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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 26th, 2007, 06:17 PM   #1
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Darn Focusing on the H1 Viewfinder

Is it as hard for you to focus on the H1 as me? I just got an H1 and find it really hard to focus in 24f mode with the smearing in the viewfinder, the delay, and just the viewfinder in general. I was trying to do run and gun style shooting, so I didn't have too much time to tell the talent to "Stop! let me focus" every time... I was shooting in bright sunlight outdoors, with the 1/32 ND on, and was almost closed all the way down... Talent was walking down the street, and the smearing in the VF was awful! I just never could tell when I was in critical focus or not...

I love this camera other than the horrible viewfinder...

How can I be more like Steven Dempsey? :)

Does anyone have any suggestions for how they get along with the H1 better?
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Old January 26th, 2007, 06:23 PM   #2
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Changing viewfinders will be a big help... you'll find that the optionally available monochrome CRT viewfinder is a lot better than the stock color LCD viewfinder that comes with the camera.
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Old January 26th, 2007, 07:20 PM   #3
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Leave PEAKING on all the time..

get the B&W finder, if you can afford the cash and the weight...

buy the 6x WA, because momentary autofocus works effectively with that lens...

join the untold thousands protesting and carrying signs...

demanding that Canon introduce a NEW VIEWFINDER...
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Old January 26th, 2007, 08:11 PM   #4
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What about the "Smearing" that I'm talking about? Do any of you know what I mean? Would that go away on the B&W viewfinder, or is it just a Canon H1 thing?
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Old January 27th, 2007, 01:12 AM   #5
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Do you have "NR1" on in the Custom Preset?

If so, turn it off.

This may not be your problem, but NR1 will cause smearing, but I have never seen it in the viewfinder.

It is worth a test, turning it off.
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Old January 27th, 2007, 02:24 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Stovall
What about the "Smearing" that I'm talking about?
Yes, smearing is somewhat a problem, and it gets even worse in cold conditions. The stock EVF is indeed bit akward to use, and the situation has been the same with XL1, XL2 and now with XL H1. However, although while shooting have had over and over again the akward feeling that the target is not in focus, eventually I've found that this happens very seldom. Amazingly enough, it's rare that the target is off-focus, and consequently, tend not to worry about the image on the EVF.

Just couple days ago I found another reason why there's always bit difficulties with the EVF. If you shoot moving objects --such as flying birds, running animals, etc.-- you'll need to manage with the EVF's considerable delay. During the week I was shooting a pendulum and realized the delay is somewhere around 0.1 seconds. Just try it: put anything hang to a string and make it swing. You'll get surprised. The people who were there while I was shooting the pendulum thought I had put some special effect on the EVF because the phase shift appeared so unreasonable.

The combination of smearing and the delay easily creates blurred objects in the EVF. Due to the delay the cameraman's reactions are always late. So, I'm afraid that although the B&W viewfinder removed the blurring --I have no experience-- the delay will still create problems in focusing, because that's due to the image processing of the camera.
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Old January 27th, 2007, 06:06 AM   #7
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Dear Lauri,

I assume your post applied to 24F mode.

The delay in 60i is much less. I have not run a test, but I have no problem at all with 60i.

When using the console software, the delay, as viewed on the computer running the console software, is very apparent.
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Old January 27th, 2007, 08:42 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Keaton
I assume your post applied to 24F mode.
Dan, excellent remark. Indeed, I have my camera always set to 25F. So, it's the frame mode which takes a lot of processing power and causes the delay?
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Old January 27th, 2007, 10:19 AM   #9
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Dear Lauri,

Yes.

The viewfinder works well in 60i (or 50i) mode as there is much less processing to do.

Also, in 24F or 25F mode (and all other modes) you can monitor without a delay via the composite out to an external monitor.
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Old January 27th, 2007, 10:29 AM   #10
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I have had the same problems with the EVF and it drives me crazy. For work where the camera is stationary on a tripod, I use my 7" Marshall HD monitor. Without it, I can never be "absolutely" sure I am in focus. Without using the monitor, I'd say I'm about 90% correct in my focussing judgment but it's the shots that are unusable that cause me the most frustration.

My investment in the monitor was as critical as the camera itself.
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Old January 27th, 2007, 02:38 PM   #11
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So would everyone agree that a Marshall monitor is the way to go - even versus the Canon B&W viewfinder? The only problem I see is just run and gun shooting...
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Old January 27th, 2007, 02:49 PM   #12
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Dear Bob,

While the FU-1000 is very nice to have, you have no color reference.

If the white balance is off, your footage will be hard to fix in post.

One could always white balance to a white (or warm) card. But, there are times when there are multiple light sources, such as at a wedding that can cause problems.

One option is to use auto white balance.

But, I have had some cases where I was shooting under a blue canopy and thus the light was very blue. In this case, I dialed in an unusual color temperature manually, using my calibrated but stock XL H1 color viewfinder.

I used a Marshall once and I liked it alot.
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Old January 27th, 2007, 06:57 PM   #13
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I use my laptop with iMovie to check overscan, focus and exposure (WYSIWYG). Works like a champ.
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Old January 27th, 2007, 09:28 PM   #14
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Years ago I tried the monochrome FU-1000 viewfinder on my XL1 in wildlife filming and found the following. The ability to focus was slightly faster, it was much slower to dial in the correct exposture, drained batteries much faster, threw the balance of the camera off, made it a lot heavier and over scanned in the viewfinder ( showed much more in the viewfinder than what I was capturing ). All this made me decide to return it and stay with the color viewfinder which served me well for 8 years.

I too wouldn't mind a higher resolution viewfinder on the XLH1, though I find focusing quite easy when I quickly zoom in all the way, set focus than back off to frame the shot. I'm using two 1.6X extenders mounted ( Canon's and Century's ) on the factory 20X so I usually get to have a decent close-up to focus from. If I have time I always double check everything with the eye piece flipped up.

Leon Lorenz
www.wildlifevideos.ca
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Old January 27th, 2007, 10:57 PM   #15
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Leon,

Do you have much problem with the smearing(on moving animals) in cold temperatures. I used the XL1s since 2002. I had problems with the smearing phenomena when it was cold, but I don't recall it being as bad as the finder on the XL-1s as it was this morning with my new XL-H1. I had it in the woods watching for turkey and deer at 17 degrees farenheit. The problem bothered me enough that I began seriously considering the b&w viewfinder, but after reading your post it seems that this is not the answer for a serious wildlife videographer. From your location, I assume you deal with much colder temperatures than we here in Pennsylvania.
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