Best A1 Optical Accessories? at DVinfo.net

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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 15th, 2008, 07:49 PM   #1
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Best A1 Optical Accessories?

I have a new XH-A1, ND4 filter, CPolarizer, UV filter, and Flor filter. I am new to this class of camera; having spent many years as a serious hobbiest using good consumer cameras (HDR-HC3...). I shoot instructional videos, interviews, home videos (inside & outside), and I have a son coming home in a few days from SCAD film school that will want to do some creative work.

What optical accessories would you guys say are good additions to what I already have to help me take my work to the next level? I don't have any experience with matte boxes and the sort.
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Old May 16th, 2008, 09:16 AM   #2
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I personally think that matte boxes are a bit overkill, though they do look great when you're trying to impress people ;) On the XH-A1 mattboxes have the added negative effect of blocking the IAF sensor, something to keep in mind.

You could look into the very nice Wide Angle adapter that Canon makes, though personally I've found the lens to be wide enough even for indoor shooting. Unfortunately like the matte box, I think the WA adapter also blocks the IAF sensor.

What about some of the other accessories that really make the XH-A1 shine? Microphones, tripod, should brace, etc.. Are you pretty much good to go in that area?
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Old May 16th, 2008, 09:47 AM   #3
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Roger,
I second Philip's opinion. You probably don't need optical accessories.
Save the extra $$$ for audio stuff. For starters, a decent shotgun and a decent lavalier. And a GOOD tripod is a must.
Have fun!

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Old May 16th, 2008, 10:59 AM   #4
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I've got the WD-H72 Wide-angle from Canon and I love it. Now, keep in mind that this bad boy just about doubles the weight of the camera. I'm not exaggerating too much. It's heavy.

But I do vehicle event shooting and product installations, so I need to be able to get up close and personal with stuff (crawling under cars/trucks or into the interior to show something.)

And yes, it blocks the IAF sensor, so be sure to go into the camera menu and change the auto focus (if you use it, I usually don't) option from "Instant" to "Standard," or whatever the regular-sounding option is called.

I like it. The weight and heft make it a little more stable for handheld work.

The handheld shots in this video were made with this lens.
http://exposureroom.com/members/Will...6c163f580bcd5/

Another accessory that's been great for me is the VL-10Li II from Canon. It's the small on-camera light from Canon that fits in the accessory shoe. It is small, lightweight, and super bright. I just wish it had a hinged head so you could direct the light where you want it (bounce off of the cieling, etc.)
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Old May 16th, 2008, 03:58 PM   #5
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Thanks guys. I have a very good-but-not-great Sony VCT-870 tripod. Very fluid movement, centers weight on A1 very nicely. Doesn't have all the balance adjustments and can twist slightly if you get too aggressive on a pan; the "oh no, they're way over there" shot. Has built in LANC. I've looked at some Monfrotto's, but this one seems to have better movement; although less sophisticated adjustments.

I'm on a wife restricted budget now, so I will probably have to live for a while with my existing 2 AT-Pro88W wireless mics, 3 AT-35S lavalieres, 4 light stands (each with 4 x 27W 5,500K CFL), 42" 5-in-1 reflector, Zoom H2 mic, sandbag weights (actually small pebbles), MXL large condensor studio mic thru an Art Tube MP Project amp. I know it's modest fare, but it produces surprisingly good results.

I'd like to try a wide angle lens but the stock lens is much better than my other cameras and hasn't let me down yet. Also like the idea of a good portable, mounted light. I've also been eying a shotgun mic, thinking of a Sennheiser.
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Old May 16th, 2008, 04:30 PM   #6
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The VCT-870 tripod you are using has a maximum load capacity of 8.8lbs
If you are planning on putting on a shotgun mic, wide angle adapter, on-board light....you will be over the weight limit on that head. Yes, the tripod might still work, but not well.

When you are ready to step up your tripod system, and stay within a reasonable budget, I would recommend the Libec LS38M(2A) tripod system (Tapeworks Price $599.00) or the Bogen 503HDV,351MVB2K Kit (Tapworks Price $639.00). If you go to the Support Your Local Camera forum in DVinfo, there are some great suggestions there as well on tripods. I always inform my clients that if you have a professional camcorder (which you do) you want a professional set of sticks.

On wireless audio, Sennheiser Evolution series works great!

For onboard lighting, you can get the Canon light that was recommended in this thread or take a look at LitePanels LPMicro (Tapeworks Price $299.00) at http://www.s131567196.onlinehome.us/ This light runs on AA batteries.
Another option is Frezzolini. I consider them top of their game for onboard lighting, but they are kind of expensive. You get what you pay for.

For a shotgun mic, the ME66/K6 is a reliable mic. Also the Rode NTG2 has had some great response as well. Depends on how good of a mic you want and how much you want to spend.

