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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 July 6th, 2012, 12:21 PM   #16
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Re: Looking at stepping up from XF100 to XF300

Sign up for a free account on Vimeo. Make an H.264 version that is 3000KBS or higher. After it uploads to Vimeo, you can copy paste the link and it will embed.

The EX-1 or EX3 with their 1/2" chips are the best low light cameras with servo zoom within your budget. The XF300, Pannys and JVCs with their 1/3" chips follow. If the EX1 zoom isn't good enough for you, the EX-3 uses interchangeable lenses and you may be able to find one that suits you. There's a rebate on the EX-3 I believe. You have to drop to SD to get better low light performance.
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Old July 6th, 2012, 03:33 PM   #17
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Re: Looking at stepping up from XF100 to XF300

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Originally Posted by Tim Polster View Post
In the case that he might only deliver to DVD and the internet, a broadcast SD camera seems like a better tool for long lens tripod work than a 5D in my experience.
Even if the video is destined for the web that will likely require 720p HD nowadays.
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Old July 6th, 2012, 04:13 PM   #18
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Re: Looking at stepping up from XF100 to XF300

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Sign up for a free account on Vimeo. Make an H.264 version that is 3000KBS or higher. After it uploads to Vimeo, you can copy paste the link and it will embed.

The EX-1 or EX3 with their 1/2" chips are the best low light cameras with servo zoom within your budget.
Lee,
Thanks for the info on Vimeo. I will try to get that done tonight.

The difference in video quality between the EX-3 with three 1/2" sensors and the XF100 single 1/3" sensor will be quite substantial in low light conditions.....correct?
I have read through part of the EX-3 manual.
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Old July 6th, 2012, 08:00 PM   #19
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Re: Looking at stepping up from XF100 to XF300

Yes it will be substantial. You can also add 6db of gain, 12db if you have to and then use neat video. I think the thing is that you are going to the best low light performer in the class. If you go with another, you'll always wonder.

It need not be sight unseen. Rent an EX1 and you can see the performance for yourself. It'll cost you around $300 for a day or $350 for an EX3. Here's a dealer in Portland:
Koerner Camera Systems Motion Picture Camera Rental Equipment

But I can't help you with EX-3 lens alternatives to address your concerns. Post in the XDCAM forum for that: Sony XDCAM EX CineAlta Forum at DVinfo.net
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Old July 7th, 2012, 01:54 PM   #20
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Re: Looking at stepping up from XF100 to XF300

I got a sample clip up on Vimeo, just so you can see what I'm struggling with on color.

I was taken by how much the conversion process alters the color. The clip on Vimeo is more saturated, the skin tones pinker, less realistic looking. I had to go back and alter the original clip and then upload again to get a better looking clip on Vimeo. Still not very good.

In any case, the colors with the XF100 are a real problem. I assume this is because of the high gain, based on other posts here. As you change saturation/color in FCP X, it can quickly go from faded and flat to too saturated and unnatural. I would hope a camera like the EX3 would substantially improve the color.

The clip is here (I'm not authorized to allow the clip to be embedded, but you can go to the clip by clicking on the title):

Note the common difficulty in these clubs: A great Exposure range. Overall it is relatively dark, but the single overhead spot is very harsh against the upper back wall.

FYI, the XF100 settings were:
- 50Mbps, 1920x1080, 24p, Shutter 1/30, Aperture full open (F1.8-2.8), Auto focus
- Gain on auto ran +12 to +20
- Gamma Normal 2
- Black Master Pedestal 0
- Black Gamma Level 0
- Low Key Sat Enable Off
- Level 0
- Knee Enable On
- Knee Automatic Off
- Knee Slope 12
- Knee Point 85
- Sharpness Level -5
- Sharpness H Detail Frequency 0
- Sharpness Coring Level 5
- Sharpness Coring D Offset 5
- Sharpness Coring D Curve 4
- Sharpness Coring D Depth 4
- Sharpness HV Detail Balance 0
- Sharpness Limit 0
- Noise Reduction Auto
- Color Matrix Select Normal 2
- Color matrix gain 0
- Color matrix R-G 0
- AGC Limit Off

In FCP X I did the best I could with color and used Neat Video to reduce noise.
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Old July 7th, 2012, 04:13 PM   #21
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Re: Looking at stepping up from XF100 to XF300

Michael, I was expecting something much worse from your ealier posts! You have some ambient light to work with even though you had to use a lot of gain. The problem is not so much the light level but that the musicians are not in any of it. Also, a localized level correction on the bright area on the back wall would really help.

