GL2 for outdoor panoramic + newbie at

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

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Old February 6th, 2006, 12:16 PM   #1
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GL2 for outdoor panoramic + newbie

I just purchased the gl2 and my goal was to do mainly outdoor landscape video. Although I have been impressed with the resolution playing with the camera inside my results have been less than perfect outside. What I have noticed if I zoom in on some cliffs the detail is fine but when panning out at the fully wide angle I have very poor resolution, even in the foreground. I am not seeing very much detail in trees,bushes, etc.

Part of the problem may be the fact I set the f-stop to 8, thinking this would give me greater rez, like on my canon 20d but after reading some posts, I should pretty much leave the tv at 1/60?. If I shoot frame mode does that mean I should use 1/30? I am using a tripod and the remote as well to elimate any camera shake. I have tried manual focus but noticed the focus ring isn't very sensitive. It doesn't take much to get out of focus and is hard to judge focus through the viewfinder so I leave it on autofocus. Plus you can't do manual on a pan anyway. Perhaps I should shoot in 4:3 instead of 16:9 which I really prefer the look, especially what I want to do. I only have a few days to decide if this is a keeper or not. I wanted to put together some travel dvd's together of the great southwest and its landscapes and from what I have seen so far this isn't going to cut it. Just want to know if it is me and/or using the wrong settings or is there a better camera out there for this purpose. Looked at the XL2 but went cheap. $1750 vs $4000. Any others out there. I liked the portability of the gl2 as I never know where I might hike to get that shot!! Thanks for your wisdom.

Todd Mathews is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 6th, 2006, 12:40 PM   #2
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i like the GL2 very much but agree with your assessment. at full wide, it does not capture landscape richness. i never gave a lot of thought to why this might be, but i've had the same experience. at full wide, landscapes look flattened and washed out. it does very nice medium and close-in work, though. if you're committed to landscape work, the FX-1 will give you much more of what you're looking for. the first thing i shot with my FX-1 was big wide-open landscapes, and what a difference. i could never seem to shoot good shots of mist with the GL2, but the FX-1 shoots misty mountains very nicely.

here's the link to the thread, if you want an out-of-the-box look at what the FX-1 can do with landscapes at full wide:

you might want to consider this camera, because it's native 16:9. i bought mine used, in like-new condition, here at dvinfo for $2850, and for the price, it's a lot of camera.

one thing you can do to enrich landscapes, is bump up the color settings a bit. what you may be experiencing as a loss of resolution is actually a washing out of color at full wide. that may help, if you're committed to the GL2.
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Old February 6th, 2006, 01:04 PM   #3
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I love my GL2, but agree that the definition on wide shots isn't great. Especially when using the movie frame mode and 16:9, both of which cause a resolution loss. I definetely wouldn't recommend it for landscapes. It works great for dramatic work though, as long as you keep most of the shots medium or CU.
JF Robichaud
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Old February 6th, 2006, 01:19 PM   #4
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Thanks guys. I was thinking it was me but I was down right dissapointed on those wide shots with the gl2. I thought maybe this is as good as it gets and perhaps I was spoiled with the 8mb SLR resolution. I stitch telephoto shots of the San Juans, CO to make some awesome panoramics. Almost like being there. I will say the dramatic shots of the cat indoors is quite good with the gl2.

Meryem I would love to see that footage as it is an area I frequent quite often, however when I click on the link, I get the don't have permission message. Thanks again.

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Old February 6th, 2006, 01:27 PM   #5
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odd. i am getting the same thing...try this then. it's kind of a fat file--be patient...
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Old February 6th, 2006, 01:35 PM   #6
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I also have at GL2 and 20D.
There's no way that a miniDV camera can come close to competing with an 8MP dSLR. Even if the 20D had the same pixel resolution, it would still kill a miniDV image with superior colorspace and dynamic range.

If you are doing landscapes, why not just shoot with the 20D (in RAW mode) and then animated the resulting images to create "video"?

An issue that can hinder clarity on a video camera is glare.
This can be particularly difficult when you zoom out wide and capture more and more sky in your frame.
A "cheat" to defeat this would be to shoot with the GL2 locked and, started at 1/60, continually step up the shutter speed until the image is totally dark. You can then layer and blend the results to get the best exposure for all areas of your shot.
Nick Jushchyshyn Matchmoving, Compositing, TD

Last edited by Nick Jushchyshyn; February 7th, 2006 at 07:47 AM.
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Old February 6th, 2006, 09:29 PM   #7
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GL2 and Landscapes

I've been a GL2 owner since 2003. I've often felt that the GL2 lacked detail on the wide end but have learned to get the maximum quality by:

- Always use manual focus by zooming in on the furthest target you are focusing on, and then pull out. The auto-focus is not always accurate and you will get sharper results.

- Never shoot in 16x9 or Frame Mode. Frame mode causes a lost in vertical resolution. Run some tests yourself, and you will find Frame mode looks noisy and soft in comparison.

- Personal preference: Always use manual exposure, Zebra-stripes at 90 and make sure only the whitest parts of your image are white (not much). The camera might interpret this as slight underexposure, which might lead to an increase in noise in the darkest areas, but I feel that the native "correct exposure" is simply too biased to the top end.

- Always use a circular polarizer to get saturated skies an eliminate reflections

- Always use manual white balance, or manual. I find the auto white balance on my camera is too green or simply too far wrong for my liking. Warm it up with a custom preset if necessary or a cool blue white balance card.

- Shoot somewhere in the middle (f5.6) in terms of aperture. Not wide open or at f8. Lens optics tend to perform better towards the middle, but I've not necessarily proved this with the GL2 - but it's true of 35mm lenses.

- Avoid the wide-angle adapter unless you absolutely need it. It creates miles of barrel distortion and loss of clarity with far objects.

- Compose your shot with some near objects to give the shot some punctum.

I enjoy my GL2. Thanks.
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Old February 7th, 2006, 04:54 AM   #8
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Keep in mind that the NTSC image is rather low resolution - 720x480 pixels in a frame, and can it not resolve much detail, especially in a wide shot, where each pixel covers a substantial amount of real estate. The image looks sharper zoomed in because at full zoom you can resolve about 20x finer detail in the image than at full wide (i.e., a full screen object at full zoom gets about 35 horizontal pixels at full wide). A slow pan might do better because with the motion, the viewers eye-brain system might integrate and interpolate enough to mask the low resolution of a still NTSC image.
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Old February 7th, 2006, 06:49 AM   #9
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I'll echo what the others are saying.... SD is not a good format for landscapes. Regardless of the brand, you're shooting with a 0.35 megapixel camera (720x480). I'm also a big fan of landscapes and have tried all the tricks I can think of to make them look good in SD DV. If you try to stay away from things with a lot of detail and concentrate on big skies and simple horizons you can get some nice results.

The other problem with the GL2 specifically is the lack of a quality 16:9 mode, and the widescreen aspect ratio is generally a better fit for landscapes. If you're shooting 16:9 on your GL2 then you're only using a 0.26 megapixel camera (720x360)!

But it is much more satisfying shooting in HD. For the past couple months I have been shooting landscapes with my Z1 and getting much better results. However you're still only shooting with a 1.5 megapixel camera with Sony HDV (1440x1080) and I wish things like trees on the horizon were more clearly defined. FWIW, here are some still frames from Z1 HDV at 960x540:
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