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bo Sundvall View Post
I have thought of getting an XF300 as that camcorder more or less is the camcorder of my dreams, which has everything I can think of and which will more than fulfill my needs for the rest of my life.
/Bo
Wouldn't it be nice if that were the case? With the way camcorder technology changes, seems like 3-4 years is about all you can go before what ya had is leap-frogged with significantly and better hardware.
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Old November 4th, 2011, 02:57 AM   #13
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Re: Exposure question XA10/G10

It also depends of how old I am. :-)

(I'm only 49 but couldn't resist the comment.)


Regards,

/Bo
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