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Old May 13th, 2009, 07:34 PM   #16
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I have owned the Canon HF S10 prior to its release. It is an excellent camera.
I am reading some errors in this thread.


.NEVER use any video camera set up in a store and make a determination on what is observed. Both Pro and Con.

.Keep in mind, in a store display, the cameras are placed in AUTO MODE giving a false perspective on the camera for such things as grain and low light.

.Monitor adjustments are important as the HF S10 needs the proper HDTV adjustments like any other camera. This goes for any camera...the monitor/HDTV must be set-up properly.
Connections are important as well....HDMI output displays a pristine picture. NEVER rely on what is observed in a small cameras tiny LCD screen and make a judgement.

.Keep in mind that customers, play with menus thus the observations by a potential user may not be what the cameras capabilities are

.LOWLIGHT.....YES, some cameras, compared to others shoot better in low light but be careful. Just because a camera is brighter than another does not mean the picture is clean........grain looks terrible when gain is set to auto

.This brings me to the Canon Camera......there are many settings in the menu that control color and noise. The camera has a gain limit and adjustable gain. This prevents GRAIN in the picture and a CLEAN picture to boot.

. I can POP the color with two types of VIVID settings in my Canon camera......probably not done in the initial store set-up plus new users may not even know of the second color menu.

.Never believe what is written in a review...rent, borrow or purchase (return policy) the camera and READ the MANUAL FIRST....then use the camera properly.

In closing, judgements of any brand camera can never be made at the store level. The videographer needs to have a hands-on approach and try a camera for several assignments before making a decision to own the camera and post erroneous evaluations that other, less experienced users, take as gospel.
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Old May 13th, 2009, 07:58 PM   #17
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You are right

I think you are 100% right on the money..
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Old May 14th, 2009, 09:30 AM   #18
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Dave, interestingly I found little difference between the SR10 and my HG21. There is no sense in 'upgrading' for what the SR-10 is offering. In fact, I thought color renditon took a step backward and is a bit too cool for my taste. I also found the low light of the 10 to be worse than my HG21. I will say this, Canon has finally solved the 'magenta skies issue' that I've always had with Canon cams. But it appears this comes at the price of a cooler overall color balance.

Darrin, there's a 'trick' in watching the XR footage on your TV as I discovered. Since the Canon is already using some "in-camera sharpening" or so it seems, you can raise the sharpness on your TV when watching the Sony to compensate.

I can raise the sharpness on my 60" Pioneer 9 notches without any signs of edge enhancement or ringing. You can't do that with the Canon footage since it will look far too 'edgy'. When you compare the Canon footage at a default sharpness and the Sony at a raised sharpness on the same display, you'll magically find the difference between the two largely gone.

However, as far as I'm concerned, you are left with a more natural looking image with the Sony. To my eyes the Sony looks more like how I saw the scene than the Canon.

That together with the great low light, better OIS, better sound and the presence of a viewfinder, makes this a pretty easy choice for me. But they are both great cams and I'd be happy with the Canon too if the Sony weren't available.

Lou, I was able to get my hands on the Canon HF-S10 for a day and did some shooting yesterday (both indoors & outdoors). I agree with what you said regarding in-store shooting, but I always check all settings when testing in a store. So I remove that potential for error off the bat. I will say this, even when adjusting the gain settings of the 10 in low light, you simply could not produce an image, anywhere near the quality of the XR. When you limitied the gain at the different settings, you were left with an image that was simply too dark and too desaturated. The Sony gave far better colors and a much brighter image. We could argue about daylight images & relative sharpness, but for low light and even regualar room lighting, the Sony was clearly superior. It also produced a significantly sharper image under these conditions. As I've said, I found the low light to be a step backward from my HG21.

I'll list my comparison thoughts in another post.
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Old May 14th, 2009, 09:40 AM   #19
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Well I had a great opportunity yesterday to test the XR500, HG21 and HF-S10. My tests were mostly outdoors, but I did a couple in low light.

Some observations on the HF-S10:
* Canon finally got rid of the purplish hue on skies! HOORAY!!!! Both of my Canons (HG21 & HV20) have that purplish hue on skies
* The HF-S10 has a cooler color palette than the HG21. Although I prefer the skies on the HF-S10, I prefer the overall color balance on the HG21, which is somewhat warmer.
* The HF-S10 is a bit sharper than the HG21 and that is undeniably its best quality.
* The HF-S10 is the first Canon I've seen where the IAF makes mistakes in good light. I was really surprised by this. I had two instances in very bright light where there was a good 2 second delay until the S10 focused properly. The HG21 never had this issue in the same scenes (nor did the Sony).
* Low light was not good. Quite a bit of noise together with reduced sharpness. I did not compare this aspect with the HG21, but I did with the Sony.

