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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 27th, 2007, 02:32 AM   #1
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The best I've done! A1+Letus35A

Hi guys,

Since I bought the A1 I've been doing an extensive batteries of tests to prepare for a feature I'll start shooting soon. On my quest for the best I've wondered many times if the A1 with it's beautiful DOF and bokeh really needs a 35mm adapter. Yesterday I was determined to answer this question, so I spent the entire afternoon testing the A1 with and without the letus35A. My thoughts are the A1 doesn't NEED a 35mm adapter, because it's right out of the camera footage is already amazing...BUT once you actually put a 35mm adapter on this already amazing camera (with the RIGHT LIGHT must I stress) you enter an entirely new dimension.

check it out (shot with a 28mm, no CC done):

http://rapidshare.com/files/13592917...owers.wmv.html

I'm sorry for the bad compression...it's actually the reason there's so much grain. If somebody can give me a few pointers on how to obtain the best quality with wmv I would be deeply appreciated.
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Old January 27th, 2007, 10:32 AM   #2
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wow Rafael, I hope you don't mind me saying so but this looks pretty bad. Looks like it was too dark to shoot or you underexposed too much. It also looks like the adapter wasn't spinning. I own a Letus35XL and I've never seen it look this grainy and muddy.
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Old January 27th, 2007, 11:03 AM   #3
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You're just the man I wanted to find here, Steven. Can you give me details on your settings when you export wmv? You always post wmv with great quality. I can assure you the original footage is not that grainy at all.

Of course, I haven't seen this footage on an HD monitor, so I can't really say for sure what's up. I'm seeing it right now on my PC monitor and a SD TV set I have plugged in on my pc.

As for the footage being muddy...that is something I have to ask the 35mm adapter pros. I've been told that I should use ND filters so that I don't have to close the lens down too much...so I used 2 ND filters (each had intensity #3). Do you think all the extra glass in from of the lens might be interfering with the quality? I see your footage and it DOES look more nitid. But the problem here is that when I close the lens too much I start to see dark splotches. Another thing that might have increased the grain is the weight of the lens I was using. It was a very heavy sigma 28mmf1.8. I don't think the letus has enough spinning power for that. Anyway, it's like I said, I'm doing all the tests I can before I start shooting for real. I would REALLY appreciate some constructive criticism/help, specially from people who are more experienced with 35mm adapters.

Tomorrow morning I'm going to the same place to make some more tests. So, if you guys could post some more useful info that might help me improve the quality it would kick ass. One thing I know for sure, I HAVE to get a field monitor. The LCD on the A1 is absolute crap for stuff like this.

Last edited by Rafael Lopes; January 27th, 2007 at 12:36 PM.
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Old January 28th, 2007, 12:23 AM   #4
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Btw, once I solve these issues I'm gonna go back to the same place and shoot this exact same shot. I find this composition really beautiful and the light at that time of the day was just priceless.
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Old January 28th, 2007, 12:43 AM   #5
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Rafael,

I don't have a Letus35 so I don't know how useful I'll be, but I do have an M2, for whatever that's worth.

My question is, what lens do you have attached to the adapter? It does look muddy, but not in a way that suggests that it's related to your exposure. I see alot of portholing and the image seems to degrade the farther out you look from the center of the frame, so it may be possible that a different lens may yield better results.

As a test, and if you have access to any other lenses, you may try switching them out to see if that makes any difference. Also it may help us if you post a shot, using your setup, where everything is in focus; if not a test chart, then maybe with your camera aimed at something flat with alot of detail like a poster or something. My suspicion is that it's the 35mm lens, but it's hard to tell since so much of the frame is out of focus.
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Old January 28th, 2007, 01:25 AM   #6
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Thanks Juan. I'm going to take a 50mm f1.8 and a 24mmf2.8 I have to make comparisons. But I'm starting to think it's the 2 ND filters I had on the lens. One thing that I notice is that when I tried making everything out of focus I could actually see some sort of surface (most likely the lens or the ND filters). I really hope it's not the lens. I love this 28mmf1.8 to death.
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Old January 28th, 2007, 01:27 AM   #7
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Oh, I might also try a different A1 preset that might be more suited to maximize sharpness with 35mm adapters.
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Old January 28th, 2007, 01:49 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rafael Lopes
Thanks Juan. I'm going to take a 50mm f1.8 and a 24mmf2.8 I have to make comparisons. But I'm starting to think it's the 2 ND filters I had on the lens. One thing that I notice is that when I tried making everything out of focus I could actually see some sort of surface (most likely the lens or the ND filters). I really hope it's not the lens. I love this 28mmf1.8 to death.
Ah. Yes. I just reread your original post. Everything I said in my first post is still valid, but I would add that you probably don't want to use those two external ND filters. Too much glass could be contributing to the problem. Are the in-camera ND filters not enough? If possible, I would use those instead of extra glass. That's what I do with the M2 and it seems to work fine.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rafael Lopes
Another thing that might have increased the grain is the weight of the lens I was using. It was a very heavy sigma 28mmf1.8. I don't think the letus has enough spinning power for that.
Whoah. Does the Letus spin the whole lens? Instead of the ground glass? That can't be right, I guess I'm not sure what you mean here.
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Old January 28th, 2007, 02:00 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Juan Diaz
Whoah. Does the Letus spin the whole lens? Instead of the ground glass? That can't be right, I guess I'm not sure what you mean here.
Hahha. No, it doesn't, my friend. But when I use a lighter lens I can feel the entire adapter vibrating and when I use the 28mm I don't feel anything.

