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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 27th, 2012, 08:50 AM   #1
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Low Light on Canon XH A1s

Hi,

Recently purchased the Canon XH-A1s and filmed my first wedding with it Friday. The lights were low at the reception. I used my 160 LED camera mounted light, dropped my Fstop low and my shutter speed to 1/60 and also 1/30... Problem is that without the light everything is still mostly dark. After playing with the gain it brightened up but then the result is grainy.

The light on the camera works fine, but I prefer not to be blinding people (yes I have a diffuser on light).

What settings do you use, do you always have the light on (seems obtrusive) ?

Thank you,

Stefan
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Old May 27th, 2012, 09:35 AM   #2
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Re: Low Light on Canon XH A1s

You have done what you can to film under these kind of circumstances, only thing left is experimenting with some low light presets of which I never was a fan of. I do remember one preset, can't recall the name, which gave quite good results without causing ghosting in the image but the colors became a bit strange. If your budget allows, get a canon xa10 for the reception and it will give you much better low light performance or for almost half that amount, get a T2i and a samyang 24mm f1.4 and you don't have to use light, only tricky part will be keeping focus.
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Old May 27th, 2012, 09:46 AM   #3
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Re: Low Light on Canon XH A1s

Thanks, I've heard good low light performance reviews from the XA10 ... how does it perform elsewhere, I wouldn't want to sacrifice other areas of the video.
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Old May 27th, 2012, 09:54 AM   #4
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Re: Low Light on Canon XH A1s

What do you mean by "elsewhere"? With these type of camera you always loose quite some ease of use, where bigger camera's have all controlls laid out on the side, easily accessible and give you 3 ring control for zoom, exposure or focus, nd filters etc...these small handicams will make it more difficult to quickly access and change settings. You will have to rely a bit more on auto settings in some cases which is not necessarily a bad thing but sometimes not wanted.
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Old May 27th, 2012, 10:06 AM   #5
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Re: Low Light on Canon XH A1s

I understand.. in a perfect world I would keep both the A1s and the new xa10 for example.... I mean 'elsewhere' in the church. Where the focus rings are very nice and handy.

You all have been very helpful so far, thank you.
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Old May 27th, 2012, 12:21 PM   #6
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Re: Low Light on Canon XH A1s

Don't know about the xa10 but I have a xr520 that has a spotfocus feature, you just touch an area on the lcd screen and it focusses on that point, I can also manually adjust exposure with a small wheel on the front of the camera but that is not a smooth adjustment as it will jump with every f-stop adjustment.
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Old May 27th, 2012, 12:37 PM   #7
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Re: Low Light on Canon XH A1s

For most purposes you should be able to get buy with just a wee bit of supplemental light, say 10 to 15 watts in terms of incandescent lamps, with the XH-A1.

If the grain is too much, try NeatVideo for noise reduction. The XA10 does a nice job at its price point. Like any camcorder, yo need to use it a bit to learn how to make max use of its capabilities.
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Old May 27th, 2012, 12:46 PM   #8
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Re: Low Light on Canon XH A1s

Quote:
For most purposes you should be able to get buy with just a wee bit of supplemental light
From technical point of view you are right, if you want to do video right and it's too dark, you add light, period. But at real world weddings everybody hates that guy with that blinding videolight, even if only 10 watt which is not usable during a ceremony if you are too far from your subject. I specifically bought dslr's with fast primes to complement my videocamera when it gets too dark so I don't have to use videolights and remain unnoticed all evening long, I only see smiling natural looking people during reception now while in the past with my videolight I only saw annoyed looking people.

Neatvideo is great but for me only when I have no other choice, it introduces ghosting and is painfully slow to render.
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Old May 27th, 2012, 01:27 PM   #9
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Re: Low Light on Canon XH A1s

Totally agree about the painfully slow render times for Neat Video. However, it does a fantastic job, and I have been fortunate to not experience any ghosting issues.

David
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Old May 27th, 2012, 02:21 PM   #10
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Re: Low Light on Canon XH A1s

I mainly see it on fast movement and I also think I wrongly described it because I meant motion blur if that makes any sence, had to use it once and the bride was talking and nervously waving her hands while speaking and her hands showed much more "motion blur" then the original footage. The corrected footage was also softer but probably because it had to aggressively remove obvious grain.
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Old May 27th, 2012, 05:07 PM   #11
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Re: Low Light on Canon XH A1s

I owned two XH-A1s. From my experience, I will go down to 1/30th shutter speed to get the most of of a dark situation. Then disable Automatic Gain. Switch it to +3db or +6db gain. Anything over _6db will be unusable. Also, download and play with any of the custom presets out there that works better in low light.

XH Custom Presets Download Library (copy)

Adding a camera light helps a lot! However, the 160 LED that you are using is really crappy. At least HDV-Z96 is better than the CN-160 light. Or if you consider it as a business investment, get one of our Comer 1800 lights. Ever since I use the Comer lights, I only set the gain to 0db sometimes -3db for noise free output.

Check out this footage I shot with Xh-A1 and Comer 1800
Using Comer CM-LBPS1800 LED Light On Stage | L.A. Color Online Blog
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Old May 27th, 2012, 10:43 PM   #12
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Re: Low Light on Canon XH A1s

+1 and the PFVISION custom preset for low light situations.