Comparisons of the HF-S10 & Sony XR500:
* The Canon is the sharpness king, but not by that much. In fact, it is only via an A/B that you'd really notice any difference at all. You never feel that you're 'missing' sharpness with the XR-500. But when the same scene pops on with the Canon, there is a bit more sharpness & detail in GOOD light.
* The OIS is significantly better on the XR, but that's not a surprise. During one shot I changed my position by walking over to a different spot. I kept each camera rolling and with both Canons it was very shaky. The Sony was considerably smoother.
* Surprisingly I found the autofocus of the Sony to be better than the new Canon, but not quite as good as the older HG21. In good light the Sony is quicker than any recent Sony I've had.
* I found the color on the XR500 to be more neutral and more natural...closer to what my eyes saw. The new Canon was definitely cooler (bluer) than both the XR500 and the Canon HG21. But hey, at least the magenta skies are gone in the S10.
* Low light was simply no contest, from both a noise and sharpness standpoint. Even looking at the live output on my 60" Pioneer Kuro, this aspect was a blowaway. The Sony was both sharper and more noise free. In my experience, prior Sonys traded sharpness for noise, but the new Sony retains its sharpness while exhibiting an almost total lack of noise. In fact, despite the offering of gain limiting in the Canon (a nice feature!), I could not produce an image that approached the Sony's. The image would become far too dim to be usable at the point that the grain cleared up.

My overall impression is that Sony has a real winner here. There are improvements in picture quality vs. the SR12 (that I've sold) that are substantial and welcome. Improved autofocus, color (more neutral), sharpness & detail, OIS and low light.

To my eyes the Sony presented an overall more natural image than the Canon. Depsite the edge the Canon had in sharpness (and again, it could only be appreciated in a direct A/B, not on its own since the Sony is already very sharp), the Sony won IMO in virtually every other category.

That's my opinion anyway.
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Old May 14th, 2009, 02:16 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Ross View Post
Buba, I wish it were that simple...
Not an easy question for all to answer.
Yeah, mee too :)
and I AM a "Sony guy", but I did my own, sue not the best, but comparison, and to me HF S10/100 has the best price/value ratio, and I like the image better than XR or TM, it's just that canon has better image :)
take a look how it goes along in low light with XH A1, I was surprised

HF S10 vs XH A1 vs EX1 on Vimeo
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Old May 14th, 2009, 03:01 PM   #21
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Buba, the only image I was impressed with in that video was the last part, the EX1. The other two were not impressive as both were soft. That's the kind of environment the Sony XR would shine in.

In my typical room lighting tests, the Sony was definitely sharper with truer colors. The Canon tends to desaturate (as many cams do) and soften. Interestingly the softening was a typical trademark of prior Sonys in this class, but I don't see it with the XR.
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Old May 14th, 2009, 05:14 PM   #22
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Agree to disagree

Well I guess we'll all have to agree to disagree. I turn AGC right off, always have on every camera I've ever owned. So maybe we're comparing apples with oranges..Anyway I would like to see some Professional comparison's (say by Chris Hurd). He has a great eye. I would be very interested to hear what he thinks about this topic.
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Old May 14th, 2009, 05:30 PM   #23
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Darrin, it's a question of taste. If you want the sharpest possible video in good light, the Canon is the one to get. But I choose based on other picture parameters such as noise, color, dynamic range etc. Sharpness is certainly one criteria and it was what drew me to my Canon HV20 & HG21.

So I'm not married to any one particular manufacturer. But the XR500 series gave me the sharpness & detail I wanted plus the color, dynamic range, low light, OIS and sound quality that created to my eyes, the nicest picture I could find. In some prior Sony models, I didn't find enough of these qualities to pull me in. I find the XR to be a different animal entirely. I think the OIS is simply phenomenal and I've never seen anything quite like it short of a steadicam. Yes, the Canon is a bit sharper in good light, but I was looking for more. I'm tired of mediocre low light videos when on the run such as when on vacation. My Z5 showed me how good HD can look under those conditions. The XR500 is the closest I've seen in the consumer realm to come close to the Z5. In terms of noise, it actually beats the Z5...not an easy feat!

But hey, it's great that we have two fine units like this to choose from.
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Old May 15th, 2009, 03:30 AM   #24
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The thing that catches my eye is that the Canon just sort of turns everything below a certain threshold to "black mush", and there's a lot of detail that is just plain gone when the lights go low. That's where the XR will shine - lattitude/dynamic range, even pulling it off in low light.

