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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 September 20th, 2006, 09:00 AM   #1
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Need PAL for overseas filming?

I'll be in Australia in a few months to film some large indoor dance events -- most likely under flourescent lights. I won't be able to add any of my own lights and will just have to go with what is available on site. I'll then return to do all the editing in the U.S. for distribution on NTSC DVD's. Do I need to get the PAL version of the camera in order to handle potential flickering of the flourescents? Or is there another workaround? Thanks in advance.
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Old September 20th, 2006, 09:28 AM   #2
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Hi Patricia, you don't need a PAL version of the XL H1. All you need is to have your own NTSC version upgraded by Canon USA to be NTSC / PAL switchable. It's a $500 option Canon offers for XL H1 owners in your exact situation.
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Old September 20th, 2006, 09:32 AM   #3
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Hi Chris. My mistake in my original message. That's what I meant: do I need to plunk down the $500 or is there another workaround (different shutterspeed, etc.) that would work? Will I lose a lot of quality when I convert back to NTSC?
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Old September 20th, 2006, 10:55 AM   #4
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Patricia: I haven't had any flickering problems w/ NTSC and I've been shooting under flourescents (admittedly here in the US) almost constantly for the last 3 weeks.. (other than the kind of flickering that you see with the human eye, and there's no way around that)... I'd say switching to PAL would be a crap shoot, but at least you would have the option... There is a cycling difference (60/50), but I've found that to be true even with good ol' American flourescent ballasts, especially in large offices... The H1 shutter seems to smear it, whereas the shutter on my film camera doesn't.

I find the biggest issue with flourescents is the apparent boost in chroma, sorta like Kodachrome, which is very hard to match with other light.. I've experimented with several scene files and haven't come up with one I'm happy with, so I just shoot with my main file and pull the chroma down on the flourescent scenes in post.. I'm doing that right this instant, as a matter of fact...

Oh, and yes, you can customize the shutter, just as you would when shooting a CRT monitor.. but you'll need an external monitor to be sure you haven't introduced more flicker than you've removed...
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Old September 20th, 2006, 10:56 AM   #5
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Steve, you've been shooting under flourescents outside of the U.S.?
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Old September 20th, 2006, 11:21 AM   #6
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There isn't a 1/50th shutter speed in the North American (NTSC) version of the XL H1, so it seems like you really would get quite a flicker from 50 Hz flourescents in a PAL country like Australia. Anybody?
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Old September 20th, 2006, 11:28 AM   #7
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Not with the H1, no... My experience in Australia was probably different than yours, I was in a small place called Cotton Tree that was powered by an indifferent generator system.. it was a long time ago, too, and it was film... So don't go by me.. I just know that flourescents can be a problem anywhere and there isn't usually a single sollution because it can even vary from fixture to fixture, especially in older installations... But, as I said, I've found it more of a problem with the precise imaging of a cine shutter than the shutter on the H1... a PAL upgrade would probably be safest, 50 cycles, 50 fps... Hopefully someone from somewhere near where you'll be will confirm this before you commit to the modification...
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Old September 20th, 2006, 12:48 PM   #8
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Actually, Patricia, I probably shouldn't have chimed in on this thread.. I did because in the last few weeks I had to restructure a project as a result of flourescents.. I had originally intended to shoot super16mm, and after some tests realized there was noticeable flicker on the film, which would have required replacing tubes and even some ballasts - which would put a strain on my budget..

I shot another test with the H1 and the problems didn't present themselves... I shot in HDV instead of film as a result... The client is happy becuase I was able to save them money (I pulled lab and post costs out) and, frankly, they can't see the difference.. I can, and am disappointed because I prefer to shoot film when I can... Apparently the shutter on the H1 masks some flicker problems...
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Old September 20th, 2006, 06:00 PM   #9
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Patricia;
Two months ago I was shooting in Iraq under flourescents with my NTSC XL H1 and had now flicker problems. I'm pretty sure that the power was 220 vlt., 50 hz. I shot 60i hdv with a 60th of a second shutter speed. The footage looks fine. Barry
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Old September 20th, 2006, 06:08 PM   #10
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That's encouraging, Barry. I'm hoping that others with similar (or contrary) experiences will speak up.... it's a little scary to risk bad footage for an entire event just to save $500. But then again, I'm not getting paid a whole lot for the event either!
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Old September 21st, 2006, 09:53 AM   #11
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Patricia, I went back and reviewed the footage that was shot under only flourescent light. Sorry, it does flicker. I was remembering the material that was mixed light and the flicker didn't show enough to bother me. But under full flourescent it has a definite flicker. Sorry. You should consider the PAL upgrade. Barry
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Old September 21st, 2006, 10:18 AM   #12
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Hey Patricia, if you choose to buy the upgrade, you are essentially raising the value of your camera, so that when the time eventually comes to sell it, you can recover a good portion of that $500. It's money well spent. And it should pay for itself anyway.
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Old September 21st, 2006, 10:43 AM   #13
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Thanks for checking this further, Barry, I do appreciate it. And Chris, you're right that it will only increase the value of the camera. I feel like I've put this camera through college (an ivy league one at that) after all I've spent on it already, so why not another $500. (This sentiment is nothing new to anyone on these boards...)
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Old September 21st, 2006, 01:25 PM   #14
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Yeah but unlike an ivy league college student, this camera works for you.
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Old September 21st, 2006, 01:37 PM   #15
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... and is a delight to be around.
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