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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, 09:23 PM   #1
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Low light and Auto focus XH A1 or FX1000?

Anyone has experience with both the Canon XH A1 and Sony FX1000 in low light conditions with regards to low light and auto focus performance?
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Old January 1st, 2009, 09:38 PM   #2
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Hi Martin.................

How low and why?


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Old January 1st, 2009, 11:35 PM   #3
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Canon xh-a1 auto focus isnt as good as my old VX2100 in low light but to be honest I never use camera in Auto focus. Manual all the time, occasionaly I have pressed the instant auto focus button but if you practise using manual focus with peaking switched on then you get used to it. I cant think of any situation where auto focus is better.
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Old January 1st, 2009, 11:47 PM   #4
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Hi Chris,

I currently use a Panasonic GS400, the amount of light I am looking at is when the Panasonic is at +15 db and the picture is darker than it should. At that point the autofocus starts to hunt around and it usually gets further from optimal rather than closer.
I take video of ballroom dance floorshows so the subject move considerably and due to the panning so does the background. The GS400 has no problems in bright light, probably a combination of better depth of field and better auto focus.
With the XH A1 having the two stage auto focus I was wondering if the infra red part combined with the normal auto focus would do a better job.
A sample is here YouTube - Humphreys Xmas Party Prt 1of2 the low light part starts after about 40 seconds, I use manual focus for this as the Christmas lights also confuse the autofocus. But in this case manual focus means "mostly bad focus" due to the varying subject to camera distance.

I just wondered if someone with an XH A1 could give me some feedback as to how it performs under these conditions.

Regards, Martin
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Old January 1st, 2009, 11:56 PM   #5
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Hi John,

Here is a clip in the same venue but during the day when a lot of light is supplied by the skylight YouTube - 33 Michelle Star Medal Paso Doble. The auto focus is doing a reasonable job under these conditions so I have never considered to use manual focus under those circumstances.

Regards, Martin.
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Old January 2nd, 2009, 12:23 AM   #6
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Hi again.........

That's sort of what I was afraid of.

I don't have or have access to a FX1000, so can't comment on it's abilities, but can most definately say that Auto on the A1 is just like every other cam I've used in low light - forget the auto focus.

I shudder to think how it would behave if the gain was up to 15db, it's ropey enough (content dependent) at -3.

Now, before I have an angry mob howling at my heels, hey, I have particular requirements that make Auto a no - no from the start, but have experimented enough to say that Auto F, as a tool, is a weapon best kept in the closet and away from the children and horses.

I simply could not recomend it for your application.

Is the A1 much better or worse than any other cam?

I think not, tho' you can trawl these boards and have every view from it being able to see in the dark to incapable of focusing on a well lit, stationary, contrasty subject at 10 paces.

Personally, the former is "in your dreams" and the latter does, occasionally, have an element of truth to it.

Then, that's Auto F for you.

Sorry if this is absolutely no use to you whatsoever, but the very nature of the query doesn't really lend itself to a "giant killer" answer.


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Old January 2nd, 2009, 01:38 AM   #7
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Hi Chris,

The question that I asked in the first place was "Low light and Auto focus XH A1 or FX1000?".

Now we have a clearer idea about what I am looking at, what is the answer?

I have owned several video cameras over the last 20 years and they all handled low light and auto focus differently.
The best auto focus was probably my first Sony 8 mm, and that had a infra red system, it was not very accurate, but it worked, even when it was dark.

I realise that it is all a compromise in low light, but I am sure that one has to be better than the other even if it is only a little.

I am still reading more posts on this subject and I tend to lean more towards the XH A1 as that has more picture control that can be adjusted and saved so it can be used again and possibly improved by what you learned from the time before.