I'd have to say the Canon definitely looks to have an edge in sharpness in better light, but it's subtle, and IMO there's no contest in low light. That coupled with the outstanding OIS and big LCD + viewfinder, and I think for the average user, the Sony makes a lot of sense. Not to say the Canon isn't nice, it looks quite good really, but if you're shooting in low light and handheld... which is a good portion of "real world" camera use, you start to see what market Sony is after, and they hit the nail on the head.
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Old May 15th, 2009, 04:16 AM   #25
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If low light filming is a perogative i would use a light but for me outdoor filming is all i am interested in,every year the manufactuars will upgrade their models but not many people are prepared to change cams every year but i know some do like they change cars, what i find is that i cant make a 1920x1080 completly edited all the bells rolling film,i have to convert my avchd footage to mpeg for that plus the fact my fx-7 and i suspect the hdv cam i have on order to replace one that gave up give as good a quality footage as my avchd cam,certainly the fx-7 does.

One thing i find strange is sony do not give the progressive option on their avchd cams.
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Old May 15th, 2009, 07:03 AM   #26
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Martyn, which AVCHD cam do you have on order?

Dave, I couldn't agree more about the Canon approach to video. Canon well knows that by increasing contrast you get a greater perceived sharpness. Panasonic had been doing that for years with almost all their consumer products. I even remember their VHS decks were 'contrastier' than others and gave an apparently sharper picture. I always preferred the JVC decks for their more natural look.

But even shooting outdoors, there's more than just sharpness to a good quality picture. I rank color right up there with sharpness. One thing I found with the S-10 was a rather 'cold' look relative to my HG21 and certainly to the XR500. The best way to describe it is a kind of 'sterile' look. Some may really like that look, but it was the first thing that struck me on the very first clip I shot.

The nice thing with the Sony is that it tolerates 'sharpening' very well since it seems to be doing less of that in-camera. I can up the sharpness on my Pioneer and get very nearly the same look in terms of sharpness as the Canon...not quite, but very close.
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Old May 15th, 2009, 09:08 AM   #27
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I have to agree with Dave that Sony have aimed the XR500/520 at the general use consumer who will shoot the family in all situations indoor and outside at events and holidays. For this I think it is way ahead of the competition. The 240G drive in the XR520 might last the life of the camera without filling up. My daughter has my old SR7 ( 60G hard drive) and in the last two years filming her two sons has only used about 40G. At that rate she would take 12 years to fill up the XR520!!! She will have a few more of my cast off cams by then!!!! They like to look at the picture straight from the camera HDMI as I expect most users would. She has no problem using the Sony Browser software to make a disc for other family members. The GPS feature would be good for her too to make sure the time and date are set correctly. IT is easier to switch that on for a moment and set the time rather than go through all the menus to do it!!!!
I now have the SR11 and XR500 and there is a difference though a lot of what I like are common. The best LCD, best OIS, lowest grain, LANC, viewfinder, batteries and I agree with Ken on the sharpness. It is easy to really increase sharpness to taste with the Sony in editing to match other cameras.
I am really pleased with the XR500 for the price just wished it had a bigger lens, full manual control.......

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Old May 15th, 2009, 09:55 AM   #28
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Buba, the only image I was impressed with in that video was the last part, the EX1. The other two were not impressive as both were soft. That's the kind of environment the Sony XR would shine in.
EX1 impresses me every time i use it, but the point was to show how close HF S10 is to XH A1, daylight picture is even closer;
For sure Sony would have brighter picture in that shot, but it would have a lot of infrared noise and much less details; it's my personal opinion, but I don't want that kind of shine;
I know that HF has better, compare to XR, image, because of larger sensor, bigger lens and higher data rate, I knew that even before I bought one, specs don't lie (not very often:)
and i did put two side by side on 50" screen, I can tell, the difference is not minor;
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Old May 15th, 2009, 01:00 PM   #29
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Bubba, one of the biggest mistakes in buying electronic equipment is to buy by 'spec'. You're likely to fail more often than not. Specs are not standardized, manufacturers embellish, they use different methodologies and they don't tell you how the final picture would look.

The fact is that the Sony IS sharper than the Canon in dimmer light. That's been reported elsewhere too. I saw it clearly in my side by side tests. In fact, the disparity between the low light sharpness of the XR500 and the S-10 was greater (with the Sony being sharper)than the daylight sharpness advantage the Canon had over the Sony.

