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Canon XA and VIXIA Series AVCHD Camcorders
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Old September 21st, 2017, 12:12 PM   #1
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HF G40 question

I'm shooting a doc that requires some stealth and bought an HF G40 specifically for this job (I used to have an HV40 which I loved for this kind of shooting)..

I'm not comfortable with auto exposure in general, especially on this camera, so I set the CUSTOM button to Manual. But try as I may I can't get it to work. I've read the on-line manual and have set everything accordingly, but when I press the button nothing happens.

Is there something I'm missing?
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Old September 21st, 2017, 10:07 PM   #2
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Re: HF G40 question

Not very stealthy. Anyway, if it's like the XA20 G30, and I think it is, to summarize the manual, camera on M you hit FUNC>rec. Programs>gives you five settings: P, Tv, Av, M and scene. P is the default and you can pretty much think of it as auto, Tv is manual shutter, Av is manual aperture and M is full manual. Press those buttons and it takes you to the manual settings. If your camera is stuck on P, the camera could be faulty.
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Old September 22nd, 2017, 12:55 AM   #3
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Re: HF G40 question

Not sure what button you mean, but I'm guessing you mean the Custom button just behind the Custom Dial? If so, it changes the dial function between shutter, iris and gain, it does not turn manual exposure on or off. It's as Rainer says, so to get the camera into Manual mode just follow his instructions.
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Old September 24th, 2017, 07:15 PM   #4
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Re: HF G40 question

I always have the Custom Button on my HF-G30 set for adjusting AGC Limit, but checking this through, the same applies when assigning the Custom Button and Dial to adjust the settings in Tv/Av modes. You have to select the corresponding mode in Func > Rec. Programs first. Otherwise pressing the Custom button will do nothing. If however you assign the Custom button for AGC Limit or (+/-) Exposure (i.e. 'Exposure Compensation') - which you can do by holding down the Custom button until the options appear - then it's just a matter of selecting the assigned function (using the Custom Dial), pressing the Custom button again to exit and adjusting the respective settings with the Custom Dial as they appear on-screen.

What I like about controlling AGC Limit in this way is that you don't have to press the Custom button each time - the value is always displayed on screen and the setting is preserved after powering off and on again. The only thing you have to be careful with is accidentally nudging the Custom Dial. By contrast, the (+/-) Exposure function setting reverts back to default (0) when the camcorder turns off, which can be a pain when set in 'Auto Power Off' mode (i.e. camcorder automatically turns off after 5 minutes of inactivity).

On the HF-G10 I recall there was an another power-saving 'Standby' option (a 'sleep-mode' effectively) that could be set to postpone 'Auto Power Off' for up to 20 mins of inactivity. Really useful feature. Wish they hadn't dropped it on the HF-G30.

Last edited by Bryan Worsley; September 25th, 2017 at 05:10 AM.
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Old September 25th, 2017, 12:51 AM   #5
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Re: HF G40 question

Quote:
I always have the Custom Button on my HF-G30 set for adjusting AGC Limit, but checking this through, the same applies when assigning the Custom Button and Dial to adjust the settings in Tv/Av modes
But that's still auto, which the OP doesn't like.

When set to Manual, once the shutter and gain are set the dial becomes the iris control, making exposure adjustments very simple and quick. All the adjustments stay as set through as many re-boots as you like and the only time the Custom button needs to be pressed is if a change to shutter or gain is required.
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Old September 25th, 2017, 05:05 AM   #6
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Re: HF G40 question

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Originally Posted by Dave Baker View Post
But that's still auto, which the OP doesn't like.
Dave, I wasn't suggesting the OP use Tv/Av for exposure, or indeed (+/-) Exposure, which can be applied in any of the Auto (Program, Av, Tv) modes. I was just pointing out that the Tv and Av modes, like Manual (exposure), need to be set in the Rec.Program menu before the settings can be adjusted via the Custom Button and Dial. Whereas (+/-) Exposure and AGC Limit can be assigned and adjusted with the Custom Button and Dial without going into the menu.

