XL-H1 = Great low light...No Grain.....Great for Videographers! 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 January 3rd, 2006, 11:25 AM   #1
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XL-H1 = Great low light...No Grain.....Great for Videographers!

Farting around with my cameras last night in gloomy California.....(it rained like HELL early in the day and the rest of the evening was all grey and ugly! 1st time in 50 years that it rained on our beloved Rose Parade! *sad face*) ........I started to do some freaky camera-work with my wife after she got out the shower.
Sorry fellas, the footage will never be available. The tape somehow got smashed to bits & pieces when I was sleep *smile*

Setting both the XL-H1 and the Z1U @ 0db, the XL-H1 gets much better low light performance then my Sony Z1U does. I dunno? Maybe it's the lens or someting, but it seemed like the Canon could see in the dark whereas the Sony's was pitch black on the viewfinder. The canon was seeing small shimmers of light shinning in, and details on my wifes...ummmm....well, you know. But the Sony couldn't see that stuff.

I normally keep the Canon on 24f for 24p recording because that's all I shoot, but I put it on 60i to compare it with the Sony.
Both cameras on Manual - 1/60 shutter, f1.6 all the way wide. no picture profile or scene settings used.

I turned up the gain to +3 on both cameras....

The Sony started coming around. Still clear with no grain at all, and now it began seeing the things the Canon was easily seeing @ 0db. The Canon however, got even brighter with no grain. Things with color were clear.

I again turned up the gain to +6 on both cameras....

The Sony was still clear with no grain and so was the Canon. However now the Sony @ +6db was equal to the Canon at 0db. Scouts honor! The Canon was nice and clear at +6 and the picture was cool. I put the Canon back down to 0db and kept the Sony at +6db. They were now about the same. (honestly, the canon seemed a tad bit brighter still).

I put both cameras on +12db of gain....

Grainy days on the Canon! The speckles of noise were dancing like little jitter bugs. very lightly, but they were there for sure. The Sony however, even at +12, was no grain! Kinda crazy! It wasn't as bright as the Canon, but the Sony was a crystal clear picture.

MORAL OF THE STORY......

The Canon XL-H1 gets allot better low-light performance then the Sony Z1U. For those people shooting weddings or videographers who need to get a clean shot at a dark smoky night club, you'll be one happy shooter with the XL-H1.

The Sony Z1U gets good low light with gain turned up because whatever the hell they are doing in that camera, it seems like I don't see the dancing grain until I get up at +18db where it is obvious. Plus the Sony has that HYPERGAIN_+36db, setting which I have used and have saved my ass on two occasions. The Canon doesn't have that whatsoever!

ok. that's all folks!

- ShannonRawls.com
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Old January 3rd, 2006, 01:31 PM   #2
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We tend to think of CCD sensitivity, but with the new generation of DSP, sensitivity is a "system" issue: the T-stop of the lens, the CCD (and its micro leneses), and the DSP.

I've been experimenting with the original JVC HDV camcorder. Everyone said the single CCD killed its sensitivity. Turns out it was the DSP. If you compare it to an FX1 and factor in the 6dB loss from progressive -- it is the Sony's ability to add 18dB and still have a good pix that makes its spec look good. Without that clean gain, the Sony 3 CCD is not really that much more sensitive than a 2 year old camera. Your findings indicate the year newer Canon seems to benefit from CCD/LENS enhancements.
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Old January 3rd, 2006, 01:52 PM   #3
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If Shannon's right, Sony has been kicked of the trone of 'low light' kings... (in the HDV area that is)
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Old January 3rd, 2006, 02:01 PM   #4
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Shannon can you post still frames from the HDV material. The Camera makes it easy via the SD card as you know.

Thanks
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Old January 3rd, 2006, 03:11 PM   #5
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Mike.....Since the Sony Z1U doesn't have the ability to take snapshots as easy as the Canon can, why don't we wait until the shootout.

I am sure we will:

1. Put all cameras on MANUAL
2. Set all to f1.6 and pull back as wide as we can
3. White balance to the same card
4. Set all shutter speeds to the same speed
5. Set all recording formats the same
6. Set all Gains to 0db
7. Record some low-lit footage!
8. Take that footage and put it in a 4 screen split and stream it on the web so you can see them all at the same time.

That's the only FAIR way of doing it.

