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Nice XH A1 with a Big Problem

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Ron Shook
Nice XH A1 with a Big Problem
on Jun 8, 2007 at 9:09:43 pm

Canonites,

Went to the Chicago HD Expo yesterday and wanted to post something that will hopefully get back to Canon.

I'm mighty impressed with the Canon XH A1 handycam type camcorder, except..., the zoom rocker for variable speed zooming is atrociously designed and it would have cost them next to nothing to improve it 200%. With the quite adequate 16 zoom speeds the range of throw on the rocker fore and aft is miniscule making it impossible to ramp to the zoom speed you need without hunting and the counterbalancing springs on the rocker are so soft that just breathing throws off your zoom rate by several speeds. You'd think that they'd know better. The variable zoom is unuseable to anything but setting a static focal length.

Raising the zoom rocker about a 1/4 of an inch or more thus allowing for increasing the rocker throw range by 2 or 3 times and stiffening the counter balance spring(s) would have made for nice variable zoom control at a minimal cost. What were they thinking?

Ron Shook


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Chris Poisson
Re: Nice XH A1 with a Big Problem
on Jun 12, 2007 at 6:32:36 pm

Ron,

Nothing you can do about the springs, but you could use some double stick tape and a couple pieces of carefully trimmed black foamcore to raise the rocker arm.

Personally, this shortcoming doesn't bother me, as I am trying not to zoom too much. We can't use primes with this camera, but we can fake it pretty well if we think about it ahead of time.


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Ron Shook
Re: Nice XH A1 with a Big Problem
on Jun 15, 2007 at 5:47:52 pm

Chris,

[Chris Poisson] "you could use some double stick tape and a couple pieces of carefully trimmed black foamcore to raise the rocker arm."

The reason for raising the rocker arm would be to allow for considerably more play between no/slow zoom and full zoom, not to make the rocker higher. Perhaps some folks have the physical agility and precision to hit one of 16 zoom speeds in the course of rocker play that isn't much more than 1/8th of an inch, but I don't. If the rocker had play that was 3/8 to 1/2 inch with a bit more stiffness, those 16 speeds would be more spread out and easier to address.

There is a workaround to this using the fixed speed and the speed finger wheel together, but it means learning and inculcating a whole new bit of muscle memory, not something I'd prefer to do.

[Chris Poisson] "Personally, this shortcoming doesn't bother me, as I am trying not to zoom too much."

Depends on what you're shooting. For narrative and most documentary thats a fine approach. For interviews and presentations you sometimes need a slow creep and I can live with what the camera gives me for that most of the time. But shooting performance like dance, where you usually can't script your camera moves ahead of time, having a solid, responsive variable speed rocker is essential. the movement of the performance pretty much masks the zooms and you sometimes need to go from full stage to sololist or the reverse with a feathered, quite rapid zoom on occassion. That feathering is impossible to do with this rocker.

Ron Shook


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Chris Poisson
Re: Nice XH A1 with a Big Problem
on Jun 17, 2007 at 6:05:40 pm

Hmm,

Good points, hope you can get used to it.


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Ron Shook
Re: Nice XH A1 with a Big Problem
on Jun 18, 2007 at 5:07:05 pm

Chris,

[Chris Poisson] "hope you can get used to it."

Me too, and thanks for your responses and discussion.

Ron Shook



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ICVideo
Re: Nice XH A1 with a Big Problem
on Jun 20, 2007 at 12:44:07 am

I agree that on the fly zooms are almost impossible. Even with the camera mounted on a tripod it's very difficult to properly step the zoom to produce a desired result. Because of the poorly designed rocker my crew only uses the constant zoom speed with adjustment made as previously mentioned with the speed dial. The best zooms we can produce are using the ZR-2000 to step through the speeds while in constant. The rocker is marginally better on the ZR in variable, but still short of expectations. Canons lenses "priceless". Canon zoom controls "$.50", with change.


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Ron Shook
Re: Nice XH A1 with a Big Problem
on Jun 22, 2007 at 4:43:02 am

Mr. ICVideo

[ICVideo] "Canon zoom controls "$.50", with change."

Not on my 2/3" Canon Broadcast lens. But that's another story isn't it? My Heavens but that ZR2000 (I had to google it) is expensive for not much better performance. Have you tried 3rd party controls like Varizoom for instance?

Anyhow, thanks for the confirmation of my observations. It's not impossible by any stretch of the imagination for a handicam type camcorder to have a very good variable zoom rocker. The best I've ever seen is on the little brother of the Panny DVX-100, the DVX-30 or some such designation. It's almost as good as my broadcast Canon. Canon should be ashamed, IMO.

Ron Shook


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