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Old June 6th, 2008, 11:48 AM   #1
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Church Lady Needs Help w/ XL1S

Hi everyone - I am no pro and learning as I go and I am appealing to the experts who may be able to help me. We have been doing a 3 camera shoot at our church for sometime - 2 of the cameras are the Canon XL1S. They both have the very same issue.

The focus, whether in manual or auto, gives me grief. sometimes what I believe to be motion blur and sometimes soft... I just can't get any consistency in crisp focus no matter what I have tried. The stock lens 16X IS 2 IS WHAT IS ON BOTH CAMERAS.

I have considered purchasing the 16X full manual lens in hopes the problem would go away after a lens change but hate to spend the money if that is not the issue. I sure know I have a lot to learn!

The filming we do is 98% from a tripod with no panning - once they are recording we don't move the cameras. At least for our services.

Please keep terminology simple for me in any reply because otherwise I won't know what your talking about! I am the most experienced at the church so I am the best to deal with even though I know so little.

Thanks in Advance
JL Payton
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Old June 6th, 2008, 12:04 PM   #2
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Hi J.L., welcome to DV Info Net.

Your first step should be to make sure that the cameras are NOT using the "Green Box" or Easy Recording mode on the power dial, because focus in this mode is always auto, even if the lens is switched to manual.

Before spending money on new lenses, I think you should consider having these camcorders serviced by an authorized repair facility. Unfortunately the XL1S model is no longer supported by Canon's own factory service center, but if you contact the Canon help line at 1-800-828-4040, they should be able to help you find an authorized service technician in your area.

Having them serviced could resolve some potential internal firmware issues that might be causing your focus problems, and it's less expensive than buying new lenses. Hope this helps,
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Old June 6th, 2008, 12:15 PM   #3
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Filming mode

Thanks for the reply. Both cameras have been serviced. Also I film in the M mode on the dial.

Thanks,
JL
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Old June 6th, 2008, 12:39 PM   #4
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J.L., how long have you had these particular cameras? Also, what's the make and model of the third one?
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Old June 6th, 2008, 12:47 PM   #5
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Age

We have had them about 1 year.

The 3rd camera is a loaner from a church member, I believe it is a Sony 1000? MiniDv We haven't ben using this one long as our other church owned Sony went out. I am not having any trouble w/ the Sony

Thanks Much,
Jamie
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Old June 6th, 2008, 02:02 PM   #6
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The reason I ask is because they're getting a little long in the tooth. The XL1S model was discontinued years ago and just recently it reached the seven-year mark where the manufacturer is no longer obligated to provide factory service.

My usual advice for folks who run into trouble with these cameras is to upgrade into something newer (much, much newer). I realize that isn't always an option financially. If you consider the cost of the two 16x full manual lenses that you were thinking about buying, plus the resale value of those two cameras, you could probably transition into a make and model of recent vintage (the XL1S qualifies as ancient vintage, no offense to those who are still using it though).

For example, consider the Canon GL2 or Sony VX2100 as possible replacements, among other contenders.
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Old June 6th, 2008, 02:35 PM   #7
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Hi J. L....................

Getting back to your particular problem, can you give us some more details about your exact shooting scenario?

As you're shooting in M mode, can you tell us what aperture and shutter speed you're setting to get correct exposure?

What sort of distances are we talking about here? Village hall or Westminster Abbey?

Lighting? Natural/ windows and / or artificial and if so, what kind?

Feed? ie To tape or taking the composite video out to er, what?

Digital Zoom - off?

16:9 - off?

Frame mode - off?

ND filter - off?

LP mode - off?

What are you viewing the final product on and how is it getting there?

Is this problem new or has it been there since you started using the cameras?

Your mention of "motion blur" is a bit of a concern, unless your church services are considerably more energetic than the norm?

Do you have a manual for the XL1s?

Just one or two Q's but it should give us something to work with.


CS



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Old June 6th, 2008, 04:26 PM   #8
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Hi Chris S. - Thanks for your help

As you're shooting in M mode, can you tell us what aperture and shutter speed you're setting to get correct exposure?

Not right off hand - the cameras are at the church!

What sort of distances are we talking about here? Village hall or Westminster Abbey?

1 camera is about 75' the other is 25' away.

Lighting? Natural/ windows and / or artificial and if so, what kind?

Someone came in before my time and installed professional lighting.

Feed? ie To tape or taking the composite video out to er, what?

If I understand the question I record to the minidv, on 1 camera I also record to hard drive on the computer

Digital Zoom - off? Can't remember

16:9 - off? OFF

Frame mode - off? not sure

ND filter - off? OFF

LP mode - off? OFF

What are you viewing the final product on and how is it getting there?

upload into the computer and edit, make dvd's and watch on tv.

Is this problem new or has it been there since you started using the cameras?

Always been the same problem w/ both. I am sure it is me...my inexperience!

Your mention of "motion blur" is a bit of a concern, unless your church services are considerably more energetic than the norm?

Energetic, sure thing.

Do you have a manual for the XL1s?

Yes, I have read it and went over several different settings trying to learn.

The issues with focus are NOT 100% of the time, it will go from a beautiful shot - clear...then the issue then back to clear... throughtout the recording.

Hope you can advise me as we can't afford new cameras right now and I am sure it is me not the camera!
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Old June 6th, 2008, 04:58 PM   #9
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Thanks J.L.............

Now we're getting somewhere.

