Poor quality 1488 stills at DVinfo.net

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Canon GL Series DV Camcorders
Canon GL2, GL1 and PAL versions XM2, XM1.


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Old August 29th, 2002, 06:45 AM   #1
Andy Smith
 
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Poor quality 1488 stills

I've been in the Sony camp for many years but let the features of the Cannon GL2 woo me a couple of weeks ago and bought one.

One of my Sony cameras is ther TRV 900. The digital stills on this camera are awesome quality, but only 640 X 480. Too small for printing. I was expecting similar, or even better, quality from the higher resolution of the GL2's 1488 mode, but I have been very disipointed. It seems to take the basic 640 image, which is less quality than the Sony to start with, and digitally blow it up. I could do that in Photo SHop. I have the quality setting in the menu set to "fine" but it isn't fine, by a long shot.

I shoot a lot of weddings and often need a still to print on their DVD or VHS case covers. I have a great Olympus 3000 still camera that does a beautiful job, but by the time I drop the video cam and break the still cam out, the shot is long gone.

In all of the research I did on the GL2 cam, other than stating it had this feature, I could find no comments on it. One way, or the other. I'd be interested to hear if others are having this problem, or if it could be something I'm overlooking.

Thanks,
Andy SMith
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Old August 29th, 2002, 07:23 AM   #2
Woodyfang
 
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I commented on this in a previous post:


As far as stills - For some reason the camera has less functions in memory card still mode than when shooting still or video onto tape. When I have the camera in record mode and click the slider from tape to card, I am restricted to:

minimum shutter speed of 1/50 (instead of 1/6 when shooting onto tape)
iris 2.0 (instead of 1.6 in manual when shooting onto tape)
maximum gain 12dB instead of 18 (although who really wants that much gain on their images?!)

This makes shooting stills onto the memory card pretty limiting if you are shooting in low light. I also found the stills from the memory card appeared quite a bit darker on my laptop screen than on the camera screen.

I can't understand why canon introduce these limitations. Shooting stills onto tape gives you exactly the same features as when videoing in manual mode, but for some reason they have restricted these when shooting onto the card.

Its also a shame I can't shoot MPEG clips onto the card, but I guess thats a complaint from the domestic end of the market...
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I find shooting stills onto the tape fine (although I haven't tried printing them). I agree that the 1488 images look very grainy when you zoom into 100%
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Old August 29th, 2002, 09:11 AM   #3
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The aperature scale is not linear so the difference between F1.6 and F2 is negligable (about 1/3 of a stop). It is impossible to hand hold below 1/60 of a second. The inclusion of slower shutter speeds would produce poor quality images in many cases and Canon chose a safer range of speeds. The images resulting from 18db of gain would be unusable. The resolution of mini DV is fixed by our video system (NTSC) and the mini DV standard. The bottom line is combining a video camera and a still camera is a series of limitations. If you want great stills, use a still camera. You can't carry a 4 x 8 sheet of plywood in a Porsche.

Jeff
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Old August 29th, 2002, 10:32 AM   #4
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all true.

However I have taken some great stills on to tape, which I cannot physically take onto the card because when I flick the switch across to card, the image on the screen darkens so much there is no point taking it.

I am also sure i am not the only person who likes to take f**ked up photos, e.g. textures and weird ligting effects, streaks and blurs. I use these as background images for websites, and I intend to animates sequences of them for use in music videos. If audio equipment limited us to 'sensible' values, I'm sure we would not have a lot of the strange music we do. Thats what a manual mode is meant for isn't it?

my logitech quickcam traveller allows me to do this. Its a terrible camera and only takes stills at 640 x 480, but it highlights differences in colour wonderfully, and I have had some wonderful 'accidents' from it.

i dont like the fact that canon have decided for me which shutter speed is too fast and too slow. If i want to plop my camera on a tripod, and take a 1/6 second f3 exposure of cars driving a main road at night, then go back to my car and dump it onto my laptop via USB, I should be able to. I've paid for it!
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Old August 29th, 2002, 06:16 PM   #5
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Canons decision to add or omit features are made after lengthy cost benefit studies, descusions with marketing people, dealers, focus groups and end users. Specifications are then decided upon that meet the cost projections. This results in some features being added and others restricted or even eliminated. The addition of slower shutter speeds for still imaging was probably thought to be of little interest to photographers or videographers. However, Canon never marketed the GL2 as a high end still camera (or even having those features) and I fail to see how you *paid for it*.

Manual modes in cameras have limited values also. Most digital cameras to not have the range shutter speeds and aperatures as similar film cameras. Manual means the photographer has control of the aperature and shutter within the specifications of the camera. It does not mean unlimited shutter speeds and aperatures.

Since you like experimentation, I would suggest taking the image with the GL2 and playing with image in a program like Photoshop. Most audio samples that exceed certain values still need to be manipulated in programs like Protools etc.

Jeff
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Old August 29th, 2002, 07:39 PM   #6
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all true i suppose. I just think the card still feels a little 'tacked on' compared to the high quality of the rest of the cam.

when i said i paid for it I meant I'd just spent 1700 on a camera and was a bit peeved the card feature wasn't all I'd hoped for.

