Format Agnostic...but how? at DVinfo.net

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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 September 15th, 2005, 07:54 PM   #1
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Format Agnostic...but how?

Okay, after initially being disappointed with the release info, I'm really liking this camera the more I've learned about it. I can't wait to see some footage, especially to put our 24F vs 24P fears to rest. That is probably my biggest concern about spending this much money. I'm also curious to hear some audio reviews IF using 4 channels at 16 bit/196.

I love (on paper) the new viewfinder, though I'm disappointed to see the information spread across/over the screen. I love Panny's idea of putting the information in the letterboxed area. I spend half my shoots clicking the display button on and off! I LOVE that Canon has planned that people will use a 35mm adapter for shallower DOF and they have put in the "flip switch" for the viewfinder! Killer. No staring at upside down images...anyone know if the output to a monitor can be flipped? Doubt it, but worth asking I guess.

Okay, now my question. If the camera is format agnostic and can output DVCPro HD, umm...how does that work? They didn't put the actual converter/codec in the camera, did they? I'm assuming not, but this would open the door to going straight out firewire to a firestore device...and thus really setting the camera in competition with the HVX200. So, how does it do DVCPro HD, if not in camera? Very curious about this, because while we're all excited to hear the words "uncompressed," it's probably less than 1% of us that will shoot that way. However, if I can use DVCPro HD, I'm putting my name on a list soon for this camera.

Thanks for any replies!

Kevin
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Old September 15th, 2005, 08:49 PM   #2
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I think the whole format agnostic, HDCAM, DVCPRO 50 is because you can run the HD SDI out to a deck for any of those formats... I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure that's what everyone is talking about...
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Old September 15th, 2005, 09:01 PM   #3
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Wouldn't that apply to the FX1 and Z1 as well?... they output via component video which is evidently uncompressed.
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Old September 15th, 2005, 09:23 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Boyd Ostroff
Wouldn't that apply to the FX1 and Z1 as well?... they output via component video which is evidently uncompressed.
True in that sense Boyd. The only thing is, component out is analog, and then it would get converted back to digital via component input which could impact image quality. The HD-SDI which is unique to the Canon (when compared to other HDV offerings) would keep the uncompressed signal in the digital form all the way to the recording medium. But that's the only difference I can see.

It's great that we are getting so many choices. "Choose your weapon and go shoot something with it", I say.

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Old September 15th, 2005, 09:48 PM   #5
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Hmmm, a deck would cost a bit. It's too bad they don't make cheaper DVCPROHD decks, then everyone would get this camera. I guess it's good that you can work with HDV until you can get up to buying a deck or find a facility that has one already. All we need now is some footage. But either way, I think I'm going HVX200.
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Old September 15th, 2005, 09:56 PM   #6
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I think the "format agnostic" thing is a bit of a misnomer. I mean, you can either call it a camcorder (meaning a camera/recorder) or just a camera head (which is a camera without any sort of recording mechanism).

If you want to call it a camcorder, then it must inherently be called an HDV camcorder, since that is all it records.

If you want to use it as a live camera head, then yes you could say it's format agnostic, but not really any more so than any other camera, since all camera heads are inherently format agnostic.

Therefore, when used in a format-agnostic application, the Canon offers the same functionality as the others (not a we-can-and-you-can't type of situation), but it does have an additional connector (HD-SDI) which the others lack; therefore it can make a theoretically better recording than the non-HD-SDI cameras could. One could always get an analog component-to-HD-SDI converter, but that wouldn't carry as clean or pure a signal as a real, straight-from-the-DSP HD-SDI connector like the Canon offers.
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Old September 15th, 2005, 09:57 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Thomas Smet:

People keep talking about how useless the SDI port is because uncompressed HD takes up too much space and bandwidth. Why would you need uncompressed when you could capture to a codec and still have higher than HDV quality?

Take the Decklink products on a Final Cut Pro system. $600.00 for the SDI card.

1. You can capture to DVCPRO HD at only 14 MB/S which any off the shelf hard drive could handle.

2. You could get the bitjazz codec which you can capture to in realtime and the uncompressed file size gets cut roughly in half. In my case it may be even better for bluescreen work where most of the screen stays the same color. This is the only option to get any level of compression but still keep 10bit video on the mac. While you will still need a raid for this you may be able to get by with just a 2 disk raid 0 setup inside of your mac.

3. PhotoJpg can be even higher quality than DVCPROHD and it is full 1920x1080 resolution. The only problem is currently I think you can only capture in realtime at 25% quality which isn't the best. With faster systems however hopefully that will be back up to 75% like it is with SD.

4. Lacie is coming out with an external SATA 2 tower for only $2000.00 that could allow you to capture uncompressed HD. While still not dirt cheap it is a lot cheaper than other HD uncompressed storage.

5. You could always build a raid array with the cheapest smallest hard drives for $50.00 a piece or less to just make a capture drive. 4X 80GB SATA 2 drives = 320 GB for $200.00 It wouldn't fit a lot of video (20-30 minutes) but once you have your FX shots captured you convert them to photojpg at 75%.

