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Canon XL1S / XL1 Watchdog
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Old January 13th, 2003, 01:56 AM   #1
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Is my XL1S broken or a piece of crap?

I just came back from shooting a bunch of surfing video in Hawaii. I brought my XL1s and my Sony DCR-TRV900 which I normally only use with a water housing..

I noticed that for surfing footage it is next to impossible to use the XL1S with autofocus. I can only use manual which is a hassle. It does not focus correctly while panning or zooming in on the action while my cheaper older trv900 has NO PROBLEM with autofocus in the same situations.

Is this a problem which can be fixed or does Canon just have a shoddy product that I need to sell on Ebay??
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Old January 13th, 2003, 05:53 AM   #2
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What is the focus doing when it isn't focusing correctly? I think you've read the other thread where I suggested to another surfing videographer that they learn to focus manually. If that is not an option in your case, then you may want to consider a different camcorder. But first, a few more details about your difficulties with AF may lead to some suggestions for better camera operation.

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Old January 13th, 2003, 08:06 AM   #3
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The Xl1S is not the best point and click camera, it favors the operator who knows how to use it's controls to maximum effect.
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Old January 13th, 2003, 10:34 AM   #4
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The focus is trying to focus, but it does not lock in correctly while the camera is panning or zooming and takes a few seconds to lock even when you stop...

I do know how to manually focus while shooting but it gets a little old to be doing so all day. When shooting surfing I regularly shoot constantly for eight hours at a time. I use an attached LCD monitor so I don't have to sit with my eye up to the viewfinder and my hand on the lens focusing for such long periods..

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The Xl1S is not the best point and click camera, it favors the operator who knows how to use it's controls to maximum effect.
Understood, but it's a little ridiculous when the arguably "best minidvd cam" can't even lock autofocus on a moving subject but an old Sony 3 chip can.
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Old January 13th, 2003, 12:52 PM   #5
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Auto focus speed can be fast, slow or variable. At the price point of the XL1 you get fast or slow. A menu setting to switch from one speed to another or adjust the AF response curve is not available at the XL1's price point. Some type of work benefits from slower AF, it's not confused by nearby objects as much. Weddings and event type work benefit from slower AF. Sports and other type of work with fast moving subjects usually do better with faster AF systems.

One camera won't fit all needs. If you choose not adapt your shooting style to the camera then audition several of the Sony and Panasonic cameras for faster AF.

Jeff
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Old January 13th, 2003, 08:14 PM   #6
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It is also possible that autofocus is being confused by the water (trying to focus on the water and not the surfer). Another thing, if you are shooting from a tripod be sure the OIS is switched off.
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Old January 14th, 2003, 01:09 AM   #7
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The pros that I know of who shoot surfing here in Hawaii all use manual lenses.

Auto focus would have a hard time on some waves as there aren't enough sharp lines for the camera to zero-in on.

Another thing to consider is that it's bright out here and the action takes place at a long distance. Video cameras have lots of depth of field so it's relatively easy to maintain focus even with the longer focal lengths.

I shoot with an XL1s and the shortcoming is the LCD viewfinder. It takes some getting used to but even then it's not nearly as easy to use as a monochrome viewfinder. Then again, a monochrome viewfinder is blind to white balance problems.

When it comes to focusing, I never turn on the autofocus. It causes too many problems.

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Old January 14th, 2003, 07:10 AM   #8
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If you use good shooting techniques like setting critical focus, you shouldn't have to change focus all the time. I've shot a fair bit of surfing on Australia's Gold Coast and here in Japan and have never used autofocus. I've used both the standard lens and a 70-200L/EF adapter and gotten good results from both (the 70-200 was noticable sharper wiht better colour).
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