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Canon XL1S / XL1 Watchdog
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Old July 29th, 2002, 09:44 PM   #16
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Bruce, Jeff, how does the 14x trade off against the new 16x manual with servo zoom? I believe there are issues with the zoom speed of the servo on the 16x; and that there are no servo zoom attachments available for the 14x. But what have your experiences with the 14x been like?
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Ram
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Old July 29th, 2002, 10:08 PM   #17
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I bought the 14X and never bothered with the 16X stock lens. Recently my production company shot a hypnotist act with my Xl1 and 2 XL1s'. Garbage lenses apparently come stock on these cameras. After two years of using the 14X not knowing anything else, indeed I would have to say invest in the 14X lens. The stock lens appeared out of focus and foggy.

Personaly I have not seen the new 16X lens in action, but more than likely it will be better than the stock one.

PS: Ideosync, my band "GLOW" (don't laugh) played at Djinns a couple of years ago did you happen to see me? I was there for three months.

Chow for now- Nori
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Old July 30th, 2002, 12:03 AM   #18
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Nori, hi:
Thanks for the 14x endorsement - I'm trying to decide which one to get right now (14x or 16x manual), so your inputs were really helpful. Someone on one of the other threads was mentioning an external servo zoom type attachment for the 14x...ever used something like that? Or do you just zoom manually with the zoom stick? [Or - horrors! - don't you like using the on-shot zoom at all? :-)]
I'm not laughing! GLOW is a great name :-)
No, I didn't get to see you at Djinns - pity! Tell me when you're here next...
Best,
Ram
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Old July 30th, 2002, 05:54 AM   #19
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The 14x is all manual. It has no zoom servo, no AF, but it does have a manual aperature ring. I have seen external zoom servos for this lens for sale on ebay. I do not recall the Mfg. The price was around $1000, which is pretty steep considering the lens goes for around $700 on ebay. I use a long stick, attached with a large rubber band. The rubber band streches a little. This makes the starts and stops a little smoother. The 16x is a current, production lens. The 14x was replaced by the 16x, but some dealers may still have new ones.

Jeff
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Old July 31st, 2002, 12:12 AM   #20
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Jeff, thanks:
On another thread, Ken Tanaka suggested that the Varizoom controller that Chris Hurd suggests on his must-have-accessories list might be usable with the 16x manual with servo zoom - he says it definitely works smoothly with the 16x standard lens that comes with the XL1S.
Any info on that? Know anyone who has used a Varizoom (or similar) controller with the 16x manual with servo zoom?
Best,
Ram
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Old July 31st, 2002, 03:25 AM   #21
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I'm just curious: I had a friend tell me that he'd worked the zoom ring on his camcorder manually. I do not understand this. I know I don't have the steadiest hand ever, but I just don't see how anyone could work the zoom ring (16x manual lens, Canon XL1s) manually and get good results. There's no resistence or anything. . .you'd have to be like . . .God or something. I mean for snap zooms, sure. But for a slow creep zoom no way.
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Old July 31st, 2002, 06:54 AM   #22
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Josh, I know exactly what you mean! :-)
Wish all of us were blessed with hands like the Rock of Ages...
But having said that -
1. I have seen a few cam operators and focus pullers who have REALLY steady hands - and I mean REALLY. I know the lenses we're talking here have next to no friction/resistance when turning, but...I've met an operator who could tape a pencil to the matte box on his Arri and write names on a sheet of paper by operating the wheels on a geared head.
2. A long time ago, the Hungarian filmmaker Istvan Gaal - who was a cameraman before he started directing - showed me a manual technique for the slow zoom which required huge dexterity and control - but gosh, was it smooth! Basically, he used his thumb and pointing finger to grip the lens barrel, and the wrist and middle finger to turn the zoom ring. What this did was to create an artificial resistance, which controlled the zoom rate. (I never did get it right, but I'm still hoping!)
I haven't used the 16x or 14 x manual for the XL1S, though - how free/frictionless are the zoom rings?
Best,
Ram
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Old July 31st, 2002, 07:47 AM   #23
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The 14x is not very loose. But because of the location of the housing on the side, it is difficult to adapt to a focus rod. Chris, I think, posted he uses a pen put over the small zoom lever. I adapt a rod using rubber bands. It takes experimentation to get what works best for you. The hard part for me is the starts, they tend to be too abrupt. So, I set up the shot with the intent to edit out the first second. Zooms are then nice and smooth in the edit.

Jeff
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Old July 31st, 2002, 11:37 AM   #24
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Ram:

Yup, you're right, it takes a tremendously steady hand and practice to manage a beautifully feathered manual zoom. Actually I would feel more comfortable performing the geared head maneuver you describe! The nice thing with geared heads is that they require a larger motion of the hand to achieve a small effect--making a continuous slow pan in first gear is a less delicate procedure than the same move on a fluid head, where one's breathing can show up in the final frame.

