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Canon XL and GL Series DV Camcorders
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Old September 7th, 2004, 01:39 PM   #1
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Calling all Xl2 owners....help! Is my camera defective? samples for you...

Ok...

Let me take a deep breath......

AHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

Let me start at the begining. I have been a DVX100 user for 2 years. Got mine when they originally shipped. Prior to that I had the XL1 for 4 years. So I have a decent background with these cameras. I have always preferred the form factor of the XL series because of stability so when I heard that the XL2 was coming out....I had to have it. I read some of the early impressions on this board and got the distinct impression that this camera is on par.....equal to if not better than the DVX in resolution and color reproduction. Every comment I have heard about the camera has made mention of how incredibly sharp and clear the image is. Especially users here that I have great respect for. This is why I sold my DVX and got the XL2. Because I felt that I would be getting the same....if not better image quality. Even today when I put my DVX100 footage on my 55inch projection TV I am blowm away by the apparent resolution and clarity. OK.......on to the issue at hand.

I get my XL2 last Friday and assembled it. It is late at night by the time I got home so I could not really put it though its paces. I however did handle it and get a little familiar with the layout of the controls. I didn't change any of the settings other than to put it in 24P mode and 16x9.

The next day I get a chance to shoot. As luck would have it a hawk is being badgered by some bluejays in a tree in my yard. I get the camera and film some of this. I use the default outdoor white balance and expose properly using the zebra patterns. I finish up and proceed to go watch my first footage on this high tech marvel that is supposedly so clean and pristine.

I fire up the TV and sit back. Imagine my surprise when the image comes up and it is a little dark......all of the colors seems muted.....and the image seems.....well....soft. A little. I pop in my old DVX footage that was shot outside in my yard on a very similar day.......WOW!!!! It is crystal clear and sharp as a tack!

I must be doing something wrong I tell myself. I go back to the drawing board and read the manual hoping that I missed something obvious. I do some more shooting, all the while being super careful that I am not doing something wrong. As it gets dark I get the chance to shoot inside. I choose a room with 2 incandescent lights that I have shot in before with the DVX in 24P mode and it looked very nice and clean.

I finally get the chance to watch the footage and.....yuck.....All the colors are super muted still.....there almost seems like there is a "haze" over the image casuing everything to appear darker. It just looks wrong. I proceed to show my wife who has been involved in my video making for the last 10 years and she says it looks bad too. In fact she used a few choice words to describe it.

At this point I am about to have a nervous breakdown as I jumped through hoops to sell my DVX and do a few side jobs to buy this $5000.00 camera and I am seeing results that look like a 1 CCD DV camera from walmart.....(ok not quite but in my mind it was not anywhere near the DVX qulaity I was used to.)

All the while I am reading posts on this site from users who have camera in hand and are raving that is looks incredible.....even stating that it has some drawbacks but the incredible clarity of the image is undeniable. Heck.....even DVX faithful seem to be admitting that the XL2 has incredible clean video beyond the DVX.

I decide to do a test.....non-scientific to reassure that I am not crazy. MY wife tells me that I don;t need to do this as she can clearly see the image is inferior. But I need to appease my doubting self. My partner who still has a DVX100 (non A!) comes over and watched what I have shot. He instantly says.....something is wrong.....you have to be doing something to cause that. I inform him that I am still on default setting and have double checked everything 2-3 times and can't resolve it.

We take both camera and do some simple shooting of similar objects outside and inside. This is on another 80 degree day around 2:00 and not a cloud in the sky. Both camera are white balanced and all settings are neutral. So neither camera has any Cinegamma or color settings moved from default. If you know the DVX you would know that without Cinegamma on it is not that colorful.

We sit down to watch the footage and play his first. It looks real good. Clear and great colors. we watch mine (XL2) It looks pretty good too.....except it is lacking a little color on the outside shots and even less color on the inside ones and sharpness is not up to DVX. We decide that the camera is about the same as the DVX on most shots and a little less on some. He says.....it just proves that it isn't anything revolutionary and that everyone on the web is just exxagerating. Also that having compared them he would definitely not buy the XL2 as it is only as good or inferior in many shots.

I proceeded to load this footage into Premiere and do A/B comparison......woah! There is a significant difference in quality when I do that. I guess you need a side by side comparison to see it. But the colors aren't there in the XL2. and it isn't as sharp.

Am I going nuts! How can everyone and their Uncle love this camera and it's image when to me it doesn;t even look as good as the DVX100 non A?

