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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 May 21st, 2012, 07:45 AM   #16
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Re: Best preset on XH A1 for biggest latitude in editing

Canon factory default settings are likely intended to be the most neutral with respect to the full range of what folks are likely to shoot. Not great for any specific purpose, but a starting point.

Knee, Black, gamma, etc. all effect the transfer function (output value for a give input to a pixel) Any adjustment is a copmpromise, and what increases detail (allocated pixel values) in highlights tends to reduce detail from shadows,

There is an interesting discussion on latitude of the new C300 camcorder (maybe in its forum here on the Canon web page, I forget where I read it).
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Old May 23rd, 2012, 08:18 AM   #17
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Re: Best preset on XH A1 for biggest latitude in editing

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Originally Posted by Larry Secrest View Post
So knowing that having the biggest latitude is post is what interest me, which preset from the list found on this forum would you say is better?
I just shoot factory default and have some color correction presets in Edius. Have experimented with presets but all seemed to have some side effects like deviating colors and it was very hard to correct that, when shooting factory default I at least have all the control I need to create a look I want while retaining the best dynamic range if needed. (presets often also crush blacks or blow out highlights even further loosing detail in those area's.
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Old May 24th, 2012, 08:28 PM   #18
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Re: Best preset on XH A1 for biggest latitude in editing

To everybody.
Ok, I'm going to review what I thought about presets. Yes, the TrueColor preset might actually be worth it. I was kind of set off by one big change, the RGM to 40, I think it's the RGM.
I thought such a big change simply couldn't be justified.
After carefully comparing several settings, including the default factory setting on a calibrated monitor, and playing with changing color, contrasts etc in Vegas, I do believe that the TrueColor setting is the one that should be used. Yes, it does appear to give the best latitude. That says a lot about the default factory setting that is totally unjustified.
Thank you so much for all your input.
I think for the few years left in that cam, it's going to be shooting with the TrueColor Preset
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Old May 25th, 2012, 08:33 AM   #19
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Re: Best preset on XH A1 for biggest latitude in editing

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Originally Posted by Larry Secrest View Post
To everybody.
Ok, I'm going to review what I thought about presets. Yes, the TrueColor preset might actually be worth it. I was kind of set off by one big change, the RGM to 40, I think it's the RGM.
I thought such a big change simply couldn't be justified.
After carefully comparing several settings, including the default factory setting on a calibrated monitor, and playing with changing color, contrasts etc in Vegas, I do believe that the TrueColor setting is the one that should be used. Yes, it does appear to give the best latitude. That says a lot about the default factory setting that is totally unjustified.
Thank you so much for all your input.
I think for the few years left in that cam, it's going to be shooting with the TrueColor Preset
Larry
Larry, if you wouldn't mind posting back, I'm curious to know (more exactly) what tinkering you did in Vegas to give you peace of mind about TC, relative to factory.

It wasn't until I played with some stock footage (shot on a Red) that I realized how astonishingly little I can push around HDV without it falling apart. That's not the fault of the A1 or any particular preset, of course, but it got me to wondering what you saw (or didn't) that affected your decision.
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Old January 20th, 2013, 11:24 AM   #20
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Re: Best preset on XH A1 for biggest latitude in editing

Hi both (all!)

Very interesting to find this after a long time away from this forum.

I was hunting for news of presets as although I now have a DSLR, I still use both my XHA1 cameras for observational video at Children's Playschools and for other music-related projects where you need to set up and get an image / sound as quickly as possible with minimum wasteage. The XHA1 is so much easier to use than a DSLR. I have two thoughts about the presets, having used the VividRGB presets for years/ However, I didn't like the slightly depressing greenish cast it seemed to put in low-light elements of a scene so going to do some experimenting, including using the Truecolor.

I'm also going to test the following assumptions, which are:

1) With the HDV codec, it's better to try to get the image as close as you can to what you want so you don't have to push the image too far in post. And
2) It's also good to turn off anything that might take away processing power, such as in-camera noise-reduction, which I think is horrible in any case.

Now that there is very good software to remove noise (I use Neat 3, which I think is superb) and also to remove that slightly nasty magenta Chromatic aberration which you get in wide shots, I though it was a good time for me to revisit what's available which maximises the camera's processing for just encoding the image. So thank you for this inspirational post.

I'm still a great fan of the XHA1 because it has so many useful features which make it so much better than the DSLR option, for example the XLR inputs and component outputs for monitoring. To get away from tape I use a DN-60 to capture on CF card, which means I can do 2-hour takes if need be, then I can edit direct from that by putting the card in a USB3 reader and dragging and dropping the M2T files straight into Vegas. Works a treat and it's so quick and easy to use. Saves cluttering up my HDD with unwanted stuff - but you haves the option to keep a simultaneous tape copy for safety by running a tape in parallel with the DN-60. So I think the XHA1 still gets a lease of life regardless of what's appeared since.

I'll report back - cheers all!

Last edited by Mark Harmer; January 20th, 2013 at 12:53 PM.
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Old January 20th, 2013, 03:11 PM   #21
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Re: Best preset on XH A1 for biggest latitude in editing

Quick comment:

The BBC preset seemed to have more detail available in the shadows but (as you'd imagine) creates slightly more noise in the image if you stretch the mids / crush the blacks.

