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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 July 16th, 2008, 03:18 AM   #1
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XHa1 grainy indoor footage

Hi - I'm hoping for some advice & if this should get posted under another forum please accept my apologies.
I've moved from a VX2100 to Canon XHA1 for my part time wedding videography business and although impressed overall (especially since I discovered presets) I am disappointed with the footage inside compared to the VX2100.
Unless the light coming through the windows is shining directly on them from the side - the footage becomes grainy, especially the dark colours of the suits, the VX2100 seemed sharper although flatter colours.
Post production using CS3 can only improve the shots by so much. Is the answer additional lighting? I have sony lights I attach to the cameras for the evening footage, but for the service (mostly held during the day) the clergy object to additional lights.
I was using preset REALITY 1/25 if that helps.

I've looked through the different postings to low light/grainy footage and the answer isn't jumping out at me,
Any suggestions as to what options I need to try to improve my footage would be gratefully received.
I am a novice XHa1 user (as you can tell) so be gentle!!!! thank you so much
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Old July 16th, 2008, 04:12 AM   #2
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AGC was on ?
Always turn off AGC.
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Old July 16th, 2008, 04:19 AM   #3
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AGC was on as was AWB - thanks for the tip.

so if I turn off AGC - what would I do then - play about with the gain settings?

thanks
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Old July 16th, 2008, 05:51 AM   #4
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so if I turn off AGC - what would I do then - play about with the gain settings?
The manual gain switch has three settings. The first is of course set to either 0 or -3 as a clean baseline. My personal preference is to put the second and third gain settings at 6db and 12db. Before upping the gain I sometimes drop the shutter speed (1/30th for 60i or 1/24th for 24F) and of course open the iris up. I've been happy with the low light capabilities of the A1, and you can actually shoot a bit dark and pull a lot of highlights and details in post if desired. Using a custom preset for low light situations is a good idea too, especially if you plan to make it pop a bit with color correction later.
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Old July 31st, 2008, 11:09 AM   #5
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Does anyone know if the agc function has any impact on outdoor shoots? Normally it shouldn't but since the canon doesn't give me any reading to show what it is doing when i am in "tv" mode I just wonder.
Thing is that the camera doesn"t seem to tell you when to use the ND filter unless the agc function is turned on, another strange option canon managed to build in.
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Old July 31st, 2008, 01:15 PM   #6
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I would not EVER use the AGC on this camera.

I made the mistake of doing a shoot using AGC and it was horribly grainy even in sunlight. Live and learn but I just don't think Canon's too big on their auto settings. The auto focus is poor as well compared to other cameras I've used (Sony/Panny).

That said, once you get past the extremely steep learning curve on these cameras they're pretty nice.

I don't think these cameras would be a favorite among many news gatherers and event videographers but I do a lot of event work and as a result of this camera I now know more than ever about manual (professional) controls. Not a bad trade off.

6&12db is what I settled on. I think the Vixias that we also use run at about 12db

Good luck!

Todd
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Old July 31st, 2008, 02:14 PM   #7
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That said, once you get past the extremely steep learning curve on these cameras they're pretty nice.
I thought i was the only one who thought it was a difficult camera, I as well (still have) a vx2100 and a dvx100b and in terms of handling the dvx100b is much better then the canon. It's like you said that canon's function layout almost obligates you to go into full manual because of the stupid limitations it has in these tv and other modes and then i"m talking about the info that it does or does not show.
When I worked with my vx2100 I only switched between manual and automatic on the iris and focus but the dvx100 also forced me to work more manually which gave me a much better understanding about the manual controls and how the iris, nd filter and gain can be set manual to get a better image.
In the end I think it is a better way to go fully manual but when everything has to go really fast I sometimes like to rely a bit on some automatic controls of the camera.

Anyway thanks for the agc info, I don't understand really why the camera adds gain in good light conditions, knowing this I won't use it at all and manually decide when to boost gain or when to use the nd filter, I can always push the button to turn off automatic iris to read the values.
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Old July 31st, 2008, 02:37 PM   #8
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Noa,
I have found that the more I use all manual functions, the more that auto frustrates me. When I use my HV20 for shooting family stuff, I get flubbered on not being able to control it. It has alot to do with what you're used to. The 2100 feels like a toy to me now after using the A1 for even 5 months. It is a difficult camera, but the payoff is worth the effort.
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Old July 31st, 2008, 04:20 PM   #9
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The 2100 feels like a toy to me now after using the A1 for even 5 months.
Yes Bill, I know what you mean, I got the same feeling after using the DVX100 which made my VX2100 feel like a real handycam. I never regretted though getting the VX because in it's 4:3 SD days and for a while when using it as a 16:9 camera it has served me very well , never let me down and was my best investment ever as a starting videographer. The Canon now feels like a logical step up from the DVX though I still use the Pana intensively for many paid assignments and plan to keep it at least until end 2009. It may not deliver the same sharpness on regular dvd's as the Canon does but the camera still has a lot of potential.
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Old July 31st, 2008, 06:11 PM   #10
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Yes, I definitely agree as well that the AGC is just awful on this camera - The first thing I did after viewing the initial footage I shot with my XHA1 was to turn off the AGC and set the gain to -3 and I haven't touched the setting since - I've been happy with my footage ever since. For wedding footage though, you might not want to set your gain that low (maybe 0db or even +3db when shooting in darker rooms/reception halls). However, on the flip side, turning the gain way up on this camera does allow you to see quite well on extremely low-light places (provided you don't mind the video noise) good for stuff like night time wildlife shots or filming home movies in dark places.
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Old July 31st, 2008, 07:43 PM   #11
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I made the mistake of doing a shoot using AGC.
Never ever go on an important shoot with a camera you have not used enough to feel comfortable with its capabilities and operation in the various modes you might use. It is an invitation to a lot of image tweaking in post at best, and disaster at worst.

Too many folks open the box when the UPS man drops it off at 5:30 PM and try it at 7 PM money shoot, never having laid hands on it before.

The impact of AGC will depend on the lighting and other settings. Whether or not it works for you is your decision based on your artistic intent. Some folks like it, some do not, and many live with it and use it when it is to their advantage turning it off when that is called for.
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Old August 1st, 2008, 12:27 AM   #12
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Never ever go on an important shoot with a camera you have not used enough to feel comfortable with its capabilities and operation in the various modes you might use.
This month will be the most busiest month of the year and I will do all of it with my pana dvx, the canon was bought a bit sooner then expected because they had their cashback action but I plan to test it intensively the following weeks just to get used to it.
My father couldn't understand this, he said; "put it in full automatic mode, what can go wrong?" He owns a vx2100 you know which explains his reaction a bit.
The reason why I find this so important is because my first camera, the vx2100, caught me off guard once a few years ago at a paid job when I accidentally pushed the "on" button too far which put it on memorycard mode giving these ghost images, it took me 10 minutes before I found out what was wrong. The safetypin that prevents this was pressed in so each time I put the camera off and on I placed it in that mode again, it were 10 minutes I still remember now :) After that I studied every option on the camera to recognize any strange behaviour and I have the instruction manual with me just incase a warning appears in my lcd display that I might be unaware off.
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