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Canon XL and GL Series DV Camcorders
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Old September 14th, 2004, 04:15 AM   #1
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[Special interest: Fireworks] Not only a question of low light capability

I put this thread in the XL2 watchdog because I intend to buy that machine soon.

But here are my thoughts/questions:

Almost 100% of my filmings are shots of huge fireworks displays as well as of single consumer fireworks effects. I do that filming for a website and for DVDs.

I own the Canon XM2 (GL2) and the Sony VX2100, both as PAL version. Former I owned a Sony TRV900 - but this was not a good machine for fireworks.

So, after lots and lots of tests, trial and error, disappointments and lucky findings I now think to now how fireworks are filmed the best way. The perfect machine for fireworks must have the following features (besides of course the obvious things like all manual settings):

1 - manual setting of WB between 3200-5500K. At least storing a WB even without accu as custom preset

2 - absolute no upto very small noise with 0db-6db

3 - huge contrast capabilities: most effects like colored white, red, green stars are very bright and stand against the black night sky

4 - very good low light capabilities: allthough most effects are very bright there are often fine golden rain effects which need really good low light capabilities

5 - good dynamic range: now washing out of eg. colored stars when iris is 2f - open

6 - smallest possible smear effects and white vertical digital distortion lines with 2.8f - open iris

7 - good wide angle with additional lense

8- good audio starting from 15Hz at very loud environment (explosions and often music).

9 - MIC ATT setting possible im menu

10 - custom presets with color saturation, color shift and sharpness


The best camcorder for fireworks would be if one could set the iris to open, no gain, and could film bright stars and flashing explosions as sharp and as good as fine low light gold and blue and violet colors without washing out or smear effects...

Neither the XM2 nor the VX2100 are perfect fireworks cameras - here are my experiences:


XM2:
++ very good fireworks colors with the correct WB (after finding it)
++ few vertical distortion lines, no distortion starting from 2.4f
++ no picture noise at 0db
+ good deep sound with external micro
+ good wide angle with Canon WD58H adapter lense
- no manual setting of WB - one has to test at a display if the stored WB was the correct one
- to much noise at 6db, no 3db setting possible
- no good low light capabilities - without gain lots of golden effects are simply not visible. Gain not possible because of noise and because of way to switch between exposure/gain on camera in praxis.
- picture at 0db is too dark: the smoke in the sky eg. is not as visible as it should be

VX2100:
++ very good low light capabilities (picture is not as dark as XM2, smoke and golden effects are visible)
+ good fireworks colors, a little coolish color
+ manual setting of WB within 3200-5500K
+ small picture noise at 3-6db
+- low picture noise at 0db
- WB gap somewhere between 3200-5500K - not all values are reachable
- with WD48H approx. 10% less wide angle than XM2
- with same external micro as XM2 audio is not deep enough
-- lots of washing out of bright stars at open/0db
--- camera is "blended" with bright effects at 2.4f-open
---- lots and lots of smear effects and digital vertical lines with flash explosions with 2.8f - open

Here is my result:

XM2 almost perfect for fireworks but too dark picture - no way for using gain in praxis

VX2100 has perfect low light capabilities - but this positive aspect is totally cancelled because of blending/smear effect/vertical white lines - even with 4f you cannot be sure in the display finale that the won't be digital distortion

So, here is the real reason for writing this thread:

How will the XL2 behave with fireworks?


* 3-6db has much less noise than at XM2?
* gain is manually accessibly in praxis - seperated from exposure setting?
* similar or better behaviour with smear/digital distortion lines as XM2?
* can WB be manually set in menu - without gap?
* is picture brighter as XM2 (but probably darker than VX2100)?
* is a similar wide angle possible with 0.6/0.7 adapter lense as XM2 with 0.7 WD58H?

Thank you for your time,
regards
Markus
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Old September 14th, 2004, 04:49 AM   #2
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I can't answer a lot of your questions, but:

1) you cannot manually set the WB at a number. You can have WB presets, but only set by pointing the camera at something and hitting WB

2) it should have less noise than the XM2/GL2

3) you can buy the wide angle lens for the XL2 or perhaps by a wide angle attachment (not sure if this would work with the default 20x lens but it should with all the older lenses => 16x automatic and manual and the 14x)
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Old September 14th, 2004, 09:46 AM   #3
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* 3-6db has much less noise than at XM2?
* gain is manually accessibly in praxis - seperated from exposure setting?
* similar or better behaviour with smear/digital distortion lines as XM2?
* can WB be manually set in menu - without gap?
* is picture brighter as XM2 (but probably darker than VX2100)?
* is a similar wide angle possible with 0.6/0.7 adapter lense as XM2 with 0.7 WD58H?

Markus

here's what I can tell you. The xl2 will give you substantially lower noise at 3-6 db gain (in still frame you do see some, but running footage there is almost none). Even at 12 db, the noise is quite acceptable. Its present but it is much finer than the gl2 (I'm comparing xl2 16:9 mode to gl2's 4:3 or 16:9)

The xl2 in low light and gain...is considerably sharper than he gl2.

-brighter?...not sure if it is any brighter, but it does have the ability to see things in low light that the gl2 probably couldn't.

You can fully adjust not only the white balance(not set it manually to a number), but also make adjustments to color balance along several different axes...I think this should give you the control you need). Gain is set manually.

One thing you haven't mentioned, but is probably important..the xl2 in 16:9 30P seems to resolve much finer detail than any other camera in this range..I think this would be important for wide shots of fireworks.

Barry
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