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Canon XH Series HDV Camcorders
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Old February 11th, 2009, 09:37 AM   #1
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What XH-A1 settings should I use for a Documentary?

Hello, and thanks in advance for your help. I will be shooting a doc starting next week and would like some input. I will be shooting almost all of it outdoors as it is about my son walking 500 miles. I'll take any and all replies into consideration. Should I shoot in HD? What modes would you use? Please point me in the right direction. And if you have examples of your work with the settings you suggest, that would be even better.

Thanks again,

Mike
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Old February 11th, 2009, 12:03 PM   #2
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Definitely shoot in HD.
It's probably best to shoot interlaced unless you are after a particular look.
And go through the threads relating to settings in order to pick one that is suitable. I would suggest something fairly neutral. You can always adjust it when you are editing.
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Last edited by Richard Gooderick; February 12th, 2009 at 05:35 AM.
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Old February 11th, 2009, 12:31 PM   #3
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I find that I use the "A", or automatic, setting most of the time...the camera is smarter than I am. When things get busy, I have enough on my mind without worrying about exposure and other stuff the camera can do better than I can.... This is not the "doofus easy recording" setting, which avoid like the plague; it's the "A", first click counterclockwise from the "off" position....

I have, however, made a custom preset I use all the time that opens the shadows a little while adding a slight amount of contrast and saturation, and shoot on "A" with that, but it's a personal taste thing that you will figure out as you go, not an essential.

My colleagues are made of tougher stuff and take pride in going "all manual" but I am ether dumb or lazy and find the A works most of the time --unless it is a special situation where a high shutter speed or something is required. Don't tell them I said this, they would point and snicker. But it works for me, you can see results with anything with my name on it at miamiherald.com...Battle Vaughan/miamiherald.com video team

PS-- Richard is right, shoot HDV by all means, you can downconvert to SD just fine but not vice-versa; it takes no more tape to shoot HDV and imho the SD from the XHA1 is not great, although there are people here who vehemently disagree with me on that.. /bv

Last edited by Battle Vaughan; February 11th, 2009 at 12:34 PM. Reason: addendum
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Old February 11th, 2009, 01:40 PM   #4
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Interlaced

Richard, why interlaced??

I'm about to make the transition to shooting progressive, but if you can convince me otherwise, please explain...

Take care.
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Old February 11th, 2009, 01:42 PM   #5
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Interlaced?

Richard, why interlaced??

I'm about to make the transition to shooting progressive, but if you can convince me otherwise, please explain...

Take care.
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Old February 11th, 2009, 03:11 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Peter Manojlovic View Post
... why interlaced??
Autofocus will work better with interlaced shooting, and autofocus with the XH-A1 is excellent.

Interlaced will prevent problems with odd camera movements and pans that come up with progressive shooting.

To use progressive, I think it reasonable to have a list of specific reasons it's being used. Otherwise, interlaced is likely to give better video overall when shooting on the fly in changing situations, I believe.
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Old February 11th, 2009, 04:08 PM   #7
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Pesonnally I find the 1080i crispier than my 30f.
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Old February 11th, 2009, 07:06 PM   #8
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Agreed. HDV for sure. 60i makes sense since it sounds like you'll be shooting wild. Progressive adds some complexity. Not a lot and easily handled if you're experienced in it.

Can't agree with using automatic. Too many variables controlled by the camera, including gain. The camera may be smart but I don't like it choosing gain for me. The autofocus may be brilliant, but I cannot comment since I've never used it.

