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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 January 1st, 2009, 05:21 PM   #1
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New camera for film

Hi,

I've been doing some very interesting reading in this forum and I'm glad I found it! I'm in that "wich camera to buy" dillema and I've read the gigantic thread related to this subject.

Anyway, I have a few questions. My interest in this new camera has NOTHING to do with video look or television standards. My only interest in buying a new (HD?) camera is to make movies with a film look, something that creates the ilusion of cinema and makes people believe the images and get lost in the movie.

For this and from what I've read, the 25p mode is the key to get at least, the film motion, that kind of bluriness on motion. Can I film in 25p mode using HD quality? I ask this cause I want to know if I would get the benefit of buying a HD camera since I'll just be using the 25p mode. I think I've read somewhere that I can still get 720p out of a 25p mode. And since I'm going with native "progressive mode" should I go with the fathers (Panasonic) or Canon should be ok? (I've read some great stuff of the XH A1).

My second question has to do with the lens. To get a good Depth of Field (like in movies) can I use the native lens of the XH A1 (or similar cameras) or do I have to buy a super expensive lens? Or an adapter?

Can I say the XH A1 is a good camera for me? It's right on my budget by the way.


Thanks for any help!

David
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Old January 1st, 2009, 05:31 PM   #2
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David,

The answer to your first question is yes, you can use 25f (Canon's version of 25P) in HD. I shoot 24F (the American variant) most of the time. It does give you that film blur.

My first test of the camera ever, I shot in 24f and rendered it out in 1280X720p. Check out my first shoot - pay attention the blur on the horses during the joust. I've only used the camera for HD...even though it is capable of SD.

Renaissance Pleasure Faire - XH-A1 Test Footage By Marcel Van Someren On ExposureRoom

As far as obtaining shallow depth of field like movie camera's do with the A1's lens. It's not really about the lens. It has to do with the size of the CCD sensors... 1/3" That makes it difficult to achieve shallow DOF. But it's not impossible. If you move the camera farther away and then zoom in on your subject, the background will be out of focus (bokeh).

Check out this example. About 1/3rd of the way through, I do a rack focus using just that method.

Vasquez Rocks By Marcel Van Someren On ExposureRoom

If you want shallow DOF more consistently, then you'll have to invest in a 35mm adapter. They can be pricey but certainly not as much as a large CCD or CMOS sensor camera.

One thing to keep in mind, lighting and camera movements have a lot more to do with the "film look" than the camera itself.

Hope this info helps you with your decision.

-Marcel
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Old January 1st, 2009, 05:45 PM   #3
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Thanks Marcel! So you would say the XH A1 is a good camera for what I want? I also think that most of the film look should be about 80% editing, using filters and color correction, etc. Do you prefer to use presets on the camera or in post-production? Any good link with film-look presets for the XH A1?


Thanks,

David
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Old January 1st, 2009, 06:40 PM   #4
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I like the A1. I also like the HVX and the EX1/EX3. They all have their good and not so good points. For me, the A1 made the most sense and I really liked the footage I saw on this and other forums. Keep in mind that getting good looking footage from any of these cameras takes practice. They are not point and shoot cameras. I shoot with everythng in Manual mode.

You really need to decide which work flow works best for you. Although you can get hard drive and solid-state recording add-ons that will work with the A1. MiniDV tape is the primary media. It's inexpensive and you can record an hour on each tape. The other two cameras use P2 or SxS cards. They are expensive and don't hold as much. You'll need a laptop to dump footage on as the cards fill up. Or, spend lot's of money on a large suppy of cards. Only you can decide what will work for you.

I prefer to use presets and then touch up in post. Others prefer the opposite. There is a thread in this forum where you can find about 30+ presets that you can download...some simulate specific film type, some camera types, still others a certain look. These days I make my own presets that give me the look I want.

I do agree that good editing does help get that cinematic look. But if you've got Video looking footage, no amount of editing is going to make it look like film. Lighting, framing shots, dollying and trucking the camera instead of zooming and panning, on the other hand, give a much more film like feeling to the video, in my opinion.

