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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 13th, 2004, 04:46 PM   #1
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XL2 After 2 days...

I have had SONY professional cameras for the past 6 years. I bought an XL2 for the 16x9 feature and the powerful lens. These 2 features work as advertised and the lens with stabilizer on is outstanding.

Along with some others in this forum I am somewhat disappointed in the picture color saturation and RGB color balance and contrast from the camera out of the box. The default settings should be closer to SONY or PANASONIC's default settings, in my opinion. The picture looks different from SONY and PANASONIC 3 chip cameras I have worked with. Some people may like the new XL2 "look" better, but in my opinion, the VX2000 camera produces a more appealing (subjective) image without going through menus and tweaking every aspect of the image. After several hours of tweaking and fussing I was able to get acceptable color out of the XL2.

I read in the manual that the white balance is only manually adjustable from 3200 to 5600K. If this is true, I am very concerned. A cloudy day may require a white balance of 7000K or higher. Also, there are only 2 presets for white balance, 3200 and 5600. My Canon still camera has at least 4 presets for white balance and is manually adjustable up to 10,000K. Why can't they do this with a video camera?

Another concern is that with 16 bit audio you apparently can only have either both rear XLRs on or the front mic on. You cannot mix the front and the rear with 16 bit audio. Since I have a wireless mic this means another XLR mic will be necessary for 2 channels of audio.

My subjective ratings are as follows:
OUT of possible *****
1.) LENS ***** GREAT
2.) VIEWFINDER**** VERY GOOD could have higher resolution.
3.) 16x9 resolution ***** GREAT
4.) 24,30 Progressive ***** GREAT
5.) AUDIO **** VERY GOOD low noise using front stereo or external.
6.) SHOULDER MOUNT** Could be much better.
7.) COLOR BALANCE ** Somewhat difficult to achieve great results.
8.) LOW LIGHT *** Below VX2000 benchmark

The weakest areas to me are white balance/color balance, low light sensitivity, and the awkward front heavy feel when going handheld. The VX2000 performs with better results in low light and this is not subjective, I measured it on a waveform monitor.

Canon's still cameras are truly amazing, but with the XL2 they have created a very good camera that has room for improvement.
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Old September 13th, 2004, 05:20 PM   #2
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What did you measure as to low light? Please share the camcorder settings, light level, signal and noise levels.

The standard mic is stereo, if you need mono signals, to each channel in 16-bit mode probably best to use a separate mono mic. It is possible to build an adapter that will feed the stock mic to the XLR adapter, but probably not worth the effort for most people. Alternatively use 12-bit/4-channel mode, which is adequate for most field recording purposes.
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Old September 13th, 2004, 06:50 PM   #3
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I read in the manual that the white balance is only manually adjustable from 3200 to 5600K. If this is true, I am very concerned. A cloudy day may require a white balance of 7000K or higher. Also, there are only 2 presets for white balance, 3200 and 5600. My Canon still camera has at least 4 presets for white balance and is manually adjustable up to 10,000K. Why can't they do this with a video camera?
Tim,

In addition to the two common (daylight & tungsten)WB presets, you have 3 custom WB presets. If you are filiming on a cloudy day, simply white balance and store it to one of the 3 custom settings.

=gb=
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Old September 13th, 2004, 08:48 PM   #4
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Low light test VX2000 vs XL2

I posted a comparison of the VX2000 and Canon XL2 in low light. Both images were shot at manual settings +18db and maximum aperture under identical very low tungsten light.

The VX2000 image has less noise and is brighter by a good margin.

http://www.videoevents.com/images/canontest.jpg
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Old September 14th, 2004, 12:36 AM   #5
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Thanks Tim for your comments

"I am somewhat disappointed in the picture color saturation and RGB color balance and contrast from the camera out of the box"

I've shared the observation of bit low color saturation with the XL1, and been anxious to get XL2 to see whether the same still holds. However, since I shoot only outdoors in rather difficult light conditions, there are some benefits of the bit low color saturation and contrast. This is comprable to under and over exposure; It's better to be under, for then you have all the information there you need in edit. Going over (over exposure, over saturatation, too much contrast and so on) discards information, and there is no way to recover.

With my XL1 material, I tend to slightly add chroma and increase black gamma in the edit, and the result is very pleasing. At least the professionals at the TV company to whom I mainly produce programs have often acknowledged the teachnical quality of the material and said that the vivid colors and technical appereance of the video is very appealing.

Summing up, I've sometimes wondered whether the bit low saturation and contrast is a conscious choice from Canon.
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Old September 14th, 2004, 09:57 AM   #6
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tim

can you give us some idea of the other camera settings in your low light test...f stops and shutter speeds, progressive or interlaced (on xl2). What was your light source? Any color or gamma presets? It would be nice to see both cameras white balanced manually rather than a preset (because both are way off).

Your test is interesting though, the xl2 looks like what I would expect for 18db of gain. The vx2000 looks remarkable for that level of gain.

Barry
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Old September 14th, 2004, 10:07 AM   #7
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low light capability and picture quality are two different things...

some consumers look for lowlight performance first...

I much prefer picture quality, good dynamic range color rendition etc... MUCH more important i think.

From what i've seen from my DVX100A and from XL2 grabs, those two cameras have much better image texture and dynamic range than the "hyper contrasty look" of the Sony VX2000 or PD170...no doubt.
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Old September 14th, 2004, 10:15 AM   #8
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Barry,

could you post some high contrast exteriors with the XL2 ?

thanks
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Old September 14th, 2004, 12:32 PM   #9
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Antoine,

I think pretty much everything (footage) I've posted would fall under that category, is it not?

Barry
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Old September 14th, 2004, 01:00 PM   #10
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Barry,

i have only access to 56k line...

so the footage is too long to download here...(many hours)

could you post a couple of outdoor 24p grabs ?

thanks
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Old September 14th, 2004, 02:09 PM   #11
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Both cameras were at max aperture 1.6 with 60i and the light source was a dim tungsten light. That is why the images look slightly red. The XL2 had all standard gamma settings.

I am not trying to knock the XL2. I own two digital Canon still cameras. If the XL2 camera had a nice balance and feel to it when going shoulder mounted I would love it, but it is clearly not well suited for long handheld sessions such as event video. It is front heavy and left side heavy. It is so left side heavy that they put an extra footpad underneath the manual iris switch.
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Old September 14th, 2004, 06:02 PM   #12
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Tim

If you still have this set up...perhaps one more still with the Xl2 in 16:9 would be appropriate...unfortunately neither comparison is ideal, as the xl2's sensor design makes it impossible to do "fair" comparisons.. et al...the 4:3 1/3inch sony versus 1/4 inch on the xl2 or 4:3 sony versus 16:9 xl2...neither one is a direct correlation...but by showing the 16:9, we can see the range the xl2 is capable of, against what is arguably the speed champ of the industry.

Barry
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Old September 14th, 2004, 08:40 PM   #13
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Unfortunately I sent my XL2 back to the store. Not because of picture quality or low light response, but because I had a great deal of difficulty shooting with it on my shoulder.
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