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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 30th, 2007, 08:51 PM   #1
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The A1 colors out of the box from....HELP!

the onboard factory presets are really plain,understated and a major dissapointment.They need major improvement which even the official reviews & users acknowledging that.Yes,I've tried the presets availible here as a possible solution.Since the light apparently coming in is insufficient even the famous Vivid RBG preset unfortunately can't make the difference.BTW,I'm using both primarily for interior use.

In a direct side by side comparison to the GL-2's standard settings (with nothing boosted or subjected to gain on the GL-2) I find the following:

The A1's colors are flat,lifeless,dull,drab,uninsipiring,darkish,greyish and muted.The GL-2 colors are far significantly more vibrant,lifelike and pleasing to look at.I put the camcorders side by side (almost nose to nose) on pods,pointed them at slightly different angles at the same object and the difference in color quality & brightness was night and day to me.The stock GL-2 colors wins hands down!

One of the major causes I believe is the amount of light coming into both units even though they are recording in the same program/shooting mode such as TV (for example) at approximately the same exposure level to the extent possible. Again,comparatively speaking the A1 picture quality looks like someone threw a towel over the lens or put a dark filter over it!!The light level has to be boosted a minimum of 12-18 db in order to compensate for it being so dark in order to try to match it up to the same level seen on the GL-2's standard settings which aren'tboosted at all.Of course gain adds noise,artifacts and degradation and can & does look very "speckily" & grainy.I'm wondering if this is normal and to be expected or if something is definitely wrong with the A1.

My train of thoughts includes returning it back to the store & taking any losses before moving on in life.The experience with this thus far makes me think something is definitely wrong here and the origin is a mystery.Maybe it first needs a trip to the factory service center.That's where this forum comes in to try to hopefully salvage this situation.I'm hoping it's just me and not the camera.

For example...I put both units into TV 60 in SD4:3 mode (which I've used often for 5 years with the GL2) and was forced to boost the A1's exposure level significantly as described above which was necessary and unavoidable in order to try outright compete with the GL-2's.Keep in mind the AE shift was also 0 on the GL-2.

So that being stated where do I go from here?What needs to be done and tried?Is the above normal?Have any of you directly compared the exposure levels and colors out of the box between the 2 models?

How do I get the A1 to at least be on even parity with the GL-2 at a bare minimum?Do the color settings need major tweaking?What factors am I dealing with here?

Please,I'm relying on you experts to come up with a plausible solution in regards to these problems so I don't feel I wasted close to $3,600.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and to pitch in and contribute!!
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Old September 30th, 2007, 09:06 PM   #2
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What's up with the punctuation? Commas and periods, etc. need spaces after them.
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Old September 30th, 2007, 09:21 PM   #3
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You need to get off "Auto" and set up the cam to your liking.
The pic is flat because the cam offers a lot more control over the image
than any other cam out there. It's flat by design. It's up to you to find your style and palettes.

Don't rely on other users presets to please you. They are the vision of those who created them. Make your own.

For HDV, The HV20 is closer to the GL2 in terms of "out of the box" images.
You may want to try that cam if you don't want to invest the time in learning the A1.
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Old September 30th, 2007, 09:24 PM   #4
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It sounds like you need to learn to shoot with the A1's limitations in mind. The A1 is not the GL2 and therefore shouldn't be expected to preform like it. In your research leading up to getting the A1 (and you did research, right?), you should have discovered that these 1/3" HD camcorders can lose 2 stops easy over their SD counterparts because of how small the pixels are.
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Old October 1st, 2007, 01:22 AM   #5
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You may need to do a "Hard Reset"

Try this first, then read the following if no success:

Slide out the LCD screen and locate on the top of the cam a "button" that says "reset".

Remove your battery, SC card tape, etc.

Hold that "button" in for 15 seconds or so.

Re-install battery, and a tape.

Try shooting some test footage and see how it looks.


Colors so far out of whack as you descrbe just should not be, and if you are being truly accurate, you have a defective unit.

You should never have to think the A1's picture looks like it has a dark filter on it, that needs 12 to 18 db of boost to compensate for a darker image realtive to a GL2. That's just incredible. What were you shooting in these tests, and how did you light it?

