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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 24th, 2008, 06:50 PM   #1
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Received New A1- have questions about latitude & pre-sets

So out of the box the set-up is pretty terrible in my opinion, but I'm used to it as it's pretty much par for the course with all new cameras.

I'm trying to set the camera up for the most latitude and have found that preset #9 with "cine 2" seems to be the best. That's all fine but I'm losing a stop or two of sensitivity. I'm using it as a B camera for weddings so once we encounter low light situations we end up having to change the pre-set to something else.

This is not a big deal but I guess I'm just surprised (or spoiled) because our JVC HD200's don't have this problem. In other words the JVC can have great latitude (no blowouts in white) AND very high sensitivity in the same set up.

Isn't this possible with the A1? What picture mods are you run & gunners going with? Would love to hear from other wedding shooters too (you know who you are!).

J.
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Old July 24th, 2008, 07:26 PM   #2
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I don't shoot inside hardly at all so I can't help you with your specific requirements. I've also never used your JVC so no knowledge there either.

Your nomenclature is befuddling. What do you mean by sensitivity? Are you losing two stop of usable light with your settings? What do you mean by latitude? Is it an ability to handle varying light conditions? If I understand what you mean at all, it sounds like the setting you like for flexibility is actually less flexible than the factory setting. If that's the case, you might want to look to other settings. Many people like panalook or panalook2.

If you're blowing out the whites with the A1 on full manual, then you should try to ride your aperture and/or shutter speed and/or ND filters more diligently. If you're running AV or TV, try backing down the AE level parameter. Don't remember how to do it, but I've backed mine down .25 and have no problems. I can also easily shoot in a snow field on full manual without blowing things out. That is unless I'm being a real idiot, or hung over, that day... and yes, I've been both.

If you can clarify the situations your experiencing in more detail, we might offer better help. Sorry, I don't speak left coast so maybe I just need a tranlsator.
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Old July 24th, 2008, 07:39 PM   #3
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Let me clarify...

I always shoot full manual, use ND accordingly, and trust my zebras.

Out of the box the camera blows out the whites very easily- defined as very little latitude.

I'll go ahead and try Panalook and Panalook 2 and see what I find.

Thanks for the suggestion.
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Old July 25th, 2008, 01:09 AM   #4
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Hi Justin,

I'm just up the road from you in Novato. If I understand you correctly you're saying you can go to correct exposure to blown out whites without much change in lighting when using the factory presets. I shoot mostly stage shows so the extremes in lighting always is a challenge. I usually end up using Panalook 2 as a preset and am constantly on the aperture. Panalook seems to have a bit less latitude as you call it.

I've never done a wedding (other than for friends or family) but if you find you need another B cam or B cam operator I might be able to fill in. And I alway love broadening my experience. At least I shoot with an A1 so I'll know my way around the camera. :).

Garrett
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Old July 25th, 2008, 07:47 AM   #5
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I've found that the XH A1 has a little better latitude than the other 1/3" chip cameras I've used. However, I've never used any camera "out of the box," except of course the amateur home movie cameras that are designed for that. You have to spend some time with the manual and get the camera set up properly. Because the XH A1 has such depth of setup possibilities, it make take a little longer to tweak it to that kind of shooting. I find that I still have to refer to the manual on occasion to do something in the menu I don't do regularly.
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Old July 25th, 2008, 12:21 PM   #6
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Thanks Bill,

I've pretty much memorized the manual by now. There's just no substitute for making tweaks, going out to shoot, and then making more adjustments. I've had two shooting sessions with the camera on the clock as a third camera- one daytime and one night time, learning more about the characteristics each time.

I think the third shoot will be much better. Working a camera without a broadcast ENG lens is driving me NUTS!

BTW- I have to say that the Canon HDV codec is apparently a minor miracle! I have not seen one bit of macro-blocking. Also the the noise free image is startling. Now if we could just use this codec in the JVC form factor I'd be on cloud nine.
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Old July 25th, 2008, 01:55 PM   #7
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I came from the 2/3" chip camera world too and getting accustomed to an electronic lens took me a little while. Eventually you find out that it does exactly the same thing. Instead of marks on the lens, you have distance readouts in the viewfinder. Again, you have to go into the setups and get the VF/LCD configured so the focus distances stay on all the time. You have your choice of meters or feet. I like meters because it measures down to 1/10 of a meter. You get 1/10 of a foot but only up to 10 feet. So, it's actually more accurate than those old lens marks on a manual lens. The next issue is when you zoom in all the way ,the lens is going to stop down because it's an f3.5 at full zoom. Just think of it like using prime lenses back in the old 16mm days. The longer lenses were slower.

You also need to change your focus ring speed from fast to slow. The camera is not set up the way you like it from the factory. The defaults are not meant for normal use. You'll find exactly the same thing with any 2/3" chip camera. People unaccustomed to pro cameras used to complain about Sony cameras, saying they were too cool. Well, duhhh...that's what all those menu adjustments are for.


If by form factor you mean the JVC shoulder mount, you might look at a good shoulder mount. There are several of them out there for a couple hundred bucks or so. Some are even cheaper. My favorite one is at Birns & Sawyer (a sponsor here); I think it's around $250.
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