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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 February 16th, 2007, 11:52 AM   #16
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A note about the auto focus hunting

Steve,

The autofocus isn't really hunting as you zoom in and out. The issue is that the focus and zoom share a single servo motor. IOW, the camera can't do both at the same time. You may have a backfocus issue which isn't unheard of with the XL2. However, it's not a user adjustable feature with the 20X auto lens. Just check it in the normal way. Go full tele, focus, then zoom out. It should hold critical focus but it can't auto focus as you zoom.

Also, as was mentioned by others, the gain switch normally comes set to Auto. You can place the mode wheel in full manual 'M' mode but unless you force the gain by setting to 0 or -3, it will crank the gain on you as you adjust shutter and iris resulting in grainy pictures. One of the good things about the XL2, being a newer design, you can actually use a little bit of gain and still have noise free video which will help bridge the gap of your low light champion PD-150. Use up to +6 and dial in a small amount of noise reduction in the preset menus. Also use a bit of coring to keep the dark areas free of chroma noise.

About the 'plastic' body on a $5K camera. There may be plastic stuff on the outside, but under all that is a strong magnesium frame that has proven to take some pretty tough jolts by other owners.

The manual leaves a lot to be desired in understanding all the picture customization controls but Canon's website has some better explanations. Also, you should locate and watch the 'XL2 Feature Tour Video' at DVCreators.net. They do a great job of adjusting and showing what the camera can do.

Don't give up. I just went through the same steep curve last year switching from the XL2 to the Sony F350.

regards,

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Old February 16th, 2007, 12:02 PM   #17
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steve, you're not the first operator to switch from sony to canon and be disappointed by the difference in images or to think that there is something wrong with the camera. the reality is that the XL2 just requires a lot more practice. even if you have a lot of experience with another camera. you have to dig deep into the custom pre-sets, and it doesn't sound as if you have. if you compare the out-of-the-box image of the XL2 to the PD150, you'll be disappointed, because you'll be used to a warmer, more saturated image. the XL2 factory settings are flatter and look milky, by comparison. this actually makes the XL2 easier to adjust in post-production and is what permits the available range of settings in the custom pre-sets.

it will take you more than several days to make friends with it. you might be better off with a Z1U as an upgrade, if you need good out-of-the-box images right away.

you should also do more reading on the forums, before you ask for help. i think you are encountering some frustration from forum users because you're re-inventing the wheel with these complaints, rather than taking the more pro-active approach of researching the long, storied history here of users making the switch between canon and sony camera.

i have both, an FX-1 and an XL2, and i can tell you that i can match the XL2 to the FX-1, but not the FX-1 to the XL2. so which is the more flexible and versatile camera?
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Old February 16th, 2007, 01:26 PM   #18
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The jump from PD to XL is a large one... you have been riding with training wheels and need to learn how to ride without them now. If you dont like the curve, try a DVX100b, very customizable but has training wheel options with the built in pre-sets.

A camera is a tool, an instrument, a paintbrush,etc. Dont criticize the the paint brush when you are in paint by numbers mode. What we do for a living is not only an art but a very technical skill that requires years of experience to master.

I have arguably logged more hours on the XL cameras than anyone in the world, I would be happy to help with your settings, etc. but there is no magic button or setting. The XL2 is the most customizable camera in its class, bar none... if you dont like the way the image is coming out, it is not the camera's fault, it is the user. We can help with settings but the XL2 is not a point and shoot camera, never will be.



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Old February 16th, 2007, 01:30 PM   #19
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I think you guys are being really harsh on him. As a new XL2 owner, I think I can contribute a little bit to this discussion. Out of the box, in 60i, the XL2 provides very consistent, neutral images across all conditions. The problem is that these images are not particularly good. When I first got the XL2 and started playing with it, I was very disappointed. I expected more out of a pro cam in automatic settings. Even the audio wasn't great. But I had been lurking on these forums for a while and people really loved this thing, so I looked a little closer.

I started playing with all the buttons and dials. I set framerate at 30p, gain at 0 (and never, ever put back to auto), iris and shutter for current room, calibrated the viewfinder and preview monitor, and adjusted the audio dials for just a hair below ambient. Things started to look and sound much better.

And then I found the image control menu. With a few hours of playing around with the settings in different temperatures of natural and artificial light, I was able to produce a wide range of 'looks', including what I would consider a Sony look. Switching from a Sony to a Canon is hard because Sony's images have distinct characteristics. They are sharper (arguably artificially so), usually interlaced, and have an unnaturally wide color range. As a former JVC junkie, I often preferred the undersaturated, high shutter look.

Sidenote: using an XL2 in 60i is blasphemy.

