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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 August 6th, 2006, 02:27 PM   #1
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Shooting with a side LCD camera...

I have always been curious about videographers or filmmakers out there who use the popular Panasonic, Sony or even Canon cameras that have the side LCD screen instead of a side viewfinder like the ones you find on the Canon XL series or any broadcast camera that is used by network tv, professionals, etc.

I have owned the XL1 and now the XL2 and have never even considered buying anything that doesn't have a side-viewfinder and the ability to shoot with the camera balanced on my shoulder. I realize there are many ways to shoot with these smaller side-LCD cameras by using a steadicam or tripod, but I just don't see how you can get the same results with such a lightweight camera and holding it out in front of you or peering at the LCD screen from a foot or more away? And my experience when looking at these is the back viewfinder is poorly placed and very difficult to use.

Thus, the new Canon A1 or G1 sounds great as a second camera that can shoot in HDV, but I still gravitate towards purchasing the H1 for the more professional feel, look and use of the side-viewfinder.

Any feedback from those of you who own or are accustomed to shooting with a side-LCD camera would be welcome.
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Old August 6th, 2006, 02:36 PM   #2
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I have the XL H1 and love it. I also have the same styled XL2. For both, I open the viewfinder and just use the built in LCD abut 95% of the time when handheld. I've always found LCD's to be much better for composing shots while keeping your eyes open to other things not on your screen. Granted, it's probably not perfect for critical focus, but you get used to it.

Now, the differences between the XL H1 and the new models...I would say the biggest reason to get the XL H1 over the smaller models would be two-fold:

-it's bigger: there is a certain professional look that clients expect. If you have corporate clients, it's something to consider. Is it a little dog and pony show-ish? Yup, but that's the game.
-removable lens: if you don't use remove lenses, than you probably don't need the XL H1 and can go with one of the new cameras.

That's my $.02. Canon was smart to get the H1 out first, as there will be MANY people that will now get the G1 or G1 instead. I'll probably get one as a 2nd camera. I'm curious how often I'll bring the H1 out when I have an A1. :-) Unless a client is there, I'm betting I'll bring the smaller camera.

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Old August 6th, 2006, 02:49 PM   #3
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Kevin, thanks for your quick reply. I agree 100 percent about walking into a shoot for a client and having in your hands on a visually-impressive camera, such as the XL2 or XL H1. Seventy-five percent of my work is client-based and I can't count the number of times people have commented on my XL2.

Like you said, I think I could get away with the A1 for a lot of my own work and projects, but there is something to be said about having the more robust camera in your possession. I do some freelance work for the NBA Phoenix Suns and regularly find myself shooting in between/amongst the local news channels, TNT, ABC or other "professional" videographers and I never feel out of place or like I don't belong there...

I rarely use my LCD screen on my XL2 as I shoulder-shoot the majority of time unless I have a tripod set-up, then the flip-up LCD screen comes in handy. I guess I am thinking about purchasing an A1 as it's so affordable and might be a good decision for a year or so until we see what happens with the whole HDV format, even though I know it will be here to stay for awhlle. If the P2 camera had a more professional frame/construction to it, I would jump on getting that camera, but for me, the Canon XL series has always been the way to go...
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Old August 7th, 2006, 07:02 AM   #4
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Although it seems puerile to discuss whether size matters in regards to video cameras, I'll be damned if some of the contracts we've tendered for haven't hinged on it!

Simple fact is: If you're a client spending a wad load of cash on a corporate video, you're gonna want people to think you've spent a lot more.

So for me? It's the XL series all the way, that extra three thousand means nothing when I think of all the extra contracts that we may have lost out on, had we stuck with the smaller XM2 (GL2).

And when we upgrade, there won't be discussion about XHG1, XHA1 or XL H1. The H1 will win hands down. The math speaks for itself...

... Of course it helps to have a great showreel, professional approach and some damn good showmanship, but hey, size is, has and always will be a factor... the motion of the ocean just doesn't cut it.
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Old August 7th, 2006, 01:29 PM   #5
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I encounter a similiar thing when I'm photographing stills for corporate clients. I'll want to use my Canon 5D (I like the look of the images better), but I'll bring the much bigger Canon 1D as it looks more "impressive" to the client. Or I'll bring both and just leave the 1D on the table beside me -- like I'm going to pick it up any minute. But there's always some remark about how fancy the 1D looks -- as if the camera does all the work. Yeah, it's totally a dog and pony show with some clients...
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Old August 11th, 2006, 05:56 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Staats
I have always been curious about videographers or filmmakers out there who use the popular Panasonic, Sony or even Canon cameras that have the side LCD screen instead of a side viewfinder like the ones you find on the Canon XL series or any broadcast camera that is used by network tv, professionals, etc.

I have owned the XL1 and now the XL2 and have never even considered buying anything that doesn't have a side-viewfinder and the ability to shoot with the camera balanced on my shoulder. I realize there are many ways to shoot with these smaller side-LCD cameras by using a steadicam or tripod, but I just don't see how you can get the same results with such a lightweight camera and holding it out in front of you or peering at the LCD screen from a foot or more away? And my experience when looking at these is the back viewfinder is poorly placed and very difficult to use.

Thus, the new Canon A1 or G1 sounds great as a second camera that can shoot in HDV, but I still gravitate towards purchasing the H1 for the more professional feel, look and use of the side-viewfinder.