Since it was brough up in the last post, when you checked out my footage on those previous links, you may have noticed that there are some adapter clips on my page. I've been using a DIY mid-format adapter I recently built to get shallow DOF. I have also purchased an SGBlade 35mm adapter. If you're really looking to do film like productions, you'll probably end up getting or making one at some point.
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Old January 2nd, 2009, 06:20 AM   #5
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Thanks for your help! I think I'm going with the A1. Do you know any good 35mm adapters that I could try out with the A1? I've read good stuff about the Brevis Flip but it's almost the same price as the camera itself, so it won't do for me...


Thanks

David

PS: I just checked the price on the SGBlade you mentioned, seems a lot more reasonable in price than the Brevis...
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Old January 2nd, 2009, 08:56 AM   #6
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Well, the least expensive way to go is build one yourself. A lot of people have had success going that route.

There are basically 3 types of adapters: Static, Vibrating, Spinning (the Brevis is kind of a hybrid as the the ground glass supposedly vibrates/oscilates in a circular manner)

Static has no moving parts but tends to lose the most light and the grain is visable in certain shooting circumstances.

Vibrating probably has the least light loss of the 3. However, you start seeing grain at higher shutter speeds or past f5.6.

Spinning can have more light loss than vibrating. (in the case of the SGBlade, it depends on which GG you use). The nice thing is that it has less shooting restrictions than the other two methods, depending on the GG.

As I mentioned, I am using a DIY Mid-Format adapter that I built. It uses the spinning method. However, it's much larger than the SGBlade. I like the compact design of the Blade and the interchangable GG idea for different bokeh looks. Also, I'm sure the Blade and all other professionally made adapters use better materials than I did and I think their image quality is better, overall. It cost me about $60 to buid my adapter (not counting the cost of the mid format lens and achromat).

There a person that I met from one of the other forums who is shooting a 50's period film set to be released in the spring. She uses the Letus extreme vibrating adapter.

Take a look at her footage: Search videos for 'Deuce of spades' on Vimeo

Although she is using an HVX 200, it also works well with the A1.

Again, the decision will be based on budget and how you intend to use the adapter. If you go to DVXuser.com - The Filmmaking Community , there is a section dedicated to 35mm adapters. You'll be able to find out just about anything you need to know there.

You can find a thread with my experiences building my adapter there too (with pictures):

Mid-Format DOF Adapter - DVXuser.com -- The online community for filmmaking
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Old January 2nd, 2009, 10:35 AM   #7
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Thanks once again. I've been reading about DOF all day, I've only dealt with it in photography, never really had a camcorder that allowed to have a film kind of DOF. I just called a store in London cause they have the Canon XH A1 at very low price, but they told me that to make movies with professional indie-look, I'd be better of with the Canon XL2, wich is a bit more expensive (not that much) but doesn't do HD. They also told me that the progressive scan in the XL2 is much more film like than the one in the A1 wich is more of a high definition television kind of motion. Is this correct? Don't all the Canon cameras use the same progressive scan mode?

Thanks

David
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Old January 2nd, 2009, 11:19 AM   #8
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I'm not sure I agree with their assesment. Other than having the ability to change lenses, it has the same lack of DOF issues as all 1/3" chip cameras. Also, you're limited to SD.

Also, my GL2 doesn't have 24f (25f for you). So the XL2 probably doesn't either. The only frame mode I have on the GL2 is 30f. Maybe the Pal version has 25f. Not sure.

I have a GL2 which uses the same process as the XL2 except that it has a fixed lens. I'm here to tell you that the image from the A1 is much better. Remember that the A1 can shoot in SD as well. Better yet, shoot in HDV and down convert to SD. Many say that results in a better SD image than begining in HD.

When I need SD, I shoot in HDV..and load the HDV into an SD timeline in my NLE. This lets me pan and scan if necessary in the 4:3 SD aspect ratio. Or, I can simply render 16x9 SD.

Others may not feel the same way, but having both cameras, this is my experience. In my opinion, if you want to spend more and get interchangable lenses, get the H1.

