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Old September 27th, 2007, 01:09 PM   #1
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Should I buy the XH-A1 for macro studio shooting?

Hello everyone,

For the last months I've been reading about the XH-A1 features... I've already seen every sample shot I was able to find, but I'm still not sure if this is the camera I must buy...

You see, I'm planning on buying the XH A1 for macro studio capture (exclusively)... In my intended setup, the camera will be fixed (via tripod, I guess) and no changes in position/zoom/etc will be carried during capture (maybe some changes between shots, but never while shooting)...

So this is my intended setup... However, even after reading several threads on the subject, I still couldn't figure out a few things:

1. With the camera fixed, what's the area I'll be able to capture while retaining focus??? I plan to capture macro shots and would like to frame the scene in such a way that I can narrow the view to an area of about 5cm x 3cm... Is it feasible or am I crazy??? And (if possible), I would like to do so and still keep everything (or as much as possible) in focus...

2. Do I need any extra equipment for this kind of macro shooting??? If something like 5cm x 3cm is impossible, what is the maximum "zoom" I'll get with the XH A1 (I'm not talking about any post-processing crop, of course)????


I would love to be able to do the tests myself before buying the camera, but if any of you guys who already own one could please bring me some light, I would be very grateful...

Thanks in advance...

Peace...
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Old September 27th, 2007, 01:23 PM   #2
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Here are a few sample pictures of what I plan to capture... As you guys might have guessed, I teach and practice dentistry, so these photos/videos are for my classes... These pictures were taken with a Nikon D70 + ring flash + 105mm macro lens...

What kind of setup would I need to capture video at this level of zoom (teeth are plastic mock-ups, but are all of normal size) with the Canon XH-A1??? Is it even possible with the XH-A1 or must I buy a XL-H1 + macro lens????
Attached Thumbnails
Should I buy the XH-A1 for macro studio shooting?-occluso-proximal-lesion.jpg   Should I buy the XH-A1 for macro studio shooting?-laminate.jpg  

Should I buy the XH-A1 for macro studio shooting?-fissure-lesion.jpg   Should I buy the XH-A1 for macro studio shooting?-acid-washing.jpg  


Last edited by Tiago Melo; September 27th, 2007 at 01:54 PM. Reason: Changes to the text
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Old September 27th, 2007, 02:44 PM   #3
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Should not be a problem. I trust you want to capture some action in the views, not just still views of dental work, otherwise using a still camera for the shot and converting to video in an NLE would make more sense (at least to me).

You may find that using a diopter (close up adapter) with the camcorder will help give a better/more flexible stand-off distance and framing. Canon offers some high quality models, as does Century, and you can also find low cost versions from Tiffen, Hoya, etc.
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Old September 27th, 2007, 03:43 PM   #4
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Hi Don,

Thanks for your reply...
Although I have not mentioned it, I obviously want to capture action shots...
You really believe this level of zooming is achievable with the A1 coupled with a simple diopter??? What would be the downside of this solution in comparison to a XL-H1 coupled to a macro lens??? For example, what will happen to the depth-of-field??? And distortion???

BTW... Could anyone suggest a good diopter??? I won't say that money is not an issue, but QUALITY is far more important to me than money... Up to a point, of course... :)


Are these good alternatives??? Which one would better fit my needs??? I have to ask, because I confess they all seem very similar to me...

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...c_Diopter.html
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...c_Diopter.html
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...igh_grade.html
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...rter_Lens.html

Last edited by Tiago Melo; September 27th, 2007 at 03:46 PM. Reason: Misspellings
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Old September 27th, 2007, 04:24 PM   #5
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Here's a set of 3 Tiffen diopters for under $100 (USD):

http://www.filmtools.com/tiffilclosle1.html

I used Tiffen diopters on 16mm motion picture camera lenses as well as 35mm still camera lenses for a long time. I personally would try these first. There are 3 different diopters in the set, and you can stack them, up to a +7.
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Old September 27th, 2007, 08:13 PM   #6
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A couple of questions regarding the use of diopters coupled to the XH-A1:

1. What will happen to the depth of field??? Will it be reduced in any way??? For my intended use, I would prefer to keep the DOF as high as possible...

