XH-A1 tripod mount warning 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 October 27th, 2008, 10:13 PM   #1
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XH-A1 tripod mount warning

Just a warning.

The bottom of the Canon XH-A1 where the 1/4-20 tripod screw goes is a thin cast or machined aluminum plate. It is attached to the camcorder by 7 tiny screws, not sure what thread they are but they are small.

So you have a 1/4-20 screw holding the camcorder to your tripod, maybe with a quick release plate. All the pressure of your camera and whatever else is connected to or putting pressure on the camera (like your hand) goes into that 1/4-20 screw and socket, like most cameras.

I picked up an older Majestic fluid head and noticed that the camera mounting surface did not fit flush with the top of the head, a flat surface. So my camera would wiggle when I worked the zoom lever. Not so great to track speeding motorcycles at DIS.

I bought a Canon TA 100 Tripod Adapter because I thought it might be a good idea to have 4 screws holding the camcorder bracket to the camcorder, and it's big and has an easy to use quick release, much like larger eng cameras.

The tripod side of the adapter has a row of threads, 3/8 and 1/4", 7 total.

I don't know of any other solution that uses 4 screws ( and two different sized pins), only the 1/4-20 screw and maybe one positioning pin. I'm not pushing Canon's overpriced brackets, but the thing seems to work well.

The problem as I found out is the the camera mating surface with the 1/4-20 socket is quite feeble. The reason mine was not straight and level is because it has a crack in it, going from the 1/4-20 socket to one edge.

When I screwed on the TA-100 camera plate with the 4 screws, the camera part flattened out. So that area seems securely connected to the plate. BUT, it is still thin, aluminum, and weak. I ordered another one from Canon for about $45.00 shipped. Fortunately, they had one in stock.

Not sure how it was cracked, but I'm guessing that I had a Bogen 6 sided camera plate on it and someone put pressure on the camera and it flexed and cracked.

Maybe the expensive TA-100 mounting plate will be more secure and it obviously spreads out the force somewhat and is wiggle free, but that XH-A1 bottom plate seems to be the weak link in the chain. And that piece screws with those 7 tiny screws to what looks like sheet metal, part of the camcorder body.
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Old October 27th, 2008, 10:34 PM   #2
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more support advisable

The next thing I am going to do is to put a piece of hard rubber that is just the right size and thickness between the back end of the camera and the back end of the TA-100. That will fill the gap and keep anything that is pressing down on the back of the camera from stressing the mount and causing telephoto wiggle.
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Old October 27th, 2008, 11:03 PM   #3
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Larry... It's interesting that this is the first report of such a crack that I've seen.

I've mounted my A1 on a Manfrotto monopod, Libec and and Cartoni Focus tripods and never noticed any looseness in any case. As a rule, whenever I connect a QR plate to anything I only tighten the screw tight enough so that it won't move when I apply a slightly more than mild push. Hardly scientific but it works for me.
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Old October 27th, 2008, 11:34 PM   #4
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At first I didn't see how it could have cracked or bent. Could be that I put too much pressure on it somehow. Since they had one in stock I'm guessing that they sell them occasionally, but I also haven't heard of the problem.

Last weekend I shot some motorcycle races, and had to have the camera mounted solidly enough so I could pan, focus and zoom without any camera to tripod motion at all. My footing was in some cases on a hill, so it was very difficult to keep up with all the turns in different directions, Florida sun, low light, rain, darkness, sore feet and ants.

I still had to touch the camera to zoom while panning, and I wish I had then what I have now. A monitor and a lanc control would help, I bought one but it was the wrong one and made clicking noises every time I zoomed so I didn't use it. In hindsight, when they were close the bikes made lots of noise and I might have been able to use it after all.

You don't notice the movement much with a wide setting, but it's obvious at full zoom if you are anything less than a very soft touch at any time throughout the pan/zoom. If anyone had any techniques regarding this, I'd like to hear them.

The guys I worked with from LA said it's hard to find someone who can do it smoothly and I see why. One guy had a tripod with a 150mm bowl and a very large head. The bigger the tripod, the heavier the head, the firmer the attachment the smoother the camera movements will be. It's a lot harder than shooting NASCAR events because the bikes are so small.
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Old October 28th, 2008, 08:37 AM   #5
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Larry... I also shoot racing, but cars. Yes it's hard to get it right because you're often so zoomed in. And your comment about having a good tripod is dead on. You can tell the difference in the series of videos here: Oxford Plains Speedway Channel on Vimeo

The early ones were shot using a Libec. The last three use the Cartoni Focus.

If you look at the latest video and the end of the one titled "On Pit Lane: Episode 5", I think you'll see some decent pans (I'm still working on it). These were done with the QR plate attached as I've previously described. No camera wiggle caused by the plate/camera connection. Anything that might look like that is probably caused by flex in rooftop shooting platform or my ham fisted technique.

There might be a variation/defect in your camera that isn't present on most others. If you can post pictures it might help us understand where your issues are. I'm definitely "a picture's worth a million words" kinda guy.
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Old October 28th, 2008, 10:05 AM   #6
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I use the TA-100 adapter with no problems. I bought it because the camera only has a 1/4" socket instead of the more standard 3/8" for use with larger tripods, which I have to use when shooting with a teleprompter. The TA-100 has both 1/4" and 3/8" sockets, so you can use it with any tripod. I also like the 4 larger screws that attach the plate, but still, it appears there would have to be a substantial amount of force applied to make the camera's bottom plate crack. I can see if somebody put it on a warped plate and pressed down hard or tightened up a screw that was too long, that could happen.
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