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Canon XL and GL Series DV Camcorders
Canon XL2 / XL1S / XL1 and GL2 / XM2 / GL1 / XM1.


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Old September 27th, 2007, 02:43 AM   #1
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picture noise in XL2

I've had my XL2 since March of this year. I bought it used and it had about 10 hours on it when I bought it.

Everything looks great with it, but I can *never* get rid of image noise.

My settings:
I shoot in manual mode almost 100% of the time and I try to keep the gain at -3dB all the time. With and without Custom Presets enabled (including noise reduction on high, crushed blacks, 'low light low noise' preset from here, etc). I always white balance. The iris is usually open almost fully, no ND filters, light meter reads fine in the viewfinder. Zebras at 100 show striping in the cases where I need to iris down a little bit, so there's plenty of light. I generally shoot in 30P or 24P and it's visible in both. It's more pronounced in 60i, and it's in 16:9 and 4:3 equally.

When shooting outdoors on sunny days to capture clouds for example, I need the higher ND setting, iris closed quite a bit, gain at -3, etc. The footage looks good except there's this little bit of hash in the dark and light areas equally. It's almost like an 8 bit audio recording. You can hear everything just fine, but there's a little bit of junk in everything. Or like tape hiss, same thing. The scopes show everything is fine in Premiere Pro 2 and Vegas 7 and the noise isn't terrible. But it's like a film grain in everything.

And no, I don't have the F. Grain button on my XL2. :)

I have the stock 20x lens and I usually shoot through a Tiffen Soft/FX 3 and then a UV filter on the end of that. The noise is completely randomized though, so it's not junk on the lens/filters.

Is this normal? I've seen lots of XL2 footage and it always looks either like a videocamera shot it, or rich and solid looking (depending on the shooter's settings), but I haven't noticed this noise problem in anyone else's footage.

Thanks!
Eric
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Old September 27th, 2007, 03:30 AM   #2
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Hi Eric,

Given the settings that you are using you should not be seeing any noise,
but you never know. Can you post a few screen shoots of the noise? It would
give anyone trying to help you a better idea of what you are seeing.

Terry
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Old September 27th, 2007, 03:46 AM   #3
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Hi Terry,

I've attached a clip from an interview DVD I recently completed. This was shot 16:9/30P. The wall was a light yellow color and I used a Lowel Omni light with a light green gel to change the wall color. The light meter in the LCD said I was right on the money. I blocked out the interviewee to keep the motion down and the noise is more noticeable in this area anyway.

There's a little bit of encoding noise in this clip, almost like it's under water. But when it's not doing that, you can see the constant noise going on.

Thoughts?

Thanks,
Eric :)
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File Type: wmv XL2 noise.wmv (614.3 KB, 573 views)
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Old September 27th, 2007, 04:03 AM   #4
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Here's another clip. This time with an interviewee.

I used a Lowel Pro light as a hairlight and the omni again on the wall, though with the barn doors far less open. I had to adjust the brightness a bit because it was a little dark compared to the previous shot (I adjusted using the scopes and all in PPro, so it's within the gamut on both shots).

This noise is visible on a CRT screen non-brightened footage, and it's in skin tones and mid-range stuff, not just shadows.

For this shoot, I used a Rifa 44 (250 watt) as a key, a few feet away at a 45/45 degree angle, a gold reflector for fill on the left, Pro light (250 watt) for hair/rim and Omni (250 or 500 watt, I don't remember. The stock bulb) for background light. It was a small room, maybe 10-12 feet deep. I got back against one wall, put the chair near the center of the room, and that gave me a slightly shallower depth of field.

Thanks again,
Eric
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File Type: wmv XL2 noise2.wmv (1.33 MB, 427 views)
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Old September 27th, 2007, 08:57 AM   #5
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Eric, when I got mine I had the same problem, I was shooting outdoors at dusk when I noticed it. I had made no adjustments and was shooting with it right out of the box. I then went back and adjusted the settings to get rid of the grain. I hooked it up to a monitor and adjusted it while shooting in low light to decrease the gain. I haven't had any issues since. I'll have to look up what I have it set at and get back to you for specifics.
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Old September 28th, 2007, 12:13 AM   #6
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Thanks Mark. This seems to happen with everything though. When I shoot at a studio as a 4th camera on tv productions (with at least 20kw of lights aimed at the set (just a desk with 3 chairs)), I still have noise problems. I've tried with custom presets from here as well as no preset at all. It would seem that using a 'low light low noise' preset in my apartment, with a 20 watt fluorescent light aimed at a wall 2 feet from it, I would have more than 'low light'. It's a 75 watt equivalent, I believe. The wall is off-white and textured. I have to iris down to get the light level right, and that's at -3dB gain. How is this not enough light to get rid of noise? :(

Eric
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Old September 29th, 2007, 01:41 AM   #7
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Have you seen it being fed directly out of the camera into a monitor? I'm just trying to eliminate the capture process in the chain.

Are you using any audio, video, or lighting accessories that might be generating interference?

-gb-
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Old September 29th, 2007, 01:51 AM   #8
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I can see it in the onboard LCD as just a sparkly little shimmery sort of thing, if that makes sense. I can see it view the firewire output. I can connect it to my tv and see if shows up there, but I'm 99% sure it does, since I can see it on the LCD onboard.

