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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 October 8th, 2007, 06:23 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Bill Pryor View Post
There is no way the GL2 under exactly the same conditions would be better than the XH A1 in light requirements.
I completely agree with Bill. The A1 is superior to the GL2 is every possible aspect …including low light capabilities. I don’t know why people insist on comparing these two cameras. Except for the brand name, there’s absolutely nothing similar about them.

The GL2 is decent but its low light capabilities really leave much to be desired.
I only find it to be “noise free” in extremely well light interiors and exteriors. If you want an SD Canon upgrade from the GL2 with better low light results, get an XL1-S.

Further, if you are shooting content for low-power religious/public access, no matter what you shoot on, it’s still going to be broadcast looking like SVHS circa ’92.

The A1 takes some serious time to learn. Regardless, coming from a GL2 ... I would probably pick up this video.

http://www.vasst.com/product.aspx?id...a-9d5315f4ee3d
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Old October 9th, 2007, 09:16 PM   #17
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Low light

Hi Bruce,

Struggling with similar issues, I discovered something today that many of you already know. This camera loves +12db. In low light situations, the camera surprisingly does best with 12db gain. I stayed away from going higher than +6db because I am used to the sony Z1u. Once I discovered that these cameras are not the same, and that the A1 needs +12db to match the sony +6db, things went great. The image, in natural house lighting situations does well with 12db. Very clean. I connected camera to my TV and played around for an hour to figure it out. For low movement scenes 1/30th juices up the light too. Church light with 12db should do it.

Let me know what you think
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Old October 9th, 2007, 09:53 PM   #18
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Interesting. I found just the opposite. I didn't go as far as +12db, but found that shooting at zero db with the XH A1, the Sony Z1 wanted +3db; and at +3 db on the Canon, the Sony would be at +6. This was shooting both at 30fps (60i), at full wide angle, under very low lighting conditions. However, I also found that the Sony looks better at a high gain position than the Canon at the same one. In other words, at +6 the Sony looked better; however, in situations where the Z1 needed a +6, the XH A1 would be shooting at a +3, so the end result was the same.
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Old October 9th, 2007, 10:11 PM   #19
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Update from the front lines.....

Hi Everyone,

First I wanted to acknowledge & thank all of the new contributors to the thread.I'll have new things to try once the replacement unit arrives sometime early next week in all likelihood as I sent the original back to the retailer this afternoon.

Eric,This is why I bought an A1 instead of still sticking faithfully with known & tested equipment,Canon or otherwise. I value quality with a good price to preformance ratio. Canon has a good reputation for excellence & I have extensive hands-on experience &/or have owned Canon camcorders for about 6 years with GL-1's and 2's. The unit has excellent reviews from pros and amateurs alike. Like so many here I want the best I can afford and try to upgrade when feasible. The A1 looked to be a perfect match. The GL-2's are fine but I wanted something better to improve on the quality of my production as the cable station butchers the MPEG-2 DVD compliant file when transcoding it to their particular format for broadcasting. It's exciting for me to own newer,much more advanced technology and have a valued tool to work with going forward into the future.Movin' on and upward.......

Steve, Yes I did a hard reset and tried various modes but don't recall using plain auto yet but momentarily to be truthful. I thought it was reasonable to rightfully expect the A1 to have just as much or more light coming in as the GL-2's. The comparative loss of light levels occured in all of the other modes tried.When the replacement cam arrives you can be sure auto will get a full work out.I'd love to discover TV mode (even though its what I usually use) was the only culprit!

Peter, I'll experiment with the dialible white balance control and see if that helps combined with other suggestions.

Chris, Sorry! I strike out in regards to having access to a decent heldheld light meter as I don't own one and don't know anybody who has one since by circumstances I more or less work alone. Wish there were other A1 shooters close by in central Mass. FYI, all of the comparisons/tests were made with the A1 in 1080/60i HDV mode vs. the GL-2 in SD 4:3 mode. What shutter speed & frame rate do you reccomend I shoot in? At 1/30th,1/15th, etc. the footage starts looking jumpy and not smooth especially when panning. Is 30 either or 24F more suitable considering the situation? Please advise. Thank you.

Don, I agree with you. Access to the church other than on the worship day itself is limited in part because I have to take my wife to the chiropractors at night after work on various weeknights & get home too late. Unfortunately, resources are limited and don't have a pro monitor to use. The church has no equipment of its own,it's all mine such that it is. My selection of shooting positions is rather sparse as I have to stay out of the way to the extent possible & still have a clear, unobstructed shot to the front/platform over the audiences heads.Also, I don't want to distract the congregation form whats going on seeing its a worship service. The church is on the small side.

