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Old August 5th, 2003, 01:23 AM   #16
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Oops. I made a mistake. The Xi has the optical stabilizer---that's the poker shaped model, not the upright. The Japanese version of the Optura Xi is called the FV-M1. Babblefish either didn't translate correctly, or the stabilizer of the upright is mentioned as OIS or DIS. There's also a new upright with a 1/6" CCD, 690K video effective. Perhaps it's an Elura version in the US/CAN. Anyways, the Japanese model numbers got me confused.
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Old August 5th, 2003, 09:46 AM   #17
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How about the most important question, at least in my mind - where does the tape load? I can't see why any self respecting videographer would purchase any of these stupid new camcorders that load the tape from the bottom. I hope the camcorder manufacturers get the clue real soon that it just doesn't work.

If I seem a little bit edgy, please forgive me, my head's been upside down for almost a week. I'm on a missions trip ministering to children in the Outback of Australia, in Halls Creek in W.A to be exact. Check out our web site at http://www.mcaonline.org outback to see how we're doing for the next week and a half. I hope to get some video clips up there while we're here, but they'll have to be short since I can only get a 26.4 kbps connection to the 'net down here.
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Old August 7th, 2003, 03:42 PM   #18
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Hi David,

Unfortunately the Optura Xi is a bottom-loader. However the other new camcorder (the Optura 300) is a back-loader. Hope this helps,
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Old August 7th, 2003, 05:58 PM   #19
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Bottom loading is great to keep the size down (PC9 size), but it's horrible for any prosumer or high end amatuer cameras. The best loading mechinism i've ever used (Minus ENG-style) is on the VX1000...you could switch the tape w/o taking your hand out of the grip! Nowadays with LCD screens, that approach isn't quite as easy. I still don't care too much for the loading style of the VX2000 or the XL1s.

The worst is probably on the 2002 model Digital8 cameras. I used a TRV120 since it came out for a Hi8 feeder deck (I do alot of analog home movies to DVD) and as an occasional long-range zoom secondary camera (i LOVED the 25x zoom) then when Sony released the 730 and eventually the 740, I decided to step up for a good 15x 1megapixel spotting scope (30x with a Century 2x extender) Sure it isn't NEARLY as good as my VX2000 for color quality, but for quick 4x6 prints of birds and whatnot, it worked great. Anyway...I got the 740, and was horrified at how difficult it was to use as a feeder deck (the camera literally has to be upside down to do ANY tape swapping) and when I'm doing 4-5 Hi8 tapes, turning the camera over is a pain in the ass. I reverted back to the top-loading TRV120 for feeding (only downside of having an aging camera that gets alot of use is quarterly tape-path cleanings at Best Buy)
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Old August 8th, 2003, 08:46 PM   #20
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"Unfortunately the Optura Xi is a bottom-loader. However the other new camcorder (the Optura 300) is a back-loader. Hope this helps,"

Thanks, Chris. I figured this would be the case since it seems to have the same design as the Optura 10 & 20. They all seem like great cameras and I like some of their features a lot, but I just can't deal with that bottom load situation. I can't wait to see the day when the manufacturers see the error of their ways and decide that small size isn't the most important thing in a camera.

Oh well, I guess I'll keep looking. I don't seem to ever have enough money to buy a camera anyway, but I keep hoping.

Dave,

I also hate the loading mechanism of the XL1. That inside mechanism seems to catch everyone who uses it, even the pro videographers I've let use ours. I've been using a TRV820 Digital8 camera on our trip to Australia and I like the simplicity of only one thing to close. It does have a flip-up panel above the door with the eject button on the inside, but that's not a problem. The worst part about this camera is the weight of the nearly useless (to me anyway) printer that's built in. I love the 4" screen, though.
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Old August 8th, 2003, 11:27 PM   #21
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I aways got a kick out of that printer feature! My friend bought an 820 from Circuit City open boxed for like $500 a few years ago and used the awesome 4" screen to entertain his kids with movies transfered to Digital8 tape (most kiddy movies fit into the LP mode on a standard Hi8 tape)

The printer wasn't even a good idea to begin with...If you're going to make prints from video, most people are going to put it back onto a computer and not use a horribly compacted dyesub printer that's built into a camera.
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Old December 26th, 2003, 12:03 AM   #22
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330,000 pixels per CCD is not enough to do both 4:3 and 16:9 on the same chip. Also if you have digital IS you need extra pixels. Also if you want the digital zoom to have any meaning you need lots and lots of extra pixels. Not that I would use digital zoom unless there was a UFO landing a mile away.
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Old December 26th, 2003, 12:46 AM   #23
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Quote:
I can't see why any self respecting videographer would purchase any of these stupid new camcorders that load the tape from the bottom.
Then I'm afraid I lack self-respect. I own a "bottom loader." Sometimes you have to take the bad with the good.
Quote:
Not that I would use digital zoom unless there was a UFO landing a mile away.
I hear ya. But I would use my digital zoom for a lot less, especially at the beach.
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Old December 26th, 2003, 08:48 AM   #24
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I respect you Frank! :o)

