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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 February 23rd, 2007, 09:36 PM   #1
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New A1 arrived and I LOVE IT!!!

I shot some HD of a local band rehearsal the other night in a basement with fluorescent lighting and I used the custom presets to get the look I wanted. I am shocked at how good the footage looks!! I'm using PP2.0 and I'm very happy with the 1080i coming out of this camera. Some things I noticed in my limited time using it:

- This baby is dense. I'm accustomed to my DVX100 and it's larger size and it's taking some time to get adjusted to the A1. It's like holding a brick in your hand for an hour. The solid feel reminds me of the XL1 and I like it.

- The lens isn't as wide as my trusty DVX. Not a big deal but I noticed it and I'm in a bad place right now trying to get used to it. It seems like I'm never physically in the right place with the A1, where the DVX always gave me the shot I was looking for (subjects were always framed appropriately). I know this sounds crazy and I am sure itís just because I havenít gotten my mojo working with the A1 yet.

- I LOVE THE LENS!! The zoom is great. A Canon L series lens on a HD video camera? OOOH YES!! It's almost too good to be true. The people responsible for the zoom ring design/decision should be taken from the building they work in at canon and beaten. I canít believe they took a near perfect camera and dropped the ball with the zoom ringÖ

- I tested my ME66 with the camera and from what I can tell it is no better on the audio side than the built in mic. This being what it is, I'm using the built in mic instead of the ME66. This is kind of sad because I was planning on using all of my lightwave stuff from the DVX on the A1. I will do more testing... I also plugged my AKG C426B into the XLR inputs and it was marginally better than the onboard mic. I guess it's the audio inputs of the A1 because the C426 direct into my Fostex FR-2 sounds incredible.


I'm looking forward to the spring and summer months so I can take it hiking and get some outdoor shots. Right now I just need to decide if I'm going to keep my DVX100 or sell. Anyone have any thoughts on whether I should keep the DVX or not? Anyone interested in it?



Tom
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Old February 23rd, 2007, 10:03 PM   #2
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You "LOVE THE LENS", yet you would like to see the design team beaten for the zoom ring? Talk about confusing statements. Do tell what's wrong with a zoom ring on a lens.

I find it hard to believe your ME66 or AKG sounds the same as the built in mic. I'm betting you were hearing the built in mic while thinking you were hearing the ME66 or AKG because you didn't have the XLR inputs active. If I'm wrong, I apologize.

Bill
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Old February 23rd, 2007, 11:54 PM   #3
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Coincidently,
I did a test with my ME66 yesterday - with the XLR's on,
and to my shock I only found a very small gain using
it. Not making any judgements just yet, but it was
surprising.


David
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Old February 24th, 2007, 03:17 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Houston
- I tested my ME66 with the camera and from what I can tell it is no better on the audio side than the built in mic. This being what it is, I'm using the built in mic instead of the ME66. This is kind of sad because I was planning on using all of my lightwave stuff from the DVX on the A1. I will do more testing... I also plugged my AKG C426B into the XLR inputs and it was marginally better than the onboard mic. I guess it's the audio inputs of the A1 because the C426 direct into my Fostex FR-2 sounds incredible. Tom
Dear Tom,
Indeed I would be very interesting in hearing more about this. Could you make a C426 on Fostex FR-2 and C426 on A1 audio samples available online?

Martin
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Old February 24th, 2007, 09:30 AM   #5
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Bill,

Yes, like I said, I love the lens. It's an L series canon lens that looks (eyeballs & recorded picture) and feels (Hands) as good as my other L series canon lenses. BUT, it's sad that canon dropped the ball and didn't put a manual zoom control feature on the A1 like the DVX has. When I turn the ring, it's soft and spongy not crisp and snappy and I do not like this about the lens. The people responsible for this goof up should pay attention to what people are using in the field AND be brought to the square for a public flogging :)


About the mic test: Phantom power was definitely on and the ME66 and C426 were both working. The ME66 and the onboard A1 mic provide almost exactly the same audio clarity/quality. The C426 was a tad bit better straight to the camera but not as much as you would think for a 5K dollar mic. Hmm, what could this mean? It means that the audio inputs on the A1 aren't as good as a middle of the road FR-2 field recorder and the observed audio quality remains fairly consistent across all mic's that I tested costing from hundreds, to thousands of dollars.