Any feedback from those of you who own or are accustomed to shooting with a side-LCD camera would be welcome.
Pony show.. yes.. if u let it become that..
there are ways around this and that is to SHOW YOUR WORK, to the client before they see what gear u use. If they ask, then tell them what you shot it with. Usualy, if theyre impressed with the results, they wont care about the means or the tools u use.. so long as it looks good, they do not care. If the equipment u use is a factor which boosts yours and their ego, then that is a different issue altogether.
Results is the key, and if they hire you becuase of teh camera and not becuase of the skill behind the camera, then theyre puting theor product at risk...

The H1 is an awesome unit, no doubt, marred ony by the HDV codec, and dodgy viewfinder. In any case, i would recomend an EF adapter and several L series lenses to go with it. If its good enough for a 12mp photo and remain sharp throughout, its good enough for a HDV camcorder... in additoin, an L series would POO on the stock lense for sharpness..

As for tehse new camera's considering how close they are the H1, i think theyre an absolute steal. If the image of these units is anywhere near the image quality of the H1 (lense excepting...) then i would definately go the new models if, and only if, u have no inclination of using an EF adapter.

Shoulder mount or not does not make a difference.
As for stability, with practice, ur shots can be even more stable than the shouldermounted types, being that you are holding the camera in 2 hands with viewfinder presed against your face. That is 3 forms of body contact stability, whereas with a shoulder mount, your arm is unnaturally postured, with teh camera body resting on a that same arm.
Both work well, however for event work, or run and gun and vox poppy stuff, hand held units come into their own. In addition, the smaller cameras can take about 4 seconds to set up a shot, whereas the larger ones can take considerably longer.
Also with handhelds, you can get a pistol grip which mounts to the tripod screw.. emulating the old 8mm film camera posture so your shooting can be even more stable. Dont ge tme wrong, ENG type build will always exist, and they have their purpose, but for all round work like this, and for tossing up whether to go H1 or G1/A1 it shouldnt be a factor UNLESS ENG type is all you know.. but even with that, a bit of practice will do wonders.. u might even come ot wonder why u didnt jump that handheld wagon once u realsie teh strain from ur shoulders is lifted..
I used to shoot with SOny DSR units.. then refused to even consider handhelds.. then i got my hands on a PD150... that changed everything.. since then, i see no purpose for ENG type cameras unless ur specifically wanting to use a particular lense, take advantage of the shallower DoF, inherant improvment of Dynamic range of the CCD size...

IN the end, it depends on how fast u can make ur money back with any particular camera. U dont want ur investment sitting there collecting dust..
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Old August 11th, 2006, 08:06 AM   #7
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I tend to dislike the LCD. I'm one whom is more connected to the camera. So I'm used to holding the camera in a certain way and know where all the buttons and adjustments are without looking or groping.

Looking through the viewfinder, as on the XL1s on a shoulder rig puts me into a more natural posture. Focus is critical, (and a challenge for HDV on tiny screens).

I also learned to shoot scoped rifles with both eyes open. You keep your periferral vision up until the critical moment when you spot your target, close one eye, site and fire. The same goes with view finders, where the side mounted site on the XL1s is well clear of the lens. It takes some practice, but in little time you'll be able to sense motion, follow, frame and focus. It works.

Using the LCD, you involve both eyes, and like watching TV it's a distraction. I'm always finding myself trying to look around or away from it to see what's going on.

Granted, the viewfinder works in over the heads shots, or situations when you can't look through the cup. But then, I don't bother with a 2" LCD when I have a larger 6" LCD that I do mount on the cold shoe on the camera for those low knee shots, or over the head stuff.
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Last edited by Peter Ferling; August 11th, 2006 at 12:58 PM.
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Old August 12th, 2006, 07:52 AM   #8
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"Using the LCD, you involve both eyes, and like watching TV it's a distraction. I'm always finding myself trying to look around or away from it to see what's going on."

isnt that how u get ur next shot??

i know what im like.. i use both at once, left eye in BW EVF for focus, right eye for white balance & composition.. in the end.. like i said, it depends on what YOU are used to... Whatver floats ur boat
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Old August 12th, 2006, 11:53 AM   #9
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When shooting well scripted OR proceedures, the physicians hands are the target. It's not hard to follow that through the eye piece. Everything else is b-roll and/or locked off and I use a larger external monitor for that. I tried the LCD on the HC1, and it was very awkward and didn't feel natural -couldn't judge focus either (doesn't help to load up the LCD with greasy finger prints either). I slapped it shut and went for the eyepiece, and was able to follow the action/focus much closer. So it's diffinetely what your used to.
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Old August 13th, 2006, 10:44 PM   #10
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I find that shooting shoulder-mount limits the angles you can get. Pretty much everything is from 5' off the ground. It's very hard to shoot waist or breast height while using a viewfinder. Of course focusing is easier with a viewfinder if you have a decent one. Since HD will require more critical focusing, I don't know which I'll use more. (I'm still shooting SD). But I definitely want the option to have both LCD and viewfinder.

Many shooters who are used to shoulder-mount bitch and moan about how it's hard to be steady with a handicam style camera. I think they don't know quite how to do it. I don't actually use the hand grip often since it's not at the center of gravity. Rather I use a combination of handle and bottom of the camera. You also have to learn how to brace your body.
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