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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 29th, 2013, 05:04 AM   #46
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Re: Best preset on XH A1 for biggest latitude in editing

This is really fab to read, Steven. I'm so pleased. I feel exactly the same way about my cameras - am going to copy the preset across to the second XHA1 I own for any two-camera stuff. I think the Neat NR makes the whole thing look so clean. The only quibble I have at all with the cameras is that very small highlights have a sort of "horizontal lines" thing going on in the immediate region of the highlight if you look closely. It looks like interlacing artefacts, even though I'm shooting in 25F, but that's nothing to do with the presets.

We're taking the cameras to document a music education project with young children on Friday (I'm doing the music and my wife is project leader and an ex-BBC cameraperson), and given you often don't get much opportunity to adjust the camera (I have to leave it on auto / shutter priority in these cases because of the fast movement and changes of light) this will give me the reassurance that I have a bit of wiggle-room to make the images look good from now on, so I'm really pleased. Coupled with the way I can now do a 2.5 hour single take if I want to (observational video is different from normal video and it's useful to have detail and continuous shots rather than "art") this is going to be perfect. For child protection reasons I can never post footage of this work but it's going to make a very useful contribution to the study and promotion of this particular educational niche, and will equally translate well to DVD should we have the need / permission to do that.

I'm so pleased personally that I stumbled back onto this site after a while away from it; so thanks to the moderators etc who run it. Now I feel good about having kept these cameras when it was tempting to sell them.

By the way, Steven, is your WA lens the Canon WD-H72? Do you recommend it? I'm thinking here of shooting in sometimes quite confined areas but with the ability to go in physically close sometimes. But is there a limited zoom range with it in place? How about the magenta fringing - is that worse with the WA adaptor? Does it knock down the light levels coming into the camera or make no difference?
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Old January 29th, 2013, 05:18 AM   #47
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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
The videos look really good Mark. Skill using what you have, both the camera and the software, trumps having the latest and greatest equipment without the skill.
Roger, thanks so much for that very kind comment. I sometimes worry about spending hours tweaking settings, but it's done and now I can go out and get as good an image out of my XHA1 as is technically possible. After spending hours trying to rescue some footage that was "OK" but wasn't particularly correctable, I came here to see what I could do to improve the presets and the workflow with the plugins available to me. Hence I'm so pleased at the support of people on this forum and to have the possibility of cleaner, more gradable images will really make a difference to the projects I'm involved in (and to my sanity, in editing - because it seems to take 10x longer to put something right than getting it right in the first place).

The thing that most surprises me is that the best possible image out of the camera isn't necessarily the one that requires least grading. It seems that the uncontrasty, "flat" image seems to produce the best results. I'm amazed what you can discover in an image after tweaking the curves even though you're not technically using the most of the dynamic range available - as long as the exposure is as right as possible, of course. I believe (though can't prove it) that the sensor noise in the XHA1 acts as a gentle dither which (when coded in the camera and then noise-reduced in post) ends up giving a very nice image and it seems to keep the image more together and less noisy with all but extreme curves. Of course Noise-reduction technology wasn't particularly available or fast to process when these cameras first came out - so now we have more possibilities than we did originally.

Last edited by Mark Harmer; January 29th, 2013 at 09:55 AM.
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Old January 29th, 2013, 08:42 AM   #48
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Re: Best preset on XH A1 for biggest latitude in editing

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Originally Posted by Mark Harmer View Post
By the way, Steven, is your WA lens the Canon WD-H72? Do you recommend it? I'm thinking here of shooting in sometimes quite confined areas but with the ability to go in physically close sometimes. But is there a limited zoom range with it in place? How about the magenta fringing - is that worse with the WA adaptor? Does it knock down the light levels coming into the camera or make no difference?
Mark, yes I have the WD-H72 and I heartily recommend it, as do many, many others who use it. It is a zoom-through adapter, but the A1's 20x zoom on the native lens partially compensates the loss of zoom with the H72 mounted. For instance, I recently shot a choral concert from ~70ft from the choir. The H72 was the only way I could get the entire choir in frame. Even so, I could still zoom into the choir to isolate just a few individuals in the frame.

