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Canon XL and GL Series DV Camcorders
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Old January 7th, 2008, 02:17 PM   #1
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XL2 Wedding's and Lighting?

I have been looking into shooting wedding's recently and several of the other videographers I have been talking to. (They don't know Iam looking to do the same) have been talking about low light Cameras. For obvious reason, they are touting thier equipment as being good for low light.

Several have stated the Canon's are not good in low light situations. What are some of your experiences with the Canon in Low light shots? How has it been for wedding's?
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Old January 7th, 2008, 03:34 PM   #2
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Guy,

They are correct, the XL2 isn't as good as let's say a Sony PD170/VX2100, which is king in low light when it comes to weddings. We switched from Canon XL-1s to PD170s. No one complained about the XL-1's but we couldn't use them after seeing the difference.

Lighting is everything but when it comes to weddings, during the ceremony you cannot supply lighting most of the time and you will see a difference if compaired to the PD170.

Don't let others tell you what to do. There are plenty of people using XL2's to shoot weddings.
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Old January 7th, 2008, 05:17 PM   #3
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Guy,

I used my XL2 on a friends wedding and it was wonderful. It really depends on the lighting conditions, but for the most part, it's true that the XL2 is at the bottom of the list when it comes to low light capabilities, however, with proper lighting (shoe mounted light), it can look awesome.

To be honest, my friends wedding was relatively dark, and the only thing that saved me was the dj party lights. I thought it would look bad, but to my surprise it looked wonderful and that's with NO on cam light either.

I'll upload a clip later so you can see what I'm talking about. Set your settings to optimal low light settings and frame your subjects properly taking full advantage of the light that is available to you, the XL2 can overcome a lot of its own issues.
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Old January 7th, 2008, 06:45 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Guy Godwin View Post
I have been looking into shooting wedding's recently and several of the other videographers I have been talking to. (They don't know Iam looking to do the same) have been talking about low light Cameras. For obvious reason, they are touting thier equipment as being good for low light.

Several have stated the Canon's are not good in low light situations. What are some of your experiences with the Canon in Low light shots? How has it been for wedding's?
Hi Guy,

Yes, Sony and Panasonic cameras in the same price range are superior in side by side low-light comparison. So we XL-2 owners make appropriate adjustments: open the iris, slow down the shutter, adjust the presets, move in close, add light, etc.

Good luck, Michael
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Old January 7th, 2008, 06:51 PM   #5
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How would you compare the XL2 and the XL1s with low light condition ?

Regards !

Daniel
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Old January 7th, 2008, 08:35 PM   #6
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I have a 3x lens that arrives tomorrow. I assume that this would be a major help for all close ups. However, if I have a long aisle I am concerned I could not capture "the walk".

comparitavely speaking how are the GL2's? with lighting?
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Old January 10th, 2008, 04:27 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Guy Godwin View Post
I have a 3x lens that arrives tomorrow. I assume that this would be a major help for all close ups. However, if I have a long aisle I am concerned I could not capture "the walk".

Hi Guy,

Comparatively speaking how are the GL2's? with lighting?
As far as the specs go, the GL-2 has 410,000 pixels per 1/4" CCD, while the XL-2 CCD is a full 1/3" with 680,000 pixels. On the XL-2, you also have a wide range of presets at your disposal (crush the blacks, crank down the setup level and master pedistal, knee to low, etc).

But if you're deeply concerned with a long shot in low lighting, then consider investing in a low light Sony for that shot. Yet practically speaking, you can always slow down the shutter speed to get more light on the CCD (and of course, open up the iris).

Good luck, Michael
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Old January 11th, 2008, 11:58 PM   #8
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I've used all three Canons (GL2, XL1S, XL2) extensively at many weddings, and in my opinion the GL2 is at the bottom of the barrel for low-light. The necessary gain is just way too harsh and grainy and it annoys the heck out of me. The XL1S is significantly better in low light than the GL2 and is definitely useable, but still not great. The XL2, not surprisingly, is the best of the three. Even though each pixel on the XL2's CCD is physically smaller compared to the XL1S's CCD, the signficant differences "under the hood" with processing and setup seem to result in a cleaner image overall. That being said, even with the XL2 I still prefer to shoot at 1/30 shutter to let in as much light and to avoid gain as long as possible (and with the added benefit of a quasi-film look). At the reception if the DJ's lights aren't enough and if the clients don't mind, I'll often use a small 10-watt on-camera light during certain parts... and in that case the XL2 of course shoots excellent footage.