With the Canon, I was able to achieve both, whereas on the Sony and JVC, I was unable to deviate far from their native characteristics. This is a testament to the versatility of the XL2. It is not meant to be used right out of the box. I don't even know why they included all those automatic controls; maybe it was just to make an easier transition from the XL1. The XL2 is capable of incredibly rich imagery, and the modular design keeps it versatile in outfitting as well. The learning curve is no speedbump, but it is well worth the time.

Forget 60i. Forget automatic anything, including focus. As a matter of fact, drop that 20X lens altogether and get a manual 16X. Learn to use the presets for very fine tuning, and learn them to the point where you don't even look at the monitor to make rough adjustments.

His frustration is justified, but ultimately shortlived like mine. Despite how it may look, the XL2 is most definitely not a point-and-shoot.
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Old February 16th, 2007, 01:38 PM   #20
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Take the gain off Auto

Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Boston
Also, as was mentioned by others, the gain switch normally comes set to Auto. You can place the mode wheel in full manual 'M' mode but unless you force the gain by setting to 0 or -3, it will crank the gain on you as you adjust shutter and iris resulting in grainy pictures.
I have had unwanted and excessive noise mysteriously appear even in good light situations and it's because I've had gain levels set to Auto. If I'm shooting in good light, I always try to take gain levels to -3 or 0. I rarely, tho have problems with noise at settings of +6 and below.
I have learned not to keep the gain at the "Auto" setting.
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Old February 16th, 2007, 02:00 PM   #21
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Steve, Ash is "DA MAN" on this camera, so listen to everything he says for sure!

Jad, "Sidenote: using an XL2 in 60i is blasphemy." I disagree with that, as it depends on your situation and where you are are to post the video, and what situation you are shooting under. The 60i setting is on the camera for a purpose and it has its uses. Not everyone is trying to get that "Movie Look."

Jad, I also disagree with you on your statement that we are being too harsh on him. We are being honest and that's probably what he needs to hear, an honest appraisal of his situation. Neither he nor anyone else should jump into this forum and start his first post by blasting one of the best cameras in the world and declaring that he knows what he is doing so it must be the camera. That will not work.

Anyway, I hope he decides what he wants to do, spend some time learning or get an easier camera.

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Old February 16th, 2007, 04:06 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Teutsch
Jad, "Sidenote: using an XL2 in 60i is blasphemy." I disagree with that, as it depends on your situation and where you are are to post the video, and what situation you are shooting under. The 60i setting is on the camera for a purpose and it has its uses. Not everyone is trying to get that "Movie Look."
Sorry, there is bias in this because of my personal preference for progressive imaging over interlaced, for all situations. But I still think that if your final format is 60i, the XL2 is not the most ideal tool.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Teutsch
Jad, I also disagree with you on your statement that we are being too harsh on him. We are being honest and that's probably what he needs to hear, an honest appraisal of his situation. Neither he nor anyone else should jump into this forum and start his first post by blasting one of the best cameras in the world and declaring that he knows what he is doing so it must be the camera. That will not work.
Well, yes he does need honesty, but we shouldn't be too fanatical; it might turn him off. We should just point in the right direction and let the cam speak for itself. Or maybe there should be a sticky for XL2 newbies.. oh wait there are :)

A lot of his frustration seems to be from the change in workflow, not specifically the change in hardware. He attributes it to the cam because that's the only variable that's changed. Eventually he'll figure out that he needs to revise his understanding of the camera component to one of a more specialized instrument than a general purpose tool.

I'm sure we'd react the same way if we changed our hondas to ferraris and became annoyed when we couldn't drive properly in the rain. Okay that is a horrible analogy, but my point is probably in there somewhere.
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Old February 18th, 2007, 11:35 PM   #23
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The only reason for the harshness was Steve's tone, he seems to be aggressively asking where the magic button is =o) We are more than happy to help him but he should not accuse people of being Canon reps and such.

As far as 60i, it has many uses, especially until 60P comes around. It gives you a "live" feel. Some markets have tested 24P and 30P for local news and got poor reactions. Same goes for TV shows where the camera is directly addressed. One of my favorite shows is Good Eats but it lost a lot of charm when they tried 24P for a while. Not sure what they are doing now, maybe 30P or 60i with a higher than normal shutter but IMHO, still doesnt connect as well as 60i for that show.



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Old February 19th, 2007, 12:13 AM   #24
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Well its been a while since our original poster Steve weighed in. He hasn't posted any stills or clips for review, or commented on the suggestios given, so I'm guess either he found 'the magic button' or he was just trolling for comments.
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Old February 19th, 2007, 01:05 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ash Greyson
As far as 60i, it has many uses, especially until 60P comes around. It gives you a "live" feel. Some markets have tested 24P and 30P for local news and got poor reactions. Same goes for TV shows where the camera is directly addressed. One of my favorite shows is Good Eats but it lost a lot of charm when they tried 24P for a while. Not sure what they are doing now, maybe 30P or 60i with a higher than normal shutter but IMHO, still doesnt connect as well as 60i for that show.
I guess that's true. I just don't understand why you can't run 30p at 1/60 or even faster to get that same look.. and have much easier control in post. Interlaced fields were more of a bandwidth consideration, no?
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Old February 19th, 2007, 05:40 AM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Hurd
I wouldn't call that bold. I'd call that "account suicide by Admin."