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Originally Posted by Dave Baker View Post
When set to Manual, once the shutter and gain are set the dial becomes the iris control, making exposure adjustments very simple and quick. All the adjustments stay as set through as many re-boots as you like and the only time the Custom button needs to be pressed is if a change to shutter or gain is required.
Yes, (+/-) Exposure is the only one of assignable functions that reverts to default when the camcorder powers off. My assigning the Custom Button/Dial to AGC Limit is because I mostly shoot in Program exposure mode and I assign one of the other buttons for (+/-) Exposure.
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Old September 25th, 2017, 12:29 PM   #7
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Re: HF G40 question

Thanks for the responses. I did figure all of the above out, but am not happy that it doesn't work as well as it did with the HV40. With that camera you could zoom in, let auto exposure set the camera, then switch to Manual and it would hold that exposure. With this camera you need to reset everything once you enter Manual. Not great for fast shooting.

Also, the HV40, a ten+ year old camera that recorded on DV tape, was sharper, and the white balance (I always used the Daylight preset outdoors for example) was spot on. With the G40 the image has a magenta cast unless you perform a manual WB (which is 5400k in direct sun, not 5600), even then it's not always perfect. Also not good.

It surprises, and disappoints, me that Canon chose to screw with something that worked so well. I shot a half hour doc with the HV40 that was broadcast on the BBC (I lied about the camera I used - sometimes you gotta cheat a little).

I make my living with documentaries, have been since the early 70's. Occasionally a consumer-looking camera is essential. Sony just announced a new camcorder that would obviously be an improvement, but it won't be available till after this project, so I'm stuck with the G40...

BTW: I'm shooting at 59.94p, AVCHD, which is noticeably better than my usual 29,97...
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Old September 25th, 2017, 03:17 PM   #8
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Re: HF G40 question

Steve

I used to have the HF G30 and used it to record a bird at the nest site last year but was surprised that to my eyes the old HV30 which I used 7yrs ago on the same nest site looked better than the newer camera hence this year I used the HV40 enough said.
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Old September 25th, 2017, 07:32 PM   #9
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Re: HF G40 question

As we used to say in the 60's and 70's - Bummer...

Forgot to add, I'm really sorry my HV40 died (under adverse circumstances I might also add). Great camera, it will be missed. The G40 is a surprisingly weak replacement.

Last edited by Steve Rosen; September 25th, 2017 at 07:52 PM. Reason: Added
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Old September 25th, 2017, 08:01 PM   #10
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Re: HF G40 question

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Originally Posted by Steve Rosen View Post
Thanks for the responses. I did figure all of the above out, but am not happy that it doesn't work as well as it did with the HV40. With that camera you could zoom in, let auto exposure set the camera, then switch to Manual and it would hold that exposure. With this camera you need to reset everything once you enter Manual. Not great for fast shooting.
You can do just the same thing using the '(+/-) Exposure' function - under 'Exposure Compensation' p65 in the HF-G40 manual, p66 in the HF-G30 manual. Just open up the '(+/-)' Exposure function (I have it assigned to a button), touch the M symbol to switch from Auto to Manual (not be confused with full Manual exposure mode) and presto, exposure locked.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Rosen View Post
Also, the HV40, a ten+ year old camera that recorded on DV tape, was sharper, and the white balance (I always used the Daylight preset outdoors for example) was spot on. With the G40 the image has a magenta cast unless you perform a manual WB (which is 5400k in direct sun, not 5600), even then it's not always perfect. Also not good.
Yeah, AWB on the HF-G30 frustrates the heck out of me, and when I tested out an HF-G40 it was no different. AWB was much better on the HF-G10 in my opinion - faster to adapt and less prone to casts. But that's about the only thing that does frustrate me - well that and the omission of the 'Standby/Quick Start' feature that I mentioned above.

Last edited by Bryan Worsley; September 25th, 2017 at 10:26 PM.
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Old September 26th, 2017, 07:12 AM   #11
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Re: HF G40 question

Thanks Bryan, that's good to know. I'll try it today. The manual isn't very intuitive, but hardly any are these days...