I would think your saturation issue could be resolved and is not due to the XF100 showing a weakness. The Canon's can have great color, you just might need to bump the saturation or experiment with some of the different gamma choices.

Are you applying the noise reduction before or after any color correction? It would be best practice to apply the noise reduction as the very first step. Then sort out what you have to work with.

I know you said you do not want to bring lights, but that is really all this setup needs. If you factor in how much you are willing to spend on a different camera, adding a couple of lights would be the cheap route. Do for the sake of your product if not for the band's sake. Then your could create a ratio and let the ambient light fall where it may only exposing for the band members.

Always better to see rather than explain in regards to images.
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Old July 7th, 2012, 04:31 PM   #22
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Re: Looking at stepping up from XF100 to XF300

Tim is correct, the lighting is awful. You'll get a better image from a better camera but that's about it.
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Old July 7th, 2012, 05:41 PM   #23
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Re: Looking at stepping up from XF100 to XF300

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Originally Posted by Tim Polster View Post
Michael, I was expecting something much worse from your ealier posts! You have some ambient light to work with even though you had to use a lot of gain. The problem is not so much the light level but that the musicians are not in any of it.

Welcome to the world of small clubs.
Yes, it really helps to see the situation.
This club is brighter than most, but almost all have harsh local spots aimed in the general direction of the stage, or thereabouts.
The general lighting in this club is actually darker than it appears in the video. Note that the XF100 was running gain sometimes pushing +24 (where it chose to run in auto). It was overdoing it, since in FCP X I had to drop the exposure Highlights 10-12 numbers to get down to 100%, but I still left it brighter than the actual.
But you are right, this is not a candlelight dinner. :)

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Originally Posted by Tim Polster View Post
Also, a localized level correction on the bright area on the back wall would really help.
Yes, I agree. I tried this in FCP X, but it quickly because a tedious job because of the frequent zooming. As I get more adept in FCP X, hopefully I can do this much faster.

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Originally Posted by Tim Polster View Post
I would think your saturation issue could be resolved and is not due to the XF100 showing a weakness. The Canon's can have great color, you just might need to bump the saturation or experiment with some of the different gamma choices.
Yes, my hope is I can find better settings than those listed.
FYI, I dropped the Saturation 20 numbers (!) for the video you see. As it came from the camera, the video was very saturated, not realistic. I may have overdone it a bit, since it is somewhat lifeless. But it is a lot better than the original.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Polster View Post
Are you applying the noise reduction before or after any color correction? It would be best practice to apply the noise reduction as the very first step. Then sort out what you have to work with.
I appreciate you telling me the correct order. I wasn't aware of the best practice.
Unfortunately, I can't do this at the moment because of an issue with FCP X, separate for what we have discussed.
When I apply Neat Video first, it is rendered in real time not background, i.e., you have to wait for around 75 minutes for it to render before I can do anything else. Then, if I do anything else after this, FCP X re-renders the noise correction when I export and I have to wait another 75 minutes! I don't have a clue why FCP X is doing this.

I just mention this as an aside, since I am pulling my hair out trying to get an answer from the FCP X experts at the Apple forums. Once I sort this out, I will do things in the order you propose. This may improve the noise correction........although, if you had seen the noise in the original, you would be amazed at what Neat Video can do. I guess the fine noise makes it easier to correct.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Polster View Post
I know you said you do not want to bring lights, but that is really all this setup needs. If you factor in how much you are willing to spend on a different camera, adding a couple of lights would be the cheap route. Do for the sake of your product if not for the band's sake. Then your could create a ratio and let the ambient light fall where it may only exposing for the band members.
100% agreement.
But the problems are:
(1) Often the area you see right in front of the stage has dancers on it, inebriated dancers I should add. This is the same in almost all the clubs. The dancers don't want lights on them, so they would have to be right against the stage. A challenge to locate them.
(2) Club owners don't want lights and cables around the dance floor, anything that will increase their liability. The bands have to keep their gear on the stage.
(3) Transporting them is a hassle, not insurmountable.

I'm just not sure I can make this work. Sometimes it is a hassle just to get the owner to agree to let me take up space. :)

But again, I agree this would work wonders.
What I may be able to do is to suggest to the owners some improvements in the built-in spots they have..........like toning the one down a little in this club. :)

....................................