I think many users at first would be happy with capturing to DVCPROHD for FX work until they could invest in some large storage system. I personally do not like DVCPROHD for 720p but it's 1080 format is much better. You get almost the same resolution as HDV but 4:2:2 color and much less compression.

On the PC side you could get a Cineform Prospect system although those are not cheap. Once you have it though almost any hard drive would work to capture 1920x1080 at 4:2:2 in 10bits in the Cineform format for I think around 24 MB/S. Or you could do the small cheap capture raid thing listed above and convert to the Cineform codec to make the files smaller and easier to edit.

For those who do want a higher quality capturing method for live FX work remember that even though the XLH1 costs about 3-4 grand more than other current HDV cameras you save 1.5-2.5 grand by not needing an analog to SDI HD converter.
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Old September 15th, 2005, 10:37 PM   #8
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It is format agnostic because it doesn't matter what deck you choose to record to... it could be HDCAM one day and DVCPRO HD the next. That's the advantage of uncompressed HD over HD-SDI out.

What this camera is, is two things in one. It is an HD camera head. You supply the recorder. Don't buy an HD deck; rent one as you need it. It's also an HDV camcorder, but that's a secondary thing. That's why I couldn't put this forum in our HDV section. The XL H1 is not "just an HDV camcorder." It's first and foremost an HD camera head. That feature is far more important than the HDV feature.
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Old September 15th, 2005, 11:32 PM   #9
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But Chris, couldn't you say the same about the HVX200? I realize the lens and such may be better, but circuitry-wise, why is this any better? I still think this will be a tough competition between the two unless a device comes out that will do better-than-HDV to a drive for the H1. I think DVCPro HD is a very good format that still has reasonable file sizes and obviously, solutions very soon to Firestore drives via FireWire.

I really hope someone comes out with a field-based solution so we can utilize the full quality level that this camera offers.

Canon is oh so close to having a real professional offering...I'm not saying you cannot do professional work with this, but that it is still listed under "Consumer" on their website and I'm assuming it is still coming out of their consumer division of products.

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Old September 16th, 2005, 12:00 AM   #10
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I'm a big fan of the HVX200... I run the *second* largest forum on the internet for that camera. But no it does not send uncompressed HD at 1.485Gbps out to HD-SDI. There is no HD-SDI terminal connector on the HVX.

Serial Digital Interface is a big deal. It is not the same as component analog out.

Without question the big challenge to the XL H1 is that it is definitely not ideal for field recording unless you're going to tape on HDV. And why would you want to shoot HDV with this thing when you can buy into HDV at less than half the price. Obviously the H1 is not targeted at people who are in the HVX200 market or the Sony Z1 market.

I don't know of any portable hard disk recorders capable of taking HD-SDI out of any video camera. Yes it's coming from the Canon Video division, maker of the dirt-cheap ZR100. Believe me, I'm not saying it's right for everybody; clearly it's a specific market they're going for with *this particular* camera. Who is to say the next one won't be a GL2 replacement, you know?
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Old September 16th, 2005, 12:14 AM   #11
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Yup, I agree. But I hope they are missing out on a huge market of people like me who would just LOVE to stay Canon. I'm still not decided where my money will go this Winter. I really hope we'll at least have an announcement of a device that can take advantage of the higher rez imaging that this camera can do.

I just sent the link to a producer who doesn't roam these boards and it was very odd sending them to http://consumer.usa.canon.com and telling them to click on "camcorders." It would be VERY wise for Canon to change this and future "prosumer" cameras to a new area, in my opinion. A $9,000 camcorder, eh? But it's professional, really! Just don't look at where they put it on their site! :-)

Thanks.

Kevin
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Old September 16th, 2005, 12:19 AM   #12
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We should probably start a new thread somewhere about what's wrong with Canon's DV site.It would be an, er, ahh... *intense* discussion with *many* replies.
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Old September 16th, 2005, 12:25 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Wild
Yup, I agree. But I hope they are missing out on a huge market of people like me who would just LOVE to stay Canon. I'm still not decided where my money will go this Winter. I really hope we'll at least have an announcement of a device that can take advantage of the higher rez imaging that this camera can do.

I just sent the link to a producer who doesn't roam these boards and it was very odd sending them to http://consumer.usa.canon.com and telling them to click on "camcorders." It would be VERY wise for Canon to change this and future "prosumer" cameras to a new area, in my opinion. A $9,000 camcorder, eh? But it's professional, really! Just don't look at where they put it on their site! :-)

Thanks.

Kevin
Well Kevin, just send them to http://www.canondv.com. Same place without the 'consumer' connotation.

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Old September 16th, 2005, 12:32 AM   #14
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I guess, but it's still above the Optura's and Eluras. :-) Same deal.

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Old September 16th, 2005, 01:06 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boyd Ostroff
Wouldn't that apply to the FX1 and Z1 as well?... they output via component video which is evidently uncompressed.
Exactly. Also for the HD100. Actually that would apply to basically any camera. Every camera outputs some type of signal which can be recorded as any format. This sounds like a market gimmick. The DSR500 outputs DVCAM via SDI. Have you heard Sony claiming it is SD format agnostic because it can be recorded as DVCAM, DVCPRO etc? Or have you heard Sony claiming th F900 is format agnostic? Is also outputs HD via SDI.
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