Century Optics 16:9 Widescreen Adapter at DVinfo.net

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Old May 22nd, 2003, 10:10 PM   #1
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Century Optics 16:9 Quick Resolution Test

I have a new GL-2 with the Century Optics 16:9 bayonet adapter.

I shoot theatricals and I am usually wide open, often in gain up, and at the back of the house using the telephoto end of the zoom range.

From these threads I learned that "limited zoom through" meant "Doesn't work so hot wide open or zoomed out". Damn!

I have just got done with a rough and ready resolution test with John Beales resolution wedges taped to my garden shed in the corners of the frame. I kept consistent side to side framing. It was about 3/4 zoomed out and shot brief tests at both f2 and f5.6. The clips were imported into Vegas and letterboxed (which is how I am currently making my DVDs). A 720 by 480 bmp was saved and viewed with the Windows picture viewer.

Here are the results:

Century 16:9 Anamorphic F2.0.
Large horizontal wedges (vertical resolution) resolved for 40% of their length. Color casts were quite mild.
Large vertical wedges (horizontal resolution) resolved for 90% of their length. Mild color casts and no artifacting.
Edges were straight, parallel lines were parallel.

For the same vertical framing, it took in slightly less horizontally than the in camera 16:9 or 4:3 modes. (The geometery seems to vary slightly between all three modes).

In Camera 16:9 F2.0
Large horizontal wedges (vertical resolution) barely resolved at large end. Strong color casts.
Large vertical wedges (horizontal resolution) resolved for 110% of their length (middle sized bars resolved for 10% of their length. No color casts but compression artifacting on high contrast edges.
Edges were straight, parallel lines were parallel.

Slightly more horizontal distance shown for same vertical framing.

Normal 4:3 Mode F2.0
Large horizontal wedges (vertical resolution) resolved for 20% of their length. Strong color casts.
Large vertical wedges (horizontal resolution) resolved for 70% of their length. Mild color casts and no artifacting.
Edges were straight, parallel lines were parallel.

More horizontal and vertical image shown than the In Camera 16:9, but the camera was not moved or zoomed (I think). The geometry between In Camera 16:9 and 4:3 appears slightly different which would account for the differences between the Century Optics adapter and In Camera 16:9 geometry.

F5.6 Almost NO differences from the results at F2.0!! The one significant difference was in 4:3 mode the large vertical wedges (horizontal resolution) went from 70% to 110% but without the artifacting on the edges that occured in In Camera 16:9.

Conclusion. The Century Optics 16:9 Adapter does deliver increased vertical resolution and comparable horizontal resolution to the In Camera 16:9 mode, at least at 3/4 zoomed out towards telephoto and wide open. Geometry seems fine and there was no noticeable pincushion or barrel distortion.

-Tom-
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Old May 23rd, 2003, 10:51 AM   #2
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Thanks Tom,

A few of us have asked for some feedback from a GL2 user who has tried an anamorphic 16:9 adaptor, and I (maybe we) appreciate your evaluation. Any chance I could get a look at your test pictures?

Brad
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Old May 23rd, 2003, 11:10 AM   #3
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Brad,

I see you are another Vegas user!

I don't have a personal web site to post them on, but I can email them to you. My email address is in my profile.

-Tom-
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Old May 24th, 2003, 12:24 PM   #4
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I would love to see these too! Could you e-mail them to marcoleavitt@ibackup.com? Thanks.
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Old May 27th, 2003, 07:02 PM   #5
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I just checked out the pics, and the 16:9 shot does appear to be an improvement, but I was shocked that there wasn't a bigger difference. Is this because the pictures are letterboxed, which would seem to play to the incamera 16:9 mode's strengths (since the vertical resolution gets downgraded)? Would there be a more pronounced difference if the vertical resolution was left at 480 and the horizontal resolution was stretched appropriately? Something like this is what would happen on an HD TV isn't it? I'm just really amazed that the incamera 16:9 looks this good.
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Old July 6th, 2003, 04:59 PM   #6
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Zoom through anamorphic adapter from Century!

Sorry about the double post, but I think this is of extra interest to GL2 owners. The huge zoom range on this camera is one of its biggest selling points, and the limited range from previous adapters was an especially big bummer.

http://www.centuryoptics.com/products/new/index.htm
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Old July 6th, 2003, 06:21 PM   #7
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Wow, that's great. But good God, $1500 list???!?!?!
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Old July 6th, 2003, 07:18 PM   #8
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Kind of defeats the purpose of trying to save money by upgrading your equipment instead of buying a new camcorder doesn't it? The PDX10 is only $700 more! Plus, if you want a wider angle, you still have to buy the old adapter. What a racket. I'd like to believe the price is going to come down, but that doesn't seem to have happened with their original adapter. Does anyone know what the old adapter cost when it was introduced?
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Old July 6th, 2003, 11:16 PM   #9
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I think it usually went for around $800.
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Old July 7th, 2003, 07:17 PM   #10
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Great. In a couple of years it'll only be $1,300.
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Old July 7th, 2003, 11:14 PM   #11
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Yeah this lens is a total rip-off. You're better off going with a true 16x9 CCD if you really need 16x9 that bad. Even the JVC HD cam is probably preferable to a Canon GL2 + Anamorphic lens if anamorphic is that important.

PLUS, and I'm sure I'll get blasted on this, but I think Canon GL2's hardware anamorphic ain't half bad. Unlike other cameras, the GL2 doesn't take a 720 x 480 image, crop it to 720 x 360, and then stretch 360 to 480. Instead it uses less CCD pixels, of which there are already more than 720 x 480. So you're not sacrificing as much resolution as you might be if you do the crop in post or with other cameras. So all in all I'd say this product is a total waste.
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Old July 8th, 2003, 07:55 AM   #12
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Are you sure about that? I had understood that it does indeed crop to 360, but you get a slight improvement on the image quality because it runs the compression routine after the crop, so it doesn't waste resources on material that's just going to get cut anyway. I've used digital 16:9 on my GL1 a lot, and it looks great on a regular television, but I've never had a chance to compare the image on an HD monitor with footage that was produced with an anamorphic lens. I've never seen screen shots making these comparisons on a GL1 or GL2 either. Boyd Ostroff posted some shots showing the VX2000's digital 16:9 and they looked bloody awful.
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Old July 8th, 2003, 03:43 PM   #13
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Another strategy might be to get a PAL camera. They have more scan lines to start off with. This is how they filmed "28 days later", by cropping a PAL XL-1s frame to 16:9.
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Old July 9th, 2003, 08:04 AM   #14
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Something else I've been wondering, is there any way to reclaim the pixels lost outside the "picture safe area?"
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Old July 10th, 2003, 09:03 AM   #15
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Someone might have a link to the website that explains it (I don't remember where it is) but it describes 4 ways of doing anamorphic from best to worst: 1) native 16x9 CCD, 2) anamorphic adapter, 3) Canon GL2's way, 4) Sony's way.

Sony's way is to only use 720 x 360 pixels and stretch 360 to 480. Canon definitely doesn't do that. I thought I remember it saying that it crops the pixels off the CCD to still make a 720 x 480 image, but I could be wrong. Either way it's the best way it can be done via software.

As for saving the picture safe area, that is already included in the 480 lines. Picture safe is only a concept on viewable televisions and has nothing to do with these types of cameras. When you watch a DVD in 16x9 anamorphic, there basically is nothing cut off vertically for picture/title safe, or at least very little.
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