Add to that the Sony color that I thought was closer to what my eyes saw than what the Canon depicted, and you can see we will agree to disagree. My comparisons were viewed on a 60" Pioneer Kuro that's been ISF'd. So I know the image is accurate.

But trust me, don't ever buy soley on 'spec'.
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Old May 15th, 2009, 02:31 PM   #30
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Specs are sometimes one step to the left or right of "marketing". You can take all the "best" spec parts, put them together and not end up with a good result... a camera is a SYSTEM and that system has to be designed around a number of parameters, the constraints of physics and current manufacturing art come into play (and of course economics - you can make a "better" cam with unlimited "budget"...)

What I think those of us who are liking the XR500 are noticing is that it's a well "balanced" camera for want of a better description. At least for those who want a solid stable little camera for general use, that produces a good professional looking HD image.

Buba - not sure what you mean by "infrared noise and much less details" - I'm not seeing anything I'd describe as "noise" infrared or otherwise, and it's pretty amazing to me to see the cam pulling details out of fairly dark scenes, much like your EX... I prefer that over an approach that just takes everything it can't resolve and makes it "black". That's where the XR seems to manage a vey "silky" (good descriptive word, Ken!) image in the dark/low light - I'm very conscious of HOW an image degrades - does it do it gracefully, or fall into dancing macroblocks and mud? I can always adjust in post, but you can't put back what isn't there. There's more "there" there w/ the Sony - I can tweak contrast and sharpness in post.

The "R" sensor and tweaked and updated Bionz processing really manage to pull off quite a lot with substantially the "same" camera as the SR11/12 - so sensor SIZE isn't necessarily everything...

A larger filter ring doesn't necessarily make for a larger primary lens - yes, bigger should allow in more light, but the whole imaging SYSTEM must be designed around a larger lens - Canon is still putting a "bigger" piece of glass on a small form factor camera - there's only so much you can do before physics kicks in and you need a (slightly at least) larger camera to take advantage of the bigger glass.

As for data rate, Sony has stuck by 16Mbps - same as their "first" AVCHD offerings - yet the latest cameras are significantly better image quality as they have tweaked the system - the SR11/CX12 were significanlty smoother w/more lattitude than the 7 series, the XR's again improve upon that. I've seen strange motion artifacts in footage from practically every camera, and footage WITHOUT artifacts from those same cameras - so I strongly suspect it's NOT the camera, but the post processing where the problems are being introduced... although taking HDMI out of the camera should eliminate "most" of that, barring the HDTV needing adjustment...


Martyn - on that note, to work with AVCHD takes a fast computer, a lot faster than HDV, so sticking with HDV may be your best bet if you don't want to take that step to tapeless. As for your FX7 being "better" than the XR... it's a great camera, good manual control, but Sony should stick the "R" sensors and Bionz updates in that sucker (Pull the tape drive and put in a dual media slot while you're at it, shrink the form factor accordingly). With the XR standing up well to the current top end of Sony's pro line, I think the FX7, as nice a camera as it is, will not hold up to the XR in image quality... but to make the switch, you've got to change your entire workflow expectations!


Ken - I suspect sometimes the manufacturers are appealing to a specific "market", and Canon clearly sees the "indie filmmaker on a budget" as a big customer base (HV series). There's a certain "flat" look that seems to be desired for digital post work, and it wouldn't surprise me to find that that's what they were after - but it's not necessarily as pleasing to the eye. I noticed in Bubas' test videos a lot of variation in color balance too, and that can alter perceptions quite a lot... I've been pleased with the "intelligent" choices the XR seems to be able to make on the fly, and so far it somehow seems to manage to make choices that match well with what I'm actually seeing, as you've noted, with maybe just a hint of "enhancement".

For a "filmmaker", a camera that's "intelligent" and adjusting as needed would probably be a poor choice in the sense that you lose the ability to control your baseline settings and thus your control over the look of the "raw" material... makes the task in post more complicated, as you are chasing variables...

But for someone who shoots "on the fly" and one off events, a camera that thinks and reacts faster than the operator possibly could, so that in the end you get the best looking results makes quite a lot of sense. I've seen a lot of footage on TV (mostly "news" type footage) that could have benefitted from this sort of "intelligent" camera... shot some myself, looking forward to shooting LESS <wink>, anything that makes THAT possible is OK in my book!

The two cameras really appeal to two different markets - or operator mindsets if you will. I'd shoot either camera from what I've seen, but prefer the XR, though I'd love more control... I can't argue with the results in a wide range of tough shooting scenarios. If I were trying to shoot an indie film though, where I can "set" my scene, have secondary discrete audio, and re-take as needed, I think the Canon would be the better choice.
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