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Old May 23rd, 2012, 02:55 PM   #1
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using HD and SD together - question

My supervisor is giving the OK to upgrade to a Canon XH-A1s (coming from an XL2). He wants HD. Our viewers are 50% DVD and 50% web. My question is if we do a 2 camera shoot using the XH-A1 as the main camera and the XL2 for 20% of the wide shots, is this going to look extremely bad cutting back and fourth? He might be willing to buy an older refurbished xh-a1. I have the Magic Bullet instant HD plugin as well.
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Old May 23rd, 2012, 03:40 PM   #2
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Re: using HD and SD together - question

It will show, the reason why is that you have to letterbox the "4:3" xl2 to get a "16:9" aspectratio meaning you will loose resolution, you are better off using the xh-a1 for the wide shot and zoom in with the xl2 for close up shots, then it's doable for dvd, when you render for the internet however it will show more if you would output to 720p. Instant hd would be an option to minimize the difference but you have to take the render times into consideration as well to render to a semi-hd image, it might work as the xl2 can produce pretty sharp images for a sd camera. Buying a second hand xh-a1 would be your best bet.
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Old May 23rd, 2012, 04:15 PM   #3
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Re: using HD and SD together - question

I believe that the XL2 had a full resolution native wide screen mode. No lost pixels like you got on other SD cams in widescreen mode.

Unfortunately, the answer to the question is still "maybe, maybe not." Have you searched the XL2 and XHA1 forums here. Seems to me that this topic was discussed several years ago. That said, the only way to know for sure how well or how poorly it will work for what your company does is to try it. Can you rent an XHA1 for a day and make a trial? That will probably tell you a lot more than we can here.

For DVD video, I think this combination might work pretty well. For web-video. it will depend on the formats and screen resolutions you use.

I think you are correct to plan on using the XL2 for long shots. Back when I got my XHA1 --- gosh, four years ago? --- I was still using some SD cameras in multi-cam wedding and theater shoots. When I shot widescreen SD and mixed it with HDV, the SD footage seemed to have soft focus for the reasons that Noa just mentioned. However, the XL2 will shoot a native full widescreen, so there will be less of that effect than with outher SD cams.

Downrezzed and encoded to DVD, the soft-focus effect was detectable if you knew what to look for, but not obtrusive as long as the SD cams were confined to long shots and there were no jump-cuts between similarly framed HDV.

A second thing to consider is that color is handled differently in HDV than in standard DV. Even so, the XL2 and XHA1 have many adjustable parameters that may allow you to match them relatively closely. There are libraries of presets for the XHA1 line (check that forum) and I'd guess there are probably similar adjustments in the XL2 forum. Try searching there.

Knowing what I know now, I would be inclined to caution in shooting to tape. The problem with HDV is unpredictable drop-outs. The effect of a drop-out is much more serious. Because of the HDV encoding, a drop out can affect one or more GOPs, which means you can lose 15 to 45 frames where a drop-out in SD-DV will only affect a frame or two. If your budget can handle it, I would seriously look into getting tapeless recording units. I've had good luck with the Sony MRC1k (which works better with my XHA1 than with my Sony FX1000), and others here have done well with the the less expensive DataVideo DN60s. For a bit more money, one of the Atomos units might be a good investment. Tapeless units greatly speed up feeding video to the computer, completely avoid dropouts, and you can shoot tape for archival/back-up if you want.
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Old May 23rd, 2012, 04:53 PM   #4
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Re: using HD and SD together - question

You always have the option of shooting the A1s in widescreen SD as a way of matching it better. Experimentation is, as other's said, in order. Then when you finally get rid of the XL2, you can shoot the A1s in HDV to match its replacement.

Having said all that, recognize you are buying into an old format (HDV). Adding cameras later will present a variation on the same problem of matching cameras from different generations of resolution, sensors and codecs. YMMV

Last edited by Les Wilson; May 23rd, 2012 at 07:49 PM.
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Old May 24th, 2012, 01:40 AM   #5
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Re: using HD and SD together - question

Quote:
You always have the option of shooting the A1s in widescreen SD as a way of matching it better
I just looked and the xh-a1 has a SD 4:3 and 16:9 setting so there is enough room to experiment to see what matches best but it will be no HD as his boss requested.

