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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 October 6th, 2009, 07:53 PM   #1
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XH-A1 with Letus vs Canon 5D Mark II

Hello,

For the last few years, I've been shooting with my Canon XH-A1. I'm considering purchasing a Letus Extreme to get a more film, shallow depth of field. I know the Canon 5D is all the rage right now... What is the advantage of the 5D if you could just add a Letus to an H1 and have XLR inputs and other video friendly qualities that the 5D doesn't offer? Thanks in advance for your feedback.
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Old October 6th, 2009, 08:45 PM   #2
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I'm certainly no expert, but I've been thinking of getting a 5D or 7D to replace the brevis I use with my xha1 (I'd never get rid of the XHA1 though)..

Each has its pro's/con's.. But some of the advantages I see to the 5D/7D rig are:
- Compact size (much smaller/lighter than an XHA1+letus).
- It shoots 1080p (rather than just 1080i)
- Canon 7D can shoot 60 frames/sec (at 720p)
- Takes awesome still photos too
- Cheaper than XHA1+Letus combo
- Quicker setup time
- Less optics and fiddling required with back focus/zoom settings/ground glass, etc..
- Records to CF cards instead of tape (I prefer the tapeless workflow, but many would disagree for many valid reasons, this is just my personal preference)
- HDMI output for monitoring (5D is only 640x480 though)


It also has a lot of cons, some you pointed out:
- Lack of xlr inputs
- Limited manual controls
- Max recording length on the CF card is quite short (4GB limit I believe, ~12 minutes??)
- viewfinder is fixed in place, can't rotate screen to get high/low angle shots

For me, the big advantage is the size.. The main reason I don't use my brevis very often is because it adds so much bulk and weight to the XHA1 that I just don't want to carry my full rig/rails/mattebox/lens's around.. but carrying an SLR/camera bag and a couple lenses is much more feasible for me. Thinking of selling my brevis if anyone is interested..
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Old October 6th, 2009, 08:57 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerry Neal View Post
What is the advantage of the 5D if you could just add a Letus to an H1 and have XLR inputs and other video friendly qualities that the 5D doesn't offer? Thanks in advance for your feedback.
I've never used a 35mm like the Letus, but I do own the XH-A1 and 5D2. I would echo everything that Bryan said, and add that one of the only things I dislike about the 5D2 video is aliasing. It's far worse than the XH-A1 in that regard. If you shoot very thin DOF only, then it will not cause as big of a problem.
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Old October 6th, 2009, 09:56 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerry Neal View Post
Hello,

For the last few years, I've been shooting with my Canon XH-A1. I'm considering purchasing a Letus Extreme to get a more film, shallow depth of field. I know the Canon 5D is all the rage right now... What is the advantage of the 5D if you could just add a Letus to an H1 and have XLR inputs and other video friendly qualities that the 5D doesn't offer? Thanks in advance for your feedback.
I just recently upgraded my fulltime job with a letus elite with 3 canon lenses to the XH-A1. I actually just finished the first client shoot, and let me tell you the benefit is amazing. I also just bought myself the 7D, and that camera is even more amazing. But both have their advantages and disadvantages. Honestly the safest bet would be to use both. I can see many situations where both cameras would be incredibly beneficial. Plus by having a letus for the A1, you would basically have the DOF in both cameras. If you stay with EF lenses then you can use the lenses for both cameras. You'll just have a crop factor of 1.6x. Go for both. If you can afford it that is.
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Old October 6th, 2009, 10:10 PM   #5
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Emrys,

Can you compare the DOF between the Letus and the 7D? Does the smaller sensor size of the 7D really limit the DOF you can achieve, as compared with the Letus?

And also can you compare the 7D to the stock XHA1. Would you say the 7D can achieve MUCH more DOF than the stock A1, or would you say only SLIGHTLY more? I realize this is a very subjective analysis I'm asking for and depends on a lot of factors such as lens apertures etc..
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Old October 6th, 2009, 10:37 PM   #6
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Emrys,

Can you compare the DOF between the Letus and the 7D? Does the smaller sensor size of the 7D really limit the DOF you can achieve, as compared with the Letus?

