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Old October 26th, 2003, 02:53 AM   #1
Barry Wan Kenobi
 
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mini35 on PD150 & DVX100

Hey Mizell,

I'm curious about the performance of the mini35 on the fixed-lens cameras, the PD150 and the DVX100. Have you seen footage from either, and can you let us know how it compares to the XL1 version?
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Old October 27th, 2003, 01:04 PM   #2
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Afternoon Barry,

If you have the Mini35 Demo DVD, the piece entitled 'Narren' was shot with the VX2000, the little brother to the PD150 i.e. same chip set and lens, as I understand it, but not some of the more "prosumer" tweaks.

If you don't have the DVD...well...where have you been? :P

...but seriously, if you don't have the DVD drop me your mailing address at mizell@zgc.com and I'll get one out to you.

The best way to look at the differences between the fixed lens systems and the XL1(s) is not in what you lose in the fixed lens systems but what you gain by using the XL1(s).

As far as the characteristics that are considered to be the "Mini35" aesthetic, you get a very comparable image between all three systems i.e. in all cases the taking lenses are resolving onto the ground glass and creating their 35mm images with the AoV, DoF, color temp, etc...That is then passed through the various optics to the cameras. For DVD and TV distribution your audience is not going to see an appreciable difference between footage shot through one camera or the other, except for camera specific aesthetics like the Cine Gamma on the DVX100 or the Frame mode on the Canon.

Where the big question comes into play is in a film blowup. By going directly to the CCDs of the XL1s we are able to let them work to their full potential. Within the 525 scan lines of NTSC we are seeing a doubling in the lines/mm resolution of the chip as compared to their resolving power with the stock canon lens. This means we are getting a "denser" image that will be better able to handle the approx 4x blowup to 35mm. That being said, the DVX100 starts off with significantly more pixels on their CCD then Canon, so their image might blow up just as well but there is also the possibility of abberations in the Sony and Panasonic lenses, that while invisible in their target format, could become bothersome once blown up.

I have not personally seen any footage from the DVX100 version but all the beta testers have been nothing but enthusiastic about them.

Yet another thing to consider is the ergonomics of the setups. With the Canon version there is no question about hand hold-ability whereas the Sony and Panasonic version are almost all but anchored to a tripod, dolly, steadicam, etc.

Let me know if any of this doesn't make sense or brings up further questions,

mizell
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Old October 27th, 2003, 05:28 PM   #3
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It all makes perfect sense!

I have the DVD but didn't know any of the footage was from anything other than the XL1. I'll have to look at "narren" again.

The big question is, of course, how much does the built-in fixed lens on the camera degrade the image, and is the end result inferior, considering the imaging system on the DVX and VX2000 are higher-res than the XL1? I'd think that obviously having more glass in the way is a negative, but with true progressive scan on the DVX and thin line detail possible, maybe it actually produces a superior picture?

Can your staff arrange any sort of side-by-side testing?
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Old October 27th, 2003, 06:02 PM   #4
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<<<Yet another thing to consider is the ergonomics of the setups. With the Canon version there is no question about hand hold-ability whereas the Sony and Panasonic version are almost all but anchored to a tripod, dolly, steadicam, etc.>>>

This is presumably because of the viewfinder location, right? Even on the XL1, it's not what I would call a comfy setup handheld--very front-heavy still, and requiring quite a bit of padding under the baseplate.

I would love to see a hi-res monochrome viewfinder that could be mounted on an articulated arm to be placed wherever desirable for a given setup--forward for handheld work, or up and back for tripod work (placing it in the vicinity of an extended eyepiece). I saw one such thing for broadcast work that I imagine is quite pricey, but I'm wondering if there is or could be such a thing for DV--sort of like the FU1000 for the XL1, but configured a little better and with the right mount, plus a standardized power and video connector so you can just use the video out from the camera.
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Old October 28th, 2003, 12:49 AM   #5
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Wow, that was illuminating: I took a look at the DVD again, and I don't know how I ever missed it -- right on the title screen for "Narren" it says "Camera: VX2000".

I watched it on a 10' screen, projected from DVD, with a critical eye towards focus and sharpness. In my opinion, the footage from Narren is easily as sharp as the best of the XL1 footage on there, and much, much sharper than "phreakers" or "familienrevier" or some of the others.

