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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 January 2nd, 2011, 08:17 PM   #1
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A1s external light anyone?

Iím strongly leaning towards buying an A1s probably this month or sometime during the next . There remains a few questions to ask before I have enough information to pull the trigger on this particular model & feel confident this is the right choice.

From my experience with a used XH-A1, I quickly found out that it is a hungry animal whose light level requirements easily exceeded what I had available for use on several occasions even when (at least to the discernable eye-mine) there should have been enough.

The A1ís output can quickly become both ďnoisyĒ, grainy and does not score highly in the low light department. Anything above 6db gain is unacceptable which produces unsatisfactory results. Even with the iris wide open, it required gain in excess of that number.

Unfortunately, one canít always get close enough to the action to compensate for this particular weakness.

So, it comes down to if an onboard light will ďcut the mustardĒ so to speak. Canon only seems to offer 1 option, the VL-10Li II, a 10 watter which is inexpensive. Do any of you have this on your rig? Are there any other reasonably priced alternatives? What do you use if anything?

From your experience, what is the effective range of a 10 watt light? Do I need something more powerful? Will it be underpowered if Iím shooting 75 feet away?

What I donít want to do is put a spotlight/beam of light on someones face which will destroy detail, definition and color accuracy.

I need to know if this has could potentially salvage or enhance a low-light situation and be a worthwhile addition.

Please me know what you think.

Thank you.
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Old January 12th, 2011, 01:50 PM   #2
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You don't want the Canon VL-10Li, it's bulky, plastic, and somewhat underpowered. Its best feature is its cheap price (under $100). There are tons of recommendations for good O.B. lights throughout this site -- be sure to search for them in the other camera boards here and not just the Canon XH forum. The A1S is marginally better in low light than the A1 but not substantially. Hope this helps,
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Old January 12th, 2011, 03:46 PM   #3
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I just received delivery of one of these Rotolights and I'm very impressed.
It fits around a shotgun mic or on the hotshoe with an additional adapter. Comes with a variety of filters and seems very bright.

Rotolight Professional 48LED Shotgun Mounted Camcorder LED Light On-Camera Lighting RL-48-A Stealth - Vistek Canada Product Detail
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Old January 12th, 2011, 04:21 PM   #4
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No worries. That 10 watter won't have any effect on your subjects 75 feet away. That light has a range of only a few feet. Sounds like a stage or banquet hall venue of some kind. I use this light at that range.
Altman Follow Spot with Stand, 1000 Watts (110-120VAC) 1000Q B&H

You may want to widen your list of cameras. Here's a low light test done on the A1s vs some others:
EventDV.net: The Event Videographer's Resource

The Z5 lets you add a CF recorder later and add solid state recording.
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Old January 12th, 2011, 06:20 PM   #5
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Hi Bruce,

I ordered a new Bescor light from B&H. It is Led 70W works with 4 AA batteries which I love the best no more battery packs for me!! The price right now is under $100.

Bescor LED-70 70W LED Swivel Shoe Adapter Kit B&H Photo Video
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Old January 12th, 2011, 07:40 PM   #6
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Hi Matthew,

Very interesting indeed. 70 watts,30 feet throw, on sale until Jan 31 and reasonably priced.

If I may ask, did you do a lot of comparison shopping before choosing this one?

What was ther deciding factor(s) to go with the Bescor?

Thanks for joining the conversation.
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Old January 12th, 2011, 08:49 PM   #7
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I think you should reconsider.

I love everything about my XH-A1 except the low-light performance. It's an embarrassment, really. I have to shoot almost every event at 30 fps/ 1/30th shutter, and wide open with 3 db to 12db gain. There is a noise-reduction preset for 12db, but it knocks the lighting back down to the equivalent of 6 db, so I don't see any point in using it. If I had to do it over, I would definitely consider another camera, even for more money. I was very excited to hear about the XF-305, but I am disappointed in its mediocre lux rating. I simply don't feel like spending $7,000 just so I can spend all my time fretting about available light the way I do now.

As for camera-mounted lights, I use the VL-10Li with a diffuser. It's effective up to about 3 meters (it just defines edges at that distance). It's less than ideal, of course, but it's a good deal better than cranking up the gain.

