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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 28th, 2009, 01:17 AM   #1
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Making a few purchases; opinions please

Hello all,

Hopefully the mods won't mind me posting this general question regarding a few items I am looking to purchase for my XH A1, Manfrotto 501HDV w/ tripod and Rode NTG-2.

If you would be so kind as to give me your thoughts, opinions and advice for my upcoming purchases, I would really appreciate it.

1. Looking to get the RedRock microShoulderMount Deluxe

2. Looking to get the Letus35 Extreme

3. Looking to get the Zeiss 50mm 1.4 Lens

4. Looking to get the DP1 by SmallHD

This is all my budget can afford for the time being but I will definitely expand my gear list with time, but I just want to get the major items to get me started shooting spectacular footage.

Thanks again for any input!
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Old October 28th, 2009, 02:53 AM   #2
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Hi Eric,

What types of content will your rig be for? Just curious - there may be other options you might consider depending on the kind of shooting you're planning.
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Old October 28th, 2009, 03:04 AM   #3
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I would say skip the Zeiss for now, get a Nikon 50mm F1.8E and use those $500 extra dollars on a light kit. Adapters absolutely eat your available light. Unless you already have a kit, that is. Then by all means go for that designer lens!
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Old October 28th, 2009, 05:53 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric Sorensen View Post
Hello all,

Hopefully the mods won't mind me posting this general question regarding a few items I am looking to purchase for my XH A1, Manfrotto 501HDV w/ tripod and Rode NTG-2.

If you would be so kind as to give me your thoughts, opinions and advice for my upcoming purchases, I would really appreciate it.

1. Looking to get the RedRock microShoulderMount Deluxe

2. Looking to get the Letus35 Extreme

3. Looking to get the Zeiss 50mm 1.4 Lens

4. Looking to get the DP1 by SmallHD

This is all my budget can afford for the time being but I will definitely expand my gear list with time, but I just want to get the major items to get me started shooting spectacular footage.

Thanks again for any input!

My thoughts... You don't need any of those items to shoot spectacular footage!

But if you are intent on spending your money, my advice would be to skip the Letus, or any 35mm dof adapter for that matter, they are cumbersome, eat light, and in all honesty obsolete. I own a couple of different brands, Letus & Brevis and neither get used any more. For that matter, I would drop everything on your list.
I would use your budget to purchase either a Lumix GH1 or a Canon EOS 7D kit which would then be used as a second camera to your XH-A1, for all the stuff you would have been using the Letus for. Mount the new camera to your 501 head and purchase a better head/sticks to put your XH-A1 on. Any remaining budget could be put toward a better field monitor or light kit.

Good Luck!
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Old October 28th, 2009, 12:31 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joel Peregrine View Post
Hi Eric,

What types of content will your rig be for? Just curious - there may be other options you might consider depending on the kind of shooting you're planning.
Hey Joel, I am a returning film student and starting back at a community college here in Los Angeles. They have one (1) working K3 16mm film camera for all the cinema 101 classes to share. I desire the film look. I am making a one minute film for my class but I have a few scripts that I have been working on for a while. My goal is to create a number of shorts to get my work flow down and then progress to feature length.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nate Haustein View Post
I would say skip the Zeiss for now, get a Nikon 50mm F1.8E and use those $500 extra dollars on a light kit. Adapters absolutely eat your available light. Unless you already have a kit, that is. Then by all means go for that designer lens!
Hey Nate, I do not have a light kit at the moment. I know that the adapters do eat a 1/2 stop (advertised, prob more) of light, which is why I was considering the Zeiss lens. They advertise it on the Letus site as working well with the adapter. Does the Nikon have the same properties and is the Zeiss just a name? I would love to save some money.

Quote:
Originally Posted by David W. Jones View Post
My thoughts... You don't need any of those items to shoot spectacular footage!