I miss the stock mic/audio quality of my XL1. My old DVX and new A1 are no where near that good.

Martin,

Yes, I can do this for the group but no idea how to post files here. Anyone have any preference for the type of sounds I should record for this test? Is there an audio test pattern somewhere that would be helpful to hear recorded or just plain music? Let me know and I'll make this happen today.

Tom
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Old February 24th, 2007, 10:48 AM   #6
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Dear Tom,
I would prefer some voice recording instead of music: simply "1-2-3 check, check" (or read a poem ;-?) in a standard interview recording distance + some 'silence'. Please do it once with Automatic Level Controll, once manually and once on the FR-2. I would be more interested in the AKG but if you have time, do the Sennheiser as well.

If you do not have any webspace and are not allowed to post attachments with your current account privileges, just send me the sound files per e-mail. I'll upload them and post a link.

Thanks a lot, Tom, I really appreciate this!

Martin
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Old February 24th, 2007, 06:54 PM   #7
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Martin,

Here they are in multiple posts. I had some additional microphones that I also used for the test so you can get an idea of how the A1 audio inputs sound with different mics.

Attenuation was turned off on the camera during all tests and automatic gain control was toggled as shown in the file name.

- Stock A1 with AGC
- Stock A1 without AGC

Subject was sitting 5 feet away from the mic in all tests and audio and video were captured through Canon Console. Files were imported into Premiere Pro 2.0, shortened and Wav files exported. There is an aditional 5 seconds of silence recorded at the end of each file.

Tom
Attached Files
File Type: wav Stock A1 with AGC.wav (2.87 MB, 282 views)
File Type: wav Stock A1 without AGC.wav (2.90 MB, 262 views)
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Old February 24th, 2007, 06:59 PM   #8
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Attenuation was turned off on the camera during all tests and automatic gain control was toggled as shown in the file name.

- Sennheiser ME64 to A1 with AGC
- Sennheiser ME64 to A1 without AGC
Attached Files
File Type: wav ME64 to A1 with AGC.wav (2.68 MB, 128 views)
File Type: wav ME64 to A1 without AGC.wav (2.84 MB, 124 views)
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Old February 24th, 2007, 07:01 PM   #9
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Attenuation was turned off on the camera during all tests and automatic gain control was toggled as shown in the file name.

- Sennheiser ME66 to A1 with AGC
- Sennheiser ME66 to A1 without AGC
Attached Files
File Type: wav ME66 to A1 with AGC.wav (2.84 MB, 112 views)
File Type: wav ME66 to A1 without AGC.wav (2.90 MB, 115 views)
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Old February 24th, 2007, 07:04 PM   #10
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Attenuation was turned off on the camera during all tests and automatic gain control was toggled as shown in the file name.

- AKG C426 to A1 with AGC - Cardioid
- AKG C426 to A1 without AGC - Cardioid
Attached Files
File Type: wav AKG C426 to A1 with AGC.wav (2.89 MB, 85 views)
File Type: wav AKG C426 to A1 without AGC .wav (3.04 MB, 91 views)
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Old February 24th, 2007, 07:06 PM   #11
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Attenuation was turned off on the camera during all tests and automatic gain control was toggled as shown in the file name.