And also can you compare the 7D to the stock XHA1. Would you say the 7D can achieve MUCH more DOF than the stock A1, or would you say only SLIGHTLY more? I realize this is a very subjective analysis I'm asking for and depends on a lot of factors such as lens apertures etc..
Compared to the stock A1, the 7D absolutely beats the A1 for DOF. The sensor is APS-C which compared to the smaller plane in the A1 is a huge difference. Yes your not getting the same amount as say the 5D MKII, but its not bad at all. Also the use of film lens without having an adapter is the big advantage. The DOF in the 7D as comparable to the Letus, to me, feels almost the same. One downside the elite is the limited aperature. You need to stay at least above 5.6 in order to not see the grain of the glass. And damn can you tell when it comes through. But this can be avoided with using your ND filters on the A1. This is an example of shooting with the A1 without the Letus:

Homework* al·le·gret·to on Vimeo

And here is the test shoot I did two weekends ago with the Letus and a 28mm-135mm f3.5-f5.6 EF lens:

Homework* First of Fall on Vimeo

The difference in DOF is very apparent. Please forgive the shots with some grain. It was a test shoot and I wanted to shoot without taking the disadvantages into account to make sure what would happen.

I also did a test shoot with the 7D with the stock 18mm-135mm f3.5-f5.6 EF-S lens:

Homework* Trail Ridge Road (Canon 7D) on Vimeo

This isn't the best example of the DOF since I was mostly wide and far away from the subjects, but it does show what you get straight out of the box with the 7D. I plan to get some more EF lenses and also borrow the work lens to get some better DOF examples to show this weekend most likely. I'll definitely post here when I have the results. Hope this helps a bit with what you were looking for.

I will also post example shots of the shoot I just did today, sometime later. I used a 85mm f2.8 lens, a 28mm-135mm f3.5-f5.6 lens, and a 20mm f2.8 lens on the letus today. The 85mm is my new best friend. I was able to achieve amazing DOF with that lens. Mainly because of the speed. The zoom lens is not quite as easy to use mainly because of how slow it is. The best way to go is fixed lens if you can help it. The will be faster and cheaper then zoom lenses. The zoom lenses that are faster are very expensive. One other part to get used to when using still lenses to shoot video is to not use your zoom. Especially when shooting construction, i have used the zoom as a subtle dollyesque camera move that usually worked rather well. Now that I can't use it however, I notice that I am much more diliberate with my compositions. And that is a good thing. :)

I'll let you know when I have more tests to show. :)
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Old October 7th, 2009, 06:54 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Emrys Roberts View Post
Compared to the stock A1, the 7D absolutely beats the A1 for DOF.
Thanks, I was having a tough choice between wanting the 5D or the 7D, but all things considered I think I've decided the 7D is better for me.
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Old October 16th, 2009, 09:20 PM   #8
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It really, really depends on what kind of work you're doing. As someone who primarily works in narrative film, but whose day job is as a wedding videographer, I believe that the Canon 5DMKII is more of a niche machine that specifically shows its strengths in event videography. I find that its small form factor makes the job of the wedding videographer pretty simple, as the job itself requires the videographer to be mobile and ready for anything. Interchangeable lenses is nice, but no wedding videographer in their right mind would roll with primes for weddings - too much stuff happens too quickly, and changing lenses to get the proper focal length for a close up risks missing the shot entirely.

However, the form factor for film work isn't good at all. Too small a camera makes mobile shots on a shoulder rig or a dolly really, really difficult to smooth out. And that's not even mentioning the lack of XLR ports, and the lack of manual controls.

As someone who owns a XH-A1 + SGBlade combo, I'm really, really impressed with it. It's more than just having a set of interchangeable lenses but the fact that you can change the Rotorazor glass to optimize the image quality really allows a wide range of cinematic looks.
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Old October 16th, 2009, 10:06 PM   #9
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Interchangeable lenses is nice, but no wedding videographer in their right mind would roll with primes for weddings - too much stuff happens too quickly, and changing lenses to get the proper focal length for a close up risks missing the shot entirely.
Personally, I think primes-only is the best way to go, same as still photographers. All of the really good ones in my area shoot primes only. Our first 5D2-only wedding with all primes (two 5D2 video operators and two 5D2 still shooters) went great. You do give up that speed and flexibility of the zoom, but in return you get even more control over DOF, better focus rings, less breathing, smoother bokeh, and more.
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