Regards, Martin
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Old January 2nd, 2009, 10:19 AM   #8
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Hi Martin,
Ok, let me try to help out here also. I have read your other thread on the Auscam site & would have to agree with not only the replys to that thread but also this one.
From all reports, the FX1000 is very good in low light, & definately a little better than the A1, BUT, with any camera, auto focus will not be as good in low light as it is in good light. Even in good light, there will be things (backgrounds etc) that will trick it & cause it to hunt, hence the reason so many here will tell you to use manual focus, there is no question that it will be better than auto focus in 99% of cases. This of course is if you are good at it, & the only way to get good at it is with practice.
Remember too, that with a hi def camera, focus is much more critical than with a standard def camera, so stepping up to either of these 2 cameras may actually give you more focus issues than you already have.
In your other thread you mentioned that using a tripod is out of the question, that in itself is going to cause you a lot of pain, not only because it will have an effect on the auto focus, but also, the XH A1 & the FX1000 is a lot bigger & heavier than your current camera, & the longer you are trying to shoot hand held for, the heavier the camera will feel, the more tired your arms will get & the more movement you are going to get in your shots. Of course with that extra movement the auto focus will only be worse.
With your current camera or either of the 2 cams you are looking at, i would suggest trying to find an area where you can set up a tripod as close to the action as possible so you can shoot as much as possible on the wide end of the lens. This will help by increasing the depth of field & the amount of light that is actually hitting the imaging chip/s. Try to use the camera in manual focus & know which way to trun your focus ring as your subjects get closer, or further away from the camera. If you are using a high def camera (XH A1 or FX1000) in this way, & you were only going to output SD from your NLE, then you could edit all your footage in HDV & zoom in to your subjects & crop the image to an SD size. That way you can get your close ups where & when you want them from an image that will have been recorded in a way that has given you the best result possible.
I know i haven't really answered your question, but i hope this information helps you out. In the end, it's got a lot more to do with the person behind the camera than the camera itself!
Regards,
Bryce
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Old January 2nd, 2009, 09:09 PM   #9
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Hi Bryce,

Thanks for the reply, I suspected that the FX1000 would have slightly better low light performance, but I am not a Sony fan anylonger. I am going to have a look at an XH A1 this Sunday and with a bit of luck there will be a dark corner where I can compare the low light capabilities of my current camera with the XH A1. I have seen a prosumer Sony (SD) in the past in a low light situation and that seemed to fare much better in that situation than my own. I am hoping that the XH A1 will do considerably better than my current camera, I will soon know.

I realise that there is no such thing as "perfect" low light and "perfect" auto focus, I am trying to make sure that the new camera is going to be an improvement on what I have, and that the improvement is a much as possible.

Until recently I was not aware how much influence the manual settings have on the final picture, there was no need as my camera does not have that many adjustments, even though it is very good for a consumer camera.

Thanks for the tips, I will try it and do some more reading and see where it goes.

Regards, Martin
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Old January 2nd, 2009, 09:31 PM   #10
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Hi Martin,
Glad i could help. One thing i didn't factor in, is the fact that your current cam, although being a 3 chip camera, has only 1/4.7" CCD's as apposed to the 3 x 1/3" CCD's for the XH A1 & 3 x 1/3" CMOS chips for the FX1000, meaning that the 1/3" chips in these cameras are more than half the size bigger again than those in your GS400. I have no idea how to work out how much light the different size chips would gather in relation to their respective definition, but i would imagine the three larger chips on the cameras you are looking at would be at least as good if not better than the far smaller chips of your current cam even with the extra resolution they provide. Of course, the manual controls these 2 hi def cameras have will make getting the perfect shots, much easier, atleast with a bit of practice!
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Old January 2nd, 2009, 10:01 PM   #11
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Hi Bryce,

I think there is also the lens of the XH A1, it is much bigger than the Gs400, that should mean more light on the CCD.
The proof will be in the eating.

Regards, Martin
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Old January 3rd, 2009, 08:47 PM   #12
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Hi Martin,
I have an A1 and have shot under somewhat similar conditions, and based on that do not believe you would generally have a problem with the autofocus. You will however, need to take it off AGC and set the gain manually, otherwise too much gain will be introduced and wonk up your picture. I also have a GS400, and it's a cool litle cam--but its abilities pale compared to the A1 in low light.
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Old January 3rd, 2009, 08:52 PM   #13
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Hi Steve,

This is good news.
I am going to have a look at a XH A1 and I will try to compare it to my GS400.
I agree with your assessment of the GS400 it is good for a consumer camcorder, but I want more.
Thank you for your reply

Regards, Martin
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Old January 3rd, 2009, 09:06 PM   #14
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Martin, I would suggest renting one first, just tio mbe sure. Then you will KNOW.
Best of luck,
SW
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Old January 3rd, 2009, 09:38 PM   #15
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Hi Steve,

The Problem is, I live in Perth Western Australia and there are only 2 shops here that have permission from Canon to sell prosumer cameras, and when I enquired they did not have, or kept it in stock but kindly offered to order me one in for a price that was $1000.00 more than what it costs in Melbourne. I hope they go broke and make room for someone else, nothing can not be worse.

I did ask about rental and that was out of the question as well.

I think the best I can do is have a look, do lots of reading about it and bite the bullet.

I think the biggest challenge is the larger size and weight, some of my old cameras were about half the weight and size so I have got some idea what I am getting myself into.

Regards, Martin
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