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xl h1 video assist

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paul typaldos
xl h1 video assist
on Nov 3, 2008 at 1:30:18 pm

i am looking for a reliable, reasonably priced and compact video assist for the canon xl h1. i find the EV on the camera to be unreliable. any recommendations? thanks.


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Todd Terry
Re: xl h1 video assist
on Nov 3, 2008 at 7:14:13 pm

Sadly, this is a little bit akin to what most clients what... they want everything 1) Good, 2) Fast, and 3) Cheap. As we usually tell them, you get to pick two out of the three... but can't have them all.

That's going to be the same with this request, where you want something that is 1) reliable, 2) reasonably priced, and 3) compact.

You're probably thinking that the stock H1 finder is no good for critical focusing, and you're right. Unfortunately that is just about par for the course with most any finder on most any HDV or HD camera.

I don't have any specific suggestions for small external monitoring, just note a couple of things to look out for. The problem with most small monitors is that their resolution is only marginally better, if any, than your viewfinder (with is definitely poor, like virtally all the viewfinders on HDV or HD cameras). There are tons of little LCD TTF monitors out there in the 7" neighborhood that SAY they are HD (Panasonic, Marshall, Varizoom, etc.)... but if you look at the specs, they are not... not even close. They will take IN an HD signal, and by that they get to call it an HD monitor, I suppose... but check the specs and you will see that most of them only display about 480 lines or so. So, they aren't nearly good enough if you wish to use a monitor for super-critical focusing.

Hopefully someone will chime in with a more cost effective solution... but the "industry standard" monitors are the little Astros... pretty darn nice picture but probably not what you would call "reasonably priced"... as they start in the $5-6K range and go up. Quite a while back Sanyo was making noise about a 7" TTF screen that displayed a true 1080 lines, and considering that it was destined for things like car-headrest displays I was hoping it would be more affordable... but I haven't seen anything on its release yet.

You might consider the B/W finder that is available for the H1... I've never used it, but heard that it was significantly sharper than the stock color finder. For a while I was trying to figure out how (if at all) to mate an AccuScene viewfinder with the H1. I believe we finally got most of the technical bugs worked out, but in the end you would have a viewfinder that cost twice as much as the camera body and that was hard to justify.

At any rate a good rule of thumb is to never rely soley on the finder for focus when shooting with any flavor of HD camera (especially true if you use a DoF adapter). The tried-n-true way is the old "Hollywood" method... a tape measure. We keep a Stanley "Fat Max" laser tape handy (about $100 at Lowes or Home Depot) and use it for almost all focusing.


Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.

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