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Old December 8th, 2001, 01:42 AM   #1
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Optura Pi questions

I just got the Optura Pi today and notice that I can not adjust in manual exposure mode 11+. On the PI you have + or - 11 steps in the manual exposure mode. But mine will not allow this. The Optura at the Camera store had no issue letting me control the iris. This optura at the Camera store probably was one of the first ones. Did Canon change something mid stream. Anyone know?

Michael Pappas
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Old December 8th, 2001, 07:30 AM   #2
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Test at all zoom settings

Hi Michael,

When testing, were you at full zoom or wide angle? I have discovered with my XL1S that in low light conditions and full telephoto, the iris cannot be set to the 1.6 position, even when in full manual mode it will only go to 2.6 under certain conditions. As you zoom back toward wide angle, the wider aperture settings become available. This might be the same sort of thing you are seeing.

I would have thought that in manual mode, you should be able to select any combination of shutter speed and iris that you wanted, but it seems that is not the case. In fact, if you set the camera to manual mode, lens to wide angle, shutter speed fairly high and iris to 1.6, then zoom into a poorly lit area, you will see the iris setting change automatically as you zoom in. Manual mode is not all that manual after all.

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Old June 16th, 2005, 12:11 PM   #3
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Optura Pi and 100 MC widescreen?

What type of widescreen method is employed by these cameras? Are they
any good?

Mark
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Old June 16th, 2005, 01:46 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Hoff
What type of widescreen method is employed by these cameras? Are they
any good?

Mark
I know the Pi crops the video and then digitally stretches it to fill the 4:3 frame. I'm fairly certain the 100 does the same thing. That's the bad news.

The good news is that Canon's digital 16:9 stretch is pretty decent. I used it with my old Elura (very similar to the Pi) and the image is pretty nice. I worked with a Sony PD150 last year and played around with its 16:9 mode and it sucked. With the PD150 I'd shoot 4:3 and crop later, but with my old Elura I'd shoot 16:9 without too much hesitation.

I actually have some resolution test charts I ran with my Elura located on my web site. The charts include 4:3 and 16:9 comparisons:
http://www.philipwilliams.com/eluracharts.aspx

Oh yeah, and you can get a 16:9 anamorphic lens for the Pi for just over $300 (probably pricey for such an inexpensive cam, but it is an option).

Philip Williams
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Old June 16th, 2005, 02:01 PM   #5
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Thanks!

That's great info.! I guess it's not perfect, but it looks to do a good job. How would you compare the 16:9 to some of todays camcorders? Is there a big difference? I went after a Pi due to low light capabilities, seems if you want a decent picture under low light today, you're forced to buy an expensive camcorder. :(

Mark
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Old June 16th, 2005, 06:43 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Hoff
That's great info.! I guess it's not perfect, but it looks to do a good job. How would you compare the 16:9 to some of todays camcorders? Is there a big difference? I went after a Pi due to low light capabilities, seems if you want a decent picture under low light today, you're forced to buy an expensive camcorder. :(

Mark
Well, the new Opturas have bigger lenses, bigger CCDs with more pixels, real 16:9 and the latest electronics. Yeah, there'll be a difference. Throw in manual audio control as the icing on the cake. Frankly I'm also willing to wager that a new Optura 50/60 has at worst similar low-light shooting as the Pi (don't even get me started on the "low light" issue everyone has with $500 camcorders these days!).

Howerver, the Pi still does have a very respectable image and it does have one feature that I'm a real sucker for: Progressive Scan video. Not resolution losing Frame Mode junk, but real progressive 30P video. I know a lot of people don't like 30P ("oh, its so stuttery"), but I always found it gave my Elura footage a nice filmic quality that really differentiated it from regular video. If you must have progressive scan, accept no substitues. Frame Mode is alright but loses resolution, and deinterlacing in software never, NEVER, looks as good as native progressive footage.

Good luck,
Philip Williams
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Old June 17th, 2005, 12:36 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip Williams
Well, the new Opturas have bigger lenses, bigger CCDs with more pixels, real 16:9 and the latest electronics. Yeah, there'll be a difference. Throw in manual audio control as the icing on the cake. Frankly I'm also willing to wager that a new Optura 50/60 has at worst similar low-light shooting as the Pi (don't even get me started on the "low light" issue everyone has with $500 camcorders these days!).
Hmm, that's a bit of a head scratcher. I bought the Pi solely on the low light raves. Maybe this was the wrong conclusion. The 60 does have great functionality.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip Williams
Howerver, the Pi still does have a very respectable image and it does have one feature that I'm a real sucker for: Progressive Scan video. Not resolution losing Frame Mode junk, but real progressive 30P video. I know a lot of people don't like 30P ("oh, its so stuttery"), but I always found it gave my Elura footage a nice filmic quality that really differentiated it from regular video. If you must have progressive scan, accept no substitues. Frame Mode is alright but loses resolution, and deinterlacing in software never, NEVER, looks as good as native progressive footage.

Good luck,
Philip Williams
www.philipwilliams.com
The progressive scan was my second reason for buying the Pi, I think it's interesting they no longer offer this feature in todays cameras.


Mike
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Old June 17th, 2005, 03:03 PM   #8
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As much as I like the Xi, I still really, really miss the Pi, it really was a great camcorder. Some other lucky DVInfo'er has it now.

I still think the Pi has much better low light ability than the Xi. This is based on comparing new and old footage in similar lighting conditions.

The Pi was almost perfect for me, except for it's electronic 16:9.
The Xi is almost perfect for me, except for it's low light performance and no progressive mode.

Aarrgh, the humanity.
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Old June 19th, 2005, 09:25 AM   #9
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How does Pi achieve 16:9?