As for controlling the light with the in-camera controls I was told by Dennis Wood (the Brevis35 inventor) that I should not use them because the footage might overexposed on the lens and properly exposed on the camera. I once shot a test like that and ended up with some weird ass footage that looked like HI8 from mars.

Once again I must stress for everybody that a field monitor IS A MUST for this. For a long time I was reluctant, but there's simply no way around this (specially with the A1's microscopic LCD).

Anyway, in about an hour I'll be leaving for some tests. I'll try to edit some of them together and post them here...hopefully with big improvements. I will definitely shoot the same shot as the one I posted for comparison purposes.
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Old January 28th, 2007, 02:36 AM   #10
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Old January 28th, 2007, 10:00 AM   #11
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Rafael,

It's really difficult for me to give you advice based on looking at one shot. As I stated previously in my first post, it looks to me like it is underexposed and that the ground glass is not spinning.

Using ND filters in low light is going to make things worse. I never use ND filters when working with the Letus. I'm not sure about your version but mine allows me to adjust backfocus and there is also the ability to adjust the exposure independent of the front lens. I never open that any more than f4 or blooming occurs. Even in low light, if this is open beyond f4, it seems to compromise the image dramatically. The shot you posted here looks like sunset and I would never use any ND filters for this as the light is already low.

Also, the weight of the lens you are using should not have any influence on your footage. The Letus doesn't spin the lens. So long as you have proper rod support, you should be fine. If, for some reason, you are using a heavy lens with no rod support, it could be dragging it down and compromising the Letus to the point that it can't focus properly.

35mm adapters are tricky to use at best and you definitely will need an external monitor to make sure the focus is sharp. When focus is even slightly off, it can look really muddy and unpleasant.

That's about all I can give you without being out in the field with you making subtle adjustments and seeing exactly how you are going about setting exposure, etc.
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Old January 28th, 2007, 12:05 PM   #12
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Thanks, guys. I spent this morning shooting and making some tests. My first conclusion is that it's impossible to work without a field monitor. It's a crazy man's task to try to pull focus on an up side down 2,5" lcd. I'm looking into field monitor as we speak. Today I didn't use an ND filter at all and the results APPEARED to be better...at least viewed from the A1's LCD (which doesn't say much). Tomorrow I'm going to capture the footage I shot today and I'll post some more stuff.
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Old January 28th, 2007, 01:37 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steven Dempsey
It's really difficult for me to give you advice based on looking at one shot. As I stated previously in my first post, it looks to me like it is underexposed and that the ground glass is not spinning.
Isn't Letus a vibrating adapter ? I assume Steven is indicating the ground glass isn't vibrating properly ???

Edit: It appears to me that the F Stop on the prime lens was closed down pretty extensively. My experience with my homemade spinning adapter is keep it around F 4 or less for best performance. What are others experiencing ?
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Old January 29th, 2007, 12:55 AM   #14
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Ok, here is a quick montage of my tests from yesterday:

http://rapidshare.com/files/13894673...ing_2.wmv.html

I'm still not happy with the results. So, let's hear what you guys think that might be wrong. I didn't user any Nd filters this time and it looks like it really improved the "muddyness" but I can still see grain.

I actually want to go back to this same spot at the same time I made the first test (sundown). But it's kind of a waste of time trying to make any more tests basing my image monitoring on the A1's lcd upside down. So, today I'm going out to look for a field monitor.
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Old January 29th, 2007, 12:59 AM   #15
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I was also wondering if anyone has developed a custom preset and camera settings that maximize the A1's image quality when used with the letus.

I shot everything with a shutter speed of 1/50. Maybe if I increase the shutter speed it at least might minimize the grain.

As for sharpness and good color reproduction, there must be a preset combination that can take care of that. I notice that colors tend to be a bit flat with the letus.
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