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Terrible XH-A1 low, medium, upper-mid light performance? Or, am I using it wrong?

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Todd Roush
Terrible XH-A1 low, medium, upper-mid light performance? Or, am I using it wrong?
on Jun 25, 2008 at 8:33:11 am

Hi All,

I'm a spoiled DVX user coming to an XH-A1 which I just fought for 8 hours trying to get rid of some pretty shocking video noise.

Now, I must admit that I just got the camera and may have falsely assumed that I could just flip it into Auto mode and ride the exposure like I'm used to but clearly this ain't happening on this camera. Shutter was at 1/60 (auto) and even down around F4.0 there was some pretty bad grain. Afraid to go to 1/30 because I was shooting dance.

Is this indicative of the camera's low light performance? Do I need to trick this camera into good low light performance?

POSSIBILITY:
This camera offers such high gain that in auto mode it shoots right up to +36 leaving the image ultra noisy?

Thanks to any and all for your help. Frankly, this camera has a lot more buttons than I am used to so I'm certain I have some learning to do.

I'm sure I need to learn more. I'm sincerely hoping that I am blowing it because I can maybe get away with this grain with half my low end customers.

Thanks in advance one and all for any advice.

Superfly

Todd Roush
Dreamscape Digital Media
Panny DVX-100's but changing so Sony or Cannon HDV soon.


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Martin Gleeson
Re: Terrible XH-A1 low, medium, upper-mid light performance? Or, am I using it wrong?
on Jun 25, 2008 at 4:00:25 pm

Hi Todd,

I would strongly advise against using auto-gain with this camera. You are correct, that when auto-gain is set, it will set the gain as high as it thinks it needs. This introduces terrible grain and noise to the picture.

I would switch off auto-gain and set the H-M-L gain buttons to

L = +0db gain
M = +3db gain
H = +6db gain.

Even at +6db there will be grain. The next setting up (+12db) introduces a lot of grain). For +6db I have a smooth filter switched to low. Yes, it blurs the picture slightly, but it removes the grain too.

The camera will never be as good as your old on in low light.

Martin




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Donald Berube
Re: Terrible XH-A1 low, medium, upper-mid light performance? Or, am I using it wrong?
on Jun 30, 2008 at 11:32:30 am

Create a CUSTOM PRESET using the CUSTOMIZE menu and inside the Custom Preset, set BLACKS to STRETCH, CORING to +9, NOISE REDUCTION 1 to "0ff" and NOISE REDUCTION 2 to "High". Activate the particular Custom preset which you just created with the Custom Preset On/Off and Select buttons on the exterior of the camera. Also, set AGC to OFF and use +6 Gain (possibly +12). Try using AV MODE and set the IRIS wide open. If it's Dance on a stage, try using SPOTLIGHT MODE.

Hope this info helps,

- Don
http://noisybrain.com
http://www.bosfcpug.org



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William Busby
Re: Terrible XH-A1 low, medium, upper-mid light performance? Or, am I using it wrong?
on Jul 1, 2008 at 10:23:33 pm

I'm not sure much of this is sound advice, Don. Coring at +9? That's like applying the skin detail feature to the whole frame. This alone will make things look like plastic... especially skin tones, but if that's the look one is after, then so be it :) And NR2 on high? I think just with these 2 combinations alone aren't going to make anything "better" than what it could be. And wait until this is encoded for DVD. I doubt there are many if any compressors out there that for the most part would make certain scenes with these settings look even more like mud.

Just my penny's worth.



By the way... I'm loving this (I'm sure temporary) no annoying banner ads right now. Everything is zippy! :)


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Donald Berube
Re: Terrible XH-A1 low, medium, upper-mid light performance? Or, am I using it wrong?
on Jul 2, 2008 at 12:35:21 am

>>>>>>>Coring at +9? That's like applying the skin detail feature to the whole frame. This alone will make things look like plastic... especially skin tones

-- You are incorrect. The Coring circuit in the XH camcorder will remove a subtle amount of noise from full-field colors without adversely affecting fine picture detail.

>>>>>>>And NR2 on high? I think just with these 2 combinations alone aren't going to make anything "better" than what it could be. And wait until this is encoded for DVD. I doubt there are many if any compressors out there that for the most part would make certain scenes with these settings look even more like mud

-- Noise Reduction 2 (NR2) does indeed work at removing noise from the entire image - useful when you are maxing out the camera with higher video gain levels under low lighting conditions. Be aware that you should only use it when you need to remove noise... as it does slightly dull down the image detail when NR2 is set to a higher level... Do you need to remove grain/ noise or maintain the highest level of detail? You may not have both at the same time... Basically, it's your call whether it works for you.

William, my suggestions were based on actual user experience. I'd agree that a software compressor could possibly have the effect of decreasing the detail in the image which has already been slightly dulled down by noise reduction,,, but it is not as bad as you make it out to be.

Again, my suggestion is to try it and see if it works in your application/ situation.

Thanks for your comments, they are sincerely appreciated.

Take care,

- Don
http://noisybrain.com
http://www.bosfcpug.org



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Todd Roush
Re: Terrible XH-A1 low, medium, upper-mid light performance? Or, am I using it wrong?
on Jul 8, 2008 at 5:43:14 am

Thanks Guys!

I am just starting to get a handle on this camera. I've been a little spoiled and some might consider "dumbed down" using Panasonic and Sony cameras that do a lot of this for you quite well.

It looks like if I am to use A1 cameras I am going to have to learn some REAL camera skills which may be bad at first but will hopefully end well.

Shot an Indian wedding this weekend and I am relatively pleased with the results with +6 db gain (lowish light for a wedding), 30 shutter speeed and iris wide open.

I will begin experimenting with the coring, etc. (which I have heard suggested by others so Don must be onto something).

Huge professional theatre festivals coming up so I will hone skills quickly.

Best,

Todd

Todd Roush
Dreamscape Digital Media
Panny DVX-100's but changing so Sony or Cannon HDV soon.


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stuart cohen
Re: Terrible XH-A1 low, medium, upper-mid light performance? Or, am I using it wrong?
on Aug 16, 2008 at 9:11:33 am

Hi Todd,

The XHA1 is fantastic in low light..i have that camera and an HVX200 and I must say if I am shooting with low light...its the canon everytime I will bring to the party.

Basically...turn your AGC switch to off, then set the switch to Low 'L'.

Done....you can go out at night and shoot under a street light light and you will hardly see any grain in the dark of the street in the bachground. All this means though though it you will need a bit more light depending on what your desired effect is. I have filmed a dance performance on stage..and its the perfect setting for me. Nice smooth looking shots. I would say you would need a camera light if you are doing a wedding video as some wedings turn to turn off their house lights during the dancing and let whoever is doing the music use their own, which sometimes arent bright enough. In some cirmustances I have set it to medium 'M'as if its someone videos...its best to see something thats a tiny bit grainy than it being too dark to see whats there.

Hopes that helped.



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