BTW, the magenta cast isn't all that difficult to dial out in post, BUT it never seems to look as good as the old images straight out of the HV40. I've also compared the G40 to my LS300 and BMD Pocket cameras and, try as I will, can't get as clean color.

Since the cast is somewhat predictable, I'd experiment with color filters (probably a very slight green to start) to dial it out, if I had the time, which I don't. I start shooting with this camera for real a week from today...

My recommendation for daylight is 5400 K, although sometimes 5200 K is better. For interiors the auto seems to work okay, but, like auto-anything, is prone to change just when you don't want it to. So I'll shoot all my tungsten interiors with the tungsten preset, or do a manual WB if I have the time.

As you undoubtedly know, auto-focus sucks, but that's okay, I like manual anyway.

Another day of testing to try your suggestion...
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Old September 26th, 2017, 01:44 PM   #12
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Re: HF G40 question

Unfortunately that option apparently isn't available when shooting WDR which I prefer.

Also, I'm a little freaked out by the "Task in Progress" warning every time I shut the camera down, no matter how long it's been since I've shot the last clip (like an hour). I understand the buffer explanation, but does that warning ever go away?
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Old September 26th, 2017, 03:30 PM   #13
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Re: HF G40 question

Steve
Just get another HV40 there cheap enough on ebay
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Old September 26th, 2017, 06:30 PM   #14
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Re: HF G40 question

Ian: Don't think I haven't thought about it, but tape is a problem now, at least here. Besides the JVC LS300, two BMD Pockets cams and a Micro, I also still have a C100 (which I lent to my AC a year ago and don't care if I ever get back). Anyway, everything I do is card-based, so that's why I was waiting for an appropriate HV40 replacement.

As a side note, I seldom use the LCD, and one positive is the G40's EVF isn't bad, it's certainly better than the C100.

As a matter of fact. in the past two days I've finally dialed in the look and handling to get what I need from the G40. As I said above, 59.94P was the picture answer, combined with setting up a custom WB for daylight, either with the manual WB or using the K option. 5400K. For anything else I can get away with the shade or tungsten preset and tweak it in post.

Because I prefer WDR, I've opted for leaving exposure on manual and dialing it (iris) in as I go. It's a little sluggish, but I've always done that with the C100 and LS300, so no big deal.

I'm going to be shooting in the tropics, on Kauai, so I've dialed the chroma up to +2. Testing that here in Monterey forests gives me the rich saturated greens and vibrant skin tones I want. I probably wouldn't want that if I was shooting in a homeless shelter again, but it's good for the islands.

I've found that I can depend on auto focus (with the response dialed up to fast) most of the time. But I have the lowest button (4) on the back assigned to Focus if it's faltering, so I can change quickly (again, with the focus ring adjusted to fast). The button above it (3) I've assigned to WB for the same reason.

In a pinch I can set the camera to P or TV with the top button (1) on the LCD and let the camera handle the exposure (but not the WB, that stays manual). The button below (2) on the LCD is assigned to Stabilization. I'll mostly handhold with a custom grip I made, so I can quickly switch between Dynamic if I'm using the long end of the lens, and Standard. And of course I can turn it off if I'm on a tripod.

So the next few days I'll wander around town and get tuned in to using this thing. I've always told cinema students that it's like athletics - the best camera in the world isn't worth s**t if you don't practice using it.

I forgot to add that when I was researching reviews of this camera online, many people said it was great right out of the box. Wrong! This camera, more than any I've ever owned (and I've owned more than you want to know), needs a lot of testing teasing and TLC before it's anywhere near useable in a professional environment.

Last edited by Steve Rosen; September 27th, 2017 at 08:38 AM. Reason: Forgot to add
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Old September 27th, 2017, 10:14 PM   #15
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Re: HF G40 question

It's a consumer camera, not an Amira, or even an LS300. Get used to it and you might even get to love it. One thing you might want to keep in mind is although the 60fps might look better on playback the maximum bitrate per frame is actually higher at 30fps. Unless you need the slo-mo there's not much use for 60fps in deliverables, is there? Plus at 30fps you have identical dual card recording.
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