My thoughts on the HVX & XL-H1 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 19th, 2006, 08:48 PM   #1
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My thoughts on the HVX & XL-H1

Just came back from Samy's camera in Hollywood. Picked up another Canon XL-H1 to go with the other H1 I bought in December. Alternatively, I had been considering for about 10 months the Panasonic HVX200. I held off as long as I could to see how good it would be for my production workflow and future narrative movie projects, but after recent testing & evaluation of the HVX200, I decided to give Canon another $9k. The decision was quite simple, actually.

THE IMAGE

Ya see, while all the bells and whistles that these cameras come with are wonderful to have, it's the final image that means the most to me. It should mean the most to you as well. Don't "SETTLE" on your image over some camera feature that comes on one camera and not the other. A removable lens means nothing if you're not gonna actually remove it. The photography should be the sole purpose for you buying one camera over another. Isn't that what we consider when buying STILL D-SLR cameras? Isn't it the resolution & the picture quality what we all strive for with those? "How many megapixels does it have?" is the biggest question ever asked in regards to digital photography. "What does the picture look like?" is the second biggest question. I've never heard a professional photographer chose a Sony CyberShot over a Canon 20D because it used memory sticks and not compact flash. So why don't we judge these HD cameras the same way when it comes to DIGITAL MOTION PICTURE cameras? Don't get me wrong, workflow is important, but how much more important is it compared to the final image?

It's the resolution, it's the definition, it's the colors, it's the vividness, it's the beauty, it's the impact on my audience that matters. From today forward we should 'demand' from all good cinematographers only the best imagery with what they have to work with, and give them the best tool we can. They must PUSH these cameras to their limits to deliver astounding footage for the masses. That's what it's all about. Nothing else. It should never be about "who made it?" but rather how well it looks as the requirement.
Taking this prerequisite into consideration, it was easy to make the final decision for me as to what 2nd camera to get. I believe....that the Canon XL-H1 produces a prettier, higher resolution, more tunable, more pleasing, more movie-like, more awesome picture then the other camera I was considering, the HVX200. Besides a camera shoot-out I was involved with last week that left me with doubts about the HVX200's picture performance when shooting a pretty young lady sitting at a table, yesterday at Birns & Sawyer, the HVX200 & the XL-H1 was switched back & forth on their "model train" setup in the camera showroom. This time the XL-H1 was tweaked by a DP who knew what he was doing. The results confirmed & convinced me without a doubt in my mind about what camera to buy to attain the best quality. You have to SERIOUSLY convice a guy like me to spend an additional $three grand$ *TWICE*, and the XL-H1 has done that. For you it may be different. But for me, it's worth $8,999.00 (they still didn't give me a discount)....because I take what I do SERIOUS. I have to or I don't eat.

Wether you know it or not, each and every one of you reading this post are "founders" of the Digital Video era and all the reason why you should get involved in the discussions here. Don't just read, come and talk too. In about 100 years from now when film, dv, hdv, dvcpro, hdcam, xdcam, & digibeta is long gone, people will wonder "When did DV begin and who used it?". Who do you think they are going to look back at? Todays DV is no different then the day Film was born. And you guys are the first users of its kind. Websites like DVINFO.NET is history in the making guys. We are losing our history of just 50 years ago. How many photos do you have of your great-grandparents? We wonder what the people who started FILM discussed and pondered on. But not for you. Your photo will be there for your childrens children thanks to the IMAGE that your camera produces. And the things you discussed during the dawn of the DV era will be forever archived thanks to this website. Everything you say and do here will be documented and recorded for thousands of years thanks to people like Chris Hurd. I encourage you to make stuff with your gear. Record your children. Record your wife. Record your parents. Record yourself!. USE IT! Your great-great-great grandchildren will cherish it and remember you. They will laugh at the equipment you quarreled over and be in awe as to how you could even CONSIDER watching a movie like we enjoy today because of the technology they will have in 100 years. Just think about how you look at 1906 films.....yea, it's like that. That's how they are going to think about your movies in the year 2106. But one things for sure....the IMAGE will be clear! *smile* Tell stories. Make movies. Be a part of the creation of a fiction or non-fiction moving picture adventure. I sure will. And therefore, to me, the most important thing that we should always remember as digital pioneers is the image itself. How pristine it is aquired. And that's why....as of January 19th, 2006....I pick the Canon XL-H1 as my cameras of choice.

People wanted to know how I felt about the testing last week and was waiting for me to post my thoughts......well......I hope this answers your questions. *smile*

- ShannonRawls.com

P.S.
For late 2006 early 2007, my eye is now on that selectable frame rate 1/2"CCD 24p HD removable lens shoulder mountable HD-SDI Sony XDCAM HD that is being released!
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Old January 19th, 2006, 09:24 PM   #2
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Shannon, thanks for the report. Seing that you had a real DP on the shop to compare the footage, do you think it is possible for you to post some footage of a "tweaked" xl-h1 in order for it to look like a HVX, in order for us to see how versatile the camera can be on looks in camera?