- Studio Projects LSD2 to A1 with AGC - Cardioid
- Studio Projects LSD2 to A1 without AGC - Cardioid
Attached Files
File Type: wav Studio Projects LSD2 to A1 with AGC .wav (2.90 MB, 214 views)
File Type: wav Studio Projects LSD2 to A1 without AGC .wav (2.81 MB, 185 views)
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Old February 24th, 2007, 07:09 PM   #12
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Now the microphones directly to the Fostex FR-2 for comparison.

- Sennheiser ME64 to Fostex FR-2
- Sennheiser ME66 to Fostex FR-2
Attached Files
File Type: wav ME64 to FR-2.wav (2.86 MB, 221 views)
File Type: wav ME66 to FR-2.wav (2.83 MB, 224 views)
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Old February 24th, 2007, 07:11 PM   #13
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Now the microphones directly to the Fostex FR-2 for comparison.

- AKG C426 to FR-2 - Cardioid
- Studio Projects LSD2 to FR-2 - Cardioid

The words are from the back of a NetFlix DVD cover and it was the only thing I could find laying around to have the wife read for this test. No, I don't work for NetFlix...
Attached Files
File Type: wav AKG C426 to FR-2.wav (2.83 MB, 199 views)
File Type: wav Studio Projects LSD2 to FR-2.wav (2.91 MB, 210 views)

Last edited by Tom Houston; February 25th, 2007 at 10:50 AM.
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Old February 25th, 2007, 01:26 PM   #14
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Tom,
thank you very much for your comprehensive testing! Great!
I just spent an hour or so listening to the samples and here is what I hear:

I do not know the A1 pre-amps but as for the FR-2 I can say that there is way too much noise here. The FR-2 is whisper quiet. I am pretty shure that this noise does not come from any of the microphones you are using nor the FR-2 itself.

Provided your FR-2 is ok and you do not use rotten cables the question is: where does it come from? - I have the impression that the main noise on the samples is not noise from the pre-amps or the circuits of either the A1 nor the FR-2 but camera noise picked up by the mics. What was the microphone setup like? Mounted to the camera? Which mount? Or on a mic-stand near the camera? Both on the same table? One hint that its mainly camera noise picked up is the following: the ME-66 samples are a lot quieter than the ME-64 or the AKG Stereo samples - its a shotgun, so this makes sense.

Further indication that we deal with noise _recorded_ instead of noise generated by the A1 or FR-2 is the following strange thing: When I compare the recorded silence between the recordings of, let's say the ME64 or 66, the A1 is not at all quieter than the FR-2. The FR-2 just adds two bands of additional noise to the recordings: a high hiss and a a deep hum that sounds like vibrancy (maybe the camera motor; I get such things when I put the camera together with the mic-stand on a wooden table or when I use a shock mount on the camera that does not provide enough isolation). I conclude that either the A1 samples have more bass roll-off than the fr-2 samples (anything you can adjust in the A1 settings?) or the mic setup was not identical.

All in all its quite difficult for me to get a clear idea about the pre-amp and circuit quality of the A1. It would be interesting to know how what kind of stand or mount you used and how far the mic was from the camera. And it would be interesting to hear a cleanly recorded sample fed from the FR-2 to the A1 with line-levels and/or a sample where the mic is placed a few meters away from the camera.

One other curious things I hear:
- The AGC with the built-in mic produces a signal far to low (around -24) - is there anything you can adjust?

If you come to the conclusion that it is mainly the mic mount that causes the problem, consider this: the only on camera mic-mount that really works for me is a combination of the two Sennheiser mounts MZS-6 and MZQ-6. Not exactly the cheapest solution, I know. But it works.

all the best,

Martin
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Old March 13th, 2008, 01:02 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Martin Saxer View Post
I do not know the A1 pre-amps but as for the FR-2 I can say that there is way too much noise here. The FR-2 is whisper quiet. I am pretty shure that this noise does not come from any of the microphones you are using nor the FR-2 itself.
There's a bunch of noise, but it sounds to me like it's the room as opposed to pre-amps or cabling.

These tests are great information. Thanks a bunch Tom.
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