Last edited by Marcel D. Van Someren; January 2nd, 2009 at 12:36 PM.
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Old January 2nd, 2009, 12:25 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Evans View Post
I just called a store in London cause they have the Canon XH A1 at very low price,
Hi David
When I bought my XH A1 I went to a regular dealer and got a bona fide Canon not a grey import. I have no idea which company you have been talking to but I would suggest that it is a good idea to buy from somebody with a reputation who is going to give you good backup if it goes wrong. I think it's worth paying the extra for the peace of mind.
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Old January 2nd, 2009, 12:41 PM   #10
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Hi Richard,

Thanks for your advice, I also think it's important to be extra careful when we buy these little toys. I said it has a very low price but I think it's the normal price in the UK. It's my country (Portugal) that has very high price for that camera. To give you an idea, the lowest price I can get in my country for the XH A1 is: 3400 eur (3200, give or take).

And this store I mentioned is selling at 1950 (1 year guarantee) wich I think should be the standard price in the UK. I'm going to London in February to buy the camera (and also see London cause I've never been there). Anyone knows a good reliable store in London where I can get the camera? And possibly the 35mm adapter...

Thanks

David
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Old January 2nd, 2009, 04:08 PM   #11
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The SGBlade is made in the UK. You might contact them directly. Maybe they can give you a personal demo.
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Old January 3rd, 2009, 04:58 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Evans View Post
Anyone knows a good reliable store in London where I can get the camera? And possibly the 35mm adapter...

Thanks

David
I was walking past Calumet near Euston Station the other day and they had the XH-A1 for 2200. Calumet is reputable company.
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Old January 4th, 2009, 07:02 PM   #13
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I was walking past Calumet near Euston Station the other day and they had the XH-A1 for 2200. Calumet is reputable company.
Thanks for sharing, I will look for it! I'm still reading and trying to decide wich camera is better for what I need. I really need a camera that will help me get a film look. I know the camera isn't everything (far from it), but there should be some differences, some cameras that are more directed to video, others to independent filmmaking. For what I need (filmmaking) and considering the budget 2200-2600, is the A1 my best choice? I wish I could try all these different cameras but where I live that's not that easy, so I'm relying on other people's opinion.

Thanks!

David
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Old January 4th, 2009, 09:53 PM   #14
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David,

If I were in your position, I would go to exposureroom.com and vimeo.com and search for video from all of the camera's that your are considering. Take a look at the footage and decide which one looks more like film to you. There are quite a few short films out there on those two sites.

my choices would be between:

A1
HVX 200
EX1

Based upon your budget, you could get a new A1s, a used HVX and maybe 1 P2 card, or save some more for an EX1 and SxS cards. You could also get a Canon Canon 5D Mark II Digital SLR. Besides stills, It shoots up to 8 min of 1080P HD and doesn't need an adapter to get DOF because it has a larger sensor. its about the same price as an A1s, I think. Of course then you need to buy lenses. Also, there are no professional audio connections and you don't have the image control that the A1 has. Oh, and it looks like a still camera. :)
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Old January 5th, 2009, 04:13 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Marcel D. Van Someren View Post
David,

If I were in your position, I would go to exposureroom.com and vimeo.com and search for video from all of the camera's that your are considering. Take a look at the footage and decide which one looks more like film to you. There are quite a few short films out there on those two sites.

my choices would be between:

A1
HVX 200
EX1

Based upon your budget, you could get a new A1s, a used HVX and maybe 1 P2 card, or save some more for an EX1 and SxS cards. You could also get a Canon Canon 5D Mark II Digital SLR. Besides stills, It shoots up to 8 min of 1080P HD and doesn't need an adapter to get DOF because it has a larger sensor. its about the same price as an A1s, I think. Of course then you need to buy lenses. Also, there are no professional audio connections and you don't have the image control that the A1 has. Oh, and it looks like a still camera. :)
Thanks, great info! The HVX seems a bit expensive, but in the used market should be at the same price as a new A1. Do you think it's worth the difference in price?

I also found this at Cnet regarding the A1:

"The bad:
No 720p recording capability; coarse, low-resolution LCD."

No 720p recording?? What does this mean? I thought this camera recorded HD, is this information at CNET correct?


Thanks

David
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