I am posting a link to a short movie that will give and example of the color differences and the inability of the XL2 to reproduce sharp clear images in an environment that is lit fairly well. It is not a studio environment but my room with 3 windows and daylight spilling in. Both camera have neutral density off, and are wide open at f1.8. I will also post links to uncompressed .bmps of the this same footage so you can compare. Maybe one of you can analyze what I am seeing and tell me technically why it is like this.

But mostly I would like to hear if this looks acceptable. I feel it is not and I am strongly leaning towards returning the camera if this is not a defect.

Let me know what you think. Each image starts with DVX and then switches to XL2. Sorry I didn't have time to label.

http://www.iciclestudios.com/images/xl2/xl2-dvx.wmv

Here are BMPs of the images that are more easily viewed. They are uncompressed directly from the Premiere timeline

http://www.iciclestudios.com/images/xl2/dvx6.bmp
http://www.iciclestudios.com/images/xl2/xl26.bmp

http://www.iciclestudios.com/images/xl2/dvx7.bmp
http://www.iciclestudios.com/images/xl2/xl27.bmp

http://www.iciclestudios.com/images/xl2/dvx8.bmp
http://www.iciclestudios.com/images/xl2/xl28.bmp

Someone tell me I'm not crazy and stop the madness!!!
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Old September 7th, 2004, 01:59 PM   #2
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Marty,

I must admit, when I read your text I thought - "Here we go again - this is going to be another XL1 story...very soft image compared to just about everythig else" (I am an unhappy XL1s owner - especially when it comes to sharpness)

But...when I looked at your test footage, in my opinion the XL2 samples definitely seem to be sharper than the DVX100. The colors seem a little "cooler" and a bit washed out on the XL2 (which is unusual as the Canon normally has warmer tones).

There seems to be little difference with the last image (the one with the toys).

I would conduct some more tests before you take it back. Try something in brighter light outside and see how that works out. And of course, fiddle around to tweak the image a little more.

Hope that helps,

Ron
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Old September 7th, 2004, 02:10 PM   #3
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Hello Marty,

Sorry you have are having problems. In all honesty, all those grabs look like typical Canon images to me. I owned tha XL-1 then the XL1-s then the DVX100, I recently purchased a DVX100a when the XL2 was announced. I imported Barry's footage into FCP and for my taste, I had to kick up the saturation just as I used to with the XL-1 and XL-1s, I also notice that "haze" you speak of in the other samples I've seen. There were several other samples posted over at DVXUser as well. The XL2 picture is really noiseless, especially in the low light samples but I thought every sample I've seen lacks color and has that hazy look. I never thought any of the XL's had a sharp picture, it was always softer than the Sony's at the time, some people had a preference for the softer look. Hopefully you can find someone with an XL2 to do side by side comparisons but I'm thinking the results will look the same. I sincerely hope you get this worked out or at least replaced or refunded.
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Old September 7th, 2004, 02:16 PM   #4
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Marty,

Please adjust your viewfinder settings so that you are not under-exposing by mistake.

1) Go into the MENU, DISPLAY SETUP
2) EVF SETUP:
- Set BRIGHTNESS to NO HIGHER THAN Middle Default
- Set CONTRAST to NO HIGHER THAN Middle Default
- Set COLOR to NO HIGHER THAN Middle Default
- Set SHARPNESS to Middle Default or higher, depending upon your preference.

PLEASE make sure that you are reviewing your footage on a decent NTSC CRT (glass) monitor and NOT an LCD panel. Better yet, use as high a quality monitor as possible, preferably the same NTSC CRT monitor which you use to edit and color correct with.

Let us know if you are still having issues setting up your camera.

- don
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Old September 7th, 2004, 02:16 PM   #5
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Ron,
The tests outside in broad daylight are closer. The colors and clarity still are in favor of the DVX however. In all fairness I am slightly biased toward the Canon but I can't deny that when I view them side by side the DVX is looking better.

I posted these because the muted colors are most obvious on here. And the way it is now, filming with this particular unit inside a house lit with normal lighting is dark as heck. I'd have to gain up a lot to get usable footage. and then it will be noisy. The DVX however is handling it better. I am hoping that this is a defect and not the nature of the camera.

