Brand new owner...wondering about lighting with the XHA1! 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 September 11th, 2008, 03:45 AM   #1
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Brand new owner...wondering about lighting with the XHA1!

Hi everyone!

I am a cinematography noob, and just recently purchased a Canon XH A1 for the short films I'll be making.

I was wondering how measuring light works with a digital camera like the XH A1, and knowing how to light a scene properly. When I first started shooting with it, bright interiors turned up grainy when I played them back on my HDTV directly from the Canon. Obviously, I realized I was overexposing the shot by having a low F-Stop, having the gain on +6, etc. What freaked me out was that the picture looked fine on the LCD monitor.

I'm in a motion picture camera class, and we're working with 16mm Ariflex cameras and learning about using light meters. if I use an incident light meter with the Canon, how does it work differently from a film camera? I don't see a place to put in an ISO or ASA film speed, etc.

Any help (or pointing to any known threads on the forum) would be appreciated. This forum has been really great to me so far, and I look forward to getting to know other XH A1 users better.
Kareem Dimashkie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 11th, 2008, 08:39 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kareem Dimashkie View Post
Obviously, I realized I was overexposing the shot by having a low F-Stop, having the gain on +6, etc. What freaked me out was that the picture looked fine on the LCD monitor.
Gain=grain. Not just with the A1 but with any camera. I normally set my gain to -3. You won't see the grain on the LCD. It's only noticeable in HD. If you down-res to SD the grain is almost unnoticeable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kareem Dimashkie View Post
I'm in a motion picture camera class, and we're working with 16mm Ariflex cameras and learning about using light meters. if I use an incident light meter with the Canon, how does it work differently from a film camera? I don't see a place to put in an ISO or ASA film speed, etc.
Beyond my skill set. Can't help you with this one.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kareem Dimashkie View Post
Any help (or pointing to any known threads on the forum) would be appreciated. This forum has been really great to me so far, and I look forward to getting to know other XH A1 users better.
First thing to do is read the manual. Next, keep it with you at all times and read it some more. That's the best place to start. Search this forum for specific items you want to know about... like grain. There's tons of them.
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Old September 12th, 2008, 01:43 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kareem Dimashkie View Post

I'm in a motion picture camera class, and we're working with 16mm Ariflex cameras and learning about using light meters. if I use an incident light meter with the Canon, how does it work differently from a film camera? I don't see a place to put in an ISO or ASA film speed, etc.
The easiest comparison with film speeds is using gain. -3 is the equivalent of about 50ASA, 0 is 100 ASA, +3 is 200 ASA etc. or somewhere thereabouts.
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Old September 12th, 2008, 06:52 AM   #4
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We spec the A1 at around 320
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Old September 12th, 2008, 08:47 AM   #5
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Hey Kareem,
I hate to be the backwoods moron here, but just let your eye tell you what's right. Don't trust the LCD (obviously) but the science isn't as important as the aeshtetics...
Bill
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Old September 12th, 2008, 03:58 PM   #6
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Gain = Grain

I've been trying to get a handle on the gain switch and the different types of speeds, and now it's starting to make a little sense. I'm thinking now if I have a lot of light I can go -3, but if I have high speed action with the great light I don't know if I should go to 0.....
Must continue the experiments!
I did not know what film grain meant so I went to the Wikipedia and copied this:

"Film speed is roughly related to granularity, the size of the grains of silver halide in the emulsion, since larger grains give film a greater sensitivity to light. Fine-grain stock, such as portrait film or those used for the intermediate stages of copying original camera negatives, is "slow", meaning that the amount of light used to expose it must be high or the shutter must be open longer. Fast films, used for shooting in poor light or for shooting fast motion, produce a grainier image. Each grain of silver halide develops in an all-or-nothing way into dark silver or nothing. Thus, each grain is a threshold detector; in aggregate, their effect can be thought of as a noisy nonlinear analog light detector."
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Old September 12th, 2008, 04:49 PM   #7
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Years ago when I switched from film to video the first thing I did was get out the gray card and calibrate the light meter to the camera and come up with a relative ASA (ISO). Then I learned how to use the reflective metering system in the camera. But like any type of light meter, you have to learn when to do what it says, when to go over or under what it says. Since it's a reflective reading, you read off a dark subject and it's going to lie to you and want you to overexpose, and the opposite for a light subject.
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