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Old July 18th, 2007, 03:42 PM   #1
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Help Needed: XH-A1 Manual Control

I have been searching the forum for a simple order of operation for setting up a shot in Manual Mode on my XH-A1 (shutter speed, iris, gain, etc.). I had previously found a couple of great threads on the forum describing the basics of shooting in full Manual, but have been unable to relocate them.

Can someone point me in the right direction?

Thanks,
Hugh
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Old July 18th, 2007, 06:24 PM   #2
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Not sure if it's general consensus, buy my sense is most folks end up NOT using manual mode, but TV mode instead, where you can push the exposure lock button and have manual control of the iris with a light meter bar in the display and choose what shutter speed you want to stick with. If you want to quickly switch to auto iris, but keep the same shutter speed, you just push the exposure lock button a second time and voila, auto iris.
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Old July 18th, 2007, 08:31 PM   #3
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I guess it depends on what type of stuff you're shooting - I basically only use manual mode on the A1, but there isn't a set order of operation I use, depends a lot on the shot.

I generally use 1/48 shutter most of the time for smooth motion, but go up to 1/250 or 1/500 for fast moving stuff (i.e. sports) or if you're going for the 'stuttering' action shot(like the fight scenes in Gladiator or beach landing in Saving Private Ryan). Keep gain as low as possible - so start at -3 or 0db and then adjust exposure with the iris - use the zebra's at 100ire to set your exposure, highlights can show zebras but white areas shouldn't. If you're wide open and can't get enough light then you might need to bump the gain up.

If you're specifically going for a more 'film-like' look you'll want to use 1/48 and keep the iris wide open for the shallowest depth of field. However, this means you need to adjust exposure via lighting on the scene, which can be tough depending on your location.

For white balance it's best to set it manually using a white paper - have someone hold it in the scene lighting, zoom in to fill the screen with the paper, and then set your balance. Reset it if you change your lighting, but use the same paper if you want to keep things consistent. If you're in a mixed lighting situation you won't be able to white balance everything properly, so my general guideline is to balance on whichever light source is acting as the key for your subjects - this way at least their skin tones are the right color.
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Old July 19th, 2007, 02:44 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Evan Donn View Post
I guess it depends on what type of stuff you're shooting - I basically only use manual mode on the A1, but there isn't a set order of operation I use, depends a lot on the shot.

I generally use 1/48 shutter most of the time for smooth motion, but go up to 1/250 or 1/500 for fast moving stuff (i.e. sports) or if you're going for the 'stuttering' action shot(like the fight scenes in Gladiator or beach landing in Saving Private Ryan). Keep gain as low as possible - so start at -3 or 0db and then adjust exposure with the iris - use the zebra's at 100ire to set your exposure, highlights can show zebras but white areas shouldn't. If you're wide open and can't get enough light then you might need to bump the gain up.

If you're specifically going for a more 'film-like' look you'll want to use 1/48 and keep the iris wide open for the shallowest depth of field. However, this means you need to adjust exposure via lighting on the scene, which can be tough depending on your location.

For white balance it's best to set it manually using a white paper - have someone hold it in the scene lighting, zoom in to fill the screen with the paper, and then set your balance. Reset it if you change your lighting, but use the same paper if you want to keep things consistent. If you're in a mixed lighting situation you won't be able to white balance everything properly, so my general guideline is to balance on whichever light source is acting as the key for your subjects - this way at least their skin tones are the right color.
Thank for those tips, I had the same questions. Just a follow-up, how much slower than 1/48 can you go, and still get decent shots that aren't motionblurred? I've tested and have some thoughts, but I was just wondering what the general opinion is on this.
Also, I find the auto white-balance on my Nikon D80 to be pretty magnificent, so I have pretty much started to not worry about this, which according to your opinions is a mistake. Is that auto-white bad on this camera, or do you simply not trust them in general? Have you tested and they have misbehaved? Just wondering. :)

By the way, manual control is the way to go, when you can. I've had the camera for about a week now, just playing around in Auto-mode, and it was first when I started playing with Manual-mode yesterday that the camera gave me the footage I was hoping for when I bought it.
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Old July 19th, 2007, 07:37 AM   #5
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Thank you guys for your quick responses. I will give TV mode a try and see which mode works best for me.

Thanks again,
Hugh
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Old July 19th, 2007, 02:58 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Henrik Reach View Post
how much slower than 1/48 can you go, and still get decent shots that aren't motionblurred?
I don't think you can go any lower without getting noticeable blur. In largely static scene you might be able to drop to 1/24, but even then any motion in the scene is likely to look slightly unnatural.

Quote:
Also, I find the auto white-balance on my Nikon D80 to be pretty magnificent, so I have pretty much started to not worry about this, which according to your opinions is a mistake. Is that auto-white bad on this camera, or do you simply not trust them in general? Have you tested and they have misbehaved? Just wondering. :).
No, the auto white is actually very good in this camera, but I still wouldn't use it unless I was anticipating frequently moving in and out of areas which were lit by completely different sources (i.e. indoor to outdoor) and shooting something where it wasn't as critical - documentary or reality video for instance.

Still photography is a whole different story - I don't think I've ever set the balance manually on my Nikon. It's usually pretty close and easy to fix in photoshop if it's slightly off.

For video the reason I don't use auto stuff in general is I don't want settings to change within a shot. If my white balance is incorrect but consistent I can color-correct it easily just like a still photograph. If it changes throughout the shot then you get into having to keyframe your color corrections to chase the changes the camera was making. In a mixed light situation like I mentioned before this can be a nightmare, as the camera may change it's mind about where to balance multiple times mid-shot, especially if the camera is or actors are moving a lot.

For that reason I don't always white balance manually but I always lock my white balance before I shoot - using either the indoor or outdoor preset depending on the dominant light source in a scene. The A1's ability to dial in a particular color temperature is interesting but I haven't used it much - I don't generally use an external monitor and feel the built-in LCD isn't really accurate enough to make precise judgments on things like color temperature.

Quote:
it was first when I started playing with Manual-mode yesterday that the camera gave me the footage I was hoping for when I bought it
Wait till you start playing around with the image parameters and presets - the range of looks you can get out of the A1 is really nice, but the amount of control and interactions between the various settings can be overwhelming. I tend to go for most image manipulations in post so I've settled on a couple of 'neutral' presets that I like, but if you like to dial in a look for your footage in camera the possibilities are nearly endless. Unfortunately so is the time you can spend experimenting with it...
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Old July 19th, 2007, 03:03 PM   #7
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Thank you very much for the reply, very helpful, and the part about having a consistant WB throughout a shot made perfect sense.

I have looked a little at the custom presets from this page too, and so far I have only found a real use for a lowlight-setting with some NR, as I will usually do saturation and color in post, but there sure are a lot of options, and as I learn more, I'll probably find/create a couple more presets that I like.
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