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Old April 15th, 2013, 06:08 PM   #1
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XA10 Spotlight mode

Can someone explain to me how the spotlight mode works on this camera? I found one video on-line that (if I recall correctly) states that when a camera is in auto mode that it takes 70% of it's reading from the center and 30% from the surrounding area ... and when the camera is put into spotlight mode that the camera then will adjust for the brightest area in the frame ... which would probably be the face.

That sounds like a logical explanation, but figured I'd check with others that have used this camera or ones similar.

Even though I've had the camera for a year, I've only used it a couple of times ... always in auto mode and my wife running it or locked in a wide shot ... sort of a backup. I'm going to be shooting a stage production in a couple of weeks and I'm going to need to set it up as a static - wide shot. Usually the spotlights are brutal.

My other question would be ... if you're using the spotlight setting ... I assume your camera needs to be set on auto.

BTW ... the job taken on is to help out a friend and with my current schedule there's no way for me to attend the rehearsal. That sucks.

The last time I used the camera on total lock-down, wide mode ... I set it on Program with it being shutter priority because I knew it was going to get very dark. It didn't do too bad, but the show had no follow spots.

Thanks -
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Old April 16th, 2013, 06:54 AM   #2
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Re: XA10 Spotlight mode

Your assessment fits my understanding.

Typical automatic metering is based on preserving the range of the mid tones at the expense of the bright highlight and deep shadow details. It works for "average" scenes and often assumes some center weighting and also may assume that the sky is a bit brighter. On the other hand, "spotlight" mode adjusts exposure to preserve highlight details at the expense of shadow details.

Spotlight mode is an automatic exposure mode that is separate from the "green box" automatic mode found on many Canons. On the XA10 I believe it is among the "M" mode options. See page 69/70 of the manual. It is optimized for Canon's interpretation of spotlit scenes. It should work well for many, but probably not all, such scenes (well, better than other fully automatic modes with a spotlit scenes). But the results will probably not be good for fully lit or backlit scenes. (For optimal exposure under complex lighting situations there is no substitute for a skilled camera operator in full manul mode with a camers that support full manual operation.)

If you can't make it to a rehearsal or find some time with the lighting manager to run a test before the show, at least try set-up an at home test to simulate a spotlit stage test to check impact of a moving spot and so on. And if the camera is lock down untended, maybe set up a second to shoot in a normal auto program mode and mix footage as needed to get the best exposure as lighting changes.
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Old April 16th, 2013, 02:54 PM   #3
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Re: XA10 Spotlight mode

Thanks Don,

I'll be running a second camera and the XA10 will by my CYA locked on wide. In this particular theatre there's a center pole in the back where we can place a camera on a tripod, but we can't stand there because we block the view in the last couple of rows.

I'm thinking about setting the gain at 12db, Program Mode w/shutter priority, and spotlight mode. I just can't take a chance on the shutter starting to slow down to adjust for light.

I will say this for the camera ... I used it this last weekend under some harsh lighting conditions and again ... it was just a wide shot. But in this case the two cameras were set up side by side. My other camera is a Sony AX-2000. This was more of a choral situation, so I was able to pay attention to both cameras, but my Sony was THE camera and the Canon was the backup. I had the XA10 set on manual and I would occasionally make an exposure adjustment when needed. When I got the footage home I really thought the Canon was a cleaner shot. Seems like I might have paid too much attention to the wrong camera.

Right now the only thing the Sony seems to have going for it is the 20x zoom and manual buttons. (I see that it has a spotlight setting as well.)

I have a show I'm going to tape in a few weeks and I should be able to get in for a couple of dress rehearsals on that one. I need to try out the 2x zoom at that time as well. If the image looks good enough for me to use for dance recitals that were going to DVD ... I could see me ditching all of my larger cameras.
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