I was also hoping that interfacing with my computer might give me more features. I was amazed by the power of the software that came with my logitech webcam and was hoping for similar features from Canon, a company dedicated to making imaging products.

I suppose if there was demand for it, It would be there...
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Old August 29th, 2002, 08:23 PM   #7
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Yeah it does seem a bit dodgy and I would say that not allowing the full range of features in card mode actually cost more to implement than allowing the features. Simply because all the functionality is there and they probably had to do work to remove it from card mode. It's probably a marketting decision. I'm a programmer at a large PC software company and we do this sort of stuff all the time. Put effort to cut down features as not to encroach too much on sales for more powerful versions of our software. It's the way capitalism works ;)
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Old August 29th, 2002, 10:04 PM   #8
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I've said before, and am saying again now I guess, that the single most important feature of that MMC/SD card slot on the GL2 is the "mix to tape" feature... the ability to key a company logo, titles, letterbox matte, etc. over live video and record the mix straight to DV tape.

Forget about the still photo resolution, all manufacturers hype their specs and features, etc. What really counts here is the mix to tape function, it's a great thing to have. Meanwhile, if you need high-res digital stills, employ a 2 megapixel (or greater) digital still camera... use the right tool for the right job.

Camcorders and still cameras are not converging all that fast (nor should they, in my opinion). The GL2 of course is a video camera and frankly despite the marketing hype I wouldn't care to use it for any other purpose. Hope this helps,
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Old August 29th, 2002, 10:25 PM   #9
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lets make it simple

Want stills thats why Canon makes the
D60 6.0 MP @ $2,000 get on the wait list
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Old August 30th, 2002, 06:36 AM   #10
Andy Smith
 
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My Response

Wow!! I Didn't mean to stir up such a hornets nest. I figured there would be those out there that suggested if I wanted good quality digital stills to buy a dedicated still camera. That was why in my original post I included the part about me already having one.

I wasn't interested in hauling 4 X 8 sheets of plywood, or in buying a Porsche. I'm just a simple country boy that's only interested in doing the best job for my customers.

For me, it's a timing thing. When I have the video cam up and running and see a great still potential, I don't have time to shut the video cam down, go to my case, break out the still camera, go back and take the picture (which by this time is already over and gone), take the still camera back, then resume my posission with the video camera. Duh . . . Oh, I can't afford to hire someone else to do it either.

Cannon's entire marketing on the still feature is misleading, to say the least. By hyping the higher resolution and not mentioning any of the restrictions, they are "assuming" that the customer will "assume" the quality of the camera would carry over to the digital stills. In my case, they were correct. If they had mentioned anywhere in their specs that the higher resolution was interpolaited, then I would have known what to expect. Much the same as scanner companies boasting huge resolutions until you find out it's not optical.

The quality of the stills on my Sony TRV 900 are 100% better than the GL2 and, for there size, are very usable for printing small pictures on the jackets of my customers cases. I was hoping for the same quality in the GL2 with more than double the Sonys resolution.

I'm not sorry I bought the camera. It seems to be doing a fine job. I do believe that it was a streach for Cannon to advertise the digital still feature the way they did with the quality of the still being what it is.

I am sorry if I steped on anybodys toes by bringing this issue up. I was hoping I was overlooking some setting that some of you guys could set me straight on.

Thanks for all the input,

Andy Smith
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Old August 30th, 2002, 06:57 AM   #11
Woodyfang
 
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just wondering Andy, have you compared the quality of stills shot onto the card compared to stills shot onto tape?
I don't have the equipment to print to compare them, but from viewing on my TV, stills shot onto tape appear to be higher quality, ignoring the increase range of shutter & aperture
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Old August 30th, 2002, 12:21 PM   #12
Andy Smith
 
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Hi Woodyfang,

Yes, I have tried putting the stills to tape and the quality is better, although still not as good as the Sony TRV900.

My two problems with doing that are first, it interups the flow of the video on the tape, and second, the resolution would still just be NTSC 640 X 480.

I guess all of this is not a huge deal, however it was a big deciding point in me choosing the Cannon over the Sony.

Andy
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Old August 30th, 2002, 12:42 PM   #13
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You aren't stirring up any hornet's nest Andy, this is a good thread and a good discussion. For what it's worth, I've seen GL2 print samples and they were okay... nothing overly impressive though, I admit.

For "halfbaked," there's no reason to resort to a $2000 digital still camera such as the Canon D60. My $350 Canon S200 shoots beautiful 8x10's (two megapixels on an RGB-filtered camera is all you need for great looking digital stills).
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Old August 30th, 2002, 01:01 PM   #14
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Where can I get more info about using the card to overlay (impose) mattes onto tape?
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Old August 30th, 2002, 01:20 PM   #15
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Alex, it's on page 129 of the GL2 operator's manual, which can be freely downloaded as an Adobe Acrobat PDF document from the Canon USA website at www.canondv.com -- hope this helps,
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