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Canon XL1S / XL1 Watchdog
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Old February 6th, 2003, 01:50 PM   #1
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I got my Canon XL1 camera today

I noticed that the Canon XL1 does not do too well in low light conditions. I had the iris all the way open and the ND filter off with the white balance set on the netrual position, but the person I was taping still seemed a bit orange. Is this normal?

Also, can someone explain what the A/E feature is about?

Is there a way to stop the annoying time and date to not pop up on the viewer? The time and date does it put it on the DV tape while you record? I hope not, that is soo tacky!

I'm sure I will have more questions to ask later...so please be patience with my ameuter questions.

Thanks!

P.s. I think the should pad thing is useless...My arms get tired after holding it for a while.
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Old February 6th, 2003, 02:13 PM   #2
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Hi Adam,

Congratulations on your new camera and thanks for posting your first observations. Most people who do a lot of shoulder work purchase either the MA-100 or MA-200 The MA-200 also allows for 4 channels of audio.

To get the most out of your new camera, when you have time, read the manual. If your camera did not come with a manual, you can download one here The search function in the upper right corner is invaluable to quickly finding answers to many of your questions.

The scene being amber or orange in coloration is due to White Balance (WB). WB has a limited range in which it will properly correct colors. When the range is exceeded because of insufficient ambient light, correction still takes place. However, the amount of correction is not sufficient to totally correct the color of the scene. Hence the warmer than normal colors.
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Old February 6th, 2003, 03:55 PM   #3
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Wow! Jeff!

Thanks!

So my only best bet to get a more accurate picture is use a light for the camera? I will have to look for one that diffuses well and doesn't blind the subject
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Old February 6th, 2003, 03:59 PM   #4
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Read in your manual about Auto White Balance (AWB) and WB. You may prefer the results of one over the other.
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Old February 7th, 2003, 05:53 AM   #5
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Especially in low-light conditions I would not use auto WB but
set it manually to indoor or outdoor or white balance it under
light.

My experience is that usually the camera operates better in
low-light than you think. I find it hard to judge that in my view-
finder. I usually check in on a TV to be sure (the footage tends
to be a lot brighter than I thought, at least on my camera it works
that way). Try recording with all sort of different settings (and
write these down) and then view the tape on a monitor/TV and
see what looks best!

There is another thread on this subject matter here
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Old February 7th, 2003, 10:12 AM   #6
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Yeah, I agree with Rob: it looks brighter on a monitor than in the EVF.
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Old February 7th, 2003, 01:48 PM   #7
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I found if I aim the lens at a really white source and set the white balance off of that, the darker rooms seem to record better.
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Old February 8th, 2003, 04:09 AM   #8
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That's what I meant by my other suggestion as well....
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Old February 8th, 2003, 10:26 AM   #9
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Another vote for not using the auto white balance unless in a changing environment where you have to. I almost always use either the 18% grey card in my Porta brace bag, or a piece of white art board to set the balance. That prevents the camera from having to guess at the correct setting.
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Old February 8th, 2003, 06:13 PM   #10
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I agree with Rob, the XL1 is not as bad as some people think in low light, as long as you set it up properly,,, just remember the Golden Rule of Digital: Expose for the highlights and everything else will fall into place. It's always better to underexpose slightly so as not to blow out the detail in the white areas of the image. Look in your viewfinder when in Manual Exposure Mode and notice the "Exposure Meter" at the top of the viewfinder. Try exposing your image so that the cursor falls not in the exact middle of the index, but a notch or two to the left of middle. This is where the cursor typically hangs out when I expose an image on my Xl1S. Just focus on exposing for your subject really, while making sure that you do not over-expose on the skin tones. Do try to add some type of light to kick up the level, this will help any camera and if the light is placed properly it can help make the image more dramatic looking, more so than if you do not use any lighting. If you have no lighting kit at all, you can still light your image with what is available in your house. Try using a lamp from the living room, take the lamp shade off and install a 150-watt bulb (make sure it can handle that wattage). Experiment how you can change the look by placing the lamp at different angles to your subject. Not too close to make them squint and look uncomfortable. Try placing the lamp up high somehow, at a 45 degree angle from your camera and in front of your subject and notice how you can create a more "modeled" look on the face - with one side that is well lit with a transition to dark on the other side of the face. Keep the light at the same angle but lower it a bit and see how that changes the direction of the shadows on the face. Best bet is usually not too high to create too much chin and eyebrow shadow and not too low to make your subject look too "spooky" looking...

Here's a good book on "Lighting" which is very well written and easy to understand, I highly recommend you check it out, Ross Lowel's "Matters Of Light And Depth":
http://www.lowel.com/download/lowellbook6_02.pdf

If you need more level in your exposure, turn on FRAME MODE and set the shutter to 1/30 second with the Video Gain set to "0" and open up wide on the iris, somewhere between f1.8-f2.8. That should help.

Do some testing and play the videotape back on a decent monitor in your house and get used to how your camera produces an image - turn on the data code upon playback and you will be able to review what you set your shutter and iris at when you recorded the image. Always log your own tapes after shooting if you can, this will help you immensely.

This should help you to get over the learning curve - and please do let us know if you have any other questions or comments.

Keep in touch,

- don
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Old February 11th, 2003, 04:07 AM   #11
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Also keep in mind that the built in light meter will be way off when
shooting a small lit subject in an otherwise dark environment
(like the moon for example). The light meter will tell you that you
do not have any light at all, while you can definitely see the moon
very good.

Learn your camera!
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Old February 11th, 2003, 09:32 AM   #12
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yes, very true,,, such as if you have a talking head in front of a black background,,, just expose for the face and everything will be fine. Make sure you don't over-expose though, if you see any hot white areas in the person's face, iris down a tad until you see flesh tone in those areas, instead of white.

- don
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