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Canon XF-305 Assistance needed

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Peter Groom
Canon XF-305 Assistance needed
on Jun 13, 2014 at 1:33:07 pm

Hi - Im new on this board, but am hoping someone can help me with a problem I have with my Canon XF-305 camera.

Basically Im losing faith with it rapidly.
Im finding that in anything other than brightly lit environments, Im getting a LOT more grain in my picture than I can accept. I also have an older Sony EX1 that in the same lighting conditions not only beats the XF305, but hits it out of the park. I know there are sensore size differences but the difference is immense!

Im hoping someone who has an XF305 can point me towards a setting I have all wrong, or else it will have to go. The results are just too poor.
Im shooting at 1920x1080i 25fps, 35mbps.
I cant beliebe that it really is just this poor, as its BBC approved. I feel there MUST be something Im doing wrong.
Any help would be much appreciated.
Peter

Post Production Dubbing Mixer


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Al Bergstein
Re: Canon XF-305 Assistance needed
on Jun 14, 2014 at 1:38:32 pm

Hi Peter, welcome to the Cow. I also have the 305 and it is not the greatest camera for low light situations. That being said, since I don't know the specifics of how low the light is that you are shooting in, it's hard to know what's happening. I accept your statement that the EX1 in the same light is far less grainy, as I have had to boost gain quite a bit to get acceptable images when in low light. It got so bad that I moved most of my work that is not able to be lit to shooting with the C100, where there is never an issue with gain affecting standard lower light situations.

I assume you are required to shoot in i rather than p for broadcast workflow? Could you shoot P and render to i? A few issues, I've found that 720p opens up an extra stop.

The issue of whether the xf305 is BBC approved only means that they have approved it for newsgathering work. When lit properly, even a shadowy area lit with a Lightpanel for example, it gives wonderful results. But I try to stay away from dimly lit situations. The small sensors just don't have the oomph.

There are a number of Youtube and Vimeo videos that came out when it was released by folks who were partial to Sony, did show that there was a small difference, but I never saw anything that made me question my choice at that time. Can you post some examples when you have a chance?

Al


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Peter Groom
Re: Canon XF-305 Assistance needed
on Jun 14, 2014 at 7:02:17 pm

HI Al
Thanks for the welcome. 1st time on this cow section but long time contributor on the Audio professionals one.

Im amazed that, my opinion combined with your comments about the canon xf305 lead me to belive that it is just truly pants in anything other than bright light conditions, - which is great but not reality.
Im trying to upload a grab from some pics recentlt shot with it but the cow upload function leaves a lot to be desired too!
The shot from front is the xf305 with all its graininess to see, and the shot from the back (same location different angle) is off a WAAAY cheaper Sony NX5 !! lookiing much better!

I am so surprised and un impressed.
Are there no settings i can be playing with like




"turn off six inches of grain" menu?
Peter

Post Production Dubbing Mixer


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Al Bergstein
Re: Canon XF-305 Assistance needed
on Jun 14, 2014 at 8:02:02 pm

Thanks for posting the photos. What was your settings on the XF305 for that side shot? What shutter speed? How much gain? I think you said it was shot at 25 and 1080i. Can you do some tests at 25p? Progressive is the native setup on this camera. I wouldn't even start with interlaced, unless this was for broadcast workflow, which it seems to not be.

One thing that jumps out at me is that the 305 was shooting into the shadow (sun coming from left upper and the NX5 was having the benefit of light over the shoulder, so it was better lit. But the chapel looks pretty dim. This is likely one of the not great situations for this camera. There's a couple of things I might do in a similar situation.

1. Might see if I can boost the lighting a small amount. Scouting the venue in advance might allow you to run in even something as small as a 1x1 light panel, or Sola spot and light up the couple from behind and to the right (or behind you and above) of where you are shooting. This light could be as far away as the aisle, but it can boost the front unlit faces enough to make any camera shine. I would talk to the couple and the minister about having a small light that can really make their video memories look much better, without blinding anyone.

2. Since you are not shooting for broadcast, I might switch to 720. On both cameras this will give you more latitude. Tests available to watch on either Youtube or Vimeo (I can't remember which) show a dramatic improvement in low light situations by shifting to 720p in these situations.

3. Ultimately, if I *had* to shoot weddings in low light churches, I'd probably look at moving to a C100. The much larger sensor will be dramatically better in low light, over the Sony or the Canon xf305.

This video I shot of writer Cheryl Strayed was shot with the 305, after I tried to shoot it with a Canon 7D and it was terrible. I ran back to the van and got my 305 and was able to pull this. It was lit very lowly with stage lights from above. A bit better than your situation, but not by much.



Hope this helps.

Al


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Peter Groom
Re: Canon XF-305 Assistance needed
on Jun 14, 2014 at 8:24:52 pm

HI again
Thanks for your info.
Yes the space was a little dim (although not significant) and yes the nx5 angle benefits from light helping it, but I do wonder why a camera of this cost suffers so badly.
Its almost like i have a setting in the worng place.
I dont really feel i should have to go to 720p to suit the camera. The camera is supposed to work for me!
Ill give a few changes a try but do feel that Im losing faith with it. I like its sizem feel, lens etc, but if it cant cut it!
Peter

Post Production Dubbing Mixer


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Al Bergstein
Re: Canon XF-305 Assistance needed
on Jun 14, 2014 at 9:55:43 pm
Last Edited By Al Bergstein on Jun 15, 2014 at 12:57:15 am

Well, I'm not ruling out that you may have some settings wrong. As mentioned, I'd switch to 1080p first and see how that changes things. That's a minor change that you can test well in advance. Then do a series of step tests with a gray card and see where the grain starts showing up. I've also got my camera out and would wonder what shutter speed you have it set at. There is a huge difference between the low light capability of 180 degrees and 1/30 for example. I also tried it with -6, -12 and -18 db which also bring a great deal of more light in, and I didn't see huge noticeable gain.

