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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 December 23rd, 2005, 06:14 PM   #1
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16X lens

I've been shooting a film this week with the Canon. I've posted more today than normal because, being the day before the madness, I actually have a little time for research, both yours and mine...

Here's something weird. I posted a message in one of Shannon's threads about using the 16X manual lens. In that post I said the lens was pretty close to the 20X HD lens that came with the camera.. except at wide angles.. That opinion was based on documentary shooting, hand-held and not very scientific...

Today, as I said, I had some time, so I put the camera on a tripod and shot rain on leaves out my office door with both lenses, zooming in and out and panning...

My results, shooting an actual subject rather than a chart - despite what Canon says, the manual lens may actually be BETTER than the HD 20X. It is sharp through the range, has a nice color quality and is a little contrastier (adding to the impression of sharpness).. And, it holds t1.6 through the entire zoom range!

The 20X is a good lens, but it doesn't seem quite as wide, changes aperature through the range and is not noticeably sharper at any focal length.

The only downsides that I can see with the 16X are: it doesn't focus as close as the 20X; since it is manual, the distance settings don't show in the viewfinder; and you have to endure that annoying little 10 second prompt that warns you that it is not an HD COMPATABLE LENS... Ha, I say... It is on my camera as my "A" lens... Steve Rosen
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Old December 23rd, 2005, 06:19 PM   #2
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Wow, that's quite an endorsement. I have offered Pete Bauer the use of one of my 16x manual lenses but we decided to wait until we can get together so that a few rounds of Shiner Bock can be enjoyed after all the testing. Sometime around mid January.

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Old December 23rd, 2005, 06:28 PM   #3
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Test it yourself and I'd enjoy hearing your impressions.. main point is.. don't sell your 16X if you've got one (by the way, I shot the tests at t2, t2.8 and t4) Steve Rosen
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Old December 23rd, 2005, 06:52 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Rosen
The only downsides that I can see with the 16X are: it doesn't focus as close as the 20X; since it is manual, the distance settings don't show in the viewfinder; and you have to endure that annoying little 10 second prompt that warns you that it is not an HD COMPATABLE LENS... Ha, I say... It is on my camera as my "A" lens... Steve Rosen

Steven, that prompt does go away for good once you start filming right? Or atleast after ten seconds following power up. Can you post a frame shot with the 16x?

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Old December 24th, 2005, 10:48 AM   #5
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Yes, prompt goes away after a few seconds.. appears again whenever you power up the camera.. it's only slightly annoying..

Sorry, I can't post a pic.. I don't have the time to figure out how to do it.. I'm not as sophisticated technologically as many of the people here - Give me a break, I was still editing film on a Moviola flatbed 8 years ago...

But I do know this and would like to have it confirmed (or not) by others.

I shot the same subject with both lenses... I played them back directly from the camera on a 30" Sony CRT and a 42" Panasonic Plasma. I do shoot with Cine Gamma2, Cine Color Matrix, Master Ped at -4, Chroma at +2...

I am going to do another today with out of the box settings.. Contrast may be clouding the issue... but, and this is a big but - if the difference doesn't jump out at you in real-world shooting, and you like to use a manual lens (I do), it seems as if the 16X is a viable sollution..

There is one thing, the 20X seems to be a stop faster at the same setting(i.e. 2.8 on the 16X / 4 on the 20X).. (by the way, I always type "t stops" out of old-film-guy habit.. these lenses are really maked in "f stops")

Only dissapointment is... I was going to sell my XL2 and the 16X lens, but now I can't... Steve Rosen
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Old December 24th, 2005, 11:30 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Steve Rosen
There is one thing, the 20X seems to be a stop faster at the same setting(i.e. 2.8 on the 16X / 4 on the 20X).. (by the way, I always type "t stops" out of old-film-guy habit.. these lenses are really maked in "f stops")

Only dissapointment is... I was going to sell my XL2 and the 16X lens, but now I can't... Steve Rosen


Yes you can, sell the head, just like Canon does with the XL2 as well.


Thanks steve!



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Old December 24th, 2005, 02:11 PM   #7
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Actually, I'm thinking of using the XL2 as an audio recorder, since I have it, and as I mentioned in another post shooting double system - and as a back-up for shooting SD . The audio in HDV is the one real disappointment - it is very "crisp" and touchy... Haven't tried tweaking it in Soundtrack yet, but the lack of low end is very annoying...

