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


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Old March 22nd, 2003, 02:20 PM   #31
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First report

Hi Lars (and others)

My camera was shipped from Germany one day before yours on 18/3 and arrived 21/3, so hopefully you should get yours soon too. If you are impatient you can call the German tracking service (only available via phone for some odd reason) on this number: +49 18 02 30 22 00. Ask for international "Track and Trace". It requires that you have the "Einlieferungsnummer" which you can get from Foto-Bartmann.

Here is an initial report of my first day using my new XM2:

I started by charging the battery which was probably the longest hour of my life :-) I could then power up the camera without tape in it and start familiarizing myself with all the controls.

I did a little testshoot of course just to see what the footage looked like, and in my overeagerness I disregarded the cameras request that I set date/time. This in turn led to a strange error when trying to capture the DV to my computer. Adobe reported that it was an unknown compression format.

It turned out that entering the date and time helped out with this (by fixing the timecode issue), so I recommend you do that from the outset. It still has an odd quirk where I get the same error for the first scene on the tape (I am capturing each scene to an individual .avi with "Scenalyzer"). My guess is that there is still a bit of incorrect timecode at the beginning of the tape, so I just record a "garbage" scene first on the tape. I assume that changing tapes will solve that problem, but I haven't tried that yet.

I also put on an UV filter right after I took the camera out of the box. I would definately recommend doing that to protect your precious fluorite lens.

All the different shooting modes and controls can seem a bit daunting at first, but after playing with it for an hour with no tape in it, I started to feel more familiar with it, and didn't have to look every time I had to find a button.

I should say that I come from using a borrowed JVC GR-DVL 157 camcorder which is a fairly low end 1 CCD camera. My first pleasant surprise was when looking in the viewfinder of the XM2.

Instead of my usual low-res black and white image, I had a very clear color image. Remember to focus it with the little knob on the underside of the viewfinder. I have been used to shooting using the fold out LCD display on the JVC, but the viewfinder on the XM2 is really good. Much better in sunlight where the LCD may be hard to see.

I then went to the local park armed with both my JVC and the XM2. I wanted to do a "side by side" comparison, so I shot a number of scenes with one camera, then the other. I went with auto white balance on both cameras for the sake of simplicity.

I put the shots into Premiere so that each shot from my JVC was followed by an identical shot from the XM2. What a pleasant surprise! I was immediately impressed by several things. The colors on the XM2 are great. Much more natural looking than my JVC. The image is very sharp, and compared to the JVC there is much less noise especially in large bright color surfaces. I shot a vertical white flagpole, and while the JVC exhibited some shadowing just outside the flagpole, the XM2 showed the border between the flagpole and the background very clearly.

One thing I would like to experiment more with is the "sharpness" control. "Sharpness" as far as I know is a bit of a misnomer. It should rather be called "edge" enhancement, because what it really does is to add a bright edge to all sharp contrast changes in the image. If you turn it up fully you will see what I mean. Generally I am not in favor of adding something to the image which is not really there, and on my viewing device - a home theater setup with an Electrohome 4100 projector, I have sharpness turned down to minimum. I will try to do some shots with varying amounts of "sharpness" but I suspect I will end up setting it at minimum on the XM2 as well. In the beginning you might think that the image looks a bit "soft" but after getting used to it, edge enhancement just looks terrible in comparison.

Another difference that took me a bit to identify was that the XM2 shots just seemed so much more "relaxed" compared to the previous JVC shots. It took a while before it hit me... The OIS (optical image stabilization). That simply works great on the XM2! Not only does it not degrade the image, but it held my XM2 shots rock steady compared to the JVCs digital stabilization.

I tried playing around with manual focus which has not been available to me before on the JVC. I wanted to do a rack focus shot of a far away castle with some branches in the foreground. I went to a full open iris (f 1.6), a somewhat zoomed image and focus on the branches with a defocused castle in the background. With the manual focus ring I could reasonably well shift focus to the castle, but I still miss the mechanical focus of my age old 8 mm camera. The servo controlled focus ring just doesn't give you the same feel.