All useful help, I really appreciate it.

One other thing I will mention that I hope will also help.
The XF100 is not holding the color well throughout the shoot. For example, in the video I posted, the color went significantly toward blue at about 1:45. You can see some quick changes in color on the guitarist's head if you watch closely, a tip-off that I wasn't perfect in my correction. I cut the clip into several clips and used several transitions to make it as smooth as i could. I had to drop the Midtone color 18 numbers in the blue-green area to correct it (!!).

I assume this change was triggered by my zoom/pan from the singer to the guitarist.
This kind of color shift occurred in most of the clips I shot that night.
I would think the XF100 would be able to deal with zooming better than this.

This, along with the high saturation in the original footage and the fact that it is raising gain in auto well above what is really needed tells me the XF100 needs a checkup. I am going to ship it back to Cannon and have them test it.........I've only had it two months.
Hopefully this will also help.

So, I guess I shouldn't toss the XF100 quite yet.
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Old July 7th, 2012, 06:22 PM   #24
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Re: Looking at stepping up from XF100 to XF300

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Originally Posted by Tim Polster View Post
The Canon's can have great color..................
One thing I forgot to mention, Tim, that is worrying me.
What you say is correct, but numerous posts here have said that the color quality goes down rapidly above +6 gain. Even if the XF100 needs repairs and afterwards will run at lower gain, I am not sure it will be below +6. So regardless of how the club looks, if the gain runs well above +6, I am assuming I am not going to get good color. This is really the reason I have been harping on the "low lighting" problem............what I really mean is the "high gain" problem.

Guess I first need to have Canon check out the XF100, then see how the next shoot goes.

Thanks again for the help.
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Old July 7th, 2012, 06:29 PM   #25
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Re: Looking at stepping up from XF100 to XF300

Great info Michael. The more we know, the more we can help.

1) Neat Video & rendering. What your are experiencing is FCP needing to re-render anything that changes on the timeline. So if Neat Video is applied as a filter, it will always be there wanting to be rendered. You probably would be better off importing the original clips, applying the noise reduction and then exporting to make a new clip. Then import this new clip and do the rest of your editing and color correction. Yes, it is a drag but noise reduction is about the most render intensive filter you can apply.

2) Camera settings. I would get used to running the camera on full manual. In these challenging lighting situations, cameras on auto tend to freak out and chage a lot. Being on manual will give you something consistent to work with. It takes more attention when you are filming but that it what it takes to get good footage.

3) Lighting. Your only hope would be to get some LED lights you could run on batteries like Cool Lights. Put them very high so they shine downward to the bandstand and try to miss some of the dance floor.

Overall, I always applaud wanting to get the best product you can make, but in some ways, you are trying to do the impossible. This environment is too "normal" to look exceptional on a video. You would need to plan this out and add lighting to make it look the way you are wanting. Sometimes you just can not 'polish the turd' so to speak.

So I see your only hope is to work something out with the band/owner if there is a need for better quality. Otherwise, just work with what you have.
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Old July 7th, 2012, 06:30 PM   #26
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Re: Looking at stepping up from XF100 to XF300

I would think you can make the color look right in post even though the gain is flattening out the image. That is what the 4:2:2 codec is for.
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Old July 7th, 2012, 09:12 PM   #27
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Re: Looking at stepping up from XF100 to XF300

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Originally Posted by Tim Polster View Post
Great info Michael. The more we know, the more we can help.

1) Neat Video & rendering. What your are experiencing is FCP needing to re-render anything that changes on the timeline. So if Neat Video is applied as a filter, it will always be there wanting to be rendered. You probably would be better off importing the original clips, applying the noise reduction and then exporting to make a new clip. Then import this new clip and do the rest of your editing and color correction. Yes, it is a drag but noise reduction is about the most render intensive filter you can apply.
Man, finally a solution that makes sense. That will work. None of the FCP X experts have been any help. Thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Polster View Post
2) Camera settings. I would get used to running the camera on full manual. In these challenging lighting situations, cameras on auto tend to freak out and chage a lot. Being on manual will give you something consistent to work with. It takes more attention when you are filming but that it what it takes to get good footage.
OK, I am seeing this is where I need to go. I can do that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Polster View Post
3) Lighting. Your only hope would be to get some LED lights you could run on batteries like Cool Lights. Put them very high so they shine downward to the bandstand and try to miss some of the dance floor.
Maybe can do, in a few clubs where they will cooperate.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Polster View Post
Overall, I always applaud wanting to get the best product you can make, but in some ways, you are trying to do the impossible. This environment is too "normal" to look exceptional on a video. You would need to plan this out and add lighting to make it look the way you are wanting. Sometimes you just can not 'polish the turd' so to speak.
Yes, starting to see this also. My perfectionist bent easily kicks in. The truth is, what I posted is far better than what the bands normally get.
I just want it a little better......... :)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Polster View Post
So I see your only hope is to work something out with the band/owner if there is a need for better quality. Otherwise, just work with what you have.
I think I can get most owners to adjust the built-in lighting............if I'm willing to do it for them. :)
......................................................