I remember an old article of Barry Green comparing a dvx100 to a xl2 and fx1 and I found it back, the xl2 does not "letterbox" like I thought my old vx2100 did but he descibes it as follows:

"The XL2 shoots 16:9, but it uses a trimmed-down portion of a 4:3 CCD to do it. This means that in sheer terms of CCD real estate, the XL2 uses the same amount of CCD space as the DVX does, although the XL2 has more pixels packed into that amount of space, which lets it deliver full native resolution (the DVX gets 16:9 by electronically “stretching” its image to become widescreen, at lower resolution). The FX1 has CCD’s that are actually shaped 16:9, so it uses the full surface of its chip to produce 16:9 footage."

His findings where also that downrezzed to dvd the xl2 produced a sharper image then the fx1 but when viewed in full resolution then the FX1 would obviously outperform the xl2, meaning when outputting 720 or 1080p for the web the HD camera will show more detail.
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Old May 24th, 2012, 07:55 AM   #6
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Re: using HD and SD together - question

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Originally Posted by Pat Engh View Post
Our viewers are 50% DVD and 50% web..
Remember DVD's are Standard Def.
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Old May 24th, 2012, 08:04 AM   #7
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Re: using HD and SD together - question

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Originally Posted by Les Wilson View Post
Having said all that, recognize you are buying into an old format (HDV). Adding cameras later will......YMMV
Thanks for everybody's input. So, I guess i should have done a bit more research before starting a thread. The boss actually approved to get 2 cameras now. I'm wondering now which camera to buy... might as well make a new thread. Thanks for all the information.
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Old May 24th, 2012, 01:35 PM   #8
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Re: using HD and SD together - question

I'd like to stick up for the A1, HDV and tape here. Sure HDV has been surpassed but not at the same price point in my view (I don't think AVCHD is better) and the A1 can shoot excellent footage as the lens is good and the parameters are all controllable, plus the enormous range of presets is very good (and you can match the XL2 before shooting using the correct preset). I have hardly ever had a problem with tape drop outs.

I would forget about the A1 in SD mode though - the XL2 is actually quite a lot better in SD than the A1 (and I did lots of tests comparing the two).

As for mixing the two for DVD, I think it will work fine as a) the A1 is essentially the HD version of the XL2 and b) once downconverted to SD for DVD, the difference is not very noticeable, and yes I made a film doing just this (actually with the XM2 which is the PAL version I think).
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Old May 24th, 2012, 02:55 PM   #9
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Re: using HD and SD together - question

"I'd like to stick up for the A1, HDV and tape here. Sure HDV has been surpassed but not at the same price point in my view (I don't think AVCHD is better) . . ."

Agreed, except for the tape. I still use my XHa1 a lot. I mostly shoot multicam with a mix of HDV and AVCHD and, on a 1920 x 1080i timeline, I can't see any difference in resolution. (Some folks think that the specs for AVCHD and HDV mean that AVCHD has higher resolution but they only mean that the formats use different pixel shapes. It all looks the same on an HD timeline once it is on the computer).

However, for me, tape became problematic. Even after having my camera reconditioned by Canon, I still get random drop-outs on tape. This has been true of all but one of my HDV cams. Tapeless recording units fixed that issue for me and extended the useful life of my XHA1. The recording unit can affect the balance so as to make handheld shooting awkward, but this is no problem for me as I almost always use the cam on a tripod.

"I would forget about the A1 in SD mode though - the XL2 is actually quite a lot better in SD than the A1 (and I did lots of tests comparing the two)."

I second this, too. While I never had XL2 footage to compare, I did a fair amount of mixing with other SD cams (such as the VX2000 that Noa mentioned). When mixing down to DVD, I got much better results shooting the XHA1 in HD mode rather than in widescreen SD.