So, how exactly does the Pi achieve 16:9? Is it a crop and zoom or electronic interpolation? Are these two terms the same :). I haven't seen a clear explaination regarding widescreen modes on the web. I saw an article here:

http://www.dvinfo.net/canon/articles/article52.php

Talking about the XL1 saying it ends up cropping to 720x360 and pixels are lost.
Does the Optura Pi do the same? I'd like to determine the best method for shooting 16:9 footage.

1: Use the Pi provided widescreen mode.
2: Film in 4x3 then Crop with an NLE


3: Consider the Anamorphic lens. (Don't know how this affects editing process) * Oh well, I see this is cost prohibitive, it costs more than
a new camera.

Finally, what got me started on asking these questions is my JVC DVM76 camcorder. It has two widescreen modes. One to put bars on the top and bottom and one called squeeze for anamorphic. Are these two modes really different? Is one better than the other?

Mark

Last edited by Mark Hoff; June 19th, 2005 at 12:02 PM.
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Old June 22nd, 2005, 09:31 AM   #10
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Found a few answers

Looks like all of the "fake" 16:9 methods are just that "fake". They either simply crop lines so horizontal resolution drops from 480 to 360, or an additional "stretch" -> anamorphic is done to the 360 lines to get it back up to 480. However, picture information is lost in the stretch. Effectively 86,400 pixels are lost or 25% resolution. To bad they don't actually "squeeze" the
frame, rather stretch it? Couldn't they have added an additional 133.33 vertical columns to the CCD do this? Seems like it could be done with a
410k or greater CCD.

http://members.macconnect.com/users/...een/index.html

This is somewhat interesting to me since I wonder how the shape of the pixels come into play. Essentially the picture is captured to a 720x480 resolution but for 16:9 the image is stretched to fit 16:9 aspect ratio.

Does this mean the "true" wide screen MiniDV CCD's have tall skinny rectangular pixels? Additionally, what does that mean for video shot with an Anamorphic lens that optically squishes the image, but records it to a 4:3 CCD. Is this a problem when stretching out the image to properly fit a 16:9 screen?

Mike

Last edited by Mark Hoff; June 22nd, 2005 at 09:47 AM.
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Old June 22nd, 2005, 09:48 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Hoff
Does this mean the "true" wide screen MiniDV CCD's have tall skinny rectangular pixels? Additionally, what does that mean for video shot with an Anamorphic lens that optically squishes the image, but records it to a 4:3 CCD. Is this a problem when stretching out the image to properly fit a 16:9 screen?

Mike
The CCD's in standard definition DV camcorders are 4:3 in shape. The way that "true" widescreen works on these is that a 16:9 area of the CCD is sampled for the video frame (this can be accomplished because of the large number of pixels available on most newer CCDs). This 16:9 area is then squeezed horizontally to fit within the standard 4:3 video frame. This yields a standard 720x480 DV video frame where everthing appears squished and skinny (look at the Optura vs. Elura article that Chris Hurd posted in the Optura Junior section to see some graphics that illustrate the CCD sampling). When this video is played back on a widescreen TV it is stretched back out to fill the 16:9 frame. This is exactly how "enhanced for widescreen television" anamorphic DVDs work.

An anamorphic lens would essentially provide the same result: squeezing a 16:9 image into a 4:3 frame. Actually, you could put an anamorphic lens on a camcorder and combine it with the cam's own 16:9 mode to get an extremely squished video that - when stretched out in some software package - would yield an aspect ratio very close to scope film (about 2.35:1).

When viewed on a widescreen TV the resulting video will be substantially better than that shot with "fake" 16:9 camcorders (ie. crop and stretch vertically) and will also be far superior to having the TV "zoom" into a 4:3 video source.

Clear as mud.

Philip Williams
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Old June 23rd, 2005, 09:40 AM   #12
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Thanks again for the feedback. It looks like an anamorphic lens is really the way to do. I just don't understand why they're so expensive?

Funny thing is you can get some huge old style anamorphic lenses for fairly cheap, but they would be difficult to mount and use :(

Mike
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Old June 29th, 2005, 06:58 PM   #13
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Optura Pi Repair

My Optura Pi had been giving a lot of problems. The picture was blocky or pixalated. On some occasions no picture on playback. It gave the remove cassette frequently, also other problems such as the time code not being registered.

I sent it to the Canon repair center in Irvine CA. When it was returned the repair notice said repair completed and unit was set to factory specs, but it was reacting just as it was before sending it. I contacted them again,they sent Fedex to pick it up for return to the factory. This time when it was returned the repair order said the chassis including the recording heads was replaced. This seemingly has repaired all the problems, but they created a new one. On replacing the left side of the case, the repair person evidently tightened a screw to tight and cracked a small triangle area on the bottom of the case near the point where the battery locks on. I called them again on this problem. Next day Fedex picked up again. It was returned to me today with a new left side. From the small amount of time I have used it I am very happy

I want to express my thanks and gratitude to all of the Canon people that I had contact with. They were very interested and helpful every time I called.
Fedex was here the very next day after I called to pick up for return.

I made my first contact with them May 14 After sending it back two times, I received it back today June 29. I said all this to say my experience with Canon was very positive. The price they first quoted me of $157.00 was my complete cost. They replaced the Chassis and Recording heads And set to factory specks

Bob J. Trimmer
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Old June 29th, 2005, 07:36 PM   #14
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Had a similar experience with my Canon G2. I sent it in to be repaired and Canon basically gave me a new camera for around $150. I was very pleased with Canon's service.

That's good to know they're still repairing Optura Pi's.
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Old September 6th, 2005, 06:21 PM   #15
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Optura PI

Purchased a new Optura PI and was wondering if there's any collective value to it or should I enjoy using it which is why I bought it.
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