2. Using a diopter, how far will the camera need to be, in order to capture something similar to the photos I posted??? For what I intend to do, the camera cannot be too close (or I won't be able to "do" anything for it to capture) or too far away (or I'll run out of physical space in our lab)... A working distance of about 50-100cm (or slightly higher) from the tip of the diopter to the surface of the teeth would be ideal... Any shorter distance and the camera will probably get in my way...
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Old September 27th, 2007, 08:22 PM   #7
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The depth of field will be reduced some from what the camera normally does because you'll be zoomed in all the way and focused only a few inches from the lens. It shouldn't be any different from your still photos, for general viewing. Any video you shoot is not going to be as clean and sharp as those still photos.

As far as how close you get, that depends on the dipoter or combination that you use. If you get a set you can adjust it. All the diopters do is allow you to focus closer, which is what you need, otherwise you don't be able to fill the frame with teeth. My guess is that a +2 might work fine, but that's just a guess. I think it's worth a try and should give you better end results than using one of the 35mm adapters.
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Old September 27th, 2007, 08:52 PM   #8
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Bill,

Regarding the DOF, I already expected things to go as you said... I guess that some loss is acceptable/inevitable and I'll have to get used to it... As you said, the photos I posted also don't have a super-wide depth of field...

Regarding the working distance, your answer was super helpful, as I was getting really confused with all the +1.6, +2.0, +3.0, +7.0, etc etc... Even if it's just a hunch, I appreciate it... As for the 35mm adapters, I guess they are not really an option for what I want/need, right?
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Old September 27th, 2007, 09:50 PM   #9
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Hi Tiago...............

I may well have misunderstood something here, if so, please correct me.

Why an XH A1, as a matter of interest? I haven't seen a word about HDV in the thread, which makes me think you'll be shooting in SD. Is this correct?

If SD is indeed the final product here, wouldn't something just a tad more on the handleable side be a better machine for this type of work?

I would have thought for the money an A1 is going to set you back (with all the bells and whistles), you could get one of those SD (but still extremely good quality) medical imageing cameras with a suitable lens and lighting system designed for the job. Trying to wring the neck of the 20X lens on the A1 to achieve something it was never designed to do seems an awefully hard (and expensive if it doesn't work as planned) way of going about this.

I've only taken one macro sequence with the A1, of the internals of a carriage clock in motion, the target about the same size as a humans open mouth. The camera lens was just inches away from the target, which was lit from either side by a 500 (yes, 500) watt light. That makes for 1000 watts just inches from the target. You now have a fully blown A1 with lens extensions, tripod, head and two 500 watt lights on the subject. I don't see how there is room (or safety) for hands, instruments etc especially with the bulk of the camera between you and the subject. I won't bring up the 3rd degree burns the target is going to get (I nicely smoked the lens hood on the A1!).

If you don't want to go the whole "medical imager" route, perhaps go for the best quality "bullet" or board mount camera that takes "C" mount or similar lenses (there must be loads of options out there) but at least something that you get near/ into the target area without obscuring the entire subject with equipment bulk. You still need to solve the lighting problem, maybe investigate the "cold" illuminators produced by Zeiss and Nikon for their medical imagers.

But, as I say, I may well have got the wrong end of the stick.


CS

Last edited by Chris Soucy; September 27th, 2007 at 10:17 PM. Reason: Addition
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Old September 28th, 2007, 04:24 AM   #10
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Hi Chris,

Although I didn't mention it, I chose the XH A1 for its HDV characteristics... The output of this videos needs to be HD, as I'll use them in my computer presentations which are (as of today) 1280 pixels wide (and going up as I put my hands in a higher resolution projector)...

I also believe that in some situations I'll need to crop the videos to reframe the picture and if I shot SD I would have no margin for "wasting" pixels, something I believe (and hope) will be possible by shooting HDV, although I understand that in such situation I won't be able to get a full size HDV output...