Yeah, I know the A1's colors are "supposed"to be understated relative to a Panny or Sony, but not by that much. And certainly if you are using the Vivid preset and still find the colors lacking, something must be wrong.


I have had my A1 since December, and have never felt it lacking in any way on color rendition when compared to my Sony and Panny cams. The pre sets give it a real leg up against those cams as well, when you are ready to get more involved with the cam's settings.

The A1 should produce pleasing color out of the box. Mine did (does, still). As another poster stated, you should not have to rely on presets to save your color performance. They are however, quite useful to experiment with once you have gotten to mearn the cam a little.

I do not believe that you should have to learn to live with A1's "limits" in regards to color rendition, in my experience A1's color out of the box is very good.
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Old October 1st, 2007, 02:30 AM   #6
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Bruce, not meaning any disrespect... but based on your recent previous posts, and this one as well, you really need to spend time at the very least reading the manual while getting to know the A1.

Also, regarding the darkness you describe... perhaps you have a ND filter switched on, or maybe your iris needs to be open, or a high shutter setting? The reason I ask is that you don't mention anywhere regarding f-stop numbers, etc

Bill
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Old October 1st, 2007, 10:17 AM   #7
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All Sony 2/3" chip professional cameras come with a factory setting that's "flat," in my experience, and the Canon did too, which I like. I remember the old XL1 and its oversaturated look. I was sort of expecting that with the XH A1. It's a simple process to create one or more setups you like, but be sure to do it with a professional, properly calibrated monitor.
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Old October 1st, 2007, 11:09 AM   #8
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... but be sure to do it with a professional, properly calibrated monitor.
Bill, you are so right about this.

Until I had my HD monitor professionally calibrated, I was way off the mark on what I was seeing.

Probably most peoples viewing device is too bright, too contrasty and pushing red, among a hundred other possibilities.
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Old October 1st, 2007, 12:23 PM   #9
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Another fault with many TV's is they tend to bump up the sharpness, and that can really mess up an image, especially one shot in poor light.
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Old October 1st, 2007, 01:01 PM   #10
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Another fault with many TV's is they tend to bump up the sharpness, and that can really mess up an image, especially one shot in poor light.
Good call, Don and Jeff. So many televisions out there have their brightness, contrast, and color pumped up so much that the stock "muted" colors of the A1 look wonderful on the displays. At least the reds don't bleed.
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Old October 1st, 2007, 08:20 PM   #11
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Finally out of the workplace,please bare with me!

Gents:

I respect all of your tips,criticism,thoughts,suggestions & opinions.First,The reason why I'm writing how to/need help series of posts is because my expectations of this units performance to date (had it now for about a month) have not been met,not even close!!Some of the differences between it and the GL-2 unfortunately produced a series of surprises to the downside which definitely proves that no 2 units are reasonably alike & fair comparisons may be limited.I'm sure there are forum members who have or will read this thread which currently own both models.It is especially to them that I address this appeal because if this A1 is not up to spec,I need to find that out quickly & deal with it.Am hoping that one or 2 would be willing to compare the performance of the two along with me in order to rule in or out whether the problems stem from a lack of knowledge,model limitations or the unit is partly defective.

I'd like to hear more comments & observations in regards to the apparent light level disparity of the A1 vs. the GL-2,because even if the colors are intentionally muted out of the box the point is that if the light level is artifically low & its not getting through like it should be that will automatically
have a dramatic & undesirable effect on coloration & a users perception of it.

Chris,I'll try to improve my punctuation and it's a good thing I'm not a writer.Your opinion and expertise is valued so please don't hold back,ok?

Eric,in my 3ccd camcorder experience I very rarely have used auto mode and certainly not recently.Thus far I've tried the manual,av and tv modes when shooting footage with the A1.More specifically,my mode of choice is TV mode.Yes,I confess the manual has not been yet read entirely through but I've spent time there.Manuals within themselves are not the whole story and things get omitted.Hands-on perspectives from users are invaluable.I want to get a nice vibrant,colorful look without being oversaturated,something akin to the GL-2 to the extent possible.I'd like to learn how to achieve that very much,however right now my primary concern is the light issue,because solving that may automatically solve the other.

Bennis,it's more than just a 1 or two stop difference in regards to the light.
I now have the A1 & the GL-2 on,pointed at the same thing,at almost the same distance from it & white balanced.The room is reasonably well lit with 3 lamps.The GL-2 color & sharpness levels are ar factory settings.The lens are physically about 10 inches apart.

