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Canon XL H Series HDV Camcorders
Canon XL H1S (with SDI), Canon XL H1A (without SDI). Also XL H1.


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Old February 26th, 2008, 04:31 PM   #1
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Disappointing XL H1 test

In anticipation of buying an XL H1, I mounted my Canon 70-300mm zoom with EF adapter on one and shot some footage. I then shot the same footage, with the same lens and adapter on my XL-2. Similar settings all around.
Viewing both on a HD monitor I, frankly couldn't, tell the difference in sharpness or detail. I expected the XL H1 to blow the XL-2 away, but not the case. Canon had warned me about this. They said putting a (low quality) lens on the H1 would degrade the image. Considering that the 70-300 EF lens is not a "low quality" piece of glass, I am really confused.
Could someone with experience using 35mm lenses (perhaps the L series) on the H1 say whether the images are what you would expect from a HD camcorder, or just the equivalent of good SD?
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Old February 26th, 2008, 10:49 PM   #2
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Is it possible that the original intent of the lens was to achieve focus on a 35mm image plane and the XL-H1 is only a 1/3 inch sensor, thus only using the very center of the glass? I Know this is true for the XL2 also, but the quality produced by the lens under these circumstances may be near SD quality and therefore the H1 cannot take advantage of it.

I do not use 35mm lenses with EF adapters but I can say for certain that the H1 using a ground glass 35mm DOF adapter resolves a ton more detail than the XL2 in the same setup. And I would expect more quality loss from the DOF adapter than an EF adapter....but there must be something else at play here.

Hopefully someone else will chime in, but the H1 is a far superior camera overall....
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Old February 26th, 2008, 11:40 PM   #3
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Steve,

For whatever the reason the 75-300 lens will not produce acceptable results on the XL-H1. While it is a good lens for the price, I can easily tell a difference between it and the L lenses on the Canon DSLRs Also. I tried it with the XL-H1 and the results are as you said.

The 70-200mmL F2.8 does work quite well. The 100-400mm does fairly well, but seems to be too soft on the upper end. Actually I have been using the old 35-350L some lately and it does surprisingly well.

In my opinion none of these are quite as sharp as the stock lens, but they will deliver acceptable high definition results, IF PERFECT FOCUS IS ACHIEVED, and that can be difficult to do.

The XL-H1 is definitely worth having from my perspective, but it requires a lot of practice, and even then, there will be some problems with attaining correct focus.
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Old February 26th, 2008, 11:43 PM   #4
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Steve,

To elaborate a bit more, I have not shot an XL-2, but I know from a lot of experience that the XL-H1 with either stock lens or the L telephotos delivers a vastly superior image compared to the XL-1s.
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Old February 27th, 2008, 10:02 AM   #5
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I use the 100-400 L IS lens with the XLH1 together the EF presets that are listed on the site, I use f5.6 aperture & the results are stunning, very little difference between the 100-400 lens and the 20x HD stock lens that comes with the XLH1. I only use L series lenses with the XLH1 & playback on a 40" HD TV with excellent results.
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Old February 28th, 2008, 07:24 PM   #6
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Mea Culpa. My XL H1 test was done at lunch at a busy studio. They basically handed me me the camcorder and said here, test it. I had an hour to do everything. Unfortunately, whoever had used it before me had set the mode to SD 16:9. I didn't see the dial. I was shooting the XL-H1 in SD!!! So it looked just like an XL-2. DUH. Whe properly set, the quality with the 70-300mm lens is superior, as expected.
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Old February 29th, 2008, 05:28 AM   #7
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steve,

I have used XL2 for more than 2 years with nearly every 35mm lenses in the market includung 100-400, 300 f4, 500 f4, sigma 70-200 2.8, sigma 300-800, 50-500 etc.

last week I bought XLH1.