The H72 lives on my A1 unless I really need the long end of the zoom for, e.g., sports or nature footage.

It is heavy -- a serious piece of glass. It blocks AF, so you're on manual focus (my default, anyway). I had read about the weight on reviews, but feeling it first hand was another experience. I had to move the A1 back on my tripod's baseplate to compensate for the already heavy front end of the A1. Also, it makes the A1 look quite a bit larger if you care about that sort of thing (clients might <shrug>).

I have not noticed a substantial change in magenta fringing. I try to avoid that anyway, but I certainly haven't noticed it with the H72 mounted.

Also, while I haven't done proper testing, I haven't noticed any appreciable (or even noticeable) light loss with it mounted.

Finally, at the very shortest end, I have noticed a small amount of barrel distortion. It is supposed to be a distortion-less adapter, so say others, but small amounts of barrel distortion are quite apparent when shooting columns or other similar vertical structures. Not a big deal. It is edge-to-edge sharp with no chromatic aberration. Nice!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Harmer View Post
Of course Noise-reduction technology wasn't particularly available or fast to process when these cameras first came out . . .
Quite right! I used NeatVideo since v1 (c. 2009, I think), and it made for painfully slow renders. I just had to give it up for all but the most noisy footage. But current v3 seems much more streamlined and snappy, putting regular use of NV back into the realm of the everyday workflow for me and my aging rig.
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Old January 29th, 2013, 09:37 AM   #49
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Re: Best preset on XH A1 for biggest latitude in editing

Hi Steven,

That info on the wideangle lens - really useful. Great to hear about the sharpness. The narrow end of the zoom range is not something I use a lot anyway - mainly the camera is kept on wide when I use it, but sometimes not wide enough! I'm assuming this is a sort of "bayonet twist-on" like the lens hood that comes with the XHA1?

BTW with Neat video 3 I only recently found out about the optimization - it can work out the best combination of GPU and CPU acceleration - although to be honest I've never noticed any difference with the processing speed you get after running this. You can also set up camera noise profiles on Neat but again I don't tend to bother - unless there are extremes of noise, just accepting what it suggests is fine. I wish though that there was a macro that would just do that without (as you say) having to click through and accept the default options each time.
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Old January 29th, 2013, 09:57 AM   #50
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Re: Best preset on XH A1 for biggest latitude in editing

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Originally Posted by Mark Harmer View Post
I'm assuming this is a sort of "bayonet twist-on" like the lens hood that comes with the XHA1?
No. It screws into the lens body to an astonishing depth using the same threads that a lens filter uses. (For that reason, you have to remove any filters, such as a UV filter.) Once assembled, it is essentially -- and looks to be -- a part of the camera, not an add-on. Very sturdy and solid, much more so than any screw-on lens filter.

Concerning NV profiles, I really do try to find large and featureless portions of video that can be used to accurately profile the noise, per NV's recommended procedure. But sometimes this is impossible, e.g., in a jungle, on water, cloudy sky, etc. For that reason, and IF I remember, I shoot several seconds of my white balance card (~ 10 sq. in.) in proper focus after white-balancing in a particular scene. Whilst accurate, this procedure becomes a chore because the noise changes at each F-stop, which of course can vary if outdoors. For controlled environments, such as the indoor concert shoot I mentioned above, it would be ideal.
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Old January 29th, 2013, 10:02 AM   #51
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Re: Best preset on XH A1 for biggest latitude in editing

I didn't realise that was how the lens was mounted - thanks! From the photos I've seen, It looks like a beast when attached.

Do you ever use the adaptive setting in Neat (initial window)? I don't always and to be honest haven't particularly seen any difference in the results. I'll do some tests at some point, maybe.

EDIT: Just ordered one of these lenses, so will try it out first hand. Hope it's not too intimidating-looking!