But if you are intent on spending your money, my advice would be to skip the Letus, or any 35mm dof adapter for that matter, they are cumbersome, eat light, and in all honesty obsolete. I own a couple of different brands, Letus & Brevis and neither get used any more. For that matter, I would drop everything on your list.
I would use your budget to purchase either a Lumix GH1 or a Canon EOS 7D kit which would then be used as a second camera to your XH-A1, for all the stuff you would have been using the Letus for. Mount the new camera to your 501 head and purchase a better head/sticks to put your XH-A1 on. Any remaining budget could be put toward a better field monitor or light kit.

Good Luck!
Hey David, thanks very much for your input. You really have me thinking now and which is why I love this community. It's just that I have seen some really good footage on this forum from people making features with a camera/35mm adapter setup. I want to create that film look.

Do you feel that the 35mm adapters are obsolete because of the new 7D? I did see the footage and it looks great. It just boggles my mind that an SLR could get footage like that. I believe I read there are a couple drawbacks as well.

Do you still achieve a shallow DOF with your equipment without using the adapters and if so, what is your method?

I don't believe I need a 2nd camera at this time as I have only a small crew, and a couple of those people are just going to be fellow students.

Would you recommend a better head/sticks combo? I thought the 501HDV was a good head?

Sorry for all the questions. Thanks very much for all your input!
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Old October 28th, 2009, 01:54 PM   #6
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Eric,

The reason I asked about what you're shooting is that I had the same thought as David - skip the adapter and go for a DSLR. In the end you'll have something that shoots better images, is lighter, smaller, and also will retain its value over the next few years. That advice is from someone that loves using his XH-A1's.
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Old October 28th, 2009, 02:33 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric Sorensen View Post

Do you still achieve a shallow DOF with your equipment without using the adapters and if so, what is your method?

I don't believe I need a 2nd camera at this time as I have only a small crew, and a couple of those people are just going to be fellow students.
I use a Lumix GH1 when I need a shallower depth of field than the XH-A1 provides.
Remember the GH1 and 7D have sensors that are almost the same size as a 35mm motion picture frame, so your depth of field will be real similar.

As far as not needing a second camera because you have a small crew.
An HDSLR will not occupy any more space than the Letus you wanted.
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Old October 28th, 2009, 08:39 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Joel Peregrine View Post
Eric,

The reason I asked about what you're shooting is that I had the same thought as David - skip the adapter and go for a DSLR. In the end you'll have something that shoots better images, is lighter, smaller, and also will retain its value over the next few years. That advice is from someone that loves using his XH-A1's.
Quote:
Originally Posted by David W. Jones View Post
I use a Lumix GH1 when I need a shallower depth of field than the XH-A1 provides.
Remember the GH1 and 7D have sensors that are almost the same size as a 35mm motion picture frame, so your depth of field will be real similar.

As far as not needing a second camera because you have a small crew.
An HDSLR will not occupy any more space than the Letus you wanted.

Boy, I both love and hate you guys! (Smirk) <- That's a joke if it doesn't come through.
OK, I have started reading about the 7D and will try to go look at it on Friday, if the store has one. You have definitely sparked my interest.

With the 2nd camera, I wasn't referring to the size of the camera, but actually shooting with two different cameras, but I get your point.
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Old October 28th, 2009, 09:12 PM   #9
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Have a XHA1 w/ SGblade adapter and a variety of Nikon primes. Playing with a new 7D right now. Both are great machines. I feel both could do a great job on a film shoot. Just make sure you have the right lighting tools - I can't stress that enough.

Here's the lowdown about the light-loss through an adapter:
1/2 - 1 Stop Loss from Adapter itself
≈2 stops loss from zooming in the camera to frame the ground glass on the adapter
1.4 - 4 Stops from the lens you put on the end

So, in the best possible configuration, you're losing 3.5 to 4 stops of light just putting the adapter on the camera. That's considerable, and it's why you need to take lighting seriously. Spend $500-$1000 on a Lowell kit with 3 or 4 lights and the necessary accessories.