The logic is: when you use xl2 or xlh1 with these lenses, it crops and magnify. but pixel density of XLH1 per mm is much more than XL2 so it is expected too get lower quality results with XLH1. However, resolution of 35 mm photographic lenses has much more than any video lens. forexample canon 70-200 2.8 IS and 500 f4 IS have nearly 4000 dpi, so these are the one of the best lenses on the market. either using XLH1 or XL2 with these lenses you can't out-resolve lens limit whether it crops or not. but low quality zoom lenses have less than 300 dpi and with croping of EF adapter, the result is not good.

my advice is, try the lens before you buy. but always prefer canon L glasses. and low ratio zoom lenses like 70-200 f4, 70-200 2,8. it is logical to prefer 70-200 f4 lens with ef 1,4x convertor than any 70-300 or 100-300 zoom lens.

for 100-400 lens, scenario is quite diferent. if you search the forums, people have different experiences with 100-400 lens. it is because 100-400 lens has huge sample variation. this means that every 100-400 lens has different optical performance ! I have chance to try 4 different 100-400 lens and believe me every lens has different result. so if you are lucky you can catch the best one, because the 100-400 is the perfect zoom ratio for XLH1. besides this,try sigmas 70-200 2.8, 100-300 f4 . dont forget that beyond 300 mm (with XLH1 you get 2000 mm!) it is very difficult to work with that magnification.

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Old February 29th, 2008, 08:54 AM   #8
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Hum, sounds like one of those threads where the title should be changed. Maybe "Operator Error Causes Disappointing XL H1 Test."

:)
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Old February 29th, 2008, 01:43 PM   #9
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Akim may have a point about one 100-400L being superior to another, but I have noted that I am more likely to get acceptable results with this lens at 400mm in excellent light. It is in the lower light levels that I especially notice the problems with sharpness.

I also didn't try it with the fu1000 finder which I now have, so it may give better results with it. The bottom line is that in most cases the L lenses will outperform the standard Canon EF lenses on either the XL-H1 or a DSLR.
My 75-300mmIS lens worked quite well on the L2, and the XL1s, but it simply does not work well on the H1.

There was a previous thread or threads on this subject and many have weighed in on this subject such as Lauri Kettunen, Per Johan, and Jacques Mersereau. There is a wealth of information on this subject out there.
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Old February 29th, 2008, 05:37 PM   #10
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Right on, Mike. I feel pretty stupid, but, hey, this XL H1 is a really exciting piece of equipment, and it's easy to get carried away without making sure that all one's cylinders have spark plugs inserted.
Sorry for wasting every one's time.
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Old February 29th, 2008, 10:31 PM   #11
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The SLR camera lens does not have to be as sharp for an acceptable image in 35mm stills format.

Whilst the centre area of the lens may be at its sharpest and is the area the 1/3" imager sees, it still may not be up to scratch for HDV. A prime lens may be a different story.

At the tele end of that lens your are also into fairly savage magnification to the 1/3" format and moderately distant objects are going to be hazed or distorted if even only slightly which will make them apparently soft.

You may find the lens to be apparently sharper on closer objects.

Last edited by Bob Hart; February 29th, 2008 at 10:33 PM. Reason: added text.
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Old March 1st, 2008, 05:58 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alkim Un View Post
However, resolution of 35 mm photographic lenses has much more than any video lens. forexample canon 70-200 2.8 IS and 500 f4 IS have nearly 4000 dpi, so these are the one of the best lenses on the market. either using XLH1 or XL2 with these lenses you can't out-resolve lens limit whether it crops or not.
Well, 4000 dpi may sound high but it might not be high enough for an incredibly small HDV chip.

An 1/3" sensor has an actual diagonal size of 6.00 mm. As XL H1's chips are native 16:9 their width must be around 5.23 mm or .206". So for 1440 pixels wide you get exactly 7000 dpi. This resolution can only be achieved by the very best still photo lenses nowadays.
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Old March 1st, 2008, 07:01 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Wolfgang Neun View Post
Well, 4000 dpi may sound high but it might not be high enough for an incredibly small HDV chip.

An 1/3" sensor has an actual diagonal size of 6.00 mm. As XL H1's chips are native 16:9 their width must be around 5.23 mm or .206". So for 1440 pixels wide you get exactly 7000 dpi. This resolution can only be achieved by the very best still photo lenses nowadays.
wolfrang,

thats exactly what I want to say. thank you. so for the XLH1, lens choice is narrow and as you said, only the mst expensive ones are appropriate.

price of the lens tell its quality. this is basic and valid rule unfortunately.

tahnks,
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Old March 1st, 2008, 08:13 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Steve Siegel View Post
Right on, Mike. I feel pretty stupid, but, hey, this XL H1 is a really exciting piece of equipment, and it's easy to get carried away without making sure that all one's cylinders have spark plugs inserted.
Sorry for wasting every one's time.
What do you mean, "Wasting everyone's time?" You have given over 450 people something to read so far!

Have Fun! :)

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