XF100 First impressions - Page 2 at DVinfo.net

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Canon XF Series HD Camcorders
Canon XF305, XF205 and XF105 (with SDI), Canon XF300, XF200 and XF100 (without SDI).


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Old February 25th, 2011, 04:20 PM   #16
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Re: XF100 First impressions

Thanks Eric, I had been hoping that it would be similar to the Digital Extender on the cheap Canon PowerShot still cameras. The extender on the SX30IS stills camera works exceptional well.

When the extender is enabled on the SX30 (which has both Digital zoom and extender), the extender changes both the wide angle and telephoto angles, whereas the digital zoom just extends the telephoto end.

Bob
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Old February 25th, 2011, 04:36 PM   #17
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The lens and zoom

OK, I'm not familiar with Canons lens branding, I understand that L-series are superior, and for what I know the lens on the XF100 is not an L-series lens. The camera sports a 10x zoom with 35mm equivalent of 30mm - 300mm, the first reviews I read mentioned the wide end as a feat. few other cameras offer.

As mentioned in other post, you can't get a focal length indicator on the display, you have three options:

- a zoom bar that gives some visual idea of where the zoom is
- a number from 0 to 99, 0 = 30mm and 99 = 300mm in 35mm equivalent, but I don't know if that scale is linear.
- and a "focal length guide" (menu -> camera -> zoom -> focal length guide) which when selected sets to 0 at the current focal length and will give a range 153 "wide", that is 0-153 if set to 0 at widest point.

It's not really clear how any of these relate to the focal length. The big difference between the zoom guide and the focal length guide is that the zoom guide, bar or number, disappears from the screen after a second once you stop zooming, while the focal length guide stays.

The lens suffer from a barrel distortion in the wider end, this is a common problem in all lenses, particular zooms with a long zoom range such as those used on video cameras, on shorter zooms and primes this can be corrected.

Depending on the distance to the subject and the zoom level this distortion is significant. I found that you need to zoom in to the zoom guide number 15 or so before the distortion is not clearly visible on the LCD, it may still be on a big screen. In the 10-15 range it may only be a problem if you have straight lines in the image that appear bended, but you won't notice it otherwise on other objects. If this zoom guide is linear, it means that the barrel distortion is visible in the 30-75mm range (in 35mm equivalent).

Unlike iris where the camera allows you to enable an iris limit so it won't go beyond f/8 to avoid image blur due to refraction, there is no configurable limit on zoom to avoid barrel distortion. I'm not so impressed due to the distortion that leaves the wide end. There is a wide angle converter lens that can be attached, I don't know if this will produce better straight lines instead of relying on the zoom all the way in the wide end.

EDIT: I did some more testing, and I must review my opinion on the barrel issue, after todays testing I much happier with the wide end:

1st: It's most pronounced in vertical lines in the sides, that's not surprising as barrel effect always becomes more pronounced further away from the center and due to the full HD wide format. It does mean that it will normally not affect your main subject.

2nd: It is significant at zoom level 0, at zoom level 5 you have to look for it to notice it and at 10 I think it's gone, so it affects a much shorter zoom range than I initially stated above.

Wether you'll notice depends on what you shoot. Even at level 0 you might not notice it unless your subject is very close to the lens and get distorted, or you have straight lines like poles that everyone expect to be straight. Towards level 5 and 10 you need to be looking for it and you need straight lines for reference. The less pronounced the effect, the more you need strong contrast lines. Shoot a checker board and you might notice it at level 10.

Last edited by Erik Norgaard; February 26th, 2011 at 11:44 AM.
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Old February 25th, 2011, 05:42 PM   #18
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Re: XF100 First impressions

I just threw an old Canon. 0.7x wide angle adapter on the XF100 rather than the impossible to find and very expensive 0.8x adapter coming out for this cam. The old adapter produced profound barrel distortion when the cam was zoomed to wide angle. Not usable. There are menu settings for both the wide angle and tele adapters, I tried using them in this test but they wide angle setting did not help with the 0.7's barrel distortion. Wonder if they compensate for the new adapters, and only them.
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Old February 25th, 2011, 09:22 PM   #19
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Re: XF100 First impressions

i hope doug jensen, who is often on these forums, will release via his media company, vortex, a similar "how-to" video that he did for the canon xf305/xf300.

doug does a great job (i've owned his sony ex1 and his canon xf305 dvds) and a comparison between the xf3** series and the xf1** series would be very helpful.

doug, are you listening?

ymmv

be well

rob
smalltalk productions
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Old February 25th, 2011, 09:55 PM   #20
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Re: XF100 First impressions

I wrote to Doug, and expressed a similar desire. He responded that there are no current plans to do a video for the XF100 series but that there would be some value in looking at the XF300 video even if you are shooting on the XF100.
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Old February 25th, 2011, 10:18 PM   #21
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Re: XF100 First impressions

Eric,

I have just been looking at the camera in the showroom and the extender is just what I expected. If you go to the Wide end of the zoom and then switch the converter on, you can see the image size increase by the factor that you selected. This is similar to the PowerShots I mentioned before. As you mentioned the quality looks good at 1.5x and 3x and I agree.