Good practical advice that gets me back to reality. Thanks so much.
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Old July 8th, 2012, 02:42 AM   #28
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Re: Looking at stepping up from XF100 to XF300

Michael, now that I see your shoot, I can agree with the other answers. I doubt that you will get much more 'bang for your buck' from a EX3 though. I think that you actually have pretty good lighting to work with here (G!). I would first off tell you to drop down to 24p from 30. That will buy you almost a stop more light. I always shoot at 24p in low light. Try it and see.

Secondly, to get much better quality out of that light without adding more lights, then you likely will have to go to a HDSLR with a larger sensor. There is likely no other way to substantially improve your image before post. And yes, you can manipulate it more in post than you have.

Here's some example's I've done. ( I wasn't trying to embed them, but it seems that this board does it from any link...). These aren't meant to be anything more than samples of struggling with low light club situations I've had over the last year or so. All the musicians loved the work, but certainly there was room for improvement. I try to get board feeds when possible, but the Blues in the Clubs was shot with a shotgun mounted on the 7D.

Stage lighting with a 305 (could have been my 100 without much difference). You can see it falls off dramatically on the right side.

Now for some truly hard lighting situations. In Portland at the Old Church downtown. The starting "A" camera was struggling. A 1/3rd HMC 150 at +9 db and then I shot B camera with my 7D. You can see the difference. It was the only way to capture it for real. And that was pushing it as well. The main lighting was just terribly dim.


This next one I really think came out great, but required the 7D. Extremely low club light. Various clubs. Needed to grab decent shots in all clubs to turnaround for advertising. I doubt I could have shot anything like this on my 100 or 300. Some of the clubs in this sampler resemble your club. Some are much worse. You'll notice the color is quite ok on most of them. The street band was under street lights and was a 'mood' shoot.

This is why I was saying that an HDSLR may some times be your only way out. But I think your specific club has 'good enough' lighting. Your 100 gain will be nice and fine as you crank it up.

Here is another one that was shot on the 7D that I could not have captured on the xf305 or 100 without a lot of grain or added lights. The goal was to show the beauty of the sunset, and the "b" camera was actually shot earlier in the evening on a different song, so that's why the stage was brighter.


So keep working your 100 for now, get it down to 24p, and do the stuff the others mentioned. Give it a few more months of trying before abandoning it. You can modify the camera picture files, there are some listed for download on the Vimeo XF100/300 site, like "HIGAIN". (also try out the infrared for a film noire look!). If worse comes to worse, start considering an HSDLR. WIth the new upcoming fix to the 7D, you'll have audio monitoring, which is critical. WIthout it, I'd likely look at a GH2. Or may be a 5D.
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Last edited by Al Bergstein; July 8th, 2012 at 10:52 AM.
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Old July 8th, 2012, 03:14 AM   #29
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Re: Looking at stepping up from XF100 to XF300

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This is why I was saying that an HDSLR may some times be your only way out.
Try doing this with a canon xa10 or a sony emor r series, you have to see it to believe it but my small sony cx730 can match my t2i in low light when I use a 35mm f 1.4 lens, wide open at 1600 iso and has less grain in the image.

With that dark perfomances you show these very small low light optimised handicams are the best investment you can make.
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Old July 8th, 2012, 06:15 AM   #30
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Re: Looking at stepping up from XF100 to XF300

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...I doubt that you will get much more 'bang for your buck' from a EX3 though. ...So keep working your 100 for now, get it down to 24p, ...
I disagree with this. An EX1R or EX3 will provide a brighter image with less noise potentially eliminating the need for adding gain or running noise reduction filters which seem to be affecting IQ.

The OP has stated he's already shooting 24p and a servo zoom is required.
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