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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, 2006, 09:44 AM   #1
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a few Questions

I was considering the HVX200 for the longest time, but after comparing this with the Canon (by streaming footage into my laptop at stores, I fell in love with the H1's images)
Still a few Questions (after doing searches) remain...

1) HDV does not handle motion well, yet many people on this forum attest to the H1 as being better. But I will be using the H1 on a steadicam quite a bit. I will no doubt try and avoid dramatic moves (in fact the steadicam helps with this). But does anyone have an opinion about this?

2) Not that I will be going to Film out with everything I shoot, but part of the reason I am going with the H1 is I want the option. I heard this yesterday from the horses mouth : Post houses (and some HDTV networks) Hate HDV. They either wont accept it or will make you Pay a lot more for it. Any thoughts on this?
Barlow Elton has ade a convincing arguement about capturing from HDV to DVCpro through SDI (and a Kona or Blackmagic card) - would this added bit of compression help with this?

2.5) Along these lines, Mr Pappas did a lot of research - including some filmout tests and after a long time debating, he decided to go with the H1. Then abruptly changed his mind, returned the H1 and went for the JVC (he had a post up a few days ago that has gone missing). I value his opinions and would love to know the reasons behind this.

3) Part of the reason that I am thinking of the H1 is the SDI out. Now I understand that that is a lot more of an investment. But, I have heard rumblings of portable SDI recording solutions...Any leads?

4) I am tempted to get the Pal upgrade to the NTSC camera (I hope that I can do this once I have already purchased the H1???) to have maximum versitility. I also heard from the post houses that this would be a better option for film out...any ideas?

Thanks, I am officially on the diving board,
J
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Old February 26th, 2006, 10:03 AM   #2
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Hold on a sec John, I'm uploading a native Quicktime HDV file at the moment with a worst case scenario; waving trees.... Both in focus and out of. Just a test shoot with the H1 out of curiosity how it would handle.

I'll post the link here when it's finished!
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Old February 26th, 2006, 10:13 AM   #3
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So for your first question, here you go. The file will play perfectly in Final Cut Pro 5. It's recorded in the 25F mode. Be aware, it's a 60 MB download.

www.vincentrozenberg.com/files/tree.zip
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Old February 26th, 2006, 10:45 AM   #4
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Hello again, John

My thoughts:

1) Don't even worry about it. The motion H1 HDV has a hard time with is rendering it's usually stellar detail on scenes that include rapid, finite, random movement all over the frame, like shooting a waterfall or a raging river. Again, the macroblocking is extremely small and can be compensated for with some image tweaks...in camera or in post. It really doesn't look anything like the word "macroblocking" would make you think. Worst case scenario: very, very small blockies. In all, it's acceptably clean, and of course, that's to say nothing of the SDI option. Have you seen the nighttime city fountain footage I posted a long time ago? It handled bursts of motion in the frame very well.

If you're a steadicam guy you will love the H1. You can preset focus moves and the auto focus is pretty decent too. There's also focal distance readout in the VF (feet and meters) that could help a focus puller. It's a little-known feature that's really cool. Makes the focus repeatable, IMHO. Steadicam plus the OIS will be amazingly fluid. Whip pans render motion blur (and even high shutter speeds) cleanly, and just about any kind of camera move will be fine. I've done every kind of swift move and jerk with the camera, and it rolls with the punches.

2) Discovery HD accepts shows entirely shot on H1 HDV. That's a pretty picky customer in my book. I'm sure post houses would rather work with I-frame material, so the SDI to intermediate codec is a good option in this dept. I'm hoping that there will be a little better media management of HDV in FCP's future. I think the ideal workflow (w/HDV tape material) would be to cut in an intermediate, batch recapture HDV, then render to an uncompressed or lightly compressed HD format, then encode for distribution. With 24F support in the future, it's also possible to just capture HDV and batch encode to an intermediate, and repeat the above process without tape recapture.

My experiences with DVCPRO HD conversion lead me to believe that it's a good solution for now, and a lot of post houses would be happy to work with material in this domain. I'm hoping Cineform comes to the Mac once the platform has solidly gone Intel. This will be an awesome option for film-outs or digital intermediates if it happens. Again, with a minimum of the $595 Blackmagic card, you open up a whole lot of options with the camera.

2.5) Didn't return it...got a bad deal and canceled his order. The $9K price has a built-in resistance for many who would otherwise love to get it if it were closer to $5K. Michael and a lot of folks have decided (probably rightfully) that the HD100 is the most bang-for-the-buck HD camera out there. I'm sure he'd like to say more, but it comes down to perceived value. Some can justify the extra cost like Nick and Shannon, and others say bah! Too much.

He still loves the H1, but for him and a lot of other people, it's an over $10K purchase when you factor in manual lens and other goodies.

I personally find the price to be acceptable for what it offers, but I think Canon would be wise to drop it by a few thousand and get more people on board.

3) I think there might be an announcement or two at NAB...but not holding my breath. There's always the Wafian or computer tether. If you want to shoot out in the wilds with no crew, SDI may not be a viable thing yet...but there's always hope.