One more suggestion. There's been much concern because of the Blow ups (White sky) with the XL. Can you post a video of a Blue Sky scene? How about some stills of a scene taken from a XL-h1 (no photo mode, please vs some HVX footage still in 1080? In I or p?)

I know you have to make money with these babies, but, like you said, we are the pioneers, right? You wouldn't want a fellow pioneer to end up in an ambush while pioneering... Please show us why your pasture is greener!

( As you can see I'm really undecided between these cameras... Is The XL-h1 such a leap quality wise for me to abandon 2 years of dvx experience- its like changing NLE workflows! Really annoying! But if it delivers the goods, than so be it!)
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Old January 20th, 2006, 03:25 AM   #3
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Wow with a pep talk like that how can you yourself not be into cinematography and just call yourself a "producer?"
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Old January 20th, 2006, 04:12 AM   #4
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Good for you Shannon, i really thought about the Canon, but for my next project i really need variable framerates and interchangeble len's and this has been my problem with the HVX, the fixed lens design.

I'm currently looking at puttin my money into the HD-SDI Sony XDCAM HD .
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Old January 20th, 2006, 06:54 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shannon Rawls
For late 2006 early 2007, my eye is now on that selectable frame rate 1/2"CCD 24p HD removable lens shoulder mountable HD-SDI Sony XDCAM HD that is being released!
Two days ago, I saw some footage of the new XDCam HD camcorder, the PDW 350 during the Sony Roadshow. Images were displayed in 1080p with the Ruby videoprojector. It was beautifull but very close from HDV pictures. After that, we saw some HDCAM footage on the same screen and that was really really much better (color, sharpness, contrast). So I 'm a bit disapointed with the XDcam HD, for the moment. For the price of two Canon XL-H1 you have only one PDW 350...
XDcamHD is still 4.2.0 with MPEG2 HD compression and this remains a weak point, even with a 35Mb/s rate, IMHO.
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Old January 20th, 2006, 08:06 AM   #6
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Hey Shannon, good post---I'm lookingat the XDCAM HD too-. Only thing is, that I have it from a reliable source that Sony will be introducing a 2/3" chipper in the XD HD series this summer. It might be worth a wait to see if it really happens. Also, are there any other options besides the two Sony decks for post?
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Old January 20th, 2006, 08:49 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shannon Rawls
In about 100 years from now when film, dv, hdv, dvcpro, hdcam, xdcam, & digibeta is long gone, people will wonder "When did DV begin and who used it?".
I don't know about that, but I suspect that in as little as ten years people will be asking, "Why didn't more people start shooting in HD as soon as that became affordable to do?" :-)
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Old January 20th, 2006, 09:58 AM   #8
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Shannon: I agree with everything you've said in your posts about this camera. You have been very objective - and not been a "Chevy's better than Ford" guy... I too very am impressed with the picture from this camera, and I am a DP - the only shortcomings are inherent in the HDV specs (audio primarily) - and the fact that Canon was more than slightly shortsighted in introducing a camera without a companion deck.. they'd be selling a bunch more of them if they had..

Although I'm shooting 60i exclusively at the moment, I took an hour to shoot and play back some 24f stuff yesterday.. I played it out of the camera (using that nice component cable supplied with the camera) into the 42" plasma screen in my office - my opinion (and remember everybody, this is only my opinion) - I thought the 24f stuff looked better than most of what I've seen shot in 24p, it looked much more like a telecine transfer of well shot super16... Steve Rosen
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Old January 20th, 2006, 02:27 PM   #9
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Sergio: Barlow is taking care of that for you this weekend. *smile*

Evan: Me, a cinematographer? LOL no way buddy....I stay in my lane and do what I do. I leave that to the masters of lighting. I only know what I need to know so I won't get screwed, nawmean? I believe a good movie producer should know a little about every department. I know enough about camera, sound, lighting, wardrobe, construction, art, makeup, writing, scheduling & budgeting to interview others about it and hire someone that is good and weed out the ones who are trying to shaft me by using technical terms other producers may not understand. I know a few producers who know jack crap about depth-of-field or what a polarizer filter is or what the gain setting does. They couldn't identify an XLR cable or explain the difference between UHF & VHF wireless if you paid them. I can go on and on about the other departments as well. They just put their trust into someone and pray all is well. As an indie, I can't afford to give someone that much power over an entire department. So I learn their job as well. Hire the good ones based on the three R's (references, resume & reel) and if they pass those, then I don't have to worry about them on set. If I see something going wrong, I can intervene and ask relevant questions without sounding like an idiot. Also, I'm a damn good P.A. *smile*

Tony: Good for you. That XDCAM HD looks very promising, doesn't it!

Ronan: Well, I guess we'll have to see how well it does when it hits the streets. If it's anything like the Varicam in terms of picture quality, then....I'm sold.

