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Canon XL and GL Series DV Camcorders
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Old November 26th, 2004, 09:21 PM   #31
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low light question

On b&h, they state that the XL2 is 5.5 Lux with f/1.6 in 60i Mode. Is the noise reduction feature making up for the poor 5.5 rating? BTW-Im not quetioning the XL2, ive seen plenty of extremely low light footage with almost no noise, im just curious as to how its possible with a 5.5 lux rating.

John
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Old November 26th, 2004, 10:44 PM   #32
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Those ratings mean squat, since lots of manufacturers will get to a level where the image is unuseable to claim better low light numbers. It's a grey area, for example it can be tested with the gain cranked all the way up, sometimes even with a night vision effect, in order to get better sounding numbers.

And since the manufacturer and only the manufacturer makes the final call as to what is acceptable footage in low light conditions with their product, you can be pretty darn sure that what is an acceptable image to their biased eyes probably won't be for a serious camera operator.

Trust your eyes, those numbers in the consumer and prosumer world are marketing gimmicks and nothing more, just like the frequency range of a mic without a +/- 2db specification. They are not an accurate measure based on a standard across the industry.

As an XL2 owner I can attest that it is indeed a fantastic camera in low light situations.
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Old November 26th, 2004, 11:05 PM   #33
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I agree david, the footage speaks for itself. Even if it is a more accurate number though, it wasnt a good marketing move by canon.


John
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Old November 28th, 2004, 08:24 AM   #34
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From the XL2 manual : Minimum ilumination is 0.7 lux in 60i, 1/8 shutter, F/1.6 aperture, +18dB gain, with the 20x IS lens, in manual mode. But no indication what IRE a, say, 90 % white card produces. This corresponds to 5.5 lux at 1/60 shutter.
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Old November 29th, 2004, 12:11 PM   #35
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I love this camera but I personally feel the low light capabilites are not its strong suit. I consistently have to bump the gain to +3 or sometimes +6 to achieve the same exposure as my partners original DVX100 (non A). The quality of the image is still very good but there is a little noise. My point is that more pixels crammed into a smaller area of a 1/3 inch CCD means that it will be less sensitive to light.

In addition the XL2 seems to have a slight saturation decrease or color shift when in low light. I undersatnd this happens in all cameras but in comparison to the DVX it is more pronounced. And the DVX is generally not considered to be a good low light camera. As an example under the same "not well lit environment" both cameras wide open and the XL2 gains at +3 I got similar images but the DVX retained better color in red channel than XL2. This is not scientific but an observation that I have made. The XL2 seems to really shine when you give it proper lighting.

Remember if you are doing dramatic work you should always properly light the scene. Even if you light it then underexpose to achieve a dark look, it started out well lit.
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Old February 18th, 2005, 06:22 PM   #36
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Low Light Situations and the XL2

I'm in the process of purchasing a new camera. I'm strongly considering the XL2 but have some concerns over its lack of low light performance. The camera rates at 5.5 lux min, while Sony's PD170 rates at 1 lux.

I realize I'm not comparing apples to apples here, the XL2 is a superior camera in just about every category, but... I will have situations such as low lit weddings, church services, etc. to contend with.

Can anybody shed some light (pardon the pun) on this and possibily ease my mind on purchasing the XL2.

Thanks!
Joe
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Old February 18th, 2005, 06:54 PM   #37
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Adam Wilts review of the xl2 includes the following

"I was surprised that the XL2 is only 1/4 stop slower than the xl1s. It's comparable to a sony pd150 and no more than a stop slower than a dvx100 or pd170. At +18db, the XL2 was much quieter than the xl1s, and about midway between the pd150 and DVX100 in visible noise"

Plus 18db is a hefty boost in low light. It's a good review overall, in the March DV magazine.
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Old February 19th, 2005, 02:10 PM   #38
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Hi Joe. I have an XL2 and also a VX2000 which I believe is similar in low light performance to the PD170. The VX2000 is MUCH better than the XL2 if there is not much light. As the lighting levels drop, the XL2 first starts to show more noise, then it loses colour saturation. The Sony seems to hold up until it is almost dark. If I know I'm going to be shooting in situations where I think the lighting might be bad, I will take the VX2000 rather than the XL2. The XL2 is a good camera, but it is best to use it according to its strengths.

Richard
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Old February 19th, 2005, 11:13 PM   #39
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I absolutely agree with Richard. When I got the XL2 I was very concerned about it's low light quality. The biggest issue is that the saturation seems to just fall off the face of the planet if the light drops below a certain threshold. That is normal with any camera but the threeshold for the XL2 seems pretty high! (meaning it starts to lose colors sooner than you'd expect).

I think it is best suited for scripted, dramatic, work on well lit sets. I would not reccomend it to event video that is strictly in dark conference rooms and banquet centers. I mean....it will work but you'll definitely be gaining up and probably won't see as much color as others. If you do plan to use it for these events then invest in an onbaord light. I know....I hate them myself but in most of the shots it really helps make the image clean-up and only once in a while does it have that "fake" camera light look!
It has saved my butt several times.
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Old February 19th, 2005, 11:46 PM   #40
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I didn't see any general threads regarding iighting, but since low lighting on the XL2 is the subject of my current question, I thought this might be the place. I am fairly new to the XL2 and I purchased it for a few reasons, partly because of the great price I got, the form and style of the camera, and a mostly because of the imagery. I have really liked Canons for a long time and I really loved the way that the XL2 captured imagery (especially in well lit settings - the colors are beautiful). For most of my endeavors, I plan to have alot of light control, but in two weeks, I am shooting a series of interviews for a project. I scouted the location and discovered that the room that I will use is abysmally lit. It is a quiet subdued church library - very contemplative, etc- but dim as can be.

