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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 23rd, 2008, 08:21 PM   #1
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Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Dayton, TN (USA)
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Proud new owner of an XH-A1

So I got my brand new XH-A1 today--my first HD camera ever to use full-time (I've gotten the opportunity to work with a Varicam and a Red ONE, but both times I was more of a PA than anything else so I was never able to really "use" the camera).

I've been doing lots of reading up on it and watching footage over on Vimeo, so I feel like I've got a pretty good idea about how the camera works.

But I've got two questions for y'all:

First, if you could give one piece of advice to a new XHA1 user--something you wished you had known when you first picked up the camera--what would that be?

Second, what is your favorite trick in film making/video production to get spectacular results?
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Old July 23rd, 2008, 08:43 PM   #2
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Congratulations David, I wish I'd known about the custom presets available here although many were still being born at the time. Panalook2 is the current choice. And use a ND6 neutral density filter in the bright light we have here.

The next thing I knew about...get some great mics to go with it. The Rode NTG-3 shotgun is worth twice its price. And some good wind protection, check that out.

Favourite trick, have a good story to tell and have fun telling it. Enjoy your A1.

Cheers.
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Old July 23rd, 2008, 09:50 PM   #3
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Congrats! Don't forget to turn off the AGC. Sound first, lighting second, then shoot for the edit.
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Old July 23rd, 2008, 11:52 PM   #4
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Congrats. I'm fairly new to the A1. My learnings:

1. Use zebra to set exposure. Screen is misleading as to exposure. I set my zebra at 85 and get a little striping in the white/bright areas.

2. Learn to focus! It's very easy to get soft focus when using the small built in display. Use peaking or magnify to get focus. If time allows, zoom in tight, focus, zoom out and take the shot. For run and gun I often use the combination of the auto focus and manual. I may set it on manual, put the subject in the center of the frame, press focus, release focus (back to manual) then frame my subject. In a hurry it often does better than rushing a manual focus. And unlike many here, I do use AF quite a bit for quick work and use the focus ring to vary from the auto function.

3. Look at customizing the manual controls. I like for my focus ring, aperture ring, and zoom rings to turn in a way that makes sense to me. All this is user adjustable.

Have fun and enjoy your investment. You have a fine camera.
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Old July 24th, 2008, 03:55 AM   #5
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I recommend a good shotgun, I love my Rode NTG-2. The NTG-1 is a little more compact, and may suit your needs better, but I use mine for other purposes where phantom power isn't available.

I would advise you to use a fairly conservative custom preset, in other words something that doesn't make your color too radical on the camera. I find it much easier to tinker with in post.

I would also recommend reading the manual. I learned quite a bit. I would set your low gain to -3 and never use AGC. Some great advice I picked up here was "gain=grain."

I recommend finding a tape you like and sticking to it. You may find that you don't need to use the HD tapes, could save some money. Beware of switching w/out running a cleaning tape to avoid lubricant issues.

Get a good eyecup and possibly and LCD shade. It makes it much easier to judge your exposure, although zebra bars are a must to eliminate error with backlights/sun.

Have fun and plan to spend some time with it. Don't get frustrated when your first tape doesn't look like CSI, all good things come with time.

Enjoy! You made a great choice.
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Old July 24th, 2008, 07:22 AM   #6
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Thanks guys, Matt, the first thing I did when I pulled it out of the box was switch the AGC off and change the Low setting to -3! I've been reading these boards for a while and picked up on that pretty quick.

I have the Senn K6/ME66 shotgun (albeit without a boom pole and windscreen--somehow they "forgot" to order those for me!!) I've also got the Senn G2 wireless system for it (I'll be doing lots of interviews).

The camera is for work, so I can't just "play" with it as much as I'd like, but I am excited to be using it. It'll give me some good practice and insight for when I order my own camera in the coming months--I'm going back and forth between the XHG1, the HVX, the EX1, and the HD250U. There are positives and negatives to all of them: I like the XHG1's native 1080 resolution, but I don't like HDV. I like the HVX's P2 workflow and 4:2:2 color space of DVCProHD, but I don't like the low pixel shifted resolution. I like the EX1's 1/2" censors and SxS workflow, but I don't like the CMOS (I'll be doing lots of sports and live even stuff so strobing is a potential problem). I like the HD250U's shoulder mount format and changeable lenses, but again, I don't like the HDV workflow. Maybe I should just go with an HDV camera and since I'll have to copy over in real-time anyway, just get an ingest unit and ingest in a format other than interframe HDV. Ggaahhh!! so many choices out there! Why is the prosumer market so inflated??!!

Maybe I'll just go with Scarlet.
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Old July 24th, 2008, 05:12 PM   #7
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Well, now that you have an A1 you can put it to work, squirrel aside 10% and buy the Scarlet in 12 - 18 months. Get busy!
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Old July 25th, 2008, 07:25 AM   #8
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First thing: Find out how to turn off Image Stabilization and do it. When I first got mine I kept forgetting to turn it off and all of my tripod stuff was mushy.
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