In light of Pat's having the budget to buy two new cameras, this all may be academic. Maybe not, though. The newer cams are all AVCHD, but that can be a pretty big load on older computer systems. AVCHD may require a system upgrade and possibly software upgrades, as well. Or, using an intermediate converter product like GoPro Studio (formerly known as Cineform NeoScene).
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Old May 24th, 2012, 05:17 PM   #10
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Re: using HD and SD together - question

I used an XL1s for football highlights two years and loved it. Then I went to an A1 to get to HDV and then I upgraded to a better camera when I went solid state. If you like the banana design and VF of the XL body, none of the handycams you are looking at will give you the nice semi-shoulder mount ergonomics you are used to for handheld shooting. The XH-A1 is not the "HD version of the XL2". If anything the XL-H1 is the "HD" version of the XL2 and the A1 is just the Handycam version of the H1.

I think you'll find the 10x zoom of the XF100 anemic for sports. In your price range for new HD, the Panasonic AC-130 which is currently on sale at a little over $3000 is a thoroughly modern solid state camera that you may find has features you want. Just remember there is no "best" camera... each one compromises something .... just get the one that's best for you.
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Old May 24th, 2012, 06:38 PM   #11
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Re: using HD and SD together - question

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Originally Posted by Les Wilson View Post
The XH-A1 is not the "HD version of the XL2". If anything the XL-H1 is the "HD" version of the XL2 and the A1 is just the Handycam version of the H1.
Well I guess that's right, but I'm not sure about handycam - the H1 doesn't shoot better pictures than the A1, does it?
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Old May 24th, 2012, 09:34 PM   #12
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Re: using HD and SD together - question

Semi-shoulder mount is a form factor aka it has a forward VF and the body is designed to rest on the shoulder front. "Handycam" is a form factor aka it sits on the end of your hand with a flip out screen on the side and a rear VF. The H1 is a semi-shoulder mount form factor. The A1 is a Handycam form factor.

Form factor doesn't imply better or worse IQ. The A1 supposedly has the same sensor and processor guts as the H1.
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Old May 25th, 2012, 02:53 AM   #13
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Re: using HD and SD together - question

Yes of course you are correct Les, showing my ignorance here. I suppose it is s a bit odd that a small cam like the HV40 is also called a handycam sometimes and is less than half the size of the A1. And for the record I was thinking of the XM2 (GL2) rather than XL-2 in my earlier post which are actually quite different cameras and the A1 and XM2 are strongly related. Apologies for the error.
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Old May 25th, 2012, 07:47 AM   #14
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Re: using HD and SD together - question

Geoffry... I'll not cast the first stone.... I have my share of goofs. Yes, the Handycam origins were from the small consumer Sonys of that name and it stuck to represent the whole class of cameras that weren't proper "Professional" shoulder mounted camcorders. Today there's quite a range from the small one you note to huge like the XF300.

Only when I upgraded to the XL1s from a Sony Handycam, did I appreciate the large difference in ergonomics that the "Pros" were talking about. I did however grow weary of the size and weight. Moving back the A1 Handycam, it became clear once again what the "pros" were saying about how awful it is to shoot handheld with them. Since the XL form factor was all the OP had known, I wanted to render the issue explicit that it's a downgrade in that respect.
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Old May 25th, 2012, 01:54 PM   #15
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Re: using HD and SD together - question

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Originally Posted by Les Wilson View Post
Moving back the A1 Handycam, it became clear once again what the "pros" were saying about how awful it is to shoot handheld with them.
Well that is very good point - I hardly ever use the A1 handheld as it gets tiring very quickly. In that sense, Handycam it is not, nor as Les says, shoulder mount, so yes, the OP might want to think about that. When I bought it I made the naive error of falling for a 'deal' on an overpriced and generally useless shoulder strap / mount thing that I have never since used, so beware there too! But as I mainly use a tripod anyway it is not really an issue for me and that is where the camera comes into its own.
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