Best Regards,
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Tapeworks Texas Inc - HDVinfo Sponser
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Old May 16th, 2008, 04:56 PM   #7
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Before getting my equipment I would look at the kind of shooting you do, consider what you get that is exactly what you want and then consider what kind of shots you would like that you can't get with the equipment you have.

For example, if you are not finding yourself in need of a wider shot, I would think a wide angle lens right now is not necessary.

The same thing with the Pro88 lavs. They have very good mics with them and if they give you the sound you need in the situations you use them, I'm not sure the Sennheiser would really be an improvement. I have a Pro88 and it sounds very good.

If you are doing interviews and training videos, a supercardiod or short shotgun that you could use overhead in the situations you shoot (outdoor? indoor? both) would probably be something good to look at. And with that a boom pole.

My opinion on the tripod is to keep the one you have right now if it works well. I'm not sure a Bogen would be better than the one you have for what you are doing. If you are not going to add a wide angle lens or a matte box, I don't think the weight limit is an immediate concern. However, I do agree that too much weight on a head yields bad results.

If you truly need to upgrade your tripod for how and what you are shooting, I don't think you would be happy with the medium priced units. I am not familier with the Libec 38, though it gets excellent comments. However, there is an unbelievable difference if you move up to something like the Sachtler FSB-6, which is not that much more expensive. (The Cartoni Focus and the Gitzo are also choices if you are looking to handle more weight and want a professional head.) As Scott says, there are lots of excellent discussions in the other forum section on all the heads and tripods, what people like and don't like, etc.
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Old May 16th, 2008, 06:36 PM   #8
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I was considering a Sennheiser shotgun for when I don't want a lavaliere visible. The tripod I have is fine for now. It smoothed up considerably with the heavier A1 versus the much lighter HC3 I was using previously. I guess they are "tuned" for a pretty specific weight.

Last edited by Roger Shealy; May 16th, 2008 at 07:18 PM.
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Old May 17th, 2008, 05:42 AM   #9
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Sorry to double post, but just thought I'd share a thought. I've been using the A1 a bit and love the control. I had expected that the images would somehow be much better than my much less expensive HC3; but really with decent lighting the images aren't very different. The real difference has been being able to capture decent images in less than stellar lighting, being able to control depth of field and nail focus more reliably, and being able to smoothly zoom. I'm sure the manual features and presets will become invaluable when shooting more dynamic situations when light is changing, or I need to nail focus quickly between several points.

In essence the real gain in moving up to a camera like this has been at the edges of the bell curve when things aren't so easy. In brief the A1 allows much more finesse.
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Old May 17th, 2008, 11:24 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Shealy View Post
In essence the real gain in moving up to a camera like this has been at the edges of the bell curve when things aren't so easy. In brief the A1 allows much more finesse.
Yeah, I've used the HV20 and on a nice day it will shoot video that basically looks every bit as good as my XH-A1. The real difference is when you're in any sort of demanding situation that requires you to quickly adjust your settings to get a shot. With the A1 you dial it in and shoot, on the HV20 you fiddle and fiddle as your shot disappears. Literally what might take 5 seconds to adjust on a pro cam might take a minute to adjust with a consumer cam (if it can at all).

And of course as mentioned there are other raw advantages that the small cameras simply can't compensate for, such as low light, custom presets, etc... Don't forget the audio portion of a pro cam is also far, far superior; we tend to ignore that and just look at the nice images coming off consumer cams these days. Its also nice knowing you'll take the XH-A1 to a gig and never hear the dreaded "Hey, I've got that camcorder" from guests or clients ;)
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Old May 17th, 2008, 01:01 PM   #11
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Unfortunately, I haven't gotten to where I can "dial it in" in 5 seconds. Just spent an hour or so trying to get familiar with manual zoom and focus which is quite demanding; especially if trying to do both simultaneously on a moving target. The birds at the bird feeder were really confused why their human feeder had a black box stuck to his head while they feasted today!

I'm trying to learn the switches by feel and use the eyepiece instead of the screen. Haven't quite figured out the preset features yet, but I'm reading up on that as well as the custom features.
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Old May 19th, 2008, 10:11 AM   #12
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I know what you mean with trying to use the eyepiece over the screen. I just can't seem to get used to looking through the eyepiece. Especially since I wear glasses and find it impossible to be comfortable shooting this way. I hear that a Sony eyecup will fit directly over the A1 eyepiece and that people prefer this setup to the stock one. I think it's worth a try.
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Old May 19th, 2008, 11:53 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Will Mahoney View Post
I hear that a Sony eyecup will fit directly over the A1 eyepiece and that people prefer this setup to the stock one. I think it's worth a try.
Yup, search this forum for several posts to that effect. I think one member even uploaded some pics.

Its supposed to be a perfect fit and greatly improves the usability of the eyepiece. I seem to recall its in the $40ish range.
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