Of course, it's hard to make qualitative judgements because so many factors come into play: the DVD encoding process, whatever de-interlacing/filmlooking process that was employed on the "Narren" footage, skill of the operator, quality of the lenses used, etc. But from a simple viewing, I'd say that the VX2000/mini35 combo looks quite promising, and now I'm all the more interested to see the DVX version -- with its higher resolution chips and thin-line-detail progressive-scan system, it could make for some very interesting footage indeed!
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Old October 28th, 2003, 09:56 AM   #6
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Hey Barry,

As far as side by side testing goes, once we actually have the adapters in country and moving we do have plans to do such a test. In the meantime we would rather ensure that the first units get into the hands of users and working rather then hold a unit back for trials.

Charles is correct that the XL1s version is not perfect for hand-holding, but we are able to move the XL1s viewfinder forward so once balance or support is addressed, it lines up properly with the operator. I have heard of excellent results using the Mini35 with a modified (for a beefier screw mount) Image 2000 shoulder support as well as the shoulder support for the 535. One of my Aaton customers used to just throw a beanie babie on his shoulder.

And that is not to say you can't hand hold the Mini35 with the Sony or Panasonic, it just takes some inventiveness. The two solutions I have heard of are 1) use a set of video goggles from Sony, etc. or 2) an operator strapped an LCD monitor to his chest facing towards him.
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Old October 29th, 2003, 12:09 AM   #7
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Barry,

I too have had the same questions as you with the adapter and myself have been debating between the PD150 and XL1/XL1s for weeks now, ever since I was in the market for a new $5000 camera to shoot a series of upcoming short film productions.

I've been conducting my own research of sorts (and pulling out my hair) trying to figure out which would be the better route to go. I have been a long time fan of Sony and have owned a VX1000 for years now, so as recent as 3 weeks ago I purchased a new PD150. At the time of my purchase I wasn't exactly planning to work with the mini 35 adapter however a shift in funds is going to make it possible for me to buy a mini 35 adapter for a series of upcoming film/dv projects plus rent out the complete camera package here in the Toronto area, so I started rethinking which camera would be best.

I immediately began reading every mini 35 article possible, contacting the DOP from the demos on the DVD - and even engaged in numerous emails with Mizell of ZGC. (Hi Mizell, by the way thanks for all your information and prompt replies!) I was starting to see that the XL1(s) was the clear choice for many. Stubborn and born with Sony owning my soul, I would not give up and put up a good fight until the end! But in the end, this is what it ended up boiling down to:

1.) - The XL1(s) ergonomically seems to be a better setup. I say this mainly because of the location of the viewfinder for hand held use. If you think you will never go hand held then who cares, but why limit yourself?

2.) - Using the XL1(s) with the mini 35 gives you light control on the relay lens in addition to the F stop you can set on the 35mm lens. This potentially means no additional ND filters, quicker results and best of all adjustment to light can be made without any effect on depth of field (the reason you shoot with the mini 35 in the first place)

3.) - The ability to completely remove the lens from the Camera "must" offer some type of quantitive advantage. Mizell best explained this as increasing the number of lines per mm, but frankly I don't know if this means a better picture or not. Maybe just for blow up to 35mm film? I have no idea.

4.) - Least important: Let's face it, the XL1(s) & mini 35 setup just looks better! : )

5.) - What I lose by not using the PD150 is XLR inputs, flip out screen and more pixels per CCD. There are only solutions for two of these issues, but again perhaps removing the lens makes up for the lack of pixels? (I had my own solution to this though, read on...)

When I originally viewed the demo DVD I noted that "Narren" was shot with the VX2000 and contacted the DOP from the film who's only harsh comment was that focusing with the Sony was extremely difficult - but for all we know they were only using the 2" LCD flip out screen or tiny VF?

I have to agree though that Narren does look sharper than the other demos using the XL1. The images from the XL1 look softer and almost out of focus in some clips. This could be attributed to the fact that most of the XL1 demos were shot in FRAME mode which in my opinion is half the normal vertical resolution. Another thing to note is that Narren was natively shot with a PAL camera so it may not have been "film looked" at all. Other demos like Phreakers were NTSC and definitely have visible interlace/film look/etc.. effects applied.

