Awful autofocus at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > Canon EOS / MXF / AVCHD / HDV / DV Camera Systems > Canon HDV and DV Camera Systems > Canon XL H Series HDV Camcorders

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


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old December 28th, 2006, 03:01 PM   #1
Major Player
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: LA CA
Posts: 316
Awful autofocus

Is the dreadful autofocus something that could be fixed by a future firmware update? Or do you think that we're stuck with it forever?

Best

Harry
Harry Bromley-Davenport is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 28th, 2006, 05:10 PM   #2
Major Player
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Monterey, California
Posts: 892
We're stuck with it. It's a very long focal length lens, which adds stress to its ability to auto focus quickly, plus it's just a bad design.. Canon apparently knows this because they introduced an exterior auto focus system on the A1/G1...

I used a Sony PD150 for 2 or 3 years as a "glove compartment" camera, something I used for grab shots and small places, like airplane cockpits.. I left it on auto focus all the time and it worked great, I never thought about it...

Sorry, but the Canon XL H1 just isn't (and should never have been thought of as) a "point and shoot" camera...

My recommendation - learn to live with manual focus - a Chrosziel DV Follow Focus helps a lot....
Steve Rosen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 28th, 2006, 05:37 PM   #3
Major Player
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: LA CA
Posts: 316
Ah well. Thanks for the reply

H.
Harry Bromley-Davenport is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 28th, 2006, 06:21 PM   #4
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Augusta Georgia
Posts: 5,413
Dear Harry and Steven,

Under what condition are you having autofocus problems with the XL H1?

I tend to use the autofocus a lot since my eyes are not that great and I do not have one of the better 7" on-camera monitors.

I have had a few instances where the autofocus focuses on the background, which I immediately correct by manually adjusting the focus and then it seems to do what I want it to do.

I tend to use 1080i much more than 24p.

Overall I am very pleased with the autofocus.

I hope you understand that I am not trying to be argumentative, I just want to know under what conditions will the autofocus not work well.
__________________
Dan Keaton
Augusta Georgia
Dan Keaton is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 28th, 2006, 06:51 PM   #5
Major Player
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Monterey, California
Posts: 892
Dan: I shoot 1080i... my problem with the auto focus is that it is extremely sluggish, sometimes I feel like I could step outside and have a smoke while I'm waiting for it to decide... Then it doesn't always seem to hit the right spot, even when it is centered in the finder...

I have used it successfully ootdoors in contrasty light a few times (it can be nice to have the scene slowly come in to focus), but indoors in low, flat light (which is where I could really use it because of the mushiness of the viewfinder) it just doesn't seem to work at all..

Luckily for me, I've been shooting film cameras for many years and have no problem manual focusing (PEAKING on all the time), so I just don't use it..

If it works for you, that's great - just hasn't pleased me...
Steve Rosen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 28th, 2006, 07:10 PM   #6
Major Player
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: LA CA
Posts: 316
I completely agree with Steven. I'm shooting 1080p - sorry "f" at 24. In a bight daylit room if I pan the camera from a patterned wall 20 feet away to a piece of furniture filling the screen at 8 ft the camera can take 5 - 10 seconds to respond.

In fact, sometimes it doesn't repond at all.

best

Harry.
Harry Bromley-Davenport is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 29th, 2006, 06:42 AM   #7
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: McLean, VA United States
Posts: 749
As I'm sure you are all aware autofocus algorithms look for enhanced contrast as they adjust the focus hence a slower frame rate requires a longer time than a faster one and 24 fps is going to give the slowest performance you can get with this camera. In addition, autofocus requires certain conditions to work well and these are spelled out in the manual. Pooly lit scenes of inherently low contrast are not among those conditions.

The original question asked whether the autofocus could be fixed by a firmware change. The answer is that while all the shortcomings cannot be removed because of the limitations imposed by the hardware (servo motor characteristics, CCD pixel pitch, frame rate...) the parameters of the control algorithms (e.g. servo loop gain) or the algorithms themselves can probably be tweaked to the extent that improvement is possible.

Personally I would prefer to focus manually but especially with the 6x lens and the stock EVF (and the old eyes) I have difficulty and often rely on the AF button on the lens to do it for me. What is sorely needed is a better VF!
A. J. deLange is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 29th, 2006, 07:50 AM   #8
Trustee
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Pembroke Pines, Fl.
Posts: 1,842
The stock vf(and af) really does suck in anything but good light and high contrast.
I tried my Fu 1000 monochrome vf on my H1 and it's fantastic.I used it on my XL2 for about a year, and it really helped me focus. The obvious problem is no color.I've thought about an on cam monitor along with the fu 1000, but I hate to spend more money and add more weight to my H1.
Would a smaller, less expensive lcd(coupled with the fu 1000) give me enough basic color info for wb, etc.? I know it wouldn't be like the $2000 Marshall, but would it be close enough for basic color reference? In addition to focus, I also learned how to trust the fu 1000 for exposure.
Bruce S. yarock
www.yarock.com
Bruce S. Yarock is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 29th, 2006, 08:00 AM   #9
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Waterloo Ontario
Posts: 721
Autofocus is for vacation videos...

