Beginner: How to avoid the AUTO SETTING & GET BEST PIC FROM THE A1 at DVinfo.net

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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 November 5th, 2006, 06:25 PM   #1
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Beginner: How to avoid the AUTO SETTING & GET BEST PIC FROM THE A1

Guys, try the following workflow to get the most out of the A1 :) I don't mean to be condescending, but you will get FAR MORE SUPERIOR RESULT from operating with Manual Settings.

1) Switch Auto Gain to off and then flip the gain switch to Low on the cam. In my cam, I set low gain to -3db, Medium to 0 db and high to 3 db. Refer to page 60 on your manual if needed. Start with 0 db to get as less noise as possible.

2) White Balance your cam. Find and map a white background (this can be a piece of paper, a white wall, a white car ...etc), zoom, focus to fill the cam's screen and then set your white balance. Remember to do this everytime the lighting changes. (page 62)

3) Set your frame rate. If you choose 60i then set your shutter speed to 1/60 , 24f = 1/48 , 30f = 1/60 Unless you are doing some artsy shots (slow motion...etc) , follow the above rule of thumb and leave the shutter speed alone.

4) Set up the Zebra Pattern (page64), you can just set it to 95 IRE and make sure you turn it on.

5) Now you are ready to shoot. Zoom and Focus, then look at the LCD or viewfinder for overexposed spots. The spot with the Zebra lines, means that that particular spot is being blown out or overexposed. Your task is to try to minimized the Zebra lines as much as possible.

4) If its too overexposed or bright, use your ND filter. Set it one step at a time. On the other hand, if your picture is too dark, make sure the ND filter was not engaged.

5) If (Step 4) did not work, then its time to adjust the Iris ring on the camera. Again, you want to make the zebra lines go away on the LCD or Viewfinder.

6) When all the above failed, then use and step up on the gain.

If you have a different workflow or questions, please just fire away !! :) We all have to start somewhere. I am too a beginner in training.
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Old November 5th, 2006, 06:34 PM   #2
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Thanks Jason. Beginner here as well and this kind of instruction gives me enthusiasm to make the most of my camera.
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Old November 5th, 2006, 06:38 PM   #3
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Hi Jason. Thanks for posting the workflow. I have a couple of things to add:

Something to be aware of - Shutter (not shuttle) speed of 1/24s or 1/30s is likely to result in motion blur if anything (camera or subject) is moving. It is considered more "normal" to use 1/48s for 24f and 1/60s for 30f. 1/24s shutter speed can give a nice effect on some video, but it is not what I would want to see on everything.

At lower light levels, colours tend to get faded, so you might want to compensate by boosting saturation in the camera.

Richard
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Old November 5th, 2006, 06:41 PM   #4
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thanks I will correct that. :) but remember in 24f mode (movie mode) shooting at 1/48 shutter will introduce some strobbing effects (especially on pan).

If the strobbings are real bad with 1/48 shutter speed, switch back the shutter to 1/24. 1/24 will introduce some motion blur though. The key is, if you are shooting 24f, you need to slow down the movement on the subject especially when you are panning on the tripod.

If all else fails, thats why there is 30f :)

Last edited by Jason Strongfield; November 5th, 2006 at 09:30 PM.
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Old November 5th, 2006, 06:50 PM   #5
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Richard beat me to the punch about shutter speed. I agree totally with his comments, but my slant is a little different. Depending on the amount of motion in your shot, shutter speed may be just as good a choice as aperture. For example, a locked-down shot in very dim light with very little motion might do well with as low as 1/30th or even 1/15th. For fast action stuff in very bright light, you might get away with as much as 1/100th or 1/120th shutter before the footage starts looking "stroby." If you're intending to do slow-mo in post, of course faster shutter speeds are definitely a good thing.

One plea I would make for those who aren't comfortable with manual settings and want to shoot very low light: try the NIGHT MODE. Auto mode in most cameras obviously isn't optimized for low light; that's why many cameras have the night mode! At least in the Canon cameras, once they've opened the aperture and gained up, they'll slow down the shutter.
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