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Canon XH Series HDV Camcorders
Canon XH G1S / G1 (with SDI), Canon XH A1S / A1 (without SDI).


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Old September 1st, 2007, 11:40 PM   #1
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Autofocus.

As I get older the more I like autofocus, is this an option with this camera, I hear so many saying use Manual focus. I was wondering what you pros have found out about this subject.
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Old September 2nd, 2007, 02:28 AM   #2
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Yes, it has autofocus, two kinds, instant autofocus and regular autofocus.

I just shot 12 hours of a dancer in a rehearsal room using only autofocus and virtually everything looks good on the large monitor. I used the regular autofocus and not the instant variety.

And if you shoot in manual, there is a button that will autofocus the shot, such as an interview, then leave the camera in manual.

In fact, I am so impressed with how the focus came out with complete auto, that I will probably by the vest and arm for my Merlin, because I think for the kind of things I'm doing the autofocus on the camera will work great with the steadicam setup. I believe I will be able to use the steadicam in a documentary, free-flowing setup with the A1 autofocus I will have good video -- at least the way I'm shooting.

Also, this was the first time I used this camera, and very, very impressive in use are the iris ring and the zoom ring on the lens. The only little problem was grabbing the wrong ring. Other than that, changing the iris manually and doing small zooms in and out while following someone was easy and smooth as silk.

For many people and many people's uses, I think the Canon XH-A1 is in a class by itself, even if you don't consider that it's cheaper than the competitors.
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Old September 2nd, 2007, 12:00 PM   #3
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Denny,
The auto focus on the A1 is very good. What you need to watch out for (and this is for all auto focus camcorders) is when the focus suddenly unintentionally changes. For instance: you're filming a person who is centered in the frame and while they are talking they move laterally to one side of the frame and the auto focus refocuses on the background and the person is soft and then you pan the camera slightly and the auto focus refocuses on the person. This is the type of stuff that looks amateurish. You need to practice with the cam a little and you'll find quickly you'll understand how the camera thinks out focus and then you'll know when and when not to use auto focus. Also, if you stop down slightly your focus doesn't become as critical (in the sense that your final product will still look good). Same rules apply to auto exposure too.
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Old September 2nd, 2007, 01:37 PM   #4
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Thanks guys, and I have not had that much time behind the camera, I also need to learn some of the manul focusing tools to help.

With my 1D canon cameras the AF is dead on so all I have to do is focus and compose and I get razor sharp images.

I will practice with both manual and auto, one thing I know I will like about manual is the ability to bring a subject slowly into focus when you want.
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Old September 2nd, 2007, 06:39 PM   #5
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A friend uses auto focus almost exclusively with his XH A1, and I'd say 95% of his stuff is right on. I don't use it. I find the button isn't all that great either. If you zoom in, press the button, it will focus about as quickly as you can do it manually; but in a wider shot, it doesn't seem very accurate.
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Old September 3rd, 2007, 09:41 AM   #6
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In terms of finding focus the XH-A1 does a really good job of it and is incredibly fast. A nasty side effect of the focus speed though is that if the camera decides to search for focus in the middle of a shot the high speed at which is searches looks horrible, almost like the image is pulsing.

If this happens with a slower focus system its kind of less noticeable to me, even if the effect lasts longer.

You do however have the option to use standard through the lens focusing rather than the fast intelligent AF.
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