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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 February 2nd, 2009, 02:33 PM   #1
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Question about Filming a Documentary with XHA1

I want to shoot a Doc about my 15 year old son, who will be walking 500 miles through parts of 4 states this summer to raise money for missionaries. I am a Media Pastor at a church and have an XHA1, a Firestore, some Sennheiser wireless mic's etc... My question is this. If you were in my shoes, what camera would you prefer to use? I am considering the XHA1 because I already have it. But what about the HV30? Or the 5D MKII? Of course traveling light is important, but we will have someone following us with our gear. Let me know your thoughts.
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Old February 2nd, 2009, 03:17 PM   #2
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IMHO, good choice, from the choices you mention; we do news every day with XHa1's. While weight may be a consideration over the HV30, to use your mikes you would need to add a Beechtec box or another xlr adapter with the HV30. Not a deal-killer, but it adds something to the camera.

We have HV20's we issue reporters and still photographers, and they do a very nice job when so equipped, but lack some of the convenience of having real, rather than menu-driven, controls. The audio is nowhere as easy to control, and I find the HV20 or HV30 's small size fiddly and hard to use for more than quickie stuff.

The XHa1 has all you need already on-board, with the possible exception of the wide angle adapter, which I use constantly (but it adds weight). Get the big battery (Canon BP-970G) and maybe a car charger for it and you're all set. One thing, the camera is damp-sensitive, I have had to send it back to Canon for big bucks for getting caught in a sudden shower...a Petrol or other raincover would be money well spent. Of course, there are the new tapeless cameras, like the Panasonic HMC150, that might be more convenient for the use you have, but that's $$$$. If you have any specific questions about the camera, ask away...//Battle Vaughan/miamiherald.com video team
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Old February 2nd, 2009, 03:44 PM   #3
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Thanks for the reply. I should have made it more clear that I already have the XHA1 and that I am leaning heavily toward using it. I do have the wide angle adapter and I have several Hi-Capacity batteries. I also have the rain gaurd. With that said, I also have the BeachTek and a DM-50 that I kept when I got rid of my GL2's. Keep in mind that I am not concerned with purchasing new gear as long as it will benfeit the production. But I dont want to buy it just to try it. I would need to be heavily convinced. Please keep the suggestions coming!
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Old February 2nd, 2009, 03:57 PM   #4
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Use the XH-A1.

You can manually control for any situation. Easier to setup and use than the HV30.

Add the lightweigt but very effective .6x wideangle from Century:
.6X WIDE ANGLE ADAPT HD CANON - Schneider Optics
Available from B&H for less. Interesting shots, easy to handhold.

You might consider getting a Merlin.

For this kind of project, tapes make more sense than trying to go tapeless.

The XH-A1 lets you use any audio option you want.

You might consider a lightweight clip-on matte box that would hold a plastic gradated color filter.
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Old February 2nd, 2009, 04:14 PM   #5
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My suggestion: shoot with the xha1. Take the HV30 as (1) a second scene camera for someone else to use when 2 cameras are helpful and (2) a backup for the XHA1. These things are somewhat delicate and you're going to be in the field a long time...my two cents ... / Battle Vaughan
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Old February 2nd, 2009, 04:56 PM   #6
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I agree--XH A1. And, as stated above, if money permits, having an HV30 might be nice as a second camera or for backup.
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Old February 2nd, 2009, 05:54 PM   #7
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Thanks again for the replies. Jack, what would be the benefit of recording to tape instead of the Firestore?
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Old February 2nd, 2009, 07:02 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by D.M. Durbin View Post
Thanks again for the replies. Jack, what would be the benefit of recording to tape instead of the Firestore?
If you are on the road over an extended period, tape would offer more security.

Also, the Firestore is extra bulk, more battery charging, off-loading (requiring a laptop and hard drives, etc.)

However, if you have a firestore to use, no problem, and the tape could be a backup.

You can keep a lot of tapes in samll Pelican case and have excellent security of the video while on the road in any kind of weather.

I also think tape is good for projects that happen over an extended period, depending on how things are organized.

But obviously, much is now done without tape, though I would prefer solid state rather than hard drive for rough terrain documentary type shooting. And solid state should be backed up to disc.

But it is nice to be able to use a tape and not worry about drive space, backing up, etc.

As always, the specifics of the particular scenario will best determine the best way of working.

Also, I would definitely include the HV30 in the equipment. Once you get started on something like this, all kinds of ideas come up that a second camera or a small camera (you can mount just about anywhere which a clamp) would be good for.
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Old February 3rd, 2009, 11:33 AM   #9
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hey everyone,

I'm about to shoot a documentary with the A1. I have shot 3 docs in that last year with the Xl2 and only used manual focus. I am just getting used to the LCD screen I am finding it hard to tell what is in focus at wide angle with the a1. I was wondering if anyone has shot doc material with the a1 in full manual focus and what their technique is for focusing when following someone around at wide angle?

P.S. I use peaking which is very helpful on the telephoto end but a bit confusing on the wide angle end (everything seems focused but I'm sure its not).

Kinda missing the big viewfinder...
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Old February 3rd, 2009, 02:35 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Jerry Pena View Post
hey everyone,

I'm about to shoot a documentary with the A1. I have shot 3 docs in that last year with the Xl2 and only used manual focus. I am just getting used to the LCD screen I am finding it hard to tell what is in focus at wide angle with the a1. I was wondering if anyone has shot doc material with the a1 in full manual focus and what their technique is for focusing when following someone around at wide angle?
I almost never use the LCD screen, unless the camera is mounted on a tripod. Even then, I always focus using the viewfinder.


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Old February 3rd, 2009, 07:51 PM   #11
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yes but when you are following someone are you constantly pulling focus? Or will a large DOF allow them to move about and stay in focus with out you constantly adjusting?

Im really wondering how the guys who use the professional manual lens do it.
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