Just to make sure, can I take it that Auto Focus is also off? (Just re - read your original post - disregard that question)

The only thing I can think of that could do this is either the Auto Focus hunting (tho' it can't if it's off) OR the lens dropping focus as the camera warms up (seen that happen with my XL1s).

The latter tends to be pretty much a one off event tho', once corrected it usually stays that way.

Hmm, ok, lets try another tack.

You are obviously new (-ish) to all this, can I take it that your immediate predecessor was NOT having this issue? Have you checked any of the resultant DVD's to see? (If, indeed, you had a predecesor?).

Ah, a thought! You mentioned you don't pan once you start shooting, yes? Is anyone/ are you doing any zooming?

There are two issues if you do/ are.

The first is that the XL1s lens cannot focus and zoom at the same time, it's one or the other. This means that if you focus a scene at wide out and then zoom in, the focus will go out, then in, then out etc.

The second is that the only way to keep the lens focused during a zoom is to first zoom all the way in, focus, then zoom out. You can then zoom in/ out to your hearts content as long as the subject focused on at the beginning does not change their/ it's distance from the camera.

It is a right royal pain but you get used to it once you know.

Please tell me you're zooming, as I'm rapidly running out of ideas!


CS
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Old June 6th, 2008, 05:16 PM   #10
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You are obviously new (-ish) to all this, can I take it that your immediate predecessor was NOT having this issue? Have you checked any of the resultant DVD's to see? (If, indeed, you had a predecesor?).

Nobody really before me as they only used a handheld Sony before to film. I was there when these cameras were purchased.

Ah, a thought! You mentioned you don't pan once you start shooting, yes? Is anyone/ are you doing any zooming?

No, don't touch anything once filming has begun.

It is a right royal pain but you get used to it once you know.

Please tell me you're zooming, as I'm rapidly running out of ideas!

It is odd to me both cameras do the same darn thing! At a distance of 75' what would you say I should have the settings at? I appreciate your help, at least that your trying to help!

JL
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Old June 6th, 2008, 05:47 PM   #11
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Hmmm........

OK, settings.

Dial: M or T

Shutter: 1/ 120th (1/60th if light low)

Apeture: Whatever it takes.

Focus: Manual

OIS: Off

Record Mode: SP

Gain: -3

Fire up the camera, zoom in full, focus, zoom out to frame, shoot.

You may have to re - do the focus after 5 to 10 minutes but once that's done it should hold for ever.

At both 25 & 75 feet the picture should be as clear as a bell (well, as clear as an XL1s ever is) and stay that way.

If it is (clear), then it's not, then it is, with no operator intervention whatsoever, on two cameras, I'd start doubting one's sanity quite frankly.

Tell me, can you see this on the camera screen or only once ingested into the pc?

Just so that a silly assumption isn't obscuring a relevent fact, how is this data getting into the pc? Firewire? From one of the XL1s'?


CS
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Old June 6th, 2008, 05:55 PM   #12
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--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

OK, settings.

Dial: M or T I USE M

Shutter: 1/ 120th (1/60th if light low)

Apeture: Whatever it takes.

Focus: Manual I USE MANUAL

OIS: Off

Record Mode: SP ALWAYS SP

Gain: -3 USUALLY USE AUTO WILL TRY THIS

Fire up the camera, zoom in full, focus, zoom out to frame, shoot.

You may have to re - do the focus after 5 to 10 minutes but once that's done it should hold for ever.

At both 25 & 75 feet the picture should be as clear as a bell (well, as clear as an XL1s ever is) and stay that way.

If it is (clear), then it's not, then it is, with no operator intervention whatsoever, on two cameras, I'd start doubting one's sanity quite frankly.

Tell me, can you see this on the camera screen or only once ingested into the pc? USE EXTERNAL MONITOR

Just so that a silly assumption isn't obscuring a relevent fact, how is this data getting into the pc? Firewire? From one of the XL1s'? FIREWIRE

Thanks Chris! I have to go to the store now - be back in a bit

JL
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Old June 6th, 2008, 06:25 PM   #13
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Happy shopping...............

Meanwhile, back at the church..............

Tell me about this professional lighting.

Is it incandescent (ordinary lightbulbs/ spots) or some form of gas discharge (flourescent etc)?

If the latter, it would be worth trying the shutter down at 1/30th, tho' if this was strictly a lighting issue I'd expect you to be getting some form of banding in the image.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------
Meanwhile, over in Fairfield, CS is minded of that classic line from "Jaws",

"I think we need a bigger boat!"

Anybody got any ideas?


CS
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Old June 6th, 2008, 07:40 PM   #14
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4 huge spots up high, a bank of 12 spots below those ...all halogen. Also there are a series of lights head level that wrap around the room (ordinary light bulbs) - except behind the stage... then we have down lights a series of 4 clusters of 3 lights each that I know are halogen... That's what I remember. I will be at the church tomorrow, I will write down better information. I know there is no gas discharge lighting and no florescent.

I am going tomorrow to play around with the camera settings and see what happens with your tips. I sure appreciate your time helping me.

I know we have had professional tv crews in our sanctuary multiple times..they always set up their own lighting and change ours a bit when they film.

Thanks,
JL
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Old June 6th, 2008, 07:46 PM   #15
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I was thinking about purchasing the new Canon VIXIA HF10
High Definition Camcorder. It is affordable and I thought it might give me high quality end product - maybe it is not good enough... You tried this one? It is a 1ccd chip but Canon says it gives the quality of a 3 ccd... Any thoughts on this? They run about $1100.00 cheaper online on Amazon though... I need very high quality footage.

Thanks,
JL
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