I wish I could afford the Zeiss lenses. I'm sure they're really nice, but for the resolution you're shooting with the XHA1, certain "choice" cheap lenses can do just fine until you decide to really take the plunge and make a commitment.

Couple of the lenses I really like in my kit, and what you can get them for used.
50mm Nikon 1.8E AI (the metal one) $50 (sharp, light, and great DOF)
28mm Nikon 2.8 AIS $250 (nice, sharp wide angle)
85mm Nikon 2.0 AIS $150 (amazing for portraits w/ incredible DOF)

My point is, you can save money on that expensive lens and ket a whole kit instead, not to mention the wattage to get good shots anywhere that's not outdoors at noon.
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Old October 28th, 2009, 10:00 PM   #10
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You know, I would have to agree with both of them in that a second HDSLR would be a better choice. I recently had the opportunity to play with the 7D and it was amazing, I almost had to go change pants cause it was so nice...

It is all up to you. The Letus, as Nate explained loses lots of light, And thats an issue if you are already ion a dark situation. Outside, you should be fine, but you won't always have an ideal place to shoot like that.

The 7D is a second camera to keep track of, but on the other side, Lets say you need a B camera for a scene. you can have to people running their own camera. I believe that Saosin used one in their "Changing" video. (there is a behind the scenes and a second camera operator running a DSLR.)

I can go back and forth on this one. If you want the professional look and feel, go for the Letus. If you want the shallow DOF, go for the 7D.
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Old October 29th, 2009, 12:28 AM   #11
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I must agree that buying a 7D is the way to go - plus it's low risk.

If the 7D doesn't work out, you can sell it for 90% of what you paid. I also suspect the availability of used adapters will become plentiful rather soon. At attractive used prices.

If I were you, I would take a CF card to a dealer, shoot some video, review it at home and make your decision.

The other thing to keep in mind is the XH-A1 is getting rather "long in the tooth". It shouldn't be too long before Canon (or Sony, or Panasonic) come out with a large sensor, dedicated video camera. Probably solid state - CF or SD card.

I can't see them letting RED keep eating their lunch much longer.

I still shoot a lot with my XH-A1, but the added flexibility of having a 5D mkII and a 7D is to me - ideal.

Please let us know what you end up with.

P.S. you will also be able to take some pretty decent stills.
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Old October 29th, 2009, 01:15 AM   #12
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Just shot for 5 minutes with the 7D and I can now safely say that I will find it difficult indeed to give it up for an adapter anytime soon. No question, this is a stepping stone to the future of video recording.

Even with a slower lens on the DLSR, you're still at an advantage light-wise. Not to mention the portability, file-based workflow and much lower price/higher resale value. 7D where have you been all my life?

Oh, and good to see the Minnesota boys just rocking this thread!
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Old October 29th, 2009, 06:34 AM   #13
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Well I'm no Minnesota boy, but I do have fond memories of arriving in Red Wing to work on the FLW fishing TV show wearing shorts and a t-shirt, and within 2 hours a front moved in with cold snow. MMMMMM that was fun.
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Old October 29th, 2009, 01:25 PM   #14
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Yeah, you got to watch that weather! Today, I would be out in my shorts if it wasn't raining... But hey, I might just be alittle crazy.

Keeping up on this thread is making it hard for me to not go out and buy a 7D or 5D II. Just thought I would throw that in there.
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Old October 30th, 2009, 02:09 AM   #15
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Nate, Scott, Jay, thanks for all the replies fellas... I am going to check out the 7D tomorrow if my local store has it. I think they may as it's listed on their website.

Unfortunately, I don't have a CF card to record any video to take home, only an SD card that goes in my current Rebel XSi.

If I like this camera, maybe I can entertain selling the XSi and A1 to fund the new toy? We'll see.

How about audio on this camera? Could you use a Rode NTG-2 with some kind of adapter or would I have to get a new mic/audio system?

Also, what would be an ideal video lens for this camera? Considering cost and all...

Here's to the future of HD Video recording... Still trying to wrap my head around shooting a film with a DSLR.
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