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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 October 24th, 2008, 05:43 AM   #1
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severely inaccurate LCD

I've had my XHA1 since January of '08 and only in the last few months have I had a chance to really start shooting a lot with it and (recently) capturing a lot of footage. One thing I am noticing is that there is a drastic difference between what I see on the LCD on the camera and what is captured, specifically the luminance of the image. I have the LCD on the lowest brightness setting.

When I import the footage (I'm importing into Final Cut Pro 6) as HDV or Apple Pro Res HQ, it is very dark, and hence I am getting a much grainier and less detailed image. I'm not sure why this is, maybe the LCD on the XHA1 is just a complete piece of crap and I didn't realize it.

Back in January I rented a high-end panasonic monitor to test out, I think it was LH-900 something, and I vaguely remember that it vastly differed from the LCD.

Is there a way I can calibrate the LCD or in some way get it functioning to where at least the luminance is correct? I shot certain footage that I can never shoot again and even though post production can save some of it, I don't want this to happen again. If there is no way to do this, can someone suggest a cheap external monitor to at least get the lum right?


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Old October 24th, 2008, 05:50 AM   #2
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by the way, if this could be something to do with final cut pro settings I'd be relieved, but I doubt it since I am using presets for HDV and Pro Res.

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Old October 24th, 2008, 06:01 AM   #3
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luma values

here is a screencap of the luma values in Color, before and after. I can't show the footage but the brighter luma values are after adjustments making the image similar to what I had seen on the LCD during the shoot.

Keep in mind this is not the worst clip, some were very dark, and I'm shooting this stuff in sunlight or indoors with studio lights and reflectors so there is no lack of light by any means.
Attached Thumbnails
severely inaccurate LCD-color_luma.jpg   severely inaccurate LCD-color_luma_after.jpg  

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Old October 24th, 2008, 07:30 AM   #4
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I've been following this forum for some time and yours is the first post I've seen with this problem. From what you've said you appear to know your stuff so I would say that you might have a bad LCD.

If the only problem is that the LCD is too dark, I seem to recollect there's a way to set its brightness. I just gave the manual a quick squiz but I couldn't find out where to adjust the brightness.

You don't mention anything about the viewfinder. If the problem crops up on both the LCD and the viewfinder, something might have gone pear shaped in the electronics.
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Old October 24th, 2008, 07:41 AM   #5
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Here are a few suggestions for you as well as my own opinon.

While I don't think there is anything particularly wrong with the lcd display on the A1 I would suggest that it certainly lacks any professional means of calibrating it to be more accurate. Turning on color bars on the camera and adjusting the lcd properties is a start but those properties do not go deep enough to actually professionally adjust the lcd for colour and luminance. So it does have a particular shortcoming there. A very expensive remedy for this would be something like the Panasonic BT-LH900A production LCD monitor. It has precise controls and adjustments for accurately calibration. It also cost around $2400 without accesories so unless your have lots of dough.....nuff said. There are other LCD's around that may have some good calibration controls but the Panasonic is probably top dog.

My suggestion is far cheaper and doesn't require any more money than what you have already spent. Two things to do while shooting with the A1 would generally be to watch the exposure meter (or set it up if you don't have it displayed already) and gauge exposure through that. As well set up some Zebra Levels (people have different opinions about what levels ie: 80, 90, 100%IRE are best) and display those as well when shooting.

Between these two on screen displays you can expose fairly consistently with a little practice and even specific testing....the exposure meter will show if you are in the right range for a shot and the zebras will let you know if there are any areas approaching or already blown out in highlights. Between the two it's the best you can do without going into other equipment, scopes, lcds or such.

Finally, I will actually suggest that I have the opposite issue. I often find that I record just a little hotter than I would like and get some blown highlights. Not a fault of the LCD necessarily, it's more me compensating for brightness when shooting outdoors. A LCD hood has helped me in this regard, and checking exposure in the viewfinder is another quick A/B I use to remedy this.

That's about all I can think of right now,

All the best,
James Hooey
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Old October 24th, 2008, 08:52 AM   #6
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The LCD isn't designed for judging exposure. That's what the zebras are for. Even if you set up the LCD to color bars, just moving your eye a couple of inches up or down will change the way it looks. Better to use the viewfinder, and even that's not going to be very accurate. You can also use the TV mode which allows you to use auto iris, but don't leave it on. You can turn it on and off with the exposure lock button. So let the camera give you the exposure it wants, then based on your reading with the zebras, go up or down from that.
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Old October 24th, 2008, 03:35 PM   #7
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Darren, i recognise your post.
I too have to be carefull not to record too dark pictures from the XHA1.
It's a shame the LCD is so bad. I played with an EX1 and EX3 a few weeks ago and these screens are so much better. Really sharp too. Even when you're looking on them from up or below they're looking good. Canon did something really wrong here. Must be the cheapest lcd's in such kind of camcorders. Even my HV20's lcd is better.

I always have the zebra's on 100, but i learned a few things too.
-The first and most important. Check the exposuremeter, just like James said. In the middle part is most of the times spot on. You don't see much of a difference on the lcd when you under or over expose a stop, until you're capturing or editing.
-Just like you, i turned down the brightness all the way down. Especially indoors this is much better then the default setting.
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Old October 26th, 2008, 12:54 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Hubert Duijzer View Post
It's a shame the LCD is so bad.
Same opinion here, coming from a dvx100b the feedback the lcd gives is miles apart from reality. The first time I used the xh-a1 I turned the sharpness and brightness all the way up in the lcd, when filming in a dark reception I thought; "wow, this is better in low light then my older vx2100!" untill I got home and viewed the footage on my pc.... Now I have the brightness turned down as well, also manual focussing, especially in darker places is almost impossible on the lcd. Only in good daylight it's OK, but still a big difference compared to a dvx100. What was canon thinking making such a tiny lcd?
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Old October 30th, 2008, 12:52 PM   #9
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I shot a party/ skiing at night time and had the same thing. If you use the view finder it is alot more accurate. So what i do as most of my shots are repetitive i look through the viewfinder to make sure my settings are right then use the LCD to keep the subject in frame.
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