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Canon XL and GL Series DV Camcorders
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Old July 5th, 2006, 09:21 AM   #1
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XL2 - thoughts on blacks, "fake" dynamic range, underexposure

So I got me a new XL2 recently, and have been playing with it a little.

Now, I know this camera's known for being able to have a lot more dynamic range than the XL1s, and a lot more stuff you can tweak.

However, I have issues with the way it handles underexposure (I know I've mentioned this in other threads). Up to a certain point it looks okay, but then the dark parts of the image start to go a blue/grey, while still perfectly visible, and sharp.

I'm no technician, but it seems like what's happening at this point is the camera's trying to create "fake" dynamic range/lattitude, at the expense of realitisic color representation. I know some guys on here think that it looks okay, and that's "how the eye sees" but it doesn't really work for me. To me, the only time your eye sees something as almost colorless is when it's REALLY dark, like when your eyes adjust to a room with no lights on, at night. In a normal situation, I think you still see color, dark though it may be. And if not, the mind sees it, so you think you're seeing it. Make any sense?

At any rate, the camera seems to do this with either black stretch or black middle selected, and only stops when you select black press. I know many here say not to crush the blacks in camera, as you can do that in post, but if the dark parts of the image are gonna look weird/wrong anyway, then what's wrong with doing it? Either light the blacks so they aren't blacks, or shoot another way, or something. When I played with how the black press setting handles underexposure, it seems correct. When you underexpose, you retain color until it goes black, instead of it being that weird blue/grey.

Seems like cinegamma looks more correct than normal, to me, as well.

Just my thoughts.

Anyone else? Oh yeah, all these thoughts apply to trying to get a *sigh* film look from the camera. If you were doing a run and gun documentary/ENG stuff, I guess the extra latitude and stuff might be good.
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Old July 6th, 2006, 12:10 AM   #2
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It is my understanding that higher latitude is one of the key aspects of "film look" and with the advent of 35mm adapters and adjustable color controls, the lack of lattitude IMO is the single largest limitation of the XL2, and most other 1/3" DV cameras for that matter. If you find the low light detail disagreeable by all means crush it but you can't blame the camera for not performing psychological closure. I think you said it best "And if not, the mind sees it, so you think you're seeing it." Lighting for DV is difficult because it sees fewer stops than film and far fewer than your eye. It's also easier because you can see what you're getting before you pull the trigger. You might try lowering your highlights and throwing in some extra fill. A monitor can't tell the difference between media originating on film or video so on the display side it's an even playing field. I think the trick lies not in fooling your mind but that of the audience, after all how it comes out in the end is entirely up to you.
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Old July 6th, 2006, 02:18 AM   #3
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Right.

I wasn't trying to ask how to get the film look (I get that video will never look like film, but we can at least aspire to make good looking DV). My main point of this post was that to me, the black press setting looks the most correct in the way it handles underexposure, which seems counterintuitive, being that the other settings give you more latitude.

That is all.
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Old July 6th, 2006, 03:04 AM   #4
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I'm with you. For me there is no single setting that works great in all environments. Outdoors I tend to crush blacks. Indoors I usually stretch them. What's cool about the XL2 is that you essentially have 4 points of control(Setup, Pedestal, Stretch-Middle-Press, and Cinegamma) over the blacks which if I remember is 3 more than with the XL1. Take Care, Jason.
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Old July 6th, 2006, 09:06 AM   #5
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Actually, as I twiddled around, I was indoors. I find the black thing applies everwhere, it seems.
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Old July 8th, 2006, 05:27 AM   #6
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Alright, so finally viewed the XL2 tour video on DVcreator.net. I may be slightly enlightened, but am still without a clear solution.

It says coring reduces chroma in dark areas? that sounds exactly like my issue. Now, which way does this work? Is higher coring (i.e. slider moved to the right) more chroma reduction, or less?

I will also try the various black press/stretch settings in combination with moving the master ped setting around (as you guys said that it adjusted the "toe" curve/rolloff to black, like the opposite of the knee). I'm kinda loathe to screw with setup level.
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Old July 8th, 2006, 09:23 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Josh Bass
Alright, so finally viewed the XL2 tour video on DVcreator.net. I may be slightly enlightened, but am still without a clear solution.

It says coring reduces chroma in dark areas? that sounds exactly like my issue. Now, which way does this work? Is higher coring (i.e. slider moved to the right) more chroma reduction, or less?

I will also try the various black press/stretch settings in combination with moving the master ped setting around (as you guys said that it adjusted the "toe" curve/rolloff to black, like the opposite of the knee). I'm kinda loathe to screw with setup level.
Yes Josh, moving the slider to the right increases the coring which helps to reduce chroma noise in the dark areas.

-gb-
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Old July 8th, 2006, 01:03 PM   #8
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So less coring (slider left) = less chroma reduction in dark areas = more color in underexposed areas?

The video said the coring reduces CHROMA, not chroma noise. . .was that a mistake, or does it literally desaturate the dark areas of the picture? Whenever I set up a custom preset, I always set the coring all the way right, so maybe that's my issue.
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Old July 9th, 2006, 02:30 AM   #9
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Coring is a fine detail adjustment, its practical application is to soften noise. If you are shooting with GAIN up or something very blue or red, the coring can take the edge off. I rarely find the need to reduce coring on the XL2.

Dont be afraid to mess with the setup level and dont be afraid to crush the blacks. I do it all the time. Unless you are editing uncompressed you want to get as close to your final look as you can, in camera. I shoot outdoor stuff all the time with the MP and setup level ALL the way down and the blacks pressed. Not great for everything but a more modern look...



ash =o)
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