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Old May 29th, 2012, 06:43 AM   #13
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Re: Low Light on Canon XH A1s

I use the Z96s with my two Canons. The dimmer is nice, don't need the light terribly bright. Whatever camera you use, good lighting is important for good looking video. Poor lighting can make for poor looking video, whatever camera. Even with bazillion dollar cameras, look at all the lighting the networks use.

Good light, looks good. Bad light, looks bad. Even without a camera at all, just looking with my eyes.
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Old May 29th, 2012, 09:16 AM   #14
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Re: Low Light on Canon XH A1s

I managed to survive low light receptions with my XHA1s- as long as I had a couple of HDV-Z96...I stayed away from the low light preset, but found the true color preset useful many times.
I would use +6db (and sometimes +12! Don't shoot me!) and shutter at 1/30, disable the autogain for sure. Once, I forgot to disable it and the footage was grainy grainy...I never used the camera on anything automatic and I kept my zebra stripes at 70% and I would have to compromise..sometimes I would overexpose for closer people so that I could get more of the background...Most of my richer videographer friends would of course tell me how much better their Sony EX1 was, but since I couldn't afford one, then i had to learn how to get the most out of the XHA1s.
Since I have 2 LED lights, I sometimes place one on a stand (Westscott) and place it closer to the subject (speaker etc), this way I'm not limited to the oncamera light. For the LED lights, I avoid using the included diffusing and "orange" plastic filters. They cut out the light output a bit much I find so I use 1/2 orange gel instead to match the colour temperature in the hall and if I'm doing close ups then I use the frosted plastic diffuser. I have been mostly satisfied with the quality.
I would love to have the budget (and the clients!) to have a couple of LED panels (1foot x 1foot) that I could place on stands for the entrance/and selected moments of course- that would give a nice even lighting but so far using a couple of HDV-Z96 and sometimes a small ROTOLITE have been mostly fine..
Of course, I sometimes "beg" the bartender to raise the light levels a little bit. No light=No video!

Then I got a Canon T3i and sure low light is a bit better but keeping things in focus was hard..even with a viewfinder and a LCD monitor...for static shots sure..otherwise..not so good. Besides, increasing the ISO adds grain..on a T3i nothing over 800 is a good idea...but I do like the look of the footage.

Now I have a Canon XF300 (I love Canon, what can I say!)...I could have bought a second hand EX1 for $3K Cdn but I wanted a EX1r and brand new they are over 6K here in Canada...so when a friend was selling his almost new Canon XF300 (including a nice bag and a useful Vortex training video!) for just over $4K I had to get it..low light is a bit better than with the XHA1s for sure. Nothing dramatic and not as good as what I have seen with the EX1r my still richer videographer friends have but I noticed that the "dynamic range" of the picture is better with the XF300-not only sharper but highlights and black levels are more uniform. I use a MOJO 2 something preset for a little more punchy colours but if I really want to do colour grading then I shoot as neutral as possible and then use Magic Bullet looks...

E
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Last edited by Erick Perdomo; May 29th, 2012 at 09:23 AM. Reason: spelling! my ESL fails me!
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Old May 29th, 2012, 09:28 AM   #15
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Re: Low Light on Canon XH A1s

I managed to survive low light receptions with my XHA1s- as long as I have a HDV-Z96...I stayed away from the low light preset, but found the true color useful many times.
I would use +6db and shutter at 1/30, disable the autogain for sure. I forgot once and the footage was grainy grainy...I never used the camera on anything automatic and I kept my zebra stripes at 70% and I would have to compromise..sometimes I would overexpose for closer people so that I could get more of the background...Most of my richer videographer friends would of course tell me how much better their Sony EX1 was but since I couldn't afford one then i had to learn how to get the most out of the XHA1s.
Since I have 2 LED lights, I sometimes place one on a stand (Westscott) and place it closer to the subject (speaker etc), this way I'm not limited to how the oncamera light. For the LED lights, I avoid using the included difusing and "orange" plastic filters. They cut out the light output a bit much I find so I use
1/2 orange gel instead to match the colour temperature in the hall and if I'm doing close ups then I use the frosted plastic diffuser. I have been mostly satisfied with the quality.
I would love to have the budget (and the clients!) to have a couple of LED panels (1foot x 1foot) that I could place on stands for the entrance/and selected moments of course- that would give a nice even lighting but so far using a couple of HDV-Z96 and sometimes a small ROTOLITE have been mostly fine..
Of course, I sometimes "beg" the bartender to raise the light levels a little bit. No light=No video!

Then I got a Canon T3i and sure low light is a bit better but keeping things in focus was hard..even with a viewfinder and a LCD monitor...for static shots sure..otherwise..not so good. Besides, increasing the ISO adds grain..on a T3i nothing over 800 is a good idea...but I do like the look of the footage.

Now I have a Canon XF300 (I love Canon, what can I say!)...I could have bought a second hand EX1 for $3K Cdn but I wanted a EX1r and brand new they are over 6K here in Canada...so when a friend was selling his almost new Canon XF300 (including a nice bag and a useful Vortex training video!) for just over $4K I had to get it..low light is a bit better than with the XHA1s for sure. Nothing dramatic and not as good as what I have seen with the EX1r my still richer videographer friends have but I noticed that the "dynamic range" of the picture is better with the XF300-not only sharper but highlights and black levels are more uniform. I use a MOJO 2 something present for a little more punchy colours but if I really want to do colour grading then I shoot as neutral as possible and then use Magic Bullet looks...

E
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