I've never been offended by anyone's statements about their gear, but I'm definitely not spending my time and money running this site just to garner this sort of insinuation.

Every once in awhile I'll run into an unfortunate person who finds himself driven "freaking nuts" by his choice of equipment. For these folks, there are two courses of available action: adapt to the gear and live with it, because it's not going to change; or get out from under it and choose something else. Being rather resistant to change myself (for better or for worse), my own sincere recommendation is always the latter option: get rid of it, quickly. A video camera is a tool that you're going to use well only when *you* feel good using it (and it doesn't matter how many other people are using it). It's an entirely subjective choice, and one which I believe should be made primarily upon the considerations of form factor, intuitiveness and pleasing results.

Fortunately in this particular market, there are a variety of available options within any given price range. Rather than settling for a less than fulfilling experience with a certain piece of equipment -- whether it's Canon, Sony, JVC or Panasonic -- the much wiser decision would be to change to some other tool that's better suited for one's particular expectations.

Yet again, Cris provides some great and simple-to-the-point advice. As they say, “if you don't like the heat, get out of the kitchen” or at least buy a new cooling fan...

Mike, Ash and others also provide wonderful advice...I just hope that it hasn't fallen on deaf ears. The posts weren't in my view harsh towards Steve, but more like trying to offer a helping hand for someone frustrated with their new toy.

As much as the XL2 can provide 'freaking-good' images when used in the right hands, the XL2 can sometimes also drive me 'freaking nuts'...mainly because it doesn't always offer the same options and images as that $150,000 camera/lens combination used to film Lord of the Rings. But then I just smile down at my poor-mans Pro-camera and realise that it is the very best high quality tool I can possibly buy that suites my style of filming and current bank balance.

What it all boils down to is personal preference. Each to their own – a camera, like any working tool, is a very personal thing and one man’s nectar is another man’s poison.

Regarding Jad's sidenote: "...using an XL2 in 60i is blasphemy..."

I only use 50i and tend to avoid all the blasphemy...
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Old February 19th, 2007, 01:39 PM   #27
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30P gives a great look but is very problematic when transferred to PAL and most TV shows now have some international outlet. If you have ever seen it, 30P to 50i or 25P looks pretty terrible.



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Old February 19th, 2007, 04:10 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Davies-Patrick
Regarding Jad's sidenote: "...using an XL2 in 60i is blasphemy..."

I only use 50i and tend to avoid all the blasphemy...
That's cheating Tony, we don't have that. Now stand up for us, we know it is the same!

:)

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Old February 22nd, 2007, 07:38 PM   #29
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Steve, I have a few suggestions:

Be sure "Film Grain" is off.

Be sure that the gain is set to 0, or -3. As a rule, I never use gain. Unless it's a once in a lifetime news event, but then, that's what onboard lights are for.

Shoot in manual.

Using a broadcast monitor, like A Sony PVM, or BVM series monitor, set up a basic "Shirley" type scene with a human, color chart(s) and a few colored objects that are red, green, blue and CMY. Go into the Custom Presets and create your own settings. I've created a preset notation sheet, so I can refer back to other shoots and see what I did for the color. This is where the bulk of your complaints can likely be corrected. Or not. I use a monitor whenever possible. I think I have less confidence in video than I do in film.

If you can, get the FU-1000 black & white viewfinder, it's better to focus with by adjusting the peaking and when set up properly, can help you judge exposure. Using the zebras can help a great deal, so you know what areas are blown out. Be sure that the camera is off when you plug the FU-1000 in and be sure it's pushed all the way in before you power up. Otherwise you get a blown main fuse, a useless camera and several handfulls of hair.

It's video, so light whenever possible.

With video, it's better to under expose than to overexpose, it's like shooting chromes.

It's a 1/3" chip on minidv.

I generally shoot in 24P.

If you're shooting regular 60i, try an eighth, or quarter Black Pro Mist filter, to help it look less like crap, I mean video.

If you are shooting a lot of low light, then you may want to trade in the XL2 for a DVX100, which has better low light capabilities.

In post production, color correction, brightness and contrast can be tweaked with a good colorist at the controls.
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Old February 22nd, 2007, 07:59 PM   #30
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Lots of great suggestions and positive ideas posted in an initially upsetting thread.

This is why I come here. Thanks people!
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