Anybody trying the XL2 have a DVX background? I'd like to hear what you think about the 2.
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Old September 7th, 2004, 02:19 PM   #6
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<<<-- Originally posted by Don Berube :
Please adjust your viewfinder settings so that you are not under-exposing by mistake. -->>>

I haven't changed the viewfinder settings but I will check. However how can I be underexposing when I have the ND off, the iris wide open with a 1/48 shutter? I could go to 1/24 shutter or start to use gain. But the DVX is right next to me doing admirably at 1/48 and it can't even use gain in 24p mode.......
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Old September 7th, 2004, 10:36 PM   #7
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Marty...

Are you using auto white balance on these...or a preset...or are you manually white balancing...? I did some tests a few years back on the xl1, and was chastised for not manually white balancing....sure enough the presets were tuned somewhat red...which is what I'm seeing in your shots. Also...you are about 1/3 stop under on the xl2 stuff and this in combination with the color shift are certainly helping to soften your colors somewhat.

What I'd like to see you do to really test the cameras properly is to get a lighting situation that will let you get f 4 to 5.6 out of either camera, and a shot that is somewhere in the middle of their zoom range. Manually white balance both cameras, and then show us something.

I shot a lot of color this weekend, and I don't see anything wrong other than the typical canon propensity to run yellows a little red (this is happening in your shots as well.

Also, I took your stills and opened them in photoshop...surprisingly when you assign a working profile to the images (exactly the same for each image) the color saturation is not nearly as noticeable compared to the unprofiled bmp's on my monitor....I don't know how this translates to what you'd see on screen.

Barry
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Old September 7th, 2004, 10:48 PM   #8
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No ... It looks like your ND filter is somehow maybe stuck on and wont flip off.
or it looks like the iris is somehow stuck and wont open all the way.

Hard to say without playing with it. But I feel like if I could I could tell you weather or not somethign was wrong or not.
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Old September 7th, 2004, 11:17 PM   #9
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Barry:

I white balanced on a white piece of paper by the window where daylight was spilling in. what do you mean when you say I am "about 1/3 stop under on the xl2 stuff and this in combination with the color shift are certainly helping to soften your colors somewhat"?? Sorry for my ignorance but I want to understand exactly what you are saying here.
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Old September 8th, 2004, 03:59 AM   #10
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I'm also wondering how the real scene was. For example the
scenes with the table. Do you think the DVX is more "accurate"
to how it looked to your eye? It's one thing to have a difference
between the camera's, but how does it compare to the real world?

Ofcourse it could be a defect as well. Try removing all batteries
for a couple of hours and then start fresh again.
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Old September 8th, 2004, 09:29 AM   #11
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The table is a really brilliant yellow in real life. The DVX is reproducing that accurately. I do know that if cinegamma had been on the DVX that yellow would really be jumping! Maybe too much. But knowing the DVX with cinegamma has a strong influence on colors I chose to shoot with it off for a baseline comparison.

I will try to post a couple of other images this afternoon that are taken inside under normal lighting conditions. These are the strangest looking of all. Really soft and....just a weird look to them.
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Old September 8th, 2004, 10:33 AM   #12
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IS it at all possible for you to try another lens just in case that is the problem?
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Old September 8th, 2004, 12:03 PM   #13
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Marty,

Unfortunately there is nothing wrong with your camera. The quality of your footage is the same we are getting on our XL2. Just like you, we are highly dispointed with it. Not that it's a bad camera, but I guess wiht all the talk and hype we were expecting to be blown away by the picture quality...but instead it looks pretty much like DVX100....again that's not a bad thing (we love the dvx) but I trully believe that the XL2 is overpriced for its performance...especially if you don't intend to use the 16:9 feature..... I guess i agree with the statement that the XL2 is NOT revolutionary..... As far as I am concerned this camera could've come out at the same time as the DVX100 back then....as it really doesn't offer any major upgrades (such a shame afer all the wait).
Again I am not bashing the camera (especially since we own one!) I am just saying that the quality of your footage is what to expect from the XL2. We have also noticed that the XL2 seems a little darker than the DVX, even when they both have the same f-stop and shutter speed. And just like you we notice that the focus seems to be a little softer. But no camera is perfect! (but what is up with the lousy iris control knob????)
What amazes me is I read somewhere on this forum that someone thought the XL2 looked as good or similar to super 16 or even HD... I don't know what HD work you have been looking at, but no offence, the XL2 doesn't even COME CLOSE to HD.... (I can't believe someone would even compare it to HD....unless you're talking HDV) but statements like this really make me wonder if people are maybe overhyping the camera a little too much!!!
Hence Marty, I believe that maybe you were a victim of over hype and maybe you expected too much. (I know we did!)

