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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 May 2nd, 2008, 04:26 PM   #1
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Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Orlando, FL
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I've got an A1, now where do I go?

I'll admit, I'm quite a newb with the A1 and would like to become better.

What is a good resource for learning about all techniques and features? I don't really know what "knee", "setup" and "pedestal" mean. I don't know when I should use AGC or to manually adjust gain, how to properly white balance, etc....

I'd like to make some nice looking videos, and most will be shot at different local establishments with various lighting conditions.

Also, what are some essential accessories? Currently, I have a Manfrotto Tripod and 501-HDV fluid head, and a wireless mic and Sennheiser HD 280 headphones.

I'm on a limited budget so I don't have a ton of money to spend. Should I get an LCD camera-mounted monitor? 35-mm lens adapter? Steady-cam? Glider?

Thanks for the help and sorry for asking a lot of newb questions.
Makoto Schoppert is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 2nd, 2008, 05:20 PM   #2
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Central Coast - NSW, Australia
Posts: 1,459
do what I did when I first got my A1

1. read the manual
2. use the search function on the A1 sub-forum - search on a particular word (knee, or on camera light, or monitor)
3. play with the camera, film a short subject
4.start at 1 again

It's great fun, good luck
Cheers - Paul M.
www.relivetheday.com.au : www.perbenyik.com
Paul Mailath is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 2nd, 2008, 06:23 PM   #3
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: North Conway, NH
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Makoto... I'm six months ahead of you with the A1, but maybe a little more experience. Paul's got it right. The manual is your friend. Don't just read it. Take it with you wherever you shoot. And, oh yeah, shoot. Shoot everything you can. Shoot rocks and trees. Find a local kids sporting event and shoot it. Shoot bugs. Shoot cars. Shoot stars. Shoot traffic. Shoot traffic lights. Shoot manhole covers. Shoot sleeping policemen. Shoot the ground. Shoot the sky. The point is get practice using the A1 in all sorts of situations.

Don't worry about pedestal, knee and elbow, no. I mean setup and the other fancy settings just yet. Try some of the presets out there. I like VIVIDRGB for nature but it blows in snow and will cook your vectorscope in a color-rich environment. PANALOOK is good too. Try different ones and see which ones you like. I've left creating presets to those with more understanding of these things.

As to what to get next... a good LANC controller will make your life orders of magnitude easier with your A1 on the sticks. Be careful on selecting the best one as Canon does not take advantage of all the functions available on many of them. My Varizoom is only good for zooming and camera start/stop despite the multitude of buttons it shows me. Search forums for recommendations. There are some that are more functional than others.

Last thing is get a good rain cover. Rain, snow, a place where you might get splashed, a dusty environment... the cover offers protection in all of these situations. You can get some of your best shots when the sun isn't shining.

Hope that helps and good luck.
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Old May 2nd, 2008, 06:29 PM   #4
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Hi Makoto,

Welcome to the A1 club! I just bought mine a few days ago as well - but have been using an XL2 for about 3 years.

My thoughts are it looks you've got a pretty good setup with the tripod, wireless mic etc ... to get you on your way to making good videos.

I wouldn't worry too much about adding things like 35mm adapters or steadicams until you've gotten the hang of the A1 by itself. Once you've done that you'll be better equipped to get the most out of any accessories.

Paul hit the nail on the head. The information and expertise available on this forum is absolutely priceless.

And get out and practice! :)


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Old May 2nd, 2008, 07:07 PM   #5
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Location: Tampa, FL
Posts: 210
A1 - what now?

I guess it begs the question what you WANT to do with it? Seriously... start trying to do that in baby steps.

With that caliber of camcorder you now own, I'd say RTFM first, then go play with it in the real world (take the manual with you). You should focus on learning how to do well composed, interesting shots as well as learn how to hold, zoom and operate the basic functions.

One way to know you are getting good is when you watch the video, you no longer notice the camera, by this I mean, jerky movements, excessive zooms or the "radar sweeps" of the terrain that is hallmark of amateur video. You can also consider yourself good when you actually WANT to watch the video. It'll likely suck for while, but be patient.

Next learn how to use the camcorder to tell a good story. Watch movies or well written documentaries (or whatever fits with your goals) and learn how a good story & the visuals that illustrate it is constructed. Video uses standard cues to communicate to the audience, you should learn these, as they are largely universal due to the worldwide penetration of Hollywood. Even a family picnic can be interesting if told in a compelling fashion. I am NOT implying you need que cards and scripts! This story could be "got in the car drive to the beach, had a picnic, soda fizzed everywhere, car had a flat on the way home.."

Remember Blair Witch Project had some of the most awful video ever, but cleaned up at the box office because it told a compelling story. So just leave it in auto for now, and learn how to get good video (hopefully better then BWP). By then, you will have more knowledge and be better able to know what else you need.

I would recommend a tripod, a camera bag and a polarizer, but even then, you really want to try to "do it once, do it right" so take some time to get educated and know exactly what you need before buying - tripod prices can rival your camcorder.

You'll likely be a lot happier this way.
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Old May 2nd, 2008, 11:16 PM   #6
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Thanks for all the advice.

I am now studying the manual even more and will treat it as my good friend.
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Old May 3rd, 2008, 02:25 AM   #7
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Glasgow, Scotland
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Originally Posted by Makoto Schoppert View Post
Thanks for all the advice.

I am now studying the manual even more and will treat it as my good friend.
That's good advice. I always carry it (in a freezer bag to keep it pristine) with the camera. Download the pdf version as well - it's a great help for finding obscure information quickly:


My 2 pence - try to learn to find your way about the camera without having to take your eye from the viewfinder. Learn to find all these buttons and switches (AF, shutter, menu etc) without looking. You'll find setting up shots is much quicker. Practice until you can do it without thinking.
Colin McDonald is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 3rd, 2008, 03:47 AM   #8
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Agreed that reading this forum is a good idea first. Coupled with actually using the camera.

Other suggestions.

Make up a list of items to check before starting to shoot, write that on a piece of camera tape and stick it on the back of the camera. There are so many things that can trip you up, particularly if you are shooting for 'real' and the pressure is on.

Learn to look at the icons on the LCD and understand what they mean. It's easy to overlook them when under pressure and that leads to mistakes.

If you can understand how the presets work from the manual you are more intelligent than I am. It's very badly written.

In some ways it's a pain in the backside having so much choice. I get the impression that the people who discuss presets and knee etc etc own the console software and are able to experiment in real time. So maybe you should think about buying that.
Richard Gooderick is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 3rd, 2008, 11:02 AM   #9
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Kansas City, MO
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I still keep my manual in the camera bag. Any time I get a new camera I set it on a tripod, get out the manual, make a pot of coffee, and spend some quality time RTFMing. You need to try doing the things the manual says rather than sitting on a plane or something and reading the manual on its own.
Bill Pryor is offline   Reply

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