I thought initially the Truecolor one looked worse (by far) than the others, but when you recover the sharpness it looks better than the presets with in-camera sharpening (which produces a line around objects).

Will say more as I experiment.
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Old January 20th, 2013, 03:58 PM   #22
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Re: Best preset on XH A1 for biggest latitude in editing

Keep your eye out for a Canon announcement saying 'after xxxx Canon will no longer support their XHA1/S range of cams.'

Because they'll run out of spare parts and the cost to make more is prohibitive, they won't do it.
The DV tape transport is the last one and heads, guides and pinchrollers will disappear first.
Some independents may stock up and advertise.

Always keep a DV tape cam in good condition to play your tape archives. Their HV40 is a good bet.

Cheers.
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Old January 20th, 2013, 04:10 PM   #23
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Re: Best preset on XH A1 for biggest latitude in editing

Good advice - thanks! I still have two of these cameras, and love them. I'm planning to do most of my stuff now on CF card rather than tape, though, and bought the DN-60 for that very reason. They're such good cameras and recording to CF gives them a new lease of life. I did think of getting an Atomos Ninja or Samurai, and converting the component out to SDI / HDMI but that seemed expensive and probably not worth while, whereas the DN-60 does give you a very good solution for tapeless recording.

Comparing the image quality with what I'm getting from my hacked Panasonic GH2 I think the XHA1 is not nearly as good, but image quality isn't the whole story, and the resulting videos for my projects are a lot better with the XHA1 because the usability of the XHA1 is a lot better :-)

EDIT: Good point about retrieving archive stuff as I have a lot of tapes!

Last edited by Mark Harmer; January 20th, 2013 at 06:21 PM.
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Old January 20th, 2013, 05:26 PM   #24
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Re: Best preset on XH A1 for biggest latitude in editing

Had a bash at comparing three presets:

VividRGB
BBC
TrueColor

First of all, this is what the three looked like with no processing - ie as shot:


VividRGB and TrueColor gave more crushed blacks in the original video;
BBC had much more shadow detail here, for example in the blue of the glass bowl and the shadow areas of the apple - as you might expect, with stretched blacks.
TrueColor looks VERY soft compared with the other two - but that's not the whole story: see below.

I then tried seeing what would happen if I tried to get the shots to (approximately!) match each other, and that was quite fun. It's this version you see here:


IGNORE the word "unmodified" in the top left as they were all adjusted in Speedgrade, and that made quite a difference. The most interesting difference was in the sharpening. With the VividRGB and BBC having high / moderate levels of sharpening already (and adjusted in Speedgrade to match each other), the in-camera sharpening created a sort of "halo" around contrasty areas like the pen and the LH edge of the paper as well as the text (where I point to the preset names). The Truecolor preset (very soft in-camera but after sharpening in Speedgrade) looked much more natural and didn't have the "edges" of the other two presets, although there were some blocky artefacts around the handwritten text and these were worse once I'd sharpened the TrueColor than in the other two. Interesting test though and I'll do more. I'm keen to get something quite clean-looking for my observational video work.

Sorry it's not very scientific!

Last edited by Mark Harmer; January 20th, 2013 at 06:27 PM.
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Old January 22nd, 2013, 10:02 AM   #25
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Re: Best preset on XH A1 for biggest latitude in editing

This is a very interesting thread to me, as I use both an XH-A1 and an XH-A1S in my small business. There are always trade offs between speed of turning out the work and resulting quality of the work. Plus, different clients are sometimes more and sometimes less willing to pay for the time to produce their project. So shooting with one preset can improve final quality, at the expense of more time in post. Another preset improves initial quality of the footage, and hence final quality of the product for a client not willing to pay enough to make extra post time worth it.

And of course, a good tapeless solution was mentioned earlier in the thread regarding the DN-60. While I'd like to move to a matched pair of tapeless cameras with features (xlr inputs and 3 control rings) at least equal to my present pair of Canons, that would be quite an expensive investment for a small business owner.

So for now, I'm leaning towards keeping my two cameras for another 18-24 months. Not to hijack the thread, but would a pair of DN-60s and all the resulting CF cards, batteries, etc. be a wise investment for the next 18-24 months? Sometimes I need 6 hours of actual footage per camera for a lot of the jobs..,

About all I could reasonably afford right now would be a pair of XA-10s, and many of my clients wouldn't like the looks of those tiny cameras.

What do you guys think?
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Old January 22nd, 2013, 10:29 AM   #26
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Re: Best preset on XH A1 for biggest latitude in editing

Hi Roger,

I do think your summary is a good one - go for a good in-camera picture which doesn't need much in post, or go for something (for example, using less in-camera sharpening) which can then give you more to play with at the expense of more time in post.