Matthew, Why would several GL-2's operate fine in the exact shooting environment & conditions if it were a "true" low light issue? Yes,I agree with you to some extent because apparently the A1 requires significantly more light to operate as others have stated. So, it's possibly a low light issue with the A1 and not with the GL-2's. I'm wondering just how much gain is "safe" and where an acceptable trade-off is between light/gain and grain? That too will need to be thoroughly tested ASAP when I get unit #2. Your specific reccomendation with settings is on my growing list to try.Thanks!

Erik, yes... I need to give more numbers when available so that contributors are not guessing to some extent and probably need to do a better job of trying to match up the paramaters and modes on both units.Sounds like your advice alone will keep me busy and posting!Anxious to get down to the bottom of it and to move on enjoying the A1.

Bill, Right now all I can say is what I saw thus far with 12-18db of gain needed to "match" with the A1 wide open. I'm hoping for an "dud" camcorder with issues but Chris Hurd my well be right when he doubts the replacement will be any different/better.

Eric, The VAAST video looks to be informative and promising with very well-known names.Will keep it in mind,however my next purchase is a carrying case that fits as right now I'm making do! I'm not even remotely pretending or thinking that the GL-2's are better in any respect. It's for that very reason that I bought the A1 as its state of the art and am trying to arrive to that very conclusion myself from personal experience.The cable station mangles the quality of my program when they transcode it for broadcast with their machine and I was trying to somewhat compensate for that significant quality loss by upping the qaulity to an A1.

Well thats all guys, I type slow, this took a long time to write and need to get some rest. Synergistically we will solve this mystery!

Good night and thanks again.

Bruce

Bruce
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Old October 9th, 2007, 11:35 PM   #20
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Sounds like your camera is perfectly operational, you need to just implement some of the generous, expert advice you've already been given here.
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Old October 10th, 2007, 10:19 AM   #21
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Thanks everyone for your valued suggestions

We'll see what "round 2" brings,hopefully within a week.

You've all been great!

More to come at a future date.

Bruce
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Old October 10th, 2007, 07:37 PM   #22
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Bill,

Thanks for the response. I used the Z1U for a wedding and leased the camera. I did some tests @ home. replicated those tests with the A1. I looked at the footage again from the sony. I was mistaken. Looks like the footage I thought was +6db on the sony was actually +12db. In 6db, the sony struggled but in 12 db, with good overhead lighting and some natural light from the window, it was clean. At the wedding, the sony struggled in 12db...little noisy. I had to use 6db and in then adjust gain in post for the reception. The church was good in 6db though.

Now with the A1, my camera struggles at 6db. At 12db, as long as there is moderate light, it is clean...unlike sony. A little overexposed but because the 6db is underexposed, I prefer the 12 db.

I am thinking that my TV may need replacement (20 inch CRT). I will review the same footage this week on an LCD HD TV and report back if you are interested.

I am wondering if this camera is tuned differently or if I have a defect if its so poor on light.

+6db Looks brighter on my computer LCD (imac G4) which is usually how it looks on my brother's LCD. Maybe its just my TV
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Old October 10th, 2007, 08:07 PM   #23
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You can't judge exposure on a monitor unless it's been properly adjusted with NTSC color bars.

I really think there's something turned on that shouldn't be with your camera, maybe a faster shutter speed, I don't know.

Here's what I'd do if you have access to the Z1 too:

Set up both cameras. Make sure both are on 60i (30fps), both set to 1/60 shutter speed, both in fully manual. Auto iris off, auto shutter off, auto white balance off. Make sure both have the ND filters off. Set the zebras on both cameras to 100 percent.

Get a Kodak gray card, or if you can't find one easily, use something like a basic light blue oxford cloth button down shirt. Doesn't have to be button down, but everybody has an oxford cloth button down blue shirt, right? That's pretty close to a standard 18% reflectance, like a gray card. Maybe a bit brighter, but close enough.

Put the shirt or card a few feet from both cameras, propped up, and a piece of white paper also in the shot. Zoom in to the same area with both cameras, but don't zoom in so far that the lenses stop down. Open the apertures of both lenses until you get zebras on the white. With zebras at 100%, you'll get zebras on the white paper. Then look at the aperture readouts of both cameras. Since these are electronic lenses, the apertures will read out in the viewfinders. If your XH A1 is functioning properly, it should be very close to the same reading of the Z1, perhaps stopped down just a little bit more.

