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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 30th, 2006, 05:16 PM   #1
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A1 good enough for weddings?

Hello, I'm thinking of purchasing the A1 to go along with my Sony FX1. Does anyone know how the A1 compares to the FX1 in low lights? Is anyone using the A1 for weddings now?

TIA,
Ray
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Old November 30th, 2006, 05:36 PM   #2
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Yes it is good enough for weddings. For all intents and purposes they are almost the same in low light. Some reviewers have put the XHA1 better (with a little more noise) others claim that the FX1 still is the champ.

The XHA1 has pretty good profiles customization for improving low light footage, by lightening up, saturating a bit and either using the coring function or NR1 and Nr2 settings.

I have not been dissapointed with the low light in any regard. It actually suprised me to see the performance. But then again I am shooting in 24f with either a 48th shutter or 24th shutter (when needed) to gain some sensitivity.
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Old November 30th, 2006, 07:59 PM   #3
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Shooting at 24F with 1/48 shutter speed, it seems to me the A1 is just a little better in low light than the Z1. I've shot with a Z1 under low light that seems about like what I was doing with the A1, and the Z1 wanted more gain. This is just a subjective feeling because I don't have the Z1 here for a side-by-side comparison. I also think the Z1 looks better on high gain than any camera I've seen.
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Old November 30th, 2006, 08:49 PM   #4
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I've shot in low light interiors and outside at night. I got solid footage with very limited light without turning up the gain. By using gain and adjusting some settings you can make the cam pick up stuff your eyes can hardly perceive.

I've got a wedding in Sep and am definitely not worried.

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Old March 16th, 2007, 12:23 AM   #5
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XH-A1: Is it good for Weddings?

I do not currently own a camera (have been renting) but I am wanting to get my own gear. I would prefer not to purchase a SD camera, as I feel that purchasing HD will provide me with greater longevity.

I will be shooting a few weddings and also creating video for the web. My concern is the low-light issues associated with HD. Is the Canon XH-A1 a good choice for the low-light conditions common to many weddings?

I don't want to have to worry about expensive lighting rigs or turning someones wedding into a movie set.

Thanks in advance for your replies.
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Old March 16th, 2007, 12:30 AM   #6
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for good video, light is a no brainer..

for good HD video, light will be required for sharp focus and colour saturation, considering the compression of HDV... u really dont want to crank the gain up... be it SD or HD.. the difference is HD is noiser...
Its a pretty "dirty" format to begin with(HDV), you really dont want to introduce any more noise than you have to..
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Old March 16th, 2007, 09:09 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ray Saavedra View Post
Hello, I'm thinking of purchasing the A1 to go along with my Sony FX1. Does anyone know how the A1 compares to the FX1 in low lights? Is anyone using the A1 for weddings now?
Are you referring to the Sony A1U or the Canon XH-A1 camera? Most of the responses here seem to be assuming you meant Canon, but if you're talking about the Sony that's a different story. I have a Sony HC1 which is essentially the same camera as the A1U, and it's fine as a backup cam in good lighting but very poor in dim lighting. Compared to shooting with the FX1 in low light, the HC1/A1U yield much more noticeable image artifacts. I like the HC1 in good light because it's easy to run around with, but I put it away now when the lights go down at the reception.
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Old March 16th, 2007, 09:26 AM   #8
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Kevin,
Which camera do you take out when the lights go dim? I've got to say that I'm intrigued with what I've read (and seen) about the Canon A1 but the Sony Z1 is still on my short list for wedding work.
Bob
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Old March 16th, 2007, 09:55 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Bob Harotunian View Post
Which camera do you take out when the lights go dim? I've got to say that I'm intrigued with what I've read (and seen) about the Canon A1 but the Sony Z1 is still on my short list for wedding work.
Bob: I use the Sony FX1 for the bulk of my wedding work now, including low-light situations. In poor lighting conditions I let the gain go all the way to 18db and boost it further in post if necessary, which yields usable images in most situations. The dimmest footage is marginal but has very fine grain compared to shooting in DV, so I can boost the brightness over 100% while editing and still get something which looks okay for my purposes.

I had a chance to compare the Sony HDV cameras to a Canon XL-H1 at a wedding last year, and found image noise on the Canon to be unacceptable at the default recording settings. People using the Canons are reportedly getting decent results by limiting their gain and adjusting camera options (e.g. coring and sharpness), but I'd say the Canons will require more care in low light than the Sonys. Neither is ideal for dim wedding reception environments without supplemental lighting, which is okay by me since I usually use a light at receptions anyway. 25-50 watts of diffused halogen lighting is sufficient for most settings, and minimizes the need to make further adjustments in post.
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Old March 16th, 2007, 10:30 AM   #10
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Kevin,
Going up to 18dB and still needing boost in post is worrisome. Last night, I watched a brief A1 wedding trailer posted on this forum somewhere. It looked pretty good but it's difficult to gauge what actual results might look like.

