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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 May 13th, 2007, 07:32 AM   #1
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Appalling Pans. Is HDV any good?

I can't say i wasn't warned.
When i mentioned buying an A1 (or any other HDV cam for that matter) i floated the idea on the LAFCPUG (final cut pro users group) only to be bombarded with advice to abandon the idea immediately and get the panasonic HVX200 instead. The reason being that this format does not like motion.
I ignored the advice and bought the Canon.

Generally i'm very happy with the purchase. It produces a lovely image as long as you don't want to start panning or tilting. I took my A1 to a nature reserve and was pleased with the results when the camera was locked off. I was shooting in 25f. I did a couple of pans and can tell you that looking at them on my 23 inch apple cinema display gives me a headache. I'm unsure of the jargon to describe it(artifacting?aliasing?) but i'll call it a smudgy irridescence, along witha nasty judder. I had a moan on the LAFCPUG and was met with a chorus of "i told you so's" from the HVX crowd, many of whom have vastly more experience of the shortcomings of HDV than the fans of it on this site.
As much as i like this camera I'm beginning to question the wisdom of buying into this format. Sure, there's some fine footage posted here, and i'm hugely impressed (and grateful) for Steven Dempsey's presets. I have noted that none of the stuff Steven has posted has any pans in it (from what i've seen at least). Few other clips i've seen posted put their cameras through any pan or tilt tests, so i'm not sure what other people are experiencing.
I think that switching to 1080i instead of 25f will improve the judder part of the problem, and i've upgraded my tripod system to a Libec LS38 which has a lovely smoothe pan, but i suspect that is only one of the problems, and that HDV is indeed a seriously flawed format when it comes to motion.
If this is so, would it be better to use this camera in SD mode when shooting in motion? I have bought FCP6 so will be able to cut both formats in the same timeline presumably.
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Old May 13th, 2007, 07:52 AM   #2
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Do you watch Discovery HD (one of the highest quality HD broadcast channels)? They surely use material with codecs much better than HDV, and yet all those grass blades and tree leafs are tad sharp only when stationary. Any movement causes visible quality loss...

Your A1 may be loosing some sharpness when shooting action, but it starts with a higher resolution than the HVX200, so stop worrying.

Personally, once I started watching Discovery HD, I stopped fussing around the quality of my V1E picture.
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Old May 13th, 2007, 07:54 AM   #3
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i find the pans on the A1 to be quite smooth.

shooting in 60i, i have not experienced any smear or judder.
fast pans on any cam will produce unpleasing results.

panning a full 180 degrees should take 5 to 7 seconds for the
best image.
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Old May 13th, 2007, 08:09 AM   #4
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Shooting at 60i you're recording 60 different images per second Eric. Dom's shooting progressive at 25 fps by the sound of it, so he must expect far more jerky pans.
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Old May 13th, 2007, 08:10 AM   #5
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You do know that your display was probably set at 60 hz? When displaying 25/50 material on a 60 hz display WILL CREATE judder. It's not in the material itself. You guys really need to careful about how you view your material. Plug it in a pal tv and take another look.

The panasonic hvx200 would show the same judder if used in pal mode on a 60 hz monitor.

HDV's mpeg2 compression WILL NOT create judder. It will make compression artifacts, nothing else...

Other option is that you have your shutter speed too high for 25fps.
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Old May 13th, 2007, 08:14 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikko Lopponen View Post
You do know that your display was probably set at 60 hz? When displaying 25/50 material on a 60 hz display WILL CREATE judder. It's not in the material itself. You guys really need to careful about how you view your material. Plug it in a pal tv and take another look.

HDV's mpeg2 compression WILL NOT create judder. It will make compression artifacts, nothing else...
In theory, you're right. But I cannot see any difference (motion-wise) watching my 25p on a HD PC monitor (obviously 60 Hz) and a 42" plasma TV (obviously 25/50 Hz compatible, at least in the specs sheet). It beats me, why...
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Old May 13th, 2007, 10:08 AM   #7
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I've only had my A1 for a little over a week, but one of the "getting to know my camera" tests I did the other day involved quite a few pans. I shot in 24F mode, and I was surprised to see the pans turn out smooth (the weak link in the set-up was me).

