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Canon XL H Series HDV Camcorders
Canon XL H1S (with SDI), Canon XL H1A (without SDI). Also XL H1.


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Old January 20th, 2011, 02:40 PM   #1
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xlh1 6ft drop on to concrete...

So I was filming some scenes today as a favor for a friend (no budget, no insurance).

They asked me to do a quick acting scene in the movie, so I locked off the camera and went over to my mark. Generally I never leave my equipment unattended...

Then the tripod collapsed, and the xlh1, the new 6x lens, and the nanoflash all went down nearly 6ft on to a hard concrete floor (an underground car-park). Like watching a train-smash in slow motion.

It seems one of the screws in the locks of the tripod had come loose.

The xlh1 had the accessory plate attached to the back, and this took the full brunt of the force on the left side, along with the viewfinder. The accessory plate has been twisted somewhat, but I couldn't find any other damage.

Everything still seems to be working so far. I'll take the unit out tomorrow to shoot some scenes in good daylight to make sure the lens is 100%.

Has anyone else ever had a big drop? Is there anything I should be looking for, or anything that could be damaged internally (but not immediately obvious)?
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Old January 20th, 2011, 02:57 PM   #2
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Sorry to hear that, Simon. It sounds like you fared better than most with your initial assessment. I did something similar about 10 years ago and knocked the CCD's out of alignment like a detached retina. It was a 5K fix on a 18K camera.

Count you blessings and investigate if your back focus has changed in your tests.

Good luck!
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Old January 20th, 2011, 03:19 PM   #3
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Ouch.................

One of the weakest parts of the camera is the lens bayonet mount.

Most other big drops with XL series cams I've read, the bayonet on the lens has pulled the retaining screws loose from the lens barrel, either partially or in some cases, completely.

On occasions it has also loosened some or all of the bayonet mount ring attachment screws on the camera body.

It would be worth detaching the lens and giving all those screws a good tighten (if they will, stripped threads are not good.....).

If they're all good, breath a large sigh of relief!

I hope all the other testing you do turns up nothing as well, even bigger sigh of relief.

Might be worth putting that Manfrotto up against a wall and shooting it.

Good excuse to go buy a Vinten Vision Blue!


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Old January 20th, 2011, 03:30 PM   #4
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I wish I were so lucky when I drop cameras off cliffs! :)

The best thing is to run some footage through it in all types of lighting situations, IS on and OFF and all various setting you can think of, and then closely check the results on a big screen. Hopefully all is OK and your gear will keep on working for some more years to come. :)

My Canon XL-6X HD lens and camara once got completely flooded during an underwater filming sequence when the underwater housing leaked in southern France. The camcorder was dead (at least it was only attached to the XL2 at the time and not the XL-H1s), and I eventually sold it off as spare parts on Ebay.

The XL 6X HD Lens, however was saved. I unscrewed the bayonet fittings and opened up the inners to let it dry out completely in the direct hot sunshine for a week (making sure that it remained inside my tent overnight to avoid extra moisture). I then screwed everything back together, and took it to my local professional repair specialist, who cleaned all internal electrical contacts, repared iris components and cleaned all internal glass elements. The lens was brought back to life and looked like it was brand new. The bill was only 175, so I well pleased!

Canon XL 6X HD lens on XL2
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Old January 20th, 2011, 04:15 PM   #5
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John - when your ccds were knocked out of alignment was there an evident problem with the footage (was it out of focus, or completely non functioning?).

Chris - I had unscrewed the lens straight after the fall (I just had to give it a little shake to see if anything rattled!) - it seemed tight both off and then back on again. I just checked those screws after reading your message - they all all seem firm thank goodness. The lens seems to be functioning well (manual and auto focus, zoom, iris etc). Yeah, I feel a new tripod would be a good investment...

Tony - I had actually read your post a while back when I was scanning through the XLH1 section - a terrible tale (but nice to hear about the shop that fixed the lens).

From what I can gather the accessory plate absorbed most of the impact. The viewfinder had also been locked in the left most position when it was on the tripod, but after picking the camera up I found the viewfinder had been forced all the way to the right, so this must have absorbed a bit of the shock as well.

I had also been worried about the xlr socket (a cable was in the left most xlr socket, and the accessory plate had squashed the cable as it bent) - but it seems to be fine after hooking up an external mic.

The funny thing is that there is not a scratch to be found on the actual camera!

I'll do all the tests tomorrow in the light of day.
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Old January 20th, 2011, 06:06 PM   #6
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It worked for a bit, then I had focus problems (which the back focus would somewhat fix), then the image was off center in the viewfinder, then...fade to black. It took about an hour to happen fully. It was a station owned camera and I was fired for a day.

It never happened again.

DVCPRO if anyone is keeping score.
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Old January 23rd, 2011, 03:05 PM   #7
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It works!

I tested everything today. We had brilliant light this afternoon, so I brought the gear out to some hills here in Connemara and filmed some landscape shots, plus some detailed shots of old wrecked tractors. Then I did some action shots of my kid playing in the tractors, along with a group of swans in a lake (and flying away). I put it through its paces and tested as many auto and manual settings as I could.

I brought it back and viewed the footage on an HDTV. The nanoflash footage is just amazing (recorded at 50mbs mxf long gop). Some people were looking at the footage of the swans and figured it was some of the sharpest video images they have ever seen (but admittedly the light was really fantastic).

Anyway, I really feel I've dodged a bullet this time around. Thanks y'all.
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Old January 23rd, 2011, 03:16 PM   #8
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Great news! You'll probably enjoy it all the more now!
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Old January 23rd, 2011, 03:28 PM   #9
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That is great news, Simon! A lesson learned forever, no doubt.
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Old January 24th, 2011, 08:18 AM   #10
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Great news, Simon!
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