I should say though, that the XM2's autofocus works very well indeed. I did not see any "hunting" at all in my test shots.

Another little quirk was the ND filter. I engaged it for my rack focus shot, and "NDoff" then flashes in the display. At first I thought I had actually turned the filter off now, but I realized that the "ND" part shows that the filter is engaged, and the "off" part means that the camera suggests you turn it off since the scene was not bright enough to warrant an ND filter.

That was my initial impressions in a nutshell - a rather large nutshell actually, as I probably let my exuberance over my new camera get the better of me :-)

Overall very happy with my XM2 so far.

Hope you get yours soon, and looking forward to hearing about your experiences with it.

Hans Henrik
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Old March 22nd, 2003, 02:24 PM   #32
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Oh, and one more thing... If you or someone else would be interested in seeing raw DV footage from the XM2, I will be happy to put up a small scene on FTP. I don't have a webspace that will accomodate around 40 MB, so I will just set up a FTP service on my desktop computer if anyone is interested. If so, write me an e-mail at hhb@post7.tele.dk

Hans Henrik
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Old March 22nd, 2003, 02:52 PM   #33
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Heh. That didn't take long. I had barely posted the above before I got requests for raw footage.

I set up a FTP server on:

[url]ftp://80.164.30.144

Username: DVFriend
Password: dvinfo

It will only remain up for the next 20 hours or so. I have dynamic IP address assignment, so I will likely get a new one next time I boot my machine.

Hope you will find it useful. The upstream bitrate is 512 kbit/s so you will need a bit of patience since this is raw DV footage.

Hans Henrik
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Old March 22nd, 2003, 03:18 PM   #34
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*jealous* ;-)

Hi there Hans Henrik,

I'm impressed that you put up so much time writing here, when you have your new toy to play with *S*

Thanks alot for all tips ( timecode...ND filter etc etc )

I've spent the whole day(almost) - editing our daughters baptism ( which was shot with my former camera, a mega-lousy canon mv5i/mc and a Sony digital8 ). I still haven't found the "optimal" setup in premiere ( I compare NLE with my music seqencers like Cubase SX, trying to get the same setup ).

To Sharpen or not to Sharpen that is the question: I've been debating this issue a loooong time - since I have a digital SLR still camera ( Canon D30 ). I tend to lean at "sharpen abit" ;-) I do like the "unsharp" function in Photoshop 7 - it removes the digital softness from stills that I don't like.

One thing to keep in mind is that video is "motion" - a thing I tend to forget. What I mean by that is that the consumer won't analyze every single frame, it is the "whole package" that counts. So sharpning the video may very well be an overkill - an effect only seen "behind the scene".

Very glad to hear that you are happy with the camera and the quality if it!

<<panting>> Maybe I'll get my camera on tuesday then!

Brgds,

Lazze
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Old June 3rd, 2003, 12:35 PM   #35
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I finally ordered a Canon XM-2 from Foto-Bartmann! yay

Hope it arrives soon....now I have to get an extra firewire harddrive too. :D
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Old June 3rd, 2003, 02:41 PM   #36
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Sounds good Benjamin. I hope it will live up to your expectations. I am still very happy with mine.

Just curious, what did Foto Bartmann charge you for the camera. It seemed that their prices went up a bit after I got mine. Perhaps they realized that their profit margin was too narrow after I got mine?

Hans Henrik
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Old June 13th, 2003, 10:50 AM   #37
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Hey hey, got my camera today! My firewire harddrive and firewire cable for the camera got delayed until next week though, doh....

Your right about them charging quite a bit more for the camera now but since I would be able to buy it through my company it still seemed like a pretty good deal compared to the prices in sweden. Anyways this is what I was supposed to pay.

1x Canon XM2 1981,90
2x Sony Exelance a 5pc 81,90
1x UV lens 37,93
1x shippment incl. insurance 40,00

Total: 2141,73

Björn W forgot about the tax free price and wrote down the price with tax on the package. I phoned him today and he offered to transfer over the difference to my bank account. I sent him all the neccesary info for the transaction so hopefully everything should work out in the end.

Now if that battery charger would only stop blinking soon. :D
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