How does the A1 handle zooming? 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 July 1st, 2010, 10:52 AM   #1
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How does the A1 handle zooming?

My observations from the little use of an A1 I've had thus far, is that one loses light while zooming in which can mean you lose too much by the time you get to the intended shot and is underexposed.

Also, how well is sharpness and focus maintained/preserved while zooming in? Rock solid? Could be improved? The A1S seems to have addressed some issues/concerns in this particular area.

What advice, practical experience,or suggestions would you share with me so I can minimalize the effect of any potential issues and achieve a reasonable degree of quality?

What tricks are there & what settings are reccomended which would help a fairly new shooter maximize performance while zooming in regards to both exposure and being smooth while in transition from one shot to another?

What else should I be thinking about or be aware of?

Fortunately, I have one for the whole weekend to evaluate and test.

Better to ask questions than to not ask.

Thank you!
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Old July 1st, 2010, 11:20 AM   #2
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The usual advice is to zoom in, focus, and then zoom out to where you want to start. Unless you are pretty nifty with manual focus tracking (takes a lot of experience) or you are in a situation where the autofocus will function reliably (is there ever one?) that's the way to do it.

All lenses lose light to some extent when changing to a longer focal length as far as I'm aware - again if you check the exposure at the max zoom you intend to use while setting up the shot it shouldn't lead to underexposure when you zoom in.

I would read up on some basic optics if you are indeed new to this - the principles are much the same for still and video/film, although the film/sensor size is a factor as well.

Anyway, zooming in or out during a shotis one of the most overused techniques in amateur hands. Have a careful watch of professionally produced films and tv programmes - you may be surprised how little it is actually used.

EDIT: Just noticed the 214 posts. Sorry if I am telling what you already know.
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Old July 1st, 2010, 06:42 PM   #3
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One thing I found was to configure the Zoom display to read numbers instead of the zoom bar.

I set the Zoom speed to 15 and will zoom out to correctly pre-frame a particular shot and take note of its number so I can get there fast when needed then start shooting.

An example would be an equestrian event where you need to Zoom to the jumps and frame 'em before the horse gets there.
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Old July 2nd, 2010, 12:24 AM   #4
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Hi, Bruce..............

Colin and Allan have pretty well nailed most of the salient points, tho' there is one item in Colins post that bears illumination.

The XH A1 has only a single servo lens system, thus the same servo that drives the zoom mechanics also drives the focus system, neither of which it can do simultaneously.

Ergo, if the object of your video desire is moving towards or away from you whilst you are zooming, it cannot and will not hold focus, the zoom control has precedence over the focus.

This has been fixed on the A1s, which means that for "action follow" shots, it is far preferable.

Also of note is that the A1 and the Canon ZR1000 Lanc controller are not a happy couple if used in manual focus mode. I believe this has been remedied with the ZR2000 but if using the A1 in MF with the ZR1000 you will experience a world of pain.

Colin quite rightly pointed out that pro shooters (or editors) hardly ever, ever, ever include "zoom whilst shooting" clips in production releases, as it just looks so damn naff. Doing it whilst panning (at anything other than a crippled snails pace) is quite likely to make you lose your breakfast.

Enjoy your time with the camera.


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Old July 2nd, 2010, 09:13 AM   #5
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Thank you, Chris - that was an important omission in my post.

EDIT: And here's something else we all forgot - the zoom preset can be handy too. (Page 34 of the PAL user's manual)
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Old July 2nd, 2010, 02:48 PM   #6
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After folk get used to running their Canon they put the manual in the draw and forget it. The guy down the street here can't find his.

But a good thing to do is .. every month just open the manual at any page and start reading .. it's a refresher course.

Another tip is when your new at this .. write a list of your cam gear and leave it in your cam case so it's a checklist and you don't forget anything when you leave the house in a rush. Saved me a couple of times.

Cheers.
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Old July 2nd, 2010, 03:33 PM   #7
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The A1 manual mentioned it gets out of focus easily in 30F and 24F mode during zooming than in 60i. The focus mechanism works a little bit better in XH-A1s.

Zooming in cause less light entered to the sensor. It gets pretty bad when I shoot wedding reception indoor. Now I'm using the Comer 1800. with the condenser lens trick, it totally fixed the issue. Check out this video. You can see the condenser lens trick in the middle of the demo video.

YouTube - Comer CM-LBPS1800 Backlight Test and Zooming in with the the Condenser Trick
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Old July 4th, 2010, 12:00 AM   #8
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Thanks for the input and views.

Yesterday, I shot a church service in HD for the 2nd time ever with a borrowed A1 in 60i with a Canon ZR1000 LANC controller. As far as zooming goes, yes, I film while zooming in or out only because the situation requires it as there are no other alternatives as I shoot alone in hi def. The other camera operators are hooked up to a diff system and shoot in SD only. I'm there with everyone else however I'm independent & freelancing if you get my drift. I "cover " my zooms with audience pans and close-ups to the fullest extent possible. You can be sure I'm fully aware how amateurish zooms look!

The whole reason I brought this up was twofold:

1) I have very long-term experience with Canon GL-1's and especially 2's which automatically boost the gain while zooming in so, on tape, the zoom segments (as far as the light level is concerned) is very smooth,steady and not really noticeable. The A1 gives one the option to have AGC on or off. I avoid AGC if possible because that adds graininess especially when zoomed in.

2) I'm not opposed to reading a manual, however manuals exclude scenarios, can be written not particularly well & cannot replace hands-on practical experience.

It was very educational to hear from the experts & long-time A1 users.

Thanks so much.
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Old July 4th, 2010, 12:04 AM   #9
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Yes .. turn off AGC. I change my H-M-L gain settings to -3db, 0, 3db. Also, there is a settings in the menu to allow the gain level increase/decrease gradually.
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