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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 April 2nd, 2008, 08:08 PM   #1
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Focus and LCD technique

I was at my first shoot with my new XH-A1 a few weekends ago. I started to capture the video onto my PC tonight and noticed some of my shots were out of focus.

The shots in question were done while trying to blur the background and sharpen the object of interest to bring more attention to it. The LCD made the object look much more in focus than what it really was. It's out of focus just enough to be noticeable.

I know one solution is to use an external monitor but most of the shooting was from the shoulder or from tripod at lots of different locations and angles. To haul a monitor around with me would have been to much.

What techniques\setups do you use to help with this or have you just become that comfortable with the camera that you can tell when even just a bit out of focus? I was thinking I could mount a small 7in LCD onto my tripod?

I was using this shoot as practice so luckly I'm not on the hook for anything. I've been spending lots of time with the camera trying to become proficient with the features and customizable selections, so much that my wife's getting a little jealous of the camera :-)

Any tips you could offer would be greatly appreciated!
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Old April 2nd, 2008, 08:35 PM   #2
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I use the viewfinder.
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Old April 2nd, 2008, 09:32 PM   #3
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Set up the distance meter so its on all the time. Once you get pretty good at judging distance (if you're not already), the readout is a great way to determine if you're in focus (or at least very close).
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Old April 2nd, 2008, 09:52 PM   #4
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Did you use peaking function?
If not, that's a good start.
If you have time, zoom in all the way to the subject, adjust focus and zoom out. You can also magnify for focusing while not recording.
Also, like Philip wrote, turn on the distance meter. If you happen to be at the same position for longer time and try to focus on different subjects, remember the distance and when you go back to the subject it's easier.
Easy way to quickly find focus is also push AF. It's fast and almost always right, depending sometimes on the lighting and composition.
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Old April 2nd, 2008, 10:00 PM   #5
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Utilise the backfocus that the lense gives you and the focus assist.

By this I mean zoom in all the way on the subject you want to have in focus while using the zoom focus assist and even the peaking function.

Set your focus on the subject.

Zoom out to how you wanted the scene to be framed. The camera will retain it's focus setting (ie:backfocus) and your subject will retain it's sharp focus.

This works well during times when you have a moment or two to set up for the shot. When it comes to run and gun I think you will also find that experience with the LCD will help improve your focus. Peaking can also be on while recording so this can assist you during those times.

A seperate LCD can certainly be a good aid for this but you have to consider that the resolution of the monitor must be high enough that it can really act as an aid for focusing and not just framing. Ikan has a 8" HD monitor that might be suitable on the low end of the spectrum, but a high quality monitor like the Panasonic BT-LH80W is cream of the crop right now (It also cost's a little over half the price of the camera before batteries/

Try to basic tricks with the camera's LCD first. They have worked very well for me even when shooting with my LetusEX so it can be done!

All the best,

added - beat me to it when suggesting zooming in....I was just writing about that!!!! :)
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Old April 2nd, 2008, 11:40 PM   #6
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Hi Lou...........

Everything in the preceeding posts is valid.

You will get more used to that LCD screen with practice, your "feel" for what it's telling you will improve dramatcally, magnify and peaking really are your friend.

My suggestion is to forget about the external monitor. If you are still struggling (especially if focusing beyond about 35 feet) invest in a LRF (Laser Range Finder) and use it in conjunction with the distance readout on the camera.

It's exceedingly accurate and can really save the day on difficult subjects, tho' for fast moving targets a complete waste of time.

Relatively cheap, easy to carry and "job done".

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Old April 6th, 2008, 09:30 PM   #7
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viewfinder more accurate than LCD?

any opinions on whether the viewfinder is more accurate for focus? I always switch to B & W
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Old April 7th, 2008, 02:29 AM   #8
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I use a Seimens Chart . You can down load it for free and print it out. I use it mainly with my 35mm adapter but it works fine just for my camera too.
Website: Camera Operator in Sydney Australia and Singapore.
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Old April 8th, 2008, 09:13 PM   #9
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I use the Hoodman with magnifier if I am on a tripod indoors. My eyes are not what they used to be and this makes it much easier. The bonus is you get a shade for use with the LCD when outdoors.
Canon XH A1, Sony HVR-MRC1, Premiere Pro 3.2.0, Matrox RT.X2 LE
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