Another thing that I wasn't clear enough when I posted the pictures is that those are acrylic teeth, mounted in a acrylic model... Although it would be great to be able to use the camera in clinical situations (with patients) it's not my primary concern for now... I'm planning to purchase the XH-A1 to use it in our lab (not in patients), so there would be no risk of burning anyone... except myself, that is!

I have to go to the university right now, but later I'll return to post about the mounting setup and the medical imager issues...

Again, thanks for your help...
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Old September 28th, 2007, 08:16 AM   #11
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The adapter/converter are not what you need for close-up photography. The diopters are.

Also you may want to consider the Canon diopters.
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...e_up_Lens.html

Search the XL1 and GL1/2 forums on "diopter" for several threads discussion close-up shooting. The same principles will apply here, even if the camcorders are SD.

As a point of reference, with the XL1, when I used a Tiffen +2 close up adapter on the lens I could fill the screen with a 35mm negative size object from about 16 inches (40 cm).

In contrast, using macro setting with the object a fraction of an inch from the front element of the lens it would be much more difficult to light the object or manipulate it.

DOF can be an issue, but it will follow the laws of optics/physics, and generally speaking the smaller the CCD, the greater the DOF for the same field of view.
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Old September 28th, 2007, 10:34 AM   #12
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Tiago, Don's post above probably tells you what you really need to know. My gut feeling too was that a +2 would do it for you. However, I'd get the hundred dollar package for the options. I don't think a 35mm adapter is what you really want--their primary purpose is to reduce depth of field. They also will soften the image a little, though the newer ones don't do that very much.

When using a diopter, zoom in all the way, focus as close as the lens can, then physically move the camera in and out to get in focus. It's a bit like using a macro lens. Move the camera in just past sharp focus, then you're close and can adjust with the focus and/or zoom to get where you need to be.
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Old September 29th, 2007, 07:21 AM   #13
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This is a sample still from an the XH-A1 in card mode using a Tiffen +2 close-up adapter. Nothing special was done to create the image. The idea is to give you an idea of that the lens combination does.

The distance from the front of the lens to the center of the Panasonic tape box back was about 15 inches and, at an angle of about 45 degrees from vertical to give an idea as to depth of field. The exposure was 1/60 and f/2.6. The zoom focal length was about 27mm. The image is in FINE mode.

The attached photo is copied off the SD card as stored by the camcorder without any enhancement. Lighting was standard fluorescent room lighting, a mix of cool white and warm white lamps, and auto exposure mode. Camcorder using out-of-the-box settings (no custom presets active).

For reference the rectangle containing the words "Professional mode" is 1/2 inch long.

In case anyone is wondering, the strawberry tasted good.
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Should I buy the XH-A1 for macro studio shooting?-img_0107.jpg  
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Old September 29th, 2007, 03:12 PM   #14
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I would not advise the A1 for macro shooting. Actually, I think that macro is rather one of its weakest point. Basically, macro is only usable in wide-angle, which means that you need to be very, very close of the subject.

I just tried: to film an objet 6cm wide (a bit over a complete set of teeth), you need to be 5cm away (2 inches). That is not practical.

Of course, you can use diopters, but using a different camera might be a far better choice. For example, I had a Sony HC1 before the Canon XH-A1, and it had a special macro mode, usable in the tele setting. With it, you can get the type of teeth pictures you got (framing an object 4cm wide) at forearm's length (about 50cm away, 20 inches). Much more convenient.

Of course, the A1 is much better by low light, but dentists have plenty of light anyway. And also: the HC1 is out of production, I am just using it as an example, because I have one. What I meant here is that you should review other cameras than the A1, they may be more adapted to your problem.
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Old September 29th, 2007, 06:56 PM   #15
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The A1 is good for macro, but you may want to look into the HV20.
For the attached pic, the HV20 lens was right on the plate.
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Should I buy the XH-A1 for macro studio shooting?-hv20-macro.jpg  
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