XH A1 under arctic conditions 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 February 9th, 2009, 07:57 AM   #1
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XH A1 under arctic conditions

I just returned from the north of Finland, filming a hot air balloon event under arctic conditions. I filmed 16:9 SD at temperatures of down to -27 degrees. May be it's interesting, what I experienced.

-Basically I followed the tips from some experienced guys here in the forum (especially by Trip Woelfel), and that really helped a lot: Avoiding quick movements from cold to warm, renting a special Porta Brace cover (I think it was the Polar Bear) and handwarmers to protect the camera, setting the Zebra to 100, etc. Unfortunately I didn't carry enough handwarmers with me, so these things expired after a while. Nevertheless, I had to continue filming, and the cam showed some effects:

#Focus and zoom ring became quite 'stiff' and where hardly usable anymore, especially if you wear gloves. After a while I switched the focus to 'automatic' - with good results. The iris ring worked normally.

#Had one single 'slack' warning ('remove the cassette'), but the A1 continued to record anyway. And did so flawlessly for three days. Tapes: Panasonic AY-DVM63PQ

#Couldn't use the LCD because of the cover and stayed with the viewfinder. It showed a kind of 'slow mo effect' after a while but remained functional.

#battery lifetime was decreasing compared with normal conditions (may be 30% less). But not as dramatic as I had expected. The original CANON battery did better than a no name equivalent, I also carried with me.

#Regarding additional equipment: No problems whatsoever with the mics (Beyerdynamic MCE 87, Sennheiser ME66), but my Manfrotto tripod (501 head) got somehow 'frozen' inside, so that pans became kind of hard work.

Conclusion: The XH A1 may well be used under temperatures VERY MUCH below the temperature recommended in the manual. The most serious problems: Cold fingers and the steam of your own breath, that may be seen in the picture. So I learned to stop breathing when pushing 'record' ;-)

Last edited by Jan Luethje; February 9th, 2009 at 10:42 AM.
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Old February 9th, 2009, 09:31 AM   #2
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Wow thats great info! Thanks for sharing.
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Old February 9th, 2009, 01:08 PM   #3
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I film 90 % of my work in below freezing conditions. The "slo mo" effect usually shows up around 15 degrees F. but has no affect on what is actually recorded. I had one drop out early season on me which i blamed the tempature for but now after doing more recording at cold temps i dont think that was the culprit.
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Old February 9th, 2009, 02:29 PM   #4
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-27 Celsius = -16.6 Fahrenheit
So it was cold above! I also have good results shooting HD in a very cold environment, I think the inside battery is a good thing to have.
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Old February 9th, 2009, 06:08 PM   #5
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Jan... As others have said, great info. You either heartier than I, or have warmer clothes than I do. (grin)

You're right that the A1 was not designed for use with gloves on, but I got a pair of snug fitting lambskin gloves with fleece lining. While most of the buttons and switches are still inoperable with them on, I can hit the autofocus, white balance and a few other buttons. The three rings are quite usable. Not sure the gloves would do enough at -27C though.

I was thinking about getting some 1.5 mil scuba gloves and see what they might do. Something form fitting might give better control.
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Old February 9th, 2009, 07:43 PM   #6
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Tripp, I was just lucky, that I was equipped by a Finnish rental service with some kind of 'outer space suit'. Underwear and gloves I bought in Germany. Especially the gloves did well (better they did; cost me about 90€) Kind of 3 in one thing, that allows you to operate even small switches - well, within some limitations.

VAUDE Handschuh Argon Event 3in1 gloves, schwarz: Amazon.de: Sport & Freizeit

Craig, I agree, the slow- mo thing is just a viewfinder effect, not to be seen on tape.
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Old February 12th, 2009, 02:57 PM   #7
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Thanks for your information, Jan!

I will be shooting a part of a music video this Saturday at about -2C or -4C.
I don't have a furry coat for my XH, but I've got a rain cover.
So I'm thinking of putting a scarf around my camera, then putting it inside the rain cover for the shoot, or maybe the scarf is unnecessary?
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Old February 12th, 2009, 08:28 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andris Krastins View Post
...or maybe the scarf is unnecessary?
You won't need the scarf. You'll only be a couple of degrees below freezing. The rain cover will be enough.
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