I am a little concerned about this. I have both the VL-3 and the VL-10 as well as a small light kit I am borrowing that includes thin stands and 80watt standmount lights for lighting the subject for interviews and I am not concerned about that....but the rest of the room behind the subject will be providing a contemplative backdrop for the interviews. There is a window in at the back of the room where some diffused sunlight will come it, but the walls of the room will pretty much be dark, especially if the lens is zeroing on the sun light from the window...

Here is my situation...I wanted to look at getting some larger stand mount lights to provide basic area fill for a room that size and I look at oniine vendors only to find a pretty vast price range for photo and video light kits. B&H offers great stuff for great prices, but it still seems that a basic kit for what I was looking at was between $300 - $400....

So, today, I went to Home Depot and bought a work light stand with two 500 watt halogen work lights with independent swivel on a 6 foot telescoping stand. (Sure, the stand is yellow but I've got 1000 watts of light here - I figure I can paint the stand black or silver for about 2 or 3 dollars)

The whole kit cost under $30 and is very durable - no it does not come with a travel bag or case - but it seems like basically the structure of the lights are similar to some of the ones I saw marketed for a WHOLE lot more money.

I figure I just needed some light to throw into the room for the XL2 to work with.

Did I do wrong here....can I expect nightmares for a light like this on digital video, or did I stumble onto a secret of the accessory (sp) industry?

If I find the time tomorrow I hope to set it up in my garage and shoot some mock interview footage to see how if all comes together, but if anyone has some lighting knowledge, would you mind throwing down a few facts in my direction.

Thanks a whole bunch...

PS..I love my XL2

-Jon
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Old February 20th, 2005, 09:58 AM   #41
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Jon,
I only have a second but let me say this. There are a lot of very professional videos out there that look amazing and were shot with "home depot" style lighting. I'm not saying this is the best method but anyone will agree that it's how you use them. Before I knew what I was doing we had access to a few pro light kits and the results were bad anyway, if you know what I mean.

Basically your technique for lighting is probably more important than the lights themselves. IF you can have both then even better. If you aren't familiar with 3 point lighting techniques then google it and do some reading. IT will help you more in 2 weeks than buying an expensive light rig!

Good Luck!
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Old February 20th, 2005, 10:55 AM   #42
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I appreciate all the responses on this. I'm beginning to believe the at the XL2 is NOT the right choice for me and my work load.

I do have another question though.... the discussion that spawned from this on using "Home Depot" halogen lighting intrigues me. My question is this-- is there a difference in color temperature with halogens in comparison to studio lighting??
I realize if all your lighting is "Home Depot" style, then white balance will do the correction, but can you mix studio and "HD" halogens.


Joe
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Old February 22nd, 2005, 01:02 PM   #43
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Joe,

I would echo the comments made by Marty. Remember, part of what you pay for in dedicated video lighting is the ability to 'control' that light. With the HD lights, you get an on/off switch and that's about it. Any other method of contolling those lights will be up to your ingenuity. A light designed for video work will likely have a definite Kelvin temp output, perhaps barndoors for controlling spill, softbox attachments, gel attachments, scrims for reducing the light w/o using a dimmer which will alter the color temp, quick change bulb housings to get to the required light output without over/under doing it, etc.

Don't feel too bad about using HD lights and making your own lighting. After all, the entrepeneural spirit is alive and well here at DV-INFO. Just look at the Alternative Imaging Methods post count! Just be prepared to make your own lighting control accessories to go with those HD lights.

-gb-
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Old February 22nd, 2005, 01:44 PM   #44
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Greg-
Thanks for the input. Yeah, I would probably put an inline dimmer to get some sort of control on output and wing the rest for softness, etc.
The reality is, this would get me by for a few months until I catch my breath on buying this new camera (DVX100A) and accessories.

Thanks,
Joe
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Old February 22nd, 2005, 04:14 PM   #45
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<<<-- Originally posted by Joe Hicks : Greg-
Thanks for the input. Yeah, I would probably put an inline dimmer to get some sort of control on output and wing the rest for softness, etc.
The reality is, this would get me by for a few months until I catch my breath on buying this new camera (DVX100A) and accessories.

Thanks,
Joe -->>>

Joe,

Rather than use a dimmer, I would suggest going to the replacement bulb area at HD. There are different wattage lamps available. This would keep your color temp close to tungsten so the HD lights will blend with other interior lights. Bulb change is fairly easy. My HD light stand actually has a place to hold spare bulbs safely. Using the highest wattage available with some daylight correction gels could get you some 'extra' sunlight mailnly to fill shadows.

Also Joe, if you haven't already done so, take a look at This page for an excellent way to get started with lighting on a budget.

regards,

-gb-
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