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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 July 7th, 2009, 03:24 AM   #16
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Hmm, hesitant as I am to dip my toe...........

This post is almost identical to one I posted over in the (gasp!) Sony EX forum.

Jim, the limitations of both 1/3" sensors and HDV compression are well known and documented.

Get away from those and the picture (literally) gets a lot rosier.

It's the "getting away" that creates the financial problem, and there is currently no cheap solution that I know of, otherwise, I would have done it, as would every other man and his dog (carrying the camera).

Basically the market is a pyramid - at the bottom you have "cheap" but sells in mass quantities, so can be sold so.

Climb that pyramid and it just gets more expensive per unit because so many fewer units are sold, manufaturers have to recover the costs etc yada yada yada.

If someone had a "magic bullet" they'd make a huge killing and everyone could have unlimited bandwidth and super sized chips for nix - except then the "big boys" would demand even better toys and the race starts all over again.

Bottom line, if your income from video doesn't support the purchase of the "bees knees" gear, then it doesn't, and you're at the mercy of the market for every advance you can afford.

Now, why did I make my original post on the EX forum?

With the introduction of HD here in NZ, Freeview were running a freebie HD demo on the Galapogos Islands.

Whilst most of it had been shot with exceedingly up market cameras (no, I mean infinately more upmarket than an A1), detail to die for, no smear on pans etc etc, one small segment had, indeed, been shot on HDV.

It was of marine iguanas and spectacular, again, detail to die for etc UNTIL THEY PANNED THE CAMERA!

What a display of how bad HDV compression and bandwidth limitations can be.

It was like "ohmygod, what happened there?".

It was just good old fashioned bandwidth/ compression taking it's toll on a full HD picture.

Would the "average punter" notice?

Not really the point of this - my missus still can't see it after seeing it over a dozen times, but I bet there's an aweful lot who did.

To me it was like being whacked over the head with a baseball bat - aweful.

My point?

What is it worth to your prospective audience to have the best, and will it put money in your pocket if you use it?

Answer that question and buy the gear to match the answer.

Nothing else you can do in business.

BTW, if you find that "Quantum Leap" do let us know on DVinfo before you inform the planet - please!


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Old July 7th, 2009, 06:56 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Michael Wisniewski View Post
As always, the cheapest quantum leap forward, is your knowledge & experience in creating "holy crap!" images. For me the holy grail is to get to that point, where it really doesn't matter what equipment I'm using. It's always marvelous to meet people who can do that and watch them work.
this reminded me of a film made by a guy here on the coast I've had the pleasure of working with

YouTube - Tropfest NY 2008 winner, "Mankind Is No Island" by Jason van Genderen

maybe they're not 'holy crap' images but it's a 'holy crap' film - it leaves me breathless, in awe - and it wasn't shot on anything special
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Old July 7th, 2009, 03:21 PM   #18
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this reminded me of a film made by a guy here on the coast I've had the pleasure of working with

YouTube - Tropfest NY 2008 winner, "Mankind Is No Island" by Jason van Genderen

maybe they're not 'holy crap' images but it's a 'holy crap' film - it leaves me breathless, in awe - and it wasn't shot on anything special



Diddo. Amazing vid.
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Old July 7th, 2009, 04:57 PM   #19
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maybe they're not 'holy crap' images but it's a 'holy crap' film - it leaves me breathless, in awe - and it wasn't shot on anything special
That's it.... if it's a 'holy crap' great film with a great story, great audio, great lighting = Great production.

