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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 12th, 2007, 08:40 AM   #31
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Kansas City, MO
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I own 3 or 4 light meters from my film days. When I first got into video, the first thing I did was, using a gray card, calibrate the camera to the meter because I didn't like reflective meters. However, after I learned the way the cameras I was using worked, I'm able to light fine by using the camera's metering system. It's easy to zoom in to different areas of the frame and get a reflective reading (using an 18% gray card when necessary). But shooting with a specific video camera is like using a specific film stock. Different cameras handle highlights and contrast differently, and you have to have experience with the camera you're using to learn what it likes and doesn't like in terms of lighting. One nice thing about the newer cameras is that we can light for about any look we want, versus the old flat lighting we had to do back in the dark ages of video.

The only thing about the XH A1 that's a little difficult in this regard is that it's harder to keep the viewfinder properly adjusted for different conditions than with a bigger camera with a high res B&W viewfinder. Even though you don't use that for judging exposure, it's good to keep it tuned with your color bars so you can get a good idea of what things look like in the camera.
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Old October 12th, 2007, 11:08 AM   #32
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Off hand there are two things a light meter can be very helpful for:

1. Evaluating a location before videotaping* (will there be enough light? etc.)
2. Getting an idea of the contrast ratio at a location or in parts of a scene.

For example, recently I shot in a very large room that was light by skylights on one side, some kind of big overhead lights on the other (with a couple burned out) and some flourescent lights.

Using a light might I was able to add some lowel tota lights and bring of the darker areas to get a fairly even room. Also, two corners stayed darker, and the light meter gave me an idea how much I would have to open the iris when people went into those two areas.

I chose the actual exposure, though, based on the camera's metering system.

*Since filming is for film and taping is for taping, are there any new terms" like Disking? Carding? Peetwoing?
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Old October 12th, 2007, 01:58 PM   #33
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More handheld light meter thoughts...

The ability to evaluate light, available or studio, is a skill you learn, not by looking through a viewfinder, especially a video viewfinder.

Although I learned photography and cinematography using cameras without meters, I readily adapted to new tools as they became available. However, I never rely solely on what an internal camera exposure system tells me. I would say that with today's technology, internal exposure systems are right the majority of the time. Knowing when they are potentially wrong or when they will not produce the dramatic results that you are looking for, is something that can give you a professional edge.

Additionally, as someone pointed out, each video camera (or digital still camera) handles color balance, contrast ratios etc differently. Knowing how to use a handheld light meter and evaluate light without looking through a viewfinder provides you with a common reference which can be applied to the equipment and lighting for any giving situation.

Last edited by Kevin Haupt; October 12th, 2007 at 05:55 PM. Reason: spelling error
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Old October 12th, 2007, 05:09 PM   #34
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Appreciate all the feedback. A couple of replies.

I do switch to 1/48 when in 24f. Will experiment some more. Right now, I just want to push this camera to the limits in low light in 60i.

I did notice the difference when switching to gamma normal & was aware of the dimming created in cimenatic mode.

As for the light meter, It certainly can't hurt. However, my father was a professional photographer for 30 years and we were in business together (16 years for me). We took light readings for him @ every location. I pretty much can eye ball it at this point.....and if you read your camera carefully, you can get the look you want regardless of what the meter tells you. Agree it can't hurt so I will pull it out. Thanks guys
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Old October 16th, 2007, 05:10 PM   #35
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Time to break the silence

Right now I'm sorting through options,testing them out and the elimination process has commenced in my quest to improve picture color quality, get enough light into the A1 while within its intended shooting environment and not lose appreciably more light while zooming. Those are the goals.

First of all a few comment on gain. I wish there was a dialible gain control with 1 step increments which would be better than choosing between 6, 12 or greater. It would have been nice if Canon had included a 9 db setting which would have offered more flexibility. One can fine tune the white balance that way, I think gain is pretty important too!

Here are a few more questions which hopefully will help me figure the issues out and come to a final conclusion.

1) How do I set up the A1 with the computer so I can see how the colors look on the monitor as being fed in by the A1 while the unit is on and live,in real time and be able to adjust the color settings accordingly as desired and needed? Do I need a software progam to accomplish that? Please enlighten.

2) How much light gain is there when one switches from 1/60th to 1/30th? Is it double or some other ratio? Can this change be measured in decibels?

3) Will factoring the AE shift-gain function into the equation/mix improve matters at all in regards to incoming light levels?

4) Still looking for the best vivid,vibrant & warm combination of settings specifically tailored & suitable for a church interior shooting as the factory neutral settings are unusable in my case. Anybody care to offer a possible solution which emulates the GL-2 out of the box look? Something that's nice & pleasing but not saturated?

Thanks all for continuing to participate in this revived thread.

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Old October 16th, 2007, 11:45 PM   #36
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Hi Bruce. Does this mean that you got the replacement cam and the performance is similar to the original one? Or what?

1) Best way to do this is use a TV, not a PC monitor, and feed it from the composite or Y-C output from the A1. If you must use a PC, run a firewire cable from the cam to the PC and monitor the preview picture in your NLE software's capture function.

2) If you double the exposure time you will double the light reaching the CCDs. +3dB usually represents a doubling of power, but not sure if this applies to light levels or not. And it is not usually called gain when it is light in this context. The gain is applied (or not) as electronic amplification after the CCD and A-D conversion stage.

3) Setting AE Shift to a +ve value will not help if your exposure settings are already maxed out. And it will not operate at all in manual mode.

4) Don't really understand what makes the out of the box image unusable for you. It actually allows the camera to capture a lot of data. I agree it is not very impressive in camera, but if you apply an S-curve in post it can really pop out (assuming the exposure is OK). BTW, when you use "vivid, vibrant and warm" and "not saturated" in the same requirement, I cannot really picture what you are looking for. Maybe you can post a screen grab from the GL-2 in the church environment so that we can understand better?

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