When I can control lightning, of course, then I love my XH-A1.
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Old January 13th, 2011, 07:14 AM   #8
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Hi Bruce,

I based it on the price, ease of use and wanted battery operated. I compared it to the Rotolight and some other led lights.
The reason I did not pick Rotolight even though it is a good light was beacuse if I wanted to add a filter on fly I had to disassemble it and it wasn't dimmable.
Also as you mentioned Becor Led 70 gives you up to 30 feet of light which in my opinion is excellent.

Matthew
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Last edited by Matthew Amirkhani; January 13th, 2011 at 10:35 AM.
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Old January 13th, 2011, 09:10 AM   #9
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Jacques, from personal experience I can certainly empathesize with you as to the general inadequeacy of the low light performance of the A1/A1s. It was news to me that the XF-300/305 series could well be in the same boat so to speak. I have yet to shoot at 1/30th shutter speed but it is tempting. I've looked at a considerable number of models especially amongst the Sony offerings and generally I find 1 of 3 things:

1) Lens underpowered for my main shooting environment. 12-14x power on average.

2) Just about all 1920 by 1080 "full HD" cams are exclusively AVCHD which from what I've been told (rightly or wrongly) is even more compressed then MPEG-2 long GOP and CPU/processor intensive. I'd probably need to buy a new computer and upgrade my software was well to swithch over to AVCHD.

3) Cams whose specs and capabilities more closely match my situation are much more expensive then the A1s which is $2,995 at several roputable dealers. For another $500 I could add a data recorder and actually I prefer tape in some respects, so I could record to multiple formats simultaneously.

Other than the XF-305, my other "dream machine" is the Sony PMW EX-1R. However, even that model has a 14x lens & cost 6.3k
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Old January 13th, 2011, 01:04 PM   #10
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I moved from an A1 to an EX1R and thought I would miss the 20x but I don't. The low light performance more than makes up for it. Also, the image is so good, it's like nothing to zoom it in post.
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Old January 13th, 2011, 03:32 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Pelley View Post
Jacques, from personal experience I can certainly empathesize with you as to the general inadequeacy of the low light performance of the A1/A1s. It was news to me that the XF-300/305 series could well be in the same boat so to speak. I have yet to shoot at 1/30th shutter speed but it is tempting.
1/30th is perfectly fine for banquets or receptions where you don't have fast-moving objects. It's an excellent way to gain a couple of f-stops at events where people like the lights dimmed.

For a couple of grands more than the XF-305, I can get an EX3 which has a much better lux rating. But it still has a low bitrate for the price (35mbps) and lousy colour space (4:2:0), unless you add a recorder.

I like Canon. But I wish they offered a serious professional-grade camera with a 1/2" or 2/3" sensor and standard 4:2:2 colour space - if only to knock Panasonic out of their P2 ivory tower and force them to be more competitive..

Last edited by Jacques E. Bouchard; January 13th, 2011 at 10:34 PM.
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Old January 13th, 2011, 04:49 PM   #12
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I'll try 1/30th and see what happens. Nothing lost I guess.

The problem I could see developing is that since I shoot almost exclusively in a church setting and the weekly service in particular, the pastor has a tendency to sit on a small stool onstage while delivering his message and then all of a sudden, unpredictably, stand up and pace around the platform back and forth.

So, I'm wondering if 1/30th could handle that rather abrupt change without some noticeable loss of video smoothness and fluidity. What do you gents think?

I too am a long-term Canon loyalist and owner however their decision to halve the power of their lens is a deal killer for me given my situation and choices.
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Old January 13th, 2011, 05:14 PM   #13
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The verdict is in!

B&H is such a nice place to deal with. Maybe some time I'll relate my experience in some detail.

The short version is: that due to budget constraints, personal shooting situation and limited choices I pulled the trigger and got the A1s starter kit, a Libec tripod and upgraded the bag to a Petrol HDV rolling wingbag at a good price and free shipping. I'm likely to pick-up an inexpensive onboard light before the month ends as well.

My remaining challenge is to find a good supply of Maxell 60 minute mini dv tapes that don't cost 5-8 $ apeice. I used to buy them at Sam's Club for about $2.50 each before they apparently were discontinued.

If any of you have a suggestion for a replacement source at a reasonable cost please let me know.

Cheers
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Old January 13th, 2011, 10:16 PM   #14
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Bruce,

I suggest that you try one of the low light presets for the XHA1 , also try not to zoom in and keep it wide and open.
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Old January 14th, 2011, 08:23 AM   #15
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I wasn't aware there were "low light" presets as I normally use my favorite which is VIVID RGB.

Which one(s) do you reccomend?

Thanks!
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