Those forums are great to get information...but sometimes we get carried away and we start painting an unrealistic picture of how the product may perform!

Good luck with whatever decision you make!
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Old September 8th, 2004, 04:03 PM   #14
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Marty,

I'm reading these comments and feeling your pain brother...

I think Maya is right, perhaps your expectations were a bit higher than reality.

But... have you seen the footage that was posted by that guy in Austria. He apparently had the camera for a couple of hours and quickly shot some footage and posted it for download. I'm sorry I can't remember his name or the thread that contains the URL, but when I saw that, it made me want to go out and buy one! Those images are absolutely beautiful, and certainly streets above what I achieve with my XL1S (Which probably illustrates what a crap camera it is!)

As I have said previously, I am an unhappy XL1S owner, and I have always been disappointed in the sharpness of the image, but NEVER with the color saturation. The colors have always been great.

If you're unhappy now you probably always will be...

Good luck with your decision anyway,

Ron
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Old September 8th, 2004, 04:09 PM   #15
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<<<Not that it's a bad camera, but I guess wiht all the talk and hype we were expecting to be blown away by the picture quality...but instead it looks pretty much like DVX100.....again that's not a bad thing (we love the dvx) but I trully believe that the XL2 is overpriced for its performance...especially if you don't intend to use the 16:9 feature..... I guess i agree with the statement that the XL2 is NOT revolutionary.....


Maya

I think your point of view is interesting...here a couple of thoughts.

1. I've posted stills of a good comparison between the DVX and XL2. These cameras are so close to each other in 4:3 mode, you'd swear its the same technology (guess what....it is!) Out of the box the 4:3 image of the xl2 is sharper than the DVX. In 16:9 the xl2 provides significantly higher resolution than the DVX.

2. XL2 is overpriced especially if you don't want to use one "major" feature that makes it substantially superior to the DVX. OK, then the turbocharged Mini cooper S is overpriced compared to the Mini if I don't want to go as fast.

3. Canon's opening statement about the Canon XL2 is that it is "evolutionary"...who ever said that this is a revolutionary camera? It is a major upgrade to an existing system that has evolved considerably over the years...the xl2 is the biggest jump in terms of quality and functionality yet, but that is when it is compared to the xl1s, not the DVX, but still, I've never heard anyone call it revolutionary...although I've heard people say it isn't.

<<<What amazes me is I read somewhere on this forum that someone thought the XL2 looked as good or similar to super 16 or even HD... I don't know what HD work you have been looking at, but no offence, the XL2 doesn't even COME CLOSE to HD.... (I can't believe someone would even compare it to HD....unless you're talking HDV) but statements like this really make me wonder if people are maybe overhyping the camera a little too much!!!>>>


4. HD...what I said was that if you view the 16:9 30p footage on an HD monitor, you'll be very impressed...you'll swear it is HD. And it is better than the compressed HD streams available over sattelite. I've said the same thing about the DVX in the past, but the xl2 footage in 16:9 is even more impressive. I'll stand by that statement. From a pure technical level, both cameras produce a 480p image that is certainly greater than what is necessary for SD viewing, 720p is considered HD...480p ain't that far off.

But what gets me most is this need to knock a camera for not being revolutionary enough, or calling it overpriced....how can the xl2 be overpriced when there is not another camera in the marketplace with anywhere near the same feature set.....The DVX has a beautiful lens that produces some stunning wideangle shots...but there is no way in Haddes that lens cost as much to produce as canons 20x plus camera mount and body mount. The DVX motorized zoom is all but worthless unless you only want to get from point A to point B. The XL2 zoom is worthy of a true professional lens. And the hair trigger on the DVX manual zoom certainly doesn't compare with what is available on the canon manual lens. The OIS on the XL2 is truly phenomenal...I'm getting incredible handheld stuff at 20x...I couldn't get footage nearly as stable on the DVX at half that zoom. And technology-wise the internal guts of this camera are virtually the same (actually the same?) as the DVX.

Look I bought the DVX100 when it came out for $3800. I just paid $600 more for the xl2...Considering the increased functionality alone (add the xl2 platform to the DVX100 guts...Does the $600 difference make the xl2 overpriced?

For what it's worth...I am extremely happy with the xl2, and I'm sorry that not everyone shares that opinion. I come from the still camera world where resolution is everything, and the xl2 is the first camera from canon that has really impressed me in this regard. It may be the last video camera I ever own (ha!)..


Barry

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