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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 3rd, 2004, 12:27 PM   #1
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XL2 first impression

the box is very heavy...stay tuned.

barry
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Old September 3rd, 2004, 12:41 PM   #2
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Ya know Barry, this is exactly the kind of bad information that gets everyone going. Now there's going to be a long thread over at DVXuser about how the first users compained about unweildly it is. <vbg>. Did you notice any moire on the box, and purple fringing or aliasing on the shipping label? Oh god...now I've started a new thread.
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Old September 3rd, 2004, 12:48 PM   #3
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Jim,

How about a low light test? Turn off all of the lights in the room - can you still read the shipping label?

- don
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Old September 3rd, 2004, 01:21 PM   #4
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Don...

actually you can.

Ok, so my first thing was to put the new lens to the test.

-Autozoom is very smooth, with the slowest speed being off-the-chart cool...a nice creepy barely perceptible zoom. Love it.

-Low light focusing. Lens doesn't suffer from the same type of hunting that plagued the 16x auto lens. I used the default speed setting, but this lens seems to focus quickly and smoothly in good light. In a low light difficult situation (designed to cause hunting), the camera does a "micro-hunt" for about a second and then locks on to the subject. Very impressive. It seems to have a more difficult time when the gain is turned up (same lighting and aperture), taking about twice as long to focus. Help it along, and the lens stays locked on your chosen subject. This is worst case scenario...low, low, light with lens zoomed all the way in. This test was performed in a darkened studio with a little light spilling in from a distant skylight.

note: first time I turned the camera to manual focus and then back to auto...I think the camera stayed in manual focus...but it may have been the gain thing (above)...I tried to recreate the problem and the camera went into autofocus just fine...

Viewfinder...big improvement over xl1. Easy to focus, bright, nice layout. Just feels more professional. The flipped up version will make for decent viewing on a tripod.

Ergonomics...I'm not sure if I have it set up quite right yet, but my arm feels a little more cramped than with my xl1s. I'm kinda beefy though, so others may not find this a problem. I like the stop button on the shooting mode wheel...All other controls feel familiar in their placement.

More in a bit.

Barry
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Old September 3rd, 2004, 03:42 PM   #5
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I had to turn the gain on the box up 12 db to read the label Don, and it was so noisy I had to turn down the stereo...I'm sending it back. But seriously...mine arrived while I was in the middle of a recording session. It's sitting here beside me still in the shipping package...until I finish typing.

The good news it's a nice long weekend to put it through it's paces, and beautiful weather forecast for the farm.

The bad news is construction is finished and this is the long weekend we're using to move into the new building and studios.

The really good news is that it came in time to use on all three of the DVD/movie/documentaries we'll be at for the next 4 months.

I'll post impressions as I get them.
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Old September 3rd, 2004, 04:09 PM   #6
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Jim

Even though you were just kidding, there does seem to be a lot of noise at 12 db.(I'll have to do a comparison on that later). In progressive you only get 12db of gain...which is plenty, but I was confused at first when the camera kept resetting to 12db everytime I set it to 18db.

Lets see, other thoughts...the tape mechanism is a lot snappier and quieter than the xl1 (or any canon camera I've used).

Autofocusing is definitely a bit slow sometimes in progressive mode, a fact pointed out in the XL2 manual.

XL2 DoF seems to be on par with the DVX in 16:9 mode, a little better than the gl2 in 4:3....about what we should expect.

Barry
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Old September 3rd, 2004, 05:03 PM   #7
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Thanks for the early info Barry, good reading this evening. I'm curious to know if the XL2 is about 2 stops faster than the DVX as you stated. That is a big difference! If so, please let us know if that is in progressive mode at 0db gain.
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Old September 3rd, 2004, 05:45 PM   #8
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Don, note that I edited my post (probably right after you read it). It didn't sound right to me at the time, and I shouldn't have said it...as I looked at the footage it was pushing 3 stops, and I just knew that couldn't be right...I had the ND filter on on the DVX...sorry.

It would appear that the two cameras are within about 1/3 stop of each other...

The first results on the still life show that the xl2 4:3 default image is considerably sharper than the default 4:3 dvx100 image. Though this is mainly due to higher in-camera sharpening on the xl2 (which can be turned down), there does seem to be slightly more detail in the xl2 image even at 4:3. Noise levels appear about the same between the two cameras in 4:3. Depth of field is noticeably shallower on the dvx compared to the 4:3 image on the xl2

The 16:9 image off the xl2 is outstanding..it seems to have less sharpening applied, and is silky smooth with almost no noise. It's DoF is on par with the DVX image.

