My thoughts on the XHA1 - Page 3 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 March 15th, 2007, 10:43 PM   #31
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Thanks

Stephen

Can you tell us a little more about how you use the camera? What modes you use most frequently and some of the settings? Maybe you have covered that ground with the H1 already? I am most interested in your workflow with the camera. Again if you have covered this with the H1 please let me know...

I've been following your stuff for a long time. I shoot instructional fishing videos and outdoor shots also (but never with your level of precision.) I just moved from the DVX to the A1. I must say I'm so overwhelmed. I was just so used to the placement of everything on the DVX. The scene selector on the back with all my presets... ahhh! What will I do now!?

Time will improve the situation. I appreciate you giving us the pluses and minuses from your perspective and hope that you will continue to post your impressions. You are ahead of me a good bit as I don't have the H1 experience that you have sandwiched in the middle.
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Old March 15th, 2007, 11:52 PM   #32
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The scene selector on the back with all my presets... ahhh! What will I do now!?
Same thing with the A1. It's what the Custom Preset Select button is for on the back left side.

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Old March 16th, 2007, 07:41 AM   #33
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Same thing with the A1. It's what the Custom Preset Select button is for on the back left side.

Bill
The DVX had a hard switch though. You could look at the dial and see which preset you were on. The A1/H1 requires you to look at the screen and verify and you even have to watch as you toggle through the presets to know which one you are on. On the DVX there was a comfort level there simply by "seeing" what position your camera was in.

Not a biggy but does take a little adjustment. I know I have accidentally shot footage in the wrong mode of my H1 because somehow the little button got touched and it moved from preset3 to preset4 and I didn't realize it. Of course on the Canons the framerate is not tied to the CPs so you can't accidentally shoot in the wrong frame mode.

Peace!
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Old March 16th, 2007, 10:22 AM   #34
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Marty: You're right, the DVX was/is very user-friendly in that regard.. I also LOVED the infinety preset button of the focus - probably the single most useful item I've ever found on any prosumer camera..

Jonathan: Text addressed to Stephen - There are two Steves here - Steven and me, although I always use Steve my full name is Stephen - just to further confuse things -

In answer to your question though, there are many options available in the A1's menu, you just have to take some time, experiment with settings recommended in this forum, and find out which one you like... In my case I never shoot anything without using one of the Cine Gamma and the Cine Matrix... Generally Master Ped down some - crunch blacks across the board, Detail up or down depending, Coring (for me) usually +4, Chroma up +2 to +4.. that sort of thing.. Take a full day and play with it and view your efforts on a good TV (doesn't have to be a pro monitor)...

It is easy to accidentally hit the button that changes the custom presets, as Marty alluded to (both on the H1 and the A1) so you have to remember to check it occasionally in the finder -

One thing I do (because I often have to work fast) is set two presets next to each other identically - say Preset 3 and Preset 4 - then when I'm shooting, I select Preset 3 - if I accidentally hit the button it shifts to Preset 4, but the image doesn't change...
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Old March 16th, 2007, 10:44 AM   #35
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One thing I do (because I often have to work fast) is set two presets next to each other identically - say Preset 3 and Preset 4 - then when I'm shooting, I select Preset 3 - if I accidentally hit the button it shifts to Preset 4, but the image doesn't change...
What if you accidentally bump it a 2nd time?

:)

I kid....I kid.......
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Old March 16th, 2007, 05:46 PM   #36
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I was speaking to (Steve) Disjecta. I've been watching his films since back when the DVX first came out. He has quite a following over at DVXuser. I was hoping to hear more from him regarding the A1 and how he uses it for his outdoor filming and differences he's encountered between the DVX and Canons.
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Old March 16th, 2007, 05:50 PM   #37
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I will definitely be writing about my thoughts on those things and others. It's just a question of finding time and spending a little more time with the XHA1.
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Old March 19th, 2007, 12:44 AM   #38
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Sounds Great Steven. Please keep posting those shots and I'll keep watching. I assume your workflow will be very similar to the H1 but I wasn't present at the forum while you were working with that cam. Only followed back when you had the DVX.

-Jonathan

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I will definitely be writing about my thoughts on those things and others. It's just a question of finding time and spending a little more time with the XHA1.
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Old June 1st, 2007, 03:17 PM   #39
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Hey, Steven, I decided I'd post to this existing thread. Hope you don't mind. We don't need another thread started with MY thoughts on the XHA1.

I've been playing around with my new A1 for a few days. Here are my thoughts about it so far. I've really pared the pros down to what I think really separates the A1 from the competition. I've narrowed the cons down by removing the things that “need some getting used to” and just leaving in the thing that can't be fixed.

Pros:
Sharp picture.
Manual iris ring.
Modes similar to SLR cameras.

Cons:
Chromatic aberration in the picture.

I love the picture. It is sharp without the artificial sharpness of the Sony cams. The CA in the picture bothers me, though. Nobody outside the photography or video community that I've showed footage to has noticed the CA, but I know it's there. It's a bit disappointing, especially when one considers that probably one-third of the cost of the camera is in the lens.

The amount of customizing that can be done on the camera could fill a book. I tweaked picture settings for about two hours before even shooting one second of video. I'm not used to this kind of picture control outside of Photoshop. It is a welcome addition. Out of the box, the image doesn't have the contrast of some of the other HD cams, but with so much tweak-ability, I'm pretty sure that can be fixed.