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Old December 26th, 2003, 05:58 PM   #25
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I don't think my wife does. :-((

In all honesty, I haven't found my bottom loader to be a problem, unless I find myself having to change tapes quickly and the cam is screwed on to my tripod.
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Old December 26th, 2003, 06:24 PM   #26
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Well since it's a small camera, you'd probably be using a smaller Bogen 3130-style tripod,,, so all you really need to do I think is use a Bogen quick-release plate on the head... I think it's small enough where you wouldn't have to unscrew it? You know the type I mean, it's the small heavy duty metal plate http://www.bogenphoto.com/product/te...d=9&itemid=287

Oh, I'm sure your'e wrong and just imagining things about your wife not respecting you! hehe

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Old December 26th, 2003, 08:29 PM   #27
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I think it's small enough where you wouldn't have to unscrew it?
Na, you got to unscrew it. :-((
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Old December 27th, 2003, 11:56 AM   #28
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An Owner's Initial Experience

I bought an X1 about two weeks ago, in time to tape my kids' holiday activities. During this two weeks period I tried its various features and experimented with it in certain circumstances, such as indoor performance and outdoor during windy conditions, etc.

While I still have a long way to go in trying ALL of its features (for example, I haven't done a thing with its digital effects or any of editing yet), I will comment about what I've liked and disliked thusfar:

PROS:

1) Nice size; great feel in my hand; and funtional buttons in right places; overall very nice design and looks.

2) Intelligent shoe to go with Canon's quality accessories like directional mic and video and flash light; very nice and tactile manual focus ring.

3) 3.5 LCD screen can't get any better than this.

4) Very good zoom pace unlike other brands that have uncontrollable and inconsistent "bolting" pace.

5) Easy menu.

6) Very powerful flash for low light indoor stills, such that I need to stand back a couple feets or more and then zoom in on the subject a bit to get the desirable results.

7) Excellent indoor performance as long as there's enough artificial or natural lights. Its low light performance is okay with some manual adjustments.

8) It's outdoor performance on an ordinary day is simply amazing. I'm not sure if a 3 CCD camcorder could outperform this camcorder in any noticeable manner. Whatever this "RGB Primary Color Filter" thing is and this thing called "DiGiC DV," they sure work!!

9) For a camcorder/still combo, it produces excellent stills -- ideal choice camcorder for those who desire both in one. I have a stand alone digital camera, but since I take tons of photos, I don't mind this addition.

10) Remote control that comes with it is so good that I actually did use it and will be using it very frequently. It's great for self-timer still shots of the family with the LCD facing you for composition.

11) Wish it had more manual control levels, but it's better than most other brands in this price range, so I can't complain.

12) The software that comes with the package is good enough for amateurs like myself. I used it for photostitching with excellent results.

13) Unlike other Canon camcorders with so much motor/tape transport noise problems, I'm happy to note that the X1 comes with a very low level. Whatever the low level of noise, it certainly didn't get picked up on TV viewing, either.

CONS:

1) Since I hardly use its viewfinder, I consider myself fortunate. The viewfinder is highly pixelated. It does come with diopter adjustment for focusing, and it can be pulled out and up.

2) It's bottom loading, but frankly I haven't found this to be much of a hassle at all, since I don't do any filming that goes beyond a 60 minute casette tape. It should be a hassle for those who tend to film non-stop that requires more than one tape and who use a tripod.

3) Its mode setting dial button isn't "clicky." It almost feels like one mode is going to "run on" into another. This is probably the cheapest feel of the entire thing, but it's only the feeling and doesn't cause any problems.

4) The zooming feature should have been made with a push down button rather than a flat sliding button. It also should have been placed in the direction of the viewfinder-to-the-lens in order to prevent an accidental tilting motion.

5) When shooting in windy conditions, the built-in microphone picks up very annoying "howling" noise. However, with its "Wind Screen" feature ON, it did reduce the noise to a certain degree.

Honestly, other than the above minor faults, I've found the camcorder to be perfectly adorable. Now some comments about its special features:

1) I set the shutter speed to 500 maximum and set the still mode to "continuous" and had a great result with my wife's golf swing sequential shots. With the Still Image set to 1632 x 1224 size, you can produce up to 10 images with 2 frames per second. With 1280 x 960, up to 10 images with 3 frames per second. With only 2 or 3 takes, I was able to get all the frames with my wife's proper golf swing positions for sequential shots.

2) I also liked its Auto Exposure Bracketing feature. You push the button, and it gets you three shots with three different exposures for your choice.