HD is compelling but I think it's going to take more convincing to switch. I'm using PD-170s and I am spoiled. With a dimmable 35w Frezzi, I've never had to use more than 6dB of gain at always dark Boston receptions.
Bob
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Old March 16th, 2007, 04:06 PM   #11
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It may have been my wedding trailer you saw. It was my first outing with the camera in a wedding environment. I didn't get to shoot much as I was working for another company and they allowed me to bring it to get footage. I only got a few shots at the reception venue cause I had to beat a snowplow home. The sample I showed had the bride leaving the lights almost off during the ceremony and I left the cam on 6db gain for the ceremony shots. My wife grabbed the ceremony shots and she didn't have much experience with the cam yet so she left everything alone.

I have told people that if you are going to wait on HDV till you get the same low light capabilities then you may as well just stay in SD land till business dries up. I have been using a light with my SD cams for most of my reception footage except for toasts for a few years. I will continue to do so and I am not too worried about it because I do use a light. For toasts when a light is not something that can be used I will slow my shutter to 30fps if needed because the shots are just people talking with very little movement. This should solve that problem. I have a Sony 10/20 light with a lumiquest soft box on it for my mobile cam and my wifes tripod cam has a varilux 100W dimmable light for the static and wider shots. We don't plan to crank it to 100W but just enough to get the couple visible with nice colors.

I had the opportunity to take my A1 to a videographer association a few hours away on Wednesday and we plugged an A1 into a plasma and also a VX2100 and compared them. While the 2100 was indeed a little brighter and showed more detail than the eye could see the consensus among everyone there was that the A1 is perfectly capable if the operator knows what they are doing. The low light footage from the A1 was darker than the VX2100 but it look more natural to what the eye could see. The VX2100 showed details that if you looked with a naked eye you couldn't see. The A1 is darker in areas where it is dark but areas that you can see it looks nicer. I think it is more movie like. We have been so accustomed to seeing everything light up from a VX/PD cam but the A1 looks just fine and will work.

One thing I can tell you is that as you zoom in it does get darker. At the end of the zoom the iris is around 3.4 so it is darker. If you can manage to stay close enough to your subject so you don't have to zoom much you can get very satisfactory results. You will have to adjust your shooting style and techniques but I think with some practice and small modifications you will produce gorgeous wedding videos with it.

Again...if you are going to be a fly on the wall and never pull out the light you will be in SD for a long time. The A1 will work fine....about as good as a GL2 and there are lots of people still using those in wedding situations and doing well with them....obviously the picture is prettier than a GL2 but it will work fine.
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Old March 16th, 2007, 06:56 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Harotunian View Post
I'm using PD-170s and I am spoiled. With a dimmable 35w Frezzi, I've never had to use more than 6dB of gain at always dark Boston receptions.
It would be an adjustment going from PD170s to any of today's affordable HD cameras, but since you're used to shooting with a light it should be manageable. You could also try keeping a PD170 for the darkest settings and using HD cameras for everything else, with a little creative editing to mask the format differences. But if customers are satisfied with your current work and aren't asking for either widescreen or HD output, then no need to rush any equipment changes.
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Old March 17th, 2007, 02:30 AM   #13
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What you would buy?

As I stated in my earlier post, I don't own a camera. If you were needing to purchase one right now, is it wiser to go with a HD cam? Or better to still purchase a SD model? My main thinking is that I will get a longer life-span out of the HD model. Any thoughts?
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Old March 17th, 2007, 06:57 AM   #14
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I Say buy the HD, every thing is looking that way. With the new rebat the A1 is a good deal. If you want something nice you must use a light. i bring my on kit to every event. I also use 250w on board my camera, just face it up.
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Old March 17th, 2007, 08:59 AM   #15
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Which to get is a business decision, or a hobby decision. We can tell you what we did or would do, and maybe even why, but you have to evaluate the issues for yourself as they apply to your situation. I'll play devil's advocate and ask a couple questions that migh be a bit heritical for an HDV camcorder forum, but maybe it can help you make your decision.

If mainly as a hobby, and if you like that latest toys and have the money, go for HD. That was simnple. But if this is intended as a real business, read on:

What is yor budget? Do you nede to deliver product in HD or SD to your clients? What is you anticipated revenue stream? Can you charge more for HD now to cover the cost?

You can buy good SD camcorders that are excellent for event work for about half the price of HD, and HD gear prices will only fall over time as new gear comes out. If you do not need to deliver in HD format for 2 years, it might make better business sense for you to pick up a good SD model now (maybe a slightly used model from someone who is switching to HD now) and move to HD when you have a real market for it.

Keep in mind that you can shoot HD, but for that to be meaningful business-wise you also may have to be able to deliver HD (meaning edit and burn to media). That might might entail additional cost for editing software, burners and computer upgrades if you do not have it already.

On light, etc. Many wedding venues have strict rules for video of the wedding ceremony. There may be restriction on the use of light and camera positioning/movement for the ceremony.

When shootng at receptions/parties - no one like to have a bright video light in their face. Stay with as low wattage as you can. 20-30 watt fill works well in many-to-most cases and does not destroy the atmosphere of the party with flood lighting. (BTW, I've seen a photog punched out for putting a bright light in the face of a half drunk guest) Also, smaller is lighter and more mobile, but check out what is standard practice in your area.

Ultimately it is your decision, you pays your money and takes your choices, and face your own buyers remorse demons.
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