How difficult is it to focus? at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > Canon EOS / MXF / AVCHD / HDV / DV Camera Systems > Canon HDV and DV Camera Systems > Canon XH Series HDV Camcorders

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


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old December 10th, 2007, 10:50 PM   #1
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Canada
Posts: 141
How difficult is it to focus?

Hi. I was wondering if any of you guys could tell me how difficult this cam is to focus. I am looking at purchasing one but need to know more about it. I was going to get a Sony EX1 but it is more pricey and I don't see a viable long-term data storage option available at the moment. I have a few questions about the a1:

*Can one achieve critical focus by using the viewfinder or lcd?
*Does the focus-assist work well?
*Will I need an hd field monitor to achieve CF?
*How is the low-light capability?

As always, any info is appreciated.
Spencer Dickson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 10th, 2007, 11:05 PM   #2
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Fairfield, Dunedin, New Zealand
Posts: 3,634
Images: 18
Hi Spencer..............

All answers subject to "IMPO":

1. Yes, if you are within 10 metres/ 35 feet of subject or subject has extensive contrast "hooks" on which focus can be obtained.

2. There is no "focus assist". There is "Peaking", "Magnify" and "Push AF". The first two do, indeed, improve your chances remarkably. "Peaking" can be left on permanently, "Magnify" self destructs the moment you hit record. "Push AF" does pretty well what it pleases depending on what is in view at the time and how many times you press the button.

3. No. Get a decent LRF (Laser Rangefinder). Used in conjunction with Z99 (full zoom in) it will get you perfect focus, first time, every time.

4. I don't know, it's always too dark to see**.

CS


** Sorry, couldn't help myself. (It's OK - the LL performance, that is).
Chris Soucy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 10th, 2007, 11:13 PM   #3
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Los Angeles, USA
Posts: 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spencer Dickson View Post
Hi. I was wondering if any of you guys could tell me how difficult this cam is to focus. I am looking at purchasing one but need to know more about it. I was going to get a Sony EX1 but it is more pricey and I don't see a viable long-term data storage option available at the moment. I have a few questions about the a1:

*Can one achieve critical focus by using the viewfinder or lcd?
*Does the focus-assist work well?
*Will I need an hd field monitor to achieve CF?
*How is the low-light capability?
I own the A1 (just got it a few months ago). Although I like my A1, if I were in the market to get a camera today, I would definitely get the EX.

It is possible to work with the LCD on the A1 but it is not very good. You also can't use the magnify function while rolling. I bought a Marshall monitor and never shoot without it. I have never bought into the peaking function and I almost never use auto focus so it is hard to comment on that.

Low light is not very good if you are coming from the standard def world. This is nowhere near the capability of, say, a PD150. I have read that, in the world of HDV, the Canon's are fairly good. I am still not used to the limitations of my HDV camera in this area.

Lastly, I will just say that I was reluctant to get the HVX for the same reason you cite (long term storage). I bought the A1 with the idea that I would have tape back-ups of everything. Now that I own it, I find that I am sometimes reluctant to pick up and shoot because of the hassles of tape (expense of good tape stock, time spent digitizing, concern about tape-head wear). I finally purchased a Firstore so I can shoot tapeless when I want. The nice thing is I now have the option of having both a tapeless workflow and a tape back up -at the same time.

As for long term storage, drives are cheap and, soon, you will be able to back up footage to BluRay or some other large capacity format. Not sure what your storage needs will be.

As always, there are pros and cons to each. If you are going with the A1, I would recommend the firestore. If you have the money, I would really consider the EX. If you look at the footage that Philip Bloom has been getting with it, you will be quite impressed. When I think of the money I have spent fixing up my A1 - Firestore, HD monitor, 35mm lens adaptor, etc - it might have made more sense to wait for the EX.

Good luck with your decision.
Michael Friedman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 10th, 2007, 11:14 PM   #4
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Canada
Posts: 141
"4. I don't know, it's always too dark to see**."

Haha. So the ll performance is good? Obviously I plan on lighting my shots, but I want to make sure it has decent ll capabilities.

Now, when you say zoom in all the way, you mean optical zoom, of course. Does zooming in all the way affect the quality of the shots?

Another question: For moving shots/subjects, does the AF do a decent job?
Spencer Dickson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 10th, 2007, 11:37 PM   #5
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Canada
Posts: 141
Michael,

You make some interesting points. The primary reason I am uncertain about purchasing an ex1 is what to do with the data. I suppose hds could work. I could backup to two and then put one away in a cool, dry place and keep my fingers crossed about losing the data. Not that tape is fail-safe, but having my precious shots stored on hds seems like russian-roulette to me. Haha. If only Sony professional disks could record full 1920x1080 footage.

I am also wondering how long it will take to get my hands on one, seeing as there seems to be a short-supply at the moment. I purchased an 8-core Mac pro with 8 gigs of ram and was going to buy an XH-A1 when I read about the EX1 and how it was being released in November. It is now near christmas and I am still waffling. What to buy, what to buy. Another thing about the ex1 that worries me is that it is such new technology and as such, all of the bugs may not be worked-out yet. I keep hoping to read some more reviews of the cam, but none seem to be coming in. I want to shoot and edit so badly it is crazy...can someone be horny to record video? I am video-horny. Haha.
Spencer Dickson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 10th, 2007, 11:40 PM   #6
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Fairfield, Dunedin, New Zealand
Posts: 3,634
Images: 18
Hi Spencer.....