In the end I talked myself into purchasing a Canon XL1s, but to make up for what I still believe to be some loss in resolution due to a lower pixel count I decided to go PAL this time around. PAL offers 20% more vertical resolution, better color than NTSC and a frame rate which is closer to 24fps incase 35mm transfer is necessary which brings me to my last point about considering the DVX100 for use with the mini 35. I would not be willing to trade off my points 1 - 5 listed simply for a camera that is 24P , so still I shy away from the DVX100 and lean towards the XL1(s) but a PAL one!

Anyway, good luck with your decision and be sure to post where you end up!

Dennis Hingsberg,
STAR Central Productions
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Old November 6th, 2003, 12:11 AM   #8
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Any idea when a Mini35 for the JVC HD10 will be ready? Shouldn't it be possible to make one unit that works with all "non-removeable lens" cameras. It seems that a unit with a relay lens would allow most any camera to focus on an academy aperture sized target without any geometric distortion.

I have relay lenses that allow me to attach most 35mm slr still cameras and fixed lens video cameras to: My telescope, my microscope, binoculars and most importantly, Gen3 night vision equipment.

The latter is important because it is very similar to the Mini35 in that the light amplifier creates an image on a tiny flat phosphor face. A single adapter allows most any video camera to photograph this flat image.

If I spend the money on a Mini35, I would like to be able to use it with ALL the cameras I have at my disposal.

Jay
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Old November 6th, 2003, 09:21 AM   #9
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Jay,

They are working on a version of the Mini35 for the JVC. P+S's goal is to have the unit be compatible with as many cameras as possible.

Once the "Oszi" 400 Series is rolled out the next introduction will be the JVC kit. Announcements will be made here as well as the ZGC and P+S websites.

mizell
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Old November 19th, 2003, 04:56 PM   #10
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How much

How much for a PAL version of the Xl1S at US $ price
& the different price with a NTSC version at US $ price
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Old November 19th, 2003, 05:06 PM   #11
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Brand new the Canon XL1SE (PAL) with color VF & 16x lens is around $3299 USD while the NTSC XL1S is $4699 USD. For the NTSC XL1 there is a $500 rebate being offered.

*Added 11/20/03 (These prices were taken from BH Photo Video, actual prices may vary from source to source)
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Old November 19th, 2003, 05:35 PM   #12
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Why the PAL version cost less much more than the ntsc
?
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Old November 19th, 2003, 10:11 PM   #13
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I think it costs less because of the limited market for it. For every day use who the hell wants a PAL camera, especially in North America? I however think the hassles of using one in North America is worth it which is why I bought one.

See also this url: http://www.canondv.com/archive/xl1/s_pal_format.html
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Old November 20th, 2003, 09:44 AM   #14
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Daniel,

The XL1s NTSC is not quite that expensive. We currently have it for $3,550 and there is a $500 rebate from Canon.

As Dennis mentions, because of the differences between NTSC and PAL, and the prohibitive costs and other nightmares involved with a PAL to NTSC transfer, there were few justifiable reasons to shoot PAL for the North American markets.

That landscape has changed somewhat. There are now low cost software solutions that can do an effective PAL to NTSC transfer at home. I have a couple of clients who have been very happy with Atlantis from www.dvfilm.com I'm not sure if this program also deals with the audio issues that can crop up or not.

Be aware that exchange rates are at new highs for both of our dollars so a PAL XL1s is going to be more expensive for a time.

So, after saying all that, what are the main benefits of shooting PAL for NTSC transfer?:

- 100 extra scan lines of resolution

- a dedicated color space, compared to the piggybacked color signal of Never The Same Color

- 25fps, giving you a motion jutter similar to film transferred to video

mizell
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Old November 20th, 2003, 10:00 AM   #15
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I just want to add that the Atlantis software is exactly what I plan to use when I need NTSC video from my PAL shot footage. Traditionally audio had to undergo a 4% speed change which "could" be noticable depending on the sound (ie. voice, music, etc..) but Atlantis software actually converts PAL to NTSC without making ANY changes to audio.

Otherwise, PAL (25fps/50i) video will play fine on my computer screen and even some LCD or Plasma screens which we're seeing more and more of in the market.

For me PAL offered the most flexibility to shoot native now and convert, manipulate or transfer later. To top it off, run 25fps through magic bullet or dvfilm and get 25 progressive video that rivals the DVX100 24P!

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