One thing people seem to forget about the H1 SDI is in reference to other cameras. It's a super-expensive option on other HD's, and yet there it is on the humble H1. A pristine HD signal for greenscreen or "video village" style production...to say nothing of TV multi-cam shoots too.

4) The PAL option is indeed nice. Even if you don't go shooting overseas with it, it might be the best format to shoot for DVCPRO HD conversion. PAL DVCPRO HD is a 1440x1080 format, same as HDV, so there's no added horizontal subsampling going on...but again, this is diminishing returns stuff, yet the option would be nice. No pulldown issues in SDI acquisition either.

HTH,

Barlow
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Old February 26th, 2006, 10:52 AM   #5
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Nice clip Vincent. Was that with the stock lens or an XL manual lens?

Thanks for posting it.
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Old February 26th, 2006, 10:58 AM   #6
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Thanks Barlow! Just goofing around a bit in a park with the stock 20x lens.
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Old February 26th, 2006, 11:53 AM   #7
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Hi John, since I followed a similar path to yours (thinking HVX and then switching), and ended up with the H1, I'll share some of my (long-winded) thoughts on the pros and cons and try and respond to some of your questions...

1) "HDV not handle motion well." I haven't drilled into this much, but haven't seen any problems at all. But perhaps this will help: http://cordellproductions.com/movies/upstairs.mov It's six seconds of handheld walking up stairs. This was auto everything and OIS off, btw. Also, was shot at 24f, which might make this less useful to you, not sure.

2) "HDV to filmout." I plan on using HDV as acquisition codec and nothing else. Not sure how that affects the issue of film out, but it means the film out house won't even "know" the footage originated on HDV. Could be that whatever problems HDV introduces will still be present, of course. And the HD-SDI out means that (possibly maybe perhaps) in the future you'll be acquiring footage in another codec other than HDV. I also think this is wildly over-worried about. Odds of ending up on film very low, and if DVX100 originated films can have filmouts, clearly either of these cams should too.

2.5) Interesting. Don't know anything about this.

3) "HD-SDI." You should really check into exactly what you'll need to buy for your computer to capture the HD-SDI into some non-HDV codec. I think for older Macs it may be as little as $595 and newer PCIe Macs for $1195 list (for the decklink cards). I have not done my actual research yet on this, so don't hold me to it. But I think that's about what it will cost to be able to get the HD-SDI in a 4:2:2 high quality codec form. Uncompressed opens up another can of worms in terms of disk speed (you'll need very fast raid array). Also, don't forget the HD-SDI doesn't include the sound, so you'll need to solve the audio issue, something that is clearly doable but I don't know what that workflow is going to look like. Re-digitizing the analog audio output of the camera is the one that is probably easiest but I would rule out for quality reasons. On this subject, take my advice with a grain of salt -- I haven't actually done this yet, so others who are/have would be better sources than I.

4) "PAL Upgrade." It's my understanding that you can 'only' upgrade after buying the camera, you do it through Canon and it costs $500. Does seem like could offer some cool flexibility. One thought I have is that if down the road it turns out that 24f creates filmout "problems", then shooting 50i and converting to 24p in post is a pretty well understood workflow. Unlikely I'd ever end up there, but the "doubt" about what's going on under the hood to create 24f lingers. That said, please note that I haven't the slightest concern about 24f from my personal experience with it. Looks like chicken, tastes like chicken. Who cares if it's actually squirell? I assume it's smart de-interlaced 48i, but if it's really dumb de-interlaced 48i, for $500 the camera is capable of 50i, at which point you can throw massive cpu cycles at creating very good HD 24p.

Ok, now some random thoughts from someone who actually jumped off the diving board...

a) Both cameras seem capable of fantastic images. P2 workflow offers some interesting advantages/challenges. Using a firestore on the Canon would equalize things a bit. It's clearly one of the big differences, and how you feel about it could/should be a tipping factor for you.

b) Watch the HVX wolves footage. It's the one thing that engenders regretful feelings for me in having chosen the H1. It really shows off slow motion as well as gorgeous colors. But I also think that if that guy had had a Canon with him things would be reversed. The content itself is such a big part of what makes watching that footage so impactful.

c) Slow motion. If it's important to you, HVX wins, even with the damn decent slow motion that 60i -> 60p is capable of. Shannon Rawls had a good point -- if you're doing music videos, slow motion is a critical feature and the HVX wins out. And maybe also action narratives. But other than that slow motion, while very nice, just won't get used all that much. And I would argue that the slow motion the H1 is capable of will do nicely in many situations.

d) Form factor / exchangeable lens. The two cameras couldn't be more different here. Another aspect that could/should be a tipping factor for you. How the pluses and minuses work for your situation might determine which is the better camera for you. For me, the extra size/weight of the H1 was a non-issue, the longer lens was a plus for shallow DOF, the not-as-wide lens a minus that a wide adapter will be purchased to solve. The removeable lens was interesting as it relates to using 35mm lens adaptor like the mini35, although it's not clear to me exactly what the final best solution for the H1 will end up looking like.

e) I suggest you wait until both cameras are readily available before you decide. I bought the H1 when getting an HVX was near impossible. Would have been a better test of my decision making process if both were sitting on the shelf at time of purchase. I believe I'd still have gone with the H1, but you never know. I will say this, if I decide down the road that I made a horribly wrong choice, I'll eat the several thousand dollars mistake and switch to the HVX, or maybe the HVX200a.

