Initial impressions with Canon XL2 at DVinfo.net

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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 27th, 2004, 08:49 AM   #1
 
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Initial impressions with Canon XL2

Having received my XL2 last week, I spent the weekend getting accustomed to using this camera and rendering out some sample DVD's on Vegas 5. The bottom line is that I'm completely blown away by the quality of the image produced by this camera.

I captured in both 24p and 30p modes, all in widescreen, and all with Cine settings. While the white balance adjustment is still a stepwise process, with either presets or one of 3 custom settings, I'd much rather have a continuously adjustable white balance control that reads out in Kelvin. Be that as it may, the individual channel RGB controls allowed me to adjust my final white balance VERY nicely.

I'm a little dismayed at the menu layout, which is in traditional Canon character. I swear, some of these software writers are obviously NOT videographers because there are still often used adjustments deeply embedded in two or three layers of menu commands. Still, I'm overjoyed at even having these adjustments.

Another somewhat disappointing feature is that the VCR shutdown works at a default 5 minutes, without the ability to select the time period, as the XL1s did. Nevertheless, I can still adjust the camera to shut down only the tape transport and leave the imaging system powered up. This is my favorite mode.

Another little nuance.....I have been using an ADS Pyro DV drive to capture directly to a hard drive with my XL1s. Even with no DV tape in the transport, pressing the record button on the XL1s would activate the RECORD mode on the hard drive capture system. Alas, this no longer seems to be true with the XL2. I need to have a DV Tape in the transport to send a RECORD signal out the 1394 bus to bus devices. There is a menu selection allowing me to turn this on and off, however, the changing this selection didn't have any effect on this signal.

In my qualitative assessment of the 20x lens, it appears to be as hi of a resolution as the 16x manual lens. While I don't have any test equipment, other than my eyes, resolution between these two lenses looks the same.

I recorded one scene with some blooming geraniums, dark green leaves with brilliant red/orange flowers. There was some very noticeable vertical banding of the orange over the green in the RAW playback that was troublesome. The banding disappeared by the time it made it to the DVD playback.

I really like having the menu button repositioned above the select thumbwheel. This is a distinct improvement over the XL1s.

After becoming used to the settings, I shot a short clip in 24p, widescreen, Cine mode....captured it into Vegas5....output it to DVD with DVD Architect...and played it on my computer and my Sony WEGA 32 inch TV. The final clip, when played on the WEGA(which has progressive scan technology) was absolutely awesome. The image was automatically letterboxed and the quality was mind blowing. I feel like I'm in DV nirvanna.

I think the ultimate compliment came from my girlfriend, who's familiar with my XL1s results. She made the comment.."It looks like a movie". LOL...you can imaging my grin upon hearing this.

Despite my small complaints, I'm thrilled with this camera. Now, I just have to get used to having all this control...LOL.
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Old September 27th, 2004, 09:41 AM   #2
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Congratulations on your purchase. Like some others, I am considering buying the XL2.

I was wondering if you or anybody else has footage for sale? I could rent the camera myself, but it would take awhile to learn it. I am interested in seeing some 24p cine look footage, especially at night.

And I don't want to watch it on a small computer monitor. I want to see it like you saw it.

Would you or anyone else be interested in selling some "test footage"?
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Old September 28th, 2004, 09:02 AM   #3
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Can you post a few clips or just stills from your 24p with cinegamma?
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Old September 28th, 2004, 12:47 PM   #4
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Re: Initial impressions with Canon XL2

<<<-- Originally posted by Bill Ravens :

Another little nuance.....I have been using an ADS Pyro DV drive to capture directly to a hard drive with my XL1s. Even with no DV tape in the transport, pressing the record button on the XL1s would activate the RECORD mode on the hard drive capture system. Alas, this no longer seems to be true with the XL2. I need to have a DV Tape in the transport to send a RECORD signal out the 1394 bus to bus devices. There is a menu selection allowing me to turn this on and off, however, the changing this selection didn't have any effect on this signal. -->>>

Bill, I'm curious about this, what's the advantage(s) of acquiring directly to a DV drive? Obviously you don't have to buy and change DV tapes, but aside from that, is there something else?

I guess if you captured to a laptop, you could see, calibrate and correct live an array of settings, but is there any gain in using a direct to drive capture save for that fact (since I don't plan to buy a laptop just for that use anyway)?
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Old September 28th, 2004, 12:53 PM   #5
 
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Several advantages to capturing direct to a hard drive.
1-The biggest one is that for long captures, you don't have to spend the time re-capturing to your edit station, just plug in the DV drive you captured to and it looks just like an external hard drive.
2-DV tape is notorious for having dropouts, even on new tape. Having a DV drive acts as the primary record and the DV tape becomes a backup.
3-If you don't use a DV tape in the transport you save wear and tear on the transport and record heads.
4-Capture over 1394 bus happens as long as the hard drive is in RECORD mode. This means you can record as long as the camera is turned on, regardless of whether you're recording to the tape or not.
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Old September 28th, 2004, 01:08 PM   #6
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Thanks.

I guess the dropouts are my main concern. Wouldn't want to find out later in editing that an important take will be unusable because of dropouts. This is something I never had to worry about before as I was either shooting on film or Hi8. I guess for that point alone I might look into the DV drive option as well to complement the XL2.
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Old September 28th, 2004, 09:37 PM   #7
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<<Wouldn't want to find out later in editing that an important take will be unusable because of dropouts. This is something I never had to worry about before as I was either shooting on film or Hi8.>>

David, you must have been pretty lucky! I've never seen a tape format as prone to dropout as Hi8 (and my old tapes have NOT fared well over the last 10 years, I keep meaning to dub them to DVD), although I think my experience was not typical and perhaps my camera was not so great. But as far as film is concerned, I've certainly seen my share of mag scratches, lab scratches, edge fogging, hairs in the gate etc etc...

I'm actually pretty impressed with how few dropouts I've had with DV. But then again I use a DVCAM deck for playback, perhaps that's better (or has better dropout compensation) than playing off camcorders, etc?
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Old September 28th, 2004, 10:41 PM   #8
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Really? Well I must have been one lucky guy. Been using the Sony CCD-VX3 with Sony Hi8 HMP tapes for years and never got problems with them (although this was just for personal use, not professional).

I would capture by converting the footage from analog to DV via s-video. Latest gear I did this with was the Canopus ADVC-100 that works like a charm. Never noticed dropouts. Well let's hope my lucky star will follow me in this new DV world.

As for film, I've been lucky there also, guess Technicolor do a decent job here. Of course I don't have your baggage of experience yet so I don't have a whole lot to base this on. And now that I think of it, something pretty bad did happen to me, this one time where Technicolor lost our test footage in preparation for a short film. Never been so pissed off. A week of my life down the drain.
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