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Old January 3rd, 2006, 03:34 PM   #6
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If you do a test where all cameras are set at f1.6, all you're really testing is the comparative low light capabilities. And if you're zoomed back all the way, the image isn't going to be the same size in the frame because every lens will be different. Nothing wrong with either of those, but I'd prefer to see each camera set up on the same shot, filling the frame exactly the same, and with a proper exposure for each camera, with notes on what that exposure might be. Keep the lighting the same. And then change the lighting to low key, high contrast, etc. I guess I'm more interested in the look of the footage from each camera under different lighting conditions, with each camera tweaked optimally and exposed properly.
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Old January 3rd, 2006, 03:45 PM   #7
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But that can also be a good thing, because maybe it can be interesting for people to see what effects the lens can have on the image. Well not on the image, in that case, but on your way of shooting.
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Old January 3rd, 2006, 04:15 PM   #8
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Bill,

This is the reason I am a Producer and I say in my lane.
I leave all the expert techno-stuff to the shooters & DP's.

Have I ever told you my philosphy on the Cinematographer?

Wanna hear it? here it goes.......I BELEIVE, that the DP is the MOST IMPORTANT CREW PERSON on any set. I am willing to pay him more money then even my Director in some cases.
Am I crazy for thinking this? I don't think so.....The reason why is because if my Director is sick and can't make it to work then the Director of Photography can take over for him and continue the shoot if worse comes to worse. HOWEVER, if my DP is sick....we might as well send everybody home.

That's my philosophy on Cinematographers. (GOOD ONES, that is!)

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Old January 3rd, 2006, 05:20 PM   #9
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Quote:
why don't we wait until the shootout. I am sure we will:
6. Set all Gains to 0db
Why set all gains to 0db? Why not optimize the gain for each camera to each shooting scenario?

Best,
Christopher
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Old January 3rd, 2006, 05:35 PM   #10
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It's always best to shoot with 0db if you have enough light.
Noise is really ugly and it betrayes 'VIDEO!!', so if you don't need it, by all means set up some lights and set it to 0db.
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Old January 3rd, 2006, 06:11 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Christopher Glaeser
Why set all gains to 0db? Why not optimize the gain for each camera to each shooting scenario?
Because "0" is fair. Electronically enhancing one camera by increasing the gain to +6db while its competitors are at 0db is unfair to the cameras set at 0db.

If thats the case, then why not bring a Wafian HD raid recorder and connect it to the H1 via HD-SDI and then say "Ok, let's see who's image is the best!" lol
That would be flat-out unfair to the others.

Theorhetically, having the HVX-200 as a part of this shoot-out should be unfair.....but f***ck it! HDV can hold it's own. *smile*
(just imagine how good the picture would be if the efficient HDV codec was recorded @ 100mbps instead of 25...it' would be KILLIN' em!)

All cameras should be on the same exact settings. IMO

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Old January 3rd, 2006, 07:00 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shannon Rawls
Because "0" is fair. Electronically enhancing one camera by increasing the gain to +6db while its competitors are at 0db is unfair to the cameras set at 0db.
Y'know, that's what I said when we did the DVX/XL2/FX1 shootout, and FX1 owners were very upset with the results. The DVX was two stops brighter, but noisier; the FX1 owners thought that we should have cranked up the gain to equalize them.

I can see arguments for both ways. I have always done as Shannon suggests, but if there's time we should try to accomodate both methods (i.e., this is base sensitivity at 0db gain; this is sensitivity at comparable noise levels, etc).

Hey Shannon, I've got someone who just got the call that his production model HVX200 is in. So once he gets it shipped in, we should be able to schedule the 4-way shoot thing.
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Old January 3rd, 2006, 08:36 PM   #13
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All cameras should be on the same exact settings.
Why? The numbers -3db, 0db, 3db, 6db, are a reference scale within a given camera, not across camera models and manufacturers. 9db on camera A is 3db less than 12db on camera A, but it's not an absolute measure like 9 inches. A camera manufacturer could subtract 3db from all settings on a new model, thus changing the range (0db, 3db, 6db) to the range (-3db, 0db, 3db). Another camera manufacturer could sell a camera that doesn't even include a 0db, electing to start the gain range at 6db. What then? Exclude the camera from testing?

Best,
Christopher
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Old January 3rd, 2006, 09:02 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Barry Green
Hey Shannon, I've got someone who just got the call that his production model HVX200 is in. So once he gets it shipped in, we should be able to schedule the 4-way shoot thing.
Sweet...Because I'm ITCHIN' to buy that camera and need to see with my own eyes how good the picture is.

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Old January 3rd, 2006, 10:03 PM   #15
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He'll get it in a couple of days, and CES is this week so -- maybe next week?
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