Last edited by Mark Harmer; January 29th, 2013 at 05:23 PM.
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Old January 29th, 2013, 05:55 PM   #52
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Re: Best preset on XH A1 for biggest latitude in editing

Hi guys, interesting thread about the presets. When Steven Dempsey showed up here with his clever presets, because we shoot stuff for archives
and will use some for current productions, we basically settled on VividRGB for outdoor shooting. But we loaded 5 total to use indoors etc.

With the A1 cam, I wrote our preset list on a small piece of cardboard and taped it to the rear of the cam battery. You just pop the battery compartment open to see the list and in what order. The A1S shows you what they are on its screens.

We're off topic with these adaptors, however.

I started with the HV20 about 7yrs ago and now have the Canon wide angle adaptors on all our A1-A1s, HV20 and HV40 cams, never take 'em off.

As said, the color tones and sharpness are great. I first thought the slight barrel distortion was a negative but you can use it to creative advantage
when framing. They change the way you shoot, especially indoors, because of the wider angle you tend to position the tripod in different areas
as you might not have to pan as much to cover the scene. I haven't seen any light loss.

And the lens *are* heavy, you have to rebalance the cams on the tripods. I put a strip of thin white tape on the lower left side of the A1/S cams
with balance marks for each position so it's quicker to set up.

And there's no front thread on these Canon WA lens for any filters. On a review somewhere I read the front glass is stronger than normal
to resist scratches and having the lens hood helps protect it. We always carefully clean them the night before, blower brush any grit off first,
then use a microfibre cloth. Comes with front and back lens caps.

The smaller HV20/30/40 Canon WA adaptor has no lens hood, but that's another thread.

I'm surprised this offer is still available ..
Canon WD-H72 72mm 0.8x Wide Angle Converter Lens 1724B001 B&H


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Old January 29th, 2013, 06:12 PM   #53
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Re: Best preset on XH A1 for biggest latitude in editing

Good tip with the info on the battery in the XHA1. It seems a bit of a silly thing that you can't see the names of the presets on the LCD.

That B&H adaptor looks a good deal for those who live in the US. If I did, I'd have definitely gone for that one!
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Old January 29th, 2013, 06:15 PM   #54
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Re: Best preset on XH A1 for biggest latitude in editing

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Originally Posted by Mark Harmer View Post
Do you ever use the adaptive setting in Neat (initial window)? I don't always and to be honest haven't particularly seen any difference in the results. I'll do some tests at some point, maybe.
Yes, I set NV to "adaptive." The documentation doesn't offer much explanation other than to emphasize that "adaptive" will 'adapt' the profile to different parts of a scene, depending on noise.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Harmer View Post
EDIT: Just ordered one of these lenses, so will try it out first hand. Hope it's not too intimidating-looking!
Haha. Well, it is. Did you get a similar deal in the UK as is offered at B&H, as Allan linked below? Man, what a steal. EDIT: Ah, guess you didn't. Sorry.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Allan Black View Post
Hi guys, interesting thread about the presets. When Steven Dempsey showed up here with his clever presets, because we shoot stuff for archives
and will use some for current productions, we basically settled on VividRGB for outdoor shooting. But we loaded 5 total to use indoors etc.
He and his work were the reasons I got my A1 in the first place! VividRGB cooked the reds a little too much for my liking, but that beautiful preset sure stirred up interest.
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Old January 30th, 2013, 02:55 AM   #55
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Re: Best preset on XH A1 for biggest latitude in editing

Steven, thanks for the point about the adaptive. I'm assuming by scene they mean different regions of the same image, unless they mean different frames within a sequence.

Looking forward to getting the lens. I bought a used one but it was basically the same price as the B&H - from where I am, by the time you add shipping and import duty it's much more expensive to buy the B&H so it's all good. Never had any problems with used lenses so trust this will be as good. Thanks so much for your detailed info - particularly about how it mounts, as that's not something I've read about anywhere else. Everyone seems to say they leave the lens on full-time.

