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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 31st, 2011, 07:04 PM   #1
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Best way to get DOF with XHA1?

After 1.5 years of using this camera for very specific purposes I am now starting to use it on location for various types of shots. Whats the best way to get DOF with this camera. The camera is all stock with no after market items with the exception of a shotgun mic.
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Old January 31st, 2011, 07:18 PM   #2
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First question when you say get depth of field, are you looking for shallow depth of field or deep depth of field.

If you are looking for deep depth of field ( a wide area in focus) the small chip in your camera, higher f stops and wider angle shooting will all provide a deeper depth of field.

If you are looking for a shallower depth of field, the only thing you can do bare bones is open the lens aperature as wide as you can get it, and then try to shoot on the telephoto side as much as possible.

If you need even shallower depth of field, then you are talking about a 35mm adapter, or chaning cameras to something like a Canon 2ti DSLR, or another camera with a larger chip.
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Old January 31st, 2011, 07:43 PM   #3
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One of my favorite articles on the myth of DOF:

Depth of Field Myth
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Old January 31st, 2011, 11:03 PM   #4
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Kevin, Chris has it right. Open that iris to about an f2.0 - f2.8 and zoom in a bit. But remember, at that wide open and zoomed in that far (telephoto is 650 mm equivalent on the XH A1), your depth of field will be very slim. Any movement whatsoever and your subject will go out of focus. And rack focusing is not an option on the XH A1 because of the electronically controlled lens. You can do one rack focus with the memory focus, but that's it.

Unfortunately, the XH A1 is not a fixed aperture lens, as you know. It's f1.6 at the wide end and f3.5 at the telephoto. F3.5 is just enough to spoil the shallow depth of field, so set your aperture to about f2.2 or f2.4 and don't zoom in past that. I also noticed that the XH A1 goes soft below f2.0, so best to stay away from wide open.

You can get good results from getting the camera close to your subject, as well.
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Old February 1st, 2011, 06:14 AM   #5
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Plenty of focus racks in this clip. I never used the programmed lens control. The switch is hard to find and jiggles the camera. All these racks and sDOF effects were done 8-12 feet from the subject. The key is to zoom into the subject and open the iris as has been stated here and is explained in the article.

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Old February 17th, 2011, 02:43 AM   #6
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Les, you can do rack focuses, but it is unreliable. Turning the focus ring the same amount 5 times might get you 5 different results. On real projects where you time is an issue, it really sucks. Screwing around with nature and landscape stuff, where time is not an issue, it's fine. Also, on a small screen, focus issues are not really a problem, as long as you're close. A failure to reach true critical focus really shows up on big screens.
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Old February 19th, 2011, 05:36 AM   #7
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NEWS FLASH: The XH-A1 is not a professional camera that performs the way an ENG camera with a mechanical lens does.

It is however, capable of performing sDOF effects as per the OP question using the normal techniques.

Saying "rack focussing is not an option" is wrong.

Beyond being insulting, the statements made denigrating videography of nature and landscapes as "screwing around" or somehow not "real" videography is well, ummm, to be kind, I'll just say it's a hilariously entertaining statement.

Here's some work by fellow DVinfo member Dave Rice who might also take exception to your statement.
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