The LL is ok, not great, but ok. As with any camera, the more light (to a point) the better. Enough said.

Z99 is full zoom in. At that zoom setting you have the best control on manual focus - it will focus in .1 metre (about 4") increments to 10 metres (35 feet) then in 1 metre (3 feet) increments thereafter (from memory).

The more you zoom out, the more difficult it becomes to use the manual focus due to "focus jumps" where even the slightest adjustment moves the focus point 5 - 10 (or even considerably more) feet.

The problem with all "Auto Focus" systems is that, not suprisingly, they don't have the foggiest just what, exactly, you want to focus on.

My experience with the A1 (I repeat, MY experience) is that with a view containing everything from close to far in the finder, if the real "target" occupies less than the central 50% of the viewfinder, the AF is just as likely to glide on past and lock onto the background a looooong way away, leaving the target a fuzzy blob in the centre.

This is made even worse with that wonderfull 20X zoom. Rack right out to Z0 and it works pretty good, as the depth of field is huge, thus it will get the AF pretty right most of the time.

Zap that zoom in to Z99 and things go real bad, real quick in AF, unless, as I said, your target is "the only game in town".

So, to answer your last question: It depends.

If you're @ Z99 and don't have the target occupying at least 50% of the centre - you'll lose it to the background (probably).

If you're @ Z0 it will probably cope ok as long as it doesn't have an AF seizure (this isn't a Canon thing, all AF systems have the occasional "shalln't" moment).

As with anything, the moment you try to get a computer to think for you, expect the totally unexpected.

I don't think you'll find the Canon A1/ G1 any better, nor any worse, than any of it's competitors on this subject.


CS
Chris Soucy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 11th, 2007, 12:00 AM   #7
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Los Angeles, USA
Posts: 57
Spencer

I had the same fear about hard drives. Tapes seem permanent. In truth, I have only lost one HD in ten years of editing. I have picked up DV tapes that were 5 or 6 years old that did not hold up very well (hits, etc). Also, out of the tapes I have now, I have never needed to go back and redigitize. It depends on your field of work though. Each method has drawbacks.

Things are moving really fast with hard drives. With your 8core, you could put a bunch of drives inside and then have a LaCie 2TB drive on your desk running a back up every night. You could archive projects on cheap 250GB hard drives and put them on a shelf. There are options. Think about it. In a couple of years, no cameras will have tapes. We will all have to get used to it at some point. I already feel like my brand new camera is 'old fashioned' because it doesn't have a tapeless option (hence, my Firestore purchase).

As for the bugs on new gear.... You can imagine that this is Sony's big chance to become the new DVX or HVX sensation. I would think that they will want to support this new product. In some ways, the A1 and even the HVX are 'Rev A' products too. I wouldn't let that hold you back.

Just so you don't think I am trying to totally steer you away from the A1, you should check out this video.

http://jerkki.shotti.com/temp/Beatbox720p.wmv

It is just straight A1 footage. No lights (just a reflector). It is what helped sell me on the A1. If you google 'Badlaa A1' you can find the guy that made it. He has some other great A1 videos as well.

I was in a rush to get my gear, so I understand. I could have waited actually. Wanting new gear is like being possessed. You can't think about anything else. I feel your pain. This camera will last you three or four years. Many new things will come out while you own it. If you go with the less expensive A1, you will be able to afford to upgrade sooner. If you go with the EX, you will have the 'it' camera of the day. You can't go wrong either way.
Michael Friedman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 11th, 2007, 12:25 AM   #8
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Canada
Posts: 141
Is there any way video data on an hd can lose quality as the hd gets older? I know that sometimes files get corrupted. I hope there is a fail-safe method of verifying files once there are transferred to an hd.

Truth be told, I want an EX1 more than an A1; I want to shoot on the best gear I can afford, and I can afford an EX1 so why not? It has a host of advantages over the A1: 1/2 inch sensors compared to 1/3 inch sensors, real 24 p recording, slow mo capability, etc. etc.

I really hope I can get one in the next three months, because I want to use my mac sometime in this century. Haha.
Spencer Dickson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 11th, 2007, 01:46 AM   #9
Major Player
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 959
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spencer Dickson View Post
Does zooming in all the way affect the quality of the shots?
Spencer, this reads as if you think you're supposed to stay zoomed in. Zoom in to focus, then zoom out to frame your shot & roll tape.

Bill
Bill Busby is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 11th, 2007, 01:57 AM   #10
Trustee
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Lipa City Batangas, Philippines
Posts: 1,110
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spencer Dickson View Post
Is there any way video data on an hd can lose quality as the hd gets older? I know that sometimes files get corrupted. I hope there is a fail-safe method of verifying files once there are transferred to an hd.
The only reasonably failsafe way I can think of is to have a mirrored array attached as network storage to your system. If a HDD fault occurs on one drive you will get an error message but you should still be able to recover the data. Just storing to disk and leaving it on a shelf won't help much unless you keep multiple copies on different media (and on different shelves).

Richard
Richard Hunter is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 11th, 2007, 01:58 AM   #11
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Canada
Posts: 141
I wasn't sure if he meant to leave it zoomed in or to zoom in, focus, then zoom out. Thanks for clarifying.
Spencer Dickson is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > Canon EOS / MXF / AVCHD / HDV / DV Camera Systems > Canon HDV and DV Camera Systems > Canon XH Series HDV Camcorders

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 12:02 AM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network