Renting XH-A1 For the weekend. 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 August 6th, 2008, 10:30 PM   #1
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Renting XH-A1 For the weekend.

I'll be using XH-A1 for the first time on Friday to shoot a music video, but this is my first time working with this camera, really it will be my first time working with a professional camera, period.... as I shot my older videos with handicams.

1) I was thinking about using some of the presets you guys put in the other thread, will I need an SD card to load them? Is there a manual way? What's the most cost effective way to load these...
2) Would I have to white balance the presets, or would that mess up the look that was trying to be achieved in the preset?
3) Are there any tips on what I should and shouldn't do regarding this camera. I'll only have it for a few days, so I doubt I'll have time to figure all the ins and outs.
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Old August 7th, 2008, 06:22 AM   #2
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1) you do need a card to load the presets - it can be a low mb card as the presets don't take up very much space - one from a digital camera you already have maybe - just download the presets on to a computer - i think it goes in a folder called presets or preset (check forum on that) and you just put that folder on the card and stick it in the camera

I think if you are only going to need one preset you could adjust one of the existing on the camera itself - not sure of policy on rentals
some people prefer to shoot factory settings and adjust in post anyway - if you are big into that part it may be preferred as the footage is more neutral and easier to play with in post

2) you always have to white balance - it's separate from the preset

3) I'd download the manual and try and skim over the main bits

but for very base things - turn OFF the autogain
turn OFF instant autofocus - if you think you can manually focus things - not sure how trained you are on cameras in general - use that push instant focus button on the side of the camera for quick adjustments
turn OFF the autowhite balance and manually set it
use the Manual setting for the shoot - if you can manage it - again, not sure of how much you know

if you are outdoors in nice light you could probably get away with alot of the auto settings
indoors - low lighting - the autogain will kill things but you may need to use some gain - these can be chosen manually

trish
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Old August 8th, 2008, 04:32 AM   #3
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Thank you for the thorough response. I just bought an SD card reader and a 2 gig card, so I should be set up. The main reason I wanted to use the presets, is because I know I won't have much time with the camera and I really like some the presets I've seen posted.

However, I'll be sure to download the manual right now and begin reading up on how to use the camera. I definitely want to get a grip on the on how to use the focus and to control the gain.

What gain settings are typical for outdoor vs indoors?
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Old August 8th, 2008, 05:13 AM   #4
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outdoor in bright conditions you could go as low as -3 (you need to set these in the menu) the values on the outside switches of the camera can be different gain settings chosen by you - i forget factory settings - prob L - 0 M - 6 H - 12?

for indoors it's under debate - most people prefer not to go higher than +6 as things start to get grainy after that - lots of noise in the image

slow your shutter speed as much as you can (within reason - ideal is 1/48 for 24p - depends what mode you are going to shoot for the shoot - i've gone down to 1/24 indoors but if there is alot of movement you get trailing) - keep the lens open as wide as poss - and it's really the light conditions that will determine how much gain you'll need indoors

use the lightmeter reader on the display - you can get away with it being under the middle marker a bit - but the goal is to meet the middle for the exposure

and indoors obviously if there is a really bright light it will be more exposed - maybe in a club setting - not sure if this is a live video from event - you want to worry about the stage lighted areas - not be reading your light based on dark corners

turn ZEBRA patterns On (menu) so you can see when your highlights are blowing out - you can set zebra levels as well - at 100 percent - only the areas that are 100 blown out show zebra patterns on the display - i have mine set to %80

make sure you have the ND filters on the camera OFF for indoors - and use them for outdoors - they will cut down light and allow for the lens to be open more and let you stay with the 1/48 (24p) 'preferred setting' - using the -3 gain also takes away light and allows you to keep the lens open in brighter conditions

i think the ideal setting for the f stop is f4 to 4.5 (something in that range)

I maybe off on a few pointers - anyone feel free to add or correct

trish
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Old August 8th, 2008, 05:40 AM   #5
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If you are feeding mics into the camera make sure the XLRs are turned on too (in the audio menu)
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Old August 8th, 2008, 11:29 AM   #6
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Actually you can dial in custom presets manually which is the most cost-effective way, but it sounds like you already bought the card reader, etc.

The nuances of professional quality videography can't possibly be conveyed in a forum post mainly because your experience is more valuable than any advice or tips. White balance, exposure, gain, auto vs. manual, audio, ALL these things are art forms of their own and everyone has their own preferred techniques that they develop over time.

If you are short on experience and want to get the best possible image from an unfamiliar camera, consider the Auto functions-even auto-focus. In spite of what some may tell you.

If you are on a "hot set" with little time to tweak settings and determine your shots, the next best thing can be to rely on the very well-calibrated, sensitive electronics of a new camera like the A1.

If you don't have a lot of production support in terms of people and gear, the auto-pilot might be even more of a butt-saver. You could very well have your hands full just trying to light or compose a decent shot or deal with the talent, without trying to manage the various systems of the camera. And for someone who has only shot with Handicams, etc., it wouldn't be that different- except your image will *Automatically* look a lot better.
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Old August 8th, 2008, 07:39 PM   #7
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yeah, the camera came early today. I recorded with the audio turned off since it was set to XLR, and at first I had the shutter speed leaving trails. Luckily I gave myself today as the day to just learn the camcorder, or I would have been in serious trouble. I should be ready to go tomorrow though.
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Old August 9th, 2008, 07:11 PM   #8
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Perhaps the single most important thing to do is make sure automatic gain is turned off.

Instant Auto-Focus works surprisingly well on the A1.
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Old August 9th, 2008, 09:15 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert M Wright View Post
Perhaps the single most important thing to do is make sure automatic gain is turned off.
I disagree with sweeping commandments like this because this depends on the shooting environment and needs of the project. I've used auto gain to salvage usable, if grainy, images in very dark situations so it can actually work out for something like a nonfiction project. If automatic gain was an absolute no-no, it wouldn't be an intentional feature on the camera.
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Old August 10th, 2008, 01:21 PM   #10
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I've got to think that if someone can't at least manage gain manually, far better than the XH-A1's AGC, then they likely should shoot in fully automatic mode.

I can't really think of a more reliable way to ruin footage with the XH-A1, using an automatic setting, than engaging AGC.
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Old August 10th, 2008, 01:29 PM   #11
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Auto gain, auto iris, auto shutter, auto white balance...make sure they're all off.
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Old August 10th, 2008, 02:14 PM   #12
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Keep in mind fellas, the OP said he'd never used the A1, had a shoot coming up, and his only experience was with Handicams.
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