3) Tried its 16:9 wide screen mode, but since I don't own a wide screen TV, I can't say much except that I did hear that this feature works better than other brands of similar price range.

4) I took still photos of my house with mountain landscape in the background for panoramic photostitching. It worked so great that I had another one done with my neighbor's house as a gift. I also appreciated the fact that using this feature isn't buried away somewhere. Just push one button to start and the same button to end it.

5) Its "Custom Key" button comes handy for setting certain effects the user tend to use often, such as Back Light Compensation, or Optical Stabilization if the user tend to do lot of panning, or using certain type of driving mode, or using the Zebra Pattern mode.

6) With this camcorder you can shoot the still shots while filming and save the still images to either the memory card or onto the tape. Since the quality of the stills suppose to come down a bit, I tend not to use this feature. The user also can make still images out of whatever images the tape contains.

7) This camcorder allows the user to manually focus, set the speed and aperture, as well as manually control the audio level.

8) The feature I appreciate is that I can set the flash light to be activated at all times or automatically.

9) The Night and Super Night modes are kinda gimmicky, but perhaps I could use them for some special effects at a later point.

Again, there are many other special effects that I haven't played with (like the entire Digital Effects that seem to produce quite a bit of cool effects) and other features I haven't touched (like Audio Dubbing, DVD transport, etc. etc.).

As for the Canon accessories to go with the intelligent shoe on X1, I've ordered a Wide Converter WD-H46 and a Video Flash Light VFL-1. The latter allows me to use it with its own battery power as both video light and flash for stills without eating away at the camcorder battery power. Both the video light and the flash come on and off automatically. I also purchased an additional rechargeable battery, BP-522 and using the original BP-512 as a backup. I'm now also thinking about ordering a Directional Microphone DM-50.

Hope the above comments are helpful just from my initial findings.

Myong Kim
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Old December 27th, 2003, 12:54 PM   #29
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Myong,

Thank you for such an in-depth user review! Iv'e been waiting for someone to recognize the power and speed advantages of the new Digic Processor inside the Xi,,, such as the little tricks that you mentioned. Have you also noticed how the built-in flash will keep on rapidly firing with almost instant recycle time in Continuous Shooting Mode? I am very impressed with your finding innovative ways to use your Xi. I'm sure that Chris Hurd will enjoy your post as well :o)

Have you noticed how color-accurate the Xi is? Even in Full Auto (Easy Recording Mode), the Xi is able to most accurately reproduce all colors very precisely - which really adds to the perception of a high quality image.

Have you tried shooting in "High Resolution True 16:9 Mode" yet? It's a sweet look. Try using that 16:9 Mode in addition to a Century Optics .55x Reversible for some funky MTV-like wide effects. Or, try using a Century Optics Anamorphic adaptor with the Xi set to HRTR16:9 Mode and you'll get lossless pseudo 2:3:5 Widescreen effects.

Would love to see some of your examples Myong.

Happy shooting,

- don
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Old December 27th, 2003, 03:52 PM   #30
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Quote:
Have you also noticed how the built-in flash will keep on rapidly firing with almost instant recycle time in Continuous Shooting Mode?
Oh, yes... thanks for bringing this up as I forgot to mention this earlier in my post. The flash action was indeed impressive in the Continuous Shooting Mode with no breaks!! Sure ate up my camcorder battery quickly, but it's good to know that this mode works really well in dark conditions using the flash. (All the more reason for my getting the Video Flash Light.)

Quote:
Have you noticed how color-accurate the Xi is? Even in Full Auto (Easy Recording Mode), the Xi is able to most accurately reproduce all colors very precisely - which really adds to the perception of a high quality image.
Some reviewers have been mentioning this "red color bias" quirk with X1, but I haven't noticed anything but brightly crisp and well balanced colors all around. I'm not a professional, and this is my first digital camcorder ever, so perhaps my untrained eyes can't detect what the trained eyes can. I've been shooting X1 mostly in Full Auto mode, and I'm so happy with the results I've been getting.

Quote:
Have you tried shooting in "High Resolution True 16:9 Mode" yet? It's a sweet look. Try using that 16:9 Mode in addition to a Century Optics .55x Reversible for some funky MTV-like wide effects. Or, try using a Century Optics Anamorphic adaptor with the Xi set to HRTR16:9 Mode and you'll get lossless pseudo 2:3:5 Widescreen effects.
I've tried the 16:9 mode, but I'm not sure what you mean by "High Resolution True 16:9 Mode." In the manual, it just talks about "16:9 wide screen" mode and doesn't get into it much. Am I missing something here -- some sort of a trick? Since I don't own a widescreen HDTV, the picture on my standard TV comes out vertically squeezed (naturally). Even with a standard TV, I liked the way 16:9 displays that I just shoot everything in that mode.

Thanks for pointing out the Century accessories. I'm intrigued by some of the effects I could get out of them.

Myong
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