Also, I'd go with the factory preset. It'll be easier to push around in post and will likely be more forgiving in the wide variety of situations you'll be shooting in.
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Old February 11th, 2009, 10:23 PM   #9
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Battle, i'm surprissed that you actuall admit shooting in the 'A" mode. Seems like a lot of XHA1 users only use the manual setting. I still use the easy mode and I find that it works just fine for me. Now I should also state that I am usually shooting under very controlled conditions with good lighting. Do you think theres that much of a differece between the "A" and easy mode as it relates to picture quality? Also, thanks for the advice that you've given me on some of my other threads. In case you have'nt noticed i'm new to the xha1.
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Old February 12th, 2009, 02:14 AM   #10
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What's wrong with manual?
Shet the shutter, set the gain, set the ND and control the light with the aperture ring.
It is really that easy.
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Old February 12th, 2009, 05:26 AM   #11
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Peter - I think that your question about interlaced has been answered by others since you asked it and before I just read it.
I'm partially with Vaughan on the use of automatic although I know I am not supposed to admit it.
I don't use the A setting but I normally use the TV setting in conjunction with the aperture lock. I let TV set the aperture and then I lock it off.
As for focus. I keep the camera in manual focus and use the push autofocus button when I want to focus.
Why don't I just go manual all the time? Because I find this way is quicker and I consequently get more usable material.
It also leaves me with more time to concentrate on framing (I always use a Bebob Zoe lanc controller), sound, lighting and running an interview (if that's what I am doing).
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Old February 12th, 2009, 07:21 AM   #12
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Heres a question for those that use the "A" mode. I thought that under this setting the camera contolled everything but you still had the option to chage the settings. Lets say you manually add more light while in theis setting, wont the camera just change it back on its own? Same for the reset of the settings that it controls. What keeps the camera from making its own adjustment once you make a change?
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Old February 12th, 2009, 10:38 AM   #13
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Yes, I am going to join a 12-step program, the first step is admitting you use the auto setting, and facing the ridicule :)....Under rapidly changing conditions I find keeping things simple works best for me... I'd like to quote from another thread, what Vasco Dones said in a similar context:

"You see, Brian, my one-man-band experiments showed me
that working in solo mode is all about mastering the fine art of making compromises,
which translates into 'minimizing the likelihood of badly screwing things up'. Really."

There are always conditions where you make changes -- higher shutter speed, sky enhancement, manual focus (well, I do use that a lot), manual white balance, all those tools, but I start out as simply as possible so I can watch the situation...in news we often have to watch our backs as well as our image..pray for me, I work in Miami....//Battle Vaughan
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Old February 12th, 2009, 10:41 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Lewis View Post
Heres a question for those that use the "A" mode. I thought that under this setting the camera contolled everything but you still had the option to chage the settings. Lets say you manually add more light while in theis setting, wont the camera just change it back on its own? Same for the reset of the settings that it controls. What keeps the camera from making its own adjustment once you make a change?
"A" mode controls apperture and shutter and, optionally, gain if you put the gain toggle switch to auto. I strongly recommend that you control gain manually. Shooting 50i or 25f, it will try to keep shutter at 1/50 (I guess it uses 1/60 for 60i & 30f) until apperture reaches f9.2 when it will increase the shutter speed. Within it's limits, it's quite smart and gets a good exposure 90% of the time. Unfortunately, the camera won't show you the settings it is using. You need to press the Exposure Lock button to see them. I try to remember to do that often, when lining up a shot. That's also how you over-ride the auto settings. When you press Exposure Lock you gain full manual control, starting with the settings chosen by A.

I feel no shame in admiting that I use "A" quite a lot, sometimes with AE shift (chosen from the menu). It works well so long as you understand its limitations. In particular, be careful to choose an ND setting that keeps the apperture below about f5.6 - f8. This does two things: reduces colour fringes and distortion, and maintains a constant shutter speed.

My second most common set-up is Tv with either 1/120 (in good light) or 1/25th (in poor light) shutter. Indeed, Tv mode and Exposure Lock is just like full manual, with the option of going back to auto exposure any time you choose. By the way, in poor light, I use "black stretch" and a slower shutter before I start adding gain.

If you are fixed (e.g using a tripod, sat in a grandstand, etc.) but you are following a moving subject over a long distance, perhaps in and out of shadow, the auto-exposure modes can track the changes in exposure better than I can, and without the risk of jogging the camera when changing apperture, etc., which is especially important when zoomed in a long way.

Likewise, the auto-focus on the XH-A1 is pretty reliable in most situations, and certainly more accurate than I am when on the run. In difficult situations (low contrast or distracting objects in foreground), I use manual focus with the "push focus" option, or just set the lens to infinity - provided I'm not zoomed in more than about 75% and the apperture is not wide-open.

I have never tried the extremes of "M" nor the "Easy" (green box) mode. I'm happy to delegate some functions, but only on my own terms!
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Old February 12th, 2009, 11:40 AM   #15
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Great post Mark, I actually picked up a lot of good information. You mentione using the "Black Stetch" option when shooting in low light. What is this? I am not famlier withthe term or the option. Is it a seting witin the camera?
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