A)GL-2 is set to TV 60,with the exposure lock active & set to a "neutral" setting of 0 within that range.
B)The A1 is also set to TV 60,with the gain on 0.

In order to equalize the light levels as seen on the LCD screens I have to do the following:
(1)I have to turn the GL-2's scroll wheel down to the maximum (minus 11) and still the A1 is slightly darker! OR.....
(2) I turn the gain on the A1 to about 12-18 db to compensate.

In any case the color as displayed is horrible.If someone could translate the above into the number of stops lost,please let me know.

Steve,I did the hard reset as suggested and nothing changed.In these tests I shot a well-lit corner of my living room at night.Seeing is believing.Please refer to the above.

Bill,the ND filters are definitely off and tried to match up the settings as close as possible.TV mode,the basis of comparison does not have f-stops displayed on either unit.Don't believe the GL-2 displays f-stops in TV mode,if thats not the case I apologize.

Bill #2,Unfortunately I'm comparing what's seen from the LCD of one unit to that of the other.I use the LCD to shoot almost exclusively & have a basic PC monitor,certainly nothing professional.The monitor comes in when capturing & editing.

Jeff,the contrast and sharpness levels on each are factory settings.

Ken,the A1's picture on my TV is still considerably more dark,bland and greyish comparatively speaking.

In regards to research:
Actually none of my local stores would stock this unit because of its high price unless I wanted to buy one,so I was forced to rely on Canons reputation,my years of experience with GL-1's and 2's,professional reviews and forums such as this which is a great place to acquire information.I took my time did research and weeks went by before taking the plunge. It was not a hasty decision and yes,in hindsight I probably did not ask all of the right questions.

That being said,please,are any of you willing to help me test out the units and compare the results of yours versus mine?For starters, how about the example which was given above in detail?Am open to any test you'd offer or being willing to suggest for comparative purposes.A special thanks to all who have participated thus far.

What should be the expected,normal and reasonable light difference between the A1 and the GL-2 at approx the same settings as achievable if any?

Any of you care to share any "warm" settings or presets with me that you find nice?

That's all for tonight and many thanks!

Bruce
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Old October 1st, 2007, 08:45 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Pelley View Post
For example...I put both units into TV 60 in SD4:3 mode

Bruce I have both cameras and did a similar test and found them to be very simlar...
..except!
I had my XH-A1 in HDV 60i mode, not SD.

I did one shoot ( a variety show) in SD mode and it was a huge mistake!
(Glad I had my GL1 and 2 as backups!)

My most recent wedding was shot in HDV 60i and down converted in camera. It's the best looking video I've ever shot. (GL1 since 2000, GL2 since 2003)

Try shooting in HDV and let us know how you make out.

Andy
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Old October 1st, 2007, 08:52 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Pelley View Post
Chris,I'll try to improve my punctuation and it's a good thing I'm not a writer.Your opinion and expertise is valued so please don't hold back,ok?
Nowhere in your whole post have you done what Chris suggested. Without spaces between punctuation, everything is jumbled together & hard to read.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Pelley View Post
Bill,the ND filters are definitely off and tried to match up the settings as close as possible.TV mode,the basis of comparison does not have f-stops displayed on either unit.Don't believe the GL-2 displays f-stops in TV mode,if thats not the case I apologize.
It's all in the manual, but here it is. Menu settings... Customize/Custom Display/Camera Data 1/01

Bill
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Old October 1st, 2007, 08:59 PM   #14
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Whoop!..clarification and correction

Everyone,

I meant to say that I'm & was directly comparing the following:

a)A1 in HDV 1080 60i mode (which was reccomended to me by Canon)

versus the

b)GL-2 in SD4:3 mode.

Sorry for that major faux pas and hope it didn't confuse anybody.

Bruce
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Old October 1st, 2007, 09:29 PM   #15
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Bruce, just try this.

Close the LCD and use the VF. Go in full manual mode, HDV, put the cam in 24f at 1/48, load up stevens vivid preset and compare the light levels to the Gl2. It should be really close in color and exposure.

If not, try an over exposure by a stop or two. I don't find the light meter to be very reliable. I think it may be too senstive.
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