People have complained about the iris ring saying that it's too easy to hit it accidentally. This is just something I'll have to get used to. I figure after a few weeks, I'll have trained myself to know where to hold the camera without hitting the iris. I do like the big ring better than the tiny iris wheels I've grown accustomed to. I also prefer the smooth rotation as opposed to the “clicky” wheels. I think the focus and zoom rings also feel pretty good. The max zoom speed is just a bit slow, however. The zoom isn't as nice a manual zoom on an SLR lens, but it works well and is the best I've felt on the camcorders I have used. No, I've never used the big boy camcorders.

Speaking of holding the camera, that's something that needs to be done with two hands unless you're on the sticks. Trying to hold it with one hand will make your forearm quite sore, and eventually you'd develop Popeye-like forearm muscles (on your right arm, anyway). The balance is front-heavy, but I think it'll balance nicely with the FS-C mounted out back. I don't have the FS-C yet, but it's on my wish list.

Before I got bit by the video bug, I was a big photography buff. I never had the cash for the “professional” SLRs, but did manage to stay just a notch or two below those models. My love of manual control comes from my time with SLR photography. I also learned, however, that usually, I didn't have the time to manually set everything on the camera. Based on the circumstances, I would use the shutter priority or aperture priority modes. I really like that the A1 has these modes available. This makes it easier for someone doing run-n-gun work to control what is most important while letting the camera figure out the rest of the equation. In studio shots, you can go full manual and get exactly what you want. It's better to get a picture that may not be perfect because you shot semi-auto, than it is to get no picture at all.

So, there it is. My 2 cents worth. Probably more like 50 cents, actually, but I'll let you all keep the change.
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Old June 1st, 2007, 04:08 PM   #40
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I've noticed that with the Xh-A1 the highlights tend to be overly orange-ish. With skin tones, I always seem to have to color-correct the highlights by pushing towards Cyan(and a little green). I haven't figured out how to isolate the highlight settings in camera to push them towards Cyan(I don't know if this is possible).

Another difficulty for me with the camera is how the lens handles skin tones in lower light settings. They really become gray and mushy very quickly. The camera is still new to me, so I am trying to find the right procedure to get the best possible skin tones in situations when I am not outside, and there isn't tons of light.

The only other thing I would like to see change, as would some others, is to have the custom function button for zebras and OIS. Other than that, I am really ecstatic about the image quality and form factor.
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Old June 1st, 2007, 04:41 PM   #41
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I've noticed that with the Xh-A1 the highlights tend to be overly orange-ish. With skin tones, I always seem to have to color-correct the highlights by pushing towards Cyan(and a little green). I haven't figured out how to isolate the highlight settings in camera to push them towards Cyan(I don't know if this is possible).

Another difficulty for me with the camera is how the lens handles skin tones in lower light settings. They really become gray and mushy very quickly. The camera is still new to me, so I am trying to find the right procedure to get the best possible skin tones in situations when I am not outside, and there isn't tons of light.

The only other thing I would like to see change, as would some others, is to have the custom function button for zebras and OIS. Other than that, I am really ecstatic about the image quality and form factor.
Before you reinvent the wheel, have you tried Stephen Dempsey's VIVIDRGB preset?
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Old June 1st, 2007, 04:42 PM   #42
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what exactly do you see in what you say is chromatic aberration? purple fringing in dark areas? can you be more specific? bill
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Old June 1st, 2007, 07:48 PM   #43
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Tom, I have Steven's VIVIDRGB, and that is what I'm using. Coming from the DVX100a I appreciate the work that he did to come up with it. For me it is almost perfect, except for the skin tone. It needs a touch of cyan in the highlights to meet my liking for a less orange look.

On overcast days, it looks passable to me. But when there are no clouds it is too orange on the skin. This also happens under tungsten bulbs.

Adding a little cyan in the highlights, does add a very slight green-blue cast on non-skin objects, but I prefer that over warm skin tones.

I did test various comparison shots from my SLR camera (with my favorite lens) of skin tones(which I believe is more accurate) versus the Xh-A1 footage. I then sampled the SLR skin tone with the color corrector and matched the skin tone from the Xh-A1. In each situation, the highlights always shot down to a more Cyan finish in the color-corrector.

It also allows me to add more saturation to the overall image without worrying about the skin tones getting too orange too quickly before rest of the image looks properly saturated.

Anyway, I am grateful all of the work that was done to get the VIVIDRGB so absolutely close to what I was looking for.:)
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Old June 2nd, 2007, 09:11 AM   #44
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what exactly do you see in what you say is chromatic aberration? purple fringing in dark areas? can you be more specific? bill
Sort of. I can see fringing in areas of high contrast. It's evident in my videos as well as any videos I've seen on-line from the A1 at wide angle setting. Like I said, most people don't recognize it, but I know it's there and I can see it. Of course, I'm looking for it.

Usually, it's not too bad and it's not in the main areas of interest.

I knew about it before buying the camera, but I just couldn't resist the level of control the camera gives me.
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Old June 2nd, 2007, 12:04 PM   #45
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James: I agree on the reddish/orange tone in the vividrgb setting, see your mail.
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