I weighed up the following (I have two of these cameras):

- Continue to use the XHA1 as is - but I'm starting to get odd tape dropouts on my "main" one
- Buy and use a DN-60
- Buy another camera to replace the XHA1 cameras I have
- Buy a Ninja or similar recorder with a component to digital converter
- Buy a recorder with component input

In the end I thought the camera probably wasn't good enough to justify buying a Ninja or other recorder and it would lead to a lot more clutter to bring with me. Also for any greenscreen or other critical setup work, I'd probably use my DSLR anyway.
Not sure what I'd replace the XHA1 with which would be as good without spending quite a lot of money (assuming I didn't get much for my XHA1 cams). I really love them for the work I do.

The DN-60 was perfect for me as a compromise - I can still continue to use the camera which I find really great to use quickly but now it's a joy to use and totally makes the XHA1 a go-to camera where you need to do the sort of things an XHA1 does well. You will also need to buy a CF card reader. I use the Kingston USB3 reader and can edit HD straight off the CF card. It's so quick, it's just amazing. It's SO brilliant - do it. Very cost-effective. You might have to weigh up if you need two, so I bought one with the intention of just using tape with my second camera.
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Old January 22nd, 2013, 01:00 PM   #27
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Re: Best preset on XH A1 for biggest latitude in editing

Thanks Mark for your input. I'm beginning to experience those random odd tape dropouts on both of the XH's, and also on both of my HV-30s. I'm wondering if the quality of the tapes themselves are beginning to fall off. Oddly enough, when I reuse an old tape, dropouts are almost nonexistent. It's the brand new tapes, same Sony's as always, that have the drop outs. I've heard stories online that the manufacturing of tapes has been farmed out to China, but the labels still say Sony, Panasonic, etc. Not sure if that's true or not.

I'd want two DN-60s. That would mean twice the cards. Already have CF card readers. How's the battery life? Sometimes AC power isn't readily available. Could put four lithiums in each of the DN-60s. Expensive, but some gigs are worth it.

As for presets, I acquired both of the cameras used, and both came with apparently the same ten presets preloaded. Not sure which presets they are. They appear the same on both cameras, though the cameras came from different original owners. I usually just use the default, with careful attention to the white balance and exposure, setting both cameras to match each other. It's great having two matching cameras. Actually, it's more like four matching cameras. The HV-30s are pretty close, not quite as rich a look. But they don't have 3 chips.
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Last edited by Roger Van Duyn; January 22nd, 2013 at 01:10 PM. Reason: more to say
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Old January 22nd, 2013, 02:02 PM   #28
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Re: Best preset on XH A1 for biggest latitude in editing

Roger, dust and airborne microgrit getting into tape transports are major causes of tape dropouts.
Before you open the tape carriage, always wipe the top of the camera down with a clean damp rag and change tapes in a dust free area.

As an example, run a damp cotton bud down that groove on the top of your HV30.

And always use the same brand cleaner tape as the DV recording tape you use.

Cheers.
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Old January 22nd, 2013, 03:04 PM   #29
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Re: Best preset on XH A1 for biggest latitude in editing

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Originally Posted by Roger Van Duyn View Post
Oddly enough, when I reuse an old tape, dropouts are almost nonexistent. It's the brand new tapes, same Sony's as always, that have the drop outs. I've heard stories online that the manufacturing of tapes has been farmed out to China, but the labels still say Sony, Panasonic, etc. Not sure if that's true or not..
Interesting, as I've similarly had better luck with used tapes than with new ones - but interestingly, they are all tapes I bought at the same time, so the 'new' ones are just unused but the same age as the old ones and yet don't work so well. Don't know why that is in my case.

The point about dust is a good one. I have an attachment for my vacuum cleaner which allows my to get into tiny places - I use it for removing dust from heat-sink fins inside my PC, and maybe (with care) it may work on the XHA1 tape compartment, at least to remove surface dust. I wouldn't directly touch the parts of the mechanism but you probably wouldn't need to. I use it for occasionally winkling out any dust from my DSLR that gets in during lens changes. But I'm careless with tapes sometimes and don't keep them in their boxes, which is bad.

To answer your question about batteries in the DN-60 I have a 32GB Sandisk extreme card which lasts about 2.5 hours, and I use 2700mAh AA rechargeables, which will run the DN-60 for about the same length of time (2.5 hours) before needing to be recharged. Hope that helps. If I were doing an important gig I'd probably just use AA Duracells or similar.
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Old January 22nd, 2013, 08:26 PM   #30
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Re: Best preset on XH A1 for biggest latitude in editing

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Originally Posted by Steven Reid View Post
It wasn't until I played with some stock footage (shot on a Red) that I realized how astonishingly little I can push around HDV without it falling apart.
Upsampling HDV to 4:4:4 or at least 4:2:2 chroma before color correcting yields better results. However, if you are not color correcting, then upsampling the chroma and immediately downsampling it back to 4:2:0 when rendering yields worse results. Most NLEs have been optimized for the typical case for HDV source where little if any color correcting is done. Therefore, if you plan to do much color correcting in post, carefully upsample the chroma before import.

For lattitude in post I'm surprised people haven't suggested PED=0, GAM=CINE1, KNE=LOW, BLK=STRETCH as in the factory default CINE.V custom preset. Simply take any existing preset, change these four parameters and you end up with a much flatter transfer function that gives more lattitude in post.
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