To me it's a bit odd that these auto-focus questions keep arising with regard to the servo lens on the xl series.

Suggestions of those who have never have shot film or a production video being the ones in charge of the development of this device leave me wondering ... where on what film or production video camera would one find the auto-focus?

This is a convenient feature for the truly novice beginner in keeping with the pro-sumer moniker. All 3 of my white lenses have a rugged peice of vinyl tape over the switch that keep it from accidentally being switched to the horrible auto-focus position.....
Jimmy McKenzie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 29th, 2006, 10:21 AM   #10
Trustee
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Canton, Ohio
Posts: 1,770
The autofocus on my 16x manual lens is even worse than what any of you are describing. It is horribly slow.

:)
Marty Hudzik is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 29th, 2006, 11:02 AM   #11
Major Player
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Monterey, California
Posts: 892
Yeah, mine too Marty... But the good thing is I can make it faster if I want...

Back to the original issue... I completely understand the way AF works and what it says in the manual and what to expect and what not to expect... The point, really, is that this should not have been an AF camera in the first place...

And, again, Sony certainly seems to have their s___ together.. I have a good friend who has a Sony HDV (the one with the XLRs, I don't do numbers well) and he uses autofocus all the time...

Just for the heck of it, I shot about ten minutes with his camera yesterday after commenting on this thread, for my own satisfaction.. With that camera the AF does a better job in almost every situation than I can do manually... Sony knows auto.. their AF is way better and, incidentally, so is the AGC (which is something I DO need to depend on from time to time) it doesn't breath like the Canon's....
Steve Rosen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 29th, 2006, 11:16 AM   #12
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: San Mateo, CA
Posts: 3,840
Autofocus is certainly handy in run and gun documentary and ENG moments. There are times when the green square "IDIOT" mode can save your bacon. For instance, I was shooting behind the scenes documentary footage on a film shoot. So, panning from what was in FRONT of the camera - lit by hmi's - and over to the crew in deep blue shadow - and back and forth - auto exposure and autofocus and even auto white balance can be a life saver.

If you've got one hand on the stupid iris switch in manual, you don't have one hand on the lens for focussing, follow? So 'professionals' who might normally have an autofocus (Focus puller) standing NEXT to them, can benefit from auto-focus while racking aperture, or twiddiling gain controll in an ENG setting.

So yeah, I can think of situations where a 'pro' would need autofocus. I normally shoot with my 16x in a structured film like or interview setting. But was on the street with the 3x wide shooting the BTS footage. Yeah, the auto focus was slow. AND it doesn't track and zoom at the same time ... one servo split for two functions... bad design. BUT the autofocus button was handy in a pinch.

Still, I'd love to see it improved.. definately not the best situation.
Richard Alvarez is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 29th, 2006, 06:58 PM   #13
Major Player
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Monterey, California
Posts: 892
Interestingly, just received my 6x this morning.. the AF is useable on this lens. Fairly responsive...

So, assuming that the basic Canon AF design is the same, it IS probably the long focal length range of the 20x, as I thought and suggested earlier in this thread, that makes that lens sluggish...

In response to the pro vs whatever question above - I have been working as a professional cinematographer for nearly 40 years and I will gladly use auto anything - focus, exposure, gain, AGC, WB - if it works reliably all the time. I think the question in this thread is whether the Canon's 20x works reliably all the time...
Steve Rosen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 29th, 2006, 07:26 PM   #14
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: San Mateo, CA
Posts: 3,840
Steve,

I suspect you are right, and the longer focal length is a function of the sluggishness of the 20x. (Though to be fair, the original 16x autofocus was even WORSE... especially the 'hunting'.)

I have my eye on the 6x... AND the XLh1. Definately on my list as a 'package' deal when I finally go HD(v). Tell me again the focal range on the 6x -
Richard Alvarez is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 30th, 2006, 02:31 PM   #15
Major Player
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: LA CA
Posts: 316
Steve,

Please let me know how the AF behaves on your new 6x when you have tried it out under low lighting conditions and at 24p ... oops, forgive my senseless blunder ... 24f, would you?

Thanks,

Harry
Harry Bromley-Davenport is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > Canon EOS / MXF / AVCHD / HDV / DV Camera Systems > Canon HDV and DV Camera Systems > Canon XL H Series HDV Camcorders

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 01:39 AM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network