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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 24th, 2012, 11:01 AM   #1
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XHA1s Camera Setup Procedures

I've got both an XHA1 and an XHA1s among other cameras that I like to use when shooting lowlight indoor functions as well as outdoor variable light functions. What I am wondering is, what type of preset up procedure to you guys use to ensure that you're getting the desired exposure. To further my questions, I want to know how if possible, I can ensure that when I get home I don't have much if any noise at all in my footage. This seems to be the biggest issue and sometimes colors are crazy. I already have the canon presets downloaded and I actually think that those are good but obviously are not appropriate for all types of lighting situations that we encounter. Is it best to use a field monitor to determine what the final footage looks like or is there some magical procedure that I can follow to ensure that I am as close to perfect each time that I go out?
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Old January 24th, 2012, 02:29 PM   #2
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Re: XHA1s Camera Setup Procedures

Make sure AGC is OFF. Keep your gain at or below +12db...however in some cases you will see noise here as well. External monitors are nice for many reasons but if you are only concerned about exposure, I suggest just learning the camera and knowing how the footage will look once in post.

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Old January 24th, 2012, 03:43 PM   #3
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Re: XHA1s Camera Setup Procedures

In terms of learning, if we're talking about the external features of the camera, I think that I have mastered these as far as know what to do with them. I never use AGC but in my experience, sometimes I have to much noise. I try never to go above 6 db. I think my biggest problem is that the image will be too dark and I don't want to always have to depend on post editing.
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Old January 25th, 2012, 01:41 PM   #4
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Re: XHA1s Camera Setup Procedures

t is difficult to judge exposure on any LCD in direct sunlight. A hood will help, but the electronic viewfinder might work better. I generally rely on zebras and the exposure meter. It might be possible to use the histogram of a still image to set the exposure for the video, but I've never tried.
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Old January 25th, 2012, 01:45 PM   #5
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Re: XHA1s Camera Setup Procedures

Thanks Erick. I will look into trying this.
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Old January 25th, 2012, 10:57 PM   #6
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Re: XHA1s Camera Setup Procedures

The A1 series is not known for good performance in low light. To make matters worse, it has low resolution LCD and viewfinder so there's little to work with. You could try to tweak the color preset to crush the blacks but your computer's NLE can probably do it better than the camera's processor.
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Old January 26th, 2012, 06:09 AM   #7
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Re: XHA1s Camera Setup Procedures

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maurice Covington View Post
I already have the canon presets downloaded and I actually think that those are good but obviously are not appropriate for all types of lighting situations that we encounter.
You have to watch out with presets, there are some optimized for low light but they can mess up the colors as well. I remember one preset that I tested some years ago which was optimized for low light which did a very good job giving a cleaner image, only like I said before, it also changed the color and even with a whitebalance it was not natural.

I never use a preset and prefer to shoot as flat as possible as it will give you the most detail in dark and bright area's, I also white balance with a expodisc and that gives me a balanced image to start adjusting in post like I"d like to have it.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Maurice Covington View Post
Is it best to use a field monitor to determine what the final footage looks like or is there some magical procedure that I can follow to ensure that I am as close to perfect each time that I go out?
A field monitor is good for focus but for exposure I think zebra's and exposuremeter is the way to go, a field monitor will show you better how much visible grain you have in your image but with a xh-a1 gain equals visible grain. If you want no grain at all shoot a -3db and add light.
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Old January 26th, 2012, 12:10 PM   #8
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Re: XHA1s Camera Setup Procedures

I found out gain over +6db would be too noisy to use. It works at +12db if the final output is DVD since resizing will reduce the visibility of noise. I added Comer 1800 LED light to my setup. Then I set my gain to 0db and sometimes -3db.
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Old January 27th, 2012, 01:12 PM   #9
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Re: XHA1s Camera Setup Procedures

I recently shot some indoor low light footage at +6 gain. Looked good on the XH-A1's LCD, but was too grainy for me once exported. Live and learn, next time I will most likely not go much past +3 gain and try to do more adjusting in post if its too dark.

But I would think an external monitor would solve your problems if you are not doing a lot of run&gun.
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