David: Honestly, 1/2" chips is the largest I will ever 'purchase with cash' at my level. Anything larger I will simply rent. Owning a 2/3" camera is for a dedicated DP who can rent it out along with hiring him or for a dedicated rental house, neither of which I am. As a producer, if I was to buy a 2/3" HD camera I would go the robert rodriguez/michael mann route and get the best of the best, and I can't afford that today.

David: LOL, I feel you.

Steve: Man....I am with you! And there "IS" in fact a deck coming. Don't worry 1 bit. And about 24f on the XL-H1 looking more like a telecine of film and in some cases better then 24p actually does on other cameras....YESSSSsssss. I've been trying to say that forever. Apparently not too many people have seen a film transfer or raw processed stock, so they just don't know. "true 24P" means jack if it looks worse! "interlaced scanning chips" means jack if they look better and yields higher resolution in 24p recordings then progressive scanning chips from comparable cameras! It's mind bogling how people get hung up on specs and terminology, and completely bypass the final image. I think the proper term is "denial".

- ShannonRawls.com
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Old January 20th, 2006, 02:52 PM   #10
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Shannon, or anyone.

Both the Sony Z1U and the Canon shoot HDV.

What do you see as the material difference between the two cameras and how do you justify the price difference between the two?

For the life of me, how can a HDV camera shoot progressive footage?

Do you see a huge difference between the Canon and Sony in image quality? Does the Panny fit in between?
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Old January 20th, 2006, 02:55 PM   #11
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I am saving up for one of those babies. there is a local rental company that I am working on to get 2 xl-h1's.

Shannon, you are a man among boys in this community, which is why I want to lay the following down for you. A doc that my friend and I did was selescted for the New York International Independant Film Festival (the one in Hollywood), and I would like to know if you would mind coming by and critiquing it for us. I can get you a VIP pass good for the whole week, plus I would just like to meet the man behind the brilliance I read on hear every day. (Okay, maybe that was laying it on a little thick...) The dates are March 9-16. Drop me an email and let me know!

Thanks

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Old January 20th, 2006, 03:05 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Bryon Akerman
Shannon, you are a man among boys in this community, which is why I want to lay the following down for you.
Doesn't say much for the rest of us, does it Bryon?

Take care
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Old January 20th, 2006, 03:18 PM   #13
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Well, David. No offense was meant to anybody and if you took it that way I apologize. I simply take alot from what Shannon says. Reading his posts have gotten me through many a shoot.

Sorry if it sound demeaning to anybody.

Can't we all just get along?! ;-)

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Old January 20th, 2006, 03:24 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by David Saraceno
Shannon, or anyone.

Both the Sony Z1U and the Canon shoot HDV.
What do you see as the material difference between the two cameras and how do you justify the price difference between the two?
ANSWER: High Definition 24p recorded footage @ 1/48th shutter speed. NuffSaid!

For that single reason alone, it is worth $4000 extra to me. Shooting 60i and converting to 24p is pretty but it just don't cut it, I'm sorry. CF24 to 24p is pretty but it just don't cut it for me, I'm sorry. We are talking about "IMAGE BEAUTY & APPEARANCE & MOTION & FEEL"......24f delivers.

I know Hollywood Producers who shelled out $150,000.00 bucks for a scene that never seen daylight. Never made it in the movie, and before they shot the scene, they had a feeling it wouldn't make it to begin with....why did they do it? because the STORY could not be sacraficed. it was worth wasting every bit of $150k to them. Well, I am adopting the same ideology to my level of producing. I don't mind buying lenses for my XL-H1. I don't mind adding matteboxes and good 4x4 GLASS filters for my DP to have at his disposal. It's OK for me to buy DTE recorders. I buy the best tape stock I can get. And I'll spend $4000.00 on an upgrade to record 1080p24 HD. Why?? Because at this price point....it's WORTH IT. I mean, c'mon......We are talking under 4 thousand dollars here. $4k that will DRASTICALLY change the final look of my projects??? Man, what is YOUR movie worth?? Mine is surely worth $4k on the image for SURE! Ten Eighty Twenty Four Pee High Definition Footage...for only Four Thousand bucks more?? AND I GET TO KEEP THE CAMERA??? Ahh man, I'll take it!.....here (diggin' in my pocket).....here's the money, take it. You feel me?
Now, if it was like a $15,000 difference, then I'll slow my roll. But $4k??? Naw man....gimme the best I can get for under $10k. Period!

Now....above and BEYOND that incredibly important aspect, read these posts....

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=56129

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=56283

see what I mean?

- ShannonRawls.com
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Old January 20th, 2006, 03:28 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Bryon Akerman
Well, David. No offense was meant to anybody and if you took it that way I apologize. I simply take alot from what Shannon says. Reading his posts have gotten me through many a shoot.
Bryon, no offense taken.

I was just kidding with you.

I should apologize to you.

I really value any information I can get on what I see is an immense amount of disinformation about HDV, DVCProHD100, the Z1U, HVX200, and Canon XL-H1.

Shannon and I both share something.

We both were kicked off another web site for expressing respectful opinions.
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