Update on the 16X. Just got back from shooting surfers on a slightly misty day. The footage looks better than the real thing. The sharpness of the lens (16X) does tend to make areas of high contrast twinkle... maybe that's the downside... the 20X is softer, creamier - but the manual lens isn't a resolution issue... Steve Rosen
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Old December 24th, 2005, 02:38 PM   #8
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Here are a couple of frames comparing the HD stock lens with the 16x manual. There are 4 starting at http://www.pbase.com/agamid/image/53919110. There's no question in my mind that the HD lens is sharper at the long focal length but at the short I think the 16x should do just fine.
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Old December 24th, 2005, 02:56 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Rosen
There is one thing, the 20X seems to be a stop faster at the same setting(i.e. 2.8 on the 16X / 4 on the 20X).. (
Wouldn't that mean the 16x is a stop FASTER, not slower?
curious

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Old December 24th, 2005, 06:24 PM   #10
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Shannon; No, If I can shoot the same subject with one lens (16X) at f2.8, and the other (20X) at f4, it means that when wide open, say at f1.6, the image from the 16X will be darker, therefore the 20X is faster...

Professional lenses are calibrated in t stops (transmission) which (simplistically) are based on the actual light that passes through the lens at a particular aperature. f stops are based on a mathematical formula that estimates how much light is passing through a particular focal length lens at a certain aperature.. Problem is, zoom lense have so many elements, with so many reflective and refractive surfaces that move, that f stops are often, almost always, off (according to a meter). In this case, if these lenses had t stops to make them identical at all aperatures, the 16X's maximum aperature would be about t2 compared to t1.6 for the 20X... whew, sorry...

A.J. it's interesting and thanx for doing that. Your lens, like mine, seems to show more chroma with the 20X, which is weird.. My 16X SEEMS to be contrastier throughout, and sharper at full telephoto though. Yours obviously isn't.

Don't know if my testing sucks, or if the individual lenses are different, it's more likely on my end. I wish I could post the CU at full telephoto from my lens (which was not shot at infinety, by the way, but at about 10 feet, which could make a difference too) as a comparison.
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Old December 25th, 2005, 08:44 AM   #11
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Steve,

While taking these shots I was well aware that it is probable that they could have been better with either lens if I had been really, really careful about focus instead of just careful so people should not consider the results indicative or conclusive but rather representative.
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Old December 25th, 2005, 10:26 AM   #12
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Same here, but that is "real world" shooting all over..

Also, I notice in your stills the same apparent difference at full wide angle, the 16X is considerably wider, although they are supposedly the same focal length..

interesting, same lens manufacturer, built for essentially the same product line, and yet a disparity in aperature settings and focal length... This is typical of complex zoom lenses, actually, but I've never seen it so blatant...
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Old December 25th, 2005, 11:29 AM   #13
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I'm really curious to see the 14x lens, I seem to remember hearing that a lot of people liked it better then the 16x ( I only used the 14 so I'm not sure) it could well be that the manual lenses are different, my guess is the manual lens only "had" to be up to a certain level for shooting sd so perhaps some exceeded that level and can be used for hd.
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Old December 25th, 2005, 01:58 PM   #14
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I've heard that too, although I've never even seen a 14X. In my opinion Canon has always made good lenses, but some examples of a particular model can be better than others. For instance, I have a 30 year old Canon 12-120 Flourite lens that I still like and use to this day. It - almost - covers super16 - it vignettes some in the middle of the range - but it has a great "look" and I often use it instead of my Cooke... But many cinematographers say they don't like the 12-120, think it's soft.

It may be that these (16X) lenses are different, but it would seem that the manual lenses would be the most likely to be consistant, since they make fewer of them and make them for an (assumed) more professional customer...

I looked back at the surfing footage I shot yesterday, obviously at inf, and even though it's a misty day (big waves) the image is very sharp and contrasty.

Even if the particular lens you have is best at only the wide angle, that would still make it worth keeping since it appears to be wider and hold the f stop through the range... We've probably beat this horse to death until we get some new input, but there's my opinion for what it's worth... Steve Rosen
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Old December 29th, 2005, 04:49 PM   #15
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Thank you for the very useful information on the 16X lens in your posts, Steven.

The 16X Servo Manual lens does go slightly wider than both the 16X IS zoom and the Full Manual 14X zoom at its widest setting, although hardly noticeable.

I still find it strange that Canon does not advise that anyone use a 16X lens on the H1, especially considering if, as you say, this lens produces such good results - (and even stranger, that they did not produce a new 3X HD lens with the H1...or even better, a 3X Servo Manual lens).

I'm mainly interested in producing top quality video for TV/DVD, and the XL1/1s/2 are still well capable of delivering the results, but programs like National Geographic, Sky and Discovery etc, are already asking/preferring HD quality to DV, so obviously the H1 is the way forward.

The biggest plus of using cameras like the XL1s/2 is that a whole range of lenses (and accessories) can be used on them - so your positive findings on the 16X manual lens (and fixed 35mm SLR lenses via adapters) is good news for those of us who are seriously considering the H1...but the negative comments on obtaining good sound on HD does also worry me.
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