As for writing names or performing flawless figure 8's, I used to joke with a DP that we should design a shot that requires the camera to move exactly in a figure 8 pattern so I could put my hours of practice to the test! Once you've gotten the basic skill down, that sort of thing is actually pretty easy and becomes automatic, sort of like touch-typing. In my first few months of geared head practice I mounted a laser pointer to the top and sat around tracing everything in my office, including show cards printed with lettering (script is a lot more fun than print!).

And the fun side result is that you become killer at the Etch-a-Sketch. Boy, can I make circles on that thing! Very impressive with the nieces and nephews (for a few minutes, at least).
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Old July 31st, 2002, 12:51 PM   #25
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Charles: Wish my directors would settle for a great diagonal line on the Etch-a-sketch! :-) (Would make life a whole lot easier!)
But, seriously, you're absolutely correct - a lot of the manual operation and lenswork boils down to just plain hours of practice. It took me a long while to get the trick of operating iris ring and focus ring simultaneously and precisely - I work a lot on docs, and end up working the entire shebang myself - but it's quite automatic now.
Jeff: Given the same docs issue, I often have no idea what the shot is going to be like, especially during the interviews. I usually work out the pattern of questions and the key points with the director beforehand, so that I know where I may start to go close...but it's pretty much on the interviewer to get it right. Sometimes something pretty important starts happening when you least expect it - and then I can't plan to edit the first few seconds out.
I can see you planning the zoom on a setup shot for drama, but have you ever done it on a doc?
Best,
Ram
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Old July 31st, 2002, 02:44 PM   #26
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I always try to plan ahead and pre-visualize, but you never know what might hapen next. I always shoot lots of cut aways when I do a doc, and I mean lots. They have saved my butt in editing many a time. I also own the 16x, XL1 lens (white) and use it in some situations. But it has its own set of faults, AF can seem to drift, Manual zoom and focus are not true manual, but servo controlled. If good video was easy, everyone would do it.

Jeff
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Old July 31st, 2002, 11:48 PM   #27
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Jeff:
<<I always try to plan ahead and pre-visualize, but you never know what might hapen next.>>

Amen to that! I love taking lots of preparatory time on docs, but that's a two-way street - I expect the directors/interviewers to have done theirs as well, and that's often a forlorn hope. I'm sure there are a lot of camerapersons out there who've had to take on the entire job of visualizing the sequence just because no one else has (and curiously, that's happened to me a lot on dramatic productions as well!)
This is not to take away from the few directors whom it's been a pleasure to work with: Their genuine and intelligent inputs, as well as their knowledge of camerawork has made my job both easier and worthwhile on the projects we've done.

<<I always shoot lots of cut aways when I do a doc, and I mean lots. They have saved my butt in editing many a time.>>

Brother, did you get that right! :-)

<<If good video was easy, everyone would do it.>>

Just what I was telling some guys who were beginning to feel their professional status was in question with the advent of low cost digital equipment that was affordable to every Tom, Dick and Harry: Just because the equipment is accessible doesn't mean everyone can make a good film. Having a word processor or a good pen is no guarantee that you can write a great novel :-)

Best,
Ram
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Old August 1st, 2002, 12:45 AM   #28
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When I was talking (or writing) about all the preplanning, I keep thinking in terms of my so called actors who complain and want to leave. I'd much rather get everything down pat so that I can shoot and and send them on their merry way, rather than getting to the location early and being like ". . .hmm let's move the camera here and aim upward, and you stand next to him, no a little right, no back a little, no forward. . ."

And by the way, what are these "geared heads" you speak of? For I am but a humble caveman, and know no greater technology than coupled charge devices and servo mechanisms.
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Old August 1st, 2002, 06:11 AM   #29
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Josh:
Not to worry, not many people beyond the Hollywood folks get to used geared heads on their tripods anyway! :-)
Actually there are three types of tripod heads:
If you've been working with made-for-video tripods for medium size cameras, you've probably used the FLUID HEAD. The fluid head uses adjustable hydraulic resistance within the rounded head portion to create the smooth panning and tilting movements. [Unfortunately, they're also extremely good at passing on those arm-muscle tremblings that one gets at the end of a long day! :-)]
GEARED HEADS (generally used for motion picture 35 mm and 65 mm cameras) use mechanical gear-based innards to achieve the panning/tilting: Kind of like the worm-gear car jacks one used to get. The head is tilted/panned by way of two wheels placed at right angles on the tripod head: Turning the wheels together gives a diagonal movement. It takes some time to master, but gives extremely fine and precise movement when operated correctly. Since the gear wheels act as a sort of cut-out between the operator's hands and the camera, shake is virtually nonexistent, making this THE professional head of choice. They also cost an arm and a leg. :-)
The worst one by far (IMHO) is the friction head. This one uses surface friction (head to tripod socket) to generate the resistance required for smooth movement; but it wears out quite rapidly in my experience, and never gives you quite the panning/tilting you want.
Hope this helps...
Ram
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Old August 1st, 2002, 12:09 PM   #30
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Thanks.
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