In the end it's a tradeoff, and largely just a personal choice. Yes, there are better cameras out there when comparing strictly low-light performance, such as the Sony PD170. But the other benefits of the XL2 (easily adjusted full manual controls without digging through menus, outstanding lens, the inherent stability of the shoulder mount form factor, the massive customization options, even the professional "look" of the camera body) outweigh the disadvantages, at least in my opinion.
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Old January 12th, 2008, 07:05 AM   #9
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Thanks Ryan for your excellent reply.

I was asking because I have been shooting Year end figures skating show with a XL1 and a GL2, the clients are please with the result. However, I am always trying to do better. Lately, I've bought two XL2 and from your response I can only expect better than the XL1 and the GL2. This is great !

However, I am sure that I am not using the camera to the best of its capacity. The filming condition are the following :
- Low light condition (beginning and end of of a performance), medium and high light condition during the performance.
- very easy to have overexposition (follows beams on the skaters) - I was always adjusting the iris during the peformance.
- skaters moves fast on the ice - I have to pan and zoom (in/out) at the same time. I set the the focus to manual mode right at the beginning of the show and do not touch unless required.

I always filmed using the AV option and adjusted the IRIS depending on the lightening. In your opinion what would be the adjustment you would go for?


P.S. The worst result of light condition that I've found so far are 1) when the subject weir a white dress (very bad with overexposition, need to adjust the iris) and 2) when using red for lightening some of the performances (enough that I have to make sure not to forget to talk to the person responsible for the lightening of the show the next time).

Thanks again for the advises !
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Old January 12th, 2008, 05:56 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel Paquin View Post
Thanks Ryan for your excellent reply.

I was asking because I have been shooting Year end figures skating show with a XL1 and a GL2, the clients are please with the result. However, I am always trying to do better. Lately, I've bought two XL2 and from your response I can only expect better than the XL1 and the GL2. This is great !

However, I am sure that I am not using the camera to the best of its capacity. The filming condition are the following :
- Low light condition (beginning and end of of a performance), medium and high light condition during the performance.
- very easy to have overexposition (follows beams on the skaters) - I was always adjusting the iris during the peformance.
- skaters moves fast on the ice - I have to pan and zoom (in/out) at the same time. I set the the focus to manual mode right at the beginning of the show and do not touch unless required.

I always filmed using the AV option and adjusted the IRIS depending on the lightening. In your opinion what would be the adjustment you would go for?


P.S. The worst result of light condition that I've found so far are 1) when the subject weir a white dress (very bad with overexposition, need to adjust the iris) and 2) when using red for lightening some of the performances (enough that I have to make sure not to forget to talk to the person responsible for the lightening of the show the next time).

Thanks again for the advises !
Hi Daniel,

Oh oh, taping an ice skating show is entirely different than a wedding. For instance, when Ryan discusses using a 10 watt light (wow, many use 100 watts with a soft box and a dimmer), Ryan is probably within 10 feet of his subject (10 feet light to subject, 10 feet subject to camera). Since light must obey the inverse-square law:

http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu...sion/isql.html

even a 500 watt light with a fresnel may not be enough with the subject 100+ feet away. Further frustrating the matter, if you slow down the shutter to capture more light on the CCD, you'll have blurred subjects moving laterally across the ice and blurry background when you pan from side to side. IMHO if that's your gig, you should seriously consider a very low light camera, not the Canon.

Yes, you're right on about the problem with red lights at events (including theatre plays). While our eyes adapt to the red filtered light, the video typically looks shockingly bad since the red CCD loves to soak up the red light. Nutz, off to the color correcting in post editing. Of course, if you're lucky enough to do test shooting before the event, you can go into your presets and carefully turn down the red on the camera.

