Using Easy Mode as a baseline to adjust settings at
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Canon XL and GL Series DV Camcorders
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Old May 19th, 2006, 02:18 PM   #1
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Using Easy Mode as a baseline to adjust settings

I spoke with a Canon tech support moments ago about focus issues (possible back focus) I've been having with my XL2 20x (that's another issue).

But during the conversation, he suggested that I put the camera in Easy Mode, (put the lens in Manual), note all of the settings the camera chooses, then put it in Manual, using all of those settings as the starting point, and then tweak the settings accordingly.

Anyone ever try this?

BTW, I'm far from being able to run my camera in Manual as most have suggested. I've got a lot to learn and not a heck of a lot of time to learn, with some big interviews coming up and I can't afford to make mistakes trying to do more than my abilities will allow.

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Old May 19th, 2006, 07:45 PM   #2
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Hi Charles. Using Easy mode like this sounds to me like a lot of work, because of the amount of switching back and forward between modes. The XL2 actually offers an easier way to get the initial exposure and tweak it to what you want.

For example, let's say you want to use 24p to get the particular effect this provides. (Whether to use 24p or another frame rate is a decision you will always have to make anyway, because Easy Mode doesn't cover it.)

The default shutter for 24p is 1/48s, so if you select the Tv mode you can set the shutter to this and just leave it there (nearly always). The camera will now adjust the aperture automatically based on the average image brightness. For my taste, this usually gives a fairly hot exposure, so I routinely set the AE compensation dial to around -0.75. For many shots, I don't need to change anything after this, although I would usually press exposure lock before shooting so that it doesn't keep auto-adjusting during the shot.

Sometimes though, if I see too much zebra showing in the EVF, I will reduce the exposure by pressing exposure lock and tweaking the aperture. After the shot is over, I just release the exposure lock and the camera will take over again.

There are a couple of points to look out for though, because lighting conditions can vary so much. First is that the auto-exposure is an average setting for the frame, and if you have a scene that is supposed to be mostly dark (or bright), the camera will make it too bright (or dark). You need to be aware of this and compensate as necessary using exposure lock and iris control. (EVF calibration is important for this, so you might want to do a search for related threads.)

The other point is that when there is lots of light, the auto-exposure will try to close the aperture down to very small values, like F16 or F22. The camera lens does not give good results at small apertures, so you need to switch in the Neutral Density filters under bright lighting conditions, in order to keep the aperture wider.

The above should allow you to get good exposure with the XL2, but please note that it is not at all comprehensive. For example, I purposely did not mention depth of field, because I think that is best explored after you are comfortable with the camera and are getting the exposure results you want.

Another thing is that the custom presets on the XL2 allow you to adjust the response of the camera to different lighting conditions, and this will of course have an impact on the exposure settings too. You can play around with these settings, but if you find them confusing you can download settings from other users as a starting point for a particular look.

I also did not mention focussing, because you appear to be having some lens problem that needs to be settled first (although I suspect you might be seeing a soft image due to diffraction, because you did not use the ND filters in bright lighting - just a wild guess).

I would recommend that you go out and do a lot of test shots, and see what works and what doesn't. Also, if you are going to be doing interviews, you should also look into lighting, because the camera can't do everything, no matter how good you can get the settings!

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