That's just a test off the top of my head. Anybody else have a better idea, jump in.


Then, I'd move in so the shirt or gray card fills the frame, hit the auto iris button and look at the aperture reading on both cameras. They should be, again, very close. If the XH A1 reads, say, 5.6, the Sony will probably read 5.1 or something in that range.

You can also go online and do a search for NTSC color bars, and there is a tutorial you can probably find about how to adjust a monitor to color bars. But you'll need a professional monitor to do that. If it's just a TV, you can probably get close enough to get a rough idea of exposure, but I wouldn't trust it entirely. The idea of my simple test above is to see if there is a serious difference between the two cameras, using some type of consistency.

Oh yeah, light the shirt/card and white card with a tungsten light and set the white balance to the tungsten preset. Or if there is good, even daylight, do it with available light and set white balance to daylight preset. Or you could do manual white balance if you want. That shouldn't really affect exposure, but both cameas should be set up equally.

The only other thing I can think of is the internal custom presets of your camera. You probably should go in and reset it to the factory preset to make sure something weird hasn't happened, like you have a setup programmed that is pressing blacks all to hell or something like that.
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Old October 11th, 2007, 03:30 AM   #24
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Hi Bruce............

I think at this juncture I'll just shut up, butt out and await the next exciting episode. I'm really agog to see what the new camera brings to this particular party.

I'll say one thing for you - you're a methodical SOB, and no mistake.

I'm having my doubts this is operator error.

Keep us posted.


CS

Last edited by Chris Soucy; October 11th, 2007 at 05:12 AM.
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Old October 11th, 2007, 05:07 PM   #25
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Bill,
Awesome advice. Unfortunately, I dont have the Z1 available. After reviewing some of the wedding footage on the Z1, and now that I have gotten used to watching footage on the A1, there is no doubt the A1 is clearer. I think its a better camera from my preliminary tests. Thank goodness!

I did do a hard reset (reset button under the LCD monitor). Nothing happened. Was I supposed to hold it down longer than a few seconds? Is there some sort of confirmation sign?

Anyway, the major concern is low light capability. I am just using sony as an example because I have used it before and wanted to make sure I made the right decision by going with the A1. Looks like I need to be in 12db when shooting inside the house, and have my regular house lights on. This is the only way I get adequate exposure. I think I am too used to my travel 1-chip sharp which always cranked up the exposure.

As for settings., I do keep it all manual @1/60, 60i HDV, iris open. +12db.
In 24f, it gets a bit dimmer.

Appreciate all the input.
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Old October 11th, 2007, 05:10 PM   #26
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If you're shooting 24fps, you need to go to a 1/48 shutter.
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Old October 12th, 2007, 06:46 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by Michael Buonopane View Post
Bill,
Looks like I need to be in 12db when shooting inside the house, and have my regular house lights on. This is the only way I get adequate exposure. .

Hi Michael. Are you using Normal gamma setting? It gives better mid range low light performance compared with the Cine settings. A few months ago I was doing a shoot alongside a pro with an XL-H1. I couldn't understand why I was always having to use gain for certain conditions and he wasn't. When I got the chance to compare settings, the main difference was the gamma, and when I set mine to Normal instead of Cine I was finally able to switch off the gain and still get the exposure I wanted. BTW, this was under controlled lighting conditions, not house lights, but the set was deliberately made pretty dark so I think this would apply generally.

Richard
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Old October 12th, 2007, 09:16 AM   #28
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sorry I can't resist this comment / question....

Don't own a light meter? Photography/Cinemaphotography is all about light, quantity, quality (hard, diffused), contrast ratios, color temerature (white balance in video/digital imaging speak).

Even a cheap incident light meter will vastly improve your ability to read and understand light. B&H sells the Sekonic L-398A Studio Deluxe III - Analog Incident and Reflected Light Meter for $180. I cannot imagine anyone spending three grand on a HDV video camera and not owning such an important basic tool as a light meter.

Last edited by Kevin Haupt; October 12th, 2007 at 09:20 AM. Reason: spelling error
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Old October 12th, 2007, 09:28 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by Kevin Haupt View Post
I cannot imagine anyone spending three grand on a HDV video camera and not owning such an important basic tool as a light meter.
Well, included in the three grand is a viewfinder, zebra stripes and an exposure meter. What you see is what you get.

If you're working with film or trying to get a very specific look or exposure, I see your point. But, for most video applications a light meter isn't that important.
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Old October 12th, 2007, 09:36 AM   #30
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I can see both sides of the light meter argument, but I have to agree that any basic camcorder is already its own light meter.
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