Good luck, Michael
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Old January 12th, 2008, 07:26 PM   #11
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Yes Micheal,

I agree with you that there is a world of difference between a wedding and a figure skating show. I was using this thread because of the lighting subject. Maybe I should had posted a new thread.

Like I said previously, my customers have been very happy with the final result that I've provided them in using the XL1s.

I will not be able to use another camera then the XL2. In using a XL1s and a GL2 before, I was hoping that the result would be better with a XL2. To what I understand that seems to be the case. I sure will see it by myself when I film a next yeard end show.

I welcome any information that I can get to help me correctly setting-up the camera for this year show.

Regards !

Daniel

P.S.: THIS IS A GREAT FORUM THE INFORMATION RECEIVED IS WORTH A LOT !!!
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Old January 13th, 2008, 02:07 AM   #12
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My advice to slow the shutter to 1/30 would not be a good idea when shooting sports, such as skating. At weddings people are fairly stationary so it's not a problem, but with any fast motion you'll need to shoot at 1/60 or it's going to look bad.

It sounds like a lot of your issue is just making sure you have the exposure correct for the spotlights (which can be challenging). I'd assume the spotlights are providing more than enough light for the XL2 to shoot cleanly, so you'll mainly just have to keep the zebra stripes down under control. If manually rolling the iris dial up and down constantly is getting annoying you might experiment with just going the easy route by setting the camera to Tv mode at 1/60 and then using exposure compensation set at about -2.0 or something around there. In fast changing lighting it's a nifty trick that produces pretty decent results usually.

Lastly, the reds. Basically, they're pretty much gonna suck no matter what. As far as I know it's just the way DV camcorders work. As per the other poster's advice, you can try to mess with the XL2's presets to help a little... but basically bright red light freaks out the camera and the resulting footage looks very blocky and overall not so great. I shot a wedding last year that was under a tent lit exclusively by diffused pink lights and it was a nightmare visually (although the client was happy with the emotional content of the overall video, and likely didn't even notice the red issues during the reception). There's a sample clip of it at http://www.focalpointvideo.biz/Sampl...Reception.html although the blockiness is much more obvious when viewed on a full-sized TV instead of this dinky little Quicktime clip.
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Old January 13th, 2008, 06:51 AM   #13
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Thanks Ryan.

I will sure experiment setting the camera to Tv mode at 1/60 and then using exposure compensation set at about -2.0. So far keeping the zebra stripes down under control is what I have been doing.

I am happy that I am not the only one who felt that way about the red. Now, that I know that it is not in my imaginaton, I will try to control that a bit better. I will start by making sure to talk to those who are responsible for the show and those that are responsible for the ligthening. Let's see if I will be able to get an idea of how much red they will be using. If I can have some kind of influence that's great else I will have to play and do some color corrections in FinalCut Pro.

I could not have resisted and I went to see the other shots you have on your website.

Just fantastics, I really like the effect you are doing with your cameras. I can see you are using a Jib (it has to be more then eight feet) and either a Glidecam or a Steadycam. The flow for the video is fantastics. Zoom in/out, Pan down/up/left/right and the different angles gives very good result. You only want to get into the wedding. No doubt, it shows that you have a lot of experience in shooting weddings. The two cameras seems to be invisible. Your customers can only be happy !

I guess that all of those shots have been taken with XL2 cameras. Are you using specific lens or the 20x lens that came with the camera?

This is very inspiring !
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Old January 13th, 2008, 11:04 AM   #14
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Glad to be of assistance! As you continue to experiment, if you ever figure out a better solution to the issue with red light let us all know.

In response to your other comments, thank you, and you might be interested to know that actually I have never used a jib, steadycam, glidecam or anything of that sort. Nearly everything is handheld and shots/angles are composed on the fly since wedddings are live and unscripted events. A tripod and occasionally a monopod are as clever as I get. =)

Although the XL2 was the primary camera used, depending upon which clips you watched you may have seen a little bit of XL1S footage mixed in as well as some HV20 footage (in particular the shots using the semi-fisheye lens... since a fisheye for the HV20 is much cheaper than a fisheye for the XL2!!!). I'd estimate at least 90-95% of the footage is from the XL2, overall.
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