I just did a cursory search of Canon XF-305 Low Light Vimeo and found a bunch of stuff shot with people with the 305 in low light situations, churches, etc. This one in particular might be of interest to you.
especially starting around 1:20.

Anyway. Good luck on this! I think the camera can do better, but ultimately for shooting in dimly lit churches without additional light I'd likely look at the C100.

Al


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Peter Groom
Re: Canon XF-305 Assistance needed
on Jun 15, 2014 at 11:58:00 am

HI Al
1 question as i have no real understanding of shutters speds etc.
what shutter sppeds and angle should i have it on to maximise light coming into the sensor.
Peter

Post Production Dubbing Mixer


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Al Bergstein
Re: Canon XF-305 Assistance needed
on Jun 15, 2014 at 2:15:40 pm
Last Edited By Al Bergstein on Jun 15, 2014 at 2:16:40 pm

The choices have to be made by you. But you can do a real easy test. The shutter speed switch is on the left side, clearly marked. I simply aimed my camera at a darkened part of my living room, and switched through the choices. You will see things lighten up considerably, especially at (since you are on EU/UK settings) choices other than 180 degrees. remember that usually the shutter should be set to twice the fps (i.e. 25 would mean a shutter speed of 48 sometimes rounded to 50, which I believe is where it is if you select "OFF"). Why? Because of the standards of film cameras. To get clean motion they had to abandon the original, which was 18 fps (the old silent films like Chaplin used that). When sound (and better mechanisms) came in they boosted the speed of the shutter and it cleaned up the motion. The 180 degree shutter is meant to simulate the way the older shutter worked, and is more likely to help get that *film look* that we are so in love with. But today, slower shutters on a video camera also mean blurring of motion. You can choose a shutter speed by cycling through that is 1/2 your FPS, which in my case, at 30fps, shows 1/15th of a second. 24fps can be set to 1/12th. Remember that this might not work where your subject is moving. I would do tests to find the right choices. Maybe someone else on this thread can help explain in greater detail. But the simple story is that when I went to film/photography school, (a long time ago) our instructors had us do the tests to learn it ourselves. It still is the best way. Testing your equipment will help you be more comfortable under pressure. Good luck.

Al


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Peter Groom
Re: Canon XF-305 Assistance needed
on Jun 15, 2014 at 7:29:19 pm

HI Al
Thanks for such a comprehensive reply.
Ill need to absorb, research and play around the pointers you have given me.
Many Thanks
Peter

Post Production Dubbing Mixer


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Peter Groom
Re: Canon XF-305 Assistance needed
on Jun 16, 2014 at 7:13:26 am

Hi again
The shutter was (Im pleased to say) set to off. Id have been very surprised if it was on as I already said I have little understanding of shutters.
Putting it on and scrolling through the options didnt give any addeed luminance on the viewfinder.
Peter

Post Production Dubbing Mixer


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Al Bergstein
Re: Canon XF-305 Assistance needed
on Jun 17, 2014 at 10:23:05 pm

So by changing the shutter and testing various shutter speeds, you will see changes in the light getting to the LCD or viewfinder. Changing the shutter speeds will change your exposure because it lets in more light. You might want to just run through a series of quick tests to see how the same scene is affected by simply changing the shutter speeds.

After that. I would create a series of quick tests with gain. Put the shutter in one setting (say 50 or 60) and change the various gain settings. You will find the limit of what is acceptable to you in gain. For example, if you were shooting on automatic exposure in the church, you might have had the gain boosted by the camera to an unacceptable level. It might still mean that you had to shoot at that level to get a decent exposure, but you will at least know where your 'break point' is.

Al


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Peter Groom
Re: Canon XF-305 Assistance needed
on Jun 18, 2014 at 3:45:12 pm

HI al
I think my problems all stemmed from the use of the autogain switch which seems to ramp the gain up past 20db and creates a lot of noise.
Peter

Post Production Dubbing Mixer


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Todd Terry
Re: Canon XF-305 Assistance needed
on Jun 18, 2014 at 3:49:14 pm

That would explain it... I knew you had auto something on because you said changing your shutter speed caused no difference in your exposure levels... which is technically an impossibility (unless you are shooting in some sort of auto mode).

The best shooters (me included, although I'm not labeling myself "best") will always shoot fully manual... no auto anything. No auto iris, gain, shutter, or focus. That's really the only way to be fully in control of the end images you get.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Al Bergstein
Re: Canon XF-305 Assistance needed
on Jun 19, 2014 at 3:46:32 am

Totally agree with Terry. Always shoot manual. If you want to do professional work, you gotta master the basics. But I'm thrilled that the mystery is solved. It's so hard not being able to see the camera and it's settings in front of me. We likely would have solved in in 5 minutes! Good luck with the XF305. I'm, sure you love it.

Al


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