I agree about VividRGB - nice but the dark areas of the pictures and some of the colours were something I increasingly struggled with in post as I got more experienced at knowing what I wanted. Frequently it would end up just looking murky. With the "stretched" presets the colours really pop when you correct them, and since using them I haven't felt the need to alter saturation at all. Taking a flat image and effectively altering or discarding the lower end of that in post is something that's counter-intuitive (to me). It shouldn't work that well given the bit-depth of the HDV codec but it works superbly.

Last edited by Mark Harmer; January 30th, 2013 at 03:05 PM.
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Old January 30th, 2013, 07:54 AM   #56
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Re: Best preset on XH A1 for biggest latitude in editing

I also have the WD-H72 for one of the cameras, and love it. However, you CAN use auto focus with it, just not the Instant auto focus. This is something I didn't realize for a long time.


There are two autofocus settings available, and the wide angle adapter blocks the sensor for the Instant auto focus, but not the slower Normal auto focus. The Normal autofocus is a through the lens feature. The Instant AutoFocus has an external sensor. See page 35 of the A1 manual.
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Old January 30th, 2013, 08:15 AM   #57
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Re: Best preset on XH A1 for biggest latitude in editing

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I also have the WD-H72 for one of the cameras, and love it. However, you CAN use auto focus with it, just not the Instant auto focus.
That's even better! Thank you for the manual page reference too. Really looking forward to getting mine now!
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Old January 30th, 2013, 03:26 PM   #58
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Re: Best preset on XH A1 for biggest latitude in editing

Re the WD-H72, I bought it from B&H at that price and it was still much cheaper than buying new in the UK even with all the extra tax etc. Brilliant lens.

Re presets, gosh I feel like a neanderthal but I just chose a good looking one, rigged my A1 up to a calibrated screen, dragged the camera to an open door (most of what I do is outdoors), tweaked lots of the preset's settings (and yes, having done lots of research into what they all did and the variety of presets out there) till the screen looked the same as what my eyes saw and have used it ever since. I like it.

Part of the issue is a) like studio recording I need to get a feel for what I'm shooting as I'm doing it, not imagining what it will look like after post production; b) I just don't have the patience OR skill to colour grade EVERYTHING in post (also I'd rather concentrate on the creative element); c) never trust anyone on this forum who says this is the ONLY way ;-)

I love the A1, I think it is an excellent camera and combined with the my HV40 does pretty much everything I need. Shame about the whole interlaced business though, a complete pain sometimes.
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Old January 30th, 2013, 03:30 PM   #59
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Re: Best preset on XH A1 for biggest latitude in editing

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Re presets, gosh I feel like a neanderthal but I just chose a good looking one, rigged my A1 up to a calibrated screen, dragged the camera to an open door (most of what I do is outdoors), tweaked lots of the preset's settings till the screen looked the same as what my eyes saw and have used it ever since. I like it.
Pretty much sums it up. No one in my audience ever asked, gee, what camera settings did you use? Bummer that you didn't shoot with greater latitude. OR What NLE did you use to edit? But everyone says it looks great.

If your clients still pay, you can still drag your knuckles... ;)
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Old January 30th, 2013, 03:35 PM   #60
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Re: Best preset on XH A1 for biggest latitude in editing

Just looked up the B&H price with all taxes etc - great deal definitely compared with the UK. But I paid 115 for mine inc shipping so as long as it works I'll be happy. But US prices are amazing deals - always have been. Just hope my lens hasn't been thrashed! Great to hear from everyone that it's a good lens.

I set up my presets in exactly the same way as Geoffrey Cox originally, and have lived with either that or a pretty unmodified VividRGB until very recently. Part of the epiphany came from having to wrestle with footage that should have looked great but was difficult to get right - and then comparing it with the amazing images you can get from a DSLR. I'm looking at the presets to give me the best clean, recoverable image. It's a very specific requirement and I can totally understand why that might not be suitable for everyone. What I love is that these cameras can still deliver the goods in many situations - great sound, easy to use, designed for video (unlike a DSLR)!
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