Bob
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Old February 25th, 2011, 10:23 PM   #22
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Re: XF100 First impressions

I'm still waiting on some impressions with regards to image quality; particularly low light performance. Anybody??
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Old February 26th, 2011, 04:34 AM   #23
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Re: XF100 First impressions

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Originally Posted by Bob Thompson View Post
I have just been looking at the camera in the showroom and the extender is just what I expected. If you go to the Wide end of the zoom and then switch the converter on, you can see the image size increase by the factor that you selected. This is similar to the PowerShots I mentioned before. As you mentioned the quality looks good at 1.5x and 3x and I agree.
The "Teleconverter" you can enable in the menu as previously described is just a digital zoom, it adds 1.5x, 3x or 6x on top of whatever optical zoom level you have set, the two are independent, you can use the teleconverter at any zoom level you like, just as you say above. It does not work as typical digital zoom which goes first to the extreme end of the optical zoom and then beyond that adds digital zoom.

What it does is really image crop + upscale, and obviously, the more you crop+upscale the worse the result. In the wide end there is really no point in using it as you will get much better image quality using the optical zoom, that's why I didn't try it at that end. If on a regular basis you find the zoom range too short, consider getting the 1.5x attachable teleconverter, it will give you a much better image.
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Old February 26th, 2011, 04:50 AM   #24
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Re: XF100 First impressions

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Originally Posted by Philip Lipetz View Post
I just threw an old Canon. 0.7x wide angle adapter on the XF100 rather than the impossible to find and very expensive 0.8x adapter coming out for this cam. The old adapter produced profound barrel distortion when the cam was zoomed to wide angle. Not usable. There are menu settings for both the wide angle and tele adapters, I tried using them in this test but they wide angle setting did not help with the 0.7's barrel distortion. Wonder if they compensate for the new adapters, and only them.
I'm not sure if I made the idea clear: My idea was, rather than use the wide range of the zoom (level 0-15) use zoom level 15-30 with the 0.7x adapter, to get into the same range. Is that what you did?

BR, Erik
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Old February 26th, 2011, 06:26 AM   #25
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Re: XF100 First impressions

Completely different tests. There are multiple conversations going on simultaneously, and multiple first impressions. I was going for wide angle. Wide close shots are my thing. And I was reporting on how well a common accessory worked with the XF100 for wide, not tele that requires the 1.5x adapter.

If you need long tele throw, digital zoom has visible noise. I might use 1.5x in an emergency but nothing above that, I can see noise even in the tiny viewfinder. Rather crop in post if I did not have an optical tele adapter.

Frankly I do not see the point of the XF100's digital zoom. The XF100 gets it's performance by starting with a native resolution sensor of 1900x1080. That is why such a small sensor can do so well. But that also means that when you use digital zoom you are trying to create a 1080 image from less than 1080 pixels, and it is optically impossible to add in more resolution to create a sharp 1080 image. There is less information to work with.

It is not a design flaw, rather a choice to have a native resolution sensor with bigger and more sensetive pixels than are in oversampled video chips. That is the secret sauce that makes the XF 1/3" sensors perform so well. Bad for digital zoom but good for all other situations.

Most of the previous generation of affordable video pro cams actually have sensors with less than 1080 pixels, so essentially they start with digital zoom, and what they call digital zoom is simply a greater degree of what they do all the time, so you do not see as big a difference as you would with the XF series that gets it exceptional sharpness from not pixel combining.

In other cams such as the GH2, that use over sampling to create the base 1080 image from more than 1080 pixels you can reduce the oversampling and still have 1080 resolution.

But the XF series is optimized for its native resolution sensors, and you throw that away with digital zoom, taking the digital zoom from a less than 1080 pixel region. Then the XF performs as poorly as you would expect from any of the less than 1080 pixel 1/3" sensors found in previous generations of cameras. Either get the adapter or get another cam if you need extreme telephoto. You'll be much happier.

Last edited by Philip Lipetz; February 26th, 2011 at 10:23 AM.
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Old February 26th, 2011, 10:52 AM   #26
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Re: XF100 First impressions

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Originally Posted by Stephen Boss View Post
I'm still waiting on some impressions with regards to image quality; particularly low light performance. Anybody??
me too... actually everyone seems to focus (no pun intended) mainly on menu structures and not on the actual output
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Old February 26th, 2011, 11:32 AM   #27
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Re: XF100 First impressions

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Originally Posted by Federico Perale View Post
me too... actually everyone seems to focus (no pun intended) mainly on menu structures and not on the actual output
Sorry, no. You're just being impatient.

