Canon XH-A1 & Panasonic HVX200 Depth of Field Different? at DVinfo.net

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Canon XH Series HDV Camcorders
Canon XH G1S / G1 (with SDI), Canon XH A1S / A1 (without SDI).


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Old March 8th, 2007, 12:26 AM   #1
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Canon XH-A1 & Panasonic HVX200 Depth of Field Different?

An new friend of mine said that he worked on a prosumer HD camera review for "American Cinematographer" magazine which compared the Canon XH-A1, Panasonic HVX200 and JVC HD 100U.

He insists their tests concluded that the Panasonic had the most "film like" depth of field, followed by the JVC. The Canon had the most "video like" depth of field.

This seems non-sensical to me. As I've been always taught that depth of field is function of three things: focusing screen image size, f-stop and focal length of the lens. So if each 1/3 sensor camera were zoomed to the same focal length and set to the same aperature, their depths of field should all be identical.

Granted each model of lens blurs slightly differently. So it could it be that the bokeh of the HVX200 is more "film camera like" than the bokeh of the XH-1A?

Also, I know the Canon's built-in neutral density filter is not as strong as the Panasonic's, but he insists that was not the cause. He ascribed the Panasonic's more "film like" look to its lens being physically wider and shorter.

I've searched the "American Cinematographer" website, but can find no such review. In fairness to my friend, he said it was probably published last June, and their archieve only goes back to July.

Any thoughts on all this?

P.S. I'd love to compare each camera side-by-side, but at $300-$400 a day per camera, that's a pretty expensive experiment.

THANKS MUCH for your help. ;)

Last edited by Peter Moretti; March 8th, 2007 at 02:55 AM.
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Old March 8th, 2007, 02:19 AM   #2
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Last June, June 2006? A1 wasn`t even out at the time.
If I remember correctly XH series were announced in the end of July.
Maybe it was about H1.
Nevertheless DOF should be same for the given imager size, focal length and aperture. Plus A1 has that extra (12+8X) zoom range that might help out with getting that shallow DOF sometimes.

I have both HVX and A1 at my disposal and I must say that I like the detailed images from A1 much more with the "panalook" preset engaged of course.

Cheers,
T
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Old March 8th, 2007, 04:02 AM   #3
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"panalook" preset?
intriguing.. care to share ?? LOL

as for DoF you must also consider the number of blades the iris has which determines the level of softness of the bokeh...

Ive noticed it makes quite a big difference, andi prefer the Pana's blades "edging" the blurred elements.. i prefer that look personally against the Sony anyday.. but im yet to get my dirty mitts on an A1..
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Old March 8th, 2007, 06:39 AM   #4
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""PANALOOK is Steven Dempsey's preffered setting which accurately emulates the DVX100""

As for traditional hard-edged and often polygon-shaped out of focus areas A1 produces hexagonal bokeh referring to six-bladed diaphragm and HVX produces almost circular and more "natural" bokeh referring to nine-bladed diaphragm.

That`s all I can see,
T
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Old March 8th, 2007, 12:10 PM   #5
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Peter, the guy is obviously full of it, as are many people who post on some boards. Both cameras have 1/3" 16X9 chips, so under equal conditions their depth of field would be the same. I saw one post that claimed the Canon had better depth of field control because of its longer lens. Also BS. Of course, if you zoom in more to a tighter shot, the background will go softer. But it's the same at the same focal lengths and apertures. The lens of the Canon is the same at the wide end as the Panasonic's and the Sony's too. They're all 4.5, I think, or very close to that, which is about 32mm in "real" lens terms.

All the 1/3" chip HD cameras can provide a quality image that many people will mistake for film if they see it on a big screen. Each one has advantages and disadvantages in relation to the other. The Panasonic, in my opinion, has a very nice look, but its lower resolution makes it not as good as the others if you are going to transfer to film or to HDCAM. Now, before people trounce on me for that, let me say that's being very nit-pickey. The only places the lower resolution is going to show up will be on the wide shots. You will see something similar with the JVC on its wide shots. The Sony and Canon look better on wid shots. Howver, all the 1/3" chip cameras are more similar than they are different.

But back to depth of field, film does not have any natural depth of field control any better than video. It all depends on the size of the negative, or the chip, plus the aperture, focal length and distance of subject from background. Under equal conditions, you will never get the same shallow depth of field with any 1/3" chip camera as you will get with a 1/2" chip or a 2/3" chop camera, and a 16mm film negative size will be similar but a tiny bit shallower than a 2/3" chip camera, and a 35mm negative will give even shallower depth of field. The only way around it is to use one of the spinning ground glass adapters, if you must have 35mm-like shallow depth of field.

I actually saw some frame grabs on another board one time after the XL2 came out and the guy was claiming the XL2 had shallower depth of field than the PD170. He had zoomed in a lot more with the XL2, so naturally the shot had a shallower depth of field.

Your friends uninformed comments prove a point: Never believe everything you read on the boards or what you hear from people (and especially from salesmen). Use the comments as a guide but check it out for yourself. And, if I may quote Chris, don't get bogged down in measurebation. And don't believe everything I write either.
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Old March 8th, 2007, 12:32 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Toenis Liivamaegi View Post
...

As for traditional hard-edged and often polygon-shaped out of focus areas A1 produces hexagonal bokeh referring to six-bladed diaphragm and HVX produces almost circular and more "natural" bokeh referring to nine-bladed diaphragm.

That`s all I can see,
T
Is this a difference that you notice much on the footage? As a circular bokeh seems more preferable to hexagonal one. Thanks much!
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Old March 9th, 2007, 02:13 AM   #7
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To be honest the bokeh on the A1 looks a lot nicer than a lot of camcorders in this class - and it's really not a deal-breaker over the HVX200. If you were that picky about very minor image artefacts then there are too many image artefacts on both these camcorders, that you'd be looking at the XDCAM HD camcorders, or better.
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Old March 9th, 2007, 02:46 AM   #8
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don't forget that with poor CCD resolution (960x540), the pana is probably not able to render fine background details as well as the camera with higher resolution sensors. This can be an advantage when trying to emulate film look with fuzzy background.
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Old March 12th, 2007, 11:07 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Giroud Francois View Post
don't forget that with poor CCD resolution (960x540), the pana is probably not able to render fine background details as well as the camera with higher resolution sensors. This can be an advantage when trying to emulate film look with fuzzy background.
Actually, you can control the XH-A1's sharpness and emulate the Panasonic's "film-like fuzziness" if you so wish, no?
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