There is no point in making yourself bankrupt trying to a cam when you can't spend / have the talent for the other sections. It's funny I was watching the deadliest catch last night (haven't watched in in ages) and half of the shots were out of focus even on a couple of the interviews when the boat wasn't moving! ... but hey people love that show and it has a massive audience.
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Old July 7th, 2009, 08:21 PM   #20
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...There is no point in making yourself bankrupt trying to a cam when you can't spend / have the talent for the other sections...
Jonathan,
Yes, I agree - hence the name of this thread. I'm assuming most who frequent this forum have something interesting to say and some skill with which to say it - I'm just asking if there was a proven upgrade to the beautiful images we are all capable of producing with the $3-4K camera we already own, or whether noticeably better pictures would require a noticeable amount of lettuce. I thank all for their helpful comments!
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Old July 8th, 2009, 08:33 AM   #21
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<edited>
Is anyone doing something like this, and if so, how does it look? It would require having the XHG-1for its SDI out or else going to an HV40 for HDMI. So, would a $900 HV40 going HDMI to a $3000 Nano Flash yield a better image than what I am getting on my XHA-1?
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Ok its been forever, but there was a user that shot some controlled test footage with his XH-G1 comparing SDI 4:2:2 captures to HDV recorded to tape. The SDI was a tiny tad better, but the differences were much smaller than one would have expected. No end product viewing audience would ever notice the difference, it was that miniscule. The SDI capture might be easier to use for FX or compositing work of course, but for your basic narrative video its pretty much a wash.

What this all really boils down to is that if one cannot make a quality product with the XH-A1 using HDV, then one cannot make a quality product using SDI or HDMI. If a 2% image improvement is what is holding you back, then nothing is holding you back :) Canon's XL-H1 HDV cam was used to shoot "The Signal" which was sold for Two Million dollars at Sundance (2007?). Crank 2 was shot with an XH-A1 and released theatrically. Both features were shot using HDV 4:2:0.

Anyone that owns an XH-A1 is not being held back by their camcorder ;)
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Old July 8th, 2009, 08:42 AM   #22
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Bingo. Well said, Philip, and that's an excellent post, thanks for making it. You've basically stated the Law of Diminishing Returns very clearly. All of the SDI-equipped Canon cameras -- the G1, G1S, H1 and H1S -- are primarily intended to dovetail within existing SDI-equipped facilities, such as small market television stations and the like that already have an established SDI architecture.
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Old July 8th, 2009, 10:48 AM   #23
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The optimal image from the A1 is stellar. But the camera has bad ergonomics, limited dynamic range, poor lowlight performance, no real manual focus, and a bunch of shooting controls buried in sub-menues. You can avoid these limitations altogether by shooting from a tripod in predictable settings with plenty of light. If you shoot in more demanding environments you will have to work creatively on mitigating those limitations.
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Old July 9th, 2009, 03:58 PM   #24
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Having never worked with 4:2:2 footage, I would be curious to see how much you can push it around without grain materialising for those shots where you didn't have optimum lighting or didn't have your camera at an optimum shutter speed/iris etc.
Now before you say "learn to shoot better", I'm still curious as to the advantages of 4:2:2 in that specific situation until I become like soooo totally friggen awseome that I never screw an unrepeatable shot up ever again.
I would also like to see how much of an improvement with dynamic range you have.
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Old July 9th, 2009, 06:58 PM   #25
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Having never worked with 4:2:2 footage, I would be curious to see how much you can push it around without grain materialising for those shots where you didn't have optimum lighting or didn't have your camera at an optimum shutter speed/iris etc.
I'm not 100% certain, but I think a major factor in working with the lightly (or non) compressed 4:2:2 footage is the lack of image artifacts inherent in the 25Mbps MPEG2 HDV compressed footage. Depending on the particular shot, its possible to push HDV until you start to see image blocking and MPEG "grain". I would guess the actual 4:2:2 color is more important for compositing and FX work, though I could be way off base there :)
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Old July 10th, 2009, 06:12 AM   #26
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I must admit ive been looking at trying a capture card from component out to bypass the hdv compression, especially for Ice skating where the hdv codec is being stressed.
However im not sure if the investment in somthing like the Matrox mini is worth the difference (if any, as the canon hdv codec stands up very well) and then theres the cost of the extra storage space for the larger files as 20 hrs of footage is significant. (especially if its uncompressed!)
For most situations though i think the difference would be nil especially once downconverted for Dvd.
The greatest improvement you can make imho is to light the shot correctly because when its right the image is fantastic.
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