It's a complex camera and there's lots of stuff to learn, settings to tweak and experiment with, things that will affect the performance also in low light conditions. You might ask some pro Canon tester to do test shots out of the box, but I'm not one of those.

I haven't done much recording, part because I'm still waiting for my CF cards to arrive right now I only have one 8GB card that will give me about 20 min., and part because well, hey I got it on thursday, the battery was flat and needed a recharge overnight .. and I work too, and have a life (or at least I like to imagine having one). Actually, I have only had one night to do night shots! Just how much testing do you reasonably expect in such a short time?

Secondly, it's actually difficult to do a useful test shot. It's not enough to see the end result, you also need to know under what conditions it was shot and with what settings. Even in a controlled environment, it's not necessarily useful for you unless you know that environment.

Finally, my impressions and choices of what to try is largely guided by what I find interesting to do and what road my curiosity happens to take me down of. If our interests don't coincide, hope for somebody else to join the discussion, or buy the camera and go testing.

Btw, in case you haven't noticed, about half the day there's plenty of light :), and you will find the comments about iris and auto-ND very useful. I had the cam out today in bright sunlight, Spain latitude, really need to get those ND filters soon.
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Old February 26th, 2011, 02:20 PM   #28
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Re: XF100 First impressions

Erik; when you turn the dial to adjust the aperture (when the ND is on automatic) do you see any visual jumps in exposure when the ND goes from 1/2, 1/4 to 1/8 or does the image gradually become darker and lighter?

Is the iris dial smooth enough to turn easily or do you have to apply some force to it?

Must say that the position of the iris dial and the fact that the camera doesn't have separate manual ND's got me doubting whether I should buy it, I do a lot of handheld work and always controll the ND's/iris manually, I need to be sure the camera will be able to handle constant changing light conditions (like going from dark inside to sunny outside) just by using that small dial. (with ND set to auto)

Is it easy to turn that small dial with f.i. your thumb when you handhold the camera?
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Old February 26th, 2011, 02:56 PM   #29
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Re: XF100 First impressions

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Originally Posted by Noa Put View Post
Erik; when you turn the dial to adjust the aperture (when the ND is on automatic) do you see any visual jumps in exposure when the ND goes from 1/2, 1/4 to 1/8 or does the image gradually become darker and lighter?

Is the iris dial smooth enough to turn easily or do you have to apply some force to it?

Must say that the position of the iris dial and the fact that the camera doesn't have separate manual ND's got me doubting whether I should buy it, I do a lot of handheld work and always controll the ND's/iris manually, I need to be sure the camera will be able to handle constant changing light conditions (like going from dark inside to sunny outside) just by using that small dial. (with ND set to auto)

Is it easy to turn that small dial with f.i. your thumb when you handhold the camera?
Hi:

The dial is has a very nice texture, good resistance and smooth turn.

Change of aperture and/or ND is continuous and smooth, only the numbers on the display jumps. This can be somewhat confusing, you turn the dial, and see things get darker but ND and F stays the same. I don't know the inner workings of the camera, but I'm somewhat puzzled as to how this continuous change actually works.

The problem with automatic ND is that you may not always agree with Canon engineers as to when you wan't ND applied, sometimes you want wide aperture and start using ND to keep DOF as shallow as possible, other times you want a large DOF first, and then apply ND only after. The only way to control ND manually is by using screw on filters.

As for the handling: In handheld, I prefer to hold the camera in the handle with my right hand and support it underneath with my left. My left hands thumb is right on the dial. It's not perfect though:

First, if you also use manual focus it can be difficult to change between the dials without camera shake.

Second, while you can perfectly turn the dial with just the thumb, you may need to turn it multiple times, so it won't be that continuous. I just tried, with ND set to automatic, I can do one continuous half turn with my thumb, and it takes two complete turns to go from f/1.8 to f/22+ND1/8.

If you go from indoor darkness to sunny outside, I think this is difficult with any camera. You might need to go from f/1.8 to f/8+ND1/8, but then, you'd also need to modify white balance. ADDED: In the more likely situation that you're filming outdoor in a partly cloudy weather, I think you won't find problems with this dial.
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Old February 26th, 2011, 03:32 PM   #30
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Re: XF100 First impressions

Thx Erik, that's valuable information, this camera is not even on display in video stores in my country and soonest it would be available was in 2 weeks when ordered but that remains to be seen. This means I only have other people impressions to go on right now so good you got an early start. :)

Quote:
First, if you also use manual focus it can be difficult to change between the dials without camera shake.
Can't you assign focus to the ring on the lens and at the same time the iris to that small dial?
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