Color is very similar between the two cameras, not nearly as different as the last weeks posts on DVXuser would lead people to believe. (johnnie had a scene file added to his dvx which caused the difference). The blues on the dvx100 seem a bit oversaturated but otherwise the colors would appear to be about the same.

I'm gonna hold off posting images for now...I wan't to run a few more tests. Hopefully tomorrow.

Barry
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Old September 3rd, 2004, 05:53 PM   #9
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Tomorrow?!?!

AAAAhhhh!

:)
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Old September 3rd, 2004, 06:01 PM   #10
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Steve

I'll try to make it worth the wait..plus...I want to run all the tests again just to make sure I'm not putting out any more erroneous info. so tomorrow it is.

Barry
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Old September 3rd, 2004, 07:02 PM   #11
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Viewfinder

I note your comments about the viewfinder...on my XL1 many moons ago the viewfinder was the reason I got rid of the camera. Is it a lot sharper and punchier than the XL1...from all accounts its also a lot bigger ?

Yours Phil
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Old September 3rd, 2004, 08:01 PM   #12
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I'd love to see some footage shot handheld in 24p with the OIS on, using the whole focal range to do various types of shots (fixe, pan, live zoom, etc.). No matter the subject, I just want to know if the stabilizer is good enough to shoot quality sequences handheld without giving motion sickness to the viewer, and how "intelligently" it reacts to wanted motion vs unwanted motion.
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Old September 3rd, 2004, 09:06 PM   #13
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Congrats on the new camera Barry. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Keep the reviews coming.
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Old September 4th, 2004, 11:06 AM   #14
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Barry, you mention "in camera sharpening... it can be turned down"
You mean the in camera sharpening is applied as default setting?
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Old September 4th, 2004, 11:26 AM   #15
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So I took the camera out yesterday afternoon. I went out to the beach and shot some casual footage of the surfers, waves and beachgoers. Upon returning home, my girl and I popped open a bottle of mystery Syrah, and watched the tape. Here is what I learned

Image quality.
We were viewing the footage on a 34" sony Wega HD set. The footage I shot was primarily in 16:9, stretched manually by the monitor. Well, all I can say is I've never seen anything like it. Viewed from about 10 feet the image was remarkably detailed...but when I got close to the monitor there was almost no evidence of the sharpening, noise, and aliasing that I expected to see (from viewing a SD-DV source on a HD monitor). Much of the footage was relatively backlit surfer-in-the- water stuff, and so it had very high contrast edges...I thought for sure that this would bring out the aliasing that "the famous cinematographer" spoke of in his "report" from dvexpo. Sorry (ok, happy) to say...I have never seen a cleaner, more HD like image projected on my HD set...not from my dvx, xl1s, gl2 or the compressed streams off of DirecTV. The color seems natural, the contrast about what you'd hope for.

By accident I popped in a 2 week old tape taken from the same vantage points on my xl1s...the difference between the two camera's is, shall we say, huge.


Viewfinder
I previously stated that the viewfinder is a big improvement, and it is. My first comments, however, were based on viewing the image in 4:3. When I switched the camera over to 16:9, I was at first excited to see that it was not the squeezed image I expected to see, but rather a nicely letterboxed 16:9 image. Well the process of cropping to about 60% of the viewfinder has unfortunately made this camera about as hard (maybe harder) to focus as the xl1s, when you are in 16:9 mode. I'm not sure whether this viewfinder image is changeable to the squeezed image (I'll check), but seeing as many users would probably want to shoot in 16:9, it would behoove canon to make this an option in a firmware upgrade if it is possible.

Lens
I haven't done any definitive testing, comparing the new 20x lens to the old 16x or the manual 16x...but my first impression is ---WOW. I don't know haw much of what I'm seeing is lens, and how much is chip, but whatever...the detail of the two together is stunning.

I'll be honest. I bought my xl1s when it came out, but for the most part it has been like a trophy in my camera safe, sitting there unused for all but a few hours of its life. I bought it because it allowed some functionality that no other camcorders in this category did. Unfortunately, the image quality was never what I had hoped it would be, and so it took the back seat to my gl2 and dvx100...I only brought it out when I needed a good motorized zoom, or to use the manual lens. I always felt bad that I bought a camera that had such great features, but I never used them because I didn't like the image.

One of the reasons I bought the xl2 so quickly was to make up for all of that. All I hoped for was that I would get a camera that was at close to the quality of the dvx100, so I would have more options when shooting a project. To be blunt, my expectations for this camera have been largely surpassed. In my limited experience with the camera so far, I think that canon has pulled 5 aces out of its sleeve. I'll continue with reports as time allows, and hopefully I'll be able to post some stuff today before I leave for the weekend.

Barry
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