I don't know if this is related, but I've tried tracking down answers on here and haven't quite found what I need. I'm shooting at 24P (non advance) 16:9, and then capturing in Premiere (or Vegas, or MovieMaker ;) as 16:9 widescreen DV 48k. For some reason, I'm seeing a lot of interlacing in my footage. I haven't set up any 2:3:3:2 pulldown anywhere, just using the defaults. From what I understand, I have it correct, but my footage doesn't look 'like film' when it has visible interlacing in it :( I haven't viewed the current project on a CRT screen, just my laptop's lcd screen, so I realize there interlacing would be more apparent, but it's horrible looking in some places, like an actor walking at 50 feet, but then fine with an actor 3 feet in front of the lens throwing a rubber ball against a wall, no interlacing whatsoever. I'm using the same settings on all of these shots.

Is my camera broken? :(
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Old September 29th, 2007, 01:13 PM   #9
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Eric I think this might be a gain issue, the XL2 is very picky with light (low or high), low lights will give you noise at the background, so use the wedding preset but the pressed blacks, detail is compromised and dark skin individuals will give you horrible tone. Try not to use the gain and bounce the light on a ceiling to give you nice tone.
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Old September 29th, 2007, 08:33 PM   #10
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Thanks Akwasi,

My problem isn't lack of light though. I have other footage of shooting outdoors that I can post where the blue sky is full of noise too. The exposure level reads fine, and the clouds are one stop below zebra striping (zebras at 100). I don't understand how that could be a lack of light. Obviously there's no way to bounce light into the sky, but I don't think it should be needed either.

Should the gain be at -3 or 0? If 0dB is not boosted in any way, why should -3 be better? I would think 0 should be fine and shouldn't add any noise, but lots of people recommend using -3 for less noise. Is this control mislabeled? :)

Eric
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Old October 1st, 2007, 07:16 AM   #11
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Hi Eric,

I hate to say this, but I think your problem maybe with an amplifier in
the camera. I have been doing a lot of shooting in very low light this last
summer and I have nowhere near the amount of noise you are getting.
Don't giveup trying to track down the source of the noise, but it looks like
it's time to start thinking about sending the camera to Canon to have it
looked at.

Terry
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Old October 1st, 2007, 07:23 AM   #12
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Thanks for the reply, Terry.

I need to transfer the Mack warranty that came with the camera. I have the card and all, just need to mail it in I guess. Then I should be covered, right?

The noise isn't *bad*, and to the average person, I'm sure it's fine. To me, it's nearly fine. But I don't think it's normal and/or right. I'd rather get a complete run-through with Canon and have anything fixed that may need fixing on it, while it's still covered. I think there's about 2 1/2 years left on the warranty.

Is there a certain phone # I should call that gives better results than others with Canon? Or some dept I should ask for, etc? Maybe they have some over the phone troubleshooting/diagnosis thing I could do as well.

Thanks again,
Eric
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Old October 3rd, 2007, 11:32 PM   #13
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Eric,

To fix your problem with the interlacing you should shoot 24p Advanced, this will take care of that horrid interlacing you get every 4th frame.

Andrew
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Old October 3rd, 2007, 11:37 PM   #14
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Thanks Andrew,

Question though. I've been capturing my 24P footage with the 16:9 48k NTSC widescreen preset in Premiere Pro. It didn't occur to me to capture in 24 frame mode. Everything I've captured for this movie I've been shooting (like 5 tapes worth) has been captured at 30fps apparently. We haven't edited anything yet, other than a 3 min scene I threw together just to see how it played out (acting wise, and with some effects)..

Should I recapture this all using the 24P preset instead? And then if I shoot the new footage in 24Pa (and capture with that), will the combination of 24P and 24Pa be a problem? Reshooting isn't an option at this point, but recapturing is simple enough because nothing is really edited. Plus it would save disk space at 24fps.

Thoughts?
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Old October 4th, 2007, 08:17 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric Shepherd View Post
Question though. I've been capturing my 24P footage with the 16:9 48k NTSC widescreen preset in Premiere Pro. It didn't occur to me to capture in 24 frame mode. Everything I've captured for this movie I've been shooting (like 5 tapes worth) has been captured at 30fps apparently. We haven't edited anything yet, other than a 3 min scene I threw together just to see how it played out (acting wise, and with some effects)..

Should I recapture this all using the 24P preset instead? And then if I shoot the new footage in 24Pa (and capture with that), will the combination of 24P and 24Pa be a problem? Reshooting isn't an option at this point, but recapturing is simple enough because nothing is really edited. Plus it would save disk space at 24fps.
If you shot it in normal 24P (IE 3.2), then you should capture with a 24P preset. You'll still see a frame of two mixed fields every 5th frame or so.

If you shoot in 24Pa (IE 2:3:3:2), your NLE must be able to remove the advanced pulldown. However, if PP can do that, you'll be left editing true 24 frames in a 23.98 timeline. With 3:2, your timeline remains at 29:97.

Originally, it was 3:2 for material destined only for tv set playback and 2:3:3:2 for material destined to film out (because it can recover 24 complete frames without field mixing to create a pseudo frame every 5th frame). However, once it was learned that DVD players can apply their own pulldown, it became more advantageous to shoot 24Pa, edit in a 23.98 timeline, and author a DVD with 24P material. Fewer frames per second on the DVD allows for less compression and higher quality, or the same compression with longer run time.

As to your XL2 noise issue, I think it does need to go in for service. I can tell you that the one thing that originally sold me on the XL2 when it was released, was a night shot in Vienna at +18db. I couldn't believe how clean it was.

-gb-
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