Good luck in making your choice. It's a tough one because they are quite different. Maybe you should buy both and see how that works out!
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Old February 26th, 2006, 05:55 PM   #8
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Wow
Thanks for the response AND the great footage.

I did a few HVX tests and I really just love the Canon footage I captured more. (though I'm sure you can learn to tweak the HVX and get what you need).
Price is a factor, but the Canon is 7,969$ at Adorama - which is down the street from me.
http://www.adorama.com/CAXLH1.html?s...20h1&item_no=1
Though I went in and spoke to them today and it is because they get their cameras in a "special" way - There is a one year Adorama warranty on it BUT No Canon Warranty...!
Hmmmm I think I will still go for it though.
What do you think? 1000$ cheaper and they are a reputable store.

Great footage!
- I am no longer worried about the motion
- or the Film out optiionn (thanks)
- SDI may become an option for me in a few months. Can't I just use a Kona card on a G5 to an external drive? Does it need to be RAID?
- There may be some solutions at NAB- Hopefully
- I think I'll do a PAL option later on. I want the camera, and don't need it right away. But it is GREAT option for 500$
- Slow motion: when I need it I'll use it in post. Was it Balow who posted the trampoline footage?
- Firestore may be an option down the road (meanwhile I'll stream to my BP and edit in a G5 later)
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Old February 26th, 2006, 06:42 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Benton
SDI may become an option for me in a few months. Can't I just use a Kona card on a G5 to an external drive? Does it need to be RAID?
I was just pointing out that RAID would be needed for *uncompressed HD* onto disk. Pretty much any codec that compresses will be fine with normal disk drives.

With regard to Adorama warranty: that would scare me, personally, to buy gray market like that, and I probably wouldn't do it. The fact that they're down the street does help a bit. I have occasionally found that loud (and valid) complaints in front of other customers helps resolve customer service issues in favor of the customer (namely me).
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Old February 26th, 2006, 08:09 PM   #10
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John,

Yes, I've captured DVCPRO HD 1080 to external firewire drives without issue.

Oh, yes, I did the trampoline thing. There'll be better examples in the future.

Last thing: If you get that camera from Adorama consider this: if you have a dead pixel on the CCD or any obvious defect or issue you're SOL. I wouldn't trust a third party to take care of the problem for me. Scary.

Barlow
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Old February 26th, 2006, 08:16 PM   #11
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Yeah,
I am a little scared to but "Grey Market" (which is what the guy in the store said)
How long is a Canon Warranty? This one is 1 year from Adorama...
Could be dodgy, but, there's a nice guy who works in the video dept M-F, so I'll stop by and see what he can tell me...
Hmmm 1K, Hmmm.
Damn that's a tough call, so they can't send it back to Canon, maybe they could replace it?
I wonder what myy rights are in this case or am I waiving them for a grand?


If I was going Uncompresssed out, through SDI,
into a Kona card on a G5
and I had a Raid Hard drive, it would work...?
... something like this:
http://www.lacie.com/products/product.htm?pid=10490

Thanks,
J
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Old February 26th, 2006, 08:34 PM   #12
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Do some Google searches about Adorama and see what comes up.

Nice find w/the Lacie. I think I'd get two of the 500GB and chain them together, instead of one 1TB, because with the proper SATA RAID card you will nearly double the speed and likely be able to capture up to 10 bit uncompressed. Another great thing about those is you could just add more of them in the future and get even more speed as needed.
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Old February 26th, 2006, 08:44 PM   #13
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Barlow, Thanks for the quick reply.
Adorama is a pretty big Camera shop here in New York, and theyy are right down the street (I am hoping if something is flaed they will give me a new camera, BUT, I have no idea how this would work)
What am I gonna do...?
dang

So, let me get this straight, two daisychaned LaCie 500 drives into a G5 (with a Kona card) will give me Uncompressed (though I am teathered) in the Studio?
no way...1500$ for uncompressed HD Studio work (gasp)
500$ for a Kona Card
2 x 500G Raid + 1000$

hehehe - Just saw you talking to Macgregor on the DVXuser forum about this - You are a prince among men Elton,

J
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Old February 26th, 2006, 09:47 PM   #14
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Hey guys, sorry to rain on the parade but if you want to discuss a non-sponsor, please take that part of the discussion to private channels. DVinfo only recommends the hand-picked sponsors of this site. BTW, I agree wholeheartedly with John about being cautious of grey market stuff...using a DVinfo sponsor will ensure everything is "above board."
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Old February 26th, 2006, 09:56 PM   #15
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Pete,
I didn't realize asking that kind of advice was out of bounds.
Sorry 'bout that
J
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