Granted, I'm a virtual idiot when it comes to shooting, so I can't claim some expertise or special knowledge.
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Old May 13th, 2007, 10:08 AM   #8
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shutter speed, speed of pan, detail of image, camera stability, and i''ll reiterate.. SHUTTER SPEED

ALL progressive cameras, even film cameras, have the tendency to "stutter" the image if not shot correctly
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Old May 13th, 2007, 12:15 PM   #9
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This is true. When shooting 24fps, you need to shoot as if you're shooting with a film camera. Also, the shutter should be at 1/48. If you use the default 1/24, you will get more judder and blurring. The factory defaults are meaningless--take the time to tweak your camera properly.
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Old May 13th, 2007, 12:28 PM   #10
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I don't feel any difference in the look of the pans on the A1 vs the DVX100, personally. As pointed out you have to observe certain rules about pan speed just the same as with 24 fps film, this becomes instinctive after a while. I have directors regularly ask me to pan slower or faster and I have to explain to them that it will strobe if I do that.

I heard many things about HDV but so far I have yet to have experienced serious issues with the format.
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Old May 13th, 2007, 12:29 PM   #11
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I did a test yesterday using the 25f setting on a pan. I set the shutter to 1/50th with auto aperture. The results were smooth looking, and certainly better than if you used a higher shutter speed, but its not an effect I can say I'm all that keen on (not on PC monitor playback anyway).

Just my opinion,

Mark
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Old May 13th, 2007, 01:17 PM   #12
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Unless you have some great work to look at for those HVX users or whomever your talking about...take it with a grain of salt. if it works for you thats good enough. I see alot of HDV/A1 bashing at Dvxuser and the fact is they may have a better codec in their HVX but the work I see done with it doesn't give them much of an edge. The camera ins't everything, ive seen some awful work from the HVX, even with the fancy shmancy DVCProHD.

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Old May 13th, 2007, 01:35 PM   #13
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probably you already know this, but just in case:

- turn off image stabilization
- use a 1/60 or 1/48th shutter
- if you've never shot at 24fps, know that there is a range of pan/motion speeds which produce pathological juddering, and that there are guidelines (also can be found with an internet search) for staying out of this range.
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Old May 13th, 2007, 01:41 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikko Lopponen View Post
You do know that your display was probably set at 60 hz? When displaying 25/50 material on a 60 hz display WILL CREATE judder. It's not in the material itself. You guys really need to careful about how you view your material. Plug it in a pal tv and take another look.

The panasonic hvx200 would show the same judder if used in pal mode on a 60 hz monitor.

HDV's mpeg2 compression WILL NOT create judder. It will make compression artifacts, nothing else...

Other option is that you have your shutter speed too high for 25fps.
you can trip up the hdv codec with significant motion on complex imagery: waving bushes on a trucking shot, panning waterfall, etc. for these you get macroblocking, but as someone else said, the canon has more resolution than the panasonic, so if you downres to the same res as the panasonic, :) the macroblocking is less dissagreable.
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Old May 13th, 2007, 01:48 PM   #15
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Ok, so its operator error. I need to tweak the camera more. That's a relief.

But its still unnerving to recall that numerous camerman/editors i spoke to who'd tested the HDV cameras opted for the HVX for precisely the reasons i'm now complaining about.
Also, its not the judder that concerns me - I can see the judder when i turn the camera from one side of my living room to the other,and when i put it in 1080i mode it goes away - its the blurry/smudgy look of the image.

My hope is that by following the advice of you guys i can prove them wrong.
Anyway i resent the price of p2 cards on principal.

Bill, my PAL A1 default shutter speed for 25f is 1/50., unless i changed it and forgot.

BTW, this post should probably have been put into the general HDV section since it is not really about the A1 at all, a camera i'm very happy to own. I think i'd be in the same situation with any other HDV camera.
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